what i thought i knew
four tickets are better than five
During my super boring Math class, I received a text from Cookie. We were in different sections, by the way, but we usually had free period and lunch at the same time.
HOLY BISCUIT: heeeeeey scar im totally dozing off this english class sorry
I laughed. Typical Cookie.
I sunk in my seat and lowered my head so I could reply to her from under the table. Good thing I was at the back seat so Mr. Ridge couldn't see me. I looked up to check if he was still writing, but saw instead the annoying face of Kaiden giving me a confused look. He looked really good today wearing a gray hoodie. I shook my head and snorted at him. He rolled his eyes in response.
SCARLETTE: The feeling is fucking mutual. Math sucks ass. Sorry, dude.
Cookie loves math so I'm pretty sure she was already rolling her eyes at me. These were the times where we usually texted in secret because it was where our least favorite subjects got scheduled on. We always had fights about this, with me on English and her on Math.
HB: hey do you have plans tonight
I was surprised. I thought she was going to start with her "why math is the best subject ever" mode on, but this was new. Cookie and I were really not that out-going so this must have been important.
S: I'm free. Why?
I don't know how it happened, but Kaiden magically materialized on the desk beside me.
"Who are you texting?" he casually said.
"Will you keep quiet? I'm sort of trying not to get caught here," I whispered angrily.
He rolled his eyes again. I really wish his eyes would just get stuck there forever. It would just be one less problem solved, right?
"Dumbass. He's not even teaching. He's just writing stuff on the board that half of the class wouldn't understand. Including you according to your conversation with-" He looked over my phone. I tried shielding my phone away from him but he was fast. "-your hot but weird friend."
He smirked down on me and I elbowed him hard on the ribs. He didn't even wince.
"I'm pretty sure he doesn't give a fuck if he caught you texting. Look around you, Nixon." I did look around and saw that everyone was dozing off. Even the smart ones were, but Mr. Ridge still looked like he didn't give a damn. He just kept on writing on the board that was full already with formulas that seemed alien to me.
Mr. Ridge has been teaching Math since Nate first walked the halls of Chesmire High. Even then, according to Nate, Mr. Ridge has always been lousy and boring. Good thing my brother was good at Math so he passed with flying colors.
But that's my brother.
"Can't we quit the "second name" basis thing?" I said while looking up at him. His dark hair has grown longer, I notice.
"No. I like it. It's annoying you," he said mischievously, his eyes sparkling.
I was about to come back with a witty response, but my phone vibrated in my hands.
HB: can you come to drunk poetry night with me my brother's going to be there and he gave me five tickets but you're the only one i know soooo
I felt my chest seize up and suddenly the ringing in my ears became so loud.
Drunk Poetry Night?
But I don't want to drink.
I don't want to be drunk.
Not since that night.
I bit the inside of my cheek and slowly breathed out. I can't have an episode right now.
"Drunk Poetry Night? What the hell is that?" I said in an overly happy tone and looked at Kaiden, expecting an answer. He seemed oblivious to my change in emotions.
"Why are you looking at me?" he replied with the same perplexed look. Apparently, Drunk Poetry Night was not that famous.
S: Drunk Poetry Night? Is that even legal? I typed with shaky fingers.
I heard Kaiden laugh and my heart beat even louder.
HB: of course it is we're not criminals you know
S: Are you sure?
I was hesitant. Very hesitant. If it wasn't for Cookie, I may have just said a straight "no".
But she doesn't know what happened.
HB: WILL YOU PLEASE JUST COME WITH ME I SWEAR IT MAY SOUND CRAZY BUT IT'S SUPER COOL
"Oh shit. She used capslock. She must be pretty serious," I said to myself.
"Sure she is," Kaiden said in an unsure tone.
Should I go? I'm pretty sure I could handle it. I mean, that was almost a year ago.
And I just took pills, right?
Did I? I can't remember because the room was turning black.
Yeah, yeah I did. And I could take one too before I go.
My heart pounded in my throat and I felt my head spinning.
After a while of debating, I replied to Cookie.
S: Okaaaayyy... I'll go. Just send me the address and stuff.
Am I really ready for this?
HB: sweet it'll start around 7:00pm i'll just wait for you there okay?
I'm pretty sure she was smiling like a crazed idiot right now. Even if I backed out, it was too late.
S: Sure. Any thing I need to bring?
I became calmer by the second as the ringing in my ears became a faint hum.
HB: you can bring Kaiden since I know you write poems about him ;) hahaha
I was afraid Kaiden saw that, but when I looked at my side, he was gone. Kaiden was back on his original seat and he seemed like he was quietly holding back a laugh.
I looked around.
Oh my God.
It was like I was in a horror movie and I was about to see the blood-sucking monster behind me, but instead that monster was, none other than-
You guessed it,
He coughed and held one hand out. He was holding a detention slip on the other.
I stood up remorsefully and reluctantly handed my phone over. Everyone was holding back their amusement, but Kaiden stood out the most. God, forgive me, I will chop this guy in half.
"I guess you'll be late for Drunk Poetry Night, Ms. Fegurson," Mr. Ridge said with a yawn. Why was the school even paying him? He looked like he'd rather be in any place but Chesmire High.
I heard some snickers behind me. I'm pretty sure they never heard a thing such as Drunk Poetry Night too.
"Sorry, sir. It won't happen again," I replied monotonously. This wasn't the first time I got detention so that line came out from me naturally. Mr. Ridge gave me a lazy nod in reply.
He was our last class for the day so I headed straight for detention. While I was walking, I gave my classmates a mid-fing behind my back.
The room erupted into booming laughter as I closed the door.
Back to tough, fearless and badass Scarlette again.
When I came out from detention, it was just around 6:00 pm.
I can still go home and take the pills before Drunk Poetry Night. Cookie sent me the address and it wasn't that far from my house, 30 minutes max. I was still a little hesitant, but I pushed the thought away.
I headed for Door 3 as soon as I got out. The cold breeze immediately sent my teeth chattering. It was already near the end of autumn so winter was fast approaching. I wrapped myself under my jacket tighter and looked at my phone to check if Ethan sent me a text. I asked him to fetch me after school. Where was he?
"Can't you just ride the school bus?" he said in between breaths when I called him. God, he was probably having sex with Ivory.
"I've got detention, idiot." Supposedly, Ethan would have been laughing at me, but instead his moaning became louder. Fuck, he was having sex. I never expected these two to be so in to it. They have always looked like the perfect couple outside. Ethan was a true gentleman and Ivory was sure not the kind of girl who would spread her legs for any boy that asked her to.
"I'm in the middle of something, Scar," he said while groaning.
"In the middle of Ivory, I can say?" I rolled my eyes, disgusted, but inside my heart was breaking all over my feet. The phone probably fell from his ear because all I heard was the bed squeaking afterwards.
Why is it that every time I talk to Ethan, he and his girlfriend are in the middle of something sexual? Damn it.
"Look, I get out of here at 6:00 pm. It's just about quarter to five. I'm pretty sure you've finished by then. I'll be waiting at Door 3." I pressed the button shut and shivered as I closed my eyes.
I recalled what Kaiden said to me that night when we were on my tree house. That I was a girl who was throwing herself at her best friend who was clearly not interested.
In some ways, he was right.
I mean, Ethan was contented with his girl and here I was secretly wishing they'd fall apart. I should have been happy for him because I was his best friend, but I wasn't.
I never was.
But you couldn't blame me, really.
Because about a year ago, I remembered the night Ethan took me on top of our roof and said that
he loved me.
But he wasn't sober.
We both weren't.
But he still said it.
And that's all that matters to me.
"This day is officially the worst day ever," Ethan said with a burp. I laughed dryly while taking another beer from the cooler. I looked around and saw about 12 bottles lying empty on the roof.
December 25, 2014
Many things happened that night.
It was Christmas, I turned sixteen, Ethan found out that his parents got divorced, Kaiden was nowhere to be found, my older sister, Sharlotte, died and Ethan stole my first kiss.
Well, at least, my first drunken kiss.
"Look at the stars. They're so sad for us!" I shouted while twirling on my feet. I laid on my back after and felt the cold metal of the roof. It was nice to feel something.
"Thank you, stars," Ethan whispered while laying down next to me. We were laughing and shouting and complaining and crying all at the same time.
We were so broken that night.
And maybe up until now.
"Why do people leave? Why do they need to fucking walk out of somebody's life, Ethan? Don't they know how rude that is? I don't get that shit. Any of it. It's not like they're the ones who get hurt," I said while sipping on my 7th bottle of beer.
"That's because they're stupid," Ethan hissed while angrily wiping away his tears. He took another swig from his bottle too.
"Don't they know that it's better leaving than being left behind because at least there you have a choice to come back? But being left behind?! You just sit there and wonder when will they make that fucking choice!"
I was furious now.
My tears were spilling out of me like a waterfall. I couldn't breathe.
The night was freezing, but I didn't bother it. Nothing can match the pain I was feeling at that moment.
"AHHHH!" Ethan shouted while throwing a bottle of beer off the roof.
"God, I hate Sharlotte and Kaiden! I want them back! Sharlotte come back! Kaiden, where are you? You lied to me. You lied!" I shouted with everything inside of me. I was now standing up and was hysterical on the roof.
Ethan was too.
"Fuck you, Mom! Fuck you for hooking up with my uncle! Fuck you for destroying our precious family! I resent you! Look at what you did. You ruined me. You ruined us!"
After screaming endlessly, Ethan and I crashed into each other, our bodies close. We were emotionally and physically drained.
"People are like storms, Scarlette. You don't really realize the damage they have done until they're gone," Ethan whispered in my ear. And at that moment, I felt the both of us unravel.
Ethan tilted his head to me and then suddenly smashed his lips against mine.
Though everything was fuzzy that night, I remembered every single detail of our kiss. It was sad and desperate and full of emotion. It wasn't gentle in any way. We were rough and passionate like we were afraid that one of us was going to disappear like everyone else.
"Scarlette, I love you. You're my brightest star. Please don't leave me like they did," he whispered in between sobs. He was begging for me to stay.
My heart stopped beating.
"I love you too."
The rest of the night was hazy and we were both found unconscious on the roof the next morning.
I never wanted to drink another bottle of beer again.
I never want to be drunk ever.
"That was golden."
I jumped and cautiously looked around the parking lot.
Even if I didn't see him, I could already feel his alarming presence.
I took a deep breath and saw Kaiden leaning against his jeep. He was parked near a lamp post to my right so I didn't see him at first. His eyes riveted on me and they seemed greener under the light of the sunset.
"Fuck you," I replied with the harshest tone I could muster. I wiped at my face to stop the tears. Shit, why was he here? He's triggering me and I'm this close to losing it.
"Look, I didn't mean to get you in trouble, but that was hilarious!" he chuckled, still oblivious to the turmoil I was in.
No, please don't smile like that.
Please, don't say you didn't mean it.
He was still far away so he couldn't see me crying yet. I willed my tears to stop as I put my hoodie on so I could cover my face even more.
Everything was coming back.
And if I don't get out of here, I'm going to have an episode.
Did I take pills? Do I have them?
Shit. Shit. Shit.
There's not enough time to go home.
"Wh-where's Ethan? I asked shakily. The wind kept knocking my hood over as Kaiden kept coming closer. I looked up at him and regretted it almost immediately because his smiling face suddenly fell.
"Hey, is everything alright?" he gently asked. He genuinely looked worried.
You never did.
"No, I mean yes. I just need Ethan," I said coldly. I wonder if that hurt him, but if it did, he never showed it.
I need Ethan. He's the only one that would understand.
Because he was the only one there.
I felt my fingers starting to shake.
Kaiden's face turned serious and he took another cautious step towards me. The atmosphere between us was so intense that I could slice a knife through it. It was always like this when I was with Kaiden. I always felt like we were tiptoeing around broken ice and that any minute we would fall into the icy water.
My tears have stopped, but the beating of my heart hasn't. In fact, it only became louder.
"I love you. You're my brightest star."
"Kaiden, where's Ethan? I really need him here." I was almost pleading right now. Like riding with Kaiden would be my death. Kaiden's face was crumpled up and it was so unnerving because I've never seen him this way before.
Did it hurt him?
"Scarlette, I'm just here to drive you." He said this to me like he was talking to a child. "Ethan asked me to. Apparently, he's still... busy," he said with a fake smile. No matter how he would put it, it would still hurt.
I felt like I was jabbed in the stomach.
He chose Ivory over me again.
When will I ever be his priority?
"Oh. He left -that's cool. That-that's fine,"I said shakily. I didn't believe a word I just said.
I just kind of stood there waiting for Kaiden to say that he was joking. But he never did, so I kept my mouth shut.
"Come on. It's getting late. Your friend would want you there, right?"
I didn't say anything else, I just turned my back and started walking to his Volvo.
"Are we going to go by my house first?" I asked anxiously while biting my lip.
I needed my damn pills.
"We could, but it would be a close call." I felt the car move into gear as Kaiden started driving with ease. "Oh, by the way, Ethan and Ivory said they'd be coming to Drunk Poetry Night too."
That's definitely what I needed right now.
I sat at the passenger seat so I wouldn't have to see Kaiden's face. His car was pretty decent. It had nice comfy seats and pillows I could pinch to keep my mind off stuff. I decided not to go by our house anymore. I just wanted this night to be over.
If drinking helped me numb the pain I felt that night, maybe it would too today.
I would drink till I feel normal again.
And that would mean a lot of drinks.
"Do you have any ideas for our project in Literature? Mr. Wilbur said he'd be asking for progress tomorrorow," Kaiden asked.
I wasn't really in the mood to talk. Especially with him, but I didn't want him to start getting suspicious about me.
"I don't know, actually. We could just do a plain report about love. Tell me your parents' story and I'll tell mine," I lamely offered. Even I wasn't buying it.
"Love isn't all about that kind of love. Sometimes it's also lonely, distant and one-sided," Kaiden said quietly. I saw him glimpse at me from the mirror on his car.
"Hey, I was just kidding. Trying to ligthen up the mood, Scar." He drummed his familiar hands on the steering wheel while we stopped on a traffic light.
Maybe he noticed that he'd gone too far so he changed the subject quickly. "Have you been thinking about my offer yet?" he asked with a smirk.
And just like that his mood instantly changed.
"Offer?" I asked.
"You and me? Making Ethan jealous, right? So you could have him?" He paused. "You even made a dramatic exit when we talked abou it." He laughed and this time it sounded right.
"Actually, no. I've almost forgotten about it really. It's not only today that I remembered."
And it was true, because I've tried to forget that night as much as I could. But I didn't need to tell him that.
"You might think I'm persistent, but what're you really thinking? You want to get Ethan back? I'm still up for it." There was a challenging tone in his voice. I swear he was smirking right now.
Before I could answer, Kaiden pulled into the parking lot of a building which was at least 5 floors high. Even if we haven't arrived yet, I might have never answered anyway.
When I stepped out of the car, it was only then that I got a good look at the building.
There was a huge glowing metal sign on the top. Wr3ck Me, it said. Guess that was the building's name.
The overall feel of it was... weird. It sort of reminded me of Cookie, actually. There was something odd but majestic about the way it was built. I could totally imagine her with her younger brother, Graham, hanging out here during Friday nights. It was cool and it calmed me.
"Here we are, Nixon." Kaiden said from behind me. "Nice building," he added.
Why was he still here? Did he expect me to say something back?
I didn't say anything else because I could feel it in my body again. I was starting to panic. So I kept quiet, closed my eyes, and walked to building, without looking back.
But something-no, someone- made me stop dead in my tracks.
"I do have five tickets in my hand. It'd be a waste to give this to somebody I didn't know."
I could see it in my mind, him turning around, and Cookie giving him the last ticket.
"Hi, Kaiden," Cookie said.
"Hi, Cookie," Kaiden said.
"Would you like to join us for Drunk Poetry Night?"
And just like that, I felt my heart drop to floor.