My boyfriend was a really good kisser. He did this thing where he stared deeply into my eyes and placed his palm on my cheek right before his lips touched mine. I used to think it was incredibly romantic. That was before I had to watch him do the exact thing to another girl.
It’s not like he knew I was watching. Last night he was at a party I wasn’t even invited to. A party he didn’t even tell me about.
Spencer Johnson was invited, and he spent the entire night posting videos to his snapchat story. In one of them, Ian was behind him making out with Melissa Hawkins.
Ever since I woke up this morning my phone had been blowing up.
OMG! Are you okay?
Did you see Spencer’s snap?
How are you taking it?
Dump his sorry ass.
The sad part was that I barely knew most of these people. Obviously, they wanted in on the drama.
There were even some mean comments and posts on social media, like:
Do you blame him?
She’s way hotter than Remy.
Looks like Ian finally came to his senses and dumped the band geek.
I had to fight the urge not to respond with something stupid like “I’m not in the band. I’m in choir.” That’d really put them in their place.
#comebackqueen, am I right?
The only person I responded to was my bestie Ava. Her texts and posts had made me feel slightly better, especially the ones plotting revenge against Ian. She’d offered to come over, but I wanted to be alone.
Ian’s messages were the most annoying. He sent me at least a dozen, and they were all alike.
I didn’t mean to.
C’mon, babe. Talk to me.
Like I was really going to talk to him after what he did? No, thanks.
He clearly didn’t give a crap about me. If he did, he would’ve kept his lips to himself. I should’ve known better. Ian had a reputation for being a player. He’d made me believe he’d changed. Guess he hadn’t.
Pulling in a ragged breath, I stood, wiping my damp face. When I took in my reflection, I groaned. My brown hair was a matted mess, my eyes were red and swollen, and my face was pale. I needed to get a grip. Ian wasn’t worth anymore of my tears. I wouldn’t spend another minute sitting here reliving the humiliation he’d put me through.
I was done.
After tossing the phone onto my bed, I hurried across the hall to the bathroom and took a shower. While getting dressed, the sound of oldies music and giggling traveled up the stairs. I followed it to the family room where I found Mom and Aunt Kelly dancing and drinking wine. My mom was having a better Sunday than me. How sad was that?
“Hey, there you are,” Mom said loudly, her eyes wide and bright, her cheeks flushed. “We wondered when you were gonna come out of your room.”
“Yeah, you were in there all day,” Aunt Kelly said wearing a teasing smile while swaying her hips back and forth. The fact that she could dance like that and not spill her wine was pretty impressive. Then again, I was usually impressed with Aunt Kelly. She’d always been my cool, single aunt with the awesome tech job and a legit shoe collection. “Come dance with us.”
“No, thanks.” I was so not in a dancing mood.
“Uh oh.” Aunt Kelly frowned. Her hips stilled, her eyes narrowing. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. Just tired.” If I told them, I’d start crying again. And that was the last thing I wanted.
“You sure?” Aunt Kelly’s brows furrowed.
“Yep,” I lied. “I’m fine.”
“You don’t look fine,” Mom said, studying my face.
I pressed my lips together. Already, I could feel the emotion welling up in my throat. Crap. I came out here to forget what Ian did to me, not talk about it. My gaze slid past their shoulders. On the couch was a box filled with stuff I didn’t recognize.
“What’s that?” I asked, pointing.
“Oh, that’s a box of my old things. Kelly found it when she was cleaning out Mom and Dad’s storage unit last week,” Mom answered before taking a sip of her wine.
I exhaled, my shoulders softening with relief at the change of subject.
“Hey, check it out.” Aunt Kelly bounded over to the couch and pulled a large hardback book out of the box. After flipping through some pages, she thrust it in my direction. “That’s your dad in high school.”
I laughed at the boy with bushy hair and a mouthful of braces. He looked nothing like the man I knew. Glancing at Mom, I said, “No wonder you two started dating in college.”
“Your dad was always cute.” Wearing a frown, Mom snatched the yearbook out of Aunt Kelly’s hands. Her impassioned defense of Dad made me smile. Someday I’d have a relationship like my parents. At least I hoped. My track record hadn’t been the best so far.
“If you want to see something funny, look at this.” Mom held out the yearbook, pointing to a girl with braces, glasses, and permed hair.
A giggled bubbled up from my throat. “Is that you, Aunt Kelly?”
Lips curling downward, she reached up and ran her palm down her sleek, platinum bob. “It was freshman year. I was going through an awkward phase.” Sitting on the edge of the couch, she took a long sip from her wine glass. “I notice you didn’t show her the picture of you, Steph.” Aunt Kelly raised a brow at my mom.
But Mom waved away her words. “She’s seen plenty of pictures of me when I was younger.”
“I bet you haven’t shown her the class picture in that yearbook.”
My curiosity was peeked. “Show me.” I reached my arm out.
Mom groaned. “Fine.” She quickly flipped the pages, and with a reluctant expression held out the book.
“Oh, no.” Laughing, my hand flew to my mouth. “Your eyes are closed. You look like you’re taking a nap.” If Aunt Kelly was a freshman, then that meant that Mom was a junior. “You were the same age as me here.”
“Yep,” Mom said. “Lucky for you, you take better pictures.”
“Well, at least I open my eyes for them,” I joked, and Aunt Kelly high-fived me. Moving toward the box, I rummaged inside. “What else is in here?” For the first time all day, my mind was on something besides Ian, and I wanted to keep it that way.
“Some of my old homework assignments and projects,” Mom answered. “Old CDs.”
“Grandma and Grandpa kept all this?” I asked, surprised.
“I’ve kept a lot of your stuff too,” Mom said.
I knew she was right, but most of my stuff was stored on our computer, not in old boxes.
“What’s this?” I pulled out a pair of large headphones attached to a round console.
“My Discman.” Mom reached out and popped it open to reveal a CD inside. I didn’t recognize the name of the band.
“This is what you listened to music on? It’s huge and bulky. How did you carry it around?” I envisioned walking through my school holding this thing, and I almost laughed out loud. I’d get made fun of more than I already did.
“We didn’t.” Aunt Kelly shrugged. “We used it at home.”
“Yeah.” Mom winked. “It was the only way I could listen to ‘I Wanna Sex You Up’ without Mom knowing.”
There was a note lying in the box written in purple ink. I plucked it out. “Who’s Jenny?”
“What?” Mom peered over my shoulder. “Oh, just a friend. We used to pass notes in class.”
“Yeah, we didn’t have smartphones.” Aunt Kelly poured herself more wine and sat back on the couch. “We couldn’t text or whatever. We had to talk in person or write notes.”
And I bet if their boyfriend cheated on them it wasn’t broadcast to the entire student body. It was probably so much easier to be a teenager back then. Mom and Aunt Kelly had no idea how tough it was now.
“Speaking of texting.” Mom reached for her phone. “I need to text Preston and tell him to come home soon. It’s almost time for Dad to facetime us.” My dad’s in construction, and he was on a job out of town.
Mom typed slowly with her index finger, which always cracked me up. She couldn’t figure out how to text with her thumbs, and her method took twice as long.
After watching her type for several minutes, I laughed. “He’s only across the street, Mom. They’re probably in the front yard. It would’ve been faster to walk outside.”
Mom simply shook her head and kept typing. Not that I blamed her. When I didn’t feel like getting up, I texted my brother even when he was in the next room.
And it worked. A few minutes later, Preston burst through the door, all sweaty and breathing hard. Sometimes I wondered if my brother and I would ever be close like Kelly and Mom, but I doubted it. Not only were we complete opposites and different genders, but we were four years apart. And right now, that felt like a lifetime.
Mom’s phone beeped. “Oh. Your dad’s calling in.” She waved us over, and we all squished together on the couch while she held out the phone for Dad to see. He was tired since he’d been working all day, so the conversation didn’t last long. Still, it was nice to check in. Made it seem like he wasn’t so far away.
After hanging up, we ate dinner. Then Aunt Kelly went home, Preston went to sleep, and I headed upstairs to get ready for bed. I was dreading tomorrow and had contemplated pretending to be sick. My phone mocked me from where it sat on the nightstand. Notifications lit up the screen. My stomach soured. I couldn’t deal right now. I’d have no choice tomorrow, but tonight I still had the option to ignore it.
The sound of car doors slamming and loud laughter drifted from outside. I slowly walked to the window and peeked out.
My neighbor Nick stood in his driveway, leaning against his refurbished mustang, talking with a group of his friends. I knew all of their names even if they had no idea who I was. Derek, Trevor, Isaiah, John. They were the jocks, the popular guys. Most likely, they were all at that party Ian went to. My chest tightened.
Talk about epic humiliation.
Ian and I had only been dating a couple of months. It’s not like we were in love or something. Still, what he did was embarrassing. And it sucked.
Nick laughed, running a hand through his hair. Man, he was hot. I’d been crushing on him since he moved in next door the summer before seventh grade. I’d watched him from this window for years while he dated every cheerleader at our school. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’d fantasized about being one of them. I even tossed around the idea of trying out for the squad, but then I remembered I’m super uncoordinated.
So, I stuck with choir.
Singing was something I was good at. Something I loved. Too bad it also cemented my place in the unpopular crowd.
Nick’s gaze bounced up toward my window. Heart thumping, I jumped backward. Not that he was really looking up here for me. Sure, we’d had the odd conversation now and then when we ran into each other in the front yard, but nothing earth shattering. And at school he hardly acknowledged my existence.
Sighing, I flung myself on the bed. I was exhausted even though I’d hardly done anything today. Must’ve been all the crying. Staring up at the ceiling, I took deep breaths and tried to relax. But all I could see was Ian with his tongue down Melissa’s throat. It replayed over and over in my mind until I wanted to scream.
Music. That’s what I needed. It was the only thing that would drown it out. A good song always calmed me. Reaching out, I fumbled for my phone and earbuds. But when I held my phone, words filled the screen.
Remy, you ok?
So sorry, babe.
Answer your texts.
My stomach knotted. I closed my eyes, wishing I could block the whole thing out. There’s no way I could’ve listened to music on my phone. The notifications would’ve driven me nuts, constantly reminding me of the one thing I was trying to forget.
My heart stopped as a thought struck.
Dropping my phone, I scurried down the stairs. After snatching up the Discman and a couple of Mom’s old CDs, I headed back to my room. Jammies on, I slid under my warm covers and stuck in a CD. Placing the headphones over my ears, I pressed play. Then I closed my eyes, nineties pop playing loudly in my ears. I chose this album because Mom told me once that it was her favorite when she was my age. Said she used to dance around her room listening to it and using a hairbrush as a microphone. I wished my life could be that simple. I wished I could go back to a time where we passed notes and talked on the phone. A time where we didn’t have our lives splashed all over social media for everyone to see, and I didn’t have to watch my boyfriend make out with another girl on snapchat.
A time where things could be private.