Chapter 57: I'm Sorry Tyler, You Know I Just Can't

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[A/N: Songs for the chapter:
- Sia // Breathe Me
- Jason Walker // Everybody Lies]

I had no idea where I was but I didn't care. The alleyway was deserted and I needed a place to rest now that it was nighttime. My muscles were numb with pain and I could barely place one foot in front of the other after I ran nonstop for an hour and walked the remaining five hours. But even the searing lactic acid that crippled my legs couldn't match the gaping hole in my chest. It was large and bottomless like the trust I had placed in Tyler.

At least while I was running, the pain in my thighs managed to chase away my thoughts but now that I was slumped on the ground, breathing raggedly for air, I was forced to face my hectic, intoxicating thoughts.

Tomorrow, Mom was going to force me to see Dr Jillian and that woman knew all the right questions to ask until I choked out an answer or two. Even if I refused to participate, they would find a way to make me confess my dreams and everything I had been seeing.

What if they were right? What if I did have PTSD?

A sudden vibration jolted me back into reality and I glanced down at my trembling hands. My phone screen reflected light onto my palms and through my unshed tears, I lifted it to my face, blinking repeatedly as his name appeared beside his handsome face.

Tyler was calling me.

This was the seventh time he had called in the past ten minutes but there was no way I could pick up. Pressing myself closer against the wall, I curled up into a ball and sobbed into my palms, drowning my cellphone as it continued to vibrate all night.

But I wasn't going to pick up.

I didn't think I ever could.

**

My eyeballs were parched, desperate for all the moisture I had cried out in the past few hours. I wasn't sure how long I spent on the ground in that alleyway but my head ached, my eyes ached, my chapped lips ached, my runny nose ached, my mind ached. But most of all, my chest ached. It throbbed like a wound that had been left to fester; broken, bloodied and bruised.

When drowsiness beckoned me to sleep, my mind protested that no matter how delirious and exhausted I felt right now, falling asleep in an alleyway wasn't the wisest of choices. I rubbed my sore eyelids and sat up, scanning my whereabouts before I tried to scramble to my feet. Since I used up all of my energy crying and running, I couldn't stand upright for more than a second so I slumped back onto the ground.

With a helpless whimper, I retrieved my cellphone from the ground, surprised that I hadn't cracked the screen when I tossed it in despair earlier. I squinted at the screen, ignoring the sixty-two miscalls I had from Tyler and kept scrolling until I found the only other person who would willingly pick me up without a second thought even if it ruined her beauty regime of getting eight hours of sleep every night.

"Ash?" Mona groaned, letting out a monstrous yawn as if I had woken her up. "It's almost two in the morning so unless you want a fist up your ass you bette–"

"M-Mona," I blubbered before breaking into a sob. "C-Can you pick me up p-p-please?"

My eyes screamed, protesting at the idea of parting with more tears but they appeared out of nowhere and suddenly I was doubling over, struggling to hold myself together.

"Ashley? Ash!" Mona hammered in my ears, her voice no longer thick with sleep. "Jesus Ash, calm down...What's going on? Are you okay? What happened? Why are you crying? Did someone hurt you? Where are you?"

"I d-don't know," I sobbed, looking at the inky black sky and scanning the brick red buildings that surrounded me, coated in a layer of black soot.

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