A loud groan fell past my lips as I fall into the front seat of my car and turn it on.
I have to go to work.
I love my job, don't get me wrong, I just love it slightly less when I have to get up at 7:30 in the morning for it.
My music turns on as soon as I start driving and I rush to turn down the volume a bit, it is much too early for loud music and heavy drums.
I drive to McDonalds and go through the drive thru, coming out with a coffee and a bacon & egg mcmuffin.
I eat with one hand and steer the car with the other, struggling to change gear every now and then. Stupid manual car.
Finally, I pull up to the small music shop that I work in. I love this place. It is almost completely void of all the pop and club music that most music stores are taken over by these days.
It's simply a shop, holding the best music in the world.
Gladly, Justin Bieber doesn't have a place in this store.
I unlock the door and walk inside, turning on the lights and flicking through all of the CDs and Vinyls, making sure it's all in place.
I pull out one CD, the album Hold Me Down by You Me At Six. I walk into the back of the store and put the album on so that it plays over the speakers in the shop. I smile as the music begins to play and I turn it up a bit before walking to the front counter, waiting for a customer.
"Morning, how can I help you?" I say with a friendly smile to the young girl in front of me. She looks to be about 13.
"Hi. I was wondering if you had Pierce The Veil's album Collide With The Sky?" She asks.
"Of course, come with me" I tell her and I walk down one of the aisles, looking in the 'P' section. "Here you are. Good choice, by the way" I hand her the album.
"You like PTV?" She asks me.
"Definitely" I laugh. She smiles at me and I walk back over to the counter, her appearing in front of it seconds later, putting the album on the counter.
I scan it for her and tell her the price, giving her some change after she hands me a $50 note.
Printing out the receipt, I put it all into a small bag and hand it to her. She thanks me before turning on the heel of her converse and walking out of the shop.
I walk back around the counter to go flick through some CDs. I hear the door creak open and I look up to see the back of a boy flicking through the CDs aimlessly.
I return my eyes to the section in front of me, putting some albums back in the right places.
"Excuse me? What album is this, on the speakers?" A voice says from beside me. I turn around and take a step back. "Kate! Hey" Luke laughs.
"Hi" I say, rolling my eyes.
"What are you doing here?"
"I work here..?" I say slowly.
"Oh. Right, obviously" He chuckles. "Did you put this album on?" He asks, pointing to one of the speakers that are hung up close to the ceiling in the corners of the room.
"Yeah. It's You Me At Six" I say.
"Oh. They're really good"
"Mhmm" I say slowly, walking past him and over to the next aisle.
"Hey, do you have a break or something?" He asks.
"Would you wanna, like, come grab some lunch or something with me?" He asks.
"Oh" he mumbles.
"Luke, I'm just going to say this to you, just to be clear. You and I, we aren't friends. I am just being dragged around by my best friend who is, coincidently, madly in love with one of your friends. Don't take it personally, I'm just telling you the truth" I say blankly, letting out a sigh.
He was a nice kid, I just couldn't be bothered with people. I had one friend and that was more than enough.
Because having friends means letting them in and telling them everything and making yourself vulnerable.
I don't like being vulnerable.
"Oh. Right, sorry. I just thought-"
"Yeah, well you thought wrong" I breathe out and I walk away to the counter, standing behind it once again.
"Bye Luke" I say. He trudges out of the shop, leaving me feeling only slightly guilty.
"Dude, you really bummed Luke out" Michael tells me, falling down next to me on the couch.
"What did you do now?" Chloe groans, plonking down onto Michael's lap. They were practically dating, they just hadn't made it official yet, for whatever fucked up reason. It was obvious how much they liked each other.
"I just told him that we aren't, and never will be, friends" I shrug, not seeing the problem.
"Are you serious!?" Chloe exclaims.
"Yeah? What, would you rather me lie to the kid and tell him that I like him?" I ask sarcastically.
"Yes!" They both yell simultaneously.
"I'm sorry. But I'm an honest person and I will not lie to people about the way I feel. They deserve to know so that they don't get false hope and end up beating me up because of their fucking drug and alcohol addiction!" I say, my voice raising gradually. I stand up from the couch and storm off.
"Katie, wait" Chloe says.
"What" I snap.
"Just, give him a shot" She pleads.
"Fine." I huff.
"You should ring him and apologise" She suggests.
"I need a smoke" I huff and I walk into my room, leaving Chloe alone to shake her head at me.
"You're addicted" She tells me when I return from my bedroom, a cigarette in one hand and my lighter in the other.
"No I'm not. I could stop right now, if I wanted"
"Then stop" She challenges.
"But I don't want to" I remark, walking past her and out of the apartment door. I walk down and out of the complex and come out on the road. I sit down on the pavement and light my cigarette, putting it between my lips.
Chloe is always trying to get me to stop. I don't see why she even bothers. I mean, she thinks I have an addiction but I don't. It's just easier to occasionally smoke rather than be drunk all the time.
I need something to take my mind off of everything.
I scratch at my wrist, feeling lines underneath my fingers. It's been a while.
About a month to be exact.
"Katie. I think you should see someone" Chloe says, sitting down beside me on the curb.
"I thought I told you, I've already tried the whole therapy thing, it just doesn't work" I sigh.
"No. No I mean I think you should see someone, like, dating" She specifies.
"No way. I don't need anymore complications. I'm not letting my heart get broken" I say, shaking my head. I almost laugh at something so ridiculous. Almost.
"I can't promise that you won't get hurt, but I can promise I will break the face of anyone that ever hurts you"
"I don't doubt that" I chuckle.
"I'm serious. It could be good for you" She says. I put out the cigarette on the cement next to me.
"I doubt a boy could possibly be good for me" I roll my eyes at her.
"Look, if you won't do it for yourself, do it for me. It hurts me so much to see you like this. You need someone else that you can trust"
"I can't trust anybody. You're the only one" I say, shaking my head.
"Not everyone is going to hurt you"
"I find that hard to believe"
"Look, Katie, you can't let your past ruin your future" Chloe pleads. I can tell she's getting impatient with me.
"It already has" I snap. "Look, I'm sorry, I just don't find the need to go out and fall only to scrape my knee" I sigh, running a hand through my greasy hair. It needed to be washed.
"Scraped knees aren't so bad when you've got someone to kiss them better" She leaves me with this last piece of advice, walking back inside, and letting her words repeat in my head. Why is she always right?
With a groan, I stand to my feet and walk back into the complex, brushing my pants off.
As soon as I walk into our apartment, I'm handed a phone.
"Call Luke" Chloe says.
"Fine" I huff, and take her phone in my hands, Luke's contact already open. I click it and put the phone to my ear, hearing it ring. I walk to my bedroom and shut the door behind me, moving to sit on my bed.
"Chloe?" Luke says.
"Uh, no, its uh- it's Katie" I say, rubbing the back of my neck.
"Oh. Look, I get the picture, if you've come to prove your point further, it's alright, I do-" He begins but I cut off his little spiel.
"No, Luke, I rang to apologise. I was out of line and rude. I just, have trust issues, I guess, I don't even know I'm just making excuses for myself. Anyway, I'm really sorry" I tell him, trying to sound a little more genuine than I feel.
"It's fine. But you don't have to do this, it's ok" He must be able to hear my lack of sincerity.
"No, Luke, I promise. I am really sorry"
"So, maybe we could try out this friend thing?" He asks, sounding worried.
"Don't push it, Hemmings" I warn him.
"Acquaintances then?" he offers and I smile.
"Acquaintances it is"
After we hang up, I start to feel regret building in my stomach as well as panic as I think over all of the things that could go wrong. Snap out of it, I think to myself, you're over thinking this.
Am I over thinking or am I just being logical?
It's probably not the latter. I've never been the logical type. So, maybe I am over thinking this and just ruining it for myself, but maybe it's better for me that way. I'm just being prepared.
Take a risk for once, says the annoying little voice in my head. And maybe it's time I start listening to that voice rather than my anxiety. I need to stop worrying about everything. What's the point of going through life if I'm not going to take any chances? It's only a boy that could possibly become my friend, what harm could possibly be done?
We aren't even friends. Just 'acquaintances'. So why am I getting this regretful feeling in my stomach?
Maybe I should just take a shower. That always makes me feel better.
I walk into the bathroom and lock the door, peeling off my work clothes and putting them in the dirty clothes basket before stepping in the shower and turning on the water, letting it relax my muscles.
What is the worst that could happen? Maybe we would end up as friends and maybe not. Either way, I can't see how it will hurt me too badly.
Sure, we might fight, just like all people do, but I think that's the worst he could do. So maybe this decision wasnt so bad after all. Maybe, just maybe, things might work out for me for once.
It would be nice.
I need to distract myself.
I hum along to random tunes while I massage shampoo into my hair, rinsing it out and doing the same with my conditioner before shutting off the water and stepping out to dry myself off, whistling to myself.
"Hey, what can I get for you?" I ask the elderly lady.
"Have you got any records by that young chap, Justin Beaver?" She asks me. "It's my granddaughter's birthday soon and she just adores him"
"I'm really sorry, ma'am, we don't actually sell any of his music here, try Sanity, there's one in the area here somewhere. I couldn't tell you exactly where though, I'm sorry" I tell her gently.
"Oh, thank you dear. I'm sure I will find it somewhere"
"I'm sure you will, he seems to be all over the place these days" I tell her with a smile.
"Have a nice day" She says, turning to leave.
"You too" I say after her, smiling to myself. I love old people, they're so cute.
"Oh, sorry" A voice says from the front door.
"Get away!" I hear the old lady exclaim and I look up to see her hitting someone with her handbag.
I rush over to her to see what the problem is and watch as she hits a tall boy with her bag repeatedly.
"Ma'am, what's wrong?" I ask, trying to stop her from hitting the poor boy.
"He tried to take my bag!" She says, still hitting him.
"I didn't! I just accidentally ran into her at the doorway!" He says, his voice seeming to go up an octave.
He stands with his back to us, his arms covering his head as he tries to cower away from her repetitive whacks.
"Ma'am, I think he's learnt his lesson now" I say, trying my hardest to get her to stop.
"I'm sorry! I wasn't trying to take it, I just accidentally bumped into you, I'm sorry" The boy pleads.
"Fine" She huffs, stopping abruptly and exiting the store. So much for being cute.
"Are you okay?" I ask.
"I guess so, I might need some therapy though" He jokes, standing up and straightening himself out before turning to me.
"Why do you people keep coming here?" I groan. "Luke was here two days ago, and now you're here, too" I sigh.
"I don't know about Luke, but I used to come here all the time as a kid and I sorta forgot about it and I was just driving past and wanted to come in. I haven't been here since I was, like, 8 or something" Calum says, ruffing up his hair that was slightly frazzled from his previous assassination.
"Right. Sorry" I say, rubbing my face with my left hand.
"Is everything ok?" Calum asks.
"Yeah, no I'm fine. Just tired" I shrug. It was true. I hadn't slept properly since that day Luke came to the shop. I just wasn't feeling right about it all.
"You sure?" He asks and I nod. "Alright" He mutters, still sounding uncertain. I leave him to browse through the store and I walk up to the register, sitting on the stool behind it.
"Hey Calum" I call out.
"Yeah?" He says, turning to me.
"Remember that time you got attacked by the old lady?" I say, biting my lip in an attempt to hold in my laugh.
"Shut up" He groans, turning back to the CDs and leaving me to burst into a fit of laughter, falling off of my stool with a thud in the process.
I stand up quickly and see Calum staring at me in silence. After a few seconds, we both erupt into loud laughs, filling the store with the sound. You almost can't hear the music playing in the speakers around us. Our laughter dies down and I go back to flicking through a copy of Blunt magazine while Calum flicks through CDs.
I look up at the white wall clock an see that my break is in 5 minutes. I look over at Calum who is looking at the back of a CD case and I start to think.
If I'm giving Luke a shot, why not Calum too?
"Huh?" He says, not taking his eyes off of the CD.
"I have a break in 5, would you wanna come get something to eat with me?" I ask, nervous twiddling my fingers together.
"Sure" He says, flashing me a quick smile before going back to his CD. "But first, I'm gonna buy this" He says, coming up to me with the CD in hand.
I scan it and tell him the price, opening the register and printing off his receipt before putting the CD in a bag and handing it to him. "Thanks" He smiles.
"It's close enough to break time and I'm pretty sure no one is coming in the next 3 minutes so let's go" I say, making sure everything is locked up before shutting off the lights and walking outside with Calum, flipping the open sign on the door so that it now says closed.
I lock the door and then look at Calum, wondering where to go.
"What about that fish & chip shop down the road?" He offers, clearly noticing my indecision.