What we were

I can’t breathe. I can’t think. I can’t be here any longer. With all my remaining strength, I open my eyes and scan the living room. Everywhere I look I see people. Different they all may be but I know they are similar in all the places that matter. All with a red cup in their hand, all with hidden insecurities that go numb with acceptance. I would rather deal with all my flaws than concede to the expectations of the modern world. As my disgust grows stronger for the figures in the room my eyes spot my ticket out of the mist of fakeness. Shaking, I step forward and again and again. Five steps finally, but that’s not enough to reach my goal, but enough to notice her.

In the spotlight, as always, artificially tall and beautiful she leans against a wall with a typical red cup in her hand. Out of everything that’s wrong with this party she is the one I can’t stand the most. How can we be cut from the same cloth and be so different? I remember the days of our past when we would play together, study together, and cry together now she stands against that way in the smallest pair of shorts I’ve ever seen with revealing rips. From where I am I can see the circle of boys next to her looking lower than necessary. The fake smiles and giggles they all conjure makes my stomach turn. One of the guys with dark brown hair leans over her and holds her waist. Without thinking my feet turn, bones stiffen and  I find the distant between the girl and I lessen. My brow creases when I get close. All that fear I had harbored turned into anger.

“Ahem…” I cleared my throat. The soft smile of the girl flips upside down. She pulls up her top slightly while looking down at me.

“What?” She snarled. I glare at her discolored lips and winged eyeliner. She knows why I am here and why I am upset but she only thinks of me as an annoyance.

“Can we go now? It’s getting late and we have a curfew.” I suddenly realize that the boys are looking at me. That makes me even more upset. I slant my eyes in their direction. Immediately the atmosphere changes. Tension grows. The brunette in a generic football jacket lets go of the girl and musters the effrontery to speak.

“Who’s this D?” He smirks playfully at me, but all he will get is disgust from me. Dawn looks at him offended that he would even take an interest in me at all.

“It’s just my little sister.” She turns back at me.

“We aren’t leaving right now but if you want to go walk home simple.” Satisfied with here response she laughs and her goons follow except the brunette one.

“Aww come on D don’t be cold she’s kinda cute.” He leans close to my face. His axe colon attacks my nose.

“What’s your name, babe?” Not good. Not only is my sister fuming from this, but I can’t hold it any longer. Looking close to him, I can see how beautiful he is. Perfect teeth in a perfect smile. His hair swoops up perfectly. Any girl would quickly fall for his light beard and edged jaw line.

“D-does it really matter what my name is?” I want nothing to do with him. I hate people like him. The type to get a girl’s hopes up only to break her heart. I have seen my sister go through guys like him repeatedly. She always gets hurt then washes, rises and repeats all over again, but with his sculpted face so close to mine I can’t help but stutter.

Seeing that he’s not going to get anywhere with me he smiles and turns to my sister. “Ay D wants her name.” Dawn rolls her eyes “Ugh it’s Rain. Dumb I know.”

I cross eyes with her. How can Rain be any more of an unusual name than Dawn?

“Rain that’s cute. There aren’t many girls here with cute names.” Without permission, he starts playing with my hair. The purple tinted ends of my loose curls circle his fingers hesitantly.

As if electricity stuck my heart, my pulse bounds against my skin. He’s so…gorgeous and no one ever looks at me like that, with such desire, but I know it’s the worst type of desire. I want to go along with everything he says. My nerves stand on edge, but this is all wrong. I won’t walk the same path as his other partners and believe me there have been others. Faintly, I slap his hand off my hair, but he chuckles and catches my hand. My arm feels so frail in his large hand

Suddenly a dancing couple bumps into my back. I lean forward pulling on his shirt. Of course, he’s surprised, but he’s friends seem to be amused because I am dangerously close to his pants. I am under his stomach looking down at his expensive shoes. This is bad. I have already dug a deep enough grave just by touching this guy. My sister will never forgive me if I don’t play this off, but how? The guy lifts my head up.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself.” Everyone laughs. Fumed by now Dawn pulls me away from the crowd. The motion swings me back into the wall.

“Stop embarrassing me! Why do you have to ruin everything? This why I don’t bring you to parties, but no I had to be nice because I felt bad for you. You never go out and it’s sad. Mom is always begging me to bring you out, but if I would have known that you would be so annoying I would have left your ass home!” She turns away and starts toward the crowd again knowing I won’t follow.

This is why I don’t go to these things. Everything I do in her eyes is embarrassing. She can’t be happy that someone took an interest in me at all. He wasn’t even the reason why I walked over there. I wanted to keep her out of trouble, but she doesn’t care. I am just nuisance in her life. Warm drops fall down my cheek. I cover my mouth so that no one hears. I should have known better than to even attempt to protect her. She wants to do whatever she wants whether its right or wrong. I am never good enough.

My mind reverts to my original goal. This time I have no choice but to rush over before someone notices my tears. I tried to push past all the people, but one boy stood his ground.

“Hey, what’s your problem?” He snickered. Then he caught sight of my glittering tears.

“Yo, are you okay? Here, have a drink.” A red cup was extended into my face. The boy holding the cup smelled of pot.

I pushed past him ignoring the offer. Alcohol always makes me puke. Every time I drink it. I’ve only drank it once before when I was thirteen at another one of the parties I was dragged into. Within seconds of consumption, it came back up along with my lunch. Wow, even my body rejects the normalities of a teenager.

Closer and closer until I am at the white door. One hand on the golden knob and I am out. Fresh air cools my heated nerves. On the porch, I can make out a wooden swing in the dark. Rushing over to it I start bursting with tears. In the comfort of silence, I hug my legs on the swing.

“It’s cold.” I whisper to myself. Unexpectedly I hear a response. The voice makes my eyes pop.

“Yeah it is.” I slowing turn to my right and low and behold there is a boy sitting next to me on the swing. I was so caught up in my own world that I didn’t notice the body in the dark. Startled I scream a little.

“I-I didn’t e-even notice you I-I’m sorry. I’ll go.” I start to get up but he holds my arm.

“It’s ok. I think we both could use the company.” The moonlight shines on his face and he is a breath of fresh air. A simple smile spreads across his face. Simple it may be but it pushes two identical dimples into his cheeks. I gently return to my position on the bench, knees clenched and everything.

As if knowing it would make me feel better he gracefully pushed his long legs against the ground causing the swing to sway. Through the fog of the night and my tears I notice his perfectly placed beanie, but his dirty blonde hair peaks through anyway. He’s hunched over slightly as if his stomach hurts. Under his smile and beanie, I can’t help but see wet reflection of the moon under his eyes. Was he…crying? Instead of asking him what’s wrong I just stare at him. I don’t get it. This guy can make me feel safe in three seconds flat so why would someone want to hurt him? He catches me staring and looks off at the sky.

“What brings you out here?” With his head tilted toward the sky, I can see the beauty mark on his neck.

“I don’t like parties.” I muffled through my knees. He chuckles.

“Yeah no offense but you don’t look like the type to go to a kegger.” If that was coming from someone else I might have gotten offended but I honestly can see where he’s coming from.

I’m only a sophomore and a small one at that so me going to a senior’s party is surprising. The celebratory captain of the football team’s party of all parties. How could a nobody like me have even gotten invited here? To be honest, I wasn’t invite. I was my sister’s regrettable plus one. This party was supposed to be in honor of a great season and the winning of the championship or whatever but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. We lost 8-2 this season. Great! Now let’s get drunk because we put up a good fight! I don’t get it and that’s just another thing that makes me different.

Plus, take one good look at me and its apparent that I’m just different. My casual black and white dress has overall straps on it and long sleeves. Under that are my black tights and knee high black boot with laces. I scream unusual. Oh! And my hair! Black curls with a purple fade! Thinking about it all makes me embarrassed. The red blushes of my cheeks aren’t what he sees however.

“Here, take my jacket, you’re shivering.” He takes off his light brown hoodie and puts it over my thin shoulders. I can’t say words. He doesn’t even know me. He doesn’t know my name, who I am, where I’ve been. And yet he would extend his hoodie to a stranger. I start taking it off.

“You’re cold too. I can’t take this.” But he stops my hand. He’s warm.

“Come on what kind of guy would I be to let you shiver?” He smiles again and I let him put the hoodie on me.

“Thank you…You’re very kind.” I whisper. He just nods.

“So…um why are you out here?” Letting him open up to me is the least thing I can do. He scratches his beanie.

“Well honestly…” His cyan eyes drift down. He looks at me wondering if he should let me in or not. I nod slightly to reassure him.

“I wanted to talk to someone tonight but…when I got the chance I saw her talking to an ex and just figured I don’t have a chance. Stupid I know but…she’s…” His voice washes away with each word.

Her. She. Of course, someone as princely as this guy would have a girl in mind. But that doesn’t matter, I should make him feel better since he has been so nice to me. She doesn’t matter if she can’t see how great you are. No I can’t say that. You’re right you don’t have a chance so move on already. Nope that’s wrong too. Don’t let it get too you the battle isn’t over yet. Almost.

“If it’s something or someone you want bad enough then you still have a chance. Nothing is unreachable until you yourself deem it so.” I look at him.

We stare into each other’s eyes for a good minute. His are shaking as if the coldness from outside has shocked him in some way. For a moment, we are silent and I am scared that I said the wrong thing or I was wrong to give him advice but then he smiles. He draws me in close. Suddenly he is all around me. My face is wedge under his chin and against his warm chest. All he is, is warmth. I don’t even need his hoodie.

“Thank you so much. Maybe I do have a shot. I just have to take it.” He whispers in my ear. The soft words that float from his mouth bring a smile to my face. I put my arms gently around him. Our hug last forever but is still too short. He pulls away and gets up. No!

“I’m going to go talk to her right now.” Are you kidding me? This is what I get for being nice! As he starts to open the door into the party I can’t help myself.

“Wait!” He stops in his tracks. What do I say now? Wait, I know I just gave you some quality advice but that was all bullshit you should just stay here with me.

“W-What’s your name.” Not bad a good question to ask.

“Lucas.” Lucas opens the door and runs inside.

Lucas. Sweet and subtle and warm. Warm. He was so warm. He made me warm…wait. I clench my arms and feel the soft fabric of Lucas’ hoodie. A $25 blessing with pockets. Now I have an excuse to see him again. I run to the door and scan the area for Lucas. On the left, three inappropriately dancing couples all over each other. On the right, several people playing beer pong. Then, straight ahead. Lucas. I walk toward his tall figure. From behind I can see him walking closer to a group of people. I squeeze between people dancing. He gets farther away.

Through the people I can see a familiar football jacket, and an unforgettable face. Of course my absence has made him remember her. The flirty brunette has his hands on her waist again and she’s enjoying herself…too much. She’s probably drunk. I edge closer but I wish I hadn’t. They don’t see me but I see them. I hear them.

“Um…excuse me.” Lucas seems nervous. “Can I talk to you.”

He pears down. At her. Of course, it’s her! Why does it have to be her! I-I can’t believe I didn’t see that one coming. She’s the most popular girl in her grade. Everyone wants her. Everyone wants to be her. Even me sometimes. Like right now. She leans on the brunette’s shoulder. Probably because she can’t stand up on her own.

“Can’t you see we are busy, Lu” The brunette speaks for her. She pats his light beard.

“Oh come on be nice Nick he just wants to talk.” She laughs like a drunk.

“D-Dawn maybe I can take you home and we can talk in the car.” Shaking slightly, Lucas grabs Dawn’s hand.

“Hey, Dawn and I are going out after this so she’ll be in safe hands.” Nick turns over his shoulder and laughs with his friends. He’s sick.

“But…I still have to take my sister home.” Holding back her puck, Dawn mutters.

“That’s ok she can come too.” Again, Nick gestures to his friends and they laugh.

A lot is to be said about this situation that persuaded me to take the next action. Maybe it was the look Nick gave me after he said what he did or maybe it was the look Lucas had on his face. But I knew I couldn’t do nothing.

Nick had one hand in the pants pocket of my sister. From the ripples of her shorts you could tell he was holding−no−squeezing her rear. When our eyes met he looked me up and down as if undressing me with his perverted desires. He bit his lip. Disgusting. This guy wasn’t the dreamy heartthrob that every girl fantasies about. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing; a predator in front of his prey. The worse part was everyone knew it. Everyone knew he was a deviant and they liked him that way. Something about his slick smile attracted people, hell it even got me for a second, but I knew at that moment that this was serious. If something wasn’t done he would take both my sister and I…take us in whatever way he wanted.

Lucas had a different expression. It wasn’t quite fear or anger, but frustration. I understood him. What could he do? The girl he liked was being targeted by a phantom that he couldn’t touch without hurting her. I could feel his intensity and all I wanted to do was grab him. Take him away from this awful situation and let him cry in my arms or yell in my shoulder. I barely knew this guy but I knew I wanted to help him, but I had to help my sister too. She’s what’s important right now; not me, not him and definitely not Nick.

I grab my sister red cup. It’s barely full. What a surprise. As little as the amount may be, it’s still enough. I chug the rest and swallow hard. It’s bitter and hot. My entire throat burns. What the hell was she drinking?

“RAIN NO! WHY WOULD YOU-YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS!” Dawn yelled at the top of her lungs. Her anger appeared in the checks of her face.

“Woah! Dawn chill. She’s just having some fu−.” Nick tried to say something but before he could finish I vomited on his feet. I’ll spare the details but it wasn’t pretty.

“WHAT THE FUCK! THIS IS GROSS!” Nick yelled at me. He let Dawn go and examined his damaged shoes.

He’s friends had moved away by now and the entire party was looking at us. The whispers and chuckles echoed in the background. I could even see some people point at me and pull out their phones. Nick looked around and curled his face. Both embarrassed and angery he stomped off to the bathroom. Dawn tried to apologize but he wouldn’t hear it. Then she started telling people to put their phones away. Again to no avail she drunkenly spoke. I looked at Lucas panting a little. He knew what he had to do. As if reading my mind he grabbed my sister’s hand then looked at me. I nodded. He led us to his car.

“Wait I wasn’t ready to leave! NICK! Where’s Nick?” Dawn called out as we got in a black car.

Lucas shut the door and exhaled loudly. Dawn was in the backseat while I sat in the front. Even being 15 I am only barely tall enough to sit in the front seat. Dawn’s drunken words turned into mumbles. It was apparent that she was falling asleep so Lucas positioned her properly just in case she puked. Then he looked at with a relieved smile.

“Thanks−for what you did back there. You’re really clever to think of that. A little bite of a strange way to get out of that situation, but clever still.” He laughed a little and he’s smile became more genuine.

“It−It’s nothing.” I blushed and moved some of my hair out of my face. I tried to look at him but I couldn’t do it without smiling too wide.

“Wait! I’m sorry if I embarrassed you! I didn’t mean to. I jus-.” Lucas laughed at my words.

“You just puked on the most popular guy at school and you’re worried about me being embarrassed. You’re adorable.” He smiled and looked out the road.

It hasn’t even occurred to me that my reputation is probably none existent now, but thinking about it didn’t hurt at all. Here I was sitting with the cutest guy I could ever dream of while my sister was passed out in the back snoring. I call this a win for me.

Lucas starts the car after I give him my address. “Wait so you’re Dawn’s sister?” I nod slightly. He takes in the information.

“She’s never mentioned you before.” Lucas said while keeping both eyes on the road ahead.

“I would be surprised if she did. She doesn’t really like me…” My voice trailed off.

“You must really love her though. I mean to make yourself puke for someone seems like love to me.” We both laughed.

“You know Nick isn’t a…how do I out this…good guy, right?”

“Yea I could tell…”

“I would never treat her like that…like some accessory to wear show off.” I looked at Lucas. What was he getting at? Whatever it was I can tell it won’t be good for me. Lucas looked at me for a split second and gulped.

“I know this might be a weird thing to ask but the way we worked together back there…” he smiled. “I know with your help we can do what’s best−best for Dawn.”

“What I’m trying to ask you is…” Will you help me get over her? Will you go out with me? Will you be mine. All the question I could make up flooded my mine. I could feel it. I could tell what he was going to say. I was eager, too eager. As he finished his question I said yes, but it wasn’t what I expected.

“…will you help me win your sister over? Wait really this is great!” I’m stupid. So stupid.

As if I would ever be lucky enough to be with a guy like him. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Not only was I helping him be with another girl but the girl had to be my sister! He’s probably the only guy that I could ever see myself with but fate is cruel and I am unfortunate. Dawn doesn’t know how much she owes the world; for her looks, her spirit, her attraction. It hurts more than I imaged it would. Just the thought of those two happy together, but what hurts more is that it will never happen because Dawn doesn’t go for the good guy. She doesn’t want safety or love, just danger and lust. I will have to see Lucas get his heartbroken. That’s torture.

Maybe something good can come out of this dark situation maybe. At least I have an excuse to see him. I can be near him and touch him, but never be with him. Why? Why do I always have to be the nice girl and go along with everything? Why do I have to always do something good for my sister even when it hurts me?

At the time this all happened I didn’t believe that this situation would become any better. I knew what we were would be lost forever and what we would become would only hurt us and everyone around us.