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A Tangle in the Heart [Part 1]

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Some time ago, I made a decision that would ruin my life: I decided not to go to college. I'm currently employed at the local library, doing the most monotonous work anyone could ever do. My father resented me for not going to college, and we go through most of the day avoiding each other. I never did anything right with my parents, I've noticed. They wanted me to attend a college, but I work by alphabetizing college books. They wanted me to get along with our past neighbor, Tarah "Tangle" Waters, but I planted bottles of conditioner on her window sill every week. They also wanted me to move out, but with the salary I'm getting, I can't even pay the light bill.
It's eleven at night on a Sunday, and I've just finished watching a George Lopez marathon. I always stay up and watch TV, because I never eat dinner with my family. They usually leave leftovers on the island counter, and I come down every night when they're asleep to eat. I don't think we've had a real conversation since graduation. While I'm eating the bits of spaghetti left, someone knocks on the door. What the heck? It's eleven at night and there's a rainstorm, who would visit now?
I look through the curtains and see a lean girl with long, dark brown hair drenched in rainwater. She had green eyes and a small pink jacket on. She's not an axe murderer, I presume. I open the door and wait for her to say something.
"Hey Colin," she smiles. She crosses her arms in front of her chest, probably chilly from the weather. I juggle the idea of inviting her in, but I push it away, because I can’t even remember her.
"Hey," I nod. I scan my memory for her name, but nothing is coming to my head at all.
She laughs and pushes her bangs to the side. "It's Tarah, remember?" she reminds me. "Tangle, was that what you and your friends called me?"
I'm set back for a moment, because the Tarah I remembered wasn't this. Tarah was small, had acne, and tangled long hair. I remembered when Stew, one of my old friends, pretended to hit on her, running his fingers through her hair. My friends and I who dared him would watch on the sidelines and laugh. That day, she went home early, and my mother told me I should go over to cheer her up, because she was crying. Being the delinquent I was and still am, I didn't.
"Oh yeah," I awkwardly laugh. "What are you doing back here? I thought you moved two years ago." I didn't mean to make it sound so rude, but it did, and I didn't regret it after hearing it.
"Before I left," she explains, "your parents said I could come by if I ever needed anything." She heaved out a breath. "Well, Colin, I'm really in a need for a place to stay now, so if you'd get your parents that would be grand."
"They're asleep," I tell her. "Maybe you should get a hotel and drop by tomorrow morning."
"Colin, your hate for me from our childhood, for some reason I do not know of, cannot stand in front of what I need right now," she orders.
Wanna bet, Tarah? I hated her then and just because she looks like the woman of my dreams doesn't mean I won't hate her now. The girl cried all the time and would blame her dreadful life on me and my friends. It was never my fault the girl was made fun of; she was such an easy target. I shake my head no before closing the door.
"Colin, please," she pleaded. "I need a home."
I open the door back and she starts to shiver. Her lips are turning a tint of blue and I lead her into the couch. "Look, I'm only letting you in, because it's freezing out there, but you need to find another home tonight, Tarah. Where are your parents anyway?"
She shakes her head in dismay and scoffs under her breath, "Same old Colin." I wonder what she meant by that, but then she continues, "I was kicked out."
"For what?" I exclaim, surprised. "Making an A minus?"
"Funny," she sarcastically muttered, "but it's more than that. It's too much to explain for a guy with a brain as minuscule as yours. I don't think you would be able to handle it."
Soon enough, my mother thunders down, wrapping her robe around her body. "Tarah Waters is that you?" she bursts with positivity. She comes to hug Tarah, who is dripping wet on the sofa. "How long has Colin been letting you sit here all drenched like that? Colin, have some manners! Get Tarah a T-shirt and a blanket, please."
I roll my eyes and go to my closet and find an old shirt and a blanket stored on the top shelf. I return with them in my hand to Tarah. They'd been talking, and I prayed that my mother didn't let her stay. "Would you like some tea or hot chocolate, Tang--I mean, Tarah?" I purposely added in for comic effect.
"No, it's fine," she sniffles. I sit at the dining table while my mom wraps her in the blanket like a little child.
"We told you sweetheart," my mom gives her a warm smile. "If you ever needed anything, we'd be happy to take care of it for you."
My mouth drops that my mom would just take in Tangle, like a stray cat or something. My mom turns to me and says, "Colin, clean your room right quick and let Tarah stay in there for a week or so. You can stay on the sofa."
"What!?" I yell. "Mom, if you want her to stay, then--"
"Then she will stay," she interrupts. "Now get to your room. Tarah must be freezing."
My mother's back turns to me to hug Tarah, who is sticking her tongue at me as I'm going upstairs. I think I'm in way more trouble than I suspect I'm in.
After tidying my room, I go downstairs with a blanket and one pillow to go to bed at last. Tarah is alone, her suitcase is in the corner, and her phone is pressed against her ear.
"Nick, they found out," she was saying to the person on the other line. "I can't be there this week...Your house is the first place they'll ever look...I'm staying with an old neighbor, and I should be there next week...Yes, I promise...I miss you, too...All right, I love you...Bye."
So that's how it goes? Little Miss Perfect over here ran away from home to be with her beloved Romeo. Did I ever mention how I hated love stories like that? Girl loves guy and guy loves girl. Their love is forbidden, but is so strong to overcome hindrances that end in death. Whatever genius thought that was a good story was definitely demented. Tangle will not survive here, I promise you that.
"The room's done, Tangle," I throw a pillow on the sofa.
She sneers and grunts thanks to me. Before she treks upstairs, I tell her, "Oh and don't bark tonight. I've got work tomorrow."



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