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I came to the apartment about three hours after I left the café. I made sure to take some time to pull to the side of the road, and cry beforehand so I wouldn't cry in front of Gus. Was I just a replacement? When Gus saw me at the concert, was the look in his eyes recognition and fear, or was it the connection I thought it was?
  These thoughts raced through my head as I walked from my car, through the rain, and to our apartment door. Dark grey clouds had taken over the sky while I spoke to Julia's parents, as if it were foreshadowing what I was about to feel. My ice cold fingers fumbled with my keys with everything and nothing in my head. Sniffing, I drew the right key and shoved it into the door, gave it a twist, and swung the door open. The apartment reeked of weed, and I heard multiple voices coming from inside. When I walked inside, I eyed the group of boys on the couch. There was Gus, and Tracy, as well as Nick. It was fairly obvious that they were all gone out of their minds. I couldn't keep my eyes on Gus for more than a few seconds without wanting to vomit.
   "Hey Jude!" Tracy said to me. "Where were you? I missed you!" His words were slurred but when I turned to look at him, his eyes held the same genuine care that they always did when he talked to me. I gave him a weak smile and said: "Just went to the mall and bought some things." I pulled down my hood, and went towards the bedroom with my keys clenched in my hand.
    Once I got into the room, I immediately shut the door and kicked off my sneakers before peeling off my coat and climbing into bed. Thimble as always was laid on my pillow, and when I rested my head beside his, he let out a happy meow and purred. Heavy footsteps came towards the door, and I didn't have to turn to see that it was Gus.
   "Hey, baby." Gus said to me, "Are you okay? Something seems a little off."
   For a moment, I contemplated throwing the nearest book on my night stand at his face. Should I bring up Julia? Or should I continue on like nothing ever happened? Julia ignored Gus's hurtful actions, and look where she is now. Dead.

   I took a deep breath before speaking.
   "Who's Julia?" I spoke, voice cracking with anxiety. I heard him suck in a breath, and I noticed the hesitation before his response.

   "What?" He breathed.

  "I said," I paused and took a deep breath. "Who is Julia?"

   I flipped on my side to face him, and I could see the shock and panic clear on his face. Something in my chest seemed to tighten. Gus's skin paled before he tried to regain his composure. "I don't know what you're talking about."

  "Jesus Gus," I snapped. "Cut the shit. You know who she is. You were in love with her, Gus. Your first love. Maybe you're only love." The words came out of my mouth like poison, and I felt like they stuck to the insides of my cheeks.

"Okay fine!" He barked. "I do know her! I did know her! So what? Why does she matter? How did you even hear about her!?"

  "It matters because she died!" I yelled back, swinging my legs out from the bed to stand up. "It matters because she looks just like me!"

  Gus glared at me, obviously fuming. "You're so fucking ignorant Jude I swear to god. She looks nothing like you."

    I let out a laugh that felt like flames coming from my throat before I grabbed my phone and swiped through photos. I finally found the screenshot I took of her memorial photo and held it up next to my face. "I look just fucking like her Gus. Just fucking like her. Am I a replacement? Just a fucking carbon copy?"

  Gus' eyes were brimming with tears at the sight of her photo, before he lunged forward to knock my phone out of my hands. "Where did you get that picture?"

  I ripped my hand away from him and shoved my phone in my pocket. "That doesn't matter. Answer my question." My heart raced, and my mind felt clouded. Please don't let the answer be yes, my subconscious pleaded. Please.

   Gus glared at me before shaking his head and letting out a laugh that expresses upmost disgust. "I'm not answering you're stupid fucking question." He turned to walk out of the room, but I lunged forward and grabbed his arm.

  "For all that you've put me through," I hissed. "I deserve an answer. It's a yes or no question."

   Gus's eyes grew cold, and with a look of venom he spit: "I think you know the fucking answer to that." Gus ripped his arm from me, and slammed the door on his way out. My already burning face grew hotter, and I felt the familiar stinging in my nose that warned me of the tears that were about to spill.

   I was just a replacement of the girl he fell in love with. Nothing more than a substitute for the love he felt. My love wasn't real. His wasn't either. I let out a strangled sob that sounded quite like an animal dying, before I grabbed my old backpack and began to shove my belongings inside. I swung open the bedroom door, and the smell of weed greeted me as well as the loud music in the living room, and I retreated into the bathroom to grab my toiletries. The tears kept flowing as I shoved my tooth brush and tooth paste into the front pouch.

  I looked back onto every word he said to me, telling me I was beautiful. Every affectionate action, something to ignite the nostalgia. I felt like vomiting when I thought: even the sex wasn't real. After I slung my backpack over my shoulder, I grabbed the animal carrier from the room and coaxed Thimble inside it. I would just buy his food and litter after.

   After I scanned the room a few times, I finally decided I didn't need anything else, and made a get away to the door. I could feel everyone's eyes on me as I turned the knob, but not before turning and looking straight into Gus's eyes and spitting, "Go
fuck yourself." I turned and walked out of the apartment, letting the cold air hit my hot face.

" I turned and walked out of the apartment, letting the cold air hit my hot face

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rest easy, hellboy ❤️

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