Eighteen years old
The sound of my phone jolts me out of the restless sleep I’d fallen into.
Noah’s recent melancholic mood has been bothering me so much that even in my slumber I’m preoccupied and any little sound will do to wake me up. .
He’s been so off lately.
So off it affects the air between us, making it hold an edge of anxious restlessness that our relationship hasn’t experienced up to this point. I wish he would just talk to me. Tell me what’s on his mind. What is troubling him. Whatever it is we could fix it, together. All he has to do is share the burden with me.
Why can’t he see that?
When my phone vibrates again, I reach out for it and grab it off my nightstand, blearily glancing at it.
It’s a text from Noah. Or should I say it’s a picture from Noah. I click on it, frowning when I see a picture of what looks like him lying on an unfamiliar bed.
A thread of uneasiness joins the apprehension I have already been feeling.
I type, watching the three dots on the phone as he types back.
3632 Faulkner Way. There’s a party tonight. Come hang out.
I frown and try to call him, but he sends the call directly to voicemail. I recognize that address. It’s Derrick’s…and Stacy’s.
He hadn’t said anything this afternoon about going to a party tonight.
I shake my head and get out of bed, wondering if he’s drunk and needs a ride home. I quickly throw some clothes on and then head out into the hallway and down to Daisy’s bedroom, knocking on it softly before opening the door.
‘Daisy,’ I whisper. ‘Can I borrow your car?’ She opens one eye and stares at me in a glazed, mostly asleep way.
“Go ahead,’ she says groggily, waving her hand towards her purse on the floor.
I hesitate for a second, because she didn’t even ask me where I’m going, which means she was still basically asleep when she answered, but then I shrug and grab her keys out of her purse anyway.
I just want to get to Noah.
The rest of the house is quiet. Curt and my mom have long since gone to sleep. It’s two in the morning, much later than Noah’s ever stayed out since we began seeing each other.
I jog towards the car, trying to get ahold of Noah again, but my call once again is ignored.
By the time I get to Stacy’s mansion, I’m anxious…and annoyed. If he could have just told me what had him so weird this afternoon instead of getting drunk…I thought we were past this kind of thing.
Taking a breath, I head to the door where I can see through the windows that there is a mass of people inside. It seems the party never stops here.
No one gives me any attention when I walk in. Since I know that Derrick is still in Cambridge, this means this rager is all Stacy’s doing. Which also means that the she-devil could appear at any moment to try and kick me out.
I’m determined to find Noah before that happens.
I text him.
He immediately responds.
I’m trying to think of a good reason why he would be upstairs at Stacy’s house party, but my mind still doesn’t go where I guess it should go. Because I trust him just that much. So when I walk down to the door he texted me to go, and I knock on it, hearing Stacy’s voice call for me to enter still doesn’t do what it should.
I’m a stupid fool.
It’s only when I open the door and see Noah in bed, lying in a tangle of sheets, that my heart stops. His chest is bare and his hair has that freshly fucked look to it that I’ve seen so often these last couple of months.
“Noah?” I stammer, right as Stacy walks out of the bathroom in nothing but a pink silk robe.
She shoots me a triumphant look, but I’m still confused as my eyes dart back and forth between them.
He’s staring at me like I’m a stranger. Like I’m nothing.
‘What did you do?’ I whisper, my limbs starting to feel numb. He smiles at me cruelly as Stacy walks towards me and giggles.
“What do you think he just did?’ she says as the collar of her robe slips, revealing that she’s naked underneath.
This must be what dying feels like. This is how it feels to have your heart shatter into a million pieces.
I can’t breathe. I can’t think. I should be…doing something. But I’m frozen in this place, wondering how this happened. How our story ended up like this.
A part of me still feels like if he just gave me an explanation, I would forgive him, because that’s how pathetically over the top in love I am with him.
And then he shatters me even further.
‘It’s done,” he says monotonously. “We’re done.”
“Noah, I–everything you’ve said to me…”
‘I said… it’s done,” he repeats, speaking right over me.
The gaunt thin smile on his face makes him look like a stranger to me. Makes him look like he was never mine to begin with.
‘What’s done?’ I finally breathe out.
“God, you’re pathetic,” Stacy laughs, bored with our interaction. “What type of stalker are you when you can’t even acknowledge what’s right in front of your face? Not that I should be surprised. You didn’t even know what was happening with your own family and you were living with them twenty-four-seven.”
My forehead wrinkles at what she’s going on about now.
“Jesus, you’re so fucking clueless that you take out all the fun in this.” She sighs. “Your family is broke. Like crippling debt broke. Like almost losing your house broke.”
“I don’t understand,” I whisper, my gaze fixed on Noah’s instead of her penetrating one.
“God, you’re so full of yourself that you didn’t even realize what was going on under your own roof. When Noah’s mom died she left a mountain of health bills behind. A skyscraper of an amount.”
“What does that—’
“Have to do with Noah?” she finishes for me with a sadistic smile. “Everything. Because I made it all go away. Just like that.” She snaps her fingers to drive the point home. “I did that for him. Because I could. Because I had the means to do so. What do you have? What could you possibly offer him that I couldn’t?”
The word burns in my throat, but I don’t dare utter it. Not here. Not now.
“Wake up, Skylar.” She claps her hands in front of me, to pull my attention away from the boy who knowingly is breaking my heart. “This is the real world. Not some fairytale book you’re writing. And in the real world, I get the guy. Not you.”
I shake my head, not believing what I’m hearing.
“You see, I’m his meal ticket out of this island. I know it and so does he. That’s why he always comes back to me. Always. You were just an itch he had to scratch. A minor inconvenience I had to tolerate. But it’s over now. The real world is banging at your front door and it’s about time you let it in.”
The tears are sliding down my face. I don’t feel like it’s me standing here. I feel like this is someone else’s story, a nightmare perhaps. Except I’m not waking up.
‘See you later, little stalker. It’s been fun,’ Noah says with another awful thin smile.
I back out of the room, my eyes still locked on his. As Stacy turns her back to me, moving towards the bed to give him a kiss, I turn…
And I run.
I couldn’t tell you who was downstairs, or how I got to the car, or even how I got home.
But somehow I end up in Daisy’s room, practically shrieking as I throw myself on the floor by her bed.
She shoots up, wiping sleep from her eyes.
‘Skylar? What is it?’ She reaches out for me, but I flinch away. It feels like if she touches me, I won’t be able to handle it. My nerves are splintering. I’m splintering. I’ve never felt pain like this before.
‘I found him. He was in bed with Stacy,’ I whimper.
‘Excuse me. What? Who was in bed with Stacy?’ she asks, confused.
‘We were together. He told me he loved me. He promised me forever.’ The word sounds pathetic and fantastical even as they leave my mouth, but I believed him.
Oh, how I believed him.
“Noah? Did Noah do this to you?” My sister growls, slipping away from her bed and going to her knees in front of me on the floor. My painstaking expression is all the answer she needs to hear. ‘That motherfucker,’ she spits. ‘I’m going to kill him!’
But that just sets off a new round of tears. Because I feel like that’s what’s happened to me.
He’s killed me.
‘I can’t breathe. Please make it stop hurting,’ I cry, and she nods, making a soothing sound as she rubs my back, but it does nothing to help me.
‘It’s okay, sis. It’s okay.’ But then she starts crying too. She’s crying with me, and for me. Because when you love someone, their heartbreak is yours.
I finally allow her to touch me, and she holds me for the rest of the night on her bedroom floor.
My sobs finally give way to just numbness a few hours later.
“He,” I start, not being able to even say his name, “wasn’t the only thing I was keeping from you,” I confess.
“Okay,” Daisy says, her tone holding no judgment.
‘I got into Dartmouth. They gave me a full ride,’ I whisper in a rough, desolate voice.
‘What? That’s amaze—’
“I wasn’t going to go,” I blurt out. “I was going to stay here. For him,” I admit in a strangled sob.
“And now?” Daisy asks hesitantly.
“I’m going to take it,” I say. “And I’m never going to come back here again.’
Tears slide down my sister’s cheeks as she nods slowly.
Tears should be streaking down my own face too, but all I feel is emptiness.
All I feel is numb.
And I make a promise then and there that I’m never going to cry for Noah Fontaine again.
I might have died tonight.
But so did he.