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We had been going out a month, and the thought of not telling him I knew something was eating me alive. Ashton, meanwhile, had been trying to figure out a way he could get out of the story. He was confused when I told him that there was no point in him trying, but he shrugged it off. I was so amazingly guilty, and I knew it was going to come out when we were fighting or something. We never fought. But, never say never.

Michael had been hanging around me a lot, and we talked about boring things that Michael never talked about and I didn't know how to tell him I wanted him but the other him without sounding like a dickhead. I just smiled and laughed at him as I watched over his shoulder to see Ashton trying to hook up with Kylie.

She was glitching in and out, and we could both see it, but he was in denial about it. It was starting to become more obvious that he would never get home.

He got frustrated a lot. Angry sex in the dark room was the only way he could let it out. Sometimes we didn't even want it, but the story made us. There were love-bites as wide as he could open his mouth under and near the collar of my shirt, which had gotten me in trouble with Michael more than once. Trouble meaning relentless questions that I never answered.

I'd tried to distance myself from him, but he didn't get it. He clung to me like a baby. Eventually, I'd snapped and told him to fuck off. He left me alone for a few days.

It was endless scenes of school. No sleep. No food. No toilet breaks. No nothing. Ashton and I were running low. On self-esteem, on water, on real life. We were starting to get desperate. Sleeping in whatever scenes we could, and trying to pick ourselves up and telling ourselves that we were gonna get out and we were gonna be okay. We were lying to ourselves.

Things just weren't that simple.

At one point, when Ashton was walking to his locker, he collapsed, and the scene around us fell to pieces only to be built up into my bedroom. He was leaning against the end of my bed, crying and my arms were around me.

"I'm never going to get out of here."

And the sad thing was, that he was right. This wasn't a time of desperation, or over-exaggeration. He was telling the truth. I couldn't say anything, so I just kissed his cheek.

"How do you know that?"

"She's glitching. And I've reached this end of this story a thousand times. I'm so fucking tired of this."

I bit my lip, leaning in and kissing his jawline. "I need to tell you something." I whispered, shutting my eyes as I leant my forehead against his temple. "My best friend made the book you were reading." He sniffed, turning to me, glaring through bloodshot eyes.

"You didn't think to tell me?"

"Wait," I said, my voice breaking, "there's more." He untensed and watched me carefully. A lump in my throat rolled into an even bigger ball than before. "After you went missing . . . he – he deleted the story." It took a while, but he got it.

He started to sob, collapsing into me. His pain was so loud, so visible, and I couldn't bear it. I shut my eyes and covered my ears, crying myself as he started screaming. I watched him start to throw things, watched them shatter on the floor, watched him rip up pages, but they stitched themselves up and got back onto the bookcase.

Once he couldn't find anything else to destroy, and the place looked like a hurricane, he got to the ground and sobbed into the carpet. "No!" he choked out. "I can't fucking get out." He slammed his fists on the floor. I crawled over, shaking as I scooped him up and pulled him into my chest. "I'm stuck here forever." He sobbed. I winced at his words.

I opened my mouth, but closed it. That wasenough news for one day.}},"Ԑ���.

chapter 24 ;; cashtonWhere stories live. Discover now