Count On Me(5)

By: Melyssa Winchester

“One more question and I swear I’ll take you home.”

Ok. I print out quickly.

“Why do you draw the happy faces instead of just smiling?”

Because I don’t smile, not ever. I answer easily.

“I hate to be the one to tell you this Isabelle, but you just did.”

Before I can question what he means, he takes the notebook out of my hands, placing it between the seats until its laying perfectly flat between us. Lifting a finger and bringing it back down on the paper, he points to the face I drew and then looks up at me.

“It’s a nice smile, Isabelle. Don’t let those assholes take it from you.”


I have no idea why the hell I said that to her, but it isn’t like I can take it back so I let it sit there between us. The only thing that bothers me about what I said anyway, is I told her not to let the assholes take it from her and I’m one of them. Maybe she’ll see it that way and steer clear of me.

I can hope anyway.

When she told me what they did, it took every bit of restraint I have not to smash my hand through the windshield, that’s how angry it made me. It’s even worse because we’ve done that same thing to a bunch of other people and I’ve never once given a shit about it.

Maybe it’s because I know there’s something wrong with her that makes me like this. It makes her more vulnerable than the others or that’s the pretty picture I’m selling myself to push away the guilt I feel.

Hell, I’ve dunked heads in toilets, stolen underwear during PE and run them up the flagpole and laughed the entire time I did it. Add to that, pushing kids around, tripping them in the halls and then all the name calling and I really am king of the assholes. I’m the one that taught Dillon all he knows and what he used on Isabelle less than a half hour ago.

As I pull into her driveway, I look over and notice she’s frowning. I immediately want to know what caused it because it doesn’t seem like it should be there. If the girl can’t smile then she shouldn’t be able to frown either.

Since when am I this worked up over the way a girl looks? I should be more concerned with getting her out of my car so I can get it cleaned, not with the frown that seems even deeper across her face.

“What’s wrong, Isabelle?”

Before she can reach over to grab the pad, I pick it up and tear the paper out. I have no idea why, but I can’t let her write on it again. I want to keep it the way it looks right now.

The damn happy faces have obviously messed with my brain.

I pass the pad across to her as I put the car in park and she immediately starts scribbling across the page furiously. It’s obvious that whatever she’s frowning about is pretty big. Even when I’m in class with her, I don’t think I’ve seen her write quite this fast.

My mom’s car isn’t here, which means she’s not home and I don’t like being home alone.

Is this girl kidding me? What teenager doesn’t like being home alone? Man, I’d kill for Dean to get his ass out of the house once in awhile so I could have peace and quiet. Trust me, there’s nothing more I want to do in the moment then trade spots with this girl.

“Why?” I ask, curious. “I thought everyone liked having the house to themselves?”

She shrugs before writing on the pad again, this time slower than before.

Serial killers enjoy coming for people that are home alone. Like that one Scream guy, except he likes calling first.

I read what she wrote and I laugh. Loud. I really tried to keep it in, but I couldn’t. I wonder if that’s part of her thing, blending fiction with reality. Focusing on that made it easier not to focus on the first part. I didn’t want to think about how much truth there is to her serial killer comment.

Wexfield, Ontario is a pretty small town, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have crime. In fact, we had a couple murders a few years ago that still weren’t solved.

Yeah, this is definitely not a place I want my mind going right now or I’m not sure how comfortable I’ll feel leaving her alone. Shaking it off, I look up and catch her eyes locked on me. Shit, did I wait too long to respond?

“I think you’re pretty safe here. Serial killers only come for the really dumb blondes anyway.”

It was supposed to be a joke but the way her eyes well up with tears, I know she took it the wrong way. Damnit, even when I think I’m doing the right thing, it still turns out wrong. I really am the fuck up Dean says I am.

“Isabelle, please don’t cry. I don’t know how you took what I said, but it’s wrong if it’s making you cry.”

She wipes at her eyes before turning back down to the paper in front of her and writing away again. After a couple of minutes go by and she’s still going, I lean over and try to catch some of what she might be trying to tell me. Just as I’m able to catch a few words, she lifts her head and it smacks clear into my nose.

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