Chapter Twenty Four, The Moment (no conversation)
I honestly felt like I was walking on the clouds and just floating. Every single moment felt like that. I was in this indescribable paradox that didn't make sense, but I was enjoying it. My heart constantly felt like it was going to beat out of my chest and my mind had trouble focusing on anything except Carmen. She was all I could think about, but what made this time different was that I finally gained the courage to make a move and that had me soaring.
Today would go down in history as one of the biggest days of my life... well, so far.
I managed to keep Adrian at bay and stay locked in my room while watching The Breakfast Club rather loudly. It was a simple plan to convince my parents that I was there with him because they both know how much we love the movie. Being that it was after dinner, my dad was finishing up last minute things for his work and my mom was probably in her office triple checking to make sure she didn't have work left to do. I was safe to leave the house for an hour, and that was all the time I needed.
With my heart threatening to escape from my chest, I slipped out into the backyard with a pair of my mom's brand new gardening shears that she claimed she would use but never had. I walked to the retaining wall and used the light from my phone to guide me to one of the rose bushes. As I stared at the flowers, I realized how hard choosing the perfect flower would be. Some were slightly wilted, some were wilted and dead-looking, some were still trying to bloom, and some just looked way too open and big. I was trying to find the kind of rose you see the guys giving girls in movies and tv shows, but I couldn't find that picture-perfect flower to save my life.
I was growing frustrated and that high feeling I once had was diminishing by the second. I felt my hopes for the best leave and expectations of the worst hitting me face on. I needed this rose. I would die if I didn't find it. Okay, I wouldn't exactly die, but I would be devastated. The hour was ticking away and I was close to giving up when, hidden shyly in the back, I found the perfect flower peeping at me amongst the leaves of the bushes. Letting out a heavy sigh and taking a deep breath right after to calm my rapidly beating heart, I reached out towards it with the shears to cut its stem.
Careful movements never crossed my mind because as I reached my hand inside the bush, I felt the larger thorns scratch at my fingers and hand. I sucked in a sharp breath as the stinging sensation from the broken skin hit me and cursed stupid Adrian a million times as I continued to take hold of the stem with the shears and cut it free from the bush. After doing so, I pulled it free and with as much care as I had, I pulled out my hand and stared at it.
Now, it would make sense to admit that I put my phone in my mouth so I could shine the light on the rose bush and use both hands to take the flower out. So with both hands still being used, one to hold the flower and the other the shears, I moved my hand around and my head to get the light on my hand well enough to see that I had small cuts and red scratches scattered from my fingers to just past my wrist. I could think of all the questions that would be asked by the various people that would see it, but I brushed it aside for the fact that I still had to give the flower to Carmen. I made a mental note to kill Adrian when I would come back home.
I dropped the shears on the ground since my mom wouldn't question its absence any time soon, and pulled my phone out of my mouth and wiped off my drool. The hour was still ticking away and my heart sped just a beat faster thinking of the moment I would see Carmen and what her reaction would be to not only seeing me at her door, but what her reaction would be to the rose I would give her. I prayed she would like it because she had to like roses since she gave me one. With those thoughts on my mind, I hurried inside the house again and out the door without being seen by either of my parents.
I almost fumbled with the keys as I unlocked my car door, but I managed and set the rose on the passenger's seat with delicacy. Starting the engine and driving away from my house was almost a blur because I was too excited to even think. I questioned whether I was well enough to drive, but then I safely stopped at a red light and knew I was only minutes away from Carmen's house. In those moments I was stopped at that red light, every moment ahead seemed like a blur. So many negative thoughts, expectations, and questions flooded my mind. I was anxious and suddenly nervous. I almost pulled over to the side of the road so I could vomit my insides and possibly my brain, but I sucked it all up in a deep breath and continued driving.
When I reached Carmen's house, I nearly lost it. I am almost positive that was the scariest moment of my life. I wanted to just stay in the car, start the engine again, and drive back home to where I would be safe with The Breakfast Club and my heart wouldn't have to undergo the possibility of being broken. Seventeen is young to have your heart broken and shattered into a billion microscopic shards that may never be able to put itself together again like Humpty Dumpty. Okay, that's what I was desperately trying to force myself to believe. I didn't trust that I could walk up to Carmen's door and confidently give her the rose while serenading her with Taylor Swift's Enchanted.
And then I thought how stupid that would be. She would just laugh in my face once she heard Taylor Swift's voice. She would probably laugh at the fact that I was trying to serenade her in the first place with such a lame love song. No, Carmen wouldn't do that. I knew that much. Carmen was the nicest girl in the world who was just sassy and about as sarcastic as me or close to it. She wouldn't laugh in my face. She'd probably comment how stupid I am, but she'd smile that incredible smile of hers that lights up her face and my world. She might even blush at the fact that I brought her a rose I picked from my backyard. She would be awestruck by the gesture and would notice my hand that looked like a cat thought it was a toy. She would be worried and ask me if I was okay and then she'd try to take care of it.
And after she mends my hand, it would become like those cheesy romantic chic flics where you just know when the girl and guy look in each other's eyes that they're in love and its happily ever after. She wouldn't have to say anything and I wouldn't have to say anything. It would be this mutual feeling where we're both staring into each other's eyes and smile because finally we both know. I would be confident then for the first time in forever. I would take her hand and I would hold it in such a loving way that she'd know I wouldn't ever want to let go. And that moment would be perfect. It would be perfect.
I just had to exit my car and it would be perfect.
But exiting my car was the problem. Not that it was physically impossible or I was somehow locked inside and trapped from my possible happiness, but I couldn't find the mentality to do it as much as I wanted to. The handle was right there and I grasped it, but I just couldn't open the freaking door. All of a sudden I heard freaking Adrian, the SOB, call me an idiot and then he smacked the back of my head. I might have screamed, quite manly of course, and turned around in my seat to curse him out. He stayed put in my car and the only thing I could think of afterwards when I was tired of seeing him and becoming claustrophobic in my car, was to ask how the hell he got inside in the first place.
It was the spare key. He used my freaking spare key that I keep inside the race car box on my desk. I punched him and cursed him some more, punched him three more times, and then told him that we're leaving back to my house. He wouldn't let me leave, though. The idiot, SOB. He told me I had to take the rose and go up to Carmen's door because the hour was still ticking away and I was running out of time. I then forced him to promise me he would stay hidden in my car because if I caught him watching, his funeral would be in the upcoming week. He slapped me first, promised me he would, and pointed to Carmen's door. I cursed him again, picked up the rose, and slammed my door shut.
The walk to her door was unbearable. I was pissed off at Adrian for surprising me, pissed at myself for being a wuss, still nervous, and desperately trying to reach that soaring feeling again. I kept spinning the rose between my fingers until I knocked on her door and waited for her or someone to answer. The air was knocked out of me when her sister opened the door and for a moment I wanted to run away to my car and drive off until the sun rose again. It seemed logical until Francine questioned who I was and what I wanted.
So I told Francine my name and explained to her, rather fast, that I was Carmen's friend and wanted to talk to her. She stared at me for a brief moment until what seemed like some gears turned in her head before she smiled and told me I was "that guy" and that of course she would get Carmen. I was confused and kept my screwed up hand with the rose behind my back while I waited in front of the doorway for Carmen to come. Memories flashed of me walking inside her home and I realized then that this would end well. It always ends well when I'm at Carmen's.
I must have dazed off because I heard someone clear their throat and saw Lacey standing before me with her hands behind her back as she leaned on the heals of her feet with a grin spread wide on her face. I smiled back at her, not wanting to speak until she did. Lacey giggled at me, and for a while actually. I almost started becoming nervous again until she asked if I had a present for Carmen behind my back. I laughed and told her it was a surprise which only made her eyes light up and her face beam with excitement and curiosity. She wasn't concerned why I hadn't stepped inside the house or why I was dressed nicer than before. She was intrigued because I told her I had a surprise.
She immediately asked what it was or if I had some puppy or toy, or maybe a CD by Carmen's favorite boyband. I wanted to ask her about this boyband Carmen liked so I could make fun of her music, but instead I told Lacey that it was a simple gift and if I told her, she had to be quiet and keep a special secret for me until I gave it to Carmen. She seemed rather pleased with my offer, so I told her how I picked a rose especially for Carmen and that it had to be perfect. I told her that thorns scratched at my hand, but I managed to cut it for her. Lacey was completely amazed and asked if I was Carmen's Prince Charming because only princes do such nice things for princesses, and Carmen may not seem much like a princess, but she's the fairest and bravest and bestest one there is.
I told her I hoped so. She was satisfied and told me that she was going to tell Carmen to hurry up because she wanted to see if her sister's fairytale would come true because it just had to because all the princess movies end in a happily ever after. She also promised to not tell Carmen or anyone about our secret and pretended to lock her lips shut and put the invisible key in my pocket. I wanted to laugh, but I smiled and thanked her for being my best friend. She squealed and hugged me before running and shouting at Carmen to hurry up because I, her best friend, was waiting outside in the cold for Carmen.
It wasn't cold outside. At all.
I could hear voices from inside the house, but didn't pay attention to them. I felt like I was on top of the clouds and just floating. I'm pretty sure some voodoo crap happened after speaking to Lacey because I was just soaring. Nothing could bring me down from my high and when Carmen finally appeared, I rose higher. My breath sorta got caught in my throat and I didn't know what to do or say. I forgot I had the rose, I realized I didn't plan anything to say, and I completely forgot I wanted to play Enchanted for her. Everything that had happened before vanished when I saw her face. It was enchanting to see her, as corny as it is.
No words would come out of my mouth even when Carmen smiled. I nearly went red in the face but my confidence was there, just waiting for its cue. Without a word, I brought out my hand from behind my back and gave her the rose. She stared at it with wide eyes before taking it from my hand and staring at it some more. Within moments she looked up at me with questioning eyes but I could tell she was amazed by that gleam in her eyes that Lacey had. I smiled back, exhilarated that I was making the perfect moment.
Only it wasn't perfect.
Carmen told me, with a new look in her face, that she was sorry. I didn't know why she apologized, I was assuming that maybe because she saw the hand I messed up, but she continued. She told me she couldn't do this because there was all the drama at school, her grandmother, and she just couldn't do it. She told me she was sorry again, but I wouldn't accept it. I wasn't giving up when I made it this far. I've waited so long for this and I wouldn't let her tell me no. I told her that I have tape and would fix everything for her. I put a hand in my pocket, ready to continue on with an amazing speech, but my fingers met something in my pocket and when I moved them around, I realized for some odd reason I had a roll of scotch tape in my jeans. I pulled it out and told her the exact words she told me the day I messed up the painting I made for her. She told me the same words I told her, "No, it won't."
Everything pretty much shattered in that moment. She didn't look like the prettiest girl in the world anymore. She looked like that weird, annoying girl who I never wanted to talk to. In that moment, I didn't like her. She broke my heart with those words. I felt like my heart was stabbed, like she lied to me. All the tape I would see her use for everything, all those things she'd tell me tape could do, and I believed her. She had been right all those times. I was stupid. I was stupid for falling for her.
And as much as I wanted to dislike her with a burning passion like I had done to a million and one things before, I couldn't because deep down in the mess she made of my heart, I knew I still liked her. She wasn't weird or annoying. She was just stubborn like me. And I loved her more than I had ever before in that moment.
I smiled and ripped a piece tape off from the roll and put it on her lips. I smirked at her when she looked at me like I was crazy and told her to shut up. She rolled her eyes but smiled at me. And we stared at each other smiling. We didn't say anything, because our eyes said it all. I took her hand and I held it in mine in such a loving way that she would know I would never want to let it go. And the moment was perfect.
It was perfect.
Until I laughed because she looked so funny with a piece of tape stuck to her lips.
YESSS!!! THE MOMENT FINALLY HAPPENED!
y'all can thank me now. I know, I know, I know what you're thinking:
what kind of ending to Tape is this?! I didn't sign up for this?!
well, just hear me out before you burn my house down. there is one more chapter and I gots a surprise for you guys (: hehe, I just kind of threw the ending out there, didn't I?