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The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden, Page 6

Jessica Sorensen

Page 6


  I bob my head up and down, not looking at him. “So did Seth, probably. He usually does it in the car, but he was being polite. ”

  “He could have. ” Kayden laughs and it lights up his eyes. “Luke’s been smoking in my car since we were sixteen. ”

  Unable to help myself, I smile at the idea as I fiddle with the edge of a napkin.

  “What’s so funny?” Kayden folds his arms on top of the table and the bottom of his sleeves rise up. Tiny white lines cover the back of his wrists and he swiftly jerks his sleeves down to hide them. “Come on, share whatever’s making you smile like that. ”

  “It’s nothing. ” I raise my gaze back to him. “I was just thinking about what my dad would have said if he ever found out his running back was a smoker. ”

  “I think he knew he was. ” Kayden leans over the table, moving closer to me. “He always seemed to know everything that we did wrong, but never said it. ”

  “Yeah, maybe he did, I guess. He did catch my brother smoking once and grounded him for a very long time. ” Why am I talking to him like this? It’s not like me. I tip my chin down and concentrate on the list of appetizers.

  “Callie, I’m sorry,” he says abruptly, flattening his palm on the table as he glides it toward mine. As his fingers brush my knuckles, I nearly choke to death.

  “For what?” I sound strangled.

  “For not saying thank you… for that night. ” He covers his big hand on top of mine.

  For a second, I like how his warmth feels, but then I’m thrown back to the place locked inside my mind, trapped and powerless.

  “It’s okay. ” I yank my hand away and hide it under the table. My pulse races as I stare at the menu. “You were having a rough night. ”

  He doesn’t say anything as he moves his hand away. I don’t look up at him, because I don’t want to see the disgusted look in his eyes.

  “If I asked them if I could have a hamburger, do you think they’d make me one?” he asks, nonchalantly changing the subject.

  I flip the page of the menu, with my eyebrows furrowed. “Does it say they have hamburgers?”

  “No, I was kidding. ” He observes me from across the table. “Can I ask you something?”

  I nod warily. “Sure. ”

  “How come you left for college early?” he asks. “Most people want to stay home for the summer and party. ”

  I shrug. “I didn’t really have anything left for me there except for my parents and it just seemed like it was time to go. ”

  “You didn’t have a lot of friends, did you?” Recollection masks his face as he starts to put the pieces of my sad life together.

  Thankfully, Seth and Luke join us at the table before he can try to dig up more details. They smell like smoke and look euphorically happy.

  “Nah, they don’t really have many on campus. ” Seth says to Luke as he sits down and unrolls the napkin from around the silverware. “And if they do, security usually breaks them up. ”

  Luke swivels a small plastic display with pictures of the beer beverages on it. “Yeah, that shit happened all the time at our school. Like this one time we had this huge bonfire, and the cops showed up and busted everyone. ”

  “What kind of trouble did you get in?” Seth asks, checking the watch on his wrist.

  “Not too much. ” Luke pops a toothpick into his mouth. “The cops in our town usually go easy on football players. ”

  “Figures,” Seth mutters, giving me a sidelong glance, and I offer him a sympathetic smile.

  Kayden’s foot keeps bumping mine from below the table and I want to ask him to stop, but I can’t even make eye contact with him. I grow flustered because part of me likes it. I’m losing control over my feelings and I desperately need to get a hold of them again.

  The waitress returns and jots down our orders. I try to do my best and order a whole meal with the intention to eat it all. When the food arrives however, my stomach clenches, and I can tell right away that I’m going to do it, just like I always do.

  Chapter 3

  #52 Take a Chance For God’s Sake


  It’s been a week since school started. Classes are a pain in the ass. I was warned that college would be harder, but I never prepared myself for how much solo work was required. Between that and practice, I’ve had zero time to focus on anything else in my life.

  I’ve crossed paths with Callie twice since we ate at the restaurant and each time she avoids me. She’s in my Biology class, but sits in the back, as far away from anyone else as she can, focusing on her pen and paper. The girl has to have a whole notebook full of notes with how fixated she is with them.

  I try not to stare at her, but most of the time I can’t help it. It’s fascinating to watch how oblivious she is to everyone. It would be nice to get lost in my thoughts, instead of always worrying about shit.

  I’m getting ready to go to class, telling myself that I need to leave Callie alone, when I get a phone call from my dad.

  “You left your shit in the garage,” is the first thing he says to me.

  “Sorry,” I apologize, forcing myself to breathe as I grab my books. “But I thought mom said I could. ”

  “Your mom has no say in these things,” he says sharply. “If you wanted to keep your shit here, you should have asked me. God, how many times do you have to screw up before you stop?"

  I want to argue, but he’s right. I screw up more than I don’t. I let him chew my ass off for over fifteen minutes, and he makes me feel like a fucking kid again.

  After I hang up, I stare at the mirror above the dresser, analyzing every scar on my face until it just looks like one big scar. Suddenly, all this anger pours out of me and I kick the shit out of the dresser until one of the drawers falls out. Luke’s stuff scatters all over the floor; lighters, photos, a few tools, and a razorblade. He hates it when his shit gets disorganized and is going to go nuts if he comes back to this mess.

  I quickly put everything back inside, trying to make it look orderly, and pretend not to notice the white elephant staring me in the face as I scoop it up off the floor. But it’s all I can think about as I hold it in my palm, begging myself not to use it.

  My hand shakes as my mind drifts back to a time when I wasn’t like this; where I thought that maybe, just maybe, everything didn’t have to center around pain.

  My older brother, Tyler and I were messing around in the garage. He was about sixteen and I was eight. He was working on a motorcycle he had bought with the money he’d saved up from his summer job.

  “I know it’s kind of a piece of shit,” he said to me as he grabbed a wrench from the toolbox in the corner. “But it’ll get me places—away from here, which is all I fucking want. ”

  He’d been fighting with my dad all day and had a giant bruise on his arm and cuts on his knuckles. I’d heard them arguing and then they were hitting each other. It was normal though. Life.

  “Why do you want to leave?” I asked, wandering around the bike. It wasn’t shiny or anything, but it looked like it could be fun. And if it could take anyone away from here, then it had to be something special. “Is it because of dad?”

  He tossed the tool back into the box rather hard and raked his hands through his long brown hair, which made him look like a homeless person, or at least my dad said so. “One day, buddy, when you get a little bit older, you’re going to realize that everything in this house is one fucking big lie and you’re going to want to get the hell away from here, no matter what it costs. ”

  I stepped up on a crate and climbed on top of the bike, grabbing onto the handles as I swung my short leg over it. “Will you take me with you? I want to leave too. ”

  He rounded to the back of the bike, squatting down to check the tires. “Yeah, buddy, I will. ”

  I pushed the throttle, pretending to drive away, and for a second I saw the possibility of a life without pain. “You promise?”

  He nodd
ed as he messed with the air pressure gauge. “Yeah, I promise. ”

  It turned out my brother was a liar just like everyone else in the house. He ended up moving out, and leaving me behind because he’d rather be drunk then deal with life. A few years later, my other brother, Dylan, graduated and moved out of the house. He changed his number, never told anyone where he was going, and no one has heard from him since, although I’m not sure how hard anyone looked.

  I was twelve at the time and the only kid left in the house, which meant I was the main focus of my dad’s rage, something he made clear to me the night Dylan packed his shit and left. The beatings before that weren’t too severe; slaps across the face, lashings with his belt, and sometimes he would punch us or kick us, but would hold back just enough that it hurt like hell but could be hidden.

  I watched Dylan pull away from the driveway and drive down the road into the dark, pressing my face to the window, wishing I were in the car with him, even though Dylan and I had never been close. My dad walked in from outside, bringing in the cold night air with him. He’d yelled at Dylan all the way to the car, telling him he was a fucking moron for giving up his football scholarship and refusing to be on the team.

  “What the fuck are you looking at?” He slammed the front door so hard the family portrait above the mantle fell to the floor.

  I turned around on the couch and sat down, staring at the portrait on the floor. “Nothing sir. ”

  He stalked toward me, his pupils swallowing his eyes, and I could smell the alcohol on his breath from clear across the room. He was bigger than me, stronger than me, and he had a look on his face that let me know he was about to use it to his full advantage and there was nothing I could do about it.

  I knew the drill. Get up and hide, otherwise he wouldn’t have time to cool off. But I couldn’t move. I kept thinking about my brothers who were gone and had left me behind like an old t-shirt. We used to be in this together, now it was just me. I started to cry, like a stupid fucking baby, and I knew it was only going to piss him off more.

  “Are you crying? What the fuck is wrong with you?” He didn’t slow his momentum as he raised his fist and slammed it into my shoulder.

  The pain that spread up my neck and down my arm sucked my oxygen out in one swift snap of a finger and I crumpled to the floor, blinking the black spots away from my eyes.

  “Get up!” He kicked me in the side, but I couldn’t get up. My legs had given up on me and with each slam of his shoe, something died inside. I didn’t even bother tucking my legs in to protect them. I just let the pain take over, allowing it to numb the pain of being left behind. “You’re so useless! At least your brothers fight back. But what are you? Nothing! It’s all your fault!” Another kick, this time against my gut and the pain shot up into my head.

  “Get up! Get up. Get up…” His boot slammed into my gut and his voice took on pleading. As if it was all my fault and he wanted me to make it stop. And maybe it was my fault. All I had to do was get up. But even something so simple I couldn’t get right.