Privacy of 210: The Past Hunts

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Chapter 6:

The Past Hunts

"Brie, are you okay? Hey, come on, it's not that bad."

Soothing Aubrey Blackthorn was a lot harder than I thought it'd be. For one thing, she wouldn't stop crying. Thick tears rolled down her flushed face, one after the other, almost like rain falling down windows. Her arms wrapped around herself, her left being escorted gently with the other. She rocked herself, not allowing me to touch her. 

I was at lost. My hands shook. 

"Come on Brie, if you're acting right now, it's not funny."

She shook her head and sobbed harder.

I squatted in front of her and took her arms gently away from her chest. She resisted with a hoarse voice of, "Leave me alone, Justin" but eventually she relaxed enough that the sobbing eased. 

Neither of us commented on the honey that coated our skin and clothes.

"I'm sorry." I cleared my throat as her grey eyes, red and puffy from crying, watched my every move. "I didn't think you'd fall. I thought your feet would get sticky, that's it."

She nodded, her teeth nibbling her bottom lip. "Okay."

I breathed out lungs full of air. "So you're okay."

"My arm hurts," she muttered as she flexed her left arm. "But I'm fine."

"Aubrey..."

She shook her head, retrieving back her arms. "Look, just help me up so we can wash this honey off us. I'm getting jumpy with all this stuff on me." 

I scanned her face and watched her bottom lip tremble slightly. I wanted to know what was processing through her mind, if it involved me, her. Something else entirely.

I nodded. "All right, up we go."

Aubrey leaned on me until we got her standing, from there she took herself to the bathroom and I followed after her, trying hard not to look over for any other injuries. She seemed inclined to ignore me as she took off her jumper and threw it in the basket near the shower. She washed up, scrubbing and lathering extra hard where I touched her, despite her skin bare of any honey. I took my time, wanting to talk to her, but words were such a difficult thing to do.

We cleaned the mess up in silence. There was nothing for us to talk about.

And after, when I made up my new bed and Aubrey packed her notes in folders, which she laid them in rows upon her desk, I took her injured arm in my hand and looked over it.

She jumped at the contact. "What are you doing? Let go."

"Stay still, I'm checking if it's broken."

She rolled her eyes. "It's not. Besides, you're not a doctor. I doubt you can tell the difference between sprain and broken."

"Swollen," I said. "You need some ice."

"We don't have ice." She tapped the blemished skin. "It should go down eventually."

I breathed a sigh of relief and let her go. "You know, you scared me. I thought you really hurt yourself." She didn't say anything and went to the bathroom. I followed, and water splashed in the sink as she ran her arm under it, the pinch between her eyebrows intensifying. The redness remained there. "You cried pretty hard."

"That's what happens when people get hurt, they cry." Aubrey's reflection stared right back at me. "And sometimes, they never stop. Even while they're smiling and going on like everything's okay."

I crossed my arms. "So you're not okay."

She smiled, but I saw the cracks immediately. I didn't think Aubrey intended to keep them hidden when she said, "My arm hurts, but I'm fine."

I rubbed my face and turned away from her. It was too late to start something, much less an argument, especially when we both felt exhausted, mentally and physically. The plan to being friends with Aubrey crumbled in my mind, now that I knew she wouldn't put past what happened between us out of her head. And maybe that was a good thing. At least now I wouldn't embarrass myself for ever hoping we could start again.

Something in my gut pulled and a heavy feeling settled in the back of my head. Shame? No. Guilt? Maybe. Whatever it was, it didn't sit well.

I had to release it.

"I sucked at school."

The tap in the bathroom turned off. "What was that?" asked Aubrey. She walked out with her jumper sleeves pushed up.

I sat down on my bed. "My classes, in high school. I almost failed each of my tests because I never properly understood what the question was asking me. My teachers, the boys, even my parents, didn't believe I could get into a college with my scores. I wasn't intelligent enough to get any A's."

Aubrey had a confused look on her face. She sat on her bed, and said, "But you were great in year eleven. And you passed your final year exams."

"Yeah, because my parents paid for tutors. I wasn't like Jenny. She knew how to answer questions and make a good impression on the teachers. I only knew how to frustrate people."

Aubrey wasn't looking at me when she asked, "So why do you wanna become a teacher?"

"My tutor. I showed him my test results on a math topic we learned, and he looked at it and nodded. He didn't say anything, but I wanted him to know that I received my first A because of him. He asked me if I was happy and I said yes. Then he asked if I was happy I got an A or because I knew it would make him proud to know he was doing his job. And I said I was happy because I was worth something. But then he took my test and shredded it up in front of me, and I...I got angry. He said if I valued thoughts made by others, I wasn't going to be happy. I had to do what made me happy. I had to make myself worth something. I had to fight for it."

I ran my fingers through my hair, but couldn't look at Aubrey. The creek of grasshoppers broke the silence, but we were oblivious in it.

Aubrey then shifted in her bed and it squeeked under her. "So the thing that happened at graduation, you did it to be happy."

"Yeah."

"And what about Ashlee? What about her happiness?"

"I'm sorry. I didn't think of the consequences when I told you."

She pulled her sleeves down. "When you told me, did you expect me to be happy about it?"

I strugged. "I just needed to say it."

"What would you have done if I said it back? Hypothetically, I mean."

I couldn't believe what I heard. My stomach did knots. "Did you?"

"No. That's not..." she shook her head and groaned, and that sickening heaviness returned but it stayed in my chest. What was it? What did you mean?

Aubrey shrugged. "It's late. I'm tired."

"Want me to get the lights for us?" She nodded and I got up from bed to switch the dorm light off. From the little light provided by outside, Aubrey shifted under her sheets until her form wasn't moving anymore. When I got under mine, I didn't think I could breathe.

"Thanks for listening," I whispered.

She didn't respond, and it made it that much harder to sleep.

A/n: less than 10 chapters to go. You'll begin to see more pranks and a shift in their relationship. Speaking of, how do you guys feel about their ship name Jusbrey? Sounds fruity xx

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