Chapter Sixteen

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I feel the wind whip my hair back, the warm, balmy breeze warming my face as I stand in the gravel driveway, waiting. Butterflies swirl around in my stomach as I see the figure strolling up the driveway, tall, broad, handsome. His face comes into focus as he nears me and I feel fuzzy inside, wanting to burst out into giggles like a silly little girl.

Today, I am determined to tell Colton how I feel about him. So determined in fact, that in some strange way I feel like my life depends on it.

After all, I'm just afraid of how the mutual feelings that we have towards one another will affect our current friendship. I don't remember how I know this. I think someone must have told me this.

I bounce down the driveway, feeling lighter than air and as if I'm moving in slow motion as I hurry to meet Colton half way.

I stand in front of him, and suddenly all of my confidence is gone as quickly and abruptly as it came.

"Colton..." I say, and he looks down at me with a crooked smirk.

"Hey, Si-Si." He says with a grin. "I couldn't wait to see you." He wraps his arms around me again and I swallow hard.

Well, he's happy to see me. Good sign.

"Can I talk to you?" I ask, feeling awkward about how quickly this is moving, how unnatural this all feels.

"Sure, Sierra." He winks.

He WINKS? That doesn't seem like Colton to me.

But it puts the butterflies in a frenzy, and my heart pitter-patters.

Maybe I like him this way, I think.

He looks at me expectantly, and suddenly I'm stuttering dumbly as I try to explain how I feel about him.

Why is it all happening so fast?

"I really like you, Colton." I tell him, biting my lip, glancing up at him like an expectant puppy, waiting for him to answer me. "I think I could be in love with you if you give me a chance." That came out wrong. It doesn't sound like my voice, I sound awkward, jumpy, nervous. I'm never nervous around Colton.

What happens next is unexpected.

He leans forward, lips parted. I stare into his eyes, leaning in... Hoping and allowing for a kiss to happen, praying, praying, that he will touch his lips to mine.

But then I read his face, I see his eyes, cloudy and angry.


Maybe I'm imagining it.

He is scowling, glaring, hatred in his eyes.

"You think I like you?" His voice is a sinister whisper, a terrible monotone that sends chills down my spine, and not the good, warm and fuzzy chills. The chills that wrack me are the kind that you get right before the head on collision, when you're caught in the headlights. I shake my head, tears springing to my eyes. I swallow.

"I... I did."

"Why would I like you?" He chuckles. "You, the daughter of an addict and a drunkard. Insecure, ugly, useless," My whole world is crumbling in a horrible, terrible mess as his list goes on, "Psychotic, brainless, irresponsible-" I tune him out. Darkness seems to cloud my vision and I let out a sob.

"I thought-" I reach my hand out to touch his arm, interrupting his verbal assault.

"You thought wrong." He snaps, grabbing my outstretched hand and tossing it hatefully aside. "You really are as stupid as your granddad says."

He looks repulsed by me.

I need to get away from him. But when I try to move from my spot, I end up collapsing in a heap, sobbing.

My head is buried in my hands as I cry, loud and moaning. It doesn't even sound like me. When I look up, Colton is walking away from me, back down the driveway the way he came from.

"Colton!" I shout at him, desperation clouding my judgement. I just want him back, him, the boy who sat by me, said he was my friend.

"Shut up." He spits back. "Go back to the mess you came from, you don't belong here."

I crumble.

My world goes black.


I shoot out of bed with a shriek, sweat drenching me and tears wetting my face.

It takes me a moment to realize that I had been dreaming, that none of that horror was real. Everything I just lived through, the minutes I dreamt that felt like days, were the fabrications of my mind.

Still, I sob his name.

"Colton," I whisper. I run the palm of my hand over my soaked cheek and gasp but can't get enough air. Pulling my knees to my chest, I sob as I squeeze my eyes shut.

Those things he said in my dream, I believe them fully. I'm useless, ugly, stupid. And I'm broken.

And who in their right mind would want damaged goods like me?

Certainly not Colton. He's too smart for that.

I can't sleep. I won't fall back into slumber. Instead, I sit up all night, head in my hands, lost in thought. I worry. I think nonstop about Colton and what Gran said about our relationship.

I knew Gran was right. I was holding back only because I was afraid of what might happen to our friendship.

Thinking about it, I realize that I haven't known him for more than a month, yet he means so much more to me than he could ever know.

I know that I fear what he thinks. I wonder if he feels the same way about me as I do about him, and I feel sick to my stomach.

After that nightmare, every thought I had about confessing my feelings to Colton are extinguished.

I feel like I've lit a match and held it upright, watched the flame grow brighter and brighter as it moved down the match, only to watch it suddenly and abruptly puff away. Everything had looked bright, happy, hopeful.

Now my hope is gone.

I was stupid to assume that he could ever feel the same.

He doesn't.

He won't.

He can't.

I cry silently until somehow, I slip into slumber

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