Sick Cycle Carousel – Chapter 22: Sick Cycle Carousel
One year later…
A lot happened in the past year. My life changed in a way that I didn't think was possible. Not everything had changed, though; some things had stayed the same.
"Dinner!" my brother yelled from the other room, causing me to scramble to my feet and enter the kitchen where I was met with a delicious smell that filled the room.
"Something smells good in here." I looked over at Jake who was stirring something in a pot, his jaw set from concentration.
I had to hand it to Jake; he'd been one heck of an amazing brother to me. Not too long ago, the idea of Jake and I living on our own had seemed completely crazy to me, but now, it was complete, utter reality. And more importantly, it was a reality that I wholly loved.
I'm not implying that everything has been perfect – not at all. I mean, I would never forget the day I'd walked in on my dearest brother and his flavour of the week, having sex on our couch! It'd taken me months (and a new couch) to forget the horrible images that had been burned into my mind.
On the other hand, Jake had also matured a lot and transferred into a pretty decent cook. Yeah, I'm just as surprised as you are! A couple of months ago, Jake's self-made meals would have had you running towards the toilet before you'd even swallowed the first bite, but now they were absolutely delicious. I guess him watching all those boring cooking shows on TV had finally paid off.
"Anything for my little student," Jake said, a look of pure pride on his face, and put a giant plate of delicious- looking spaghetti in front of me.
"Thanks," I smiled, looking up at him. A kind of joy I'd been feeling a lot recently bubbled up in my chest as I looked back down and attacked my plate of spaghetti. I knew Jake was proud that I'd decided to go back to school a few months ago, but it still felt great hearing him say it out loud. School definitely wasn't my favourite place to go to, but it felt good going back. It meant that I was moving on with my life. In the weekends, I still worked next to Raythe in his CD store. That was about all of my old life that I'd kept, really.
"I haven't seen The Drewster tonight. Where is he?" Jake suddenly asked, shoving another mouthful of spaghetti in his mouth. Just like a regular three year old, he didn't notice the tomato sauce dribbling attractively down his chin (or he just couldn't be bothered) and continued eating.
"He had a family thing so we won't see him tonight," I replied, unable to resist laughing internally when I saw Jake pouting. It was funny how calm and collected he'd suddenly become about my relationship with Andrew – things had definitely been a little different a few months ago, when he'd first found out about Andrew and I having sex.
Brooke, Bright, Andrew and I had been hanging out at my place, peacefully watching a movie. Brooke had arranged for it because things between her and Bright were a bit tense at the moment. Not because they were fighting or anything, but because they were taking things slowly.
Apparently 'taking things slowly' in their book meant not having sex, which made both of them go crazy from desire. Seriously, when I was spending time with Brooke, the only thing she talked about was sex and how hot Bright had looked that day. And when I was spending time with Bright, he was grumpy the whole time.
It was actually pretty amusing to see them both squirm like that.
Anyway, we were watching a movie (of course, Brooke had voted out the romance/drama movies, so I was stuck watching some action packed movie), when all of a sudden, Jake walked in.
"Can you loan me some money, little sis?" he asked hurriedly.
"Yeah, hold on," I answered and moved to get out of Andrew's embrace, only to be stopped by my brother's voice.
"Don't get up, I'll get it myself," he said and made a grab for my purse before I could say anything else. Shrugging, I turned back, looking back at the TV screen. The 'hero' was just beating some bad guy's ass.
"What's this?" Jake spoke up again, sounding a little weird.
"What's what?" I asked casually, looking back at him again. When I saw what he was talking about, I wished I hadn't.
"This!" Jake snapped and waved my birth control pills in the air. I mentally slapped myself for forgetting that I had put them in my purse this morning because I was running late and I didn't want Jake to find them.
I guess Andrew sensed that something was wrong, because he finally turned around to see what all the fuss was about. When he saw what Jake was holding, his face turned pale as if he'd just seen a ghost.
"We can explain that, man," my boyfriend said nervously. I could almost see the wheels working in his head, trying to come up with a reasonable explanation.
"Maria has really bad period pains," Brooke suddenly interrupted, causing an uncomfortable slash grossed out look to appear on all three guys' faces. "That's why she's on the pill."
As much as I loved Brooke for what she'd just said, I didn't want to lie to my brother, not when he was treating me so good and taking care of me. He needed to know the truth. Just when Andrew's face was finally gaining some colour again, I spoke up.
"Andrew and I are having sex," I blurted out, making Andrew pinch my leg so hard from shock that I couldn't help but let out a yelp.
"You what!?" Jake looked even more furious than before. "What the hell have you done to my little sister, man!" he yelled, storming towards Andrew like a recently released bull on the streets of Pamplona.
Luckily enough, Bright beat him to it.
"I think it's best you leave," he said to Andrew, visibly straining to hold back an extremely pissed off Jake.
Andrew looked at me uncertainly, but when I nodded, he quickly got up from the couch and left the room, leaving his coat behind. When I looked back at my brother, I couldn't help but let out a laugh. By then, steam was practically pouring from his ears.
"I think it's best you guys leave us alone, so I can have a talk with my brother," I said, giving Brooke an apologetic look for ruining her afternoon plans. She didn't seem to mind, though, and just mouthed for me to call her.
"Look, Jake…" I started, not really knowing what to say to him.
"Did he pressure you?" my brother demanded, the anger still evident in his voice.
"Do you know what the hell you're saying?" I asked incredulously, getting angry myself now. "This is Andrew we're talking about, for fuck's sake!"
"He's still a guy," Jake spat out bitterly.
"Yeah, and a pretty great one too. You have no right to talk about him like this," I exclaimed vehemently. "Andrew has been nothing but patient. It was my decision to have sex, no one else's."
Jake didn't seem happy with my answer, but he didn't seem to dismiss it either.
"How do you feel?" he finally asked, the anger in his voice paving the way for concern.
"I couldn't be happier," I told him honestly. He nodded mutely.
"I'm going for a walk," he finally said, retreating into the hall and putting on his coat.
"Jake, wait!" I called and ran after him. "I don't want this to come between us."
"It won't," he promised and patted me on the head. "I just need some time to process all of this."
"Okay," I whispered before he left our apartment.
I smiled at the memory. It had taken a whole week and a punch to the face to sort out the whole situation.
Andrew and Jake, being the two brave men they were, avoided each other for a couple of days until they both decided to put a stop to things one sunny afternoon. They had walked towards each other, and without saying a word; Jake had punched Andrew in the face. Then they'd both left the room and came back an hour later, each with a beer in his hand, joking around like nothing had happened.
Andrew had never told me what had been said in the conversation they'd shared outside, but I trusted them and was happy that things were back to normal again.
Normal… kind of a strange word to describe my life. I don't think that my life will ever be 'normal' again after my accident, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I'd become a completely different person, and although it wasn't always easy, I liked the person I was now.
Maybe that was how I'd found the strength to face my dad about a month ago.
I stood in front of my old driveway, wondering what I was even doing there. A few days ago, my dad had called me and said that he wanted us to meet so we could talk. I wasn't really fond of the idea, but my mom convinced me to do it. She'd been begging me for months to come to the house and give my dad another chance.
I rang the doorbell, the many mixed feelings I was experiencing taking its toll on the butterflies in my stomach. Neither Andrew nor Jake had been informed about this meeting. I'd wanted to tell them, but for some reason, I couldn't. If all went well, I could still tell them about it, right?
My dad opened the door with a smile on his face. "Hello, Maria."
"Hello," I replied as formally as possible, trying my best to keep an open mind. It was so hard to ignore everything he'd done, but today wasn't about that. Today was about giving him a chance to explain himself. Feeling a little more optimistic, I entered the house behind him and we took a seat in the living room.
I looked around the room, feeling weird. I still couldn't believe Jake and I had moved out, to tell the truth. The house looked exactly the same as we'd left it. Although living with my brother was definitely better, I had to admit that I missed this house.
"How are you doing?" my dad spoke up, breaking the uncomfortable silence that was surrounding us.
"I'm good," I replied honestly.
"Your mother told me you're going back to school," my dad said in a serious voice. I nodded and looked up at him, hoping to see pride or something, but his eyes were guarded. "That's good news," he continued, making me feel suspicious. He didn't say it like he was proud at all. It was like he was relieved that he could finally tell people again that his daughter was going to school instead of bumming around as a high school dropout.
"Yeah, it is," I said, trying to keep calm. Maybe he hadn't meant for it to come out like that? He probably just meant that it was good. I just couldn't help but think about the things that had happened in the past.
"So, how's Jake?" my dad continued, his eyes lighting up for the first time since our conversation had started.
"He's Jake," I said warily, not really feeling in the mood to talk about my brother at the moment. I had a bad feeling about where the conversation was headed.
"Is he still working at that bar?" The man in front of me suddenly seemed more alive than I had ever seen him, making me feel slightly hurt. My dad had always been proud of Jake, even though he'd dropped out of college to work in a bar.
I guess my dad really missed him. Jake had been furious at him ever since he found out he was drunk the night of my accident, flat out refusing to see him at all.
"He is," I offered weakly, not knowing what else to say.
"I know Jake's mad at me at the moment, but you've got to talk to him, Maria. He's only heard your side of the story," he continued urgently, causing my insides to boil with anger.
"My side of the story?" I snapped, balling my hands into fists. "I have told him nothing but the truth."
"I already told you that you're wrong! I wasn't drunk that night," my dad cried. I couldn't understand how he was able to look me in the eye and lie like that. It literally tore me apart inside.
I stared back at him, finally accepting defeat. My dad would never admit that he was drunk the night of the accident. He would never admit that he was the one responsible for my scars, but I didn't care anymore. I'd already put too much energy in my relationship with him while he didn't even seem to care. I was done with all of this.
"Is that why you invited me here today? You want me to make things right between you and Jake?" I asked, not even trying to hide my anger anymore.
"I miss my son, Maria," my dad said sadly. Huh, apparently he'd forgotten that he had a daughter too. Or maybe he was just glad to be rid of me. He hurt me more than I led on by saying that, but I pushed it to the back of my mind.
"I'm not the reason Jake stays away. You are!" I spat out bitterly, sick of everything being blamed on me. I wasn't the guilty one here, but yet, the person to be blamed couldn't see that. What bitter irony.
"Just keep believing your own lies. You know as well as me that Jake misses me too, but that he doesn't stop by because he's afraid to hurt your feelings."
I stood up from the couch and stepped up to my dad. "This," I said, pointing to the scar on my cheek, "didn't get there on its own." Deep down, I knew that I'd only said that because his words had stung me. He was right; Jake missed Dad, but he was afraid to hurt my feelings.
My dad sighed from annoyance, obviously having heard this more than once. "It was an accident. If you want to blame anyone, then blame God."
I could have exploded at that moment, but I didn't. I wasn't sure anymore if my dad was lying on purpose or whether he just believed his own lies. I wasn't sure of anything anymore.
At that moment, my mom walked into the room. Noticing us, a hopeful smile appeared on her face. "How's it going in here?"
"It's going good," I lied through my teeth, not wanting to disappoint her. "I have to go now, though."
"You and Jake should come by for dinner once," my mom suggested with a huge smile on her face. I guess she really thought we'd sorted out our problems.
"Maybe we will," I answered and gave her a quick hug, wanting to get away as fast as I could.
"Goodbye," I said before standing up and walking out of the house, away from my dad. For the first time, I felt like things between my dad and I were completely over. It was pretty clear that our relationship couldn't be fixed anymore.
Too much had happened for that.
Never in a million years had I thought I would be able to just sit here. If someone had said to me 11 months ago that I would willingly come back to this place, I would have looked at them like they were crazy. Yet, here I was, staring at the famous electricity pole at the other side of the road.
I honestly didn't know what possessed me to do this. I guessed I'd come to find closure for once and for all. My scars weren't going to control my life anymore, and neither was my accident. The confrontation with my dad had finally given me the strength to face my fears and overcome them.
When I looked over to the pole, I saw that the dent from where our car had crashed against it was still visible. Memories floated back to me, and for once, I didn't try to stop the flow.
I snapped out of my trance when I noticed a very familiar car going past and stopping when the driver spotted me.
"What are you doing here, little sis?" Jake asked, concern visible in his eyes.
"Just thinking," I said and smiled at him. "Don't worry, I'm not going crazy," I quickly added when I saw the question mark in his eyes.
Jake sat down next to me and I looked at the electricity pole again. "It's time to let go of the past, Jake," I said softly. "Maybe you should give Dad a chance to explain himself and pay him a visit one of these days."
"What?!" Jake looked at me like I'd sprouted another head.
"I know you miss him," I whispered and looked at the ground for a moment. "I love you for not wanting to hurt me, but you can't deny that."
Jake sighed and stayed quiet for a moment, confirming what I'd been thinking.
"It's okay, Jake, honestly. I understand," I pleaded and looked up at him again, tears starting to fill my eyes.
"It's hurting you," my brother said after a moment. It was more of a statement rather than a question.
"No, it's not," I answered, wiping at my eyes. "You make me the happiest girl in the world by being an amazing brother. Don't feel guilty about wanting to have a relationship with Dad. I won't hate you for it."
Jake wrapped his arm around me and pulled me closer to him. "I love you," he whispered and looked at the electricity pole in front of us, his grip on my shoulder tightening.
"You shouldn't be here on your own," he said suddenly. He was evading my question from before, but I didn't mind. When he'd made his decision, he would tell me.
I looked at him and laughed softly. "I'm fine, Jake. Really," I tried again when he didn't look convinced. "I needed to do this."
"Okay," my brother responded. We then just sat there in silence.
I was sitting on my favourite wooden wharf with my legs dangling over the side, thinking about the past year. The sun was shining brightly, the light reflecting off the water of the lake.
A week ago, Jake had finally visited my dad. He didn't say much about it when he came home, but I know that it'd done him good. My mom had invited the both of us for a family dinner next week, and to everyone's surprise, I'd said yes. Not for my dad –not at all – but I'd done it for my mom. I was sure that I could survive one night in the same room as my dad just to please her.
Blonde-haired Matt had been the one who'd dropped a big surprise on us all not that long ago. Apparently he'd had enough of college and was moving back. That wasn't the big surprise, though. The surprise was that he wouldn't be moving back alone. He was going to bring Linda, the Italian girl who'd stolen his heart, along. And the biggest surprise of all; it wouldn't be just the two of them for much longer, because Linda was pregnant.
For the rest, not much has changed. Brooke and Bright are still dating. Every once and a while, one of them would freak out about the seriousness of their relationship, but in the end everything always turned out alright. I haven't said this to anyone, but I can see the two of them getting married in the future.
My dearest brother's love life is still a mess, but I think he kind of enjoys it this way. He's clearly not ready for a serious relationship and apparently likes to leave all of his options open. I guess that's kind of the nice way to call him a man-whore. All jesting aside, though, I can see my brother making some girl really happy in the future. The very far future.
When I looked down, I saw my reflection in the water and my scar.
Although it would always be there, I had to admit that it looked much better than a few months ago. My doctor had assured me that it just needed time to heal and that it would look better over time, but I hadn't believed him. I did now, however.
"Hey Mare." The person I'd been waiting for wrapped his arms around me and hugged me to him tightly.
I turned my head and smiled brightly. "Hi," I said to Andrew and softly pecked him on the lips.
He took a seat behind me, his arms never leaving me. I still had butterflies in my stomach every time he was near me and I hoped that feeling would never go away.
"I have some good news," my boyfriend said, his lips against my neck.
"You're going back to university," I said before I could help myself, making Andrew pull back and look at me.
"How did you know?" he asked, a small pout on his face.
"I kind of found the brochures in your room when I was searching for one of your CDs," I confessed and blushed slightly. It totally looked like I'd been snooping around in his room, which wasn't the case at all. Jake had told me that Andrew had a secret love for Avril Lavigne's music and I wanted to find proof of that.
Turned out later that Jake was kidding about that and that I'd searched Andrew's room for an hour for nothing!
"Aren't you a curious George?" Andrew teased and kissed the top of my nose, his ever-present smirk plastered on his face.
"I think it's great you're going to continue your studies, Drew," I told him honestly, feeling ridiculously proud of him.
"I thought you would be," Andrew said with a twinkle in his eye. "You can be married to a lawyer in a few years."
I couldn't help but laugh when he said that, but stopped when I saw the seriousness in his eyes. He wasn't entirely kidding. A part of him had already thought about the future; our future together.
A warm feeling took over me and I cuddled closer to him, my head resting against his chest. For the first time in a year, I felt like I had finally done it.
I had finally stepped down from the sick cycle carousel.
When will this end
It goes on and on
Over and over and over again
Keep spinning around I know that it won't stop
Till I step down from this for good
Sick cycle carousel
Disclaimer: The lyrics to the song Sick Cycle Carousel belong to Lifehouse. It has been a huge inspiration for me.
Author's Note: Hey! I don't know if anyone still remembers this story :) I can't believe this is the end. I know that my story has it flaws and that there are much better ones, but I had so much fun writing this. Writing this story helped me dealing with some stuff. I want to thank everyone who took the time to leave me a review. You don't know how much it meant to me. Every single review has made me smile.
Of course reviews would still be very much appreciated. Feel free to tell me what you think of this chapter/story. Are there things that you really liked or that you completely hated? I'm curious to hear your thoughts!
I also want to thanks Louisa for all the editing she did for me. In case I haven't told you this yet Louisa; I think that you're an amazing writer and I really appreciate your help. This story wouldn't be what it is today, without your editing.
One last thing; while I was writing this chapter, two – in my eyes amazing- sportsmen died; Colin McRae and Norick Abe. I've always admired them. Their death made me realize that every day on this planet can be your last, so don't forget to enjoy life!
Thanks again for all your sweet comments and I wish you all the very best!