Chapter Five

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"Oh God." I groaned as I sat up in my bed. 

I felt like I was going to die. For real this time. My head was throbbing painfully, my mouth felt like sawdust; my stomach was rolling around in a disgusting manner. Death would've been preferable to feeling this way. Urgh God, why the hell did people ever do this to themselves? Was this even normal for a hangover? And what time did I even get to sleep last night? I could barely even remember getting home—which went someway to explaining why I was still in most of the clothes I'd been wearing the night before.

My phone pinged loudly, and the sound was unbearably intrusive. I grabbed it, trying to see past how glaringly bright the screen was. My hypersensitivity to light was killer, but for some reason, I needed to see who was trying to contact me.

A Facebook message from Kimberly flicked up in front of me. 'Hey Lara, fun night last night—I'm dying now though! We should hang out again sometime; it was really lovely to meet you. Kim xx'

There was also one from Amy, which she must have sent as soon as she got home. 'Ahaha! I can't believe I kissed that guy—he was hot though! Thanks for coming out, you were way more fun than I expected. You were pretty badass actually. Did you get home okay? Ammmmeeeessss xxxxx'

And then there was a selection of awful-looking photographs that Kai had tagged me in. Much as they made me feel even more nauseated than before, I couldn't help but laugh. I looked so dreadful when I was drunk, there was no avoiding that, especially not when the evidence was sitting right in front of me, for the whole world to see... But, aside from the hangover regret, I actually had a really good time. I felt glad that I'd bust out of my routine, I was happy that I tried something new. If not, I wouldn't have met any of those awesome new people, nor had such an amazing time. Of course this sickly feeling wasn't pleasant, but it was actually worth it. I felt like this huge step would lead to some great things for me.

Just as I was poised to reply to everyone's messages, the nausea became overwhelming. I started to feel hot, sweaty, anxious, so I rushed off to the bathroom to spend the next few hours vomiting on and off, in between sleep.

                                                                                         ***

As I rolled into work, a few hours later, I still felt like death. Amy was already there, looking about as worse-for-wear as myself, which was relieving—at least I wasn't suffering an abnormal hangover. There was a point where I'd been genuinely worried about that. I was actually quite used to seeing Amy in this state, but I'd never been alongside her, and it felt kinda nice. It bonded us in a strange, but awesome way.

The first thing she did when she saw me was burst out laughing—an action I immediately mimicked. This was weird, having a smile, a giggle, an inside joke. It shifted something inside of me. I felt...sort of happy. Happier than I had done in a very long time at least. It was like a small piece of the weight that I'd been carrying around on my shoulders for an extraordinarily long time, had lifted—a sensation I never expected to feel.

The shift at the diner went much quicker with someone to gossip alongside, and by the end of the night, the crappy, sickly feeling was still there, but so was a small portion of elation. I sort of felt like, maybe—just maybe—life wasn't so bad after all.

It was amazing how one night had seemingly changed everything for me. How a boozy night out with some girls had opened up my future into something completely different.

As I arrived back to my home, a positive shimmer had overcome me, causing me to do something that I hadn't done, in a very long time. I checked my emails. This might have been something simple to anyone else, but to me, it was my main link to back home. Any texts or instant messages had been deleted, but I hadn't gone into my inbox for a very long time. I just knew that even if there wasn't anything recent, the old messages will undoubtedly be there. And now—for some reason—I felt brave enough to go there.

Maybe I would go as far to send some replies!

Much to my surprise, there was something new in there. An email that had been sent a little over a month ago.

"Hi Lara,

It's me again. I hope you're well. I don't know why I keep emailing you, I'm not even sure if you're reading these messages! I guess I just want to keep you in the loop. Bradley and I are engaged now..."

"What?" I scraped my chair back, and jumped up in surprise. "Engaged?"

All of a sudden, I totally regretted my decision to do this, to open up this big black hole. I should have known that it would end in despair—it always did. Any happiness that I'd been feeling got sucked back into the vacuum of sadness, as I read and re-read Daphne's words over and over again.

The Bradley that she was referring to in her email was my boyfriend. Until I got really sick that is. Then I broke it off with him. I didn't want him to get sucked into all the hospital visits and crappy days I was having. I wanted to save him. I didn't want him to be stuck as the guy whose girlfriend had died—especially not at such a young age. It was one step too far, a burden I never wanted him to have.

Of course, our relationship had been all very tame, very high school. We barely even kissed—but since it was the only romance I'd ever experienced, it was important to me. That was what made the events that transpired after our melancholy breakup, that much more hurtful.

I hadn't expected him to hook up with Daphne only a few weeks later, but by that time I was so involved in what was going on with myself, that I didn't really care. They told me about it—practically asked for my permission—and I told them it was fine. I was in a whirlwind of pills and drips, so it was at the bottom of my priority list. I just wanted everyone else to be happy.

Then, I became the 'dying girl', and I was taken on a rollercoaster of distracting fun—which took my mind off of everything. Even if there were pangs of jealousy, I barely had time to experience them. It wasn't until I ended up in the city, with far too much time on my hands, that I started to feel shitty about it all. That I started to view it as some kind of betrayal.

They'd been together now, for longer than I was with him, but a small part of me still felt like he was 'mine'. Of course that was stupid. We were a meaningless, short-term, school relationship. They'd properly kissed, undoubtedly slept together, and now they were engaged. They were going to get married. I was nothing more than ancient history, and yet it still stung like hell. I didn't even want Bradley; not really, it was only bitterness that had me feeling this way.

Just another irrational thought that I couldn't get rid of, however hard I tried.

But for Daphne to tell me that massive news so casually, as if my feelings on it all wouldn't matter at all? It was all too much for me to take in. Even reading it for the hundredth time, the pain was still there.

What did she want me to say? Congratulations? I hope you have a happy life together, regardless of how seriously awful things are for me? Well done for being so God damn happy?

Without even thinking, I grabbed my keys and rushed out of the door—desperate to get some fresh air. Frustrated tears pricked my eyes as I pounded down the stairs, and much to my annoyance one even dared to trickle down my cheek. I brushed it away angrily, stomping my feet as I went.

They didn't deserve my tears, I shouldn't have been upset over them, so why the hell was I?

I kept my eyes fixed on the ground as I moved, not caring where I was going, just needing to be outside, away from the claustrophobic four walls that I'd been stuck inside for way too long.

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