It had taken a while to convince my mother that I had actually fallen over the curb and hit my head on the sidewalk that way and not that I had been pushed, but she finally decided to just let me win and minded her own business. I didn’t tell my dad. He is a lot harder to convince of things like that. I just hid the scrape behind my bangs and hoped he would not notice. For the record, he didn’t.
I holed myself up in my room the rest of the day. I didn’t touch my computer and my phone was dead. Instead, I read a book I had been meaning to read for a while. At around ten o’clock there was a dink at my window. It noticed it but ignored it. The second time I thought about getting up. The third time I went and opened the window, only to get hit in the face with a tiny stone which would have been okay except it was right where I had been bleeding from earlier that day. I winced in pain and heard, “Oh my god, I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”
I hissed, “Cai! What are you doing here?”
“I heard Nere attacked you.”
“Were the stones really necessary?”
He laughed and leaned on my windowsill, “Yes.”
I got back on subject. “But why are here at ten freaking p.m.?”
“Because I couldn’t get ahold of you and because no one had seen you or heard from you since Josh dropped you off.”
“This is a checkup?”
He agreed, “I suppose you could call it that.”
“I have a front door you know.”
“As someone pointed out, it’s ten p.m. I don’t think your parents would appreciate me knocking on their front door this late at night.”
“I don’t think my parents would appreciate you leaning on my windowsill this late at night either.”
“I just couldn’t sleep without knowing if you were okay.”
“That’s sweet” I told him.
He joked, “Occasionally I try to be.”
“Well it worked tonight. Now, go home before you get me in trouble.”
He left me in peace. I went to bed to continue reading and unconsciously starting snapping my hair tie against my wrist as I read. I fell asleep that night in the middle of a sentence.
The next morning, Monday, Cai picked me up in the morning. I found that as odd since he was at his Mom’s house on Mondays. Then, I had to wonder why he was at my house last night if it was a Monday and he lives across town. As soon as I was in the car, I asked him that. I didn’t even bother saying hello.
“Hello to you too, Aylin.”
“Question. Answer. Please and thank you.”
“My mom is on a business trip to New York. I’ll be at my dad’s for a good week, week and a half, two weeks, somewhere around there.”
“What does your mom do?”
He laughed, “Hell if I know. Some big corporation or something.”
“Oh.” I began snapping my hair tie. I don’t know why I started doing it but lately it’s been a nice distraction.
Cai watched my continuously snap it for a couple minutes, frowning. “What are you doing?”
“I don’t know.”
“Better yet, why are you doing that?”
“I don’t know.”
“Does it make you feel better?”
“Yeah, a bit.”
He continued to frown but never raised his voice; he simply suggested, “I think you should come with me after school.”
I was curious. “Where?”
“There’s someone I want you to meet.”
“I’ll tell you on the way there.” He stated as we pulled into our usual parking space. That was the end of the conversation.
We went into school and went about our routine. We cleaned the sayings off our lockers and desks; Cai got thrown around during gym; I got pushed in the halls. When I met up with Josh and Cai in the hallway, I lingered behind them. They were arguing again.
“I asked you to stay away from her. Now, I’m demanding that you stay away from her.”
“What makes you think you can make me?”
Cai accused, “If you really cared about her, you would want her to be safe. She can’t be if she’s with you. This little incident proved that you can’t protect her from Nere.”
“And she’s safer with you?”
“For the mere fact that I’m not the one Nere is picking on her about, yes.”
“I don’t think I can do that.”
“Why are you going to make her suffer because of your selfishness?”
“I’m not. She’s happy when she’s with me.”
“Josh, I’m not going to let this happen again.”
Josh growled at him. “It won’t happen again. I won’t let it.”
“It’s already happening. The only thing that might be able to stop history from repeating itself is if you stop associating with her. And I mean at all. Not at school, not on Facebook, not over text, not in public, and not in secret. Do you really want to hurt her like you hurt Trina?”
He almost yelled at him at the top of his lungs, but he did yell and loudly, before stomping off down the opposite direction down the hallway, “SHUT UP! IT WON’T HAPPEN!”
Everyone watched as he shoved his book violently into his locker and slammed it shut. It was the only noise in the hallway. A couple of the teachers poked their heads out of their classrooms to make sure there wasn’t a fight starting.
I walked up to Cai and raised my eyebrows. He didn’t say anything, but I decided I would ask him in the car. He gave me to Sabella and Echo and we went to la clase de español. We discussed the use of indirect and direct objects in Spanish and I about fell asleep. I had learned this last year…
I met Cai at his locker and we walked in silence to the car he was being allowed to use while his truck was in the shop. In the car, I handed him the money I owed him and waited for him to talk about what he wanted to this morning. He didn’t speak until we were out of the parking lot and heading the opposite direction of where we live.
He sighed before talking, “I have a twin sister.”
“I didn’t know that.” I murmured. “Does she live with your mom?”
“Shush. Just listen.” He informed.
“Her name is Trina, actually Katrina but you get the point. A while ago, you asked something about why Josh and I no longer speak to each other often. I’m going to tell you why and it has to do with my sister.”
He left it at that for a while before speaking again, “Anyway, Trina and I were really close to each other and Josh was one of my best friends since the sixth grade. Trina had always been fond of him. Last year, Josh asked her out. Cool. I didn’t mind; he was a good guy. I was happy for them. Nere was not. I’m sure you can see where this story is going. Nere absolutely tormented her. It started out exactly like this: the notes, the writings, the paint, even the tackling. Let’s just say Trina went to some more unorthodox methods of relieving her pain.”
He nodded. “Yeah, her wrists and her legs mostly. Back to the story, she stayed home from school one day and I came home at lunch to check on her. Thank god that we have open campus. I found her writing a suicide note. I stayed home the rest of the day and talked to her about it. I wasn’t going to tell our parents, who by the way were still together at this time, but our father came home to get something right then and overheard us. They had her admitted to the mental ward of a hospital.”
He seemed to be finished so I asked, “Why did my snapping of hair ties cause you to want me to meet her?”
“That’s what she did before she started cutting. She had read that’s what people recovering sometimes do. My story isn’t entirely finished yet.”
“Now, Josh did visit her. Once. He came in, he sat down with her, he broke her heart, and he left. A couple days before my mom had filed for divorce. The stress had caused their already semi rocky marriage to hit rock bottom, hard, and split apart. Trina found out the day after Josh broke up with her. I regret not lying to her that day. I hadn’t known that Josh had done that, and I watched her cry the whole hour I was allowed to be there. Ever since she was been admitted, I have visited her every Monday and every holiday. I don’t know why I think it will help either of you to meet each other, but I do.”
By the time we got to the hospital, it was almost four o’clock. We drove behind it to a building that resembled a ski lodge on the outside. Cai told me to leave everything in the car; it was just easier because they would take it. We walked in and he signed us in. They gave us stickers that said visitor and unlocked the door for us to go in. We took the elevator up to the second floor. Cai informed me that they locked the stairs so it was a good thing there weren’t a lot of people wanting to use the elevator.
Cai rang a bell outside a door. A male nurse came to greet us. He referred to Cai by name and unlocked another door for us to actually enter the unit. He informed Cai that Trina was in her room. A few of the other inpatients greeted him by name as we walked through to get to her room.
He knocked on the open door and a girl almost tackled him when she hugged him. “Cai!” she yelled ecstatically.
“Hey Trina.” Cai laughed.
She let go and I finally got to look at her. She was a little shorter than Cai, her hair was only a little longer, and she was skinner. She was basically a feminine version of Cai. She noticed me when she took a step away from Cai. “Who’s this?” she questioned.
“Trina, Aylin. Aylin, Trina.”
I held my hand out to her and she shook it timidly. “You’ve never brought anyone with you before Cai. Why now?”
“Meet Nere’s new target.” He replied.
“Oh.” That was all she said before disappearing into her room.
Cai followed her and therefore I followed Cai. Cai sat on one end of the bed and Trina sat on the other. I pulled up the little wooden desk chair. The room was small. There were two beds and a desk. There was a bathroom attached and I could see that it was a full bathroom, not a half. There wasn’t a closet, but instead a cubby. It was split into two sections with four cubbies on each side. I assumed on half was for Trina and the other half for her roommate.
Trina said, “Cai has told me about you. Do yourself a favor and stay away from Josh. It’s as simple as that and Nere will leave you alone. I was stupid and didn’t. Do not repeat my mistake. I don’t want to see you end up in here for the same reasons I did.”
I had the urge to say, “But,” only I couldn’t think of what to say after that. It really wasn’t that bad of an idea. It would hurt, but would it hurt as bad as this? All I could actually say to her was, “Okay.”
Cai smiled at me. His plan had worked in his advantage. I could only hope I could really do what I had just said. I don’t want to disappoint either of them.
I let the two of them talk about whatever for most of the time. It was their visit. The male nurse came in to tell us that our hour was up. Both of them sighed in unison. They got up and hugged again. “I’ll see you next week sis.”
“Love you.” She replied.
“I love you too.” He said when he let go of her.
I walked out ahead of him. He met up with me when we had to stop for the nurse to let us out of the unit. He stood next to me and leaned against me. “It’s so short.”
“The visiting hours?”
“Yeah, you can’t talk as much as you wish you could in an hour.”
“Do you know when or if she’s going to get out?”
The nurse let us out when Cai answered, “They think sometime around Christmas.”
“How long has she been admitted?” I asked as the elevator doors opened.
We stepped in and Cai pressed the first floor button while he answered, “Around the end of last school year. It was like the second to last or last week of the school year.”
“Oh. So it was a while ago.”
“Yeah, she will have been in there around six months when she gets out.”
We got to the car and were sitting in it before Cai asked, “Are you truly going to stop talking to Josh?”
I was silent for a while before answering, “I’m going to try. I’m not going to make any promises to anyone but I feel like I should listen to your sister.”
He put his hand over mine. “Thank you. You don’t know how happy this makes me. I don’t have to worry about you as much.”
I shook his hand off; he started the car, and we were off. “I love the as much tucked on the end of that.”
“What can I say? I’m still going to worry. It’s part of what I do.”
“What’s the other part?” I asked curiously.
He answered simply, “Being a smart ass.”
“Ain’t that the truth.” I replied.
“And a good looking one if I may say so myself.”
I laughed. “That’s all in your head.”
He put his hand over his heart like always. “You’re wounding my heart again Aylin.”
“You haven’t perfected your heart armor then Cai?”
“Unfortunately there have been some setbacks in production and I cannot find anyone who will be a test subject for me. They say the idea is absolutely ridiculous.”
“Glad you gave me rights to the books and not to the armor.”
“I’m starting to feel you got the better end of that deal.”
I teased him, “It’s your fault for making bad deals.”
“I never have been very good at deal making. Yeah, the rights to the book I gave you – you’re only going to make about five percent of the price they sell them for. Have fun.”
“At?” he questioned.
“Everything. Just terrible.”
He replied. “Well, you’re a terrible person.”
“Where’s my heart armor when I need it?”
He laughed. “I told you. It’s had some setbacks, but I think you quite deserve to be the one being picked on for once.”
“I don’t think so. I think that it is just fine to pick on you and only you at all times.”
“Well you would think that.” He stated as he pulled in my drive. It was a bit after six o’clock in the evening but it was still light outside. “I hope I didn’t get you in trouble with your parents for pretty much just taking you without permission.”
“Really, it’s fine. They won’t care. They probably won’t even notice.”
“Oh… I’ll see you tomorrow then Aylin.”
I walked into the house right as my mother set a plate of hamburgers on the dining room table. I sat down at my usual seat and didn’t offer any information to where I had been. My mom finally asked and I told her that I was visiting with a friend. They asked who and I replied with Cai. That was the end of the conversation.
The only problem I had with going to see Cai’s sister was that when I got home I still had all of my homework to do. Pretty much I did homework, took a shower, and went to bed. I didn’t have time to do anything else. All of my teachers had decided that today was a good day to assign lots of homework. I can’t believe he did that every Monday.