From Across the Room

She was the writer, he was the inspiration


11. The Next 24 Hours

“And that’s what you’re willing to stand by?”
“She had every right to beat the fuck out of him.” I pointed out.
“What’s up guys?” Niall said, walking in.
“Hey Ni.” Louis and I both said.
“What’s going on here? Everything is so serious upstairs.”
“Yeah, Bethany and Lottie are here. Bethany got in a bar fight, got arrested, Lottie bailed her out and brught her here.” Louis said, making it short and simple.
“Damn. That would’ve been fun to watch…girl on girl bar fights.” Niall joked.
“Acually it was her ex boyfriend…she has a restraining order on him.” I added in.
“Oh shit…and she won?”
“Acording to Lottie, he was on the ground within seconds.” Louis said shrugging.
“Damn that bitch must really got some serious built up anger towards this guy.” Niall said, joining us on the couch.
“I don’t know…if some guy beat me to a pulp and left me on the side of the road for dead I probably would have a lot of built up anger too.” I said.
“DAMN MAN! Just dump all this shit on me at once!” Niall said, actually being serious for once.
“So can we pause this awesome conversation about me and someone show me where to alohol is?” We all turned and saw Bethany standing there.
“Fuck how long were you there for?” Niall asked.
“Uh long enough? So who told you Harry? There’s no way you got through multiple books today.”
“Uh…my sister.”
“Gotcha. So, the alcohol?”
“Are you mad at me…?” I asked.
“Give me alcohol.” She demanded.
“Would this be a bad time to bring up the fact that you wrote books dedicated to us?” Louis asked.
“And who told you that? Lottie?”
“Yes…” Louis said.
“Wait…what?!” Niall asked, shocked.
“So you knew us the whole time?” Louis asked.
“WHAT?!” Niall yelled ,still chiming in.
“Oh my fucking god guys…this is really not the fucking time unless you want to end up just like fucking Myles…lying on a god damn floor bleeding from your fucking eyes and ears with broken ribs so I strongly suggest alcohol gets handed to me and I suggest it be fucking fast.”
“Here.” I asid, handing her a bottle of wine.
“Thank you.” She said, but this time she seemed calmer.
“Are you going to be okay?” I asked.
“I need some time to down this bottle of wine, then come talk to me.”
“Where’s Lottie?”
“Uh probably somewhere trying to find Pryia’s drunk ass.”
“What do you mean?” Louis asked.
“Oh, Zuri called saying Pryia was running through the streets of the city, stripping and she couldn’t handle it herself…so, since I’m in no state of mind to help, she called Lottie.”
“Where are you going tonight?” Niall asked.
“My old room…” Bethany said slowly.
“You have a room here?” Nill asked?
“The guest room…mom said it was mine…”
“So this is why we always end up getting the floors and couchs when we spend the night? That was her room?” Niall demanded.
“Dude…seriously?” I said, rolling my eyes. I turned back around to respond to Bethany but she was already gone.

I was drinkning the wine right from the fucking bottle; no fucks were given tonight. I needed this and I was okay with bawling my eyes out into it as well. I dug under the bed, pushing around old boxes and finally found the one box I was looking for. I slowly pulled it out and brushed the dust off of it. I took the lid off, and there they were, untouched copies of the unpublished book for Louis and Harry; one version for Harry and a different version for Louis.
I walked back downstairs and knocked on the wall. I was already half way through the wine bottle so I was going on drunk. I knocked on the wall and hiccupped, making everyone turn to look at me.
“To answer your question…your books have been here the whole time. They were in my room, under the bed. Here you go.” I said, handing the books to them. Their names were engraved on the top so they knew which one went to who.
“There are different versions?” Louis asked.
“You all did something different…so there are different versions.”
“It looks like it’s in good shape for being an unpublished book.” Niall pointed out.
“But…that should answer your questions…I always told Lottie when I had the balls I would give them to you. But I don’t have the balls to do it sober. So I’m doing it drunk. I hope you don’t find them too overally disturbing. Or at least try to keep an open mind. They were written by a fucked up, mentally screwed teenage girl.” With that, I walked back upstairs to my bottle of wine.

“Dude…I’m almost scared to read this.” Louis said. “I barely knew her. I just saw her as the scrawny girl who was always crying and bleeding on my mom’s bed.”
“That’s all I knew her as too. If there was anything else during that time period that happened, I don’t remember it.” I pointed out.
“Well that could be because we were still in high school and really fucked up or stoned more than half the time.” Louis joked.
“Seriously though…” I said. I slowly opened the book and read the first page.
“Dear Harry, I remember when I saw you for the first time. You looked me dead in the eyes as I was bleeding all over the couch in the living room, mom trying to shove food down my throat, all while trying to get the bleeding to stop. You just looked at me. You didn’t feel bad for me, you didn’t sympathize me…you just looked at me. You looked at me like I was a regular human. And while you may thing that’s a weird thing to say since I don’t know anything about you other than your name, mom always said I had a sense of people…I could see emotions, I could see basic thoughts. Not to sound weird but I can just sense or see people judge me as they stare, sympathize, laugh, anything…just through their eyes. And if you ever look hard enough, it isn’t as crazy as it seems.”

“Shit…” I said, almost wanting to read the next page.
“What?” Niall asked.
“She remembers details…like brutal details and I just read one page.” I said.
“Louis, what does your’s say?” Niall asked.
“I can read it.” We turned around and Bethany was standing there, still downing her bottle of wine.”
“You need the book?” Louis slowly asked.
“Nope…I got it down my heart.”
“Seriously?” Louis asked.
“Dear Louis, I remember the first time I ever showed up on your doorstep. Lottie wasn’t home, mom wasn’t home, and you were fucking stoned out of your mind. You and your friend, or as Lottie called him, her second brother, Harry. You picked me up off your porch and helped me inside. I had just been pushed around and most defnietly beaten. I remember you telling me my shoulder was dislocated but in your words ‘you don’t need a hospital, I got this shit.’ I remember barely feeling the pain when you popped my shoulder and arm or whatever that medical shit is called back into place, I remember you offereing me weed to calm me down, and I remember sitting on the roof smoking it with you guys…not that you’ll ever remember this because you were tripping and stoned at this point. I remember this was the first time I had smiled, even laughed in months. I remember you making me pizza rolls, thinking it was a fucking gourment meal and you were so proud of it, and I remember you making me tea as I slept in my bed to help me stay calm. Not that you’ll ever remember any of this…and maybe you never will because the devil only knows if I’ll ever give you this…but if I ever do, just know that the impression you left on me that day will never change.”
“Wait…that was you?” Louis finally said.
“I look totally different, right?” Bethan finally said, sitting down on the floor near the couch.
“Yeah, you do…I honestly thought you were a friend of Lottie’s, just dealing with drugs and getting into shit you shouldn’t be doing.”
“It’s not like you were perfect either…”
“With drugs, no.” Louis continued. “But I think that was the first and last day I ever tripped.”
“It was.”
“Why did you never tell us your name?” I asked her.
“Because who I was, at that point in my life, didn’t matter to me. I wanted to be someone else, anybody else.”
“So you knew Harry no your first date, you knew me when I came up and asked for the book to be signed, even though I had met you once after you got cleaned up…you knew me and Harry before all fo that…” Louis asked.
“Yeah…I did. But at the time, I thought it was best to keep my mouth shut. No one likes hearing on a first date, hey I met you years ago, I was that fucked up girl always in Louis’s house.”
“Yeah I see where you are coming with that.” Harry finally said.
“But yeah…I kept multiple diaries for all of you. Almost like they were thank you notes.”
“I don’t think we’re going to remember anything in these books…” Louis said after a short pause.
“You’ll remember the last page.” Bethany said, half smiling to herself. Harry and I both flipped to the last page as Bethany quoted it from her heart. “Thank you. Thank you for never asking me who I was, thank you for never speaking to me besides the first day. Thank you for never judging me. Thank you for being those ridiculous assholes that showed up at my book signing and thank you for not remembering me. Thank you for giving me the chance at a clean slate. Thank you.”
“This is recently made…” Louis said.
“No…the last page was an add in. Lottie added them in for me because I didn’t want you guys to know yet.”
“You didn’t pubish it because it had our names in it…” Harry said.
“There’s that…and there’s also some things that don’t need to be shown to the world. No matter how much your editor says the amount of money that would be rolling in from them…no. It is a personal thank you note and did not need to be published for the world to see.”
“Hey, I’m back.” Lottie said, joining us in the basement. Oh…you gave them the books…”
“She’s pretty drunk.” Niall pointed out.
“I see that…the empty bottle of wine proves that.”
“Hello people…of god Bethany…” We all turned to look behind Lottie and there was Louis’s and Lottie’s mom.”
“Mom…” Bethany cried. She got up and threw her arms around her.
“Sweetie…what’s going on…?”
“She saw Myles tonight.” Lottie said.
“I will kill that son of a bitch!” Johanna announced.
“Bethany took care of him.” Lottie said.
“Damn right! How are you feeling?”
“Really drunk.” Bethany said.
“I see the thank you books have been handed out…”
“I already called your mom in California. She’s flying out here tonight.” Bethany broke down in tears, almost as if everything she had been put through was flooding back and she no longer saw it as a bad dream anymore…it was almost as if she felt that it was real all over again.
“It was real…” Bethany finally whispered.
“I’m sorry baby…I’m sorry.” Johanna kept saying over and over again.

The next morning, I woke up with harry laying next to me. He was softly snoring and I was really confused on how he had gotten there. I just kept staring at him until his eyes opened up. He rubbed his eyes and looked at me.
“Good morning.” He whispered.
“Hi.” I said, simply.
“Did you sleep okay?”
“You tell me.”
“Okay, do you want me to be honest?” I nodded. “Okay…you were shaking in your sleep and screaming a lot. Icould hear you through the wall so I came in here and held you until you stopped.”
“I see.”
“Did you want to talk about it?” I was quiet for a minute and than sighed.
“Did I give you the books?”
“Did you know about my past, being here all the time and you guys not knowing?”
“Johanna convinced me to write about my feelings. I started with the short stories. That wasn’t a lie. I was also writing for a local newspaper. That wasn’t a lie either. But Johanna convinced me to write about my true feelings, my true thoughts…and that’s when it all came out and Britta and Jeania saw a money ticket, I saw a way out. They never knew that it was me I was writing about. They thought I was just a starving artist. I covered the bruises, I always said I was having troubles paying my rent and that was why I was so skinny…they never knew it was me I was writing about. Lottie and Johanna did, my parents did…that was about it. My parents came to know Johanna as if she was my second mother, my mom away from home. And they love her for it. I started getting better when he left and I didn’t come around as much because I was working on finishing my story and putting it behind me. With all the fake names at that point, I was starting to believe it had never happened to me. And I know, that qualifies me as crazy, but it’s what got me through it. Seeing him again…it all became real again…”
“Bethany, that doesn’t qualify you as crazy.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m positive. Yes, there are medical terms and names for what that is considered, but that does not mean you are crazy. It is your way to deal with life. And if me being with you means I have books written about me, no matter what happens, sign me up.” I laughed quietly and smiled up at him.
“You really still want to be with me after everything that has happened in the last 24 hours?”
“And why wouldn’t I want to be?”
“Because…I told you white lies and I just basically gave you a way out with telling you I was crazy which I’m sure you figured out in the past 24 hours anyway.”
“As I said, you aren’t crazy, and you told white lies…so what? White lies about your past, not you as a person. It’s not like you’re a murderer and told me you weren’t.”
“You know, you always see the positive in people.”
“Apparenty, I always have.” I smiled and snuggled up to him, hugging him tight and etting him hug me back. “But anyway…someone got here early this morning and I’m sure they want to see you…”
“You met my mom?”
“Yeah, I let her in. Johanna tried to stay up but couldn’t, and I was staying awake because I heard you screaming and I was constantly checking on you before I actually stayed. Your mom came after an episode. I was the only one awake so…I got the door.”
“You met my mom…”
“Yeah…apparently she knows who I am.” I smiled to myself and looked down.
“I told her I was seeing someone, yes.”
“Well…she talked to me up until I heard you screaming again.”
“She’s here and awake?”
“It didn’t look like she wanted an ounce of sleep until she saw you.” I slowly got out of bed with Harry and made my way to the kitchen with Harry behind me.
“MY LOVE!” I smiled, seeing my mom open her arms wide…and hearing the Californian accent she had.” I embraced her like I hadn’t seen her in years and she held me close.
Later that day, Johanna took me and my mom to my place. My mom and I both thanked her for everything last night before finally heading upstairs to my place. She, of course, blew it off as if it was just another simple day but she knows it meant the world to us.
“So…how are you feeling now?” Mom asked me on the elevator ride up.
“Better now that you’re here. But last night I was not super great.”
“Yeah, so Johanna and Harry said.”
“You spoke with Harry?”
“Yes. He told me what had happened. From when you got back to the bar to when you were sleeping. Everything he remembered or knew.”
“Do you like him?” I finally asked.
“Sweetie…I couldn’t have found any one better for you.” I smiled as the elevator opened and we walked inside to Zuri assed out on my couch with Pryia on the floor. “This must have been one exciting bar night.” I laughed at my moms joke and brought her things to the guest room.

“You okay?” Lottie asked me later that day. We were sitting out on the roof and I had the thank you book from Bethany next to me. I had finished reading it after Bethany had left with her mom. It made me feel like shit that I remembered nothing in the book, but it also felt like a very hidden memory at the same time.
“Are you scared?” Lottie asked.
“Why would I be?”
“I want you to be honest with me Harry. I gave you her number knowing that you would be the one to handle her, if anyone could, when this day came. But I want to know…are you actually going to be able to?”
“Lottie…I know it hasn’t been long, it’s been what, a week? But I care for her and I want to be there for her through all of this. I see something in her, Lottie. I don’t know what I see, but I see something in her that I just want to grab onto and never let go of.”
“This is why she picked you…”
“What do you mean?” Lottie half smirked and looked down.
“She told you she’d go on dates right? Before you but after Myles? How she felt they were using her for money?”
“Well I don’t think any of it was really true. I think she saw something in each guy that reminded her of some douchebag that shes dated and she didn’t want anything to do with him…but she picked you.”
“You make it sound like I’ve won some kind of award or something.” I pointed out.
“God Harry…you don’t see it yet, but you will. She is…she is someone who is so full of love and kindness…she will never let you frown a single day in your life. The reason our group of girls is still together is because of Bethany…she is the glue in anyones life. She kept me from becoming an alcoholic when I was losing everything, she pushed Analia to go after her dream even after so many fucking people told her it would never happen, she gave Pryia a place to live when she was homeless…she stopped Marisole and Zuri from straight up killing each other over drug addictions they used to both have. She even got them both into rehab and made sure they stayed clen afterwards. She was up at all goddamn hours of the day and night making sure everyone was okay even when she was falling apart; being beaten and violated. She only came here when it was the worst of the worst. If she came her everytime something happened, she wouold’ve been here every goddamn day. She is the glue that holds us all together…she is the reason we all still hang out. She picked you…”
“I’m serious, Harry. Don’t even try to tell me otherwise.”
“I just don’t really know what to say to that.”
“I’m just saying. She doesn’t just pick anyone. I mean, ever since Myles at least. I don’t know what happened before she left America, but she doesn’t just pick anyone like Pryia would.”
“So you’re telling me I should take care of her and not run?”
“Pretty much.”
“You’re telling me I shouldn’t let this scare me off?”
“You’re picking up exactly what I’m putting down.”
“Because she’s going to be worth it in the end.”
“That wasn’t a question, Lottie. That was a statement. I know she’s going to be worth it.” I said, turning to look at her.
“I’m just making sure you’re okay too. Because I know that isn’t something a lot of people would feel is normal.”
“It’s not normal, Lottie. It’s PTSD and she has it bad. But everyone has their flaws…it isn’t something that can scare me off.”
“If you ever need something cleared up for you about her, I’m always here.”
“Yeah…but I prefer to get to know her on her terms, not yours. I want her to tell me about herself, not someone else telling me…I want to hear it from her.”
“Okay, fair enough.” Lottie said.
“Thanks though.” I said. Lottie nodded and sighed. “Are you okay?”
“I guess so. I just never thought I’d see this side of her again.”
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Shoot.” Lottie said.
“Why did she come to you? Wasn’t Pryia her childhood friend?”
“Pryia wasn’t here yet…I was her first friend basically…so she came to me. I mean, before I really knew much about her to be honest. We really just worked together. But…she was always an incredible person. I couldn’t turn her down when she first started coming to me.”
“That makes you just as good of a person than her.” I said.
“Yeah, if you say so.”
“Oh come on…”
“You come on yourself. You’re just as much of a little sister to me as I am a big brother to you…you know I’m not going to let you just throw bullshit like that at me.”
“Okay, whatever.”
“Don’t throw that bullshit at me.” I said again.
“Okay, fine. I’m sorry.”
“Damn right you are.” Lottie laughed and rolle her eyes before we both went quiet again; back to the memories of the past 24 hours. The craziness I was about to go through…willingly of course. Oh,and Lottie…Lottie was about to go through it all over again. I almost felt back for her, but with how she talked about Bethany, I know to her, it would be the easiest thing she’s ever done.

Having my mom here was like a blessing, even though she was going to come here in about a couple weeks, it still felt nice to see her sooner. I was sitting at the bar counter eating cookie dough icecream as she was making dinner. Pryia and Zuri had gone to shower then rejoin us for dinner since they had pretty much slept off their hangovers.
“Hows the icecream treating you?” My mom asked.
“Chris is worried about you…”
“Mom, come on…”
“Oh please, he’s your older brother. You know he wants to be here.”
“Well aren’t you all coming here in a couple weeks anyway?”
“Yes, but he is still your big brother. Everyone is worried about you.”
“So let me guess…you’re going to stay the next three weeks?”
“If that’s okay with you of course.”
“Yeah, of course mom. Why wouldn’t I be okay with that? I don’t see you all too often as it is.”
“I’m just making sure.”
“It smells good as fuck in here!” Zuri said, rejoining us.
“Thank you, Zuri.”
“I gotchu. So what is it?”
“Chicken noodle soup.”
“Damn that smells great.” I smiled and laughed. I always loved having my mom here…she always made this place feel more like home.”
“Have you been writing?” Mom asked me.
“She has actually.” Suri said. “A lot…and it’s all about the Harry guy.”
“Yes, I met him. S that who you’re writing about now?”
“Does he know?”
“Yeah…he actually read what I’ve written so far.”
“Wow…you normally don’t let people read what you right.” My mom said.
“Pryia kind of forced that one to happen.” Zuri pointed out. My mom smiled, shaking her head.
After dinner, Pryia had packed a bag to head to Zuri’s for the nextcouple of days and they had left. My mom was cleaning the dishes for me as I was in my office, writing some more. It was back to the darker side of things. I mean, not as bad as my last few books but Myles showing back up needed to be written. Granted, in this book, he was a totally different character with a totally different back story. I wanted to start fresh…something totally new.

I had ended up going home later that evening to see my mom and sister. I had dinner with them and when a question about Bethany was asked, I passed it along as if nothing had happened. I didn’t need what she was going through to become everyone’s business. I’m sure no one would have any bad intentions about talking to her but it wasn’t something that needed to be tossed around…at all.
I was laying in bed that night. I hadn’t bothered to turn on any music or TV like I normally would have at night. I like the noise…it keeps me sane but tonight I just didn’t want to hear it. I wanted to be by Bethany, I wanted to hear her voice. I needed to know she was still okay. I knew she was with her mom and her mom would have her back if I couldn’t but it still didn’t change the fact that I needed to hear her voice.
“Hello?” Bethany said, answering the phone.
“Hey you…”
“Harry…how are you?”
“I should be asking you that.”
“My mom is here…it’s almost hard to be sad with my mom around.”
“Well that doesn’t really tell me how you’re doing.” I pointed out. Bethany laughed softly and I could almost see her smiling over the phone.
“No, it doesn’t, but it is what it is. There’s really not much you can say to any of this. It’s a lot to handle or take in at once. I’ve had better days, I’ve had worse days. Does that answer you’re question?”
“Sort of.”
“Sort of? What more can you ask of me?”
“I don’t think I can ask for much more. You’ve done pretty well considering the circumstance. I have a feeling I interrupted you though.”
“What makes you say that?” Bethany asked me.
“I have a feeling you were writing.”
“What makes you say that?”
“You have that slight distracted tone in your voice and that slight grumpy tone in your voice that you get hen I interrupt your writing.”
“Okay, you caught me. I was writing.”
“That’s it?” Bethany asked. “No questioning what about, no hounding me for answers?”
“Nope…if you want to tell me, you will, and if you don’t want to tell me, you won’t. It’s just that simple.” I said. I was almost relieved that she was writing since I knew it helped her clear her mind, but at the same time, I didn’t want her to push this all so far back into her memory that it became a blimp of nothing, a bad dream.
“Do you want to come over tomorrow?” Bethany asked after a pause.
“But your mom is in town?”
“So? I’m sure she wants to get to know you more and I know I don’t want to not see you for the next three weeks just because she’s going to be here.”
“Three weeks?”
“Yeah, remember? My family comes in the last week of June. So she’s just staying until the rest of my family gets here and then she’s going to go home with them.”
“I see…well then in thatcase, yeah I can come over tomorrow. I wouldn’t want to not see you for the next three weeks just because of family. Speaking of family, how is your mom and sister?”
“They’re good. They’ve asked how you were doing.”
“What did you say?”
“That you were doing good. I mean it’s only been a few days since they saw you last.”
“You lied to them?”
“I didn’t think you would want me telling everyone your business…” I said slowly, hoping she wasn’t going to get mad.
“I appreciate that…thank you.”
“No worries…”
“So…” Bethany said slowly.
“Is there anything you called for specifically?” Bethany asked.
“I needed to know you were okay.”
“That’s really sweet of you.”
“Yeah, I try.”
“Okay well…do you mind if I get some sleep? I think I’m about to call writing quits for the nights and head to bed.”
“Of course. Call me if you need anything. I mean anything at all, no matter what time.”
“I will Harry…thank you.”
“Goodnight.” I said.
“Goodnight Harry. Sweet dreams”
“Sweet dreams.” I said right before hanging up.

I made my way up to my room after my phone call with Harry. My mom was already settled in, probably asleep in the guest room. I felt a weird snese of relief having her here and having Harry call me to make sure I’m okay. It made me feel safe even though he wasn’t here. But I wasn’t going to be that person.
I looked up at my ceiling for what felt like hours, I couldn’t sleep in fear of having nightmares, in fear of screaming and shaking in my sleep…I just didn’t want it to happen. I rolled over, onto my side and saw my face in the mirror, out of the corner of my eye. I didn’t even recognize myself…I looked like I had been torn down and beaten, just in a different way this time. I started to cry silently to myself, just wanting something to be different. I wanted to be anybody but myself right now.
I got up and walked up to the mirror and just looked into my own eyes. They were glazed over and I just knew I needed to smoke. I went into my closet, found my stash from years ago and dug out the papers and weed. I stepped onto the fire escape outside my window, rolled the joint, and started smoking. I felt all the stress and anxiety slowly start to fade away, like I was going to be okay again.




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