When I pulled up in the parking lot and parked my truck, I noticed Emily casually smoking a cigarette. My mind somehow cleared and I forgot about everything that was nagging my brain and giving me anxiety. Emily noticed me in my truck and watched as I got out. Her eyes never left me as I walked over to her and smiled. She returned the smile before looking up and blowing out smoke. I chuckled at her.
"Hey Blondie, how was work?"
"Were you waiting for me?"
"I don't wait for people. I save time for no one but myself. But yes, I did." I couldn't help but feel that indescribable feeling I've been getting a lot.
"I hated it. I'm just really tired now." I answered honestly even though she wasn't listening. She had turned her face away so she could continue to smoke without blowing it in my face.
"Bummer, I was hoping you'd be in a good mood." My eyebrows furrowed as I watched her drop the end of her cigarette and step on it.
"I don't know, I just hoped."
"Why the hell are you apologizing? I should be saying sorry to you. Isn't that how it works?"
"Um, friends, kindness, compassion, I could go on but I think you get it."
"I didn't know we were friends."
"Because we're not."
"I don't get it."
"Just follow me."
Emily grabbed my arm and led me inside the apartment building. I smiled the entire time for the mere fact she was holding my arm. Last time she did something like this was three days ago when the power went out. I don't why, but I sorta wished she had taken my hand or wrist instead of my arm. But I didn't complain as we walked up the stairs and stood in front of her door.
"I'm going to show you something. Are you prepared for the unexpected?"
"Should I be worried or nervous?"
"If that's how you prepare for what you are least expecting, then sure."
"Oh my god," I breathed as Emily opened the door to her apartment.
Emily slid her hand down my arm to my wrist before tugging me inside. As she closed the door behind us, I looked around and felt relieved. Her apartment looked exactly the same with filled ash trays laying around and the blinds closed. Nothing was out of the ordinary, so I wondered why had to prepare myself. Am I missing something like an illusion?
"Yeah, so um, the unexpected isn't something you can see. I want to show you a song. It's my favorite. I find it raw and real. I love it."
"Oh, okay." I wasn't sure how I was supposed to react, so I sat down on the red couch and waited for Emily to play the song.
"This song sounds sad." I said after listening to the first two lines.
"This is almost depressing."
"It's about this guy who loves this girl. He's loved her for a while, so he's singing about how it is."
"The girl is a jerk for not caring."
"Maybe she doesn't know and he's too afraid to admit it. The guy is literally a slave to her love."
"He should get over her."
"Can someone do that?" I shrugged.
"He's surely losing, he would be happier ditching her."
"Whatever you say,"
"What song was that?" I asked when it was over and Emily got up to turn it off.
"It was Heart-Shaped Box by Nirvana."
"They're not that bad." She scoffed.
"Okay, because they aren't a legendary rock band." Emily said sarcastically. I decided to just go with it.
Emily had come back and taken her seat beside me. She crossed her legs and put her hands in her lap. She was thinking, but I didn't say anything. I wondered what the unexpected was. Was it the song? Finally, she looked up at me with eyes I haven't seen before.
"Do you remember that guy Kurt from a while back?" Emily asked. I thought and tried to remember because the name sounded familiar.
"Yeah, you two were yelling. You came to my apartment afterwards."
"Kurt is my foster-brother." I stared at her, not knowing how to respond.
"My mom was a heroine addict. Thank god she was decent enough to stay clean while she was pregnant with me. When I was seven, I found her dead in her room after overdosing. She did meth and I remember after she'd shoot up, she would have a smoke. She was the worst mom ever and never cared about me. She would leave me to fend for herself."
"Emily," I whispered when I noticed she was on the verge of tears.
"Now my dad, he's another fuck up. I faintly remember him popping in and out of my life. He was supposedly my mom's fuck buddy. He would come over, get high with her, screw her, then leave. He came over the day I found my mom dead. He found me in the corner of her room, crying my heart out. I remember him cursing a lot. He cried, too, but I don't know why. After he calmed down, he introduced himself to me, but not as my mom's friend. He said he was my dad. I lived with him for a few months and hated it. He was worse than my mom because he was an alcoholic. He didn't care about me. He forgot about me like my mom.
"The neighbors called the Child Protective Services and I was taken into foster care three months later. I was still seven. I liked it there at first. My foster-parents were really nice and they seemed to have cared about me. But they had their own children. I felt like a misfit and I just didn't feel like I belonged. I didn't trust them because I knew they'd end up like my parents. I was some messed up kid shoved into a perfect family. I pushed them away and everyone. When I reached their house, Kurt welcomed me the most. He's a few years older than me and has his own job and fiancé now. He has always tried looking out for me and still does, but he just feels pity."
Emily was in tears afterward. I've never seen her cry and never thought I would watch her walls crumble in front of me. She had opened herself up and showed just how weak she really was. I couldn't sit and watch her cry, so I hugged her. I didn't care if she pushed me away, I knew it was what she needed. She wouldn't want to hear my sympathy or pity for her; she needed someone to show they cared for her instead of hearing it. She needed to know that one person was there for her in her life on their own will and would stay there for as long as time would let them.
"Niall, why couldn't the Harrison family have been my family? Why was I left with Emily Anne Crane and Bryan Stanford? Why did they have to be druggies? Why couldn't they love me? They... they never said that. I never got a hug. They just got high, fucked, or drank. Why? My foster family doesn't care about me. They took me in for the money, I know it. I heard Mr. Harrison had to repossess his car before I got there. They needed money and I was their chance. Kurt told me."
"I-I don't know, Emily."
"You want to know where I get my money and how I pay for this place? Kurt helps me. He gives me money. I use most of the food money and the extra spending money for cigarettes and lighters because that's the only thing that helps." She paused to let out a sob.
"D-do you think I'm unlikeable? No one likes me. My parents hated me. My foster family pretended to like me."
Emily continued to cry in my arms, and her body would shake every now and then. After a while, I felt her tears wetting my shirt and her using it as a tissue to wipe her nose. I didn't mind. I didn't say anything. I felt like crying, too. I wasn't expecting that confession from her or that type of story. I guess this is what she told me to prepare for. This was the last thing I least expected. As she cried, I thought about what would happen after. What would happen tomorrow? I know her secret; the story of her life basically. Will she look at me differently? Will she try harder to push me away? Or was this it? Was this her way of showing me she has given up in the fight and is letting me in? It didn't matter; I was here to stay.
"I'm sorry, Niall. I shouldn't have cried." Emily had finished her tears a few minutes ago.
"Emily, don't apologize. You had every right to cry."
"But I hate crying. Babies cry. I'm eighteen, I'm too old to be crying."
"You're never too old to cry. People get hurt, people cry, and that's how it is and always will be. Crying doesn't make you weak. It makes you stronger."
"Inspirational garbage has no affect on me." I frowned.
"I just... I don't know why I broke down. I planned it out the whole day how I was going to tell you, but I almost chickened out. That's why I showed you my favorite song. It distracted me for a bit. But anyways, now you know why I don't like people."
"Because the people who were most important didn't care for you like you needed and deserved."
"Yeah, it fucked me up at such a young age. I just shut everyone out. I even shut out my best friend when I needed her. I just... I wanted to be alone. I felt alone at home and I was afraid I would end up alone at school, too."
"But you were never alone. You had Hailee and Kurt."
"Yeah, I had Hailee-Wait, how did you know that?"
"Because... um, I sorta work with her and she's kinda my best friend here." Emily's face was expressionless, which scared me.
"You're best friends with me ex-best friend, and you never told me?"
"I didn't think that it mattered or you'd want to know."
"It doesn't matter, but you could've said so."
"It's okay, Niall. I'm glad it's her and not someone else. She's a great person."
"Yup, and funny."
"Yeah, I remember. I miss her."
"No, I will not. My past is my past. I don't mix the two. You will not tell anyone about what happened here. This was between you and me. You know, absorb, and forget. Okay?"
"Good, now I am going to take a few minutes to forget my breakdown in front of you."
"Yes?" She had gotten up and walked to her CD player to play more music.
"I care about you and a lot. I'm not going to leave. Okay?"
"I know you're not. You already said so when the power went out."
As Emily searched through the stacks of CDs on the floor, I realized why she acted that way when the power went out. She tested me; she wanted to make sure I wasn't just playing with her. But I had a hunch she wasn't being completely honest with me. She told me about her dark past and it was too blunt and emotional to discuss it- Emily isn't one to talk about her problems anyway. She broke down because she held it in and told no one, yet there's more to her she's not telling me or showing me. This wasn't the end, but only the beginning of her.
So far, I have learned Emily is a dangerous drug, but she isn't a killer one; as addictive as I am and after overdosing, I haven't died. Hopefully, I don't have to experience the withdrawal symptoms anytime soon or ever. I still didn't care if she would tell me everything about herself or not. She gave me a high, showed me a couple of symptoms, and I'm satisfied with that. Nothing is going to stop me from abusing the drug that she is.
Okay, before you think this was weird, I wrote this chapter this way because this is the kind of person Emily is. Like she said, "Expect the unexpected." It surprised you as much as it did Niall. And fun fact:
I volunteered once at the county hospital which was across the street from my high school for two years. It was actually job shadowing and apart of the Health Careers Academy I was in. Well, for half a school year I was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. That's where the babies who are in critical condition or who were born prematurely go. Many of the babies there, I was told, would never be held by their mother.
One of them, who touched my heart, came from a mother like Emily. One of the nurses said the baby would go into foster care, but there was a whole lot of drama. That's where Emily's background came from. I wondered what kind of person that baby would grow up to be. It didn't inspire this story so much, but as I thought about the character I wanted Emily to be, the baby came to mind.