Cab | Louis Tomlinson

If you met someone who spoke to you in the same way you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend?

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6. ☓ chapter five

I expected him to look different. I don’t know in which way, but he’s certainly nowhere close to what I imagined. It’s not a bad thing, though – I’m surprised a guy like him would be a cab driver. He looks like someone who could go to my school.

  “Are you Lyndsey?” he asks, gently sending me a smile.

  I nod, completely taken away by his voice. It’s so light, so beautiful – like a simple breeze on a warm summer day or sweet music in my ears.

  “I’m the one who makes sure you get to your appointment at Riverdale Grange.” I wonder why he avoids telling me his name. “Are you ready to go? The car is waiting just a few feet away.”

  My tongue has been tied in a bunch of knots. I desperately want to answer him, but it seems like he’s stolen my ability to talk. All I can do is nod once again while picturing the bobbing head doll I am.

  Not only around him am I nodding to everything. Lately, I can’t say no or act the least negative because it will alarm my parents and everyone around me. They all act so careful around me, as if I’m made of paper, unable to get through the stormy weather. The thing is, I am strong. It takes being strong to even look at yourself in the mirror after something like what happened to me, and I don’t think anyone realises that. They never think of what I went through or why it changed me, and they didn’t care to tell the psychologists about how it really went down, so we’re all stuck in this middle stage where we keep going in circles.

  I want to yell at my dad for letting me lose my grip of the personality that was once mine. I want to yell at my mom for clinging to it in a way that makes me wonder if she’ll ever see me as the girl I am now. I want to yell at Cami for finding some new friends even though she had every right. I want to yell at the staff at Riverdale Grange for taking away the last trace of pride I had in me.

  Mostly, I want to yell at myself for ruining my own life.

  He’s a real gentleman. Before I have as much as moved my hand, he’s ahead of me, opening up the car door. “Ladies first,” he says and plants a few seeds of redness in my cheeks, so I’m forced to pretend to brush aside some almost non-existing bangs to hide it even though it makes the whole situation even more embarrassing in my case.

  The temperature inside of the car is perfect. I tend to freeze a lot (apparently, it’s one of the many disadvantages of suffering from anorexia), but I like it in here. I always loved the sentiment in cars – how close our bodies are to each other without it getting uncomfortable and that smell of dust mixed with whatever the driver smells of and a tiny bit of gas.

  When I was younger, I used to fall asleep on the car ride home. I still get sleepy if it’s a long trip, but now, the vision outside the window fascinates me more than my dreams. In general, I like to avoid sleeping because all it does is bring up some memories I’d rather repress.

  “So, what’s your name?” I ask as he starts the engine. “You know mine, so it’s only fair if I know yours, as well.”

  He laughs and reveals a perfect set of teeth. “Fair enough. My name is Louis if you’re that curious.”

  There’s so much joy in his eyes I can’t help but admire. As he focuses on the road while keeping that smile glued to his face, I watch him and how his eyes light up the entire situation – there are wrinkles around them that makes him seem old, but young and humble at the same time.

  “Tell me,” he says and draws me out of my thoughts, “how did a girl like you end up at Riverdale?”

  A girl like me. What kind of girl is that?

  I shrug. “I don’t know … It’s a long story, I guess. Complicated.”

  I’d rather hear about why a guy like him chose to give up a real career to drive people around without even earning that much. I mean, why want to throw away a good life without any notice to become something you know you could do better than? Why become such a small, negligible thing in this world that no one will remember anyway?

  I could ask myself the same question.

  We drive in silence for a little while. I can tell he wants to know about this complicated story of mine, but I also know that if I tell him, it will ruin his first impression of me – it always does. People tell you your past doesn’t define you, but it does, and that’s the truth. You can’t escape it because as soon as you mention it, everything changes; the warmth that was once surrounding you has turned into snow and leaves you out in the cold, waiting and waiting for death to pick you up.

  I somehow always pictured death as a beautiful angel with long, silky hair that glows in even the darkest places. Her eyes are too light for any human to face, and the skin is smooth and baby-like, as if she represents everything an adult wishes to get back in life.

  She’ll come to you and grab your hand while you’re resting your head. You’ll be scared as hell, but at the same time, you’ll feel this indescribable relief. It’s finally over – you can finally rest in peace, knowing you found your place in this world. You’re satisfied with what you have accomplished, and the thought of how many people you leave behind doesn’t even brush your mind – not anymore.

  In no time, you’ll find yourself on the other side where everything’s a lot easier and calmer.

  Sometimes I dream of a place with no judgment. I like to believe that a place like that actually exists – a place where everyone can have a new start without any bad memories following you around, where old Facebook-friends don’t contact you and where you can get a clean slate. I’d like to blossom again and this time, I’d like it to be bathed in sunlight and small kids talking about how pretty I am. The last few times, I’ve had to grow in the snow, hanging around with my head while letting out a sigh that no one seems to hear.

  Snowdrops never last much longer than a single season – I’ll melt along with the ice.

  “If it’s a comfort, I’m really good at complicated stories,” he says after a while, so it takes a while to figure out what he’s talking about. “I have a long history involving those – I’d love to listen.”

  I tend to forget that people around me are real, as well. They all have pasts and stories they want to escape just like me, but it still feels like I’m the only one in the world. We’re all so isolated and in our own thoughts that nothing can really reach us. Telling someone about how you feel is like calling someone inside an elevator – all you can hear is noise and scratchy voices without making out what the actual message is.

  “Thanks,” – I smile at him, – “but it’s really nothing. I’m just doing all of this for my mother because she gets so worried sometimes.”

  “Well, she must have a reason to worry, right?” he continues and glances at me for a second before turning to the road again. “Listen, I don’t mean to snoop, but it seems to me like you have a lot buried, and that’s not healthy for anyone. I may be driving you to an appointment with your psychologist, but I know how that can be – I personally never got that much out of it.”

  I think about his words for a few seconds. They make me wonder if the reason I’m never hungry is because I have been fed up with all these lies, these fake, almost professional smiles. Maybe there’s an explanation for my tired eyes and urge to sleep even though I can’t if I want to avoid the memories knocking on my door. Maybe the empty space that was once in my stomach has been replaced by dizziness from switching from one world to another; from my head to reality.

  “Maybe another time.” I laugh to make it seem less dismissive, but it only makes me feel even more arrogant and mean.

  He doesn’t answer. Instead, he keeps his eyes locked on the road, silently humming to the song playing on the radio. I didn’t even notice it was playing until now – the desperate voices are so silent it sounds like background noise; it blends in with the grunting engine and Mother Nature’s gentle breath. I find it nice, though – I’m glad he’s not one of those loud people who can’t seem to leave the costumer alone and finds it necessary to always have a conversation going to avoid awkwardness.

  I always loved when two people can sit next to each other without really saying anything, but still feeling like the unspoken words have been said.

  The drive seems a lot shorter than the time my mom picked me up. Maybe it’s because I’m so comfortable as I sit here – I don’t count the seconds while looking out the window to avoid eye contact or wish to myself that I had something exciting to tell her even though my life has been nothing but idle.

  “I’ll pick you up in … 30 minutes? Is that all right?” he asks as soon as the car holds still. “Or is 45 more suitable?”

  “30 sounds fine,” I answer as my hand nears the door handle. “Thanks for the ride. I guess I’ll see you in a few?”

  He nods, waving at me as I open the door. The sun is shining and smiling at me in a way it hasn’t for a while now. I don’t know why, but somehow, I find this day … different. The people around me are still the same, and I haven’t really changed either, but there is this thing in the air that I can’t seem to put my finger on.

  I find this feeling almost a little amusing since all I am doing right now is going back in time – I’m standing at the very place I was dying to escape from just a few days ago.

  My footsteps are the only thing echoing through these halls as I look from left to right to scan the area. No one’s here – they’re probably locked up somewhere as always. It doesn’t surprise me because the patients were never really able to go outside unless it was an urgent emergency – this is just the place where everybody checks in, and the kids tell their parents goodbye while preparing themselves for a number of days in hell.

  I am thinking of Louis and why in the world he would want to be a cab driver when I feel a light poke on my shoulder. To my surprise, it’s Becky and Erin – I’m happy to see them, but I can tell the feeling isn’t exactly mutual. They’re both standing in an odd way I can’t seem to encode – they seem glad, but at the same time not.

  I want to smile at them, but nothing really happens. The looks on their faces aren’t exactly friendly even though they try their hardest to make it seem like it. But we all know I betrayed them by leaving them behind at this place, and that’s something they haven’t forgotten.

  Here at Riverdale, we see it as a crime when someone leaves their roommates and other friends behind to continue living their own. No one wants to acknowledge it or admit how much of a sin it is, but we all know it deep down. We girls have to stick together when the whole world is barging in, and I didn’t – instead, I left them out in the cold just because I got a silly offer.

  If I could, I would’ve said something, but instead, I just stand there and stare at them while waiting for them to break the silence. It’s not exactly awkward, but you could call it uncomfortable as I stand here all alone while they’re close enough to be Siamese twins.

  They stare at me with wide eyes, reminding me of two owls in the night. They’re both watching their prey as they await the perfect time for an attack – I am nothing but a tiny mouse that is wandering around the wrong place at the wrong time, and soon, my chest will be ripped open to reveal a missing heart.

  It scares me how two people can go from being closer than ever to nearly not knowing each other at all. I used to stay up until late to hear about Becky’s day and how much she misses her psychotic boyfriend who treats her like shit even though I wanted to tell her how stupid she was for staying with him. I used to always have her back and support her; to listen, knowing that that was all I had to do in order to make her feel better.

  Where did that time go?

  “I guess you’re here for your appointment?” Her smile is genuine, but not really. “With your psychologist?”

  I slowly nod, glancing them a tiny smile. “Yeah, I didn’t expect to stumble onto you guys, though! How have you been doing?”

  The act is not intentional – it almost never is anymore. It shows its face, makes its arrival, when I expect it the least, and that’s probably what I find the most disturbing. I used to have an on/off-switch, but lately, it’s turned into this automatic thing I can’t control. All I know is that I can’t be myself around people I wouldn’t give my life for, and there aren’t too many of those people.  

  Erin is standing behind Becky like a little girl in front of her new, scary teachers. It’s a little ironic, considering she’s the oldest, but I guess some people never really grow up. Some are forever trapped in rewind, going through the good times even though they’re long gone.

  How come we never stay in the age of innocence forever?

  “Fine,” Becky says. “We’re all doing really well.”

  Her words are poisonous, like snake venom.

  It’s a slow process. One moment you’re happy for the person, the next you’re asking yourself why the person didn’t stay for your sake. The more you think about it, the more you realise all the bad stuff about that one person. It’s like an exam where you get a B or a C; at first, you tell yourself it’s all right and that you did the best you could do, but then you get a few days to really overthink it and talk to your friends about their straight A’s, and suddenly, it doesn’t feel as good as before.

  “Sounds nice,” I answer, knowing that it’s a stupid idea to act as cold as her. “Well, I’d love to hear more about how it’s been, but I’m really late for my appointment.”

  Or maybe I just don’t want to be reminded of my ugly betrayal.

  “Oh, yeah, right,” Erin says. “Well, we’ll see you then?”

  Even if I come across them again, it’ll probably be just like this time – a chat about the weather, a sinking feeling of failure and some half-hearted smiles containing more than a million emotions. I won’t be able to look into their eyes and tell them about my life outside these walls when I know they’re not the slightest interested in hearing my story – you won’t want to hear any spoilers about the ending before even reading the first chapters.

  “Sure!” Lies. “Sure, of course.”

  There is a bittersweet taste on my tongue. I’ve never experienced actually being able to feel this kind of disgust – knowing that if you get close enough to a person, your breath alone could kill – but as I look Erin in the eye, I can’t help but wonder if I’m the only one who has a completely dry mouth and urge to brush my teeth, no, my entire face, hundreds of times.

  I feel so dirty around them because of all I’ve done. There’s always so many to blame for what has happened in life, and right in this situation, I’m the problem. I’m the one who let my friends down, the one who has no right to be mad at my mother when I’m as much of a fiasco as her.

  I get a short glimpse of Erin brushing her red bangs aside before turning around.

 

---

 

I won't be updating this story the next few weeks! The competition I'm entering ends in two days, and I am pretty sure I can't come up with a good chapter in such short notice.

I don't actually have a chance at winning because the story has to be finished by deadline, but oh well, I'll still follow the rules just in case.

Just wanted to thank you guys for your amazing support! I appreciate it so much, and even though I don't win this one, I'm really glad I got the chance to give English stories a shot.

- A

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