RoomHate(10)

By: Penelope Ward



Jade and I sat in silence, listening to nothing but the sound of the waves crashing beneath us.

“I’m so sorry, Amelia.”

“Please. Don’t, okay? He’s right. Sometimes, you can’t fix things.” Despite the complacent words that had come out of my mouth, a tear fell down my cheek.



***





Eleven Years Earlier




Mom had left to go out again. Lord knows where she went or with whom. I could never count on my mother, Patricia, for anything. There were only two people I could depend on in my life: Nana and Justin.

The one good thing about Mom leaving me alone most nights was that it allowed me to sneak out of the house and go wherever I wanted. Nana assumed my mother was home half of the time, so she couldn’t stop me.

Justin and I were planning to meet in fifteen minutes. We were going to the mall to hang out with some of the other eighth graders from school. These kids were part of the cool crowd that Justin and I had been trying to break into. Because the two of us mainly hung out with each other, we really weren’t associated with any one clique.

He was waiting at the corner with his hands in his pockets. I loved when he wore his baseball cap backwards and the way the dirty blond strands of hair peeked out of the sides. I was starting to notice little things like that more and more lately. It was hard not to.

He walked toward me. “You ready to go?”

“Yeah.”

Justin started to run. “We have to hurry up. The next bus is in five minutes.”

I didn’t know why the thought of hanging out with these kids was making me so nervous. Justin didn’t seem nervous at all. He was more confident than me in general.

When we stepped inside the mall, the fluorescent lights were a sharp contrast to the dark winter outside. We were supposed to be meeting these kids at the food court, so we made our way to a map of the three-story building.

My heart was pounding as we approached the two boys and a girl who were standing outside of an Auntie Annie’s pretzel stand. Justin could tell I was on edge.

“Don’t be nervous, Patch.”

The first thing I remember hearing out of Chandler’s mouth was, “What the hell is that?”

“What?”

“Did you shit yourself, Amelia?”

My heart was now beating out of my chest as I looked down at myself. I knew that despite my nerves, I hadn’t lost control of my bowels. One knows if that happens, right? No. This was not poop; it was blood. I wasn’t prepared for it because it was the first time I’d ever gotten my period. At thirteen, I was later than most of the other girls I knew. This was probably the worst timing imaginable.

Justin looked down then up into my panicked eyes.

I mouthed to him, “It’s blood.”

Without hesitation, he gave me a quick nod as if to say that he had it covered.

“It’s blood,” he said.

“Blood? Ew…gross!” the other boy, Ethan, said.

“Amelia stabbed herself with my knife on the way here.”

I’d been looking down, but I whipped my head up and looked over at my friend incredulously.

Chandler’s eyes widened. “She stabbed herself?”

“Yeah.” Justin smiled. To my surprise, he took a pocket knife out of his jacket. “See this here? I carry it everywhere with me. It’s a Swiss Army knife. Anyway, I was showing it to Amelia on the bus. I dared her to stab herself in the abdomen. Crazy girl that she is, she actually did it. So, anyway, she’s got blood on her pants now.”

“Are you joking?”

“Wish I was, dude.”

The three of them looked at each other before Chandler said, “That’s the coolest fucking thing I’ve ever heard!”

Ethan smacked my arm. “Seriously, Amelia. That’s some epic shit right there.”

Justin laughed. “Yeah, so anyway…we figured we’d come say ‘hey’ since we were almost here anyway…but we should probably get her to the emergency room.”

“Cool, man. Let us know how it goes.”

“Alright.”

“What the heck did you just do?” I whispered as we walked away.

“Don’t say anything. Just walk.”

The cool night air hit us as we exited the rotating doors of the mall. We stood on the sidewalk and stared at each other for a moment before breaking into hysterical laughter.

“I can’t believe you came up with that crazy story.”

“Not that you should be ashamed of the truth, but I knew you were embarrassed. So, I wanted to do something. You were pulling on your hair like crazy.”

“I was? I didn’t even realize.”

“Yeah. You do that when you’re really nervous.”

“I never knew you noticed that.”

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