Broken and screwed, p.22
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       Broken and Screwed, p.22

         Part #1 of Broken and Screwed series by Tijan
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  was nice. I wasn’t used to that from guys. I guess that’s why all of us loved him so much. He was a good friend to Jer, too; he even got him to stop fighting. And that says a lot. Jeremy loves to fight, but he stopped for awhile because Ethan asked him to.”

  It hurt. Everything was starting to hurt again.

  “But he got a phone call from Jesse and he took off. That was the last we saw him. The next thing we knew was hearing a few days later that he had died. I couldn’t believe it. None of us could. We tried to go to his funeral, but your momma wasn’t having it. She barred us from the place. We couldn’t even go to his headstone. I’d like to go sometime. I think Jeremy snuck out there one time, but he never told me. He took a flower from Herbert’s pot, but when he came back, he didn’t have it. That wouldn’t be a big thing with a normal guy, but Jeremy never gives girls flowers. When he came back, his shoes were all muddy, so were his knees, and he had that off look in his eye. He always got that and I’d know he was thinking of Ethan.”

  When she ended, I heard her quiet sobbing. I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t even want to comfort her. All of it hurt so damn much. I told myself to breathe. Breathe in and out. Let it go. Exhale. Angie’s words came to me then.

  ‘You get up every morning. You go through the motions. You do what you’re supposed to and some day it won’t hurt as bad’

  I sat there and kept breathing until it didn’t hurt as bad. When I could finally lift my head, I was jolted to see the haunted expression on her face. She reached over for my hand. As I gave it, she held onto it tightly. Then she choked out, “You had a good brother, you did. He was one of the best. I know Jeremy seems like a scary jackass, but he ain’t. He loved your brother like his own and I know he’d take care of you if you ever needed it. You don’t need to be scared of us, I promise. I’ll set him right. I think he was trying to scare you because he’s still mad at Hunt. He blames Jesse for Ethan’s death, though we know that ain’t right. Jesse was with his girl that night. Ethan told me that Jesse had some family dinner with the in-laws. That’s what we called them because we all teased Jesse about being wifed-up, ya know? I’d been hoping he would’ve come out to party with us. Those two together were fun to watch. They would bicker like a married couple, but you could tell they loved each other. With guys nowadays and all their egos, they don’t know how to be friends with each other. Anyways,” she squeezed my hand before she let it go. “You say hello to Jesse for me, would you? That’d mean a lot to me.”

  She got up and left me then. There was so much to comprehend. I couldn’t figure it out. I was still sitting there trying to do that when I heard her truck pull away. I didn’t hear when the door opened from the taco place and I wasn’t aware that Eric sat across from me. I had no idea how long I sat there, but he would tell me later that he ate our tacos. Then he waited another half hour before he tried to move me. I think I went into shock after Barbie’s revelations. The only thing I could do was breathe, only breathe.

  CHAPTER TWENTY ONE

  I never told anyone about what Barbie said to me. Eric questioned me to make sure that Jeremy Benson wouldn’t be a problem. I always reassured him; I believed what Barbie had said. I saw the pain in Jeremy’s eyes as he spoke of Ethan, but I also saw the hatred he had for Jesse. Things still didn’t make sense to me, though. What had Ethan been unhappy about? And my parents never said a word about Ethan’s other friends to me. They knew. My mom had banned them from the funeral, so they obviously knew about them.

  No one told me. No one had said a word.

  And Jesse…he had called Ethan that night. What had he said to him?

  I tried calling Jesse after that. I tried every morning and every night, but he never picked up. I left so many messages, I lost count of them. He was avoiding me and that meant he was guilty. Maybe Jeremy Benson was right, maybe Jesse had something to do with Ethan’s car accident. Why else would Jesse not take my phone calls? That alone was painful to admit. He didn’t respect me, whatever we had, enough to answer my questions.

  But I refused to let his rejection send me into a tailspin again. I’d been numb for so long, too long. Angie was right when she said my old self was coming back. I was starting to laugh. I was starting to care about things. I was even nervous about prom, but Eric made sure it was my own fairytale. He and Justin got a limousine. They picked us up at Angie’s house. Karen fretted over me as if I was a second daughter. She took picture after picture until Angie pleaded for it to end.

  And that night was spent in a hotel suite. We shared it with Angie and Justin. Ben also had a date. Each of us had a bedroom that was attached to the suite, but most of the night was spent laughing or in the Jacuzzi. Angie asked me in the bathroom if I was going to have sex with Eric. She said he wasn’t expecting it, but it was prom. It was almost tradition.

  I laughed at that. My life was not traditional.

  Eric got some cuddling from me and made it to second base. He felt underneath my clothes, but that was it. I’d given my all to Jesse and was only now able to breathe normally again. Through the rest of that night, I remembered how Barbie had said Ethan was a gentleman. Eric was as well, it was something that brought tears to my eyes at times. Maybe I was trying to replace Ethan with Eric, maybe that was why I told him that I’d never feel for him what he felt for me.

  Eric took it well. He said it was the gentlest way a girl had let him down. And then he said he would still like to spend time with me. So for the rest of the school year, he picked me up for school. He drove me home. We went out for dinners and movies. He would hold my hand in the hallways and hold my books. He always knew I didn’t feel the same, but after I kept insisting that I didn’t want to lead him on, Eric pressed a kiss to my forehead. He told me that he only wanted to take care of me. So I let him. We spent almost every night together over the summer. He would sleep at my home on the weekends, on the bed that Jesse had used growing up.

  He never said a word about my parents’ absence. Some nights Angie and Justin would come over. The four of us would make dinner and laugh all night. It felt right to have that in my home again. At times, I would feel Ethan’s presence next to me. I would imagine that he was smiling and laughing with us.

  It was the beginning of August when I received a letter from my dad.

  Eric saw who it was from and pressed a kiss to my forehead before he went into the living room. I sat down at the kitchen table with my heart pounding and hands sweating. It took me three times to open it. When I did, I almost wished that I never had.

  Dear Alexandra,

  Your mother and I received a phone call from your guidance counselor, Mrs. Farm. She was very polite, but forthcoming that our nonrepliance to her initial phone calls had been disappointing. Your mother and I have discussed this and have come to the conclusion that our absence from your life has not been fair to you as our daughter. While we are overjoyed you will be attending Grant West University, we feel it is only right that you receive the proper financial compensation from us. You are an adult and have been since last summer, but we have started a trust fund for you. You will receive an allowance every month in your savings account. It will last as long as your mother and I are alive. Ethan stipulated in his last will and testament that his trust fund, in total, would go to you as well. There is another trust fund that your grandfather set up that you will receive when you turn twenty five. The amounts are provided below:

  Your monthly allowance: $ 2,000.00

  The total trust fund from Ethan: $2.5 million

  The trust fund from your grandfather: $2.5 million

  We feel this amount of finances will provide for you throughout your life. On a personal note, your mother has been doing very well. She attends individual therapy and a grief group therapy session every week. I’ve retained a life coach to be on our staff. If you would ever wish to contact us, feel free to give us a call. We are very proud that you will attend the university your brother had been accepted to previously. Please give our bes
t wishes to Jesse. We love him like a son.

  Best wishes, your father.

  I crumpled the paper up and then smoothed it back out. A burning sensation grew in me as I sat there. Everything was so clear, so focused. My heartbeat slowed to a calm steady beat and I no longer had to remind myself to breathe. I shredded each piece of that letter. I didn’t know how long it took, but I didn’t stop until each piece had been folded, ripped, folded again, and ripped once more. I finally stopped when the letter was a pile of pieces so small they could’ve been ash. And then I got up from my seat and went into the cupboards. I found a lighter.

  As I approached the letter my heart slowed. I wanted to enjoy this. I wanted to be turned on by it. I lit it on fire.

  As it burst into flame and spread, I stood back. Amazed. I wanted to see it grow more and more. I wanted the entire house to burn around me. Everything my parents had been would be in pieces at my feet. I wanted to destroy them, but I only destroyed the letter. It was a small triumph that was empty. I knew my parents would never care. If I mailed the letter back to them, they would only throw it out. Nothing touched them anymore. Ethan’s death had done that to them, it was now done to me.

  Nothing would touch me again.

  Eric rushed into the kitchen, panicked. When the fire alarm had gone off, he ripped himself from the doorway. He then dumped a bucket of water on the small fire. As he did and a cloud of gray smoke filled the kitchen, he fell against the wall. “Jesus,” he cursed.

  “Don’t curse.”

  “What?” He gaped at me, pale and sweating from the smoke.

  I didn’t answer him. I didn’t care to answer anyone anymore. Everything changed that night. I changed that night. I never did anything different, but I knew I wasn’t right anymore. People grew scared of me. Eric stopped spending time with me. I never heard from Marissa again. Even Ben asked when I was quitting the coffee hut. He sounded like he couldn’t wait for my resignation. The only one I saw two more times was Angie. She came over to say goodbye the day she and Justin were leaving for college. Both of their cars were packed. Justin waited in his truck, parked behind hers, as she came into the house.

  I looked at him from the doorway, but he averted his gaze. I still saw it. Fear.

  I didn’t blame him for staying in the truck. I even understood it. I understood why everyone stopped visiting me. Something wasn’t right with me anymore. I knew that, but all I felt was the cold. And rage. I now had so much rage in me, too much to control at times. The nights were the worst as I stayed in my home. I had been abandoned. I was haunted. And all I wanted to do was destroy everything.

  So it made sense why Justin stayed in the truck. Even Angie couldn’t hide how her arms trembled or the nervous twitch in her eye. As she said her goodbye, she couldn’t say it fast enough.

  I stood and watched them go. They all left.

  And then I turned back to the house to finish my own packing. I was leaving for Grant West University the next morning.

 
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