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Weekend of Lies
“If we don’t call the camp by 1:30, then come find us. Thanks, babe, and be careful with my jeep,” Melanie warns.
“Course I will. I promise nothing will happen.” I respond confidently
Melanie is not so easily reassured. “Okay. It’s just ‘cause I know how the wheel flies around and the back end gets lost with one mistake.”
“I’ll be careful. Don’t worry about it. Have fun!” I insist.
Tonya and I drive away, thankful to be going back to Zeke’s and not staying at a pointless party. We have not been driving for more than 2 minutes when we come to an unexpected bend in the road. I have the jeep moving at a good speed, and as soon as I start to maneuver the turn, I recognize the danger. The back end flies around to the left, pulling us off the road with its momentum. We are heading for a large maple tree. I quickly turn the wheel. It narrowly avoids sideswiping Melanie’s beloved jeep. The car is still not under my control, and sends us over to the right side ditch. I turn back to the left and encounter a steep bank. The jeep goes up on 2 wheels. I recall that jeeps are light and easily flipped. It is in that moment that I honestly think we are going to die. I twist the wheel back to the right, and i feel the impact as all four wheels fall safely to the ground. The jeep and our shaken selves end up in the right side ditch, finally at a standstill. Fractions of a second have passed. I sit there breathing heavily, trying to comprehend what just happened. Tonya looks over at me and blinks calmly. “Holy s***.”
I just nod, my throat closed off. I pull the jeep easily out of the ditch and continue driving.
“Ella Jane! We are not going to just keep going like nothing happened! Pull over! I need to piss!”
“Yes, we are going to keep going,” I tell her calmly. I have the jeep moving under 10 mph, and I make every intention to keep it that way the whole way back to Lake City. “I need something to concentrate on to keep me from breaking down.”
She looks at me. “You’re crazy. But I feel like we’re a lot closer now that we just almost, ah, died together.” I’m surprised at how well she is taking this, because she is known for turning on the water works and having panic attacks.
Tonya laughs it off with her offhanded joke, but my body and mind are both still in shock. I feel like I’m floating above reality, and my heart wants to burst from my chest. I squeeze my eyes shut. We drive the rest of the way in silence, at the cautious pace of an injured tortoise.
When we arrive at the camp, I pull behind the shed, and Tonya and I examine the car. We don’t see anything visibly wrong. We agree not to tell many people. My body is shaking, and my face is void of color.
Tonya and I sit at the fire, acting as if nothing is wrong. Our friends prattle on about normal, useless drama. However, it is comforting to hear their ramblings. Jordan stands up from the fire and goes inside to watch football. I follow him, deciding I need a guy to look the jeep over for damage. I walk up to him, eyes wide.
He looks up at me and smiles. “Did you just seriously drive those girls there for that long? You were gone like an hour! You can’t let them…”
“Jordan!” I cut him off.
Finally, he understands my expression and his face shows concern.
“How much do you know about cars?” I question in a quiet voice.
“Why?!” He sits up straighter in the recliner, and I now have his full, undivided attention.
“We kinda got into a little wreck…” I proceed to narrate the details and finish with, “I seriously thought we were going to die. I’ve never been so scared in my entire life.”
“Shit. You are so freaking retarded! Do you realize what could have happened?!” He jumps out of the chair as he’s saying this.
I take his lecturing because I deserve it and because I know he cares. I do not bother to argue. I squeeze my eyes closed to fight back the tears. My body starts to shake, and I can feel sweat surfacing.
Jordan steps to me and puts his arms around my waist reassuringly, pulling me back against his hard body. He leads me out to the jeep, using his phone as light. Tonya comes over to help, as do the other guys. Even though they can’t find anything wrong with the jeep, I still cannot allow myself to relax. Jordan wraps me in his arms and squeezes my body against his. I bury my face in his chest. I can feel his heart beating double time against my cheek.
He pulls away to look me in the eyes and takes my face in both of his hands. “Ella, please don’t do that again. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost you.”
“There are other girls,” I reply bitterly
Pain shoots through the dark brown depths of his eyes, increasing their intensity as they glare into my own. “Do you honestly believe that?”
“I don’t know what to believe, Jordan.”
“Believe what I’m telling you now. There’s not another girl I want to be with except for you. And the fact that you just implied I wouldn’t care if you died! Really Ella?”
“If you care about me so much and don’t want anyone else, than why do you refuse to give us a title?”
“I’m just not ready yet, El. You know that.”
“Yeah, it’s whatever I guess.”
“Do you really mean that?” His eyes search for mine, but I am busy examining the patterns of rock on the ground.
“Absolutely not. But I’ll wait anyway.” I look at him now so he sees the hurt in my expression.
“Ella don’t do this to me. I like you a lot. You’re one of the best friends I’ve ever had and spending time with you is amazing. But you know how my last experience with a relationship went.”
I can feel my face flush with heat as he compares me to his ex. “Jordan I am nothing like Alexis! What do I have to do to prove that to you? All you do is compare me to her. She’s a freaking cheerleader, Jordan! There is absolutely nothing Alexis and I have in common except for you.”
A faint smile passes his lips at my cheerleader comment. His face reveals hurt and confusion as he processes what I said. He closes his eyes as if to block out painful memories.
“I don’t think you’re like her. You’re better in a million ways. And I’m sorry. Just give me a little time. I promise it won’t be long.”
I nod, feeling a lump forming in my throat. He pulls me close against his hard, but childish muscles. I snake my arms around his neck and press my face into his hoodie, letting his scent calm me. He strokes my hair back from my face before brushing my lips with a soft kiss.
“Walk with me?” he asks, holding out his hand.
I nod, take his hand, and entwine my fingers in his.