The day was Monday, July 4th, 2016. Luke and I haven't spoken for a day or two, which is good, because I definitely needed a break from all of the bad girl shit. My father didn't take my hair-dyeing situation that well, but all in all, he didn't mind that much. He said, "As long as the bathroom isn't stained with hair dye." I guess grieving daughters dyeing their hair crazy colors were normal for him. Except the fact that my mother is gone. That, well, wasn't so normal.
When I found out my mother died, I didn't cry. I didn't cry at her funeral either, not even her wake. Not even when her coffin sat in the ground and I had to fucking shovel dirt on her grave. I did not cry. I guess I was numb to the whole thing. That terrified me. My aunt Cass always said it's good to have feelings, and when it gets to the point that nothing ever affects us, is when we should be scared. She was right.
It was 7:37PM at night. I was curled up in my bed under the blankets watching Supernatural, which was a show I remember my mom used to hate, but I secretly loved. Now I could watch it freely, as much as I want, but I kept pausing the show and stood up as an excuse to stop. But then, I really did have an excuse to stop.
My iPhone beeped, making its text notification noise.
Luke: happy fourth. party at bronte beach. be there.
Me: This is Australia. We don't celebrate Independence Day here.
Luke: you're one of those people who say independence day instead of july 4th?
Me: Not the point. I'm not going. Australians don't even celebrate that holiday. Americans do.
Luke: who cares? it gives us an excuse to party. plus, fireworks.
Of course, I thought. Why wouldn't I expect that Luke would be the one to party? He's popular, but not the stereotypical jock-type. Instead, he's the stereotypical bad-type. He must get invited to parties all the time, even if he doesn't go. I'm sure if he doesn't, he would be doing other things that I couldn't imagine, things I would never do.
Me: So why do you never capitalize your texts?
Luke: you really wanna know?
Me: Do I wanna knooow, if this feeling flows both ways??
Luke: did you just make an arctic monkeys reference?
Luke: i didn't know you listened to them.
Luke: what's your favorite song of theirs???
Me: Just answer my question. Why don't you capitalize the sentences in your texts? Grammatically challenged?
Luke: just fatally lazy.
. . .
I was dressed in a white, see-throughish peyton shirt from Brandy Melville with my swimsuit underneath it and black short-shorts. Edgy? Not really. My style? Not at all. This whole thing was a new change for me, the whole bad girl thing, and I wasn't sure if I should take baby steps or big-girl steps. Either way, I wasn't comfortable with what I was wearing, but I figured I'd get used to it. Right?
Halting my skateboard to a stop, I left it leaning on a wall in the parking lot and ran over to the big area where I saw Luke and his friends. A bunch of other people were there too, of course – grilling, laughing, swimming, playing with sparklers and grabbing drinks from the blue cooler.
I walked over to Luke’s group, my hands insecurely hiding in my short pockets. He caught my eye and the corner of his lips went up. He flashed a goofy, very un-Luke like smile at me and cleared his voice. He gestured a sort of salute at me, nodding his beer can in my way. The beer unintentionally splashed out of the hole, and I heard Luke mumble “Shit” when it did. He glanced behind me, clearly embarrassed and spoke.
“Didn’t know you skated, Link. You learned just for the project?” he asked.
I shook my head, “I’ve been skating since I was a kid, as young as age 5 I think. It was the only really fun thing my parents let me do. Really, it’s nothing new. I just don’t ride it at school. Afraid the skater clique will take notice and welcome me into their group."
Luke arched an eyebrow, tilting his head to the side slightly. “So I take it you don’t want to be in that group? Why’s that?”
I shrugged. Luke didn’t have to know why I stopped riding my board for a while. He didn’t have to know that my mother loved it, and me riding the skateboard when my mother was gone, completely, felt like betraying her to me. It was such a silly thing to think, that I’d somehow be “betraying” her by simply just riding a goddamn skateboard. But we all had our thoughts that didn’t make sense to anyone but ourselves, and that was perfectly fine.
“No reason,” I answered him, lying straight through my teeth. “Just not my forte. Don’t want to become one of them, I guess. Not that they’re horrible people.”
“And yet you want to become one of me?” he half-asked, half-stated. I wasn’t sure what he was thinking, probably that I’m a confusing, hormonal, grieving girl, but I didn’t care too much about him anyways.
Ashton, one of Luke’s friends, spotted Luke and I making unusual conversation and walked over to us. I could tell he was older than Luke, he didn’t even go to our school, or maybe even high school at all. His brown, soft, curly hair flipped and readjusted when Ashton ran a hand through it. He leaned his arm against Luke’s shoulder and stood behind him, looking at me with a genuine, warm-hearted smile on his face.
“Hey there, lil lady,” he said to me. “You must be Link, right? Luke won’t fuckin’ shut up about you. Damn, you’re just as beautiful in person as he says.”
I scoffed, crossing my arms and looking down in embarrassment. “Wonder if he was intoxicated when he said all those things.”
“Stubborn too, but sarcastic,” he winked his eye jokingly. “The whole package. Everyone wants a sarcastic to be around, eh? We should hang out sometime, Link Haven.”
“Yeah,” I smiled, ignoring the scowl on Luke’s face. “Yeah, we should. Sounds cool, talk to me anytime when you want to.”
Tonight, I decided, I would finally have fun after my mother’s death. I would let loose, get fucking drunk, and forget about my worries. If you had asked me in the past, before my mom was deceased, if I would ever get drunk, my answer would 10/10 times be no. But right now, with Luke, his friends, and whoever the hell else was here, I would have no care in the world if the whole world saw me that way.
I don't know why the hell I did, but I took off my white blouse and shorts, leaving them hanging on one of the stand-up chairs. I've never been one to wear bikinis, but I thought it'd go with the whole bad girl look, a black one especially. When I took it off, I felt strange, because boys (and some girls too) started looking at me. I felt even stranger when Luke started too.
Reluctantly, but fast enough before overthinking, I grabbed a beer bottle from the cooler. The chilling water drops flowed down my hands as I unscrewed the cap and took a swig of the beer. It ran down my throat, cold and bitter. The taste made me scrunch my nose up in slight disgust and I took the cap to secure the bottle closed once again.
“How’s the drink?” an unfamiliar voice said beside me. When I turned around, I saw it to be a boy with tan, caramel skin and dark, almost black hair. His lips were full, and his eyes were soft brown. He looked friendly, so I replied back.
“Shitty,” I replied, chuckling slightly. “Drinking’s never really been my thing anyways. I just thought tonight I’d try it for once, maybe get drunk.”
“Huh,” he said, nodding his head. “Yeah, I get that. But why do something you aren’t comfortable with? If it doesn’t make you happy?”
Shrugging, I couldn’t think up a reasonable answer. What would I say? Something along the lines of not caring? Because honestly, I did. I cared too much. “I-I don’t know,” I found myself stuttering suddenly. “We all have our reasons. I mean, wouldn’t you?”
“Of course not,” he stated, shaking his head. “If it doesn’t make me happy, if I don’t enjoy what I’m doing, why waste my time torturing myself?”
Not having the energy to debate and argue, I glance down at my drink, swallowing down another gulp of the beer. Thinking of what he said, I just shrugged it off and sighed tiredly, tracing circles on the water droplets covering the bottle. I was going to walk away. My feet took me about three steps until the same unfamiliar voice spoke again.
“Hey,” he said. “I never got your name.”
“It’s Link,” I replied. “Promise you won’t stalk me now?”
He grinned at my humorous attitude and nodded once. “Promise,” he smiled.
“Good,” I smiled back. “Now what’s yours?”
“It’s Calum,” he replied. “Promise you won’t stalk me now?”
“Good,” he chuckled. “But only if I get your number.”
Were we flirting or was this just friendly conversation? I couldn’t tell, but is it bad that, for the first time in my life, I actually wanted it to be flirting?
“No,” I laughed softly. “I don’t give stalkers my number.”
“Well,” Calum reached over, grabbing a beer bottle for himself, and sat down on a log around the fire. He patted the seat next to him and tipped his head to the right beside him. “Come here and we’ll talk. Maybe you’ll find me not so much of a stranger anymore then,” he winked at me, and I don’t know how, but suddenly I sat down next to him and we ended up just talking for the rest of my time there.
// a/n \\
extra long chapter for y'all! i had no internet for the past few days, so i couldn't update. sorry about that haha.