“We need to go somewhere.” Niall said after the movie is over. “Let’s go to a club.”
“Uh, Lyrica is only seventeen.” Irie pointed out.
“What?” Liam asked. “Where are your parents?”
“Uh…” I answered. “They are… at home?”
Liam’s eyebrows scrunched together. “Do you… keep contact with them?”
I hesitated. “Yeah, of course.” I had a staring contest with my shoes as I said this.
“What about your mom? Doesn’t she miss you?” he asked, not believing a word I said.
I sighed, giving up. “She’s dead. And I haven’t talked to my dad in… well, a long time.”
Everyone was surprised, even the girls. I had never told them about my mom.
“So wait.” Quarra said. “You tell them this within a day, but you didn’t tell us for the three plus months you’ve known us?”
I shrugged. “He didn’t believe me when I lied to him.”
“Neither did we, but we respected your privacy.”
I shrugged, grinning. “Guess that’ll teach you.”
“Okay, then what caused you to limp like that?” Harry asked
I stopped smiling and glared at him. “None of your business.”
“Come on, you practically just told us to invade your privacy.”
“Not about that.” I said. “Besides, clubs aren’t open this early anyway. Let’s go somewhere else.”
“A water park.” Harry said, and grinned at me evilly.
“I’ll stay here then. Have fun.”
“Why?” Louis asked. “It would be fun.”
“She doesn’t want to show her leg. She doesn’t wear anything that shows her leg. I think she has a scar. That’s why she limps.” Harry said, smirking.
I spun around and hit him so hard in the arms I popped all my fingers on my right hand.
Harry grabbed my arms and pinned me against the wall, anger flashing in his eyes.
“Harry!” all four boys shouted at the same time, grabbing him.
“I wasn’t going to hurt her.” He said, letting go and stepping back. “I’m just tired of her hitting me.”
Meanwhile I was practically having a panic attack. I turned, and stumbled toward the front of the bus. I felt myself shaking like a leaf.
“Lyrica?” Quarra called. “Are you okay?”
“D-don’t touch me. I gotta go for a minute.” I stammered.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” she grabbed my arms, and I slapped her hand away. I was in full on panic mode now and raced for the front door, exploding out of it and out into the storm. I full on sprinted through the parking lot.
“Lyrica!” I heard Quarra calling. “You have no shoes on!”
But I didn’t stop running. I made it to the edge of the parking lot and into the trees on the other side. It was some sort of national forest here so these trees would go on nearly forever.
Twigs snapped under my bare feet and the pain brought me out of my panic. I leaned down on my knees and breathed heavily, feeling the tears pooling in my eyes.
I didn’t want to remember. I wanted to put everything back where it belongs behind a wall of smiles and friends. I was no longer where I was. I was here. In a band. I had friends. I had people who genuinely cared about me. I didn’t want to remember. I couldn’t. I had to erase it from my memory, or I would turn into some sort of paranoid mess.
Kind of like what was happening right now.
I stood up. “Ugh. I do not want to go back there.” I didn’t want to face what just happened. I didn’t want to see the confusion in their eyes. They all think I’m a freak. That I’m disgusting. But worst of all I didn’t want to see the pity in their eyes as they looked at me, wary. They were all afraid I was going to explode into tears again.
“God, what did I just do?” I asked, leaning my face against a tree.
“Gave everyone a scare, that’s what you did. And woke me up from my nap.”
I gasped as the voice came out of nowhere. I turned and found Crow standing there, leaning against a tree. And I also saw pity.
“Don’t look at me like that.” I said, staring down at me bleeding feet. “Be angry. Yell at me. But don’t pity me.” I said, looking up.
Crow smiled. “You are one of the bravest people I’ve ever met. I don’t pity you. I admire you. You have more courage than anyone I’ve ever met. You’re only seventeen. You’ve gone through something really bad, and you pretend it’s alright. You smile. That’s one of the bravest things you could ever do.” He advanced and laid a hand on my shoulder, leaning down and looking into my eyes. “I want you to know that you can tell me, and I won’t tell anyone. If you ever need it, just say so.”
I smiled, but it turned out more like a grimace. “Don’t be offended if I never take you up on that offer.”
He straightened and chuckled. “Don’t worry, I won’t be. I just want you to know that its there. Now come on. Everyone is real worried about you.”
I grimaced. “Great. More pity.”
He patted me on the back. “Just go back in, smile, and act like it never happened. It’ll frustrate the crap out of them.” He grinned like a child, and I couldn’t help but laugh.
“I wanna go Go-Karting.” I said.
“Then let’s do that. And we can go out and I’ll buy us all dinner afterwards.”
I nodded as we walked out of the woods and the bus came into view. I looked at it and grimaced.
Crow patted me on the back. “Don’t worry. You’ll be fine.”
Suddenly he stopped. “You’re leaving bloody footprints.”
I looked down, and it looked like I had dipped parts of my feet in red paint and started walking across the parking lot.
“Well poop.” I said
“Go sit in the passenger’s seat and I’ll get the first-aid kit.” Crow said as we got to the bus.
We both opened the doors at the same time, and closed them so they didn’t even know I was there.
“Where’s Lyrica?” Zayn asked.
“What are you doing? Why do you have that? Is she hurt?” Quarra asked. “Oh my god. I feel so bad. She told me not to touch her and I did anyway.”
“She was having a panic attack.” I heard Harry say, sounding dejected. “It wasn’t your fault.”
There was a silence as Crow left, and I opened the door to the passenger side. I leaned my head back so I could see everyone sitting on the couches. “Don’t feel bad. I’m fine.” I plastered on a smile. “It’s no one’s fault, so just don’t worry about it.”
“Ly? You were sitting there the whole time?” Quarra asked.
“Since Crow came in, yeah.” I said cheerily, as Crow started bandaging my feet.
“Are you hurt?”
“My feet are a little scratched up but I’ll be fine. I wanna go Go-Karting.”
Niall snorted. “You don’t even beep when you change the subject. Not even a pause.”
“Beep! I wanna go Go-Karting. Is that better?” I asked, and grinned.
My eye caught Harry’s and my smile wavered for a moment, but I put it back in place and turned away, taking deep breaths.
“Okay.” Crow said, closing the white box. “You’re good to go. Try not to run barefoot. Actually, try not to run, and try not to go barefoot, whether at the same time or separately.”
“Well I won’t make any promises.” I said, jumping down from the seat and going around to the main door. I stepped in and there was a collective gasp from the girls when they saw my feet all bandaged up.
“Either my uncle majorly over-reacted or that was more than just a couple scratches.” Irie said.
I shrugged. “It isn’t that bad. Let’s go Go-Karting.”
“You are all wet and your shirt is nearly see-through. You should change first.” Irie said. “Do you need help?”
“No!” I said, covering my chest. “I mean, I can get it by myself.” I turned and went back to my bunk, pulling clothes from the drawers under it and limped back to the bathroom. I pulled on a pair of dark grey skinny jeans and a purple tank top, pulling my hair back into a ponytail.
I examined my face and determined I needed at least a little make-up. I put on a little eyeliner and lavender eye shadow and called it good. When I exited the bathroom everyone was standing around. They all looked at me, and there it was; the pity.
I glared and pulled on a pair of black high-tops over neon purple ankle socks.
“Come on.” I said, standing and going to the front of the bus. Crow climbed into the driver’s seat and I slid into the passenger’s.
He glanced over at me and smiled and I returned it.
I could feel the icy silence behind me as we started moving. I leaned over and glanced in the rearview mirror. Everyone was staring at me. I averted my eyes and sank lower in my seat.
Crow looked over at me. “Hey.” He said, and gestured back with his head.
I sighed. “Fine.”
I turned and crawled over the seat and into the back.
“Soooo.” I said, squeezing onto the couch between Quarra and Irie. “I’m sorry. I freaked you guys out and I really didn’t mean to.” It was silent. I sighed. “And I’m sorry I can’t tell you about me. But I need you to know why. When I came back just now, the way you guys looked at me. You looked at me like I was a freak. You looked at me like the rich people looked at me while I was still living on the streets.”
The boys looked surprised and I remembered I hadn’t told them that yet. Oops.
“Not only that, but you looked like you were pitying me. And I hate that. That’s the worst thing you could do; look at me with pity. I don’t want pity. I just want to be normal. That’s why I can’t tell you what happened to me. You would just look at me like I’m broken. And I might be. But I don’t want to be treated like it. So just… just forgive me, okay? I can’t stand to have you guys mad at me. Especially you guys.” I looked at the girls. “Just don’t be mad.”
Tears sprang to Irie’s eyes. “Oh, baby. We aren’t mad. We’re worried about you.”
“Don’t worry. I hate when I worry people.”
Harry scoffed. “Well you worried us pretty good when you had a panic attack and ran away.”
“I just…” I felt my breath hitch in my throat and I clenched my fists by my side. My breathing turned shallow. “I can’t breathe.” I gasped out. “I can’t-”
“Ly?” Quarra asked, panicked.
“Don’t worry.” I said, standing. “I’ll be fine. Please, don’t worry about me.”
I waved her off and stumbled to my bunk, collapsing inside and pulling the curtain over the opening. I dug my inhaler from under my pillow and took a puff, feeling my nerves start to relax. I stuffed it back under my pillow and took a couple deep breaths before putting on a smile and pulling open my curtain.
They were all standing there, except Crow of course; he was driving. My smile dropped.
“Um, hi.” Questa said.
“Hi.” I breathed. “Um, yeah. So.”
Harry laughed. “For not trying to worry us, you sure are doing a bang-up job.”