After that night Arianna and I have been in the same routine from when we woke up to when we went back to sleep. Since what happened our parents haven't been very pushy, they gave us space, don't force either of us to school knowing we'd both put up a fight, and they don't pry. The day after she was released from the hospital and we got a call from one of the detectives saying they had Luke in custody, I told this to Arianna but not even that could bring a small smile to her face.
Arianna hasn't been herself not once, she just walks around like a zombie barely eating, just sitting in the shower for an hour, and watching tv even though the cable box won't be on. I've never known someone who has been raped so I wouldn't know how to help or what to do, all I've been able to do is just be there when she really needed me. Being the kind of people who aren't really good with emotional others, so to help my mom makes hot chocolate. And to be honest she made at least a thousand in the past week, my dad is no better when he sees tears he sneaks away and hides. He's not good with emotional situations.
Kelly doesn't know what to do or say to Arianna so she just hovers, sometimes around the corner, in the hallways, or at least near by if she's needed. But Arianna doesn't talk to her, when she's ignored Kelly just leaves to binge on frosting or some kind of dessert she bought at the store. It's always up to me to go after her and take the spoon away while trying to comfort her. Since Arianna wouldn't let Kelly mother her, Kelly had to do the other thing she could, Baby me. I knew if I rejected her it'd only make things worse so when she wanted to hold me for twenty minutes I let her, if she wanted to brush my hair I'd sit still for her, and if she needed someone to help her around the house I'd be right there. I felt bad for her but then I knew it was a matter of time before Arianna would stop ignoring her and Kelly would go back to being her mother.
I may sound selfish but I just want my life back.
This wasn't about me but I was the only one Arianna let in, that instantly made this whole situation mine. Every problem or breakdown that Arianna had I had to help her through it, but these breakdowns were frequent. One minute she'd be reading a Cosmo or would let me read her the new books we'd bought, and the next thing I knew she would just zone out or start spazzing out and crying. It always took almost an hour to calm her down but when I did she'd fall asleep and wake up in a cold sweat, these were the hardest days.
Sometimes I wished there was more that I could do than just comfort her when she cried, but no one knew how to help her. Being that she was in a bad state my parents and Kelly took Arianna to a therapy session so she could vent out how she felt or at least talk to someone she could trust. There has been no progress. The doctor says she's in a fragile state and like many girls in her position she's still trying to cope with what happened, he also said 'it seems as if Arianna may take a while to accept what happened to her and by the looks of it she may be more unstable than we would like.
This scared me but my parents only asked if there was something they could do, he recommended a prescription for depression pills which I turned down instantly.
They all looked at me completely shocked, "Excuse me Ruby?"
"You heard me, drugging her up won't help make the problem go away it will just make sure she's out of it enough for her to forget about it for a while. It won't help her in the long run so no you're not going to give her bills."
The doctor looked hysterical, "I'm sorry young lady but I am a professional doctor and I do believe these pills do help with people who are depressed."
"Yeah sure but I know my best friend and giving her pills will not do anything." It's safe to say since we were in a public place my parents weren't ready to put up a fight so we thanked the doctor and left the hospital. Outside we were close to the car when I saw Arianna stop, "Anna?"
She stayed silent but pointed in front of her, I followed her gaze to our park down the street, with one glance I knew what she was hinting at. I looked back at my parents, "Me and Anna are gonna go to our park we won't be out long, but don't wait up we'll be fine."
They hesitated before climbing into the car and slowly driving out of the parking lot, Arianna held my hand and we slowly made our way down the street. It was mid October so the weather was a little windy and Arianna had on her black hoodie which was the one thing Caleb left her when he left for California. It was a little big on her but she liked it because it covered her head and came just about her eyebrows, she had worn it since she got home from the hospital. I got lucky enough when she let me wash it once other than that she hasn't taken it off, this depressed stage was really starting to scare me.
Once at the park we only saw a few kids with their parents, I walked over to the swings and sat next to Arianna as she slowly pushed back and forth. Her eyes trailed on the sand making circles with her converse, her hair was pulled back from her face into a ponytail so I could see the sad expression on her face. The single tear drop that rolled down her cheek.
She glanced at me from the corner of her eye but said nothing, I took a deep breath and pushed my swing a little harder, "Ruby thanks for sticking up for me back there."
I was confused for a minute then realized she was talking about the doctors' office, "Oh yeah Anna you know I had to do that."
"No you didn't you wanted to."
"I guess you could say that, do you wanna talk about this?"
"What's there to say Ruby? I know I've been a little depressed but I just don't think I can just go around bouncing around like a cheerleader acting as if nothing happened. I just feel as if I'm not even myself, there's this voice in my head screaming at me for help and then another part of me just wants to die to make all this just go away." Her voice shook as she spoke making tears well up in my eyes, I tried to reach out to her but before I could she jumped up from her swing and walked over to the spinning wheel sitting on it and spinning it around. I frowned but followed her and sat beside her, I grabbed her hand and she happily squeezed back.
"Do you wanna build a snowman?" I sang making a small tiny small twitch at the side of her mouth, she laid her head down on my shoulder and held my hand tight.
"You know Ruby I really wanna know when this will get better."
"Just give it some time."
"Enough." I assured her but she shook her head.
"When will it ever be enough."
October 27th was a depressing day, well more depressing for Arianna than me but it was a bad day. The day started off regular, I woke up to find Arianna sitting up in bed hugging her legs to her chest and crying. Her sobs were soft as if her tears were secrets that she could only know about, my mom said this was either her way of overcoming her rape or just her depression getting worse. I feared that her state of mind had been out of place and it would take a large amount of time to get her back to normal.
She jumped and looked down at me, "What are you doing up I was just uh..."
She wiped her tears and laid her head back down next to mine, instead of saying something she just held my hand and I smiled a little at her. She made a little smile and closed her eyes as if letting sleep overcome her again, but before she could fall back asleep there was a knock at the door.
"Girls are you up?"
I looked over at the door to see my mom, "Hey mom yeah we're up."
"Good um we'd like to speak with you, both of you. Now."
Her voice was worrying me and when I saw the look on Arianna's face I could tell it scared her too, slowly we climbed out of the bed and over to my mom. She led us to the living room and there sat my dad and Kelly, my mom took a seat in between the both of them so me and Arianna took a seat on the couch opposite from them. I gripped Anna's hand as her body tensed looking at our parents, they stared at us and we stared back but no one said a thing.
Kelly went to speak but my mom went first, "Girls I know it's been a ruff two weeks for you and we understand that you needed your space but you can't just ignore your life, so it's been decided."
"What's been decided?" We both challenged.
"You girls will both be going back to school starting tomorrow." My dad deadpanned, my eyes widened and Arianna looked as if her heart had stopped. No one said anything until Arianna stood up.
"No I will not."
Kelly frowned, "Sweetheart I think it's time that you go back to school, you won't get a good education if you stay home and just lay in bed all day. Don't you want to graduate high school you always planned on going to college?"
"That was before I was raped God dammit!!"
"None of you have any consideration for how I feel right now!! None of you know how it feels going day by day wishing I could just go back in time and make that night just go away!! I just want my life back and none of you are even thinking about what this is doing to me." She sobbed.
That's all there was, Silence. Not even I said anything as the tears fell down her face and as she ran from the room. They looked at me but I said nothing, my mom sighed and reached for my hand but I yanked it away, "Ruby sweetie we're doing this for you girls."
I glared at them as I stood and turned to leave the room, they called my name in hopes of me to come back but I didn't even turn back. Once I came to Arianna's room I softly pushed it open to see her on her window sill, the tears still ran down her face and her sobs were barely audible. She looked over at me but looked away instantly, I wished she could look at me longer than five seconds.
Making my way to her side I sat on the floor, I grabbed her hand and rested my head on her knee. Her hand tightened around mine and took a deep breath knowing that our parents wouldn't change their minds.
So the next morning we got up at the crack of dawn though Arianna was reluctant, it took almost half an hour to get her out of bed but I managed. Even though our parents said they were doing this for us we knew they were just trying to get rid of us. Arianna didn't have the energy to change into actual clothes so she stayed in her sweat pants and Caleb's sweater, I knew arguing with her to get her dressed would be useless so I just let it go. No make up, no heels, not even hair down in layers Arianna left her room with a sad excuse for a ponytail, no makeup but chap stick, and baggy clothes that looked like they would slip any second. She made me feel over dressed with my long sleeved shirt and grey cargo pants, I thought that it'd be better to try and repeat our old routine but by the look in Arianna's eye I knew that wasn't happening.
"Ruby I don't wanna do this."
"Neither you or I have a choice, come on let's get something to eat." I whispered wrapping my arm around her and we walked to the kitchen to find Kelly at the stove and an amazing smell permeating the whole house. We sat at the island watching Kelly as she rushed from the stove, to the oven, to the counter, and cabinet, it was funny but we didn't laugh because I knew it would distract her and Arianna wasn't laughing anytime soon.
But after a few minutes Arianna sighed, "Mom."
Kelly jumped and spun around spilling orange juice on the counter, she gripped her heart and laughed, "God you girls need to make noise you know you scared me half to death Jesus."
"Sorry." We said in unison. She smiled and turned back around to the counter, she piled things to and from pots and pans and spun back around to face us. On two plates were bacon, scrambled eggs with cheese, toast with butter and jelly, and chocolate pancakes.
"I thought I'd make a great breakfast for you girl's day back." Kelly smiled. My belly rumbled as I grabbed my fork and scarfed down everything on the plate, about 2/3s of a way done I looked over at Arianna who had only eaten one strip of bacon and a bite of toast. My appetite was gone, I put down the fork and reached for her hand but she pulled back and stood up.
"Let's go so I can just get this day over with." She mumbled and was out the door, I looked at Kelly but she just frowned.
"She didn't even eat a thing, God I just thought this would work..."
I put my hand on her shoulder, "Kelly just give her time."
She nodded so pulled away and walked out to Arianna's Jeep where she sat in the passenger's seat a frown on her face and music blasting. Everyday she just got worse but I never really realized how bad it was, but when I climbed into the car I was almost knocked over by the loud rock music playing in my ears. To anyone who heard the rumors or just saw her like this they would have thought she was the stereotypical depressed girl, I could understand that but it made me sadder to admit it. When I managed to get in the car she didn't even bother glancing at me, her eyes were fixated on her lap where she wrung her hands together impatiently.
"Anna calm down today isn't gonna be that bad."
Silence. Not one word or a glance in my direction, she couldn't argue with our parents about the matte so I guess she would have to just blame me. Instead of trying to get her to talk I just turned the key in the ignition and began the drive to our school, Crookbay high wasn't too far from our houses but I just thought it'd be better on Arianna to take the long way. I could remember when it was Arianna who drove us to school blasting Katy Perry or One Direction even though she knew I couldn't stand the band. It seemed as if these memories were distant ones that happened so long ago when in reality they had happened within this same month, things were perfect and then everything just blew up.
Pulling into the parking lot of the school Arianna took a deep sigh and inched farther down in her seat dreading getting out of the car, "Can we just say we went to school and ditch Ruby?"
"I wish we could Anna but my parents will find out if we don't go today."
She sighed again and grabbed her headphones securing them around her neck and looked out the window, she bit her lip which meant she was nervous she only bit her lip when she was really nervous about something. There was only one parking spot left and just by our luck it was directly in the middle of the lot, everyone in the lot or within eye sight had seen Arianna's Jeep the dark green truck was once waited on to see what Luke would plan for Arianna that day but now people stared and waited to see if Arianna would break down.
"They're all pathetic."
"To them we're the pathetic ones." She whispered. My eyes trailed over all the people as they watched and waited for us, "Let's just get this over with yeah?"
I nodded, "Okay let's get through this day together and when we do I'll take you to Fanni's my treat."
"No, I can't face Freddy not after this."
I felt bad that even though she did nothing wrong she felt as if this was her fault and she had to wear the guilt, but I said nothing as she climbed out. My instincts led me to grab her hand as we began our journey to our first day, I was glad when she gripped my hand back. Though I knew she was nervous and wanted to cry just being back here she held her head high and walked by all the people we whispered as we passed them.
"....can you believe she came back?"
"After what happened I would have thought she'd switch schools."
"Did you hear that he forced her....?"
"Force my ass she wanted it."
"I feel bad all the rumors going around about her."
"What do you expect no one in this school have lives." I looked at the two girls who had pity on me and Arianna, I sent them a confused look which they returned. We didn't need their pity and I knew they meant well but we were fine without their sympathy.
We continued our way through the school and to our lockers where we rushed out our books in hopes to get to class quicker, but that wasn't happening.
"Well well well look who's back." The one person we didn't need to see was Lindsey but of course she was here to make our day worse, "Don't you two look like crap today."
Lindsey Winters was the clique mean girl of our school, she had always hated Arianna because well she wanted Luke but Luke wanted Arianna. So like any jealous girl she did everything she could to get Luke's attention like being slutty, getting drunk around him at parties in hopes he'd notice her, or her favorite threaten Arianna. Most times Arianna would always fight and argue back but now she was too vulnerable to even look Lindsey in the eye
"Oh no cat got your tongue?" Dominique Perry one of Lindsey's best friends laughed, of course being the mean girl she was Lindsey had to have girls that followed her like minions. There was Dominique, Kimberly, Ivy, and Rebecca all annoying and mean just like Lindsey but of course they loved making fun of other people like Lindsey because at least that's better than her making fun of them.
"Leave us alone Lindsey." I groaned and she laughed.
"Oh girls this is rich, shy little Ruby Collins is standing up for Arianna I remember when it was the other way around those were the days. But this is just so much better Arianna what happened?" She said nothing which made Lindsey angry, 'Arianna sweetie look me in the eye when I talk to you."
"Miss Winters is there a problem?" We all looked to the side to see our math teacher Mr. Kent standing at his door arms crossed and tapping his foot.
Lindsey smiled, "No Mr. Winters I was just making sure Arianna was okay and wish her a good day," she walked over and hugged us, "watch your backs."
Her threat was only for our ears because when she pulled away her fake smile was back and her and her clones left down the hall. I looked at Arianna who had already placed her headphones on her ears to block out the world, I frowned and Mr. Kent walked over, "You girls should get going before class starts."
I nodded and lead Arianna to our first class, of course as if they were just waiting our arrival the minute we walked through the door everyone stopped and looked our way. Arianna didn't look up making me have to guide her to our table, I guess the principal told the teachers her situation so every class we walked into the teacher didn't bother to tell her to take off her headphones. Even though with the teacher talking you could still hear the loud music blasting in her ears, during gym we were made to play dodge ball which Arianna got to sit out but not before Lindsey threw a ball at her head.
"Hey!!" I screamed at her but it just made her smirk.
"Oops sorry slipped." Before I could get to her the gym teacher scolded me if I took one more step I'd regret it, I growled and went to check on Arianna. She didn't look at me but I could see the tears in her eyes and with the headphones blasting in her ears she was able to tone me out, the teacher sent Lindsey to the principal but not before she could make a cry baby face at me. I growled tempted to hit her but even she laughed because let's face it I've never been the tough one. Before Arianna came girls would slap my books out of my hands and laugh in my face afterwards, to make it worse I would just stand there until they left. But when Arianna found out about this she would yell at the girls and make them apologize, people were scared of Arianna because well she never backed down or let you talk down to her. That was what always made Lindsey pick on me, she knew I was weak and took advantage of that except when Arianna came. They'd get in heated arguments which led them both to the principal's office, nothing would happen they would just get scolded and on their way but not before Arianna made sure she had won. But now Arianna wasn't as head strong or stubborn she was weak and broken, there was nothing to do but have me take her place as the tough one but to others it was a joke. I would never be the strong on and now neither would Arianna.
Lunch was worse.
To begin when we got into the café everyone's eyes landed on us again, it had been happening all morning so it didn't really bother us but things escaladed. In the lunch line people stood at least five feet away from us which made me thankful for the space but drew even more attention to us, the only good thing was beef tips with pasta so I grabbed that and saw Arianna grab an apple, a bottle of water, and a small salad. I didn't say anything I was just glad she was considering eating, it was easy to find a table one that was in the direct middle it seemed as if this was planned so everyone could get a nice view of the two basket cases of the school. I took caution as I started to eat but made sure Arianna at least took bites of her apple which she did. When I just started to think everyone was gonna give us a break Kyle Summers eased his way into the seat next to Arianna, he smiled and I glared at him but he ignored me and pulling Arianna's headphones off her head.
"Hey there." I said and her eyes widened a little before she shied closer to my side.
He waited for her to speak but I spoke first, "Can I help you?"
"Actually I wanted to talk to Arianna about something," he looked at her again but this time she actually looked him in the eyes, "so my friend Harry said that you let Luke go all the way..."
I growled, "You need to stop right there."
".....And I was wondering maybe I could get a little something too." I smirked, "I'd pay you if that'll make you say yes."
I jumped up ready to smack him when another guy walked over and looked down at Kyle and stood in a lecturing pose, "Now Kyle what did I tell you about talking to the Taylor girl if you get too close she might yell rape."
They both began to laugh but I glanced down at Arianna who was bright red and had tears in her eyes, my anger subsided as I reached to grab her hand but she pulled away and rushed from the table. I looked back at the two boys who still had smirks on their faces looking at me as if they had just won the lottery, I growled at them before rushing to the lunchroom doors and running after Arianna.
"Anna!?" A wave of nausea hit me and I feared where my best friend had run to especially in her state of mind. I rushed to the one place I knew she liked most in this school, the garden club green house, she always loved all the vibrant reds and pinks that surrounded her when she sat in there especially on bright sunny days. But today was a cloudy gloomy day Arianna only went in the green house on dark rainy days when she was really upset or needed to be alone. She would always go to the Tiger Lilies of all the flowers, she would always tell me a Tiger Lily was a beautiful flower full of symbolism, it represented the principles of love, beauty, and mercy. She always said she felt alive when around the bright orange little plants they made her feel happy and free, but she'd always say she found herself much like a Tiger Lily vibrant and beauty everything she was.
But she always made it known, never destroy a Tiger Lily that meant the person who had killed the lily would be filled with hurt and pain, but in most cases whoever dared to kill the flower was already in their depths, lost with no way out feeling as if they had nothing.
Once I stepped in the aroma of sweet flowers met my nose and made me feel at peace for just a second before the low sobs shook me from my stupor, following the light crying I found Arianna in the corner of the green house knees pulled to her chin and tears running down her bright red cheeks. She didn't hear me coming with her headphones back on her head but when I came to her side and wrapped my arm around her shoulder. She glanced up at me slowly and allowed me to wipe away her tears with my thumb, she laid her head on my shoulder and I began to rock her slowly. Looking to my right I noticed a flower, on the right side of Arianna's leg, it was crushed, the petals ripped up into shreds, and the once soft material grounded into the floor.
It was a Tiger Lily.
The day passed quicker than I thought and next thing we were climbing back into Arianna’s Jeep and driving back home. She hasn’t said a thing since lunch and it’s really starting to worry me, even though she has grown to not talk much she still would say a few words here and there. But now all she did was stare out the window the radio on low playing a Michael Jackson song.
“….Annie are you okay? Annie are you okay?”
“Annie are you okay!?”
Nothing, I sighed, “Please say something, anything.”
“No.” Well at least that was something.
“I know we’ve had a rough day but if…” she cut me off.
“If what Ruby? Give it time, I’ll get over it right yeah let’s just try to go back to normal. Maybe I’ll even apologize to Lindsey.”
This shocked me, “That’s not what I was trying to say at all, Arianna I would never make you do that.”
“Whatever Ruby.” She placed her headphones back on and turned her back to me, the pain that shot through me shook me to my core and made tears start to form in my eyes. Pushing them away I kept my eyes on the road and drove the rest of the way in silence.
Once I parked she jumped out and slammed the door, I watched her go into the house with the tears slowly creeping back. I wanted to go comfort her and yet I knew she wouldn’t even let me say a word, I hate this! I hate what he did to my best friend, we never fought and if we did it was joking but with the door slam I knew the anger was real. The tears had begun falling and there was no point in even trying to hold them back.
I jumped up to see Kelly looking at me worried, I wiped my eyes and looked at her, “Sorry Kelly, me and Arianna just…”
“I heard the door slam and her bedroom door too.” I nodded and climbed out the door to see her fully, Kelly was having a downward spiral right along with Arianna. She hadn’t gone to work thank god she owns her boutique with her sister or she’d be going bankrupt, her hair was in the same messy bun since last week, and she’d gotten used to wearing stretch pants and big sweaters.
“Kelly did you go to work today?”
She bit her lip and hesitated, “Um I thought I’d stay home for when you girls got home so I could see how your day went.”
“I know I know I’ll go back to work soon but I’m glad I stayed home today.”
I looked at her curiously, “Why?”
“My lawyer John called” I gulped, “they set a trial date.”
The world around me seemed to drift away, my stomach plummeted to the ground, and my heart stopped, They set the trial date.
“Did-did you tell her?”
“No.” She whispered, “I wanted to tell you first.”
I nodded, “I’ll go um tell her.”
She said nothing but followed me as I walked through the house and descending the stairs and to Arianna’s door, it was locked and made me sigh. I laid my head on the wood pane closing my eyes.
“Anna please open the door.”
She said nothing but I could heard the ruffle of sheets telling me she was on her bed and maybe turned to face the door. There were sniffles and low sobs, she was crying, “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to upset you earlier, I know you need time and it’s just hard. I hate what he’s done to you and I-I just want my best friend back. I just want what’s best for you, I’m right out here for you just let me in.”
I waited, there was ruffling and the floor creaked, the door knob clicked and opened to reveal Arianna, “Did you seriously just quote Frozen?”
“You opened the door didn’t you?”
She sniffled, I lifted my arms up and she didn’t take long before she flung herself into my embrace. It was these moments I cherished, but she slowly pulled away and we walked into her room. I turned back to see Kelly still on the stairs and motioned her to follow us, she hesitated but slowly followed. Arianna was lying on her bed gripping her stuffy bunny Banana Bunny that me and Caleb had pulled together to get her for her 13th birthday, she had named it Banana Bunny because she said it was yellow like a banana. And when Caleb left it became the only stuffed animal she kept because she said it reminded her of him, I smiled down at her as I sat on the edge of the bed.
Kelly slowly took a seat in her computer chair and forced a smile, “How was school honey?”
“Like hell.” Arianna deadpanned without even glancing at Kelly, this made her frown.
“I’m sorry to force you back to school but it’s for the best.”
Kelly looked at me as if crying out for help making me step in, “Arianna the lawyer called” this made her freeze, “they um set the date for the trial.”
I could hear the bulge she swallowed and looked at me, “When?”
“Wednesday.” Kelly spoke. That gives us less than two days, Halloween me and Arianna’s favorite holiday.
“Of course no warning just wham you have two days, what assholes.”
“Arianna!” Kelly screamed completely shocked, Arianna didn’t care she just shrugged and sank farther into her bed, “We have to go to the court house at eleven.”
I nodded and she slowly got up and walked out the room taking one last glance at us, once she was gone I looked down at Arianna and saw tears that were flowing out of her eyes once more.
“I’m happy he’s getting what he deserves but I just don’t know, I don’t think I’ll make it through being anywhere near him again.”
I felt as if there were nothing I could do to help her and yet there was one thing I could do, I grabbed her hand and gripped it in mine.
“Arianna I promise I’ll be there right next to you the entire time and you’ll be fine, I won’t let anything happen to you. After what he did to you he’ll be lucky if they only give him a few years in jail.”
“Do you mean that?”
“Of course I do.”
She smiled and gripped my hand back, but with the day we had she fell asleep not long after and I let her. Pulling the blanket to her chin I watched her chest rise and fall in a quiet rhythm, these were the only times I ever saw her at peace I think her dreams were an escape from her new cruel look on life and horrific reality she was now forced to live.
I love to think that soon my best friend would soon be back to her old happy self once Luke was put away, but maybe even with him gone she’ll still be hating life and never be her old self. I don’t care if she never was her once happy old self I just wanted to see her happy once again.