Taking a Bite

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New York City

When Olivia woke up the next morning, Jane was just returning from somewhere. Jane handed Olivia a box. Olivia looked at Jane.

“What’s this?” Olivia asked, yawning.

“It’s the morning after pill. Since you have no recollection of last night, I think it would be wise if you took it. I mean, your thong vanished and there’s a pretty, purple hickey on your neck.”

“Was I even alone with him that long?”

“You’d be amazed at what can happen in fifteen minutes,” Jane remarked.

“Now, go take the pill. I know this is absolutely terrifying, and I’d do anything to rewind time, just for you, but you certainly don’t want to be pregnant with his baby.”

“Will the pill make me sick? I can’t handle throwing up again,” Olivia said, putting her hand on her stomach. She already thought she’d be sick again. Pregnant? She couldn’t imagine.

“It shouldn’t.”

Olivia poured herself a tall glass of water. She stuck the pill deep in her mouth, took a big gulp of water, and swallowed. Jane sat down on her bed and turned on the morning news. Olivia sat down next to her. Jane muted the TV and turned to Olivia. The news flashing on the screen distracted Olivia for a moment, from her awful thoughts.

“What’s wrong Jane?”

“Did you ever have sex before? I know you’ve been with guys, but have you ever gone all the way?”

“Yes, I had sex with my ex-boyfriend Evan in 8th grade. He was my first. I have had sex more times than I should’ve, after Evan. So, if I really was raped last night, I already lost my virginity. Luke didn’t take that from me,” Olivia said.

“I wish I knew everything,” Olivia cried.

“I know babe. I know. But, wait…you had sex with Evan Adams?” Jane asked.

“Yes, I did.”

“Way to go Liv! Evan’s hot!! Why’d you break up with him?” Jane questioned her sister, trying to change the subject to a lighter area of conversation.

“I found out he cheated on me with Alyssa’s cousin, Lexie.”

“Oh wow Liv, I’m so sorry! So, I guess he’s a hot asshole…”

“It’s fine, I’m completely over it. I was practically a baby when it happened; 8th grade,” Olivia admitted.

“Who needs guys? We have each other. I will never cheat on you,” Jane exclaimed.

“Amen.”

School on Monday was harder than usual to get through. Books, boys, and bitches…oh my! Olivia didn’t want to see Luke. She knew she would at some point. Chris asked Olivia about her weekend. Oh, you know…just got raped at a party, and spent the rest of the weekend feeling depressed and scared. Olivia felt sick. Olivia told him her weekend was…fine, and completely uneventful. She shot him a fake smile. Her red lip-gloss caught his attention. He smiled back at her, fondly. They walked with each other to fifth period, and on their way there, they saw Luke. He was flirting with some irrelevant, freshman girl. He pushed her up against one of the lockers and kissed her. Olivia felt as though she was going to throw up in her mouth, for the third time that morning. She wondered if that was his girlfriend. There were rumors floating around that he had a girlfriend, and he had cheated on her during his party. Clearly, Luke had been up to no good at his party…but what had occurred was beyond cheating. He sexually assaulted a girl. Chris looked over at Luke and rolled his eyes. Olivia hesitantly asked Chris if he knew Luke. Chris told her he used to be best friends with him, before he realized how much of a jerk he was. They continued to walk down the hallway to their next class. Olivia turned back around slightly. She saw Luke grab the girl’s butt. The girl squealed. Luke caught Olivia staring at him; she turned back around quickly. Chris asked Olivia if she was busy Friday night. Olivia told him she wasn’t doing anything…she definitely wasn’t going to another party. He asked her if she wanted to hangout. She told him, yes. Chris smiled at Olivia. She smiled back, and that smile wasn’t fake at all.

Lunch that day was awkward to say the least. Olivia knew it would be, and that she’d be hounded with questions regarding the party. Olivia sat with Alana and Krista again. They immediately began asking her about Luke’s party. Olivia hadn’t even adjusted her skirt yet, after taking a seat, before the inquisition began. She told them the party was okay. Just okay? Krista needed more. Krista asked her about his apartment, and the other guests who attended, and what kind of alcohol was served. Alana asked Olivia about the music that was played, and if she got to go up to Luke’s room. Olivia’s stomach began to ache.

“His apartment is big, but it’s a complete mess. I sat in a chair for a while as guys playing beer pong splashed me with cheap beer, and hit me in the face with their beer pong balls. The alcohol he served was cheap and disgusting. The music was generic…and obnoxiously loud. I still have a headache. And well, his room isn’t anything special,” Olivia sighed taking a deep breath.

Alana and Krista looked at each other and smiled. Why were they smiling? Olivia took a bite of her salad. What emerged from her friend’s mouth confused her.

“WOW, it sounds like his party was perfect,” Krista screeched.

Olivia’s mouth fell open and the vibrant salad she was enjoying dropped from her fork. Cheap alcohol, awful music, and a smelly, disgusting apartment filled with obnoxious, disrespectful assholes; not Olivia’s idea of perfect; far from it. Olivia took another bite of her garden salad. Alana and Krista were clearly jealous that they didn’t get to go, once again. Olivia envied them. If she hadn’t gone to the party, she never would’ve been roofied. Her lace thong wouldn’t have gone missing. She wouldn’t have spent the remainder of the evening throwing up the contents of her stomach, or crying her pretty, brown eyes out. Luke walked into the lunchroom and smiled at everyone. Krista swooned. Alana avoided looking pathetic (round of applause). Olivia looked down at the floor. She didn’t want to make eye contact with him. What she really wanted to do was beat the crap out of him, and finish Caleb’s job.

As Olivia was leaving school, Luke approached her. He asked her if they could talk for a minute, and that he’d never bother her again. Olivia told him to follow her. She walked a block away from the school to where there was a small park. They both sat down on a bench in the park. Olivia slid as far away from him as she could, and looked at a passerby. He looked at her for a moment, before saying anything. He noticed the hickey on her neck, which wasn’t as covered as Olivia had thought.

“So, I want to say I’m sorry for what I did. It was wrong, and I feel like you deserve to know exactly what happened,” Luke said.

“Yeah, I do deserve to know,” Olivia remarked. She was so disgusted sitting there, and angry. But, she wanted to know every little detail.

“I slipped you something and I knew it would take a little while for it to kick in. I could see you getting more and more drunk. You were fading fast. I saw you put your hand on your head; the signs were there. You were about to collapse. I carried you upstairs after you fell to the floor and laid you down on the bed. You were in there for a few minutes alone, while I went to the bathroom….” Luke began. Olivia started remembering being on the phone with her sister.

“When I came back from the bathroom your eyes were beginning to close. You were fighting to stay awake, but it was impossible. You already know what I’m about to tell you, Olivia. I had sex with you, while you were unconscious. It was wrong and I understand if you hate me. I deserved to be punched in the face. I’m a terrible person.” Did he want Olivia to attend his pity party?

Olivia stood up, furious and upset. Tears streamed down her soft, blushed face. Luke stood up, and reached for her hand. She punched Luke in the face, hard. She was proud of herself for that. He grabbed his jaw. She told him to stay the hell away from her, and that he would be lucky if she didn’t press charges. She told him if she ever heard of him doing that to another girl, there wouldn’t be anywhere safe for him to hide. His rich parents couldn’t buy him out of that situation. He would have to deal with her, and the authorities (he was more afraid of Olivia). She punched him in the arm. He put his hands up in dismay; trying to block her harsh punches. For a pretty girl, Olivia could hit. She began to cry harder as she walked away from him. People in the park stared at her, concerned. A man asked Olivia if she was okay. She waved him away. The man looked at Luke with an intimidating glance. Luke looked at the man, and then Olivia, as she made her way out of the park. Luke stood there, still holding his face. She wiped the stinging tears from her cheek and walked home. She called Jane and told her that when she got home from work, she needed to talk to her. Jane said she’d be home as soon as she could. Olivia tried to hold back her tears until she got home. She looked back to make sure Luke wasn’t following her. Of course, he wasn’t.

When she returned to the apartment she collapsed on her bed and began to sob. The tears poured out of her. A puddle formed on her pillow. Chloe yelped. She had to go to the bathroom. Olivia got up and took Chloe for a walk. She felt so awful. She thought she would feel better knowing exactly what happened to her that night, but she felt worse; confirmed her worst fear. She was raped. That creep still had her underwear, somewhere. She walked Chloe for a few minutes and then headed back to the apartment. As soon as she was about to enter her apartment building, a familiar voice called out her name. Olivia whirled around. It was Alana! Alana was wearing sneakers and a jogging suit. She was clearly out for a late run.

Alana ran up to Olivia and gave her a brief, but warm hug. Alana told her she lived a few apartment buildings over. Alana pointed to an old, beautiful, brick building. Olivia was unaware of how close Alana lived to her. She asked Alana if she wanted to hangout, for a little bit. Olivia really didn’t want to be alone. Alana smiled and nodded. They sat on Olivia’s bed and watched movies. Alana told Olivia that she was really glad they had become friends. Olivia smiled and said she was glad, too. Olivia thought about telling Alana. She wanted to tell Alyssa so badly, but she didn’t want to tell Alyssa something like that over the phone. “Hey, your best friend was raped.” Olivia didn’t think Alyssa needed to wake up to a text like that, or hear such devastating news over the static of a phone. Alana seemed really nice, but she would have told Krista (obviously)…and Krista according to Chris, had a big mouth. Olivia decided not to tell Alana, or anyone. She didn’t want the entire school knowing about what had happened to her. She held back the inevitable tears for the next few hours, and watched movies with her friend.

Alana left as soon as Jane came home. Jane was happy to see Olivia hanging out with a friend. Jane sat down at the kitchen table with Olivia. Olivia took a deep breath.

“Jane, Luke told me everything. He said I deserved to know. After he confirmed my worst fears, I punched him in the face. I walked away crying. It was terrible.”

“Liv, are you serious? I am so beyond sorry that this happened to you, and that Luke is still breathing after Caleb knocked him out. I’m glad you punched him, though! He deserved it. Did you tell him to go to hell?” Jane yelled.

“No, but I might as well have,” Olivia cried.

“Aw, Liv. You just went through something really horrible and traumatic. You’re really strong, and brave. I’m impressed that you were even able to talk to him today. I wish this never happened to you. It’s up to you, how you want to handle this. We can report him to the police, or just drop it and move forward,” explained Jane as she reached for Olivia’s hand. Jane respected her sister, regardless of her decision.

“Honestly, I just want to move forward; karma will get him. Also, after I punched him in the face, you should’ve seen him. He is just as scared, as I was that night. He has to live with what he did to me for the rest of his pathetic life.” Olivia adjusted her Kendra Scott ring, and sighed.

“You’re an amazing person, Olivia. You’re going to be okay.”

Olivia nodded and got up to give her sister a hug. Olivia wished so much that she could tell her mom about what had happened to her. She hated that she couldn’t. She wanted to cry on her shoulder, but she had her sister and for that, she was so thankful. She didn’t know what she would have done without Jane. Olivia ate ice cream with Jane and watched old horror movies the rest of the night. For a little while, everything felt normal. A screech of terror poured out of a woman’s mouth on the television scream. Olivia felt like screaming. She tried not thinking about Luke, but that was hard. She would be perfectly fine one minute, and a complete mess the next. She felt insane. She couldn’t control her own emotions. Olivia knew that in time, she would be okay, but she had no idea when she would feel normal and safe again. Only time would tell.

Chapter Six

A month had passed since the incident. Olivia was struggling with moving forward and being okay. During the day, she was “fine”, but at night the nightmares crept up on her, like a tiger stalking its’ prey. She couldn’t hide from them. She’d close her eyes and instantly be taken back to that horrible night. She could taste the blue punch in her mouth, and she could smell the cigarettes. She could hear the music streaming through her eardrums and she could feel Luke pick her up off the ground, and carry her up to his room; his grip firm on her back. Olivia hadn’t talked to Alyssa in a while. Olivia hadn’t told her about Luke. Olivia had become really close with Krista and Alana. The three of them had become inseparable. Olivia was no longer considered the new girl, thank god. She became rather popular. Everyone invited her to his or her parties, and almost everyone liked her (jealousy can be cruel). She loved having friends again. That’s what she missed most after leaving New Jersey behind, having actual friends. Olivia and Chris had become really close, also. He was a great friend to her. Chris always knew what to say to make Olivia feel better, which she appreciated. She hadn’t told him about Luke, but he knew something had happened between them. He had heard about their confrontation in the park. Apparently, half the school had heard about that, and Olivia punching Luke in the face. She was still being referred to as Million Dollar Baby, by some. Chris loved it. Olivia hated it. She was proud of herself though, and not for just punching the villain in the face. Olivia was a strong person. She went through so much in such a short period of time, but she knew everything she had endured, just made her stronger at the end of the day. She had matured. She had to. She had been faced with adult situations; she was forced to grow up. Immaturity and naivety wasn’t an option.

It had been an unusually long day at school. Olivia was exhausted. She returned home, ready to nap. As she entered the apartment she noticed Jane’s purse on the kitchen counter. Jane wasn’t at work. That was unusual. Jane rarely came home early, unless she was out of Adderall, or she was meeting Caleb for lunch in her neighborhood. She rarely stayed home when she was sick. Olivia had lost count of how many days Jane had gone to work with the flu, or a stomach virus, and her boss had yelled at her to leave. Work was her life. Olivia knocked on the bathroom door, which was locked. Jane said she would be out in a minute. She sounded upset. Olivia knocked again. She asked her if everything was okay. Jane unlocked the door. She opened the door and leaned up against the doorframe. There were tears in her eyes. Her face was red and puffy from crying. Olivia put her hand on Jane’s arm.

“What’s wrong, Jane?”

“I was let go today. I am no longer employed.”

“WHAT? How could you be let go? You’ve always worked so incredibly hard,” Olivia said.

“Well, they’ve been letting people go due to budget cuts. I haven’t worked there as long as most of the others have. Last hired is usually first fired.”

“Jane, you have been working there for a couple of years!”

“Yes, but some of the others have been working there for ten years. I was still one of the last people hired. It really sucks, but I can’t do anything about it,” Jane explained.

“I’m so sorry Jane. I know how much that job meant to you. You were the best thing to ever happen to that magazine,” Olivia said giving Jane a hug.

“Thanks baby sister, and I know. It’s their loss. Now, I need to find another job, which is a bummer.”

Olivia felt terrible. She knew Jane was hurting, and that wasn’t the usual for Jane. Olivia decided to get a part time job to help out and make things easier for them both. Jane told her that really wasn’t necessary. She wanted Olivia to focus on being a teenager; going to school and having fun. She wanted Olivia to be carefree for as long as possible, before she had no choice but to work and stress about rent. Olivia had lost so much; her parents, innocence, and her trust in others. Jane just wanted her little sister to have as much fun as possible (Jane did nothing but have fun when she was a teenager). Olivia got a job at a coffee shop on the Upper East Side, as a barista. She worked there on the weekends. So, she missed out on going to a lot of great parties, and being drunk and stupid with her friends…there’d always be another party, and an endless amount of alcohol in the city. Chris came to visit her at work, all of the time, and so did Alana and Krista. Alana thought it was cool, that Olivia had a job. Alana’s parents had a lot of money. Her father was a doctor and her mother was a psychologist. Alana didn’t need to work…ever. Although, she felt bad that Olivia was stressing over money along with her, Jane loved her sister for being so adult, so young. Jane realized how much she needed her little sister. Olivia didn’t just need Jane. Jane needed Olivia. Olivia’s presence in Jane’s life had changed Jane, drastically, and for the better. Jane had always been selfish, because she never had to worry about anyone but herself. She spent her days being an idiot, because there wasn’t anyone waiting for her to come home, or depending on her.

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and Olivia was working at the coffee shop. Olivia’s boss smiled at her as she adjusted her apron. Jane was at home drowning her sorrows in a very large bottle of Gin. The sun bleached the sidewalks and the animated clouds passed by above, slowly. Krista walked briskly into the coffee shop. Olivia waved to Krista from behind the counter, and told her to grab them a table. Olivia was just about to take her lunch break. She had been working since opening; five a.m. She was exhausted. Krista nodded and sat down at one of the tables by the front window. Olivia took off her apron and hung it on a hook behind the counter. Her attractive boss smiled at her. She sat down across from Krista and let out a great big sigh. She ordered them both a cappuccino, and two biscotti’s. Krista told her she had stopped by to talk to her about something, something rather important. Olivia drank her coffee and nodded at Krista. She was listening, always.

“I saw Chris a few minutes ago. He was sleeping on one of the benches in the park near school. The park where you had gone all Million Dollar Baby on Luke’s ass….”

Olivia gave her a look.

“He didn’t see me, I don’t think. But, I thought you should know. I think he slept there last night,” Krista told Olivia as she sipped her coffee.

“Wait, you think he slept in the park last night?” Olivia asked. Her bright eyes sparkled.

“Yes, he had a duffel bag with him. He’s one of your good friends, and he loves you. I thought you should know. Maybe, go talk to him.”

Olivia didn’t understand. Chris had a home. He lived with his wealthy parents on the Upper East Side, in a beautiful, three-bedroom apartment. He had a fully decorated bedroom overlooking an outdoor garden and a king size bed. Why would he sleep in the park, like a homeless person? It had been cold in the city, the past few weeks; not a great time to begin camping out in the park. Olivia decided she’d walk by the park, to see if he was still there. She would take it from there. The park was only a few blocks away from the coffee shop. She gave Krista a hug and told her she would call her later. Olivia had no idea what to say to Chris if she found him there. She hoped that everything was okay. She couldn’t take another person in her life struggling. She was barely keeping it together herself, and Jane was a closet mess. She hid behind designer sunglasses and expensive makeup, just as Olivia did with the whole Luke situation.

Olivia arrived at the entrance to the park. She peered through the gate. Chris was still there. He was sitting on one of the benches, glancing down at his phone. She saw the duffel bag. A Ralph Lauren blanket was draped over the back of the bench behind him. He was reading. She walked up to him, slowly. She sat down next to him. Chris jumped a little. He looked nervous and for some reason, angry. She looked at him and he looked to the ground. He shoved his book into the duffel and then the blanket. Olivia looked concerned. Chris stood up and told her he had to go, but he would talk to her later. Fat chance of that. Olivia stood up and grabbed his arm. He turned to face her. She asked him if everything was okay. She told him that Krista thought he had slept in the park that night. Chris’s face became stern. He told her Krista didn’t know what the hell she was talking about. Where was the anger coming from? He stormed away from Olivia. Olivia ran after him. She told him she was there for him, no matter what. She needed to hear that he was okay, before she returned to work. She wanted to know why he was sleeping in the park. She needed an explanation and she was determined to get one. Olivia kept talking as Chris ran away from her. He turned around and yelled. He told her to leave him alone. He didn’t want to talk about it, any of it. He told her to worry about herself and not him. Olivia was shocked. Her red lips quivered. Olivia had never seen that side of Chris; the scary side. She just stood there…unable to move. She reached for his hand, but he pulled away. Her eyes begged for him to stay, and talk to her.

“Chris! Stop. I’m just trying to help. If there’s something the matter, please…just tell me. You can’t sleep in the park Chris, you’re going to get sick,” Olivia screeched.

“LIV, I’m serious. Leave me alone. Go back to work. Go pour some rich high society brat a cup of coffee, and go home to your sister.”

“But…” Olivia began, before Chris cut her off.

“But, nothing! Go back to work. We all know you desperately need the money now, since your sister lost her job and is according to you, self-medicating at home,” snapped Chris.

“There’s no need to get nasty with me Chris. I’m trying to be a good friend and make sure you’re okay, and you’re pushing me away.” Olivia couldn’t believe how harsh Chris was being towards her. She was his best girl…

“We all have our issues Liv. I’m fine. I’m sure you have your own issues that you don’t want anyone else knowing about. Now, I’m going to go home and shower; don’t follow me. I’ll see you in school Monday.”

Before Olivia could say anything else, Chris walked away from her once again. He vanished. Olivia knew something was wrong, but what? She was worried about her friend. She understood where he was coming from, and that everyone had their own issues that they didn’t want the entire world knowing about, but she wasn’t the whole world; she was his best friend. She knew he would do the same for her, help her whether she wanted his help or not. She called him when she got home that night but it went straight to voicemail. She left a brief voicemail and told him to call her, when he could. She waited all night for a phone call, but Chris never called. She showered, and still there was no call. She sat in bed, wrapped up in her towel…waiting. She told Jane about Chris. Jane told Olivia that if he felt he needed help, he would ask for it. She told Olivia to be patient and that he would tell her everything when he was ready. She asked Olivia why she hadn’t told Chris about Luke, or about their parents. Olivia looked at the floor and then at Jane. Olivia said she wasn’t ready to talk about any of that. Jane nodded her head and said, exactly. Chris may not have been ready to talk to Olivia about what was bothering him. Everyone battles their own personal demons.

Chris wasn’t in school on Monday. Olivia waited for him outside of homeroom, thinking he was just running late. He never showed up. She was really worried. Something terrible could’ve happened, but she had no idea. Monday night she decided to go over to his apartment to make sure he was alive. Her heels echoed through the corridor leading to his apartment. She knocked on the apartment door. She could hear heavy footsteps and breathing. Chris opened up the door. He asked her what she wanted. She shot him a look. She told him she wanted to make sure he was okay, and that she was worried about him, and that she wasn’t leaving until he told her everything. She told him she expected an explanation for how he had been acting, especially towards her. Olivia deserved better. She was trying to save him from whatever demon had him skipping school and sleeping on cold park benches. He sighed and stepped out of his apartment. He shut the door behind him. Chris told her they would go for a walk. She followed him out of the apartment building and onto the street. They started walking back towards Olivia’s apartment. At first, Chris didn’t speak. He just walked. Olivia didn’t say anything either (that was a first).

“You wouldn’t understand what I’m going through Liv. You really wouldn’t. You have this perfect life. I’m sure nothing bad has ever happened to you. You’re so untouched. Maybe that’s why you’re so beautiful. Life hasn’t messed you up yet.”

Olivia stopped dead in her tracks. Chris turned to face her. Olivia’s face became red. She was angry. Her life was far from perfect, and she had endured more pain in that one year than some people do in an entire lifetime. No teenager should have to experience losing both of their parents to a drunk driver and being sexually assaulted.

“I’m untouched? My life is far from perfect. I have been through so much this year. I can’t even explain to you how hard it’s been for me. I guess I wear the pain well,” Olivia said.

“What, did your goldfish die or something? Did you lose your favorite pair of heels? Or, oh wait, I know! Did you not get the convertible you wanted for your birthday?” Chris asked sarcastically. He smirked. Olivia wanted to slap that smirk right off of his face.

Olivia stood there, saying nothing. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Did Chris really view her as this perfect, naïve, and materialistic girl? She began to cry.

“Actually, a drunk driver ran a red light and killed both of my parents, instantly,” Olivia cried. She didn’t give Chris a chance to respond. She ran home. Chris stood there in shock. He felt awful.

Olivia got home and wiped away her tears. She didn’t want Jane to see her crying. Jane knew something was off. Jane asked her how it had gone with Chris. Olivia shrugged her shoulders. She took off her black peacoat. Not good, Jane guessed. She told Jane it went terribly, and that she told him about their parents. Jane turned off the TV and stood up.

“What did he say when you told him?”

“Well, he kept saying how my life is so perfect and how I’ve never gone through anything painful. I just snapped. I told him my life is far from perfect and that I have endured so much pain this year; pain that he doesn’t know anything about. He made me so mad. I began to cry. I just stood there and told him my parents had died in a car crash. I didn’t even give him a chance to respond. I ran home. I’m sure he feels awful now, but he should. He was so rude to me and I have been worried SICK about him.”

“Wow. He should feel awful. You have no idea what a person has been through. And you darling, have been through a lot. Well, hopefully he will apologize to you,” Jane said to Olivia.

All of a sudden their doorbell rang. Chloe barked and Jane walked over to the door. They assumed it was Caleb, as usual. Olivia walked into her room and sat down on her bed. Jane yelled to Olivia; she had a visitor. Olivia looked up from her phone. A moment later, Chris was standing in Olivia’s room. He sat down on her bed. Olivia looked surprised. She just stared at him. She didn’t know what to say. He inched closer to her and pulled her in for a hug. She hugged him back. She began to cry. He kissed her head and rubbed her back as she cried painfully on his shoulder. Olivia sobbed.

“I’m sorry Olivia; I’m so sorry. You didn’t deserve having me be such an asshole to you. All you were trying to do was be a good friend. I’m here for you. I’m so sorry to hear about your parents, and anything else you went through. But, you do wear the pain well.” Chris smiled at his friend.

Olivia cried harder. She pulled away and smiled at him. She told him it was okay; she couldn’t stay mad at him. Chris wiped a tear from her face and placed his hand on her inner thigh.

“Now, can you please tell me what has been bothering you? I promise, whatever it is, I’ll help you deal with it,” Olivia spoke softly. Chris sighed.

“My dad has always had anger issues. When I was little, he used to scream at me constantly. Even if I hadn’t done anything wrong, my dad would be there screaming at me. When I got older I realized I wasn’t the only one my dad was verbally abusive to. A few years ago I woke up in the middle of the night. I couldn’t sleep. I heard glass shatter and then a scream. I walked into the living room and saw my mom huddled in the corner of the room. She was trembling. My dad was screaming at her, calling her horrible names. He told her he hated her and that she was worthless. She was crying. There was glass everywhere. My dad had thrown a glass vase at her. I just stood there. I had no idea what to do. I wanted to help my mom, but I was scared. My mom saw me and stood up. She told my dad to go for a walk and to calm down. He turned around and saw me standing there. I had this terrified look on my face. He came over to me, ran his fingers through my hair, and then walked out of the apartment. He went for an hour-long walk. I asked my mom what had happened. She told me she had done something wrong and that my dad had gotten mad at her. I knew she was lying. My mom clearly hadn’t done anything wrong. No one deserves to have vases thrown at them, or be called worthless. I knew even then that my dad was abusive to my mom and sometimes to me. He’s always had a drinking problem. Whenever he drinks, he turns into a monster. A few weeks ago, I came home from my friend Jason’s house. My mom was in the kitchen holding a pack of ice up to face. She took the ice away from her face for a brief moment. She had a black eye. I ran up to her and asked her what had happened. She told me she and my dad had gotten into a fight. I told her she needed to kick him out of the house; she needed to leave him. She shook her head and told me that wasn’t my decision. I got mad at her and told her she was an idiot for putting up with this crap for so many years. The night I slept in the park was really bad. My dad came home from work and screamed at my mom about everything. He told her she was ugly and stupid. She told him she wanted a divorce. I heard a loud bang. I walked out of my room. My parents were throwing shit at each other and screaming at each other. I couldn’t take it anymore. I grabbed some stuff and left. They didn’t notice I was gone. When I was leaving I ran into my neighbor in the hallway. My neighbors knew about my dad but never did anything about it, until that night. My neighbor walked up to me and asked me if everything was okay, already knowing the answer. I told her no, and to call the police. I told her my dad was abusive to my mom and me and that I was done dealing with it. She called the police and I left. I didn’t want to be there. I went to the park and just sat there crying for hours. I have been dealing with this all my life. I’ve never had a support system at home. I’ve never been close to either of my parents. My dad was arrested that night. My mom called me after the police left and asked me where I was. I told her I was in the park, and that I would be home in the morning. She didn’t feel like dragging me home. She told me my dad had been arrested and that she was going to bed, as if nothing had even happened. I just hung up on her. I was angry and confused and upset,” Chris told Olivia. He took a deep breath and bowed his head. Olivia thought he was going to cry. She put her hand on his shoulder.

“Chris, I’m SO sorry. How’s it at home now?” Olivia asked.

“It’s better. My dad is gone. My mom’s still a wreck, but she’s going to therapy. My grandmother has been staying with us. My mom told me the other night that she’s sorry for putting me through this, for so many years. I told her it is okay, and I told her I love her. We’re going to be fine; it’s just going to take a little time. Thanks for listening Liv; you really are a good friend.”

“Always. I’m always here for you no matter what. I’m glad your dad can’t hurt you or your mom anymore,” Olivia said as Jane entered the room.

Jane asked them if they were both okay. They both nodded yes, and Jane smiled. She told them dinner was ready and that Chris could stay and eat with them, if he wanted. Chris said he’d love to. Anything was better than being home; even without his dad there it was still depressing. Olivia warned Chris that whenever Jane cooked dinner (especially after smoking pot) that the meals always turned out, well, interesting…Chris laughed. Jane shot Olivia a look. Jane walked out of the room and set a place at the table for Chris. Olivia gave Chris another hug. She pulled away and they made instant eye contact. He stared into her bright brown eyes. Olivia thought he was going to kiss her, but he didn’t. He just smiled. They went out into the kitchen and sat down at the table. Olivia was glad that they had opened up to each other that night. Olivia realized how much she cared about Chris, in that moment. She deeply cared. He had become a huge part of her life…was she falling for him? She did find him to be really attractive, and at times, when he would hug her, she craved more. Olivia was falling for her best guy friend…

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The Author

My favorite flower is a hydrangea and I believe in art & adventure. If you need someone to talk to, email me! I'm a great listener. Xo

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