Savage Delight

Page 5


He’s going to hurt her. He’s hurt someone before. He hurt Sophia. Sophia? No, that’s not right. Leo doesn’t know her. Who, then, has hurt Sophia? A baseball bat. Avery came at me with a baseball bat, and someone grabbed it. I can see their broad, spidery hand wrapped around it, wrenching it from her, their low voice saying something with an amused tone to a startled, frozen Avery –
The pain ricochets through my head like a tennis ball on fire.
“Fuck!” I grab my forehead and put it between my knees.
“Take deep breaths, Isis,” Mernich says softly. “You’re doing well, but don’t give up now. What else happened there?”
A bed. A soft bed, someone’s soft lips, someone whispering my name –
The pain splinters, blossoming in my brain like a demented, evil flower. I can’t see anything – the world goes black and my ears ring.
That’s what you get for trusting someone.
Maybe I’ll love you. If you hold still.
Mernich says something but I can’t hear her. It hurts. It hurts and I want it all to stop.
You got guts. I like that.
Have f**king fun trusting nobody for the rest of your life!
I don’t go out with ugly girls.
“Isis! Look at me!”
I look up. Mernich’s face is pale.
“It’s okay. You don’t have to push yourself anymore. I’m sorry. Just breathe. In, and out. There you go. Slowly. Sit up.”
When I lean back into the chair, I realize my hands are shaking. My whole body is trembling, like a thread in the breeze.
“Why?” I murmur. “Why can’t I remember what happened?”
She pulls her clipboard out again and clicks her pen. “Well, to find that out, we need to go to the beginning.”
“You mean like, biblical genesis? Because I have three rules for a happy, fulfilling life, and never time travelling ever is one of them. Because, you know. Dinosaurs kill things. And the black plague. And let’s face it – with my supreme amounts of unnatural charm, I’d be burned as a witch.”
She chuckles. “No. Not that far. I just want you to tell me your story. The real one. The one about Will.”
I flinch, my skin crawling at the sound of his name.
“Pulling my own tongue out and setting it on fire would be preferable to talking about that guy.”
“I know. But I think it’s time to stop running. I think you know that, too.”
I hate her. I hate her so much. She’s the reason I can’t leave. I’m racking up more and more pricey bills the longer I stay here. She’s the reason Mom worries. But I can tell she really wants to know about Nameless. If I tell her the story, maybe she’ll let me go. Nothing else has worked so far. It’s worth a shot, even if that shot will pierce through my guts and leave them to bleed all over the floor.
“From the beginning?” I ask softly.
“From the beginning.” She nods.
I inhale, and let it out as a long sigh. Somewhere outside a bird chirps. I want its freedom more than anything.
“When I was in fifth grade, I developed a crush on a boy. This was my first mistake. He wasn’t a particularly attractive boy, he was sort of quiet and spit sometimes, but he had pretty, dark, silky hair. The female teachers complimented him on it. I wrote him a love note that said ‘I like your hair’ and he wiped his nose on it and gave it back to me at recess. I should’ve seen the warning signs in the mucus. But I was smitten. He’d paid attention to me! Me – the fat roly poly girl with frizzy hair and a constant cloud of B.O. surrounding her! He actually didn’t snub me, or push me in the mud, or call me a fat whale, he just wiped his nose on my declaration of love and gave it back to me. It was the most promising social signal I’d received in my short ten years of life on the planet Earth.
Thus began my descent into utter madness.
I did anything short of committing crimes to get his attention. Also, I committed actual crimes. Like riding my bike on the freeway shoulder lane to get to his house and stare at him through his window while he played video games. But then I found out it was illegal! You can’t ride your bike on the freeway at all! So I started taking the bus to look at him through his window while he played videogames.
Anyway, so there I was, in the prime of my life, and by prime I mean not prime at all. Mom and Dad were going through the divorce, which involved a lot of shouting and money and guilt, so Aunt Beth offered her home for a few months so I wouldn’t have to switch schools, which turned into nearly five years, but Aunt Beth was totally cool about it. We had grilled cheese almost every night and she let me watch R-rated movies. So basically I’d died and gone to heaven and neither of my parents gave a diddly-damn except Mom who sometimes got guilty and sent me lots of exceptional socks. I love her, but really, socks?
So while my loveable gene donors were off debating who owned what vase for sixty months, I grew up in the loudest ways possible. Well, I wasn’t exactly loud back then, I was more an indoor-mouse-whisper kind of gal, but you get my drift. There were fights. One time, a girl tried to run me over with her scooter! Do you remember scooters? I remember scooters. My shinbone remembers scooters. One time that girl even gave me a frog! Because she was so nice! I found it in my locker! Actually I had tons of friends and by tons I mean everyone in the library who squeezed around my bulk to reach their books.”
“And what were you doing in the library?”
“Hiding. I read a lot of Jane Austen and cried. It was a formative experience.”
Mernich nods, motioning for me to continue. She’s doing it. She’s making me bring out the big guns. I sigh.
“Alright. No more pu**yfooting around it. I met…Nameless…I can still call him that, right?”
“If you must.”
I take a deep breath.
“After stalking him for most of middle school, the first time I exchanged words with Nameless was at Jenna Monroe’s beach party in seventh grade. The girls were wearing pastel tankinis and swimming. I was wearing two sweatshirts and yoga pants and sitting with her Mom. I was still at a loss as to why Jenna Monroe invited me at all – Jenna was all legs and brown ponytails and glitter pens – the total opposite of my pudge and pencils. We’d been friends once, when we were still pooping ourselves and learning not to eat said poop, but judging by the way Jenna’s mom waved to me when I first came, I got the impression Jenna had no hand in inviting me at all.
Anyway, there I was, waist-deep in an element that sure as hell wasn’t mine. Girls were giggling, splashing water on each others’ boobs, and boys were around! Staring at the girls! Well, all the girls except me and Jenna’s mom. Will was there, so I hid behind the soda cans on the picnic table and tried to look like I wasn’t there. Being almost two hundred pounds is sort of counter-productive to invisibility, though. Everyone saw me. Even Will. It was like, two seconds of eye contact, and then he looked away. And I thought I was done for! Because, you know, when people look at you and you’re fat you think you’re done for.”
I look up, and I can see the faintest glaze coming over Mernich’s eyes. She’s skinnier than a beanpole. Probably has been her whole life. She has no idea what I’m talking about. No amount of college can teach her that. I laugh.