Ilatch onto Jaimie’s hand tighter as we weave our way through the thick throngs of students from our graduate class. Usually these parties seem much smaller, but tonight it’s as if every single student from Mount Claire High is jam packed into Tim Singers tiny two story house. The loud bass vibrates off the walls and pounds against my ear drums the deeper in we go. The smiling faces of all the kids we graduated with only hours ago surround us completely. Down the hall and to the left we would have made it to our destination, but as we pass by the packed kitchen, I tug on Jaimie’s hand and pull him in behind me.
My eyes roam around the littered counter tops until they find exactly what I came in search of. A handle of Jack sits perfectly untouched in the back of what must be thirty other bottles of liquor.
“Take it to go.” Jaimie comes up behind me as I grab for a red solo cup. His hands come up to my waist and gently turn my body back towards him, bottle in hand. “Come on Addy, Jake and Tim are waiting for us.” his lips come down to mine for a brief moment just before he turns away dragging me behind him. For a minute I almost decide against the alcohol, knowing I could get tipsy off of Jaimie himself but I know better. I don’t want to be tipsy I want to be gone to the world as soon as possible and Jaimie knows it.
My eyes roam up and down Jaimie’s colossal form as we make our way out to the deck. His broad shoulders ram into almost everyone we pass by and no one seems to give a damn. He’s big for being just eighteen, much bigger than the other boys we just graduated with and most adults I’ve seen around. He’s going to make a killer linebacker once he goes off to college. A sharp pain starts in my chest at the mere thought of him leaving me behind with his departure date just two short months away. In the end I know it’s inevitable. So for now I hold on just a little bit tighter.
“There he is! The future of Alabama football himself!” Tim’s loud voice brings me out of my thoughts as we finally step out of the crowded house and out onto the large deck. Like every other weekend Jaimie and I take our seats around the small glass table, as Jake and Tim pass a joint back and forth. I met Tim and Jamie our freshman year of high school.
Sporting a very pretty black eye for my first day of the new school year, compliments of my mother’s most recent boyfriend, I decide to make my way out to the football field during lunch hours. The underside of the bleachers proved to be a good hiding spot for someone needing to desperately get away from the prying eyes of teachers and snide remarks of the pretty popular girls littering the hallway. The sweet aroma of marijuana seemed to carry me deeper and deeper behind the metal bleachers. I wondered who else could be out here as my feet encouraged me to move forward. They carried me on their own accord. Soon enough I was rounding a corner only to find two troublesome looking boys passing a blunt back and forth.
“What the hell happened to your face?” the skinny redhead on the left nearly coughs up a lung when he takes in my appearance. The much larger boy on the right only seems to penetrate me with his piercing blue eyes. Both seem to have an incredibly annoying staring problem.
“What’s it to you?” I ask as I stick a hand out. Their eyes widen. “Well are you going to share or what?” I wait impatiently for the redhead to make up his mind before he cautiously hands over the small rolled joint. I bring the joint to my lips and listen as the redhead begins to speak again.
“I’m Tim, and this is Jaimie.” He points to the boy beside him and I nod. A mop of shaggy brown hair and piercing blue eyes stare at me like I’m some sort of circus freak. His stare is curious, and searching for something I don’t think he’ll find.
“Addy.” I reply handing the joint back over. “So, are you going to be here tomorrow?”
That was that. The beginning of the end. At least for us. From then on it was the three of us. Where I went they followed, and the other way around. As the years passed on Jaimie, Tim and I seemed to uphold a pretty solid do-not-fuck-with-us reputation. No one messed with us or even tried to befriend us. It was only in junior year when we added another body to our pack, Jake. He was just like us, so it was easy for him to make himself at home. The four of us were misfits, all seeming to come from some form of fucked up home life to the other. The circumstances were unfortunate, but our bond seemed unbreakable. Jaimie and I grew closer. Our bond seemed to be soul deep. We were best friends, but sometimes it was more than that. We cuddled, kissed and held hands, but never crossed over that invisible line. It was like an unspoken agreement, and one I was perfectly fine with. Tim and Jake both knew what Jaimie and I did behind closed doors. After a while it wasn’t long before other people started to assume things. We never corrected them.
“Here.” My eyes focus back on the three boys and I watch as Tim hands Jake the joint. My hands itch to grab it and have it all to myself but I wait for my turn like the good girl I am.
“Gimme, gimme!” I finally reach for the blunt and inhale as soon as the sweet taste of bubble gum kush hits my lips. I feel the slow burn of the smoke all the way into my lungs and relish when I feel the fog start to cloud my mind. Hit after hit, I stay in my own little bubble as the three boys chat nonstop around me with the soft thump of the bass pounding in the background. Finally I’m at peace. Finally I can breathe again.
“Damn Addy you’re going hard tonight.” Jake’s rough voice speaks up as I pull the blunt from my lips only to replace it with the neck of the Jack Daniels bottle.
“Yeah, well it’s been a rough few days.” I hand it over to Jaimie, and watch as his soft lips close around what’s left of the joint, inhaling just as deeply as I did. His piercing blue eyes stare deep into my soul as I become completely lost in him. I stand up from my chair and make my way into his lap and relax completely when his large arms wrap tightly around my torso. I let the haze slowly take over my body. Head to toe. The lightweight feeling is what I crave. One by one all thoughts seem to drain from my brain as my body suddenly becomes free. Light as a feather, free as a bird.
A loud bang sounds from next door, causing me to jump. In the dark of the night I can make out the size of a monstrous man. His shadow alone seems to tower over the wooden fence and creep into the backyard of Tim’s house.
“There he is!” Tim whisper shouts to the group. Jaimie’s hand slides under my sweatshirt as all of the attention is placed on the recluse next door. “That’s Gideon Wellfleet.” Tim states. I’ve heard his name in whispers by the town folk, a young veteran whose mind is crippled by the war. He ended up in Brookfield by chance. While he was away a freak car accident claimed both of his parents, and now he resides in what used to be their home. Some people say he’s all sorts of fucked up. The trauma of the war seemed to eat away at his mind until he went completely bat shit crazy and killed a guy… At least that’s what Sharon at the liquor store said.
“Didn’t he just get back from overseas?” Jake asks. “I heard he killed some sort of Jehovah’s Witness guy who walked up to his door.” See, I told you.
“That’s not true Jake, you can’t believe everything people say. “ I comment before taking another swig from the bottle. Jaimie’s hand caresses my stomach in small circles as I lean back into him. All the while my eyes remain on the mysterious man dragging two huge black trash bags slowly behind him.
“Yeah well they said your mom is a crack whore and you’re her crack addicted baby and that turned out to be true.” He shrugs his shoulders as if he didn’t just insult me.
“Hey fuck you Jake!” I throw the empty bottle towards his head but he ducks just before it makes contact with the deck and completely shatters. The commotion causes the mystery guy to turn his attention toward us and for a moment I’m stunned. Thirty feet separate him from us and yet I feel the piercing stare of his cold eyes as they bore into mine. My body stills, only the feel of Jaimie’s rhythmic hand keeps me grounded.
“Fuck Jake, he fucking heard you.” Tim ducks as if that’s going to conceal him from his neighbor. The high from the weed must be fucking with his mind if he thinks he’s been unseen.
“Tim, he’s thirty feet away he can see and hear almost everything you say and do.” Jake gestures towards the group of us and raging party going on inside. “Speaking of, maybe you should go check on things.” As soon as the words leave his mouth the sound of glass shattering has our heads turning toward the house.
“Oh for fucks sake, this is why I didn’t want all these goddamn people here.” Tim stands up and starts walking towards the sound of the commotion. When I turn my attention back to the man next door he’s gone. All the lights in his completely out, doors and windows locked tight.
“That better not have been my mom’s china, or so help me god.” Tim warns as he stalks inside, his bright red hair drifting like flames in the wind.
“I should go help him.” Jake makes a beeline after Tim and suddenly Jaimie and I are completely alone.
“Mmm, you feel good.” I lay my head back against him, and let my alcohol soaked mind close off almost completely. My skin feels tingly. The feel of Jaimie’s finger tips running up and down my arms has my body on fire.
“Stop squirming Addy.” His arms lock tight around me holding me securely in place.
“Why Jaimie? Does it feel good?” I tease. I turn my eyes on him and get caught on the other end of his heated gaze.
“You know what you do to me Addy.” Suddenly I’m turned in his lap, straddling his hips with my thighs. His lips are on mine in an instant. His hardness pressed up against my core, begging for more connection. Our mouths mold into one while our tongues explore the others. I never get tired of his lips against mine. Although it doesn’t feel romantic in any way it feels more comforting, like it’s the most normal thing in the entire world. Our connection is soul deep, best friends to the depths of our core. It sounds ridiculous, but the kind of love we share is not the kind of a couple ‘in love’. My hands wrap around his neck, and I bask in the warmth his body brings mine.
“Don’t leave me Jaimie, I need you.” I whisper against his lips. I unleash my deepest secret of despair, the alcohol making me feel more brave than normal.
“It’s not for good Addy, you know that.” His lips nibble against mine. “I’ll be back before you know it, you’ll survive.” I burry myself further against him and hang on tight. Afraid to let him go.
“I won’t, I know it.” I reply.
“You’ll have Tim and Jake.
They won’t let anything happen to you. You know that.” He tries to bargain with me, but it’s not the same. My mind is made up.
“But they’re not you.” He rubs his fingers gently through my hair, and my eye lids droop closed. The burn of alcohol flows steadily through my blood turning my limbs heavy, and threatening to close my mind off completely.
“Shhh… Just close your eyes baby, it’s going to be alright.” I do what he says enjoying the feel of his body against mine. I sigh in relief. “Come on Addy let’s get your drunk ass home.” I feel his weight shift from under me as he stands. Finally only in the comfort of his arms, the darkness takes over and I’m finally at peace.
I wake the next morning with a pounding headache. The small sliver of sunlight peeking through the shades has my eyes squinting and my stomach churning. I roll onto my side ready to wake Jaimie up after a long night of partying but the spot where I usually find him is empty. A glass of water, bottle of ibuprofen, and small white piece of paper sit on top of the small bedside table. I reach for the pills and water first and probably down more than I should take. The cool taste of the water sliding down my throat begins to wash away the remnants of the marijuana smoke from last night. I force myself into a sitting position and grab for the little note Jaimie left me. Why wouldn’t he have just texted me?
For starters, here’s some water and ibuprofen. After last night you’re probably going to need it. Try not to take too much. By the time you’ve woken up, I’ll be halfway to Alabama. When I told you I’d be going to ASU I never mentioned I’d be leaving for the summer football program. I knew if I had told you sooner it’d be all you could think about, and our last few weeks together wouldn’t have been like they were. Tim and Jake will take care of you, nothing has to change baby. I’ll be back before you know it, but while I’m gone I want you to live your life. Take chances and fall in love, hell… find a new best friend. Wipe the tears away and get the fuck out of that place you call home. Do something big for me Addy. And please don’t beat up the guy’s, I made them keep their mouths shut. I love you always Addy baby.
Your best friend, Jaimie
The further I read the more my face falls and my heart sinks. By the end I’m raging mad. I wipe away the stray tears and crumple up the flimsy piece of paper. He fucking left me? I grab for my phone and immediately dial his number, patiently waiting for his answer. Hoping this was all some joke, that the shitty crumpled piece of paper thrown across my bedroom floor is just a sick fucking joke. How could he? Over and over again my calls continue to go unanswered only heightening my blinding rage. I start to pace around my small bedroom floor, tears threaten to come flowing out like a damn ready to burst, but I won’t let that happen.
I throw on the nearest T-shirt and grab a hair tie off the bedside table to tie my wayward curls back. Fuck taking a shower, that can wait. I peek my head outside my bedroom door and listen. Nothing but silence fills the air. The stench of cigarette smoke and putrid body odor wafts through the small opened crack in the door wrapping around me like a strait jacket, threatening to send all the contents of my stomach up in one blow. Tip toeing through the hall I step over my mother’s limp body and sneak past the fat burly man asleep on the sofa. I escape out the front door unseen and unnoticed. Five minutes later I arrive at my destination fuming and ready to kick some fucking ass.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
I stare at the sliding glass door as I wait for someone to answer. My fists are unrelenting, I know they’re in there, probably still fucked up from the night before.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
I pound again and take in the ruins of what used to be Tim’s perfectly manicured lawn all around me. Beer bottles and cans are strewn here and there, with other pieces of trash covering almost every inch off grass. Chairs and other pieces of furniture are thrown in the pool, helplessly floating around the green tinted water.
“Alright, alright! Hold your horses. I’m fucking coming!” Jake’s sleepy form appears on the other side of the glass door. His hair is tasseled, and the bags under his eyes seem to have grown tenfold over the past night. I guess we all had one hell of a time. He takes in my disheveled appearance and cautiously opens the door.
“Addy what the hell are you doing here? What time is it?” he runs a tired hand through his messy hair and steps out onto the deck entering my space. In one swift motion I swing my hand back fast bringing it forward right across his cheek. My breathing is hard and heavy. The sting of the pain spreads across my hand much like the angry red heat spreading across Jake’s sensitive skin.
“Jesus fucking Christ, Adeline. What the hell was that for?” He yells as he cradles his cheek with his hand.
“You fucking know what that was for Jake, he fucking left!” I scream in his face. Once again the angry tears threaten to fall down my hot cheeks. “You knew he was leaving and didn’t even tell me!” my chest heaves up and down as the impact of my words dawn on him.
“What the hell is going on out here?” Tim stumbles out onto the deck in just a pair of basketball shorts. His red hair shines like fire in the morning sunlight. Before he even gets the chance to defend himself my palm connects with the right side of his face also, leaving him with an identical angry red mark as Jake. “What the hell was that for Addy?” his head swings back and forth between Jake and I searching for answers.
“You guys knew Jaimie was leaving the whole fucking time, and didn’t even have the guts to tell me?” my voice comes out in a high pitched shrill. I watch as Tim throws his hands over his ears to block out the horrible sound. I sound like a rabid animal, but honestly it’s not much far from how I feel inside.
“Jesus fucking Christ, Addy. What do want us to do? He didn’t want us to say anything to you!” Jake’s voice rolls from his mouth like thunder in a storm, and I know right away he’s on the edge.
“You guys are supposed to be my friends!” I shout at the top of my lungs. Hurt clings on to each word that spews from my mouth. “You guys fucking lied, for days you all fucking knew and didn’t tell me.” The look on their faces tells me they don’t understand where I’m coming from and it only causes my heart to crack further. How could they not know? How could they possibly not know Jaimie was my savior, my best friend and confident. They were there every day, every time I came to Jaimie upset, broken and bruised. They saw the connection, how could the three of them just assume I’d be okay with this? Did they really think I wouldn’t have an absolute fucking breakdown?
“I’m sorry, Add’s. Jaimie will be back in a few months. It’s not forever.” But he just doesn’t understand. I need Jaimie like a little kid needs his favorite blanket or a night light. I need him to protect me from all the dark and scary things I have to face in life, and now he’s not here. I have to face everything alone.
My legs almost buckle as I place my hands on my knees, trying to keep in my nearing melt down.
“Oh fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.” I whisper yell to myself. Everything’s suddenly all too much. The pressure pressing down on my shoulders threatens to suffocate me with every breath I take.
“Fuck, Add’s. Are you okay?” I hear Tim’s muffled voice break through the ringing in my ears.
“What the fuck is wrong with her? Addy you okay?” Jake’s head turns to Tim then me, and just as I look up red spots start to blur my vison. It’s been forever since I had an anxiety attack. The last time Jaimie was the only one who managed to get me to calm the fuck down.
“I need something.” My throat cracks as I force the words out. “Anything… Jack, weed please just give me something and get me it quick.” The words crumbling from my lips sound exactly like the woman I despise most in the world… my mother. I hate that I’ve become her, I hate that I need drugs or alcohol to calm me, to fix me, to make me feel normal again. I hear shuffling on the deck and seconds later Tim slams a half empty bottle of Tequila in my hands. I smash it against my lips in a matter of seconds. I gulp and gulp until the burning in my throat finally calms my boiling blood, and levels my raging thoughts. I chug until I can clearly see through to the bottom. I chug until the heavy weight of the bottle feels next to nothing. I chug until the bottle’s empty and my legs are numb. Ten o’clock in the morning and I’m already completely wasted. Tim and Jake watch me in shock or disbelief. At this point I’m not sure which is which.
“Addy, you might wanna slow down a little, you don’t look okay…” Jake’s voice trails off as I drop the bottle to the ground and try to focus my eyes on him. I guess you could say I’m a light weight or maybe I just drank the bottle way too fast on an already hungover and empty stomach. The alcohol has already taken affect over my whole entire body. Besides my mom always says the best cure for a hangover is more booze. I take a seat in my usual chair and ignore the pain it causes me when I look to Jaimie’s empty one.
“Fuck,” Tim swears, brushing the flames of hair out of his face. He’s swaying from foot to foot, or maybe that’s just me? I don’t know at this point. My brain feels fuzzy and my blood feels warm. “If you can’t beat em’ join em’.” He finishes. His body takes up residence across from me and I watch as he fishes a rolled joint out of his shorts pocket. The cherry burns bright red as he breathes in the smoke and my heart drums in anticipation. For now I’m good. I can forget about Jaimie, at least for a few hours…minutes…seconds? I don’t really know anymore.
“Shit, this is going to be a long fucking day.” Jake sits down finally and takes the joint from Tim. He’s completely fucking right; it’s going to be one long fucking day.