10. War

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Bethany had fuzzy memories of driving back home. Part of her internally knew that she hadn't got into an accident or broken traffic rules, even in her hazy state of mind. But part of her was disappointed that she was still alive. 

Sometimes it was like that. 

The voices in her head were louder on those days. Pulling her down in the deep waters. 

She hated those days more than the memories. Because they weren't just memories, it was her body acting out on her subconscious thoughts that she had hidden over the years.

Leo must be furious at her behaviour. 

The thought made the sinking feeling in her stomach worse. Stripping and showering with scalding hot water didn't make a difference at all except leave her skin tingly. Her hair still wet, she swaddled herself to bed under the thick blankets. 

The silver necklace was on the bedside table just as she had left it before going to see Leo. She picked it up, rubbing on the heart pendant. It was cold to the touch but she let the chills take over her body. She hadn't put it on because it was just Leo. 

She didn't need the courage to go see him, or that's what she thought. 

But now even he was scaring her. He was asking her questions she wasn't ready to answer just yet.

She curled up, her body weak from the entire day's events. Her mind kept rewinding the scene with Leo only hours ago even if she tried to block it.

And in her heart, she knew he was justified in all his actions and words. She was the one who was stringing him along all these years, just because she felt needed. But it had hurt to hear him say it to her face, out loud. 

Admitting it out loud made it real. 

Bethany knew she wasn't ready for real. Her life had always been a pretence, running away from reality. 

She didn't want to feel emotions because that was a sign of weakness. It gave the other person, invisible power over your heart. 

She had learnt it the hard way and was stubbornly following it for the past years.

So then why had it hurt so much when Leo had said "You're the strongest person I know, then why are you always running away from us?". He'd caught her off-guard with the serious question, breaking the spell. 

Thinking about her reaction to his words made her groan in embarrassment at her childish behaviour. 

"Of course, you had to say something mean to him. And especially after he was so close!? Way to go, Beth!" She screamed in her pillow, cheeks burning up at the memory of his lips grazing hers. 

Leo had murmured a plea and drawn her closer and she hadn't resisted his touch. It was just a touch of lips. Her heart had nearly leapt out of its spot, fingers clutching onto his t-shirt in desperation.

A fleeting moment of emotions. 

Beth had pulled back, gaining her senses. She had missed the hurt flashing in his eyes but she felt him get angry at her reaction. It was a natural response but she was the one who was weird about things like these. 

~~~

Waking up the next morning was as painful as having her teeth filled. Her skin was still chafed from the hot shower from last night so she skipped it for a light wash instead. 

She almost picked up the car keys before dropping them back down in the bowl on the counter. She didn't trust herself today, it was safer for everyone around her.

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