Ru knew the world was cruel; she learned that the hard way. She thought that she was the only one, but when she met Luke Hemmings and then Calum Hood, everything changed.


25. 24.

Chapter 24


Month 17. Day 10.


“Ru, let’s go.” I finish straightening my hair and turn my straightener off.


“Hold on a sec. I’m almost done.” I swipe on some mascara and grab my purse. I walk out to the living room, where Calum is waiting for me. He reaches out and grabs my hand, pulling me to his side.


“You look beautiful.” He cups my chin and kisses me quickly, making me smile and blush. He leads me outside to his Chrysler 300 and opens the door for me. I get in and smile; this is going to be a good night.


When Calum gets into the driver’s side, he turns on the engine and backs out of the driveway.


“So, where are we going?” I ask and he chuckles.


“Babe, you can ask me that as many times as you want, but I’m not going to tell you.”


I pout, making him laugh. “But I really want to know.”


“You’ll know where we’re going when we get there.” I roll my eyes playfully and he smiles and takes my hand, pressing his lips to my knuckles. “You’ll love it. I promise.”


He turns on the radio, most likely to get me to stop talking and asking where we’re going. He hums along to the song: Ghost by Halsey. It’s an amazing song, and even though I’m still curious as to where we’re going, I stay quiet.


The drive only lasts about fifteen minutes, but by then, I’m about to explode. We pull into the parking lot of a small, rundown building. I look at Calum and raise an eyebrow.


“Uh, babe..”


He looks at me and smiles. “You’re unsure about this, aren’t you?”


I nod. “I’m still not even sure what ‘this’ is.”


He pulls the key out of the ignition and gets out of the car. I get out too and he meets me, grabbing my hand. He leads me into the building and flicks on the lights. It takes a few minutes for all of the lights to flicker on, but when they do, I’m met with the sight of a room full of empty machines…


“Cal..” He holds up one finger and drops my hand, walking over to a control panel on the wall. He opens it up, presses a couple buttons, and all of the machines come to life.


There are so many lights and sounds that I feel like I’m getting whiplash trying to look at all of them. Pacman, pinball, Space Dungeon, Cosmos, Dig Dug, Space Invaders, Galaga, Q*bert, Alpine Ski, and so many other classic arcade games are roaring to life, loud and full of energy.


“What is this place?” I ask, walking towards Calum.


He smiles at me. “Something Mali was working on before she…” He runs his hand through his hair. “It’s supposed to be a hangout for us teenagers who might not fit in or who like different things than normal teenagers.”


I smile. “You mean us weirdos?”


He laughs, “exactly!”


He walks over to another lightswitch and lights up the other half of the room. Two bowling lanes light up and my jaw drops.


“How did she do this?”


He smiles. “Mali was a special person. She had a way with words and could talk anyone into anything.” I look around the room, trying to take everything in.


“This would’ve been the coolest place to hang.”


“It still could be.” Calum says. “I promised myself that I would finish this for her. I’m the only one who knows she was doing this.”


I look at him. “Did she write her plans down?”


He shakes his head. “No, but she told me all about them.” He leads me over to a dusty looking couch and we sit down. “She planned on making this place like four stories: expanding it out on all sides, painting it all these crazy colors.”


“What else was she going to put in here?”


He wraps his arm around my shoulder. “She wanted to put in laser tag, glow golf, Wii, XBox, smoothie bar, a whole big bowling alley. She had so many plans for this place.”


“How was she getting the money?”


He sighs. “She put her whole college fund into this place. When that wasn’t enough, she collected pop bottles and cans, collected donations, got three jobs at a time, anything she could do to get extra money for this place.”


“She sounds like a great person.” I say quietly.


He nods. “She was. I miss her so much.” And with that, his voice cracks. I hug him and he buries his face in my hair. “She was my best friend, you know? And the fact that I didn’t even know... “


“You can’t blame yourself, Cal.” I say and he sniffs.


“I know but I still feel like I should have had some kind of hint, you know?”


“You couldn’t have known, babe. If she didn’t tell anyone, how could you have known? The only thing you can do now is build this place and help her fulfill her dream, you know?”


He stands up and walks over to a Rock-and-Roll themed pinball machine and sets his hand on top of it. “I have to do this for her, don’t I?” I can tell he’s not talking to me; just talking in general, but the pain in his voice pretty much kills me. I watch as a tear falls from his cheek and onto the pinball machine. “She would have wanted this, right? She would have wanted me to keep this place going and make it an amazing place for us weirdos to hang out.”


I walk up behind him and wrap my arms around him. “And what will we call this place?”


He turns so he can hug me. “I’m thinking ‘Mali’s’.”


I smile. “I like it.”


“Me too.”


After a year in therapy, I’m helping other people through their problems.


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