Chapter 36

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Dedicating this chapter to my friend Justin for cooking something horribly wrong that gave me food poisoning, forcing me to stay at home where i finally overcame the writer's block. Ho yeah. Also, i'm never eating your cooking ever again. Ugh _  _lllll

(Alan’s POV)

    Melissa and I are now seated in the kitchen where I made root beer floats for the both of us. Rummaging through the drawers, I found some metal spoons and handed her one, which she took gratefully. I scooped up some foam that built up from the ice cream and licked it off the spoon. Man do I love me some root beer floats. It’s the best thing to relieve some of the pain of heartbreak.

    Melissa kept staring at me, frowning. “Are you sure you’re okay Ally Bear?”

    I sighed. “I’m as fine as I could be at the moment.”

    Melissa scooted closer to me, her face inching closer as she examined my eyes. “I don’t think you’re okay. You’re eyes are….”

    “My eyes are what?” Is there something wrong with my eyes?

    Melissa shook her head. “Never mind. Have you been sleeping alright?”

    I shook my head. “I haven’t slept all that much. I don’t like closing my eyes.” The nightmares came back tenfold, with the shadow man taunting me the whole time I’m killed. I thought it was Chase who was the shadow man, but it wasn’t. So who is the shadow man?

    Those nightmares weren’t the only nightmares I had. There were vivid ones with Chase where we would be together happily, until he suddenly pushes me away, only to drop me in the halls of the school I went to in New York, him laughing along with Lucas with Amanda in his arms. Somehow I’m confined in a cage where everyone had a weapon to hurt me with and I was unable to avoid them. It was torture, and dream Chase enjoyed it a lot.

    I took a sip of my float, licking the foam that clung to my lips. My eyes wandered down to my heart, the organ beating mechanically beneath the skin and bones that protected it. Even though blood’s being pumped, I feel hollow inside still, like a gigantic hole that sucks up all emotion. It’s weird and kind of frightening, well only mentally frightening since I don’t feel anything, but numbness.

    Melissa scooted closer to me and hooked an arm around my shoulder, pulling me in to lean on her side. “Hey, do you want me to stay over or something? We can just hang out all night and do a bunch of stuff to get your mind off of things.”

    I nodded. “Thank you. You’re the best.”

    Melissa shrugged, then grinned. “I know.”

    We both sat there, sipping our floats while Melissa told me all about the wonderful life of being an obese dog (don’t ask, I have no idea how it came up) when footsteps from behind caught our attention. Stopping her words, Melissa turned, as did I, and saw Drake coming down the stairs, a bowl and fork in hand. He finally noticed the two of us staring at him, his foot pausing from taking a step.

    Melissa waved at him, grinning. “Hi! I remember you from the game! I’m Melissa.”

    Drake strode over and shook Melissa’s hand, which she offered as he neared her. “Drake. It’s nice to see you again.”

    “I’m surprised to see you here,” she replied, looking back and forth between Drake and I, eyebrow raised in question.

    Drake dumped the dishes in the sink and grabbed a sponge, lathering it up with soap. “Alan and I met up at the party and hit it off. His aunt was nice enough to lend me a room.”

    Melissa frowned in thought before her eyes widened in realization. She bit her lip and swiped at her eyes, a small smile on her lips. “Oh. Well I’m glad he had you with him.”

    Drake nodded and glanced at our floats. I got up and went to the fridge, grabbing the ice cream and the soda. Then I went for a clean cup and poured the soda in, placing a scoop of ice cream on top and left the spoon in his cup as I put everything back.

    Drake reached out and held my hand. “Thanks.”

    I nodded, ducking my head down so he wouldn’t see my blush and discomfort. The way he looks at me, with that mixture of tenderness and hunger made me nervous. The last person who gave me that same look broke my heart, leaving me forever broken. I don’t want to experience that devastation ever again.

    Melissa kept staring back and forth at the both of us, a mischievous smile on her lips. “So Drake, care to tell me when the two of you met? I mean, I can tell Alan didn’t know you during the game, but you did.”

    Drake took a sip of his float. “We met each other once a long time ago. He saved my life.” The corners of his mouth lifted into a smile.

    Melissa jumped out of her seat and leaned closer to Drake, eager to hear the story. “Oh… tell me more.”

    Drake shook his head, then locked eyes with mine. “It’s a precious memory to me, but I will say that Alan was amazing and brave and I will always owe him my life.”

    Melissa awed at him dreamily, a goofy smile dawning her mouth. “You really care for him don’t you?”

    It was as if the sun came out of the dreary clouds. His smile lit the room with a glittering aura. “I do. I would do anything for him.”

    My breath was caught in my lungs. I couldn’t breathe as he came towards me, leaning down to place a peck on my lips. He gave me one more kiss before leaving with his float.

    I sat there, frozen stiff from the shock. My lips tingled from the kiss, a pleasant feeling that I haven’t felt in some time. It beat the emptiness inside me, letting me feel something other than nothing. Even though I don’t have the same feelings for Drake as he does for me, I’m willing to try out the waters of a new relationship. Sure my wounds haven’t healed yet, but it’s better than moping around the house like a zombie and rot away.

    Melissa squealed and latched onto me, her chin on my shoulder. She poked my cheek as she said with wiggling eyebrows, “So, you and Drake huh? Boy, you move on faaaast.”

    I blushed and swatted her finger away. “It’s not like that.”

    Melissa played with the dirty strands of my hair. I need a hair cut. “Care to elaborate?”

    I sighed. “He… he said he likes me and asked on a..a…..” I ducked my head in embarrassment.

    Melissa ushered me on, impatient. “On a..?”

    “On a date,” I blurted out, my voice a high pitched squeak. Burning with humiliation, I buried my face in my hands and groaned miserably. Way to not like an idiot.

    There was a moment of silence, so quiet that you could hear a pin drop in the other room. Like a volcano, Melissa exploded in a fit of squeals, hopping all over the place. “Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. OH MY GOSH!”

    I watched her hop all over the kitchen, happily squeaking like a bunny high on a caffeine rush. It was amusing, something I also missed these past few days. I didn’t miss the embarrassment, but it’s also welcome as long as the void in my heart is filled with something.

    Melissa gripped my shoulders and forcefully spun me on my chair to come face to face with her, her face looming above mine. “Alan, what did you say to him? Did you reject him? Did you say yes?”

    “I didn’t say anything.”

    Melissa pouted in disappointment. “Why not?”

    I rolled my eyes. “I just got of a relationship only a few days ago.”

    Melissa nodded, understanding. “Okay, I forgot about that, but that relationship was a total bust. Chase is not worth all the shit he thinks he’s worth. You need to show him that you can move on and I’m not saying to use Drake or anything, but not all relationships are like that. I’m not telling you to jump his bones or anything, but you should give it a try. All relationships can go either way, which is why you should take the risk and be happy again. I don’t like seeing you like this.”

    Should I give relationships one more chance? It’s possible that going into another relationship, especially one with a person who really cares about me, can help fill the gaping hole where my heart resided. Drake’s also a great guy. My instincts are not warning me about him. That’s a good indicator. Maybe I should give this relationship thing another chance.

    After hanging out with Melissa, who had to leave because she promised to baby sit a neighbor’s child, I headed upstairs to the guest room where Drake’s staying. The door was slightly opened, soft music seeping out. The room’s right next to mine, but I never really ventured into it except for the time I cleaned up the house from when I was sick.

    Gulping down the lump that formed in throat, and failing miserably, I softly knocked on the door. I waited to see if he heard, but after a few seconds of waiting, he still didn’t answer. I lifted my hand to knock again, but it opened before my fist could touch the wooden surface.

    Drake stood by the door. Staring at me for a few seconds, he moved to the side and waved me in. Nervous, I shuffled my feet inside the room, taking in every inch as I passed. It’s not any different other than the few clothes strewn over a chair and bed. A cell phone laid on the nightstand and a laptop sat on the table, the screen up and on.

    I jumped when the soft click of the door closing from behind. I took in a shaky breath to try to calm myself down, but all I did was made it worse. I couldn’t take in enough oxygen. Every breath was caught in my throat and all I could do was live with it.

    Soft thumps from behind and the vibrations on the floor told me Drake was approaching me from behind. My heart sped faster from nerves. Oh gosh, I’m freaking out ands I haven’t even done anything yet.

    “So what do you need?” Drake asked from behind. I stiffened from his voice.

    I can do this. I can do this. I can definitely do this. Take a deep breath and turn around, then tell him. It’s that simple. Mustering as much courage as I possible could, I turned around, only to bump onto his chest. Didn’t know he was that close.

    Drake caught me before I fell onto the floor from the impact. “Whoa there. You okay?” His voice full of concern.

    I rapidly nodded my head and took a step back, but dear old clumsy me, I didn’t see the sweater on the floor. My foot slipped and I was falling back. I closed my eyes and waited for the impact, but strong hands gripped my arm and pulled me back up, putting back to that hard chest.

    Drake chuckled. “Bit of a klutz there Alan?”

    I blushed and ducked my head. Just say it already. “Ummm… I-I w-w-wanted to t-tell you s-some th-thing,” I stuttered out nervously.

    Drake pulled me to the bed, settling me down next to him. “Sure. What is it?”

    I gulped and stared at my wringing hands. “I-I wanted to say…. Yes.”

    “Yes?” Drake asked, confused.

    I couldn’t say anymore. My throat felt like there was a giant lump blocking out my vocal cords. Nothing would come out. Now I hope Drake would figure it out or else I’m going to need a few minutes to muster up my courage all over again.

    Drake’s expression transformed from confused to a bright happiness that almost made me feel like squinting. Who would have thought I would make someone this happy? He’s radiating happiness.

    I gasped in surprised when Drake suddenly hugged me, my ear right where his heart was. The rhythmic thump was calming, like a soothing lullaby. I was still flustered, but not as much as I was before.

    “Thank you for giving me a chance,” he mumbled on my hair.

    I nodded. I didn’t know what to do now, so I stayed where I was and hoped things will pan out.

    Drake pulled me away from him, only so that we can see eye to eye. “I will pick you up tomorrow after school.”

    “School?” I asked, horrified from the thought.

    “Yes school. Wear something nice and I’ll bring you to the location of our date.”

    “Why can’t you just tell me where it is?”

    Drake chucked my chin playfully. “Because it’s a surprise.”


    Drake smiled warmly and pecked my forehead. “Wait for me by the parking lot.”



The Next Day (Wednesday)

    I didn’t want to go to school, but Drake, Melissa and Aunt Claire ganged up on me so it was inevitable. Somehow they read my mind because right when I thought of skipping school once when Aunt Claire drops me off, they all told me what would happen if I skipped. Freaking scary those three. A force not to be reckoned with.

    Aunt Claire forced me into the shower and commanded me to wash my hair. I grumbled as she examined my now freshly cleaned hair. She even picked out some clothes for me and I have to say, she knows how to make me look decent, or close to decent. I will always be ugly. Period. There’s no changing that.

    Dressed in a form fitting black turtle necked shirt, black stylishly ripped up skinny jeans, leather lace up boots that covered half of my calves, and a black scarf with skulls dotting all around it, I picked up my bag and shut the door to my room. Drake already left, his car not parked on the sidewalk anymore.

    Melissa was already here, lounging by the kitchen counter with a mug of coffee. “Morning Alan.”

    “Morning,” I grumbled as I sat down across from her.

    “Aww don’t be that Alan. You know I love you,” Melissa said as she sipped her coffee.

    I sighed and grabbed myself a cup of coffee too. I feel groggy and sluggish today, so the coffee will help me with surviving for now. Ugh.

    Aunt Claire came in wearing a dark green knitted sweater and blue jeans with Nikes. She smiled at the both of us, but raised an eyebrow at me. What? Is there something wrong with my outfit? She’s the one who picked it out in the first place. Sheesh.

    Aunt Claire came right up to me and pinched a lock of my hair in between her fingertips. “You’re hair’s really long. You need a haircut, but first, let’s fix it up.” She began to shift my hair, combing it around with her fingers. I stayed still and let her do what she wants as long as it’s not horrifyingly bad. I don’t to look even more ugly than I already am.

    “Almost there and…. Done,” Aunt Claire announced, taking a step back to see her handy work. “Oh yeah. That’s the stuff.”

    Melissa came over and stood right next to her. “Oh my gosh. That’s perfect!”

    Aunt Claire placed a finger on her chin, assessing me from head to toe. “There’s still something off…” She snapped her fingers. “I got it.” With lightning fast speed, she snatched my glasses off my face. “Now that’s better.”

    My hair, which always covered my face was combed back and shaped into something unknown. There’s no mirror so I can’t determine how I look like. Being this exposed, especially without my glasses, is starting to make me feel panicky and self-conscious. Oh god.

    “Can I have that back?” I pleaded.

    Aunt Claire shook her head. “Nope. You don’t even need glasses. You’re eyesight’s excellent and I know these are like a talisman to you, but you have to have confidence in yourself. You’re beautiful, no matter what you think.”

    Melissa nodded in agreement. “It’s true.”

    I didn’t believe them, but at least they’re trying to make me feel better about my appearance, no matter how ugly I truly am. I’m glad I have the both of them at my side.

    Aunt Claire drove us to school, Melissa chatting with her the entire time. As we came closer and closer to school, the unease kept increasing. To distract myself, I played games on my new phone, which Aunt Claire bought for me when she found out I broke my old one in half and threw it out a car window. It’s a touch phone with all of these useless apps and features I really don’t need. I’m practically techno illiterate.

    We arrived at school faster than it usually was. Melissa grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the car, waving at Aunt Claire. “Bye Ms. Thorpe.”

    “Bye Melissa. Bye honey. And remember what I taught you Alan. I authorize you to use whatever’s necessary and don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.” With a salute, she sped away, the tires screeching on the pavement as she made a sharp turn, almost turning car from using four tires to two.

    Melissa dragged me into the school, the building looming menacingly as we got closer. I gulped, by body trembling from fear. My feelings are finally coming back, but fear is not what I wanted at the moment. It’s the last thing I needed.

    As the two of us made our way to our lockers, students who were already filling up the halls stared at me. I can feel their stares turning my body to Swiss cheese. Ashamed, I ducked my head and continued forward. At least Melissa’s with me.

    We both went to our lockers, grabbing our books and went to class. Melissa escorted me to mine, to my reluctance. When I resisted going into the classroom, she pushed me in and shut the door, leaving me all by myself. The class was already filled with students, all eyes on me. Whispers began a half second later and I knew it was about me. Completely terrified, I froze on the spot.

    “Excuse me,” Mr. Portland said with a hint of annoyance. “but who might you be and why are you disrupting my class?”

    “Uhhh.. I’m Alan sir,” I told him in a small, shaky voice.

    Mr. Portland’s eyes widened. “Alan?”

    I nodded and quickly made my way to my seat, and was relieved to see Chase’s seat unoccupied. My eyes quickly scanned the room to see that he sat on the other side of the room, right next to one of his jock buddies, both of them surprised at my appearance. In fact, everyone was staring at me in shock. It’s really unnerving to have all those eyes on you.

    Mr. Portland stared at me for a few seconds, probably horrified with how hideous I really look. Tears began to form, but I sucked it in. No, no tears. I’ll cry when I’m somewhere quiet and alone.

    Mr. Portland finally snapped out of the shock and coughed to get everyone’s attention back to him. “Let’s start with the lecture.”

    I didn’t hear anything he said at all. My attention was focused on the many whispers, all of it about me.

    “Is that really Alan?”

    “Holy crap.”

    “I thought he would never show his face from what Chase did to him at the after party.”

    “So that’s what he looks like underneath all that hair.”

    “Where did his nerd glasses go?”

    I tuned out the rest of the whispers, my shoulders slumping. It was a mistake to come to school, especially with my face completely exposed. What was Aunt Claire thinking?

    Class couldn’t end any slower. That one hour felt like days of endless torture. Right when the clock struck at the last second of class, I zoomed out the door and practically ran to my next class, head down.

    I was the first one in class, to my relief. And the best thing is, Melissa’s on my class so at least I have someone who cares about me by my side.

    As people came in, they would gawk or do a double take as they stared at me. As each second passed, I shrank lower and lower into my seat. Where the heck is Melissa?

    Finally Melissa appeared, skipping into the room. She waved at me in greeting and sat in her seat. “So, how was your class?” She asked.

    I frowned and buried my face in my hands. “Horrible. Terrifying.”

    Melissa patted my back in comfort. “It’s okay. I know it’s hard, but just try for the day. If you hate it when the day ends, then you can go back to covering yourself up.”

    I nodded and let class fly by with more whispers about me, Melissa glaring at people, and the clawing urge to cover my face back up. Melissa walked me to my next class, but by then, the whole school knew about my new appearance. Everyone’s eyes were on me, every word coming out of their mouths was about me.

    I sat in my seat, alone. Melissa had to leave for her next class, giving me a hug before she left. I took out a notebook and began to doodle random things on a blank sheet. There’s no point in listening to what people are saying about me when I already know it’s bad. Why hurt myself with the opinions of other people? It’s not as if they’ve experienced actual pain and suffering so they can all just shove it.

    A shadow darkened my desk. Stiffening, I slowly looked up to see a really huge guy looming over me. From the obvious sport team jacket and bulky physique, I concluded that he’s a jock. Oh my god. Why didn’t I escape earlier? But Melissa and Aunt Claire would find out and bury my body in the pet cemetery. Yeah, I want to be buried with dead animals, not dead people.

    “Are you really Alan Thorpe?” The jock asked me.

    I gulped nervously and gave him a stiff nod.

    The jock guy slowly grinned and slowly came closer to me. Scared shitless, I backed myself more and more against the wall, but I couldn’t escape since I’m in my seat.

    “If I didn’t know you were a guy in the first place, I would have hit on you.” His face was mere inches from mine. “No wonder Chase took a lot longer to win the bet.”

    Just from hearing his name widened the hole in my heart, letting the warmth seep away, leaving me cold. The emptiness came back with a vengeance, fear disappearing into the darkness. I was only numb now.

    I locked eyes with the jock, and watched as his amusement turned to embarrassment, his cheeks flaming as I continued to lock eyes with him. I moved closer to him, not touching, our bodies an inch apart. “Please don’t say his name ever again.”

    The jock jerked back. “I-I’m sorry.”

    I nodded and gave him an empty smile. “That’s okay.”

    The bell rang, signaling the start of class. The jock left in a daze, his eyes darting back to me every now and then. I don’t know what’s wrong with him, but whatever it is, it’s really uncomfortable.

    The door slammed opened. James came in, breathless and grinning. “Sorry. I got caught up in hallway traffic.”

    The teacher waved him away and continued with the lecture. James sat in his seat right next to me. “Hey Alan. Wow, you look… wow.” He blatantly gaped at my appearance, his eyes wide, mouth open.

    I ignored him and focused on the lecture. As the teacher droned on, my mind began to wander to Drake and the surprise date. I wonder where we’re going? What we’re doing? I hope it’s somewhere fun. I need some fun in my life right now.

    The bell rang. Time for lunch. I packed up my things and quickly left the class, weaving through the hallway traffic, trying hard not to touch anyone. The intensity of disgust and dirtiness has grown. I can’t stand people touching me, except for a select few. Those people don’t make me feel like slime coated my body, burning my skin like acid.

    Melissa was already at our table, waiting for me with her earplugs on. Her head bobbed to a song playing on her ipod. I slid into the seat across from her and brought out lunch. Sure it’s leftovers, but it’s tasty leftovers. And cookies. Tiny little bite-sized honey cookies the shape of bears and bunnies. Of course I shared it. There’s a lot and I don’t have much of an appetite.


    Melissa and I looked up, me munching on a bear shaped cookie. Cal stood by the table, his bag slung over his shoulder, a tray of cafeteria food in his hand. From the smell of it, I would say it’s cardboard flavored pizza. Ewww. Even the smell was gross. I almost choked from the greasy aroma, like I gained ten pounds and was about to have a heart attack. Who the heck eats that, that THING? I can’t even call it food. More of like a science project gone wrong.

    Cal stared at me, his shoulders down, an apologetic expression dawning his features. “Can I sit with you guys?”

    Melissa and I exchanged glances. Then with a sigh, I nodded.

    Cal blew out a relieved breath and slid next to Melissa, placing his tray in front of him. He stared at the pizza in disgust and munched on an apple.

    There was an awkward silence, the rustling of leaves from a soft breeze the only thing that kept it from being too quiet.

    Cal placed the core back on the tray. “Alan, I want to apologize for not telling you about Chase and the bet. I waited for something to happen so the bet would be off, but obviously, it didn’t happen and I was too late to prevent you from getting hurt.” His eyes were filled with remorse, guilt and nothing deceiving, but I can’t trust it. The only way I can tell whether or not he’s being truthful is by touch.

    Slowly, I lifted my hand. It trembled as I inched it closer to his hand. I hesitated before my hands made contact with his skin. I sighed in relief when nothing happened. Meaning he’s good. My gut is telling me he’s good too.

    Cal stared at the slight contact of our hands. “Will you forgive me Alan?”

    I locked eyes with him. He did warn me, even though I had no idea why he wanted me to break up with Chase, he at least tried and that made him a good person in my eyes. I smiled. “I forgive you.” I slid my lunch towards him, along with the cookies.

    He gave me a huge grin and dug in. The three of us chatted happily, relaxed in our own little world. I needed this. I needed the connection of friends, of people I can trust, of the random conversations that left us laughing with tears, of the happy atmosphere that only we shared together. God, I really needed this.

    But every good thing had to end.

Eni: Sorry it took so long to upload guys. I had a writer's block and all you writers know how that is.

Random boy on street: Mommy, who's the lady talking to?

Boy's mother: Sweetie, be quiet. You know you shouldn't talk about crazy people on the street.

Eni: Hey, i can hear you. And i was talking to my readers.

Boy's Mother: Come on honey. Let's leave.

Eni: Yeah you better leave BITCH. Rude. She's just jealous that i'm rocking this sumo suit and she can't. *flips hair and waddles away.*

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