Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Chapter 19: Change of things
Chapter 19: Change of things (Wattpad)
“Harvey! Where’s Niq – oh, there you are. Come here, both of you. Why the hell are you so wet?”
Delsey tugged at their identical shirts and put it in their, yes, identical bags. She pulled her short, curly hair to one side of her shoulder and appraised the twins with eyes like her father Lawrence’s. “What have you been doing outside?”
As the midgets scrambled to an explanation, I’m on the floor, nibbling on my cookie and tried to pay attention on the spin the bottle game. Lorraine started this after drinking her softdrink and everyone tagged along. And everyone seemed to be intensely focused, too.
Well, not everyone.
“Avery.” Lorraine tugged on my arm. “You’re mentally absent again. You have been since you came downstairs. Di my sis freak you out?” I managed a chuckle and said, “Everything’s fine.” I gave her a smile for reassurance and we both watched Kat do her dare – don’t ask what it is, you won’t believe me. As everyone burst to laughter, my mind wandered off again several miles from here to a different place.
To the park.
I still can’t believe it, even though the undeniable facts are there. He’s gorgeous and I do enjoy my time with him. I really do, he makes me laugh – makes my blood boil – but he makes me smile and other things. He’s always asking nonsense questions but I like it, somehow. And he’s…different. He’s just…perfect.
Put two and two together, there goes my common sense, gone with the wind to who knows where.
I’m so stupid. I think I’ve been blinding myself all along.
My thoughts were pierced by a raucous peal of laughter all around me and I was jolted back to reality. I turned my head to the side and found everyone’s eyes on me, gleeful expressions on their faces. Expecting the obvious, I looked down at the empty bottle and found it pointing at me.
Great. Just what I needed.
“Truth or dare?” they all said in chorus. I better not screw this up – my cousins may be head over heels for guys, but they’re smart. Guardian angel, I hope you’re there.
“Dare.” I said with my stomach churning in horror. Instantly, they all went about their ideas, cutting off one another and grabbing my arm and telling me what to do. Beyond all the chaos, I heard Kat whine, “Let’s ask Avery why she’s not telling us about her boyfriend.”
Oh, no. Fuck, fuck. I averted my eyes from her and pretended I didn’t hear anything. None of them did – they were still in a colossal disorder. But my heartbeats didn’t slow down.
Kathlyn must’ve heard her father and I talk earlier! Aaargh. Please. Let Kat keep that valuable information to herself. If she so much as hint someone…oh, God.
I’ll use my fist to rearrange Uncle Zed’s teeth. Who said I can’t? Smart people can also be tough. I’ll have to talk to Kat alone later.
Delsey raised up her voice and said, “Hey! Would you please keep it down? Decide what to do with Avery and just move on. No need to have such a ruckus.” I emitted a small sigh of relief. Delsey had been always like that. She’s the oldest in our generation – twenty-two years old – and so she’s the one always taking care of us, watching over and reminding us to be careful. She’s always the one I ask advice from. Lorraine said in her singer voice, “I really have a good one, guys. Listen here – ”
My phone started ringing.
There was a moment of intense silence wherein they stared at my vibrating pocket with thousands of questions in their eyes. Hervey said, “Why aren’t you answering, Avery? Are you scared?”
You bet I am.
I hesitated for a second more and brought out my phone, holding my breath when Elaine said, “Put it on loudspeaker.”
She’s usually a good cousin.
I clenched my teeth and braced myself to see his name.
I exhaled, answered the goddamned call and put it on loudspeaker. “Hey, Case. You really scared – ”
“You and me! Sitting on a tree! K-I-S-S-I-N-G! You tell her – ”
Pure terror shot through me and I fumbled with my phone and managed to put it on handset option and fucking jammed the cursed phone on my ear, “Why the hell are you singing Hey Daydreamer out loud – ”
“Theresa? Is that you? Why the – What – ”
“Avery! If you can see what we’re seeing right now – ”
“Nicole? Where are you all – ”
“Oh, nothing. We’re just chilling out here at Case’s place and looking at you kissing your boyfriend crazy in a magazine – ”
“WHAT? Magazine?! What – ”
“Ave?” Elaine looked at me with curiosity all over her face. “Is there some kind of emergency – ” I covered the phone with my other hand and regarded all of them. I probably look like a wild animal, but I don’t care. What Lexi said was – that was just –
“I’ll be right back.” I told all of them, standing up and heading to the door. I told my friends over the phone, “Just hang in there, guys – ”
“Avery?” Oh, Jesus Christ, what now? I turned my head to the dining table where Mom was and sent her an annoyed scowl and I mouthed, ‘What?’
“Could you get the magazines I ordered from the gate? And don’t scowl at me, darling.”
“Magazines? Like, Entertainment Weekly, Daily Candy and others like that?”
“Yes, and a bunch more. Could you get it, please?”
“Sure.” I love you, Mom. I went out the door as quick as a flash and closed the door behind me.
“What the fuck is going on – ”
“We told you, Ave – ” Cassie was interrupted by Lexi who said in an excited voice, “Looks like you had fun, Ave!” They all burst to laughter and I know for a fact that they have tears in their eyes right now. But I don’t – don’t – care about any wretched thing at the moment. My heart is pounding really fast and I’m hyperventilating in a bad way.
This is not happening to me. It’s not. In just about a second, I will wake up and this will be all a very, very bad dream. A nightmare.
“Ave, maybe I should tell you properly.” Nicole started saying and I can distinctly hear her saying to the others, “Shut up, you guys! She’s freaking out!” She went back to me, “We’re partying here, but we know how you are with you family so we didn’t pressure you to come.”
Okay, fuck this. This isn’t a bloody nightmare. It’s real.
“So, uhm. We were reading some magazines like we always do when we hang out and we were…surprised.” She laughed nervously – she’s avoiding the subject. Of all my friends, Nicole is the most diplomatic, the good girl. She’s the angel. Nicole avoiding the topic is not a good sign.
“Say it to me straight, Cole. What is it?”
‘Uhm…well. According to Hello! Magazine and a dozen others, you and Travis went out on Friday afternoon and you had a date. But we knew that. These pictures, though. These pictures of you eating ice cream, his arm around you…the tree, it was just…wow.”
The whole world exploded before my eyes.
Pictures. From…from the tree.
My mind and body felt numb and I couldn’t process the information properly. This is too freaky to be true. I should’ve seen someone. We would’ve seen that someone who shot the pictures. It’s impossible. There has to be rational explanation for what is happening right now.
“Pictures…from – from the park? Ridge park?” I asked in a voice I couldn’t even recognize. Nicole hesitated, seemed to argue with herself and decided to say, “Yeah, where they sell those ridiculously priced ice creams.”
I took a deep breath and forced my eyes to look at the mailbox at out front gate – which was stuffed with a package wrapped in brown paper. The size looks too perfect for it to be a coincidence. I groaned my heart out.
“Ave?” came from my phone was Nicole’s sympathetic voice. “I just figured that you should probably know before your family does. So, you know, you’ll have warning. And it’s your choice to tell them – it’s your bloody boyfriend.” When I didn’t respond, still shocked to the core, she said worriedly, “Ave, you okay?”
“Were there other pictures? And what does the magazine say about me?”
“Magazines, Ave. There’s more than one and they all – oh. Nevermind that. There’s one with both of you inside the shop, walking through the park and I think I see his car in the distance. Oh, by the way, is it true that his plate number is personalized?”
“Yeah. It’s TAW 018.” I supplied lifelessly.
“Wow. And, oh right, you were asking. So, just a sec.” I heard the flipping of pages and she went back to me, “This one’s the same, but he has his arm around you, looking at you and he’s smiling. You look sweet!”
I couldn’t breathe.
“Go on, Cole.”
“Right, sorry. You’re on the grass, eating ice cream. Then he’s tickling you. Then there are lots of others. Seriously, Ave, you were playing tag? Then this one, he’s up on the tree, holding out his hand for you. You both look fantastic. You look like you came out of a movie or something.” She flipped the next page and paused. No. Please, God, no. That pause is bad. Very bad. Please don’t tell me that they have a photo of that, too. Nicole said in a squeaky voice,
“You’re both up the tree now. He…he has his chin on your chin your shoulder and the next picture, you were…uhm. You were actually…” I heard her take a quick breath, “Do you want me to say the truth or cushion you with a lie?”
No. No, no, no. I took a deep, deep breath and said,
“I’ll just…call you back.” She responded to me immediately, “Sure. Don’t stress over it too much, okay? These things happen and just…just make sure you won’t have a heart attack when you see it and…Ave?”
“I’m glad you found him.”
“I know.” I replied feebly. “Bye.” The line went dead and I put the phone back to my pocket with numb fingers. Breathing rapidly, I took small steps towards our gate and faced the package.
Okay, what was it that Uncle Zed always say when there’s a challenge?
No guts, no glory, my dear niece. You have to do whatever you have to do with confidence. Same goes for no pain, no gain. It’s quiet the same. So, just wing it.
Confidence. Yes, got it. I took a few more steps forward and with trembling hands, got the package. Now that it’s in my hands, there’s no doubt that it’s a bunch of magazines. Steeling myself, I tore off the brown paper and a large streak of it came off, leaving me to look at a photo of Travis and I kissing under the canopy of trees from People Magazine. Front cover.