On Friday afternoon, when I finally got out of school, I hopped into my car and started driving to Hillside. I decided to surprise Emmalee with a visit. It’s been a month since we last saw each other and I was dying to have her in my arms again. Even just for a little while.
The small bouquet of red roses and a plush teddy bear that I picked up on the way were sitting on the passenger seat next to me.
It was getting dark by the time I entered the city and I was hoping my girlfriend will be home like she said in the text earlier. We were texting pretty much constantly unless she had a ballet practice.
I finally arrived to the address she gave me a while ago and got out of my car. I grabbed the flowers and started walking towards the house. I was so excited to see her again and to see her face when she sees me show up at her door unexpectedly.
My excitement was quickly replaced by a complete shock when I entered their property and saw my girlfriend kissing another guy on the stairs.
I probably stood there for a few seconds, not able to say a single word.
My heart was breaking in my chest as I watched them getting more and more passionate.
“You have got to be kidding me!”
Those were the words I eventually got out of me before I turned around and walked back to my car.
“Kevin!” Emmalee finally noticed me and started running towards me.
It was too late. There is nothing she can say for me to forgive her. I threw the flowers on the ground and drove away. I never want to see her again.
I picked up the flowers and tears started rolling down my face.
What have I done?!
I stared into the distance, watching the rear lights of Kevin’s car until they disappeared.
I don’t know how long I stood there like this. I completely forgot about Caleb until he stepped closer, “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry?!” I looked at him angrily. Was I angry at him or myself? I wasn’t sure. “You’re sorry? Why the hell would you do that? Why did you kiss me?”
“Are you seriously blaming me for this?” Caleb raised his voice and spread his arms in the air, “you are the one who kept her boyfriend a secret and went out on dates with me! Call me when you make up your mind, I’m out of here!”
“Yea, don’t expect me to call you any time soon!” I yelled after him as he was walking away.
I ran into my room, ignoring my dad’s question about my day and shut the door behind me. I dropped on my bed, sobbing. How could I let this happen?
When I finally put myself together, I texted Kevin. Again and again. No response…
Days went by and I basically spent them locked in my room, crying.
Caleb ignored me at school and I ignored him. It was bad.
Two weeks later, after my mom’s constant questions, I finally told her what happened.
“I never heard from Kevin, why can’t he forgive me? It was just one mistake.”
“Oh honey,” she said and pulled me in for a hug, “it’s not easy to forgive. You broke his heart.”
“Not even if he loves me?” I looked up at her
“Especially when he loves you, sweetheart.”
“He did love me,” I looked down, “how could I do that to him.”
“You’re young, honey. Everyone makes mistakes, just try to remember the good days. He was your first love.”
I nodded sadly. I will always remember my first kiss with Kevin under the pergola.
“Happy birthday, pumpkin,” dad smiled from the dining room table when I was walking down the stairs on Saturday morning.
“Thanks,” I growled. I was exhausted and definitely didn’t feel like celebrating.
“You better cheer up, you have people coming over later,” mom added.
“I said I don’t want a party.”
“It’s not a party, just a few people from school. Your friend Sarah helped me with the organization.”
“Great,” I put two pancakes on my plate. I knew I wasn’t going to eat them, but I learned how to trick my parents into thinking I am actually eating. I’m just cutting my food up into million pieces and keep the conversation going. It works great. When we’re done, they don’t realize there are still two whole pancakes on the plate because they’re cut up.
“What’s with you lately? You seem to always be tired,” mom asked worriedly and took a bite of her maple syrup covered pancake.
Must be nice to be able to eat like this and not gain weight, I thought to myself.
“Nothing, I’m just tired from gym and I have a ton of stuff to do for school like every day.”
“Maybe you should ease up on the workouts,” dad joined, “you don’t look so healthy.”
“Here we go again,” I raised my voice and dropped my fork on the plate, “thank God I’m eighteen today so I don’t have to listen to this anymore!”
I started to walk away, back to my room to do my morning workout routine, but my mother didn’t let me walk away without saying I will have to listen to them as long as I live under their roof.
I hated the idea of a party, the cake and ton of food made me feel sick. Everything that required me to pretend I’m eating was exhausting for me. I have been doing it for months and some people, especially my mom and Emmalee, are starting to ask questions. I will have to work harder to hide my eating habits.
Around one O’clock that Saturday, people from school started showing up. I put on an oversized sweatshirt and black leggings and joined them in the living room.
My parents left the house right after we cut the cake to ‘give us teenagers some space’.
Emmalee was still kind of avoiding me after our little fight at the gym few weeks ago. We spoke but it was very short. I’m surprised she even showed up today, especially when Caleb is here too. I know things are still awkward between them after Kevin caught them kissing.
“Happy birthday,” she sat down next to me and handed me a little box.
“Thanks,” I said and smiled. I hated fighting with my best friend.
I opened the flat box and pulled out a framed photo of us. We were happy there.
“Thought I’d remind you how we were.”
“Still are, I’m just going through something right now.”
“Why don’t you talk to me about it?”
“You wouldn’t understand, you can’t relate.”
Emmalee sighed helplessly, “just know that you can talk to me about anything. Even if you think I can’t relate, I can listen, you know.”
I nodded and hugged her.
“By the way,” I cleared my throat and leaned closer to her, “Caleb has been staring at you since you got here.”
She looked in his direction, then back at me and sighed, “that’s all we’ve been doing. Staring at each other.”
“You should talk to him.”
“And tell him what?”
“I don’t know,” I shrugged my shoulders, “clear the air. It’s pretty obvious you want to and so does he.”
“I guess I’ll have to eventually,” she nodded, “not today, though. Today is your birthday! Eighteen, girl! Can you believe it?”
“Finally,” I laughed and my best friend joined me.
“Let’s go dance, have some fun.”
We stood up from the couch and joined the few girls that were dancing in the middle of the living room. All the boys remained on the couch, watching us.
As we were wiggling our bodies to dance music, I suddenly started to feel very weak. The music faded and I heard a high pitch noise in my ears. Then everything went black…
We were having fun when, all of a sudden, Caroline dropped on the floor in the middle of her living room. Everyone around stopped what they were doing and stared down on her lifeless body.
It took me a second to realize what happened and then I dropped on my knees next to her.
“Somebody call 911!” I yelled into the crowd.
“I’ll drive her to the hospital,” Caleb picked her up and carried her outside, “it will be faster.”
“I’m coming with you,” I put on my jacket and pulled my phone out of the pocket. I dialed Nora’s number, “Caroline collapsed, we are taking her to the hospital. Come now.”
“What happened,” she gasped.
“I don’t know, she just fainted.”
“We’ll be right there.”
Dean and Nora were already in the hospital lobby when we arrived.
When the staff saw Caleb carrying Caroline in his arms, they immediately pulled in a portable bed so he can put her on it. My heart sunk when I saw here laying there like this.
Nora was standing next to her daughter while Dean talked to one of the nurses.
Caleb and I took a seat in the waiting room.
“She will be ok,” Caleb tried to comfort me.
“I hope so,” I looked at him with glossy eyes, “thank you for your help. Again.”
“Don’t mention it, everyone would do the same thing.”
I shook my head, “that’s not true. You were the one who stepped up from all the people there.”
Two hours later, the doctor finally came out and told us she is awake and her parents can go see her. Apparently she is dehydrated and malnourished.
Dean turned to me, “Em, you should go home. Come see Caroline tomorrow.”
I nodded in agreement. I really wanted to see her now, but I understood she needs to rest.
“I’ll drive you,” Caleb offered and put on his black jacket.
“Caleb,” Dean stopped him, “thank you for taking care of our daughter. We are very grateful.”
“You’re welcome, Mr. Reece.”
“Call me Dean.”
Caleb and I walked out of the hospital. It was a sunny, but chilly day.
“Do you want to go for a walk?” I asked nervously, “I don’t feel like going home right now.”
“I was hoping you would say that,” he smiled at me.
We drove to the beach and decided to clear our heads there. We were talking mostly about Caroline at first.
“I’ve noticed she is not eating much lately. I told her I was worried about her but she snapped at me. I should have done something to help her,” I expressed my feelings.
“It’s not your fault, Em. Don’t do that to yourself.”
“I can’t help it.”
Caleb casually grabbed my hand and I let him. It felt good to feel his support. We didn’t mention the incident with Kevin and he didn’t ask about him at all. It was for the better. Maybe we can start over. With no lies this time.