☠ Chapter Forty-Four ☠
➳ ARIELLE'S POV
It was hitting me like a baseball hits a bat, or a semi hits a lone, misguided and completely unaware deer on the highway. It was hitting me forcefully, tenaciously, horrifically.
Seeing Zayn again had me crying into my pillow, eating out of tubs of ice cream, watching terrible romance movies, and avoiding calls from my friends. I think for the first while, I was in a state of shock, and so the sense of loss associated with losing him never really hit me. But the second he ran his finger along my jawline at the hospital, my heart stopped in my chest. It froze, and then someone recklessly took a rock solid hammer to it -effectively shattering it into billions of tiny little broken fragments.
I can't believe after seeing him again for the first time since he was in the hospital and i learned of his amnesia, I ran. I ran away like a child because of the way he made my heart race, and my skin flush. I ran away because seeing him again had all of the feelings come rushing back that I've been desperately trying to suppress. I don't want to feel. I don't want to be reminded of the person that I've lost, and yet there he was, making me feel like I was suffocating and his hand was the one around my throat.
The last three days I've gone to work, avoided everyone, and come straight home to hide away in my room. I knew Louis could sense something was off because every time he came he'd knock on my door for minutes, even hours sometimes, tenaciously asking for me to let him in. But I'd never let him in and eventually he'd leave because he had to. I didn't want everyone to know what was going on. I'd been enough of a pain in the ass to everyone around me lately, I refused to cause even more trouble.
I still can't stand the thought of losing him, but that's the thing, I've already lost him. I lost him a long time ago. I can't even stand losing the last ounce of him I have left. One of the shirts he once wore hangs in my closet, so I can wear it on days like today. I wait for the day when I'll have the strength to wash away the last scent of him. But I don't know that I'll ever have the strength, because each time I breath in the scent of him left on the fabric, it brings up another memory of him, and I'm right back to being a mess.
Hayes and Rae could tell that something's been off with me the last few days and I've been pestered with questions about what's wrong with me. They don't understand it, and frankly, I don't want my co-workers being so involved in my personal life. I think I need some distance between my personal and professional lives. Besides, things are already awkward with knowing that I kissed Rae and Hayes saw it, and quite possibly saw me naked. Hayes especially seemed a little worried about me, eventually even letting me go home early today.
After he'd let me go, I went straight to get another tub of cookie dough ice cream and went home. I grabbed a spoon, changed clothes, and started watching some shitty Christmas romance movie that was probably making me feel even worse about my situation than before. Watching her fall in love and go through a tiny breakup only to get back together with him was nothing compared to what I was feeling. Why couldn't the breakup between Zayn and I last ten minutes like it had for the woman in the movie?
"Arielle, let me in," Louis pleads from the other side of the door. "Please." He knocks lightly on the wood and I hear him sigh heavily, probably feeling totally defeated with me. I'm not even sure why he was trying anymore, because I was hell bent on never leaving this room unless absolutely necessary.
"No Louis, I'm fine." I put my tub of ice cream down on the side table along with my spoon and tuck myself under the blankets, pretending to watch the movie. In reality, I was more interested in doing anything else than watch people fall in love. I was trying to get my mind off of love . . . why exactly am I watching a movie all about the damn feeling?
"No, you're not. Please just let me in, or I'll be forced to break this fucking door down." He tries to say it intimidatingly but he never sounds scary. He's too soft and his voice comes out sounding like a child throwing a tantrum, not a grown man telling me to open the door.
"No," I yell at him, hiding my face into the blankets while inhaling the smell of Zayn's shirt.
Suddenly a loud thump! startles me. Another thump follows, and I realize that Louis is literally trying to break the door down. "Louis, stop!" I yell at him, throwing one of my small cushions at the door in annoyance.
"Not until you let me in or I break in!" He yells.
"Louis, you're crazy!"
"I'm not mad!" Another thump. "Just a concerned friend! Now open the door!"
"Alright, fine!" I yell and huff, throwing the blankets off me and storming over to the door. I'm not sure that Louis would be able to break this door down, but listening to the constant noise from him attempting to is annoying as hell. I jerk the door open only to find that he isn't on the other side. "Where-?"
"I'm getting liquor! Please don't have second thoughts, I'll be right there!"
I groan out in annoyance and crawl back under my comforter. After a few minutes, Louis arrives in the room with some whisky and shot glasses. "Alright, shuffle over," he says, pointing towards my bed. I don't bother budging and so Louis takes it in him to move me himself. He picks my legs up and moves them over, and then he does the same with my upper body, earning a squeal and a yell. He crawls under the sheets, lying behind me on my bed. "Now, tell me what's wrong."
"No," I murmur into the sheets.
"What happened with Zayn?" Louis asks.
I slowly and carefully roll over to face him. "Why do you think this is about Zayn?"
"Because you're wearing his shirt, love. You never wear his shirt unless you're sad."
"How do you-"
"You've been living here for a while now . . . I notice things Ari." He says quietly and it makes my heart slow in my chest. Is it really that noticeable? I mean, other than the last few days where I've been hidden away in my room, was it that obvious that something's been bothering me?
"Oh," I mumble.
"Now, what's bothering you? Was he an asshole? Do I need to kick his ass?" Louis asks with a smile. The thought of Louis attempting to kick Louis' ass causes me to chuckle for the first time in days. "What?" Louis asks.
"Like you'd be able to kick his ass."
"Hey!" He pouts.
"I'm sorry, but it's true."
Louis gives me a look, "that's just mean." He looks around the room, "now stop bloody distracting me and tell me what happened." He takes in sight of the sappy movie and the tubs of empty ice cream in my garbage. It's obvious that I'm a mess, with trash all over my room, and clothes strewn about, but Louis doesn't say anything about the mess.
I sigh before hiding my face in the sheets. "I saw Zayn," I mumble from under the fabric.
"And now you're hiding underneath your bed sheets while wearing his shirt. Ah, that totally makes sense. Thanks for the explanation," he jokes.
I kick his leg, and he moans out in pain. "Shut up! I can't explain it to you, you won't understand it."
"That doesn't mean I won't listen, Ari." He says in all seriousness.
I sigh heavily again. "It's just . . . seeing Zayn brought up all of these unresolved feelings, I don't know. I'm just really sad about everything that happened between us. I just want to be with him again."
Louis sits up in my bed, grabbing the whisky bottle and pouring a glass. He tips the bottle towards me to ask if I'd like some and I meekly nod my head in response. He pours us both a glass and then turns towards me. "Look, it seems to me like you're really focused on what could've been and I think you need to focus on what could be. Listen, Zayn's a hard guy to pin down, y'know? I, personally, think you need to let him do his own thing." I open my mouth to interject, but Louis stops me. "He has amnesia, Ari, and I think for you two to end up together again, the best situation is for him to regain those lost memories. And you can't help him do that. He needs to do that himself. He's consuming your life right now, and it's only going to get worse if you stay like this." He points towards my attire. "You need to find some sense of closure, and move on. That's all you can do."
"Okay there, mister therapist," I joke.
"Shush," he utters. "You know I'm just trying to help you."
"Speaking of closure . . ." I trail off. I down my shot of whisky while waiting for Louis to respond.
"Well, I-" I scratch at the back of my neck awkwardly. "I figured out what'd give me closure. I want to find Zayn's attacker."
"Really now?" He, too downs his shot as if he's anticipating the next part of our conversation to be painful.
I nod. "I think if I knew who did it, it'd really help me. I could finally yell and scream at someone. I could finally blame someone for ending the best thing that's ever happened to me," I say quietly.
"I guess I could help you out," he gives me a small smile.
"I thought I'd start with meeting with your boss." I'm probably way too overly enthusiastic about meeting with some criminal, but I know that meeting with the man or woman would get me one step closer to feeling that closure.
"Whoa," Louis raises his hands up in defence. "Slow down here, alright? You're a mess right now, and that can wait. We're going out tonight, so get dressed."
"Out?" I moan.
Louis gets out of my bed, clapping his hands together. "Yes. We're going to drink until we can no longer walk in a straight line."
"Why?" It occurs to me that the last time I drank - which was only several days ago - ended with me getting so drunk that I woke up in bed with my best friend, not remembering a single event from the night. Didn't I promise myself that I'd never drink again?
He shrugs his shoulders, "because as a friend, I'm willing to do whatever it takes to help you get over this breakup." He turns away from me, leaving me to get ready on my own.
Just what a lonely, heartbroken girl needs: alcohol.
➳ ZAYN'S POV
The home phone rings for the tenth time today until it reaches the answering machine.
"Zayn baby, please pick up the phone! What's going on? What happened with you and Arielle? I can't take this anymore! You fucking asshole, call me already! I'm in the damn hospital and you can't return a single call? I need to see you before they take me to jail. They're taking me to jail, baby. Please just call me. I can't live without you, I lo-"
The answering machine cuts her off. I step towards the phone, yanking the cord out of the wall, effectively ending the calls. Who needs a landline anymore anyways?
Kit had been calling nonstop for the last few days. She continually left pleading messages for me to return her calls, for me to come down to the hospital. She wasn't allowed to even leave the damn building because once she was in good enough health, the police officers were taking her away to go to jail. I imagine she's not going to be in jail for long, considering she's probably only facing possession charges, but it was enough time for me to get away from her. She's starting to come off as some creepy, obsessive stalker, and it's really been weirding me out.
I go throughout the house and find anything and everything that belongs to Kit. I find some clothing and makeup, and I end up tossing it all in the trash. I don't even bother saving the items because she doesn't deserve it. She's a lying, manipulative bitch, and she's clearly psychotic.
Since the crash I've been doubting everything she ever told me. She told me we'd been together for months, and I don't believe it. I believe it was all a lie. Maybe we were together at one point or another, but I know myself well enough to know that it wasn't for a long time. I wasn't a long-term relationship type of guy before and I'm definitely not one now. Kit tried her best to change me into whoever she wanted, but I can gladly say that it failed epically.
Since realizing that she was a liar, I can't help but wonder if every single thing she ever said to me was a lie. Is her name even actually Kit?
After making sure that Sky has some food and water, I head out, catching a taxi to head straight to the storage container I owned. It wasn't a long drive to get there, but it felt like forever because I knew what was going to be inside of that storage shed. It was something I didn't exactly want to see because I knew it'd bring up a lot of unresolved feelings, but at this point, I had no choice.
When we pull up the the business, I throw the driver some money and get out. I head straight for the row with my shed, but I have to take a moment to breathe deeply before putting the key in the lock. The second that I pull the door up, my breath instantly hitches in my throat.
Now this was truly the last connection I had to my father.
A 1969 Camaro SS.
The vehicle was black, with two white stripes up the hood. It was my father's car; his one true love. He had completely customized the vehicle, with Malik painted on the exterior, and green thread used in the stitching of the seats, and a skull shaped gear shift knob. I hadn't seen this car in years - ever since my father passed and I'd found out it'd been left to me - and now that I'm standing before it, my heart is pounding in my chest and my palms are sweaty with anticipation.
Someone close to me had been coming out here for the last few years to give her yearly checkups, ensuring that she's still well-kept and will run without problems, so I'm hoping and praying that she'll start just fine.
I pull her key out my back pocket and reluctantly unlock the door. Now that I'm standing directly beside the vehicle, the overwhelming smell of cigars becomes apparent, and it instantly reminds me of my father. I run my hand along the leather of the seat, remembering every single time my father sat behind this wheel. I can remember when I was a teenager, I wanted nothing more than to drive this car, but hell would have frozen over before he let me. And so once when I was sixteen, I stole the car. He was asleep and I took the keys and all I did was drive around Miami. I just wanted to experience why he loved this car so much, and I remember driving around and I suddenly understood the exact reason why. It was all wonderful until he learned of what I'd done and I was grounded for weeks.
It was going to take some getting used to, but I know that I'd have no problem when it came to driving this car. I knew that with what my father taught me, that I could dominate on the racing circuit, import or muscle.
I sit in the seat, and admire the feeling for a moment. The feeling of old leather, and the smell of my father. Eventually I gather the courage to put the key in the ignition and I bring the car to life. She starts with ease, and I have to close my eyes at the familiar feeling of being in a muscle car. The vibrations are almost euphoric to me. It's a completely different atmosphere from my Skyline. This car has comfortable, roomy seats and no fancy electronic dashboard.
When I rev the engine, the noise alone radiates and vibrates within my chest cavity. I shift the car into gear and drive out of the shed, and the sound is instantly music to my ears. It's the sweetest music that gasoline can create, and it has me smiling from ear to ear. My heart's thrashing about in my chest, and I suddenly can't remember the last time I ever felt like this.
I quickly close up the shed and I'm racing down the highway with the music blaring and the windows down. I can't remember the last time I ever felt this alive.
➳ ARIELLE'S POV
I wake with a startling, quiet gasp. My eyes go wide and I have to look around at my surroundings. The nightmare I just had has me terrified, and when I don't recognize where I am, I begin to panic even more. It takes me a moment before I realize that I'm in a hotel room somewhere, and that's when I try to figure out how in the hell I even got here, but I can't.
Why did I ever go out drinking with Louis?
I sink my head into my hands, effectively sitting myself up on the bed. I just had the worst nightmare, and it was about Zayn. I'd dreamt that the two of us were together again, and that he was participating in a race, where I was sitting in the passengers seat. But then he had to brake because of an idiotic person jaywalking, and then all it was was screeching of tires, and crunching of metal, and screaming coming from my lungs. And then when I was finally able to pull myself from the wreckage, I found Zayn on the asphalt, with blood pouring from a head wound. When I went to check for a pulse, there was none, and all I can remember is screaming and screaming until I finally woke up. It was horrific, and right now all I wish is that I could call him and check that he's okay, but then I remember that I'm not dreaming anymore. This is reality, and we're not together anymore.
When I stand from the bed, I freak. I literally freak right the fuck out because I'm completely naked.
And then I look to the bed and notice a man's back, and like me, he's naked. I pull the blanket up a little to confirm that theory, and when I notice the sight of his naked bottom, I know that I've done a very bad thing.
Not again . . .