“Oh, honey, it’s so good to have you back.”
My mom has annoyingly dotting on me for the past half hour. My dad just couldn’t stop smiling. Between the unnecessary groping and creepy grin I didn’t know which one to run from.
I’ll take both.
“I know, mom, I know, but it’s only a visit.”
Her brow furrowed, “I wish you wouldn’t have left for so long and there’s no need to go back. You’ve done what you needed to do.”
“Yes, but I enjoy it out there. I think I want to become a detective like Nicks and live out there after getting my degree.”
“I know it’s a bit far fetched but at least I have a dream, something to strive for. You’re rooting for me, right daddy?”
He softly smiled, “Of course.”
“I am too, Winter, but…but you’re never here anymore,” she whimpered, then started to cry.
Oh goodness, I can’t do tears.
“Mom, stop, please,” I mumbled, going in to hug her.
“Oh, baby,” she sniffled, “you’re just so grown up.”
“And it’s scary, trust me,” I laughed, rubbing over her back.
I rolled the laminated news article and tide a rubber band around it. My first case and my proudest.
I called Autumn as I did every other week and got an earful of screams when I told her I was in town. It was winter break of senior year and most people were away. I was so glad she wasn’t.
We met for coffee and the our smiles couldn’t be wiped from our face. Her knew boyfriend, Nat, had taken her to Florida with his family a few days prior and when he showed her the cabin out by the creek, they had sex.
I kept giggling at her details and she couldn’t help but to do it to. I told her that I’m glad her first time was the way she wanted it to be, when she wanted it to be.
On the topic of first times she mentioned me speaking to Zayn. I never saw a more concerned look on her face.
“What is it?”
“Well, a week into school he just…disappeared. We all want to believe he dropped out but most of us just don’t know.”
I slowly closed my eyes and bowed my head.
“I ran into Micky the other day. You know, the school’s drug dealer, I asked him about his supply since a friend was too shy to ask and he said he was low. Said Zayn wiped him out.”
“Oh my god,” I croaked, “wiped him out of what?”
“The regular, weed, but still, a whole stash? That’s fucking ridiculous. First, where’s he getting the money? And where the hell is he?”
I went to the last house I knew Zayn to be and knocked on the door.
Mari answered. “Orion?”
“Hey,” I awkwardly put a piece of hair behind my ear. “Is he home?”
“Wow, would’ve thought you’ve forgotten about him all this time.”
His tone was playful but his words venomous. “Uh, yeah, I have something important to tell him.”
Mari sighed and scratched at the back of his ear. He looked behind him and then turned back, leaned closer, and whispered, “Hand me your phone.”
I dug it out of my bag and gave it to him. He typed up something in it and handed it back, showing me that he was in my notes.
“I don’t know. Haven’t heard from him.”
The note said otherwise. My dad’s in the next room. Zayn’s a few blocks away on Woodman, apt C. It’s sketchy so be careful and I’d dress appropriately if I were you. Good luck.
I looked back up at him and mouthed ‘Are you okay?’
He pressed his lips together in a wry expression and shook his head. “Bye, Orion.”
Like Mari said, I dressed appropriately and watched my back just as needed. I was scared and quickly made my way to apartment C.
I took a deep, not so calming, breath and knocked on the door. My nerves grew right after and I contemplated leaving but after hearing shuffles behind the door I decided to stay.
i quickly covered the peep hole with my hand and waited. “Who is it?”
I said nothing.
“You either move your hand from the damn hole or tell me a name.”
“Uh…” I gulped down a metaphorical lump, “It’s Orion.”
The door opened so fast it made me jump. It was followed by a gasp when I saw him. Barely five months and this is what it’s done to him. “Zayn,” I breathed out.
He looked disheveled and, for lack of a better word, plastered. Who gets drunk at three in the afternoon?
His brow furrowed, “What are you doing here?”
A small, nervous, smile tried to grace my lips, “Aren’t you happy to see me?”
“Look, now isn’t really a good time.”
Crushed. Completely and utterly crushed. I clutched onto the rolled up lamination and tried to gain my composure. “O-oh, um, well when is a good time?”
“Tomorrow, maybe. I don’t know.”
“Oh, well, I just came by to give you this. It’s actually the reason why-“
I felt my throat constrict at the sound of that voice. I didn’t even know who she was and I felt like I already had the right to hate her.
“Why are you always doing that? Who’s at the door?” The door was yanked further back revealing a short purple-headed girl with piercings to the nine.
I already felt the dumbest of tears forming. Pathetic. You pathetic bitch.
“Here,” I whispered, looking down—not able at all to see this sight— holding the news article out for him. I felt it leave my hand and the crinkling of him removing the rubber band. I didn’t have enough strength to hold this off so I just muttered a quick ‘goodbye’ and left. Left that poorly cleaned building and that perfectly fucked up couple.
“Orion move away from the door!”
I ignored my dad and screamed louder, knocking everything off my dresser.
I sobbed until my head ached and then turned to screaming. Anything to mask this pain I was feeling. It hurt so much, an ache so indescribable, that I resulted to harming my environment. My room looked like a tornado hit it and it still didn’t look the way I felt.
I heard a loud slam and turned to see my door off the hinges and my dad standing there looking completely out of breath.
“Winter, what the hell is the matter with you?! Locking doors … and your room!”
A sob racked my body and I uselessly covered my face to hide it. I shook my head and plopped down on my bed. My face buried in my pillow and my hair a crappy veil, I cried.
I felt my bed dip and my dad lightly stroke the hair from my face. “Whatever it is, babygirl, I promise it’ll be fine.”
I chest shook as I snuggled closer to him and cried against him. “It hurts.”
“What? What hurts? We need to take you to the doctor?” He started patting my sides, his voice frantic.
That made me smile, “No, daddy, I’m fine. I’m just hurting. I think I just need a bath.”
He warmly kissed the crown of my head and squeezed my shoulder, “I’ll run you one, kiddo.”
It’s hard to take in and accept certain things. This is why society can never learn to move on. No matter how many wars won, there will always be the issue.
I’ve figured this out in the ten minutes I’ve been lying in my bathtub. I sigh and sink into the water, letting it absorb me. I open my eyes through the soapy water and welcome the inevitable burn.
I get my lungs ready to release the frustration—one that has led me to realize that by me leaving I didn’t help him, I just lost my sanity, I lost it and I lost him— and let out a water breeched scream.