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The ’97 Honda pulled up to the curb outside of a perfect yellow house and a brunette teenage girl angrily yanked at the emergency break, shattering the silence with the rapid clicking of the handle being pulled erect. She shoved the driver door open and shot out of the car, slamming the door behind her. She didn’t take the extra few seconds to grab her bag; she knew she wasn’t in the mood to do homework anyway.
After entering her pristine house, she ran to her room up the stairs and down a hallway to her sanctuary. Slamming the door behind her, she crimpled to pieces on her bed and broke down in sobs. For a long time Andrea had put up with the immaturity of her boyfriend and usually she had been able to deal with it. Rolling her eyes at him and changing the subject when she felt he had gone too far with a certain comment or story. But today something had snapped inside of her.
Her face sideways on the pillow, with a pool of tears drenching her pillow, she dropped her left arm down to the floor and blindly felt around for a cold object. Andrea was not one of the “screaming and yelling” type. She was the “listen to music that makes you cry for days until you get over the problem”, type. She already had a preset playlist on her iPod labeled heartbroken, from all the many times John had hurt her.
She lay sprawled out on her bed, unconcerned with how she looked and continued crying. As she listened to slow, mellow, sad songs, she tried to clear her mind of the events of that day. It all seemed like a blur now. She wasn’t even sure what triggered it all. She slowly drifted off to sleep, but was awoken a few minutes later by a loud diesel truck passing the house outside.
Being the planned and concise person in her family, she was never the one to break down in tears after a tough day at school or an argument with her parents. Now alone on her bed, she looked lost and confused, unable to pull herself beck together.
Instantly, Andrea shot up from her comatose state and looked frantically around her room. She spotted pictures from formals and dates, silly pictures, taken over time of her and John. She grabbed the pictures from her mirror and returned to her bed. She scattered the photographs across her silky bed spread and gazed at them. She rested her elbows on her knees and cradled her head in her hands. Tears escaped from her palms and ran down her forearms, making her skin sticky and salty.
She grabbed her legs and held them close to her chest, not wanting to let go for anything. She slowly rocked back and forth with her eyes buried in her knees as she sobbed away the pain. So long they had been together and she had never seen the signs. So long they had shared happy memories but she could not see who he really was. So many days spent together, but in the end, all of it ending suddenly with a truth set free.
As she sat rocking on her bed, she slowly choked out over and over, “never again… never again”. Never again could she trust him. Never again could she look at him the same way. Never again could she talk to him. Never again.
Waking up in her bed, Andrea’s eyes were stuck to the pillow from all her mascara that had crusted to the pillow. The soft linen rubbed against her cheek and thought to herself that she knew today would be even harder than the previous day had been. The day that had changed her life, her relationship and the way she viewed people.
She slowly lifted herself from her pillow and swung her legs over the side of the bed. Andrea glanced over to the clock that stood on her bed side table. The red numbers burned in the black face of the clock.
“Three... three what?” she thought. A.M. or P.M.? Seeing as how she fell asleep immediately after returning home from school, she was unaware of the time that had passed since then. Had she slept just the after noon, and now it was extremely early the next morning? Or, had she fallen into a state of hibernation in which she slept longer than intended and it was actually the next day entirely? Andrea wasn’t really sure of her surroundings, but she honestly didn’t care.
Her room was dark because her blinds were closed and her door was closed. Her room was a sanctuary, away from her family, but it apparently didn’t shield her from pain. The blanket of wet crumpled tissues on her floor was a testament to the fact that even the best of sanctuaries can’t block all the pain of life. But, Andrea usually didn’t have to worry about her room being an escape from all the aspects of life; usually just her family. She had never become so upset by John that she needed this type of sanctuary before. At this point, she wanted to escape from anything and everything.
She sat on her bed with her toes grazing the gentle carpet that lay at her feet, but she couldn’t muster the mental strength to stand. Falling sideways back against her pillow, she reached for her clock and placed it face down; she didn’t care what time it was, or what she was possibly missing.
Vibrations from her phone lulled Andrea from her sleep. The rhythmic, zzz...zzz...zzz... was a gentle reminder that she had fallen asleep and probably missed... absolutely nothing. Curled in the fetal position, she had her security blanket draped over her. Her mother had given her the blanket when she was born, and Andrea has treasured it since. In times of need, this is what she clung to. Not a friend or family, it was her blanket she turned to when she needed to cry. The blanket was covering a small part of her, mostly the area between her shoulder and knee, with tattered holes leaving places on her body uncovered and unprotected. Andrea lay on her bed staring at the wall across the room. Her comatose state she was in might have scared anyone who walked into the room at that moment, thinking she could have silently passed through the night. Her phone kept disturbing her blank stares at the wall and because of her annoyance; she finally picked up the phone to assess the damage of missed calls and text messages.
Only one missed call, but a staggering twenty-seven texts. She knew they were all from John without even checking first. The fact that he had ruined the previous day was most likely the reason he was texting so much, and his ignorance to true feelings was the reason for the lack of calls. For a girl, she doesn’t want to be apologized to over a text, or even five hundred texts. She wants an in person, or even verbal apology or explanation of what happened. If a guy texts an apology, he’s just asking for it to be deleted, and himself be forgotten.
Andrea had given everything for John. Her life, her free time, her heart… and instead of reciprocating the love, he throws it all away. Her life had revolved around him and their relationship. Before today, she would have done anything to make it work. That is why it hurt her even more at this moment to learn he had betrayed her and she couldn’t trust him anymore. After all she had done for him, and given up to be with him…
Now she opened her phone and really did see all the messages and one single, lonely call had all been from him. She started going through her texts he had sent her, most of them minutes after the previous. Her eyes welled up and she through her phone down to the ground in a rage. It astounded her that he hadn’t really understood she was upset for the first ten messages. He just kept saying, “Why aren’t you answering your texts?” and “What are you doing?” Did he not realize he had hurt her more than anything in the world and the pain she was feeling now was all from him? The fact that he didn’t even realize there was a problem until she hadn’t responded for hours, angered Andrea. In her fury, she looked to the ground and say her phone splayed open with the background picture of her and John plastered on the screen. Without her eyes leaving the phone, she laid down on her side against and stared blankly at the picture. Her arm swung down to the ground and rested against the Kleenex box that sat below her.
Everything had been going so normally between them the past few months. Nothing out of the ordinary had concerned her or should have made her worry something like this would happen. Andrea had put up with a lot from John, usually just simple annoyances though. She never made any big deal out of them; she rarely even mentioned there was a problem. She usually blamed herself for the problem, rationalizing that it was her fault for being too sensitive. But deep down, Andrea really knew John was inconsiderate, like all the times he didn’t call when he said he would and all the times he forgot important things like Christmas and birthday presents.
At some point she had fallen asleep, because she woke up in the same position she had laid down in, staring at the picture. Andrea sat up and picked up her clock, that was still lying down on her table. An hour had past since she woke up the first time, but it felt like so much longer… She walked over to her mirror and stood there just staring. She positioned herself so her arms were supporting her body against the dresser and she was looking dead on into her reflection. Her puffy eyes and running mascara showed a broken down teenage girl, but she couldn’t see any of the external appearance. All she could see was the loneliness and emptiness in her eyes. She had given all of herself to him, and he still didn’t care.
Clenching her jaw, she went to her phone and deleted all pictures, and messages from John, even the ones she hadn’t read yet. “His fault for texting,” she thought. She gathered all the tear stained pictures from her bed and held them in her fists. Her eyes scanned her room for the candle by her window. A small box of matches lay positioned next to it, and Andrea plucked it from its spot. She hurried to the bathroom and locked the door behind herself.
She dropped the pictures on the granite countertop and filled the sink with water. Andrea slowly opened the matches and retrieved a single wooden match. She forcefully struck the match against the box. The explosive end burst into flames and the pungent smell of the burning tip filled her nose. She held up a picture of the two of them; taken at the county fair a few months ago. She lit the corner ad watched it engulf in flames until the only part not burning was the small corner she held. She dropped the corner in the sink and moved onto the next picture.
This process continued on until all the pictures were burned and the only remains were the small corners of them floating in the water. She scooped the soggy mess out, dropped them in the toilet and flushed them away without thinking twice. With all the physical evidence gone of any relationship she had with John, she breathed a sigh of relief and returned to her room.
She felt, strangely empowered as she stood in her room, not knowing what to do next. Her adrenaline was running, which at that point, made her realize how long it had been since she had eaten. So she trudged down the stairs to the kitchen to raid the refrigerator. Andrea chose an awkward array of food to eat all at the same time. Cereal, leftover mac and cheese from the night before, a hash brown she fried up and a glass of milk. It puzzled her why her appetite was so strange, as if it was almost as confused as she was with her relationship with John. But to her, she was done with the boy. Nothing he said and nothing he did could get her back. The betrayal and humiliation she felt was more than even the best guy could make up for.
Andrea quickly sped through her make-shift meal and sat at the table, bored. What she didn’t understand, was, why wasn’t she crying anymore? But as she thought about all the tears she had shed in past months over heartless things John had done, she realized, maybe a girl is only allowed a certain amount of tears for one guy. And when you reach your limit, you don’t cry. You just feel helpless and empty. But she didn’t want to feel helpless, she wanted to get over him and forget she ever knew him. “Exercise, that might help”. So she went up to get dressed in shorts and shoes, and wash her face since she didn’t want to scare anyone, and she walked out the front door.
“Hmm… so its morning…” She started jogging around her block, but when that got repetitive, she ventured out further to the park near her house and then up to winding trails through the hills. The cold fog swept around her ankles as she ran against the damp ground. Every once in a while, her mind would wander to an enraging thought of John and she would pick up her speed, but not for too long, because she wasn’t in that great of shape. She began to slow and stop in a clearing where the sun was shining. She collapsed on the grass and closed her eyes; listening to small bugs making noises and birds waking up.
If only she had seen this coming. How had John been cheating on her the entire time they had been dating without her even realizing it? The thought that he was kissing someone else after she had kissed him disgusted her. The sneaking around for months and months enraged her. They had been dating for two years. TWO YEARS and she hadn’t seen any sign of infidelity. Her mind raced for possible moments that she had over looked and one came to mind.
The weekend he said he spent with his football team at the coast… Was he really with her? She had remembered seeing one of his teammates at the grocery store but thought he probably was busy or had decided not to go. She hadn’t questioned that there was no trip. But now, she had no idea what was real and what wasn’t between them. She spent that weekend home alone, with nothing to do and no one to spend time with. John had been her life and she had lost all her friends from not spending time with them. so when it came time that John wasn’t there for a weekend, Andrea was left in her house with nothing to do and no one to see.
How trusting and forgiving Andrea always was with John, and how skeptical he was. Maybe she was so trusting because she wouldn’t even think of cheating on him, so the thought of him cheating on her didn’t even cross her mind. But because he WAS cheating on her, he knew it was possible. So he looked for any sign of her being unfaithful. But if he had found out she was cheating, he wouldn’t confess to her and just end the relationship; knowing neither of them wanted to stay in the relationship they shared. He would throw it in her face and humiliate her for al she was worth, never once mentioning he had been doing the exact same thing for much longer. In reality, Andrea would never cheat on someone. She loathed anyone who would instead of just telling their loved one they wanted to end things. The sneaking around and dishonesty disgusted her. Wiping away a few tears that had streamed down her cheeks, she stood up and looked for a way home.
When she returned home, she found her family still asleep and the house silent. She stripped off all her sweaty clothes and got into the shower, the hot water running down her back and rinsing away the physical dirt and the emotional dirt associated with John. There were moments in the shower when she would be at peace, calm and composed. But other times, emotions would surround her and she would breakdown, curling into a ball on the shower floor and letting the water hit her like a warm rain in the summer. She was almost glad that these emotional surges ere coming in the shower though, because that’s one place no one can hear you crying. When she calmed down, she shut off the shower and wrapped herself in a fluffy white towel.
After she finished drying off and getting dressed, she sat in her room just thinking. She was spacing out so much she almost didn’t hear the door bell ring. She hurried downstairs because no one else in her family was going to answer it. She opened the door and standing before her was a blue eyed, dark brown haired guy. He was about five inches taller than Andrea and he had a funny little smirk that made her heart want to melt. “Uh…” she greeted him, stunned at him standing there. “Hey” he answered in a deep voice, “I saw you running earlier, and well, you run?” Even though it was plainly obvious that if you see someone running, it’s probably because they run, she wasn’t about to critique his opening line. All she could think was, “please be single”.