To be honest I don't know why I thought I could get away with it, but I did. I thought I was invincible, unstoppable, merely indestructible. You could have told me "no" or "don't" a million times, but if you didn't have reason behind your words, they meant nothing to me. I knew the consequences were high and everything I cherished was on the line. I can't explain to you exactly what I did or why I did it because you wouldn't understand. All you need to know is that I was invincible, unstoppable, merely indestructible, and got away with it.
A buzz vibrates against my left shoulder. Buzz- pause- buzz. I answer to the urge and I grab my phone off my bed, to see a series of texts from Scrubs.
The first reads, “Hayden, are you up yet?” Then another, “I’m on my way.” Followed by “come outside asap.” The latest reading “I’m coming in to drag you out of bed. Not kidding”.
Scrubs, professionally known as Scarlett, is my closest friend. We didn’t grow up together but freshman year of high school revealed how our personalities fit together like pieces of a puzzle. ‘Scrubs’ comes from a story she told me one of the first times we hung out. Sitting in the bleachers of our school’s soccer field and she asked me if I got a lot of playing time during my games.
“Yeah, of course. It’s the freshman team, everyone plays. That’s how the coaches see who’s good.”
“I got kicked off the team”, her response was random and reflected her ever running mind.
“What? You played on the high school team?” I asked.
“Nope, I got kicked off the park district team when I was six”, letting an embarrassed laugh escape her lips.
“They don’t kick a six year old off a team coached by a bunch of dads.”
“Unless you sit in the goal picking flowers.”
We both laughed, then she said “I also used to stand on offense and cheer on my team mates as they ran past me to get the ball. I didn’t want to run after it.”
“Explains why you’re on cheerleading.”
“Never a bench warmer, just kicked me off.”
“Aw, you never got to be a scrub.” I laughed. She didn’t reciprocate that laugh, just stared at me with those caramel eyes.
“A benchwarmer, someone who’s on the team but doesn’t get to play.”
That’s when Scarlett became Scrubs.
Momentarily, my bedroom door swings open, returning closed, revealing a five foot three figure walking towards me.
“Dude, why aren’t you up yet? I thought we were going biking through Waterfall Glen today.”
Her face is in no way pleased to see me in my current position, still laying in bed in my plaid pajamas, my eyes struggling to remain open. Her hair is pulled back in two neatly executed french braids, revealing the near flawless symmetry of her facial bone structure.
I can’t help but say, “breaking and entering is illegal, I could call the cops, you know”.
But I shouldn’t be one to make empty threats, if the cops came, I’d be the one in trouble. Giving a sigh of aggravation, she throws me the shirt and shorts I had laid out on my desk.
“I’ve never seen this picture”, she examines the frame on my desk, her back facing me.
I quickly put on the shirt and change my shorts while she is distracted by her finding.
“It’s always been there, maybe you missed it the last time you broke into my room”.
“It’s charming”, a giggle parts her lips.
“It was taken when I was five.”
She studies the picture of my dad and I, we were on the merry go round at the state zoo. I sat on my dad’s lap as he sat on the lap of a wooden zebra. I wore a baby blue shirt with brown buttons that matched the blue accents in my dad’s khakis.
“You were such a chubby child”.
“At least I didn’t get kicked out of the no-cut soccer league”, I rebut, rinsing the toothpaste out of my bathroom sink.
“Are you almost ready?” She peeks her head around the corner of my bathroom door.
“Yep”, I reply walking past her and swinging down the spiral staircase.
I could hear the pitter patter of her feet behind me, on my heels and into the kitchen. The smell of cold coffee emanates through the kitchen from the pot my mom must have made before work.
I hate coffee yet love the smell of cold in the morning because it sparks flashbacks of my five year old self running into the kitchen before school, running up to my dad as he cooks pancakes on the stove. I would hang on to his soft cotton pant leg as he attempts to flip the half cooked, chocolate chip pancakes. Walking them to the table, with me still wrapped around his calf like a koala. If I had known that the time to let go would pull me off his leg, I would’ve tightened my death grip.
Scrubs hands me my black nike running shoes as she opens the back door, allowing the cool mid-morning breeze to creep up the exposed skin on my arms.
“Come on slow poke. If you want to lose track of time and submerge yourself in your thoughts, the biking trail is only a ten minute drive away”.
I follow her to the 1996 Ford, parked in my driveway, walking barefoot on the newly filled tar. I do want to lose myself, not focus on the reality and routine of this uneventful suburb. Eleven years ago today, this undeserving town lost my father to a freak horse accident. I can’t stand to remember the false sympathy given to my mother by the news reporters and journalists who repeatedly came to our door asking for details about the ‘freak accident’. In this sappy old town, the significance of my last name is: oh, the guy who was killed when a horse fell on him. Having that tragic occurrence define how my father is remembered makes me feel like his life is obsolete to outside eyes. The value of his life shouldn’t be lessened by all the attention given to his death. He is and always will be more than the way he died, but that won’t make the nightly news.
Scrubs turns up the country music in the car, to mask the rumbling sounds her Ford makes when it hits over forty-five mph. I ask her about the arrogant jock she’s currently into. Of course, I don’t describe him with that choice of words, to her face, but they hide in my mind. Her high cheek bones turn pink on the bottom as she smiles and tells me about their date last night. I long for her to blush when she thinks of me; us. If she knew the secret I’ve kept from her, horror would deform her face, replacing admiration.
“I know it was only us getting ice cream and talking, but he’s so funny, sweet, personal. He asked me about my life, instead of only telling me about himself”.
Wow shocker I think in my head, by my mouth follows with “aw Scrubs, good for you. You must actually like him”.
“I don’t know”, she says but she’s blushing once again. “It probably won’t ever turn into something serious”. She paused momentarily, but before I could respond she blurted, “but it would awesome if it did. Ugh, sometimes I just really want a boyfriend. Or at least someone who truly likes me for me” she paused again, “wait… nevermind I take it back, that sounds so sappy”.
She focused her attention back to the road, her expression was one I’m familiar with. When she gets embarrassed, she slightly scrunches her nose and moves her lips back and forth, crossing from right to left. She parks the car, backing into a spot like she always does, and goes to unhook the bikes from the back of the car.
My wheels rumble against the rocky trail as I accelerate to the beat of the song streaming through my headphones. Scrubs and I always bike this trail when we need to clear our heads and escape reality for a while. I try to think of positive thoughts, about my future or my mom but all I can think about is, what is Scrubs thinking right now? I can’t help but feel a slight envy creep into my chest every time she mentions the other guys she’s into. She’s such a great girl, she has so much going for her in life, she’s naturally beautiful, a talented musician, exceptionally smart in school and she has this strange sense of humor, I can’t even describe it, but when she laughs I can’t help but laugh too. This may sound crazy, I can’t believe I’m admitting this to myself, but I could treat Scrubs so much better than all those stupid jocks could. The way they treat her, they show her off, expose her to their friends and then move onto the next girl, leaving her shattered into a million pieces. Imagine a million beautiful atoms that come together to make a flawless person, how could someone destroy such art. I’m now the scrub, waiting for a chance I’ll never get.
I feel my arm scratch against the frosted grass as my body flings behind me. My bike falls beside, wheels continuing to spin. Reality literally hits me then. Laying here on the ground, I am destructible. I can break into a million beautiful pieces, too. I can’t admit whatever feelings I have to her because if anything ever happened between us, I would break her heart. I would break it just as badly as the airhead jocks would, maybe even worse.
After my dad died, I made the worst mistake of my life. If I could change what happened that day, the day I took something I couldn’t replace, the flawed action that haunts me day and night, I wouldn’t have become a criminal. I was told by doing it, my father would be remembered as a hero, a family man, in full spotlight like he deserved. But the subsequent was none of that. If Scrubs ever found out what I did, she’d question who I am, who I’ve become, just like I do every time I meet a mirror.
All you can really know is that I was invincible, unstoppable, merely indestructible, and I can never get away from it.