“No one will ever want you,” he sneered, waving my off like a fly.
The only thing I could do was shut my mouth and take his criticism. After all, wasn’t he right? No one would want me, not after the name that Niall has made for me. Then again, wasn’t this my fault in the first place?
“You’re too stuck up,” he continued to rave. “You think you’re better than everyone else.”
I stood by the wall furthest from the door, winching with every insult. My eyes watered, but I kept my tears hidden behind my eyelids. Niall paced in front of me, face nearly beet red with anger. I didn’t even know what I’d done this time. I’d just given him the answer to another question — he must’ve gotten it wrong.
My teeth clenched as Niall began to mention my parents and their lack of discipline. My parents had always been a touchy subject, and he knew that — he fed off of it. But whenever it came to this point, I zoned out to avoid growing angry. That had gotten me no where before.
“Are you listening to me?” Niall hissed, breaking my state of unfocus.
My eyes grew wide. “I — uh — yes,” I scrambled for words, but it wasn’t enough.
I cried out and shut my eyes tight as Niall spun on me, shoving me back against the wall. My back hit first, then my head followed with a dull thud. I gasped as my vision went terribly out of focus and pain shot through to my forehead, and I sank to a crouch. My hands flew to the back of my head as a tear slipped from my eye. I put my head between my knees in an attempt to seem small, just as Niall wanted me to feel.
Niall only scoffed as he backed away. “Weak,” he spat at me. I closed my eyes tighter, hearing his footsteps grow distant on the carpeted floor and finally the sound of the door opening and closing.
I didn’t dare look up. Tears squeezed from my eyes and I let out a small sob. My head throbbed and my fingers tangled gently in my hair as I wondered how this had gotten so out of control. It was as if this all was planned, just to make my life miserable.
Niall was so forceful, so violent in everything he did toward me. Every touch was meant to bring pain — every jab, shove, punch; was successful. I was miserable, in pain, and utterly defeated.
And in the middle of that school classroom, I began to weep.
If I’d had room to gasp, I would have. My first instinct was to brace for the pain, but when none came… I didn’t know how to function.
All I felt was Niall’s hot breath on my face, his warm lips soft on mine. His hand on my neck sent a shiver through me, but I didn’t react. I didn’t understand this kind of touch, this kind of display of affection. It was so new, so… different.
A jolt went through my body as Niall’s lips began to change position, breaking away from mine for a fraction of a second before replacing themselves. If his movements were at all cautious before, they were not now. Niall began to lead the kiss, take control of the situation — I began to panic.
Niall’s touch had always been so aggressive. I’d known what to expect. But now, I didn’t know anything. I was out of what little control I’d had before, and this realization terrified me.
My mind restarted — I realized what exactly was happening. Niall was kissing me. The same Niall who had hated me; the same Niall who had assured me that I would never be loved, would never succeed in anything. How would it make sense for him to show this kind of affection toward me?
And then I had a thought — he must be messing with my mind for the hell of it. I had to stop this. I had to leave, now.
My hands discovered the ability to move again, and I planted them firmly on Niall’s chest before shoving hard against him.
He made a noise of surprise before being forced away. My lips tingled and I touched them in surprise, feeling the absence of his kiss. I blinked once, twice, before snapping out of it and scrambling to my feet. Niall sat in shock as I stooped to snatch up my phone and hair ties and stuffed them into my pockets. It wasn’t until I began to walk away that Niall said anything.
“Samm!” he shouted as I paced away, walking as fast as I could manage down the path, opposite the way back to his car. “Samm, wait!”
It took a split second for me to decide that I could survive walking home, since everything here was connected by a series of sidewalks. And when I heard Niall’s footstep behind me on the path, it took another split second to decide that I could outrun him.
My feet quickly built up to a sprint. I ran as fast as I could — it seemed like I’d been running from a lot of things recently. All I knew was that I needed to get away from Niall, if only for a short while.
“Samm!” I heard Niall shout, voice more distant now that I’d been running for a good twenty seconds. “Samm, please wait!”
My teeth ground together as I ducked my head down to run faster. The stone path beneath my feet soon turned into concrete as it transitioned back into downtown, and I rounded a sharp corner to get out of Niall’s view.
I slowed up, my breath coming short and heavy. Adrenaline was pounding through my body, encouraging me to keep running, but I couldn’t. It wasn’t just Niall messing with me now — it was my own mind. So many questions and thoughts were being thrown every which way, so many distractions.
I groaned and covered my face with my hands, trying to breathe deeply. I was so confused, so distraught over one little thing that Niall did. Little. I tried to laugh at myself, but the noise came out as a hysterical cackle. Nothing about what Niall had just done was little.
My hands fell away from my face and I checked the intersection. I sighed, realizing that home was about thirty blocks away. It was doable, but it meant about a half an hour walk. But what other choice did I have? I couldn’t go back and find Niall — knowing him, he’d probably already left.
I shook my head and tried to flush my mind of Niall. I had to think of something — anything — else. My feet began to move again, this time at a walking pace in the direction I needed to go. I let out a long breath, clearing my mind. After twenty steps, it finally went blank — for about three seconds.
It wasn’t my mind that held the reminder of Niall. It was my lips, still tingling. My brow furrowed and I raised my fingers to touch my mouth, but nothing was there except the feeling of Niall’s kiss. My heart fluttered in response to the feeling and I inhaled sharply at the unfamiliar sensation.
I hugged myself as chills ran up my spine, goosebumps forming along my arms. What was happening to me? Should I not be annoyed, even disgusted with what Niall had just done? Why was nothing going the way it should? Why couldn’t well enough just be left alone? Why couldn’t my mind match the feeling in my chest? Er — the other way around.
An odd sounding laugh left my throat, and I blinked in surprise. Laughing was only my response to overwhelming stress, whether physical or emotional. Could this have pushed the limits?
I blinked to find that my eyes had started watering. Yes, this had pushed me over the edge. Niall had finally found a way to toy with my mind the most — make up for everything in my life that’d been lacking.
I’d been lacking affection.
Warm water rushed over my head and down my back and thick steam filled my lungs. My weary hands reached up to rinse the conditioner out of my hair as I exhaled deeply. My mind had nearly cleared from the long walk home. I’d realized that I’d been assigned a small essay in literacy that seemed easy enough, since we only had tonight to complete it. My attention had been on that since I’d stepped through the front door.
I winced as I went over the thin scab from my razor blade with soap. My face contorted into a pained expression, but I barely paused to acknowledge it. What was done was done. I bore scars, I would attain more. It was simple.
I finished up with my shower, rubbing my body dry with a towel that I wrapped around myself for the short walk to my bedroom. My hair was drying quickly, as it always did, and I threw it up into a messy bun. The towel around my body was replaced with an oversized sweatshirt and a pair of sweatpants.
I pulled my computer into my lap as I collapsed onto my bed, bringing up a blank document template. My fingers began to flow as I typed in the date and subject, then continued on to the body.
Whenever I wrote, I became lost in thought. Whether it be fiction or nonfiction, I delved so far deep that even someone standing right in front of me, screaming my name, wouldn’t make even the smallest breakthrough. It was the same case for reading, before I’d met Niall. The last time I’d free read was during a study session with him about three months ago. He’d gotten frustrated for some reason that I couldn’t remember, and—
I blinked several times, clearing my head of thoughts. What was I doing? I had work to do.
My eyes refocused on my computer screen and my fingers began to move again, this time a little more sluggish. There was a pricking in my fingertips, a fluttering feeling in my chest. My teeth ground together and I typed another sentence onto the page. I tried to ignore whatever was going on, but as soon as the tingling in my lips returned, I knew I needed a proper distraction.
I set my computer aside and strode over to my closet, then began to put it back in order from my hurry to get ready earlier. This thought made my head snap to attention —when Niall had asked me to come with him, had he planned to kiss me?
I grunted in frustration, pushing him from my mind. Of course he had. Niall only wanted to mess with me. I was nothing but a game to him, and for some reason I was hurt by this thought. Had I really thought that I meant something more to Niall? I blinked. Had Niall really meant something more to me?
Taking myself completely by surprise, I turned and punched the wall to my left with an angry cry. My wrist gave; the wall didn’t.
With a gasp, I fell to my knees and caressed my throbbing wrist as my eyes watered. The pain within my arm was dull, but horribly radiant. My mouth hung open as a few tears slid down my face, leaving a trail as they left my eyes. It didn’t take long for me to realize that my tears weren’t just for my physical pain — they were tears of frustration and hurt.
I turned myself so that I could lean against my wall, pulling my knees to my chest. Staring straight ahead, I began to allow myself to sort through my feelings. Again and again I tried to deny things, but I came up with no way to disprove them. I sobbed, resting my forehead on my knees.
I knew three things for sure. One, that Niall was dangerous and unpredictable; two, that something within me found the nerve to care for him; three, that I was a game, and therefore couldn’t mean much of anything to Niall.
I sat, curled up tightly, for a long time. My tears pooled in my lap and soaked into my jumper. All I could think of was Niall — his vibrant blue eyes, his blond hair that looked fine whether it was spiked or left shaggy, the way he laughed and let anything be overly funny. But also the way he could be so intimidating, so hurtful, so oblivious to my insecurities. How could I care for the latter? How could I let that mean anything to me?
The doorbell suddenly rang throughout the house, making me jump. My heart began to pound. Niall could be at the door, waiting for me to open the door, and… Who knows what he would do? He’d done a variety of actions, and I’d gotten worse and worse at guessing what he’d do next.
I decided no to take any chances. Instead, I climbed into my bed and covered myself with my sheets, curling into a tight ball and closing my eyes. Crying took so much of my energy, and judging by how much I’d done it lately, I didn’t think I had much energy left. But closing my eyes didn’t open myself to sleep. It opened myself to thought and mental images.
Niall’s face, his lips so close to mine. He hand resting on the back of my neck, his hot breath against my face. I didn’t know what to think in the moment. But now I knew exactly what to think.
My teeth clenched as I felt the memory of Niall’s lips against mine. I knew that I should think that to Niall I was nothing; and somewhere deep down, I knew it. But I didn’t want to accept it. I didn’t think that I could. How could Niall kiss me without meaning something?
It had been about ten minutes before I finally found the nerve to lift myself from my bed. I sighed heavily, hesitantly making my way through the upstairs hallway and to the top of the stairs. I could see through the windows by the door that no one was there, and I nearly turned around to walk back to my room when something caught my eye.
I squinted at a small box laid on my front porch, but from where I was I could only see the corner of it. Biting my lip, I reluctantly allowed my legs to carry me down the stairs. My hand slowly found the doorknob, turning it gently before opening the door. I cast my eyes up and down my street and huffed when I saw no one outside, beside my neighbor out mowing his lawn.
I refocused my attention on the small box on my porch and knelt down to pick it up. It was about the size of my palm with blue covering around the outside. I cocked an eyebrow, reaching my other hand up to flip the lip open. When my eyes rested on it’s contents, I gasped and my chest clenched.
Immediately my eyes began to water. Denying the fact that Niall didn’t care for me became harder to do as I took the necklace he’d gotten me out of the box and held it tightly in my hand.