12. Chelsea

Chapter 11

March 19th

Chelsea

She sat in her room at the corner of her bed and imagined things worming around inside her. In her guts. She knew that wasn’t how it worked, but she had first heard about it when she was a little too young, and still impressionable.

When she was a kid, it made a lot more sense to her than it did now. She was vaguely suspicious that this wasn’t how it was supposed to feel.

She felt so guilty at that suspicion that her toes were curling up and she sank down and down.

She had lied to him. She deserved to be punished for it. She had hurt him.

She held her phone like a lantern to find her way to the door in the dark, and padded across the carpet. She put her ear to the door and heard motion from the kitchen – likely her mother, or possibly Matt. She walked back to her bed, wrapped herself in blankets, and lay on her side.

From her vantage point, she could see her overstuffed bookshelf, and the computer she had gotten for Christmas, and her big box full of toys she had shoved into the closet. Poking through the cardboard flaps was the horn of a stuffed unicorn named Rabbie that her aunt Sam had given her for her fifth birthday. The unicorn is the national animal of Scotland, her aunt had told her – it’s one of only a few countries to have a fictional national animal – so she had to find a good Scottish name for it. Rabbie was a good friend when she was little, so when it came time to put away the toys she put him on the top and allowed herself a little sentimentality.

She texted Jake.

I’m sorry. Please don’t be mad. I’m sorry I fucked up. I’m so sorry.

What had she done wrong? Why was she like this? Why couldn’t she make him happy? Why had she told Izzy anything?

She deserved what he had done – she had betrayed his trust. It was childish of her.

She was so tired, lying there like she was.

She had gotten home and into bed before anybody saw her, and she had told her mom that she was feeling sick so she could have some time alone. This bought her a little, but someone would notice the bruises on her face and neck if she didn’t find a way to cover them up by tomorrow. She could use makeup for the marks on her neck, and she could invent an excuse for the rest. She could tell people that she had missed a catch in gym class and a ball bounced up and hit her in the face.

That could work.

Her mom kept her make-up behind the mirror in the bathroom across the hall. When everyone was in bed, she could sneak in and grab some and no one would have to know.

She listened to the spring wind bellow outside her window, and she sank into her pillow with her arms around her knees.

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Chapter 13

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