BCB: A Novel
Chapter 1: Lucy
"I love you."
"I can't think of anything that involves you."
"So someone hundreds of miles away means more to you than I can?"
I was so nervous. That jerkface could have at least said he was sorry. Or something, at least! I guess I shouldn't be upset. I did kind of put him in an awkward situation. But then... what he said that night in December... how could he? How could he... HATE me? We've been friends for years. Best friends for years. We kissed twice! How could it all just fall apart so fast? I gotta collect my thoughts.
That night, the night he told me he hated me, was just... awful. I had the dream again, the same one I had been having for weeks. But this time, it was more of a nightmare than a dream. It started the same way: I just woke up in a strange place wearing a dress (like that would ever happen). As I was looking around, Mike jumped down from a tree, wearing his old blue scarf.
"Wanna know why it's that shade of blue?" he asked, like every other time.
"I'd sleep better, yeah," I replied, blushing.
"Well, you better catch me to find out!" He yelled over his shoulder, running off. I had no choice but to chase after him. However, something was different that time. I felt that I could finally keep up with him. I saw the cliff coming up and remembered what would happen if I let him get away. So I sprinted as hard as I could. He was still skipping away, eyes closed, when BAM! I tackled him.
"Now tell me, jerkface!" I screamed, "why did you get that color scarf?" He laughed and squinted his eyes, as if my effort to tackle him was genuinely amusing.
"Can't you tell, Lucy-dear?" he said, using Lily's nickname for me. When he said it, however, his voice was full of hate, not endearment.
He started to get up, but I pinned him down.
"No more running, Mike!" I yelled. "Tell me now!"
"Oh, so you really want to know, eh, Lucy?" His tone had changed, his voice positively dripping with contempt. He wasn't playing around anymore. I had pissed him off again. He motioned to get up, and I struggled to hold him down, but he suddenly grew so strong. The sky was now dark, and all the leaves fell off the trees. A cold wind swept up, and I shivered. As he rose, I flew off of him, onto my back. His eyes changed color to match that of the gray skies. On his feet now, he towered over me.
"Mike..." I trembled.
"So you want to know"
I managed to squeak out a "yes."
He grabbed my chin and peered into my soul with his now-icy gaze.
"It's because of your eyes," he growled, "It was always those beautiful blue eyes that made him love you, wasn't it?" His face had changed to that of Sandy's.
I woke up in a cold sweat. Then I remembered what had happened, and I started to weep. Warm tears flowed uncontrollably down my face as I sat there alone in my bed. That creep from Acapulco's words came back to me in my solitude: "He kind of... hates you?"
I guess he was right, after all.
The next day was the worst for me. You can't even begin to imagine loving someone, and knowing that they hate you. Seeing them throughout the day, and just trying to deal with it. I felt like dying. There was a pit in my stomach that just wouldn't close up. I felt like that pit was eating away at me, just feeding off of my pain. My heart was in my throat. I thought that if the pain lasted too long, I might just vomit my heart up onto the cold linoleum hall of Roseville high. It was all I could do to hold it together. I could hide my feelings from everyone, though. It wasn't hard, they were used to my angst. After years of being cold and quiet, people didn't notice when I really had problems. So I could keep it concealed from everyone. Everyone but Daisy. She let me know that I couldn't keep it from her before lunch in the halls.
"It's Mikey again, isn't it?"
I shrugged her off. I know she's only trying to help, but that girl really needs to learn to keep her mouth shut. She called after me as I stormed away,
"You don't have to go it alone, you know? You've got friends! We'll be there for you, no matter what he says!"
But will you be there for me if he leaves? Will you be there when he leaves? When he asks you to choose, will you stay with me, or will you chase after him like a fawning schoolgirl? I only had to wait a few weeks for my answer.
Mike wouldn't even talk to me at all that day. We had time in history to work on the project, but it would have hurt too much to do it. I don't blame him for his silence; I was as cold to him as he was to me. But he didn't have to stare me down every time our eyes met. It was a look that told me,
"Don't say a word. This is between us; there's no need to involve the others." Sure thing, Michael, I'll keep it a secret so you won''t look bad in front of our friends.
As I said, I really can't blame him, though. All those times that I rejected him. All the times he tried in vain to start something with me. I know that you can't reject someone for years and then just expect them to fall into your arms when you open up, but I didn't see that that's what was happening. I didn't understand why he hated me back then. All I knew then was that I loved him, but he despised me.
The day went by so slowly. I had to drag myself to every class, and I just kept waiting for the day to end. At least it's a Friday, I thought. I won't have to keep this up for a whole week. And there's no way I could have. The wall I had built around myself had held firm for years, but now it was crumbling. It was crumbling, just like it had that night with Paulo. I didn't want to make the mistake I almost did with him. I needed to make sure I stayed home that night. I think I could have trusted Paulo, especially since he had Jasmine to worry about if I pressured him. Even so, I just didn't want him involved. This was something I could handle myself. I sure as hell wasn't going to be a parasite, like Mike said I was.
After school was practice for the play. I can't imagine why Mike and I were chosen for the leads. I can't act; all I do is sing. Mike doesn't even have that much going for him. All he has is the willingness to do the play. That afternoon, I kept screwing up my lines. Sue said that even though the lines were wrong, I was doing a good job emoting. It's not hard to show emotion when you've got so much pent up inside you. After what seemed like an eternity, rehearsal was over. I walked home in a trance. Halfway there, the tears started up again. I just couldn't hold them back. My tears fogged up my vision and froze to my fur as they slid down my cheeks. I had to get home, had to find a way to let it all out in private.
Finally reaching my destination, I opened the front door, bolted up to my room, and breathed a sigh of relief that no one was home. Dad was working overtime, mom was out grocery shopping, and Sam and Jordan were at friends' houses. Unfortunately, my running woke Chirpy up from her nap. She flew down to me in a flash of pink, questioning me as I walked into my room.
"What's wrong, girl-kitty? You came home from boy-kitty's house last night and hardly said a word." Then she saw my face. "And now you're crying! Something's the matter, isn't it?"
"Yeah, mom," Yashy interrupted, sitting on my desk. "Did Flea get you pregnant or something?" she said with a smirk.
Oh, shit. How am I going to tell Yashy what happened without letting her know about Sandy? If I tell her Mike is mad at me, she'll want to know why. I had to think fast.
"Last night I was really tired. And I'm not crying now, it's just the cold. The wind stung my eyes and made them tear up." It wasn't the greatest lie; fortunately Yashy isn't the smartest, so she bought it. I breathed a sigh of relief, but then Chirpy spoke up.
"I don't believe you! Is something the matter at school? You have to tell us about everything, girl-kitty."
"Pipe down, Chirps, nothin's the matter. Ludy'd tell us if something was up, wouldn'tcha, Lucy?" said Yashy.
"Ehehe, of course, Yashy," I said with a blush and a too-big-to-be-sincere smile. Even Yashy caught on that time.
"Hey, wait a minute," she started, "is there something wrong, mom?"
"Of course, Yashy, can't you tell?"
We all turned to see Lily in the doorway. I motioned silently for her to not say anything.
"Our Lucy-dear has lost her voice."
"What!?" exclaimed Yashy and Chirpy in unison, turning back to me. Lily, I owe you big time.
"Can I help find it?" asked Chirpy.
"No, Chirpy," said Lily. "That's just an idiom. It means her throat is sore and she can't sing or speak in her normal voice."
"Yeah," I said in a raspy voice, even coughing to emphasize my now-sore throat. "Sue says I need to get it fixed in time for the show, or I'll be replaced."
"They can't replace you, girl-kitty!"
"Relax, Chirps, the show's weeks away. Now it just so happens that I know of a cure for a sore throat. C'mon, let's go mix up a batch!" Said Yashy excitedly.
"Yeah, let's go!" said Chirpy, and they both flew downstairs to concoct some awful potion in the kitchen. Once they were gone, Lily spoke again.
"You know you'll have to tell them eventually."
"I know, but I can't. Not now, at least." After a pause, I said it. "Last night, Mike told me he hated me. AND, Sandy's coming to visit him next week."
"Oh, Lucy..." she said softly, trying to console me. "Maybe it's for the best. Perhaps you should... move on?"
"I still love him!" I shouted, but not loud enough for the two birds flitting around downstairs to hear.
"Even after what he said?"
"...Yeah. I really do."
We sat in silence for a few seconds. Then I heard Yashy calling from the kitchen.
"Hey, mom! You got a letter! Come get it!"
Collecting myself, I calmly walked out of my bedroom and downstairs to grab the letter. It was from Tess.
"Dear Lucy," it read, "You are cordially invited to Tessa's..."
Chirpy flew over my head and asked, "You going, girl-kitty?" There was no way that I could. I couldn't be there, with Mike, in front of everybody. But I told Chirpy it was because I needed time to work on the project, which was at least half true. I hate lying to my pets.
"C'mon, mom! My cure is almost ready!" called Yashy. I went over to drink the most foul drink ever imaginable. I think she mixed Tabasco sauce with hot cocoa powder and Kool-Aid, and God knows what else. "See her face, Chirps? That's how you know it's working."
There was only one more week of school before winter break, and I managed to get through it. The only word that can describe how I felt during that week is apathy. Over the weekend, the pain from Mike's blow had subsided, and it left me numb. Fortunately, most of the lunch table was too excited by the prospect of Winter Break to really notice or say anything. Sure, there were a few "what's wrong?"s, but no one really cared that much. Mike was still silent, and I noticed that Abbey was quieter than usual. Daisy had told me about what happened with his mom. He was even more sulky than I was, which was good. That way, the few times Paulo and David shut there mouths about all the dumb stuff they were going to do, they told Abbey to stop being a sourpuss. Naturally, Daisy defended him, and the attention drifted away from me.
When the week had finally ended, I didn't feel the relief I expected. Winter Break would only separate me further from my friends, and mark the beginning of the long month before Mike would leave. When he did, I was sure he would take everyone with him. I realized that, despite purposefully distancing myself from everyone for my whole life, I had never felt so completely alone.
My numbness faded on the first full day of break, bringing all the pain back to me. I woke up late, around 11:30, to more snow. I had a bit of a headache, and got up to make myself some microwave waffles. The taste of the sweet syrup spread over my tongue. I'll only have real maple on my waffles. Unlike the previous week, I could no longer hold anything in. I knew that I was going to vent to the next person that let me. And that's when the doorbell rang. I got up to see who it was. Of all the people that I expected to see standing there, this person was not one of them.
"What are you doing here?"