“So… how old are you guys? I can’t remember how much older you were than me before I moved,” I asked Viktor and Kristian, who were on either side of me now. Mother and Lucinda had been talking to each other over the table, and Johan had gotten sick of not being able to have a conversation to one of his sons over his wife’s conversation, so he suggested that my mother switch seats with Viktor, meaning she would be beside Lucinda, and Viktor was on my left.
“I’m sixteen, almost seventeen,” Kristian said, grinning down at me. I smiled back, and then looked to Viktor. He hadn’t talked all night, and I was curious as to how much his voice had changed.
“I’m seventeen. Eighteen in three months.”
My eyebrows rose at his voice; it was so different! I mean… that was bound to have happened, but the last time I spoke to him, his voice was so light and quiet, that sometimes is was hard to hear him. Now… it was deep, but still light. I could still hear the obvious shyness in his voice… I would have to change that.
“Three months? So you still go to school?” I asked, not sure if he did or not. He could have dropped out for all I knew, but it was Viktor, so I highly doubted that. He was always the goody-good of the group, even though I was the Keelan was the youngest.
He nodded, and I was glad that he hadn’t changed much. Except for his looks.
His once mousey brown hair was now white blond, and he had grown it out so it was almost at his shoulders. At the moment his hair was messily gelled around, and he looked amazing. His blue gray eyes were sparkling, and I wasn’t sure what with, but they were the only familiar thing about him.
Kristian though… he was just as different as Viktor. His hair used to be the same as Viktor’s; a mousey brown, which was naturally straight. Now it was ash blond at the front, and dark brown at the back. He had spiked up the back half of his hair, and left the front dead straight in a thin fringe. His eyes were still the same blue green that sparkled with joy almost every second of the day. Both of their skins were pale, and I could see that it was exceptionally clear. They were both very good looking guys, there was no denying it.
“If I remember correctly… All our birthdays are really close to each other, right?”
Kristian nodded, “Yeah. Viktor is a week before me, and I am a week before you. 31stof August, right?” I nodded, and he chuckled at something. I questioned him with me eyes, and he smiled as he figured out how to word something.
“Remember, back on my actual birthday, we used to all have a combined birthday, and Keelan would feel left out? He would get annoyed because everyone was celebrating their birthday except for him,” he said grinning. I giggled, as I remembered that too. It was mine and Kristian’s 5th birthdays and Viktor’s 6th. While the three of us were laughing and trying to hit the piñata that Lucinda and Johan had managed to get is for the party, Keelan was sitting across the yard sipping on his cup of orange juice, looking forlorn.
“He always made a scene, didn’t he?” I said, giggling a bit. Kristian and Viktor nodded at the same time. I wondered if they knew that Keelan was here too…
“He’s here, you know,” I said simply, picking up my menu, and I hadn’t even looked at it yet, and I could see the waiter coming towards us. My eyes scanned the menu for something that didn’t contain seafood at all. There was nothing.
“What!?” Kristian cried under his breath. I looked over at him, and raised an eyebrow at his reaction. He didn’t look happy, and this must have been because of what had happened just before Keelan left. Kristian and Keelan had had a disagreement, and it had left them totally and utterly despising each other.
“Kristian, calm down,” I scolded, not happy with his tone, “He is my neighbour, and only friend, so don’t start anything with him, please.”
I was begging already. Not a great start. But he needed to know how much I needed Keelan in my life; how much I needed him to be there and keep me grounded.
Kristian looked shocked at what I had said. I felt my heart pound shakily at the reminder of why Keelan was my only friend. I breathed heavily with my eyes closed, and let only a single tear escape; I would not show Kristian and Viktor how weak I was.
“He is your only friend?” Viktor asked, his tone almost horrified. I nodded my head, and he made a tone of absolute disgust, “Why?”
“I'll tell you another time,” I murmured, and opened my menu again. I looked blankly at it, as my mind was racing, hurting my head with the sharpness of the thoughts. They dropped it, and I was left to try and find something that I could eat. I couldn’t find anything, so I sighed and put it down, reaching for a glass and the jug of iced water, pouring me a glass to soothe my nauseous stomach. The smell of the seafood was starting to overpower the smell of the sweet freesias, and a minute later, I knew why.
The table behind us was just getting served, and the smell of the lobster they had ordered was wafting over to our table, enveloping me in the smell, and almost causing me to throw up right at the table. My stomach churned, and I got up abruptly from the table, and made my way as quickly as I could to the bathroom, hand covering my mouth gently, making sure that I wouldn’t throw up on the gorgeous pale beige carpets.
I made it to the bathroom without spreading my salad everywhere, and leaned my head against the cool marble of the bathroom walls. It smelled purely of roses and orange blossoms in there, and it made me instantly feel better. The bathroom attendant walked up to me, and stood several feet away, smiling at me sweetly. I smiled back, and she offered me a mint. I took one, and popped it in my mouth.
“Thank you,” I said with a small smile.
“You’re welcome, ma’am,” the lady said while walking back to her spot by the sinks. I felt much better, and took a last deep breath of fresh smelling air, before opening the door, and making my way quickly back to my table. The waiter was there, taking everyone’s order when I got there, and I smile stiffly as I sat down.
“Carleetah! Where did you go off to, sweetie?” mother asked as she looked me over worriedly. I just shook my head, knowing that if I open my mouth, there was a good chance that I would puke my guts out.
Mother shook her head and then looked apologetically up at the waiter. I was focussing on the intricate patterns of the roofing, so I didn’t look directly at the guy, but I could see him from the corner of my eye.
He was a typical emo-boy. Shaggy black hair that hung over his left eye, pale skin, but not that pale, and some light guy-liner. I was expecting him to have the dark brown eyes or dark blue eyes that most dark haired guys had at school, but I was mistaken. This guy had pale, pale green eyes. Almost white-green.
Whoa,I thought in my head,this boy looks… kinda familiar, actually.
I looked at him properly, and then my head cocked to the side as I figured out who it was.
Aw, hell no!
This cannot be happening! I had tried so hard to ignore him, and stay away from him, but no matter what I tried, he would always find me. Find me and beat the crap out of me. Every week since freshman year he would beat the crap out of me.
I instantly looked away, and prayed to God that he would ignore me, or he wouldn’t figure out who I am, seeing as I had changed a bit.
“Ma’am? Are you ready to order?” I looked up to face him, and prayed hard that he wouldn’t recognize my voice.
“Um… is there anything on the menu that doesn’t have seafood in it?” I asked, hoping I had missed something. Lincoln looked at me with a single raised eyebrow.
“Youdoknow that this is a seafood restaurant, right?” he asked, putting plenty of emphasis on the ‘seafood’ part. I rolled my eyes at him, and looked at him with a bored expression on my face.
“Well it’s not like Ichoseto eat here. Look, is there anything I can eat here, Lincoln, ‘cause if there isn’t, I am going outside.”
He looked confused when I slipped in his name, but he covered up his confusion by looking down into the menu he had requested from mother. His eyes scanned over the lists of food, and then he looked up at me, an apologetic look on his face.
“Sorry, Ma’am. There is seafood in everything. Would you like me to get you a salad or something?”
I shook my head at him, smiling as I did, and as I looked away, I licked my old lip piercing, something that I did sub-consciously while I was at school.
“Are you sure, Carter?”
I froze and looked up at Lincoln, my blood turning ice cold. He was smiling evilly and I knew I was bound to get my ass kicked sometime in the next week. He hadn’t even touched me since before Jackson cut it off, so I was bound to get a beating sometime soon.
Lincoln looked at me once more before walking away with a smirk on his face. I let out a shaky breath, and looked down at my hands, only noticing now that they were shaking uncontrollably. I closed my eyes and tried to calm myself down, trying to make the tremors stop. I was scared, sure, but I should have been used to this! I mean… I have had three years to get used to it, and I was still afraid of it? I shouldn’t be…
I looked up to see the entire table staring at me. I looked at Mother in particular, and she was looking at me curiously.
“What is it, Mother?” I asked.
“Carleetah, how do you know that boy?” she asked curiously, her voice a mixture of approval and worry. I frowned at her; at her assumptions. What did she think Lincoln and I were?
“School,” I said simply.
“Oh! Is he a friend?” she asked her voice chipper and happy. My face was hard and simply devoid of emotion.
“He beats the crap out of me every week, Mother… so yes… we aresoclose.” I said sarcastically, tears starting to form a little in my eyes I was so angry and scared. Everyone at the table looked shocked at my words, but it took them a while to speak again. Lucinda was the first to find the words to speak.
“He hits you?” she asked, her voice barely over a whisper as she looked at me in disbelief. She had her lips parted in shock, and her eyes were sad as she scanned my face, searching for the tell-tale signs. A bruise, a cut, some scars… she wouldn’t find any. He never hit me on my face, only on the head by my ears and neck, and also on my stomach. I may have abs on my stomach, but the whole area was a mottled pale green or purple blue when the bruises were fresh from him kicking me.
Johan didn’t say a word, but his hands were clenched into fists, and his eyes were tight as he shook his head angrily. He may have been in the German Army, but he respected women; a trait he seemed to have passed down to his sons and this was a disgrace to him. I could see that on his face.
“Look, it’s no big deal. I’m used to it,” I muttered, uncomfortable about sharing this with my mother. She had never known about this part of my life, as I had made sure to cover any cuts up with anti-bacterial cream and bandages as soon as I got home, but always at Jackson’s, so she wouldn’t find any traces of my blood or any bandages.
It was my little secret that I kept to myself, and for her to find out, it was hard for me to handle without feeling like I was disappointing her in some way.
“No big deal? Darling…” she started, but I cut her off.
“Mother. It has been happening since freshman year. So I am used to it.”
A badly stifled gasp was audible from Lucinda, and Kristian put a soft, slightly shaking hand on my bare shoulder. I reached up, and grabbed it, squeezing it slightly before putting it down on his lap.
“Freshman year?” Mother whispered, her face horrified. I nodded, looking down at my hands again, not wanting to see their expressions.
“Does he make you bleed, sweetie?” Lucinda asked hesitantly. I could feel everyone’s eyes on me, and I couldn’t speak, so I just nodded. Mother let out a sigh, and I knew she was disappointed in me. I closed my eyes, and let the feeling of hopelessness I had been holding back all night wash over me, and bring true tears to my eyes. I felt someone wipe a tear that escaped from my cheek, and I think it was Kristian, but I wasn’t sure.
“What about Jackson?” I froze at Mothers voice. She didn’t know? Right… I never told her what had happened… Should I tell her? I wasn’t sure whether to tell her, or keep her in the dark… I couldn’t lie to her.
“What about him?”
“Well, I just haven’t seen him around the house for a while, and you haven spoke about him for about as long… Why is that, darling? I thought you and Jackson were joined at the hip?” Oh my lord… how could she not know about what happened?
“Mother, Jackson and I aren’t friends anymore. We haven’t been for a week,” I said, standing up as I did so, “And we aren’t exactly on speaking terms at the moment. Is that all, ‘cause I would love to leave before I spew my guts out,” I said quickly, as I could see Lincoln and another waitress carrying over some food that looked destined for our table. Mother sighed and nodded, and I basically ran off, heading towards the courtyard I had seen earlier.
The courtyard was a cobblestoned area out the back of the restaurant where the smokers could go to light up, and where loved up couples could go to sit together away from the prying eyes of the restaurant patrons. There were benches scattered around everywhere, and I headed towards the one that was furthest away from the door which I had come through, giving me the most fresh air as possible.
I was the only one in the courtyard, so I was able to sit back and relax, and try not to think about what had happened today. I took my cell phone from my little silver clutch, and opened up my pictures, and started to flick through them.
They were almost 100% of me and Jackson, with some that were of other things too, like the sunset when it was still slightly overcast, and there were the picture perfect pinks, purples, oranges and yellows.
I was skipping through the pictures, loving how I could look at them and not feel like my heart was being ripped in two, when I stopped on a particular one. I looked at it more carefully, and frowned. I didn’t remember taking this one…
It was a picture of Jackson and I sitting in our spot outside at school by the Oak Tree, him with his arm around my waist, pulling me towards him. He was smiling down at me, and I had my head on his chest, eyes closed, a small smile on my lips. You could see our entire bodies, so I couldn’t figure out who could have taken the picture, as we had no friends to take it, and it looked like we were totally unawares of it being taken.
I sighed and locked the picture, so I couldn’t accidentally delete it, and continued on through the pictures, a smile tugging on my lips.