“So is it true?” Amelia felt bad for putting her friend on the spot, but she had to know. Having held back all day from asking her, it was eating her away and she need to know if what Jake had said was true.
Veronica closed her locker and looked at Amelia shocked. “Are you seriously asking me this right now?”
“Yes.” Amelia said. “I need to know what really happened that night.”
“Nothing.” Veronica told her. “Nothing happened. I didn’t cheat on him, and I didn’t make out with Avery!”
“Then why is Jake going around telling people that you did?”
“I don’t know!” Veronica didn’t want to have to tell her the truth. It wasn’t just something you said, even to your best friend, and she felt like it would just cause more problems if anyone knew about what really happened.
“Veronica, I know when you’re lying.” The small girl said with a frown. “What are you lying to me about?”
“Amelia, just trust me on this.” She hiked her bag higher onto her shoulders. “I didn’t kiss Avery okay.”
“Well how am I supposed to believe that when you won’t even tell me what really happened?!” Amelia hadn’t meant to yell, but she was growing frustrated with Veronica’s cryptic behaviour. She just wanted the truth, and clearly she wasn’t getting it from her own best friend.
Veronica’s brows furrowed. “Why are you yelling at me?”
“Because I don’t know what to believe Veronica!” She groaned. “Jake’s telling me one thing and you’re telling me another.”
“And what reason do you have to doubt me?” Veronica didn’t know what to do. She had never really seen Amelia mad before. Well at her at least. The flames in the small girl’s eyes had never really ever been directed to her before, so she was feeling a little nervous about how this conversation would end.
“Because you’re not telling me the full story.”
“And clearly neither is Jake.” The words flew out of her mouth before she could stop herself. “Because I’m guessing he never told you that he tried raping me and that’s why I broke up with him.”
Amelia stood frozen, eyes wide, looking at her friend. The apology she was ready to say was now caught in her throat as she imagined Jake forcing himself on her best friend and she wanted to cry.
“There’s your full story.” Veronica’s voice was monotone, but her eyes showed annoyance, fear, and a lot of anger. She didn’t see why Amelia couldn’t just trust her just this once. Then maybe she wouldn’t be looking her at stunned and at a loss of words, pity evident in her eyes, making Veronica want to puke. Pity was something she hated seeing in people eyes when they looked at her, and seeing that very expression on her best friend’s face made her upset. “Are you happy now?”
She didn’t exactly give Amelia much of a chance to talk before she turned on her heels and headed out of the school. Today had been a shitty day and so far was only getting shittier. She almost didn’t even want to hop onto her bike, because she knew it wouldn’t be a smart idea to drive while she was upset, but she desperately wanted to just get home and sleep this frustration away.
She thanked god she had arrived home safely as she opened her apartment door and walked in. Not hearing any sounds in the house, she assumed Travis wasn’t home and was immediately glad. She wasn’t really in the mood to have him watching her every move.
As she dropped her bag and collapsed onto the couch she felt the events of her day finally weigh in on her. They hurt and anguish she had been hiding all day was suddenly too hard to control and it spilled out of her. Her quiet sobs filled the room and she was now even more glad that Travis wasn’t home and eventually she just fell asleep, tears still running down her face and soaking into the couch before all that was left were just silent sniffles.
However, no more than an hour later she woken up by the loud slap of the door hitting the wall as it swung open. In storming Travis, a look of rage on his face. What he was mad about, Veronica had no idea. At the moment the only thing that was concerning her was reducing the pain coming from her nose after she fell face first off the couch.
“What the hell’s got your panties in a knot?” She asked, placing a finger under her nose then pulling back too see if she was bleeding. She wasn’t.
“So that’s why you wanted me to drive you home that night?” He asked. The door was still wide open but Travis was standing in front of her.
Veronica adjusted herself on the floor and sat up, her back resting against the couch, and she had to crane her neck just to look at him. “I didn’t cheat on him.”
“That’s not what the whole damn school is saying!”
Veronica sighed, extending one leg in front of her while bring one towards her and resting an arm on it. How could this day get anymore worse? “Look Travis, if you want to believe what everyone is saying, go right ahead, but I don’t need you judging me based on what other people are saying.” She looked him dead in the eyes, hoping he would believe that she hadn’t done anything wrong. “I mean think about it. If I cheated on him, why would I have cried so much about it?”
“Maybe you felt regret.” He suggested.
“I regretted it alright,” She said darkly. “but not for what you think. I regretted dating him because the entire relationship was a bet between his friend.”
He looked at her astonished. “You’re kidding right?” She looked at him condescendingly and he felt bad for asking such a stupid question. “Well then why is he telling people that you cheated on him?”
At this point she wondered what was the use even lying to him. So far he seemed to be the only person that was willing to listen and one person already knew, so what one more gonna do. “I guess he was scared that I was going to tell people about him trying to rape me, so he did his best to try and make me look like the bad person.”
“What an asshole.”
Those words brought joy within Veronica’s heart as she was glad someone was finally seeing him as she did. As an asshole. A self-righteous, selfish, arrogant, pompous jerk that she had fallen blindly in love with. Everyone else didn’t seem him like that though, and it pained her to think that people were actually encouraging him to make her life a living hell.
“So are you okay?” Travis asked, moving around the coffee table and sitting next to her on the ground. Both their legs were under the table, but only his actually extended past it.
Veronica shrugged. “I’ve had worse days.”
“What do you mean?”
“Doesn’t matter.” She said with a shake of her head.
“Why do you do that?” He suddenly asked.
“That,” he said, slightly gesturing to her with his head. “You open up for a small fraction of a second then like a spring, you recoil back. You push people away when they’re trying to help you and that’s what I’m trying to do. It’s clear you’re going through a shitty time and I’m trying to be there for you, but you won’t let me.”
She turned her head to look at him warily. “I’ve spent years building up my walls Travis. You couldn’t imagine how hard it is to keep them up lately, and even more than that, I feel like the more time I spend around you, the quicker it’s crumbling.”
“But it doesn’t have to be so bad for your walls to crumble.” He said softly. “Well, at least around me anyways.”
She had no idea she had felt that way until she had said it. It truly never occurred to her that after he had picked out those little things about her the day before, that it might’ve had something to do with her feeling a little more temperamental today. If things were different, she thought, maybe she wouldn’t have yelled at Amelia, and she might’ve even forgiven her for accusing her of kissing Avery. But she was tired of hiding behind a stone cold expression in an attempt to persuade people that she was okay, when she really wasn’t and quite frankly, she felt good when she spoke back to Amelia. It made her feel like she was finally in control, and if she had known that it would make her feel better to finally say how she was feeling, she would’ve done it a long time ago.
So as she looked at Travis, she wondered just how bad it would be to finally tell Travis what’s on her mind. It couldn’t be all that bad. Just give it a shot! A voice in the back of her head yelled, and that apparently the right amount of encouragement she needed in order to spill her guts to him.
“My dad is in jail, my sister was murdered, and my mother is dead.”
It came out just like that. Blunt and unexpected, and for a second Travis didn’t know what to say. But he soon found his words and with a humorless chuckle he said. “Well a shitty childhood is more than enough for someone to have such thick walls.” He took a pause to breathe, because with that one sentence he was a lot more overwhelmed than his stoic expression showed. “So let’s break this into little pieces. How did your mother die?”
Veronica bit her lip. “She was in a motorcycle accident and passed away when I was 9. It really hit my family hard. My dad more than my sister and I.” He asked her what happened and with a churn of her stomach, she continued on speaking, her voice cracking as she did. “Besides raping both my sister and I, he beat my sister to death.”
The room went silent, neither of them saying a thing. The most Travis could do was take in the information, putting the pieces together and doing his best to understand her. Tragedy stories like that were ones that he had only read in books and watched in movies, but hearing that it had actually happened to someone he knew, he didn’t know what to say.
“I’m so sorry.” He muttered. His arm swung over her shoulder and for once she didn’t flinch. She didn’t notice at the time, but what she did notice was that she didn’t push him away. Instead, she laid her head against his shoulder and welcomed his embrace.
Travis realized that there wasn’t much he could really say, so he just stayed quiet and let her cry into his chest like she had a few nights before. This time, he at least knew why, and he continued to hold her tighter as her sobs grew louder, and just like earlier, she grew tired again and soon fell asleep, this time against Travis’ chest