Footsteps pound behind me, but I charge forward, faster. I pump my legs as hard as I can and run down the beach. I have to get away, as far away as I can.
Whit shouts for me. Then Drake. Whit. Then Drake. Pretty soon I’m so far away and their voices are so blended together that I can’t tell which one is which anymore. I keep running and eventually they both give up and I stop a mile or two away from my house and hunch over, sobbing into the sand.
How could I be so stupid? How could I be so stupid to think that someone like Drake would actually want someone like me? How could I be so oblivious to Sadie and the random person she’d been texting since she got here? She’s probably been talking to him the whole time.
I’ve built him up for years like a game of Jenga. Every summer I’d add another block of perfection to the stack I’d already created and it wasn’t even close to toppling over.
Until now. The blocks are scattered across the sand. I’ve lost the game.
I hit my knees sobbing, harder as my chest heaves in and out and then my whole body goes limp and I fall forward. Wet sand is smeared all over my arms, my face; it’s even in my hair. The crisp water glides forward, crawling across the sand and crashes into me soaking me. I’m wet. Wet with tears. Wet with salt water. And wet inside. There’s a flood in the pit of my stomach. All of my organs are floating and it’s only a matter of time before I cry them out too.
Of all people for him to do this to me with he does it with Sadie. Sadie! I lift my head slowly and gaze out at the water. The white rolling caps and choppy navy blue waves remind me of the way I feel inside. Rough. Broken. And mangled. Like a predator that has just used its long claws on my face and scratched and scratched and scratched until all that’s left are strips of dangling flesh.
I hear Whit calling for me again and I can hear her footsteps as they pound into the sand, but I don’t turn around. I’m not ready for the “I tried to tell you” lecture and I know she’s going to try and give it. She’s only feet away now and I listen to her raspy breaths. She wheezing and coughing. Yeah, she’s not the most athletic person.
Swallowing the lump in my throat I raise my hand before she can even reach me. “Save it!” I snap. “I don’t want to hear it.”
“I wasn’t going to lecture you,” she says in between breaths.
I narrow my eyes as she plops down next to me and she rolls her eyes. “Okay. So maybe I was going to add in one I tried to warn you.”
“How did you know?”
“About him and Sadie?”
“I heard her talking about him at the bonfire and showing someone a text he’d sent her.”
“Oh God,” I bury my head in my hands and my upper body shakes. Right now I don’t even hate him as much as I hate myself for letting myself get so involved in something that I had doubts about from the beginning.
Whit wraps her arm around me and pulls me close. I dip my head in against her shoulder and I can feel more sobs coming on. “Robs? You gonna be okay?”
“I don’t know.”
I really want to tell her that I don’t think I’ll ever be okay again. I want to tell her that I feel like my heart is permanently broken and I’m not sure if it will ever get put back together again. But I can’t because not only is my heart broken, but my mind is in pieces and there’s no way I can have a conversation right now.
Whit understands. She pulls me closer and smooths the hair back from my forehead and I keep my head against the crook between her neck and shoulder blade and cry harder than I ever have in my entire life.
Sometimes I wish I were a little kid again, skinned knees are easier to fix than broken hearts. ~Author Unknown~
The next day Whit parades into our room with an exuberant grin. “I know what you need!” Whit cheers. “A little retail therapy!”
I don’t need retail therapy and the only thing I can think about doing at this point is hurling myself over a cliff. “I’ll pass.” I lie down on my stomach and plant my face into the pillow.
Whit flops down beside me. “I know it’s going to be hard for you, Robs, but you have to get over this.” She places her hand flat on my back. “Think of this in a positive way, at least you didn’t let him water your garden.”
I lift my head and glare at her. “Ugh, Whit.”
She shrugs. “What?”
No, I didn’t let him “water my garden” but it was close. And right now I hate myself more than anything for letti
ng him get that close. Also, I hate myself for being fooled by his super model looks, charm, and charisma.