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3.26 Day Seventeen: Parker

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WEDNESDAY

DAY SEVENTEEN

#

PARKER

It felt like an out-of-body experience looking at my old phone messages from Camille and not knowing what to send. The tightness in my chest hadn't lessened. The pressure to cry was like water pressing against a dam, but the structure was too stable to relax. I've had to patch too many cracks for anything more than a few leaks here and there to escape. I was a fortress.

Sitting on the floor with Ian and forcing myself to smile and laugh only made the hollow feeling in my chest grow. All I could think about was Camille and how she'd tell a joke better. Her stories were better. I craved her thoughts and feelings and her warmth. I never realized the way Camille had the power to soften me.

I guess this was the hard way I found out I was just plain mean.

Mean.

Mean.

Mean.

You can't spell "Mean" without "Me".

I couldn't even make the argument that I didn't know I was being a jerk. The whole time, I knew Camille wanted me to get along with Norah. I knew that party was a big deal to her. Camille's favorite holiday was Halloween and still, at every turn, I just did whatever I wanted.

God. I was that dumb sticky-faced kid who poured salt over a slug and watched it melt to sludge. So dumb. I wished Lizzie warned me. She used to be so good at telling me when I was breaking a record for how big of an idiot I was being.

No. It wasn't Lizzie's fault. Not when she was probably already wrapped with guilt over the whole ordeal.

Instead of the theater, a lot of the tech crew and their supplies scattered about the drama room, spilling out into the hallway with all the sets and my costumes as if a story book threw up here. A part of me wanted to punch a hole through every reinforced cardboard.

While Ian changed the subject about some anime I haven't watched, Norah walked inside with a laugh. She wore her track jumpsuit and white Adidas sneakers. Whipping around, she walked backwards into the room, leading Camille inside. Camille and her chic Hot Topic ripped up jeans with tights underneath, so the dress code police couldn't rain from the sky and give her a ticket for looking too awesome. No makeup today and a purposely tattered Lana Del Rey shirt.

Like her, the most effort I could muster was to put on jeans. I wore a sweatshirt over a free Blood Donation T-shirt with holes in the armpit that I had worn to sleep the night before and the oldest pair of Vans in the universe.

We locked eyes and my face nearly burned to an ugly crisp. I snapped my attention to the pile of fabric in my hands and continued burning my hands with a hot glue gun and only sometimes actually sticking more cheap rhinestones to the costumes. Camille and Norah didn't stop by my dunce corner.

Before I could start watching them from a distance in the creepiest way possible, my phone vibrated in my sweatshirt. I slipped it out and my mom's picture flashed across the screen, that red hair like mine cut short and curled to perfection. She wore something simple, a white button-up and high waisted slacks, but she made everything look three times expensive. She started in New York as a model and if she so desired, she'd make an impressive comeback.

Not with this picture.

Not one where she was smiling so hard, every wrinkle around her face appeared. Not when she was trying to hide her mouth while she was in the middle of eating chow mein and getting sauce everywhere. This picture lacked her usual perfection and that was why I loved it.

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