Letting Go

After being brutally abused by her father and outcasted by her classmates, seventeen year old Keller Alvidas is glad and even relieved to spend her last year at Edge-of-The-World, the sleepy small town she grew up in. Everything changes when the Gabriels, a group of orphaned teenage boys arrives. They break all her rules about meeting new people but they too have secrets and when the truth comes out Keller has to decide wether to let go and save herself or to continue to be dragged through everything she wanted to run away from, all for one chance she might never get.

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19. The Carnival

Keller's P.O.V

The Carnival. I almost forgot about it. Every year  Edge-of-the-World puts together a spectacular spring carnival complete with roller coasters and cotton candy. Of course, there's the  typical kissing booth, the carnival games and popcorn stands. I've never actually been there, but from my window it's always looked wonderful.Right now from my room I can see that they already finished putting it together.

I left the hospital yesterday, me sitting awkwardly beside Al and Ed while James did everything humanly possible to not look me straight in the eye on the ride home. I banish my embarresment, I was delirious when I spoke to James on the rooftop, I thought I was crazy. He must know that and feels embarassed now. Just act like nothing happened, I tell myself,  you've been embarassed way more than this.

I hear knocking on my door and quickly throw my journal under my bed and hurriedly try fix my hair. Who are you impressing? I ask myself and before I can stop I think James, as if the answer was so simple. I slap myself, no you're not impressing anyone, I think to myself. I leave my hair as it is just to spite myself and rush to the door.

"Oh, you're changed. Good. I need a favour," Ian says while waltzing in.

"Sure, you can come in," I say, sarcasm dripping in my voice.

"No time for you're sarcastic comments, which you do a lot by the way." I start to protest but Ian shushes me. I sigh.

"Fine, what do you need?" I ask taking a seat next to him on the bed.

"I need you to go with Ellis, Will, Lorena and me to the carnival," he says sheepishly. It takes me a moment to process it.

"You mean by myself? While the rest of you are couples? No, I'm telling you Ian. I'm not going," I get up and cross my arms over my chest in protest.

"Come on, why not? Look, the girls want to go to the carnival and we don't know this place like you do," he tries to plead.

"Then get a map," I say letting my head fall.

"Please, you're not going alone. James' is coming," My heart does a little dance in my chest but I push it aside. Now I'm definintely not going. I can't even handle hearing his name.

"What makes you think I want to go with him?" I ask suspscious.

"Well, you're friends right? And I'm your friend too."

"Yes, you guys are my friends but-"

"Then come, please. I'm on my knees," says Ian cutting me off. He bends down on his knees and I roll my eyes.

"No, I'm not third-wheeling with James while the rest of you are all lovey-dovey," I say.

"But you said that we're friends!"

"I'm not friends with Ellis and Lorena."

"Then become friends, please."

"You know I can't talk to people-" I start.

"You talked to us,"  Ian interjects.

"You guys were different."

"Please!"

"Fine, Fine! Goodness gracious, but I'm not going to have fun," I yell exasperated.  Ian jumps up and spins me around the room.

"Thank you, and I will make sure you have fun," he says through his smile. "Will, James, she's coming!" he yells out the door.

"What about Al and Ed? What are they doing the whole day?" I ask not wanting them to be left behind.

"Party, one of Ed's science partner's."

"When are we going?" I ask shifting through my various outfits. Black, black, black, why do I wear so much black?

"In like five minutes," replies Ian flinching. I spin around livid.

"Five. Mintes?" I ask again through clenched teeth. He just runs up to me kisses my forehead and yells thanks before slamming the door, stragetically not allowing me the chance to change my mind.

I find my only non-black t-shirt, which is dark blue, and literally throw it on with my sole black skirt. I slip on my vintage looking jean jacket and black flats and head out the door before I have the chance to second guess the skirt.

---

It's surprisingly hot and humid even for a late March day. The sun beats down on us as we make our way to the fifth roller coaster since we got here and I'm sticky with sweat yet exhilarated by the rides. Ellis and Lorena are nice but they stick together, makng me feel a teensy bit shut out. Or maybe it's me who's shutting them out. Either way by the time the guys head to the concession stand I'm left alone with the two of them for the first time.

"So, you're Keller," says Ellis sticking her hand out. I gratefully shake it.

"Will talks about me?" I ask startled.

"Yeah, says you're a lot like a little sister," she answers. I smile at this, Will was always like the older brother to me.

"I like your shoes," I point out to Lorena attempting conversation. They were cool though, vintage yet modern.

"Thanks, I found them at this cute little shop. I can't remember the name though," she says.

"Is it called Stacy's? I go there a lot," I say.

"Yeah, that's what it's called! I love that store," she laughs. We spend a lot of time talking about all the other typical stuff, clothes, music, movies. By the time the guys come back I'm relived to finally get food in my stomach yet disappointed that I don't get to talk to the Ellis and Lorena anymore, it was a nice break from the guys.

After the food everyone had a hammering to go on the feris wheel. It was gorgeous, red with  white details around each car on it. It was always my favourite part of the carnival.

"Okay so six tickets for the feris wheel," the guys running it says. I wrinkle my nose at him, some jerk from school. No doubt one of Sonia's puppets.

"Five actually. I'm not going," I say stepping back.

"Make that four, I'm not going either," says James. I feel bluch creep up my cheeks and I feel uncomfortable for the first time today.

"Your call mate," says Will shrugging his shoulders and the rest of them clammer on. I take a seat on one of the benches and pull on my jacket once the breeze picks up again.

"So, you don't like heights or something?" asks James sitting next to me. I clutch my bag of popcorn tighter once I feel his warmth radiate off him and onto me.

"Not really, I just didn't want to ride it by myself," I admit. I turn my head an tiny amount and catch his eye. Goodness, his eyes really were gorgeous.

"I could've rode with you," James says facing me for the first time today. I give him a sharp glare.

"I find that hard to believe. You haven't talked to me all day," I say and my voice sounds strained, even in my own ears. He looks startled and I start to feel bad for snapping at him. You can't do anything right, I mentally yell at myself.

"Look about the night on the rooftop-" he starts after a pause.

"No, it's okay. It didn't mean anything-"

"No, it did mean something. I'm just here to set the record straight," he says but I'm not listening clearly. I stare in his eyes and I see the truth in there. My mind screams no, to not believe and I want to agree but it's easy to see. Plain and simple.

"I like you. But not like that. It's just..." Crushing words, angry coarse words although he says them softly.

"Complicated," I sigh. Don't you dare cry now, I think to myself and I face the other direction.

"Yeah, so can we-"

"Stay friends? Sure," I smile. He smiles back and pulls me in a hug which I find hard to return. I bury my head in his shoulder and take in his warmth. I choke back my tears and James pretends not to hear it. It honestly doesn't matter anymore.

"Nice skirt," James compliments. I hear nothing.

"Thanks," I somehow reply. I feel nothing. After  Will, Ellis, Ian and Lorena come back I sink to the back of the crowd where I belong.

The bright lights and laughter tempt me into distraction but I shake it off, I need to stay in the back. I like the back, no one pays attention to you. No one sees your bent head and asks questions like 'what's wrong?' No one sees you lift your face and notices the tears lingering in your eyes. No one sees your heart break. Because that's what's happening, my heart is breaking.

---

I barge into my room and shake off my depressing outfit. I really hate skirts, I think to myself. I put on my black sweats and blue cru-neck and head down to the kitchen for a glass of milk.

"Hey, you," I say to Ed who is looking pretty ruffed up. Must've been a rowdy party.

"Hey," he replies in a raspy voice, confirming my suspscion.

"Wild party?" I ask.

"You have no idea," He sets his head down on the counter and groans.

"So how'd the carnival go?" he asks after a while. I frown, please don't.

"Not bad,"  Lie. "Hung out with Ellis and Lorena, they seem right for Will and Ian." Truth.

"You're lying," he says suddenly looking me straight in the eye.

"What? No," I say unconvincingly. Good gracious, even I can tell that I'm lying.

"What's wrong? Come sit and tell me all you're problems," Ed says pulling out a chair and sounding a lot like Dr.Phil. I relunctantly sit down.

"All my problems? I don't think you have time for that," I mumble and chew my lip.

"I'm not going anywhere," is all he says. I give him a small smile but i still feels forced, fake.

I talk to him but I don't mention James. It takes all I have to not completely let everything go to the boy with emerald eyes because I know that if I do, I'll break down and Ed will confront James and I won't let that happen. I can't show anyone how weak I am. Once they know what'll hurt you they'll use it against you until you break. James wouldn't do that but I can't risk it. I just can't.

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