As I drove away from Louis’ apartment, I struggled with myself as to who I would tell first and how I would do it or even if I would ever do it. It would probably be easier to tell Anna first I supposed, but I was a little angry that Louis refused to do it himself. He was too much in shock to say anything but “no” repeatedly after he saw the little pink smiley face. That stupid pink smiley face. My thoughts traveled back to Anna. I told her all of my secrets. She was never really judgmental… and even if she was, she judged me in a funny way that made me know what I was doing was something she didn’t agree with. Since I had been reminiscing on the past for the last few days and I had a few more minutes alone in the car, I allowed myself to slip into another memory. I remembered sitting alone in the bathroom stall my freshman year at school when Harry had a fever one day.
You suck, I texted him while I shifted uncomfortably on the toilet-paper ring that I craftily made for the top of the germy seat. I know you’re not really sick you asshole.
I am though! He replied quickly. You know I would rather be at school with you than at home with my mom.
I sighed heavily and rested my head against the stall wall. I pinched a chip between my fingers from the sack-lunch I had on my lap and slowly put it in my mouth. Even though I knew my food was clean, there was something about eating in the nasty bathroom stalls that made me think my chips were contaminated just from touching the air. While I chewed, I stared at the back of the door, covered in graffiti.
“Karli Hilson is a slut,” I read out loud, thinking I was alone.
Someone a few stalls down laughed. “You can say that again.”
I froze and held my breath.
“Apparently Megan LeBlanc is a slut too… or at least that’s what it says down here…” the stranger continued talking. I listened as she struggled with her belt buckle and flushed the toilet. Her door opened and she stepped out into the open bathroom. I continued to hold my breath all the while she washed her hands and fixed her hair in the mirror. I slowly ducked my head down under the stall to see her pink glittery converse halted un front of the sink. Finally, she walked over to my stall and peeked through the crack in the door. “Are you eating lunch in there? Sick.”
I frowned at her intrusion of my privacy, threw the remainder of my sandwich and chips into my backpack, and zipped it up before pushing my toilet-paper seat into the toilet with my shoe and leaving the stall. I washed my hands in the sink even though I didn’t actually use the bathroom and fixed my hair while the girl watched me. “What’s your name?”
“I’m Anna. Are you a slut too? Like Megan Leblanc and Karli Hilson?”
I contorted my face. “What?”
“Of course, no slut would never admit to that. I mean, would you?”
“Yes,” I muttered under my breath.
“You would?” Anna asked. “Why?”
I shrugged. “I sleep with who I want. The guys might be using me but I would stop letting them if I actually cared. But that’s the key. I let them do it. I don’t care what people think.”
Anna’s mouth slowly fell open, more with a hint of admiration as opposed to shock. “Well if you don’t care about what people think then why are you eating lunch in the bathroom?”
Because I really did care. I cared enough to listen to Harry’s critiques earlier that year and change myself. I cared so much that I turned into a slut, and now that I reached where I thought I wanted to be, I had to act like I didn’t care. Pretending that I didn’t care kept me from hating myself.
I shrugged. “I just don’t like the lunchroom,” I lied.
Anna grimaced and surprised me by picking up my backpack and taking my arm. “You’re eating with me. I’m sorry, I can’t let you eat in here.”
Coming back to reality, I wiped a tear from my cheek as I pulled into the driveway and sighed. When did I get to the point where I actually – and I mean really – stopped caring about myself? I was surrounded by people who didn’t care. We silently assured ourselves that we did care, but it was a lie we thought constantly just to make it through another day. Now that I finally cared, it was too late.
I pushed open the door to the apartment and looked inside. The lights were off and so was the TV.
No one answered.
No answer. I dropped my purse and threw myself onto the couch face first, clutching my stomach. I dug my fingers into the skin of my belly and instantly let go, getting freaked out by the thought of having a bulging tummy. “Fuck me. Fuck this. Fuck everything,” I groaned into the cushion. “How could I fuck up so badly?”
I flipped onto my back and looked up at the ceiling.
"Soooo… Are you going to stop lying to me now?"
I fell off of the couch and clutched my chest as my heart nearly exploded. Anna was standing at the entrance of the hallway with her arms folded tightly over her chest.
"What are you doing here?" I stammered.
"I wanted to see how Niall was doing and I was going to hang out with you when you got back from Louis’. You know… fill you in on what’s happening between me and him. Harry gave me a key to your apartment when I got back from Cancun. When I got here a little while ago, Niall and Harry were gone." She watched me carefully, her body rigid and annoyance written all in her facial expression.
I caught my breath and forced myself to relax a bit. I wiped another tear from my cheek and made my way to the fridge. I was forced to walk around Anna as she didn’t move or take her eyes off of me.
"Well you want something to drink?" I offered, looking through the fridge. “Maybe some food? It’s lunchtime, right?”
"Scotlan, cut the bullshit okay? I know something is wrong. You just admitted that you fucked up. You’ve never kept anything from me and - now that I’m actually witnessing you lying - you’re a horrible, horrible liar. I know it’s not a fucking surprise party either. What the hell is wrong?”
I pulled open the freezer and peered around at what little food we had. “Nothing, really.”
Anna wasn’t buying it. “When did we get to the point where you can tell Louis your secrets but not me?” She asked quietly, but not any less calmed down.
"Anna you know it’s not like that-"
Anna scoffed at me and slapped her sides. “Obviously, it is.”
I ran my fingers through my hair and grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge. I took a drink and let the cool liquid run slowly down my throat into my stomach. I didn’t want to tell her the truth, but there was no point in lying anymore. Unsure of what to say, I stayed quiet.
Anna frowned and shook her head at me. “Really, I can’t believe you. Of all the people I feel like you could trust with anything, it would be me.” She picked up her purse from the island stool and turned to walk to the door.
"Anna wait-" I blurted. She turned slowly, clearly pissed off, and stared me down. "Just wait, okay? Sit down? Please?" I motioned toward the island.
She looked hesitantly at the stool and folded her arms again.
"Please," I repeated pleadingly.
She rolled her eyes and sat on the stool, her purse still draped over her shoulder and her body still ready to run away if I changed my mind and stayed quiet.
"I don’t want to look at you when I tell you, if that’s okay,” I said.
Anna contorted her face but stayed silent. I turned my back to her and leaned against the sink. I waited a few minutes, watching water drip from the faucet before I took a deep breath.
She gasped quietly behind me. Unable to tell if it was a good gasp or a bad gasp, I gulped.
"But it’s not Harry’s."
Anna remained silent still, so I continued.
"… It’s Louis’."
She gasped, but a little more loudly this time. After a second, I heard a bag hit the floor. Her purse? I turned around to face her. It wasn’t her purse. It was Harry’s grocery bag.
"Louis?" He barely whispered, his face full of shock. Niall stood behind him in the front doorway, clearly oblivious to what was happening.
"How long have you been there? I didn’t even hear you come in. You got groceries? Oh good." I walked over quickly to Harry and picked up the bag he dropped. I carried it to the island and began to unload, avoiding eye contact with everyone in the room. Harry stayed still, gazing at me with his mouth wide open. This was not at all how I wanted him to find out.
"Louis??" Anna asked, a sharp edge to her voice. Uh oh, I thought. Here it comes. I stopped my frantic unloading of the grocery bag and looked up. Both Harry and Anna’s faces were twitching with a mixture of emotions – anger, surprise, disgust, horror, confusion… everything that I was feeling too.
"You cheated on Harry?" Anna gawked.
"What?" I gasped. "No, I-"
"You cheated with Louis??” Anna articulated, standing up and raising her voice.
"Anna I didn’t-"
"How could you do this to me?!"
"I’ve slept with Louis multiple times and you never said-"
"Why did I have to say anything?!"
“You’ve slept with Louis more than once?” Harry interjected from across the room. My anger subsided for half of a second.
“Yes but it was before-“
“Why would you sleep with Louis if you knew I liked him??” Anna fumed.
I glared at her. “You used to fuck guys I told you I liked in college!! You would hunt them down on purpose and-“
"This is fucking different! Those were stupid crushes that didn’t matter!”
I gasped. “You don’t know that! They could have been something! Maybe one of those guys was my future husband but I wouldn’t fucking know because you fucked them before I could even-“
Anna wasn’t listening to me. “You know how much I’ve loved Louis since-“
I erupted. If there was anything I hated more than alarm clocks in the morning, it was being interrupted. “SINCE WHEN, ANNA? Since your first, second, or third fucking marriage?! Stop being a hypocrite, you bitch! You cheated on Tim with Louis! You cheated on your first husband with Zayn! You’ve cheated on more people than I’ve fucked!”
"Shut up!" Anna screamed.
"No!" I screeched back. "Don’t you sit here and patronize me when I didn’t even cheat on him!" I pointed at Harry.
“You slept with Louis?” Harry asked again as if we hadn’t established it enough already. I could tell that he was having a hard time processing all os this.
“Yes!” I shouted, slamming my fist into the countertop. “I’ve slept with a lot of damn guys! I told both of you before that I’d slept with Louis and neither one of you batted an eyelash! Now that I’m pregnant you’re both angry with me!?”
“Because you cheated on Harry and slept with a guy I’m dating!”
“YOU’RE MARRIED, ANNA!”
"YOU’RE PREGNANT, SCOTLAN!" Anna yelled, coming around the island to shout in my face.
“THAT DOESN’T MEAN I CHEATED! WE HAD SEX BEFO-”
Anna shoved me backward. “You can’t lie to us anymore!! You’re just as bad of a liar as your father was when he told your mom he didn’t cheat on her either!”
I slapped Anna. I slapped her hard. “That was too far and you know it!” I screamed at her. My hand stung as it fell to my side and I watched her stumble backwards into Harry. He dropped the other grocery bag that he was holding and caught her before she fell to the floor. I had almost forgotten he was there. My heart was already pumping but beat harder and harder as he raised his eyes to look at me. I had never seen such hurt in a persons eyes before - especially not Harry’s.
"Harry," I sobbed, my emotions getting the best of me. "Harry you have to believe me, I didn’t cheat. It was before we started dating. I would never-"
My heart tore into a million pieces when I watched a single tear roll down Harry’s face. He looked down at Anna. “Are you okay?” He asked her.
Anna held her hand to her face and shook her head. “I’m emotionally fucked up because we have a shitty friend.”
Her inclusion of Harry in that statement took my breath away. We, she said. We have a shitty friend. You and me, Harry. Scotlan is our shitty friend. The more I stood there and watched them, the more I could see them both turning against me. Unlike other times the three of us had fought, I knew getting more emotional wouldn’t end all of this madness in a group hug. Harry helped Anna stand up and then lifted his eyes to meet mine, his sadness gone and replaced my a hateful anger.
Despite my attempt to hold back as many waterworks as I could, salty tears streamed down my face. I stumbled backward and gripped the sink behind me, stabilizing myself as my head spun.
“Please guys,” I croaked. “I need you. You’re my family. I don’t have anyone else left…”
“Well maybe you should have thought about that before you killed your mother and cheated us.”
Anna’s harsh words stabbed into my already aching heart. Not being able to handle it anymore, I sobbed and tore past Harry, Anna, and Niall to the front door. I wheeled out of the driveway in the Celica seconds later and stopped, looking into the driveway, hoping for one face in particular to appear. The harder I stared, the more my vision blurred. I began to count to ten in my head.
Please come out here.
I need you.
I need you to chase after me.
Show me you care.
You have to care.
I love you.
You’re the only person I need to stop me-
And then everything will be okay.
Please, assure me that everything will be okay like you always do.
But Harry never appeared. Heartbroken, I stepped on the gas and left.