I closed the door behind me to my apartment and leaned against it as I breathed heavily. My hair had fallen out of its bun and once I finally caught my breath, a loud knocking came at the door. “Stella! Open the damn door!” The voice was inside my head again as I closed my eyes. I wanted the voice to go away. The door knob jiggled a bit and whoever it was had been trying to get in.
“Stella, it’s me.” A familiarity in the sound of his voice came at the door. “No!” I screamed, but I was answering to the voice inside my head. Tears streamed down my cheeks as the pounding continued. “We need to talk.” The voice came again, but it was clearer than the one in my head. “Just go away!” I called out to him.
The pounding lessened and came to an abrupt stop. I slid down to the floor and sat there crying. After a few minutes, I walked into the bathroom and took out the bobby pins. Mascara ran from my eyes and my hair was a mess. I took a shower that relaxed me a bit and then walked into my bedroom. I just wanted to sleep and never wake up.
When monday came around, Liam was the first to notice that something was wrong. He was already sitting down at his seat when I entered the classroom. He leaned over and whispered, “Is everything okay?” I bet some people have noticed my zombie stare. To the world, I looked “dead” and I felt that way. I could even barely get out of bed this morning. My mom had forced me to get out of bed when I complained that I wasn’t feeling well. Though, school was important to me but that wasn’t even enough motivation.
I didn’t answer Liam as I continued to stare at my blank notebook. Class had begun and I miraculously survived my first hours of school before lunch. I sat with Liam and Niall at our table, but I hardly said a word. “Hey Niall.” April, Harry’s ex girlfriend, had walked up to our table with a smile. I later learned that she and Niall had been talking all weekend since homecoming. “Whoa, you look-”
“Terrible? Like a zombie? Dead?” I interrupted.
“Well, if you fixed your hair a bit, maybe you’d look a little less dead.” She sat down next to Niall as Liam moved to the spot beside me. “Thanks.” I sighed. I could hardly eat a single bite of my salad.
“What happened to her?” I heard April ask Niall and Liam. Both boys shrugged because they were wondering the same thing too. “Thank you for an amazing date Harry.” A girl’s voice rang out. I didn’t have to look at her or at Harry to know that they were probably dating. Harry had found a new girl to date. Thank god. “Mind if we join you?” The girl asked as she and Harry approached our table.
“Hey Lauren.” April smiled. “Yeah, go ahead and join us.” Lauren and Harry took their seats in between April and Liam. Lauren was also a girl on the cheer team, co-captain to be exact. She had dark brown hair and green eyes. I didn’t dare to look up from my food because I knew that Harry was directly across from me.
“Liam, I need to talk to you alone.” I emphasized the last word as I took my food and threw it in the garbage. Liam stood up and followed me out of the cafeteria. We were alone out in the front of the school and sat on the bench. “What happened on Saturday?” he asked.
“You saw what happened. Harry danced with me and we almost kissed, but I pushed him away.” I answered.
“Why did you push him away?”
“I-” I swallowed and looked down at my hands as the tears began to well-up in my eyes. I didn’t want to tell Liam or anybody about my past, but I knew I could trust Liam. “I was in a situation like that before, not with Harry but with another guy. I looked into Harry’s eyes and saw- I saw something else- someone else.”
“Who did you see?”
“My ex boyfriend.” Liam didn’t say anything and immediately, I knew he wanted me to elaborate. I did and so, I began to tell him my story.
Three years ago - Freshman Year. San Francisco, CA.
“Mom, I really hope that this is the last time. I don’t want to move anymore.” I was fifteen and the fall semester was already starting. I was fed up with having to make new friends and start over. I have been moving for the past five years. I couldn’t stand to move anymore. We set our bags down in our new apartment. From where we were, I could see the Golden Gate Bridge. It was going to be a beautiful sight, especially when it got dark.
“I promise honey. This will be the last time.” My mom smiled, smoothing the stray hair on my head. She kissed the top of my head and walked into the kitchen to make lunch. I entered my new school that monday. The school was huge and there were many students. Lots of them were looking at me, but I hardly paid any attention to them. I sat alone during lunch because it was difficult for me to make new friends.
“You’re the new girl, right?” A guy walked up to me with a smile on his face. He had jet black hair and brown eyes. His smile was friendly as I just nodded. I didn’t know what else to say to him. He was a year older than me. I learned that his name was Zayn Malik and he was a well-known guy around the entire school. They were always the popular ones; the guys I met anyway.
“I’m Stella.” I said after he told me his name. He smiled, “You have a beautiful name. Where did you move from?” We became fast friends and talked to each other every single day. He was in a few of my classes and we always sat next to each other. We were truly inseparable.
One year ago - Junior Year.
Two years in the same city. That’s a new record. I thought to myself while Zayn and I entered my apartment. My mom had been dating her so-called “boyfriend” for two years. I had the entire apartment to myself for the weekend. Zayn and I had been dating for two years. Everyone in the entire school knew it.
It was the middle of the spring semester and prom was coming up. Maybe Zayn will ask me. I silently thought in my mind. “Are you going to stay here for long?” he asked me as we got into his car. It was Friday night and surely, we both didn’t have any plans. “Honestly, I don’t know. I want to stay here.” Zayn was the only reason why I didn’t want to leave San Francisco. He was the reason why I survived freshman year. I couldn’t imagine life without him.
Zayn drove a red Ford Mustang. I think the color suited his personality nicely. He parked the car in the driveway and we entered the empty house. His parents and sisters were in Los Angeles for the weekend, meaning Zayn had the entire house to himself. “Does it bother you that you’re alone in the house?” I asked him as we sat down on his bed.
He shook his head and smiled, “I don’t mind being alone. It’s nice for a change, not having to listen to my family’s arguments. It gives me an excuse to do this.” He leaned in and kissed my lips. I happily kissed him back as he reached up and caressed my cheek. His lips moved to my neck and I knew that things were going too fast. I slightly pushed him away and shook my head. “I don’t want to rush into anything.” I said.
“We’re not rushing into anything.” he said. The words didn’t match the look in his eyes. He leaned in and kissed me again. This time, it was more passionate than the first kiss. I pushed him away again and stood up from the bed. “C’mon baby, don’t be that way.” His voice sounded maniacal. His eyes were cold and dark. It was as if there was no life in them. He advanced towards my direction, reaching up with a single hand.
I kicked him. Hard. I couldn’t see where, but I ran. I couldn’t run far enough and his hand wrapped tightly around my wrist. He threw me to the bed and began pulling my clothes off my body. I screamed for help, but his hands were wrapped around my neck as he suffocated me. Tears were brought to my eyes and I couldn’t bring myself to look him in the face. “Take it… take it like the whore you are.” He said into my ear.
Those words stabbed me like a knife. Finally, I pushed him off of me and slapped him hard in the face. I knew it wasn’t enough, but I ran for the front door. “Come back here!” Zayn called after me. I ran and only turned my head to see that he was still behind me. I ran out of his house and down the street. I didn’t know where else to go.
Darkness was all around me and not too many street lamps were lined on the sidewalk. He called out my name again and I continued to run. Everywhere hurt. My sides, my legs, and yet, I kept running. I stopped when I thought that I was safe, but I knew I wasn’t. I would never be safe from him. I finally arrived at my apartment and closed the door behind me, then locked it. My mom emerged from the kitchen and saw me in a tattered dress with make-up running down my face. She walked up to me and hugged me as I cried in her arms. “Can we move mommy?” I asked, looking up at her.
“Yes honey.” she answered.
“I never told my mom about Zayn. To this day, she still doesn’t know about the events that happened that night.” I told Liam after finishing my story. I knew Liam was overwhelmed, but to tell him the story was like a huge weight was lifted off of my chest. “Is Zayn the reason why you won’t trust Harry?” Liam asked me. I nodded and Liam wrapped a protective arm around me.
I was thankful for an understanding person like Liam. “I’m just afraid that Harry is going to be exactly like him.” I said. The bell rang to signal lunch had ended and that’s when Liam had to part ways. I hugged him goodbye and watched him enter the building. A few minutes later, Harry emerged from the building with Lauren. “Stella, hey.” Lauren greeted me with a smile and I guess I had to smile back. “Hey.”
“What are you doing out here?” Lauren asked.
“Waiting for a ride.” I lied. I didn’t have a ride because my mom was still at work. “You can ride with us.” Lauren suggested. I looked at her and then at Harry who looked off in a different direction. I shook my head and said, “I shouldn’t-”
“I insist. Any friend of April's is a friend of mine.” She interrupted with a smile, pulling my hand off the bench while I grabbed my bag. She and I walked side by side as we followed Harry to his car, well, the blue Camaro. The three of us got in and Harry dropped Lauren off at her place before driving to the apartment building. He parked the car in the lot and I thanked him for the ride before getting out. “Why didn’t you answer the door?” he asked me as we stepped into the elevator.
“You were the one knocking on the door?” I asked.
“I was just wondering why you ran out.” The elevator stopped on our floor and we stepped out. We walked down the hallway to our apartments. “The infamous Harry Styles… cares?” I asked, raising an eyebrow at him. “Just tell me why you ran out.” he said.
“Have a good day Harry.” I entered my apartment and slammed the door in his face before he could say anything. Why would Harry care if I ran out on him? I bet a lot of girls ran out on him before kissing him. The thought of him being concerned about me troubled me a bit. I didn’t want to confront Harry just yet about the story I had told Liam. I didn’t trust Harry, not yet anyways.