After dinner, Cole, Kristy, Shaun, and I all decided to walk to the park to hang out for a little bit. Each of us was sitting on a swing, with Cole on one end, me next to Cole, Kristy next to me, and Shaun next to Kristy, on the other end. Throughout all of dinner at Sadie’s, Kristy and Shaun had been flirting with each other. I had no doubt in my mind that they would end up together, since they obviously both liked each other.
Cole and I were holding hands, staring out at the moon, all four of us silent. This was nice, it really was. Although, I did feel kind of bad about Will. None of us had even acknowledged the fact that he’d walked out on dinner. I was beginning to think that I was the only one who noticed at all. However, I wasn’t going to let that minor detail ruin this moment.
“Sorry to ruin this precious moment of silence, but I just noticed something.” Shaun stated. “Weren’t there five people here at first?” So much for not wanting to ruin the moment.
“Oh yeah, that one guy with the blonde streak, Will.” Kristy added.
I stole a glance at Cole’s face out of the corner of my eye, curious as to how he was reacting to this conversation about Will. However, his eyes were blank and glassy, with no detectable emotion on his face.
“Yeah, I think he just went home.” I muttered, hoping they would accept my answer and move away from the subject.
“Why?” Shaun inquired. “I know him and Cole don’t like each other, but he didn’t have to go home.”
“He probably wasn’t feeling well,” I lied, knowing what a lame excuse this was.
“He seemed fine to me,” Shaun replied.
I rolled my eyes, beginning to feel irritated. Couldn’t Shaun just let it go?
“Will went home because Evalynne and I sorted out our fight and made up.” Cole spoke up, his voice thick. “Don’t you see, Evalynne? He does like you. He came to Sadie’s because he knew it would make me mad. He’s obviously trying to break us up.”
I bit my lip, considering this. When I thought it all through, it made a lot of sense. Accept for the fact that Will didn’t like me. He was still in love with Val. He’d admitted it to me earlier that day. Plus, he had a girlfriend. He wasn’t interested in me.
“Cole, I see your point. Believe me, I do.” I assured him. “It’s just that Will doesn’t like me. You see, he had this girlfriend that he was totally in love with, and they were really serious and everything. Then one day, he caught her cheating on him with his best friend, so they broke up. He’s still in love with her though. So trust me, he doesn’t care if you and I are together or not. He has his own love life to worry about.”
“He can love two people at once.” Cole remarked. And then his eyes grew cold, like daggers. “You know what that’s like, don’t you Evalynne?”
I dropped his hand immediately, my face growing hot with rage. Was he seriously going to bring this up? Did he seriously have the nerve to say that to me? Yep, he sure did. I actually wasn’t so surprised though. One thing I knew for sure about Cole was that he had a lot of nerve. And he didn’t hold back at all.
“Do you not trust me or something?” I demanded. “Because it seems like you get angry whenever you see me hanging out with another guy. It’s like you think I’ll start liking them and dump you for them.”
“Well after the situation with Ash, it’s kind of hard to trust you, Evalynne.” he shot back. “I want to trust you. Believe me, I want to. But I just can’t. I love you so much, and I want things to work between us, but I’m not naïve. I don’t just hand out my trust to everyone I meet. My trust has to be earned.”
“So you’re saying that I haven’t earned your trust yet?” I cried, exasperated.
“Sorry,” he murmured, looking down at his beat up black Converse.
Ignoring his apology, I went off again. “You claim to be so in love with me, yet you can’t even trust me to be friends with other guys?” I shouted. “That’s really freakin’ pathetic!”
“Well I trusted you last summer, Evalynne. I’d been stupid and naïve and I’d trusted you. And what do you do? You leave me for some sadistic psychopath whose come-on lines were so fake they sounded like he stole them right out of a freakin’ soap opera! Seriously though, that so-called ‘American hero’ was a tool!”
Cole’s words felt like a slap in the face. How dare he ridicule Ash like that right in front of me. How dare he mock him for being in the army. He’d gone to the army to fight for our country and he’d died. So Cole was pretty much deriding Ash’s death. And that made me really angry.
“Ash was more of a hero than you’ll ever be! You can’t even control your own hormones! It’s like you’ve got some sort of testosterone overload or something!” I cried, my voice rising to a whole new volume.
“Oh look, a pinecone!” Shaun said, trying to sound enthusiastic. I knew he was trying to get us to stop fighting, trying to distract us from it. But I refused to let Cole get away with what he said. I would not go down without a fight. Cole had gone too far this time. He could be jealous of Will all he wanted, but by no means could he bring Ash into this. That was what triggered my eruption of fury.
“Shut up, Shaun!” Cole shouted at his friend.
Shaun rolled his eyes and let out a deep sigh. But rather than going against his beliefs and arguing about it, he began to swing, getting higher and higher into the air every time he pumped his legs.
“Don’t yell at Shaun just because you’re mad at me.” I stated, glaring into Cole’s deep dark eyes.
“Yeah, don’t yell at Shaun just because you’re mad at her!” Shaun said, his voice fading in and out and in again as we swung past us.
“Well if he could just be serious for once, then maybe I wouldn’t have to yell at him!” Cole shouted, directing this at Shaun, not me.
“I might be nineteen, but based on my maturity level, I’m only like, six.” Shaun replied, not at all offended by Cole’s remark.
Cole rolled his eyes, crossing his muscular arms over his chest. “More like three,” he muttered under his breath.
“Cole, you need to calm down.” Kristy said, speaking up for the first time since we’d began this huge argument.
“No one asked for your input, Kristy.” Cole retorted sharply. “You and Shaun both need to stay out of this conversation. It doesn’t concern you.”
“Considering that Evalynne’s my best friend, it does concern me.” she remarked evenly, her brown eyes narrowing.
“I’m Cole’s best friend!” Shaun declared, swinging past us once again. “Right, Cole?”
Cole just shook his head, clearly aggravated with this entire situation. “Just kill me now,” he uttered to himself.
“I can tell that you’re frustrated, Cole, so why don’t I make things nice and simple for you?” I said with mock sweetness in my voice. “When you put Ash down, you put me down. And I’m not going to sit around and listen to all of your crap about Ash. I get that you didn’t like him, and that’s just fine. But when you sit here right in front of me and ridicule him like that, it’s not fine. So if this is you trying not to hurt me, then you really suck at it.”
He cringed when I mentioned how he wasn’t succeeding in keeping me from getting hurt. “You’re right. Don’t you get it? This is what I was trying to prove to you at Sadie’s. All I do is hurt you! It’s not intentional, but we just never stop fighting. It’s not your fault, and it’s not my fault. We just don’t seem to be able to hang around each other without arguing. And if we can’t stop arguing, then what makes you think that we’ll ever last? I’m so sorry, Evalynne. I wanted to be with you so badly. Things felt right with you. But I don’t want to waste your time, and I don’t want to waste my time either. I know it’s hard to accept, at least for me it is, but we just weren’t meant for each other. And don’t deny it either, because this whole argument just proved it.”
And I didn’t deny it…because I knew he was right. This was what had began to happen before my parents split. Dad came home later and later, and soon enough in whatever little time they spent together, they argued. And now my own father was off with someone else. Someone who wasn’t my mom.
“So are you saying we should break up then?” I inquired, knowing very well what his answer would be.
Grimly, he nodded. “I think that would be best for the both of us.”
“Alright then,” I said softly. “We’re no longer together.” Once I actually said it out loud, I realized how horrible this was. After all of that heartbreak, after all of that struggle to win him back, after all of that joy when he finally came back…Cole was gone. But like he said, this was what was best for both of us. We weren’t meant to be together after all.
I just didn’t understand it though. When I was with Cole, I wasn’t happy. When I was without Cole, I wasn’t happy. Being with him always started out great, but then it ended horrifically. And being without him…well that just sucked all around, because whenever Cole wasn’t around, I missed him. Yet when he was around, we fought and argued until our lungs grew tired. It didn’t make sense.
We had such a strong love-hate relationship. It was ridiculous! I was finally beginning to understand the expression: ‘Can’t live with him, can’t live without him’. That was exactly how I felt about Cole. No other words could fit my emotions more perfectly than those. Because it was true. I couldn’t live with Cole. It brought me so much stress and irritation that I was about ready to breakdown to just thinking about it. I couldn’t live without Cole either though. When he was away, I felt so much longing, so much desperation for him be with me again.
So what was I supposed to do? Let him go and try to move on or keep him close and try not to fight? Both of those solutions seemed highly impossible.
“Are you guys broken up for real this time? Or are you going to be back together within the next week?” Kristy asked us. “Because all of this on-again-off-again stuff is really confusing.”
“This time is for real. It’s permanent.” Cole stated, his voice unfeigned. That’s how I knew it was for real. By the sound of his voice.
“So if you guys are really over, then what are you going to do about college?” Shaun queried, his feet skidding across the woodchips to stop him from continuing to swing. “After all, you quit to be with Evalynne, and now you two are no more.”
Cole’s face froze over with dismay, and guilt began to wash over me. I’d completely forgotten that Cole had thrown away college for me. I still didn’t get how he could be crazy enough to do that for me. He’d done because he loved me, and I knew that I would’ve done the same for him.
Shaun was the crazy, melodramatic one. You just don’t drop out of college because of a breakup. However, I didn’t know Shaun well enough to judge him, so I didn’t.
“Well maybe they’ll take me back. After all, I didn’t call them to tell them I was dropping out yet. I just left and came here. It was kind of an in the moment thing. I missed two days of class, but I can make them up. I just hope they don’t expel me for leaving like that.” Cole replied. “You on the other hand, are screwed.”
“Why?” Kristy wondered aloud.
“Well I was planning on staying with Cole.” Shaun admitted. “But if he’s going back to college, I can’t.”
“Why don’t you just stay with your family?” I asked him.
“Are you kidding me? If my parents found out that I dropped out, they’d murder me! I can picture it now: I’d tell them I dropped out, they’d act like it was alright and let me stay with them, and the moment I fell asleep, they’d sneak into my room and slit my throat. Then they’d hide the knife in the butler’s room so that he got blamed for it. But that would be pretty cruel. Larry’s like, the best butler of all time.” Shaun said, babbling off at the end. The more conversation I had with Shaun, the more random, funny, and scatter-brained he seemed.
“You have a butler?” Kristy exclaimed. He nodded nonchalantly, as if having a butler was totally normal. “Are you like, rich or something?”
“Well, I wouldn’t call it rich, we’re just…doing well financially.” he replied.
“So in other words, you’re rich.” I remarked. He grinned shyly and glanced away from me, clearly embarrassed to be put on the spot about his family’s wealth. Well that explained why dropping college wasn’t a big deal for him. If he wanted to, he could easily buy his way back in. He had a butler. He was obviously well-off.
“So if you can’t stay with Cole, where are you going to go?” Kristy asked him, changing the subject, which he was obviously grateful for.
“I’m not exactly sure,” he confessed. I wanted to suggest renting out the presidential suite at the Ritz, but I knew this would make him get all sheepish again. It was kind of cute how embarrassed he got when he was put on the spot about his money.
“Well since Cole’s my cousin and he was staying with me anyways, why don’t you just take the guestroom at my place?” Kristy suggested. I knew her well enough to know that she was only making this offer because of the giant crush she obviously had on Shaun.
“Thanks, but I couldn’t just intrude on your family like that.” he said.
“Don’t worry about it. If you’re a friend of Cole’s, you’re a friend of mine.” she assured him with a warm grin. “At least crash there for the night so you’re not sleeping outside.”
Finally, he caved, which evidently thrilled Kristy. “Ok, fine,” he agreed. Kristy unsuccessfully tried to stifle the wide smile that spread across her face, but luckily for her, Shaun didn’t seem to notice.
“Ok, well we should probably head back home now.” Cole said. We all nodded in agreement, noticing how much darker it had gotten since we’d first arrived there. Now the sky was a blanket of blackness hanging above our heads, lit up by hundreds of bright, glowing stars.
So we bid our goodbyes and then went our separate ways.