Chapter 23. Do You Really Want To Hurt Me

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I always loved the touch of another person, it did not occur all that often. When it did, whether an acquaintance offered a friendly pat on the back or my mother held me in a warm embrace after being gone for a day or two, I could not feel safer.

When I lay in Sam's bed, and Sam moved his hands up against the bare skin beneath my sweater, I was feeling none of that. Actually, I couldn't recall ever being in a situation so stressful. What was I doing? Was I doing it right? What could I be doing wrong? I was just lying there, was that wrong?

A plea for help with Econ homework at his house spiraled into an impromptu makeout session I didn't ask for, but soon realized was implied when he invited me up to his room.

Oh, god. We had to stop, I mean, his parents could walk in any minute and that wasn't even the reason for the worrisome heartbeat. Why didn't he feel the attention-grabbing clubbing coming out of chest?

Sam moved his face away from mine to look down at me with bloodshot eyes and a mouth half-open.

"Are you ok?" he asked.

"Of course," I lied, taking the opportunity to scooch over to the left.

Why was I so scared? I goddamn asked for this.

"What are you thinking about?"

Sam lay down beside me, a little short of breath, but fine otherwise. I noticed a small smile on the corner of his face.

"Charlie," I answered.


"Ew, not like that."

There was an obvious reason to be thinking about Charlie: we had yet to tell him about his brother's death, as well as everything else we learned over the weekend. It was already Wednesday again, and I had tried to avoid Charlie at all costs.

I gazed out at Sam's room, where unopened textbooks and backpacks were spread out on the carpeted floor. He had a shelf on the left side of the beige, square room, with the biggest collection of cassettes I had ever laid eyes on. Some of which were albums: David Bowie, New Order, The Clash, and the Run-DMC tape he had borrowed from me to name a few. The rest were his own tapes, the ones he documented his life with. I found it extremely tempting to snatch one off the shelf when he wasn't looking, maybe the one that said April 14th DO NOT LISTEN.

"Hey, Sam?"


"How come you record everything?" I wondered, jumping out of his twin bed. The room and the sheets alike had the same smell of lavender as the rest of his house, mixed in with heavy incense used to cover up the smell of pot.

"Because my leftie handwriting sucks so I can't keep a diary," he explained, "and I like to remember everything."

"Do you ever listen to them?"

"Some of them, if they're happy."

"What about the bad ones?"

"I don't know what to do about them yet."

Sam wasn't very talkative, probably longing to get back to what we had been doing, but I wanted to call it quits for the day.

I wondered if I was still allowed to ask questions about him; if we were still friends the way we were so that I could learn more about him. With a pressing need to comfort myself, I insisted we could still have both one and the other.

"I've been thinking about something," I said, switching up the conversation topic to see if it would help the mood.


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