She sat in bed, glancing at her clock. It said it was 3 in the morning, and she believed it; she was just wished that the people upstairs who were having a very loud party would shut up. Her head was pounding. Her heart was thumping. Grumbling, she brushed the covers off her legs and stood, walking towards the bathroom; but when she heard the noise on her fire escape, she stopped.
He was just sitting there, just staring into her window like it was the most normal thing ever. For them, it was.
“Can I come in?”
He arched an eyebrow. “Ouch.” And instead of listening to her answer, he hooked on leg through her window, climbing into her room. Looking around, he said, “Nice room. But you got noisy neighbors.”
“What are you doing here?”
“Why don’t you figure it out yourself?”
Berry hated reading people’s minds. It always left her with a headache, and she felt like she was invading people’s private lives. She didn’t need to know what people thought about. But right now, she was curious.
…soft skin, soft lips, soft…everything.
It didn’t take a mastermind to figure out what he was thinking about.
“So you just came here because you’re attracted to me?”
He laughed. “No. I came here because I haven’t seen you in years.”
“You could’ve waited 5 more hours to see me in school.”
“Yeah—I could’ve. But I didn’t. You wanna know why, Shea?”
After a moment’s hesitation, she shrugged, but she wasn’t so sure she wanted to know. What if it was what she thought it was?
I missed you, Shea. We had unfinished business.
She winced. “There was no unfinished business.”
His look suggested he knew she was lying.
There had been nothing but unfinished business since he’d left. It was like she had lost a chunk of her heart—but it was a chunk of friendship, a friendship that Slaughter hadn’t been interested in, leaving Berry empty and ultimately alone, something she hated since the day her mom had left. That had been an awful day, a day she had tried her hardest to forget.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
His gaze didn’t falter.
“Stop it. I mean it, Slaughter. Stop it.”
You know why I left.
“You’re right. But what I don’t know is why you’re here. So leave before my brother walks in and throws your ass out.”
“Your brother is gonna play cavalry?” he asked, an expression of disbelief on his face.
“He will if you don’t get out!” As emphasis to her words she pointed a perfectly manicured nail at the window. “And don’t get caught.”
It was annoying how loudly he thought. He couldn’t calm down his thoughts. I was just sitting there, innocently watching him, and I heard: I can feel you watching me, Shea.
From that moment on, nothing would ever be the same between me and Slaughter. It wasn’t a friendship, as I had been made painfully aware by his thoughts, but it was just two people who were lonely, who needed someone to be a part of their pain. For a while I thought I was okay with that, but when I learned I wasn’t, it came out of nowhere.
I was sitting in bed, looking out the window when he appeared on the fire escape. This had been happening for months. We would talk. We would play card games and do homework together. Then he asked me if I thought we were friends.
He’d asked before. He had always told me we weren’t when I shrugged in response. That day I said, “Why can’t we be?”
That was the last day I saw Jacob Slaughter. It was also the day I found out my father had overdosed and my mother wasn’t coming back.
Gabby and Berry met before homeroom the next morning. The first girl was wearing heavy black makeup with killer combat boots along with a dress that had lacey sleeves leading up to the shoulders. Dropping down from there, a black and red dress went down to her knees and met her boots. The latter girl was wearing sneakers, blue jeans, and a black T-shirt. Gabby shook her head at her best friend.
“You need to go shopping.”
Berry rolled her eyes. “What I need is my sister to stop stealing my clothes.”
“Come on—the torture’s about to start.”
They managed to land in their seats right before the bell rang. Berry glanced behind her. Slaughter winked, but was managing to keep his thoughts under control…for now. For a moment Berry closed her eyes, focusing all of her being on the deep, purely male voice of Jacob Slaughter. Her whole body shifted, but no one noticed anything different about her. In everyone else’s eyes, she was sitting straight forward, watching the teacher call roll. But inside, Berry was folding herself inside out.
Hey, Shea. Teacher just called your name.
Jeez. She could read minds—that meant she was supposed to gather actual information about the deep inner thoughts of anyone she wanted. Slaughter was making that very difficult for her. It seemed every time she read his mind, it was because he wanted her to.
“Here,” she mumbled, shaking herself of her trance. Her head throbbed and she took a deep breath, ignoring the stabbing pain in her temples.
Jacob Slaughter was going to pay for the confusion he had caused her. He was going to pay dearly. That was all Berry could promise herself right now.
She swerved, accidentally running into Corey Traylor.
“Watch it, Shea,” he said.
But she didn’t hear him. Instead, she blindly wandered over to the grass that the track she had been running on surrounded and collapsed. The voices pounded loudly into her head—it was a sea of voices, male and female, young and old, flooding her mind. This…this had never happened to her before. Nausea crept up on her as she sat there, head between her knees, trying to calm down the voices in her head. These voices were all too real.
Even as the acid in her stomach violently overflowed from her lips, she knew that something was…wrong. What was happening? Why were these voices attacking her?
No…not another voice. Not another one. Shut up, shut up.
“Shea! Can you hear me?!”
She felt hands on her shoulders. A broken sob coming from her chest, she shook off the hands, tightening the grip she had on her head as if her strength would hold together her splitting head.
No… No more voices. Stop. Stop. It hurts. It hurts too badly. Stop.
“Shea! Answer me! Somebody, get the nurse.”
If Berry had been outside her body, watching. She wouldn’t have seen herself curled up like she thought she was. Instead, she would have seen her body spread out in the grass, horizontal, eyes staring up, wide open, to the sky. Words and voices—loud voices—were still attacking her from the inside. To onlookers, she looked nearly dead. Even though her eyes were open, she saw nothing but black, felt nothing but the fuzzy pain in her head.
“Dammit, Shea. Berry. Answer me.”
Once upon a time I would have thought Slaughter had a crush on me. I was young. He was interesting and mysterious and it was a terrifyingly amazing concept to imagine him interested in me. I would have completely reciprocated the feelings…I think. As it was, he wasn’t even a little intrigued by me. When I got over the slight pain that accompanied the thought, it was easy to hang around with him, hope that maybe, one day, he would develop…some sort of feelings.
Even if the feelings had been friendship I would have accepted it happily. I had no friends. Having a teaser of what friendship would be like and then having it ripped away immediately…it was torture. The day that Slaughter left, I decided that I didn’t want a friend. I didn’t want to have anything to do with boys. I didn’t want anything more to do with Slaughter as long as I lived.
thanks for reading.
i like writing this. i think it's a cool idea. :)