Something was shrilling- quiteloudly, mind you- directly beside her left ear. It took her three more (painful) rings before she realized it was her cell phone. She pushed herself up in bed slightly, grabbing the blasted thing before it rang again.
"Hello?" The inside of her mouth felt like dry cotton and her voice sounded like she had swallowed sawdust.
"Maura." The voice sounded too damn brisk for what she only assumed was so early in the morning.
She sat up against the headboard a little straighter, using her spare hand to brush wayward hair away from her face. "Patrick, what are you-" she squinted at her clock radio and grimaced despite herself. "—do you have any idea what time it is?"
He was silent on the other end. "Pat-?"
"I'm still here."
At his voice, she leaned back against her pillows. "What's up?" Before he could answer, she heard muffled voices in the background. "Where are you?" Her mind was already becoming frantic with all the possibilities.
"I'm at Keon's."
"Oh." Keon was a friend of Patrick's from his neighbourhood. Maura had met him earlier on in the year when he and Patrick had first started hanging out. "Wait a minute—why aren't you at home? It's 4:30 in the morning, Pat!"
He sighed. "That's what I was trying to get at, but you wouldn't shut up."
Maura rolled her eyes. "Haha, funny-boy. I'm listening."
"I got in a fight with my Mom."
"With Mary?" Wow, that was an interesting turn of events. Usually it was only his father that Patrick went at it with.
"Yeah. Anyways, long story short, we had a fight and I walked out. I spent the night at Keon's, but I don't think I can stay here for much longer. Can I crash at your place?"
Maura was at a loss for words. Her head was hurting way too much, and it was much too early for her mind to properly grasp this situation. She brought her knees up to her chest and covered herself more securely beneath the bedcover. "Patrick," God, how could she explain this nicely? "…you know you can stay here if you need to. But, I mean, how bad could this fight really have been? I mean, this is your motherwe are talking about. The woman's practically a candidate for sainthood. I think you're just jumping way ahead of yourself."
She heard him sigh on the other end of the line. Immediately, she had a mental image of him scratching his head the way he always did when he knew she was right but didn't want to admit it. She knew him way to well, she decided. But still, she was comforted by the thought.
"Maybe so, but I just needed to get out of there, you know? I just need a break." He sighed again. "Look, can I stay with you or not?"
Maura sighed too, wondering what she had just gotten herself into. "I'll talk to my parents."
Patrick hung up the phone with Maura and leaned his head back against the couch in the Dennis family living room, mindlessly fiddling around with the TV remote control in his hands. Keon came out of the kitchen carrying an opened box of cereal. He dropped down beside Patrick and started eating some of the dry sugar-coated goodness. "You get a hold of her, man?"
Patrick nodded his head, too emotionally drained to do much else. "Yeah, she'll see what she can do."
"That's good. I'm sorry I can't let you stay here for longer, but my moms is still mad at me for finding me with that girl in my room last week. I don't exactly want to try my luck, ya know what I'm sayin?"
A half smile escaped Patrick's lips at the thought of a tough guy like Keon being afraid of his mother. But than again, Patrick knew he'd be terrified if his own mother had caught him being…intimate, with some girl. "Naw, man, its cool. Don't worry about it."
The bath water was running as Maura looked at her reflection in the vanity mirror over the bathroom sink. She tucked some strands of hair behind her ears, and let out a deep breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding.
She looked sideways at the toilet she had been hunched over so desperately the night before. She recalled the way the tips of her fingers had painfully probed the back of her throat, scratching the surface, to no avail. Nothing had happened. Her brilliant plan hadn't worked so brilliantly, then.
But this morning, right after breakfast, it had.
She guessed that was the trick—to get at it before your body could properly digest the food. She couldn't believe she hadn't thought of that before. She supposed it couldn't have been helped, she thought as she began undressing. Last night she had been too emotional to really think things through. She had just acted. But this morning…well this morning she could think much more clearly.
She snorted to herself at that last thought. Thinking clearly? She had never felt so torn and confused in her life.
She tested the water temperature with the tip of her toe. The water was just hot enough to keep her mind focused on the heat, hot enough that she couldn't think of anything else. Which suited her just fine. The last thing she wanted to do now was think.
Slipping in, the water made her feel almost weightless.
The irony was not lost on her.
When he was sure his mother was already at church, Patrick let himself into their apartment to hastily gather some clothes and some other personal belongings he would need for spending the week at Maura's.
Ten minutes later, he'd finished stuffing everything in his knapsack, grabbed a can of Pepsi from the refrigerator, and was on his way out the door.
He didn't count on his father to be on the other side, standing in his way.
Maura had always found it hilarious that she went to Mass every Sunday with her family despite the fact that she wasn't the least bit religious.
Come to think of it, she didn't think her parents really were, either. She knew her father had a tattoo on the inside of his right ankle, and her mother had already warned her that if she were to ever have sex before marriage, she had better use a condom and be on birth control.
Maura flushed—that was a conversation she hoped to never have to live through again.
Sure, she believed in God, but all that other stuff? She wasn't too sure it was really necessary. Still, the Catholic Church was what she had always been taught to believe in, even if she didn't actually believe in it. At least not all of it.
She wondered if her parents had fallen into the same pattern.
She waited outside for her parents after Confession. She had seen them talking to Mary Bowers, so she had gotten out of there before any awkwardness could have ensued. Maura shook her head to herself. Patrick always got her into these kinds of uncomfortable situations. Still, she just couldn't say no to the guy—he meant too much to her for her to not be there for him. She took comfort in the fact that somehow, he could never really say no to her either.
In the parking lot now, Maura leaned against her father's Mercedes, waiting for her parents to come out. She crossed her arms and closed her eyes, her head leaned back.
Bill Hamilton never came to Mass, ever. She wondered why she still felt a pang when she saw the empty seat beside his grandfather and Mother on the pew. She wondered why she missed his presence even though she hadn't expected him to be there.
She wondered why she even cared.
"Can I talk to you?"
Her eyes flew open. She thought it was Bill for a split second—the lilt and tone of his voice were the same. When she opened her eyes, she saw that she was wrong, but understood how she could have been confused. "Shane," she stated.
Bill's best friend, Shane Burgess, was standing in front of her. His hands were in his pockets, and his stance was casual, but he still scared the hell out of her. Her friendship with Bill didn't exactly extend over to his best friend. Far from it, actually. Maura was pretty sure that Shane hated her. That was okay…she pretty much hated him, too.
"You need to just stop it." He said bluntly, with no preamble.
Irrationally, Maura had the fleeting thought that he could somehow read her mind before she realized the impassibleness of that particular situation. "Huh?" she asked. Even she winced at how vapid that made her sound.
Apparently, Shane was in no mood to let up. "Don't think that I don't know what you're doing."
She was getting annoyed now. And bored. The last thing she wanted to do was talk with Shane Burgess. Bill may have moved up in her eyes, but as far as Maura was concerned, Shane was still in the category she reserved for toe fungus and telemarketers. "Well, what exactly is it that you think I'm doing? I'm waiting for my parents."
"Oh, that's just brilliant. You think you're just so smart, don't you?" Seriously, what was this guy on?
"Get lost, Shane." She leaned against the car and closed her eyes again, letting him know that as far as she was concerned, the conversation was over.
Apparently, this guy just couldn't take any hints.
"Whatever you think you are to him, you're not. Believe me, you're nothing. So do us all a favour and just leave him the bloody hell alone. He doesn't need someone like you looking down on him, messing up his life."
He really got her with that one. How could he possibly know that that was exactly what she was afraid of? "I don't look down on him," she said defensively. What the hell was taking her parents so long?
"You just don't get it, do you? People like you and Bill? You just don't mix. He needs some girl who's on his level, and believe me Princess, a fat rich-bitch like you isn't it."
She hoped she didn't wince outwardly at his words. She's die before she let him know that he got to her.
She wanted to cry, but she wasn't the little girl who didn't know how to stand up for herself without her brother anymore. Unfortunately, her brother's absence had forced her to learn to stand up for herself the hard way.
Somewhere in the back of her mind, Maura realized that Shane was lashing out on her because he felt threatened. The thought that Bill must have cared enough about her to even make Shane feel threatened gave her a ridiculous sense of fulfillment. It didn't even matter that she was furious with Bill for the night before. He still cared about her.
And obviously, it bothered Shane. She could work with that.
"Bill's a big boy, Shane. He can pick his own friends. So deal with the fact that he picked me." She resisted the urge to stick her tongue out at him. But just barely.
"He didn't pick you. You just keep showing up. And it's getting real old, Maura."
Any sense of victory she had been feeling was effectively squashed when she recognized the truth in his statement. She looked in his eyes, and was a little scared. Being angry at her was one thing, but this boy was deliberately trying to hurt her.
"Why are you saying all this to me?" It came out more meek and childlike than she would have liked. She never got her answer so, because at that moment, her parent's finallydecided to show up.
Maura rolled her eyes at their inconvenient timing.
He tried pushing past him without saying anything.
His father was not having any of it. "And just where the hell do you think you'regoing? Where have you been?"
Patrick almost snickered. "I didn't think you'd even noticed that I was gone."
"And just what's that supposed to mean?"
Patrick sighed, annoyed. "Exactly what I said." He turned around and walked into the apartment when it was obvious that his father wasn't going to let him by anytime soon.
"Don't take that tone with me, boy." It was obvious that his temper was rising by the way his father slammed the door as he himself stepped fully inside. "Your Ma kept me up all of last night, the way she was worryin' about you. I'm not in the mood to put up with your shit now, Patrick."
"Well, I'm never in the mood to put up with your shit, so let's just call it even," Patrick said before he could stop himself.
If looks could kill, he was sure he'd be dead by now.
"Get out," his father said quietly through clenched teeth. He had a look in his eyes that had no boundary to the coldness or rage they could evoke. For the fist time in a long time, Patrick was actually scared of his father.
And angry. He'd never felt so angry at the man in his entire life.
"Don't need to tell me twice," he muttered, venom in his voice.
He made sure to slam the door as hard as he could on his way out.
Halfway down the hall in front of the elevators, he could still hear his father cursing obscenities at him from inside the apartment. He winced at what he was pretty sure was furniture being thrown around as well. Forgetting that he was still upset at her, Patrick gave a brief prayer of thanks that his mother was safely tucked away at church. His father would be passed out by the time she got home.
Angry at her or not, at least he knew that she would be safe.
He hoped. Prayed.
"I saw your mother at Mass today" was the first thing Maura said to him when she opened the front door later that night.
Patrick made his way past her, shrugging off his jacket as he did so. He'd figured as much. His mother always volunteered at the church that was affiliated with his school. "Did she say anything to you?"
She closed the door and leaned against it. "No. But my parents talked to her, so I'm pretty sure she knows that you're going to be here."
Patrick nodded his head and ran both hands through his brown hair. Maura noticed that it was getting kind of long- just past his ears. He needed to get his hair cut. She told him as much, and he gave her a funny look.
"What?" she said defensively. "It needed to be said."
"Anyways," he gave her a pointed look. "Thanks again for doing this for me."
"Don't thank me, thank my mother." She playfully pulled at the ends of his hair, just because she could. "For some reason, she has a soft spot for you."
He grabbed her arm and tweaked her nose with his other hand, just because he could. "Oh, are you sure it's just your mother that has a soft spot for me? And not, dare I say, you?"
She snatched her arm back and rolled her eyes. "You don't even wanna go there, Pat, believe me."
Then she smacked him upside the head. Hard.
Just because she could.
He hadn't been in this room since before Michael died. It was weird to be in a room where time seemed to stop. Besides being dusted every week, nothing had been touched. Actually, Patrick was pretty sure that if he opened up the desk drawer he would find the homework they had been assigned the week Michael had died.
As much as he had loved this room when he had been growing up, as much as he'd considered it a safe haven for the greater part of his life, he was ashamed to admit that right now, it kind of creeped him out.
He shook his head to clear his mind, but it didn't help. Sighing, he took off his watch and put it on the side table. Grabbing his wallet from the back pocket of his jeans, he placed it beside his watch. As he did so, his eye fell on the closed drawer of the table. He didn't know why, but it called to him. Taking a quick glance at the doorway to make sure no one was there, he opened the drawer, even though a part of him knew that it was the wrong thing to do.
There wasn't much inside. Just a stick of gum, an old CD case with no cover, a notebook, a couple of pens here and there. He was about to close the drawer when a small piece of paper lying so innocently on the top caught his eye. Patrick picked it up.
His heart clenched when he realized what it was. Before he could stop himself, he folded it up and put it in his pocket, his heart racing a mile a minute.
Two minutes later, he still felt it burning a whole inside his pocket. He didn't get how something so small could have such a big effect on him.
"You okay?" Patrick turned his head to see Maura leaning against the doorjamb, new sheets and pillowcases in her hands. She was clad in yellow pajama's that were so typically Maura, he wanted to smile. Her feet were hidden by the too-long pajama bottoms.
"Yeah. No. I don't know."
She lifted the corner of her mouth in a half smile and stepped farther into the room. "You were really quiet during supper," she said, trying to offer an opening for him to tell her what was on his mind.
He shrugged a shoulder and started helping her change the sheets on Michael's bed. "It was just kind of weird, you know? I mean, your parents are cool and all that, but it's just—awkward. My being here…and them knowing why. It's kind of embarrassing."
He slumped down on the bed once it was made. He moved over when Maura lay down too. She curled into his side and he put an arm around her shoulder, drawing her closer. "What aren't you telling me?" she asked softly.
Patrick took in a deep breath. He should have known that Maura knew him better than that. He let the quietness between them linger. When he finally spoke, his voice was very somber. "I haven't been in this room in a very long time. Everything's exactly the same. Everything's different."
From her silence and the way her grip on him grew a little tighter, Patrick knew that she understood exactly what he was trying to say, even if he didn't quite understand it himself.
"Last Tuesday was the first Birthday I ever had without him," Maura said, almost to herself, as if it explained everything. To Patrick, it did.
An arm still around her shoulders, he balanced his weight on one hip and retrieved the piece of paper from his pocket. He handed it to her. "I found this in his drawer," he confessed.
Maura's brows scrunched together as she looked it over. She didn't get it. "What is this?" she asked, handing it back to him.
Patrick got up so he was sitting now, facing her. Still, he didn't quite meet her in the eye. "It's the dinner receipt from the night before his accident." He let that sink in, and her eyes cleared in understanding.
She got it now. Really got it. And it nearly killed her.
"When do you think the hurt will go away?" he was asking. Pleading. "When will remembering make me smile instead of wanting to cry?"
Maura swallowed the invisible lump in her throat, unsure of what to say. What could she say? She was still wondering the same thing.
"I don't like thinking about that night too much," she admitted quietly. Her eyes were closed.
But in truth, she thought about it all the time. She had been so mad that night, so hurt. By the both of them. But, as always, she could never stay mad at her brother for long. He could be the biggest jerk one minute, but in the next he'd do something that would remind her of how great a guy he really was. Like bring her a milkshake chili-cheese fries just so she knew he hadn't forgotten about her.
Patrick was the same way, she guessed. There was a reason their friendship was so strong. There was a reason she still leaned on him for support even now, after so many years. She touched her lips unconsciously, remembering the kiss. Thekiss. Her first kiss. Her only kiss, she reminded herself. Out of nowhere, she wondered what Bill Hamilton's kiss would taste like. Her eyes flew open.
If Patrick could somehow read her mind and see what she was thinking about, he didn't say anything.
She felt drained. There were too many things going on in her life, in her head.
In her heart.
"I miss him," she whispered. She got up from the bed and hugged him, kissing him on a cheek to let him know that whatever else happened, she still loved him, too. She hoped he understood that.
"G'night, Pat." She said as she left the room.
He stared at the closed door a long time after she was gone.
My Works87:Thanks for your continued support…it really means a lot. Glad to see that I have a fellow angst addict. And thanks for replying to my review of your story…I know what you mean about it feeling like a celeb is reviewing you when its an author you like. It does my ego good that you feel that way about little old MOI, lol!
Precocious: I haven't "seen" you in a while, hi! I'm glad you liked the poem….lol, the second verse is my fav too! I really suck at poems…thanks for the compliments!
Pretend Jane: What's crack-a-lackin! Yeah…I never really understood the whole H thing either. Yes, Maura's condition is very sad. Sadly, it is something that a lot of people deal with every day L.
Creepy Obsession:Awww…sorry I made you cry, but I'm glad you liked the story. Thanks for the compliments…it really meant a lot.
Hashomner:Thanks, I'm glad you liked it!
Fire Bringer: Thanks, I'm glad you liked it!
TallemeraRane:Lol, I think you and me are very similar…we love food too much to ever give it up! Although, I have to admit that I haven't had carbs (or at least a lot of carbs) in a few months. Not very fun! I'm glad you like the story!
Dome1gro: Yeah, boys seem to have a one track mind, don't they?! But give Bill a chance…he might surprise you. And Maura's going to have to learn the hard way purging is not the answer…thank god for pat…:wink-wink:
Died on a Sunday:I've never met a girl that wasn't even a little dissatisfied with how they look, or their weight. I figured Maura was no different. Thanks for reviewing!
Jiro: You're so lucky…I cry all the time during movies, TV, and books. Even stupid stuff! Last night I got teary eyed during Stuck on You…it's pathetic, really, lol!
Shayley rain:Lol, I take it you don't like Bill much, huh?! He does play a major part…stick around foe the second half…it's practically Bill-free!
Bold gravy:aww…thank you. You're review made my day!
Aurelione: Thanks for pointing that out! I didn't realize until after I had already posted the previous chapter. Hopefully I cleared it up for everyone in this chapter. That little scene is dedicated to you!
Chaotic mind:Thank you so much. This story may not be happy all the time, but it makes me feel good that other people (like you!) can see what I'm trying to do!
Ski1118:My condolences to your friend…and you. The friends of the people with this sickness hurt just as much as the people themselves. I, like you, know from first-hand experience. That's probably why I added that little facet to Maura's character…it's a real issue, and it really happens.
Stab-Tony:Thank you so much…that really means a lot.
Cherryblossom0288:Thanks, I'm glad you liked it!
Zeina:Thanks! Keep reading to find out…lol!
Aiur:Let me just start of by saying that your review left me teary eyed. Seriously. Thank you so much…it does my heart good to see that someone has seen all that I've tried to do with this story of mine. God, that makes me sound very egotistical, doesn't it? I don't mean to be, but thank you anyway. I hate cookie-cut perfect characters too. In no way do I always agree with the things Maura says or thinks….sometimes even I cringe when I right them down. But Maura is human (sort of, lol!) and they make mistakes. Thank you for seeing that. Lol, a fellow Canuk. I can't resist….I AM CANADIAN! Forgive my corniness….it's like 3 o'clock in the morning!
I-Wuv-Muffins:Thanks, I'm glad you liked it!
The freak that forgot her meds:Your poem was one of the greatest compliments I've ever received. Thank you.
SugarHighQT:Lol, sorry it took me so long to get this up! I'm glad you're enjoying the story.
Tarienalle:Lol, I have a soft spot for Bill too! Thank you for the compliments!
Inanutshellkizz:Lol, I finally updated!
XxCaptivexX:Thank you! You had me worried there for a second…lol!
Laur1532:Thank you…what can I say? I'm an emotional person, and sometimes it comes across in my writing.
Black unicorn33:Thanks so much! I'm glad you've liked it!
Coffee Shopper:Thank you so much! I;m not rushing it, but I think people are starting to get mad that I'm dragging it so slow, lol. Happy belated birthday!
Yes!:I miss Mike too. And, lol, you already know that I have a soft spot for Bill!
Call me when you're rich:Thanks! Lol, your screen name cracks me up…it so clever!
Slightly freakish:Woo hoo, I love when people like my stories enough to put it as a favs! Thanks!
Aureliasilver:Lol, I feel like you've been reading my mind! Part one and part two are definitely little stories within themselves…you've even got the pairings figures out! Hope you still like this story even with all the angst. Part two is definitely a lot happier….
Girl-23:Thank you. Lol, I'm Canadian, and my name's Laura too!
Volcana:Thank you! I FINALLY updated, lol!
Final rose:Aww…I love when people review all my chapters! I feel like its my birthday, lol. Yeah, Bulemia is not a good thing. Luckily, Maura will get help before it gets too bad. I'll go into that a little more in the next chapter.
Death's counterfit:EEE…your reviews left me deliriously happy! I'm glad you enjoy their relationship so much…it's definitely my favourite part of this story. I know…this story is like an emotional roller coaster, isn't it? The little stuff always seems to say the most, its true. I'm glad you like the story so much…and thanks again for all the wonderful (and constructive) reviews!
… :Killing off Mike was one of the hardest things I've done. Thanks for the sympathy!
Lilnuttygirl:Thanks! I'm glad you like it!
Cold eclipsed echo:I'm glad you found it so realistic and moving. That's one of the greatest compliments a writer can have.
Koro-Wind: Lol, thanks for being so understanding!
DEADFISH:I love your story! Lol, I'm glad you like mine, too. Trust me…I carry the guilt of Michael with me, always :tear:….lol!
Maha786:Thank you so much!