Cab | Louis Tomlinson

If you met someone who spoke to you in the same way you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend?


5. ☓ chapter four

Lights. There are lights everywhere; spinning around in the most enchanting colours I have ever seen. I want to be like them – free of worries, only there to make everybody happy and always succeeding. They seem so elegant as they travel across the room while lightly brushing people’s faces to give them a taste of joy, but nothing more.

  I close my eyes, my body swaying to the music. I am dancing with the ghost of my old friends even though they seem real and authentic – their faces are genuine, voices louder than the music. It gives me a feeling of belonging somewhere once again, but I don’t want to give in.

  Something’s not right.

  “Lyndsey, you look stunning.” The voice sends shivers down my spine, making me open my eyes just enough to make out the silhouette of a toned body and a smile worth a billion. I hope the dim lightning is covering the redness on my cheeks.

  The people who were surrounding me just a few seconds ago have disappeared. They seem irrelevant as I stand here, completely taken away by the handsome guy in front of me. I know that something is up, but at the same time, I’ve never been more oblivious to the part of me that warns about danger.  The clever one.

  “How do you know my name?” I ask, just loud enough for him to catch.

  He stands there for a few seconds without saying anything. All he does is study me, as if I were a sculpture worth more than his house. The eyes are scanning me from top to toe – all the way from my messy hair to the sneakers I’m wearing. It makes me feel vulnerable, but I can’t help but like it somehow. I stun him. Not Cami. Me.

  “Don’t everybody know your name?” He tilts his head. “A girl like you should know how special you are.”

  Snap out of it.

  “Well, I didn’t know people actually noticed me,” I admit, shrugging like the second prize I am. “I’m just there, you know.”

  People are all caught up in their own world – either making out with some random dude or chick they just met or texting their friends about what it felt like to snog whoever they were with. It’s so typical at parties like these; we act like we’re so much older, so mature, even though we’re still kids. We still haven’t gotten our lives under control, and it frustrates us every day even though nobody wants to admit it.

  Snap out of it.

  “I think you’re special.” He sends me a smile that takes me to a less crowded place, a place with just the two of us. No loud music, no hot temperature, no smell of alcohol mixed with a lake containing smelly teenage sweat, nothing. My eyes are locked on him.

  “Thanks.” I am blushing – I can feel the heat in my cheeks, the way my heart is beating so violently I’m afraid he can hear it. “What’s your name?”

  I’ve never seen him before. On the other hand, I never really see anyone else but Cami and her friends. We only mind our own business because that’s what really matters. Why try to steal another spider’s food while risking being stuck in the web when you have your own to care for? It would be like living your life for others, and Cami says life is too precious for that.

  Don’t waste your time.

  “I’m Cameron.” Cam, Cami, Cameron. “Can I offer you something to drink?”

  Snap out of it.

  There’s not much to really offer at this party. Our school doesn’t allow strong alcohol, and our parents don’t either, so mostly, it’s just soda on the tables. I understand their reasons, but most of us drink at private parties anyway – why do they even care enough to stop us when it’s impossible?

  Snap out of it!

  “Sure, that sounds nice,” I say while trying to keep a straight face. I can’t help but find his offer a bit amusing, considering we’re so young and not at a real bar with a real bartender – meeting guys like him never fails to make me smile.

  I can’t move. My eyes are wide open, but I can’t move. At first, I am struck by this feeling of panic, but then I realise I’ve tried it before – and maybe a few times too many.

  Lucid dreaming is something that’s been bothering since that night – I keep memorizing things I’d rather forget, but weirdly enough, the scenarios are never exactly as they were in real life. However, they’re still as terrible, and if I can, I’ll wake myself up in time before it all gets bad. I need to realise it’s really just a dream and open my eyes. It’s harder than it seems, though – one moment I know I’m dreaming, the next I’m completely unaware.

  There are shadows out there, all moving around swiftly to avoid being seen. But I see them, I see them clearly – I see the evil faces, the sharp teeth, the thirst after ripping open some old wounds. To ruin more people’s lives. That’s what they do and what they’re best at – giving teenagers nightmares and making them reconsider a perfectly okay life.

  I wish they’d leave me alone.

  I know that as soon as my brain awakens completely, they’ll disappear. But even when the bad stuff’s gone, they’re still here somehow. They’re hidden deep inside of me – I can always feel it, the misery and frustration. It won’t leave me alone. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to shake it off of me – that would’ve been nice, though. Just for one day to be completely normal and happy.

  Those were the good old days.

  I lay there for a while and stare at the ceiling that’s covered by dark silhouettes who smile at me, trying to lure me into the darkness. They look like beasts as they dig in their sharp claws, leaving a mark right there by the lamp I desperately want to light even though I can’t.

  Before I even regain my ability to move my toes, I have fallen asleep once again.

The hanging mobile catches my attention as soon as I open my eyes. Pinching my eyes together, I ask myself why the sun has decided to show its face on a boring day in November.

  Oh, I forgot, it’s Thanksgiving in America. Maybe that’s why.

  I always found that one American holiday odd. Why find a specific day to celebrate the things you are grateful for when you should show your gratitude every single day? Why save your love for 24 short hours if those people mean so much to you? What’s the point if you lose that one person before November makes its late arrival?

  If I were to hold a speech on Thanksgiving, I probably wouldn’t know who to thank. I wouldn’t know who I was grateful for having in my life because honestly, none of them stayed during the rough times, so why should I consider them someone who really cares?

  They all consider me a psycho anyway.

  I can see it in their faces. The slight fear even though I am no harm to others but myself. I wouldn’t even kill a fly if it bothered me – when it comes to insects and animals, I’m quite the Buddhist. But it’s not because I believe in peace and no war in the world because that’s as possible as a world without Internet or makeup, and I don’t see that happening in the nearest future. I just have a weird opinion when it comes to killing animals because even though they have no sympathy, they’d still be dead. And there’s something about death that scares me more than anything.

  I think it’s interesting, yet terrifying, that our lives are so fragile. One moment of gloom could lead to an eternity of nothing. Nothing, nothing and absolutely nothing. No light, no joy, no hope. It’s all just dark. And you can’t even get yourself to think of the fact that everything’s black and empty because your mind is long gone. It’s so far away that it seems like it was never even there in the first place.

  There is so much about death I don’t understand. I’ve been trying to understand, but one way or another, I always end up chasing tails. If I ended my life, I wouldn’t be courageous. I would be stupid and spontaneous because that’s all it takes. An impulsive action – a few pills, a single shot, two slashes, and then you’re gone forever. You can’t even look at the people left here and their sorrow because you chose to leave. And now the rest of the world has to live a life without you being there.

  I think if you really want to die, you just do it before you get to think of the consequences. I know I always overthink the situation too much to do anything foolish.

  Maybe it’s stupid to be alive when your mind is constantly circling around death.

  The sun is blinding. It was never this clear, this compelling, here in November, but I guess Thanksgiving is a bit of a special occasion. We just don’t really celebrate it here in England – but maybe the world tried to tell me to be extra grateful today anyway just because I’ve been lacking that lately.

  I know I should be grateful for my family and that my parents aren’t divorced or in a bad marriage. In some way, I just can’t see them the way they want me to – I’m too old for that. When I was younger, it was so much easier because I believed in Santa, the tooth fairy and even the Easter bunny. I believed everything they told me and cared so much for them because I felt safe. I’d never felt safer around them, but I don’t anymore. I want to, but it seems like whenever I as much as try, they disappoint me – either by rushing me into things I’m not ready to or by ignoring whatever my problem is.

  Why don’t they ever just accept the situation as it is? Is it that hard to let me mind my own business?

  Today is the day where I’m returning to Riverdale. The thought of it makes me sigh a little inside, but being reminded it’s just for a few hours makes it a lot easier. If it had been a stay as long as the last time, it would’ve been unbearable.

  People always tell me that it’s for the best and that it will help me, but in my experience, it’s not and it won’t. Those facilities don’t teach you how to accept yourself the way you are and all the mistakes you’ve made in your life, no, they just keep feeding you up like a little pig, hoping that eventually, you’ll get so used to feeling fat and worthless that you’ll forget all about it.

  They couldn’t be more wrong.

  My stay taught me that no one ever really knows what to do in these situations. The professionals tend to act as if they do, but they don’t. When the girls have an outburst and start yelling at their psychologist, the psychologist acts like she knows what this is and how to handle it, but she doesn’t. She’s so calm because she has gotten her life under control and it amuses her to listen to people who haven’t.

  Eating breakfast seems harder than it normally is. Not because of the calories, but because I don’t want to go. I don’t want to see the look in my psychologist’s face when she notices that I’ve lost a few pounds or hear her voice when she advices me to give the place another try. I don’t want to hear any of that – I just want to get it over with as quickly as possible. Nod a few times, send her a convincing smile and leave the room.

  Everything takes longer: eating, brushing my teeth, putting on clothes and makeup, finding out what to do with my hair … I can’t seem to rush it because then I wouldn’t have an excuse for not showing up. A part of me knows that nothing bad will happen – it’s just routine. They’re not going to place a weight in front of me and force me to step up on it and neither will they even suspect that I don’t follow the food schedule they were so kind to make me. I shouldn’t be this nervous, but somehow, these thoughts won’t stop bothering me. They keep coming in streams, asking me, “What if this happens?” and, “What if that happens?” Always so cautious about everything – typical.

  In a way, I wish my mom could be here. Or my dad. Just one of them, so I would have to act calm. I’d somehow find a way to keep my hands steady, which would come in very handy when applying my mascara. I don’t know why, but when I’m alone, everything changes. Not only does the smile turn into these hollow dead eyes or even tears – I can suddenly feel the sadness pulling my heart down like an anchor, as well. I guess I’m always so distracted by having to act convincing that I forget about the solitude for a while.

  Sometimes, whatever I do, it doesn’t measure up to how it feels to be around others. Even if I ran 100 miles, I wouldn’t forget about the pain and bad memories because I’d be alone. And no matter what happens, I’ll always be reminded of that night when I’m alone.

  They have one thing in common: the loneliness.

  I can’t really explain it because it hurts, but at the same time, I feel numb. I feel empty inside, as if nothing will ever get to me, but that’s the thing – everything gets to me. All the pain, all the anger, all the sadness – I can feel it deep in my bones, and it wrecks me. It wrecks me so badly that I can’t focus on anything else. I keep thinking of other’s struggles while wanting to help them, but I always stop myself because I haven’t yet helped myself.

  Walking around in public is easy apart from not being able to look people in the eyes. There’s the shame and a tiny bit of sadness, but nothing else. I’m not bothered by the negative thoughts of pictures of him in the back of my mind – I’m in a state of calmness, floating around with sweet music in my ears. This “act” has become more than just a simple act because I’m not able to show people what I’m like when I’m alone. I’ve gotten so used to it that it seems like I’m two persons: the one around people and the one back home.

  I don’t even know how many times I’ve broken down on my doorstep. My mind seems to have an on/off switch that goes off automatically when I allow myself to rest my head and regain the strength for another day. Crying has become this way of charging up, as if I were a human battery.

  The more days that go by, the more I get convinced that I’m an actual robot.

  I hope that I’ll be able to show off the soft side of me someday. That I will sit in front of that one person and feel like I’m home just by knowing I’m in his or her company. Doing that would mean I would finally have faced the bad memories and accepted them. It would mean that I’d finally be ready to move on and put it behind me; that after all this time, one person finally stuck with me until the end, no matter how difficult it got.

  Sometimes I imagine what that day will be like. I picture the flattering words, telling me how strong I’ve been for continuing this battle even though my life seemed like a lost cause. Sometimes that’s all that really keeps me going – the thought of those rewarding words that will convince me it was all worth it.

  I’m just not sure that day will ever come.

  The doorbell draws me out of my thoughts. It’s been a while since someone has shown up on my doorstep, looking for me, so for a while, I don’t move. I just sit there and stare at the clock while thinking to myself: “Maybe I can skip the appointment and tell them I was sick.”

  However, I know that this day can’t be outrun forever. And the more I try to escape it, the more reason I’ll give the staff at Riverdale to suspect that I am in fact in need of another slow and painful stay in a too small dorm with disgusting food and too many ruthless people.

  It takes a while to get my feet going. They don’t feel like my own, but my body hasn’t really felt like my own since that night – it’s more like a rental car. But if it really was a car, I would definitely have to pay extra for ruining the soft colours and proportions of what used to be beautiful.

  I can make out a silhouette behind the blurry glass. I always hated this door because it made me so paranoid and scared at night – a single shadow could give me nightmares the next many days. I have gotten used to it by now, though. I don’t think you ever get entirely comfortable with knowing that your door can be smashed as easily as yourself, but it was like that when we moved in, and my parents can’t afford/don’t want to waste their money on changing such a tiny little thing.

  As I open the door, my facial expression goes from nonchalant to positively surprised. It happens so fast I don’t even notice it myself to begin with, but then my jaw starts feeling heavy and misplaced, which makes me close my slightly open mouth. I’m too caught off guard to really say anything even though I want to. Something about him makes me want to just admire the vision and enjoy it while possible – as if my mind knows it won’t last forever.

  There he is. 

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