Max finally agrees to stop hiding in his room.
Speaking of his room, boy needs to do some serious cleaning.
We accept the love we think we deserve.
Max rolled his eyes, but let Chance take his phone once his accounts were back up, slowly passing it over with a reluctant hand. Max's friends were all pretty used to having to confiscate his phone from time to time, but now that he hadn't touched it for three weeks, it felt a little odd for Max to already be handing it over. Chance was right, though: Twitter probably wasn't a good idea when they were both still trying to figure out how to deal with everything they were learning about themselves.
"Okay Maximus, I don't think that trying to reestablish yourself through social media is going to help. Let's go to the stupid college fair, I think seeing your friends in person would be a better method."
Max was already fumbling for an excuse to stay in his room.
Just about everyone was supposed to be at the college fair. Didn't some high school classes give extra credit if you showed up for it? Either way, it was popular-- and this would be the first time Max set foot in public in almost a month. There were going to be questions: questions he didn't think he was ready to answer.
He was terrified of what everyone would say. He didn't know how many people knew what had happened. He didn't feel ready to face everyone, and on top of that, he'd been dreading this whole day since before anything even happened.
After all, Max was never going to get into college; not with his current GPA and class credit. Maybe community college, best case scenario. And if he was fortunate enough to get in, why should he expect to do anything but fail and disappoint just like he was now?
His friends never stopped telling him how smart he was supposed to be, but Max hadn't felt smart since before sixth grade. He was disorganized and forgetful, and distractable, and lazy, and... stupid. Even Isa always called him an idiot, mostly as a term of endearment, but it was true, wasn't it?
Max only ever caused problems. He really was an idiot. "Are you sure that..." Max could barely form words. He was already being pelted by his own thoughts. They don't want to see you. They know what you did. Jenelle,
If any of them were still hurt by what he did, he didn't know what he was going to say. Especially Jenelle... in all the stress over kissing Chance, he could barely bring himself to cope with what happened between them.
Before any of that, she kissed him first. He had... why would she even do that? There was no way she actually...
And if she did...
Max needed to apologize. There was no one he'd hurt more than her, running away like that and then not speaking to her in nearly a month. He didn't know where to start.
He just had to pray they wouldn't run into each other until he figured out how to even begin to make up for the pain he caused her.
But if Chance wanted to go, Max couldn't bear the thought of making Chance go alone. This wasn't just his situation: it was both of them, and they were both trying to figure things out as they went. They were doing this together. Whatever the other needed, they'd be there for each other.
And besides, after everything, was he really going to be able to pass up the opportunity to spend a little more time with Chance? "...I mean yeah, sure, let's go." He pushed a smile, trying and failing to push down the instant urge to grimace.
If Max had been thinking about it, he would've asked to change into something that didn't make him look like he was the poster child for teenage depression, but no such luck.
He started looking around his room for his shoes, immediately getting a surge of anxiety over the state the room was in: it looked as though an abandoned attic and a greenhouse were smashed together in a hurricane. Books and papers were strewn over every surface, his bed was unmade, things were toppling off of his shelves and shoved into corners, there was an empty water glass left out on his desk, laundry hastily shoved under his bed, the drawers of his desk overstuffed and unable to close properly. And of course, his beloved houseplants were there, all somehow carefully laid out and tended to, juxtaposing the mess.
Somehow, this whole time that he'd been in a place so dark that he was unable to bring himself to talk to anyone, he'd found the time to tend to his plants. He'd sooner die than let one of his plants wither.
Finding a pair of shoes in this hellscape of a room was going to be like finding a needle in a haystack. He didn't dare look back at Chance and ask for help. This was too cripplingly embarrassing. It was a pair of fucking shoes, it shouldn't be this hard to find in his own room...
After three minutes of frantic searching, Max finally found his shoes under a pile of folded jackets. "Aha! Got it!" He cheered out loud, holding them up triumphantly and grinning before instantly fizzling out and shrinking back into embarrassment. "Okay. Ready to go. Sorry about... all that." Max gestured apologetically to their dusty and cluttered surroundings. "I'll get around to cleaning up in here at some point."
Max had been saying that for months now.
"Whose car are we taking?" Max asked, desperate to break the stillness. "I mean, technically I'm not supposed to, uh... right now..." his hand shook and quickly started a new sentence before he found himself trapped explaining the limits he was under. His parents had been stricter with him ever since the party, but... well, it wasn't entirely about the party. There had been things that he said to them, that...
It didn't matter. It was over, mostly. And now that he was out doing things again, they'd calm down soon and things would just shift back to normal.
If he acted like everything was fine, maybe everything would be.
Just like always.
Without thinking about it, his hand brushed up the side of his waist, fingers resting for a moment where Chance had held him. "You know, we could probably walk, if you want. It's not that far, right? And you and I could..." His two hands mirrored each other in slow motion, trying to form a verb that wasn't the one his brain jumped to instinctively. "...talk."
"You ready for our fish date?" Alexei glanced at Josephine perched daintily beside him in the passenger seat of his car, reaching over to give her kneecap a little squeeze. He chuckled gently, amused she was still clutching the pink roses he'd given her--apparently hypoallergenic, according to his own research for flowers that wouldn't aggrevate her allergies and make her sneeze.
Aside from some idle chatter here and there, Alexei was uncharacteristically quiet during the half hour drive to the aquarium outside of town. He'd never sully their date by admitting it, but he was still sulking over Carson's stupid little comments from the other day, the way she so blithely pointed out his girlfriend's attraction to her as if he wasn't already painfully aware. And no matter how much Josephine protested, it was clear Pinkie Pie's evil twin was right; his girlfriend was obviously into Carson, at least physically--there was no getting around it. Meanwhile, he couldn't even get to third base with her.
Not that second and a half base with Jo was a bad place to be--far from it. Alexei was thrilled that she seemed interested in doing anything with him. It wasn't about being in a rush to move quicker. The real problem was he couldn't seem to finish her, like really knock her pretty little princess socks off. Not yet, anyway, with their currently limited repertoire of activities.
Alexei might not have been this most confident guy ever, but he was fairly sure of his skills as a third baseman. And from his experience with other women, he was convinced this could be the key to turning his luck around. Unfortunately, Josephine was clearly unnerved by the idea, even if she wouldn't outright say so. It was obvious from her avoidance that she simply wasn't ready to be on the menu just yet.
All this worrying about it was starting to wear on his self esteem a little, which only made Alexei feel worse--this was supposed to be about Jo, after all. She'd say she liked being with him, but did she really? Did he make her feel comfortable and safe enough to enjoy herself? Would Carson be having this much trouble in his position? Honestly, he would just sleep better at night if he could give Josephine la petite mort. Alexei's quiet cough suddenly interrupted the car's silent atmosphere, trying in vain to suppress a chuckle at the French term, which literally translated to "the little death." Hilarious, given the couple's inside joke that he was secretly a murderer.
When they reached their destination, Alexei quickly got out of the car and jogged to Josephine's side to open her door before she could let herself out, offering her his hand as he always did. "Can't believe you agreed to come here with a murderer," He joked as they shuffled to the entrance, flashing Jo an evil, sidelong smirk. "You could have a fun date at the aquarium, or you could end up...sharkfood!" Grinning, Alexei let her walk a few paces ahead, playfully grabbing her from behind to punctuate the last word. "Yuuummm...a princess!" Slipping his arms around her waist, he gently nibbled her ear and down her neck. "They taste so much better than the riff-raff we usually get around here."
Still cuddling Josephine, Alexei glanced up at the building they were now standing in front of, resting his chin on her head. Up close, he finally noticed how rundown and rinky-dink the operation looked from the outside. Maybe it was cooler on the inside, he hoped with a slight frown.
A pool of water and what looked to be a small habitat behind plexiglass adjacent to the entrance soon caught his attention, and Alexei stepped forward to read the plaque in front of it. "Aww look, I think there's seals or something..." Nodding at the cartoon seals decorating the plaque, Alexei slipped his hand in Jo's to pull her along with him, but he was frowning again by the time she reached his side. "Oh no, they died." His brow furrowed while he somberly read aloud the notice lamenting the demise of Muffy and Buffy the seals, deceased from natural causes.
--------don't type anything after this comment--------
A Smile a Day, Keeps the Sadness at Bay...
Jennifer had barely seen her son over the past three weeks, he had been adamant about being out of the house. Before Blanche could even cancel their Friday dinners, Reid had begun to disappear on their days. Whatever the reason was, he wasn’t telling Jennifer. She wanted to give him his space, he was a teenage boy, she had been told to expect them to always be going through something. Hormones, urges, school, whatever it was. She wasn’t too sure what it could be this time. She wasn’t sure that she wanted to know.
“Even when you’re barely here, somehow you make the biggest mess.” Jennifer grumbled under her breath as she put away multiple water glasses, and plates from snacks that laid around the house. Sweatshirts, sweatpants. Jennifer was beginning to wonder if her son had adopted invisibility powers.
It was only then she heard the door to the front door close, and footsteps making their way up the creaking stairs. “Oh so HE DOES come home. What drew you in? A shower? Hot meal?” She raised one of her eyebrows, crossing her arms only to give him a look of disgust. Reid went to talk back, maybe explain himself. But Jennifer didn’t want to hear it. “Ah- stop right there.” She balled up the sweatshirt she was holding in her hands and tossed it at her tall son. “Do whatever you need to do, but you have 10 minutes. We are going to the college fair.”
Reid looked like he was going to retaliate, tell her no, tell her how terrible of an idea that was. But he didn’t, he only sighed and walked back up the stairs. Jennifer stood there, shocked that she didn’t have to tell him more than once. Shocked that he wasn’t fighting her on this, she must have finally perfected that mom face after 17 years.
The shower turned on and went back to finishing tidying up the house. Maybe, finally, Reid would see his life wasn’t actually over. That he really still might have a chance to turn it around. That juvey wasn’t the end all be all.
About 15 minutes later, Reid had come back downstairs though he hadn’t bothered to utter a word and the two of them got in the car and drove to the school. This would be Reid’s first time at Anchor Bay High, since they had just moved here only a few weeks prior. “This will be good for you, you can meet recruiters and see the school in itself. Familiarity always feels good on the first day of school.”
Reid only stared out the window. Jennifer pulled into the parking lot, only to spot Blanche’s car “Oh look who else is here!” She stated though she knew that Blanche and Lemon would both be here.
“Blanche!” Jennifer called out as she parked her car a few spots down from her best friend. “So good to see you! I had no idea you and Lemon were coming!” She winked, Reid rolled his eyes. He wasn’t even surprised that his mother had planned this entire thing, and hadn’t bothered to try to hide it.
there are so many beautiful reasons to be happy....
Before Astraea could ask any further questions, the small boy had already taken off. She shook her head back and forth, not sure if she had just imagined the whole interaction or not. Maybe Astraea had just had her first encounter with a ghost. He was rather pale and looked frail...
Nono. That was inconceivable, she thought to herself.
That word had been stuck in her vocabulary ever since her and Artie had watched the Princess Bride over the previous weekend. Thinking she had saw a ghost, that was crazy, and certifiable. He must of been a boy who lived in the complex, though she swore she had met almost everyone within her first year at the apartment. But, people could move in, and she somehow could of missed that. Right? Right..
Astraea shrugged her shoulders. There wasn't much else she could do about the situation, and she couldn't stand there all day waiting on a return from the ghost boy, now could she?
Nono. That was crazy. She had to go to the store, maybe grab a coffee before she started her closing shift. Though she had heard some class mates talking about Bang energy, and there was a cotton candy flavor she had been itching to try...
She made her way out of the building sauntering down the street towards the convenience store. One day, maybe she would bother to get her license, but that was one plus to living in Anchor Bay, you really didn't need it.
Okay maybe you needed it.. But that was what Artie was for!! He could drive Astraea wherever she wanted to go. He was too nice to say no!
The bell dinged as Astraea walked through the front doors, skipping around the store as she gathered her needs, a box of tampons, some chocolate, and there it was... The Cotton Candy Bang Energy drinks. Her eyes must of looked to be twice the size of their natural size, as she reached out and quickly grabbed two cans.
Skipping to the front of the store with the biggest smile on her face she greeted the cashier with her doe eyes. "Hello!" She squeaked as she threw her items down on the counter in front of her. "I am SO excited you had these, I have been wanting to try them for so long!!" It was only when she looked up to see that it wasn't the normal sweet old man standing behind the counter, but a much younger, attractive man, looking back at her with a small smirk on his face. "Oh.. I uh.." She smiled anxiously as she tilted her head.
He heard the alarm clock go off three times but an enormous headache made it impossible for him to get up nor turn it off. After a dreadful half hour., Alistair had gotten himself an heart attack by looking at the time. An half hour later and he had the opening shift, jesus. Alistair wouldn't feel so bad if this wasn't the fifth time this month he woke up with a bad hangover. No, this was becoming a terrible habit. He rushed himself to his car, running through the house in a pair of tidy widies and a toothbrush. Two red stop signs later and a missed exit he had arrived quote in quote, safely.
Alistair rushed to the door as he apologized repeatedly to the old lady who stated she had been standing there for 'forever', she definitely knew how to make a scene. It was only an half hour lady. He opened the door and got welcomed by an overwhelming scent of car freshener and the sight of dirty magazines muffled in the corner, after a deep sigh and a few costumers, Alistair felt deserving of a smoke break.
His headache had not gotten any less but the three coffees definitely made his engines start up again, Alistair had little recognition of what had happened yesterday but the so said night cap didn't help him sleep at all.
He woke up with a stack of beer cans and some old recordings from himself on the tv, Alistair didn't have to think about it too hard before connecting the two puzzle pieces. How pathetic, surely, there were better things to do than regretting your past life by watching yourself present the news all night.
As he watched some people walk in and out for five minutes, Alistair went back inside hoping to get through to the end of the day. Behind the cash register he sat down as he scrolled through his phone, Alistair was wondering if people still thought about him or even missed him. At the end of the day, nobody really knew the reason why he got fired which was a good thing at last.
Alistair gazed at the security cameras for a moment before getting distracted by his phone again, it wasn't until a girl appeared right in front of him he snapped out of it again. She rambled on excitingly and Alistair couldn't contain a smile. Well, there goes his tough celebrity persona. He took the stuff as he looked up to the girl, her long blonde hair made her look like a disney princess. Did that really just cross his mind?
Alistair couldn't help but give her a disapproving stare as he scanned the cotton candy energy. . . Whatever they called it. 'Well, as long as you're happy. I'm pretty sure this stuff takes away ten years of your life,' he jokingly said but couldn't factually prove otherwise. She stumbled a bit as if she didn't expect him to be here, he would have given her a reassuring smile but due to a life threatening hangover he just scanned the rest of her stuff though he felt like a dick. What if she was a fan?
'You know what, I'm sorry, it's a bad morning. The drink's on me, just take it,' he handed her a small plastic bag and made the price appear on the screen. This was not how he used to get the girls, back in Canada they would throw themselves at him but now Alistair felt like he had downgraded from his life fairly bad. His savings were slowly eating away on him as he tried to live a less luxury lifestyle.
It didn’t take but mere seconds and Blanche heard the familiar voice of her dearest friend Jen. Jen was the absolute picture of radiance when Blanche caught site of her friends looks. She really was glad to see that Jen was doing what was best for herself and for Reid, they both needed to get away from Alabama and they both needed some time away from Dalton. It was good for Jen to get a chance to clear her brain and hopefully start fresh. Though Blanche had never really liked Dalton she loved her friend and did her best to be there for her through everything. Good, bad, and even the ugly it was a friendship that most everyone aspired to have and somehow at their age they had managed to maintain a friendship that never felt like it aged.
Of course, upon hearing Jen’s voice Blanche could see her daughter almost freak out, she couldn’t tell if it was panic, frustration, or some other combination of emotions. Lemon had been anything but easy to read this past year, so Blanche always felt as if she was trying to read a book in a language she didn’t know. Her heart ached for her daughter but she needed to get her daughter to be more social this year, not holed up in that room with the cat, it wasn’t healthy for anyone. “It’ll be fine, Sweetpea. Promise.” All her daughter did was roll her eyes and continued to follow along.
“Jen!” Blanche yelled back pulling her friend into a hug, “What a lovely surprise to see you and Reid here. It’s such a good experience for him and he can learn the school a bit more.” If anything, Blanche hoped this outing would help the two children work out whatever issues were plaguing them. They used to be so close and now they seemed to act as if they were strangers. It was heartbreaking to watch them struggle when she wanted them to both be happy.
The booths were nice and each one that the stopped at Blanche would try to get her daughter involved but Lemon had always had her heart set on culinary school. Blanche had tried to do everything she could to fight for Lemon to get that dream but she wanted her daughter to have a successful bakery. She could bake without a culinary degree but a business would be more successful if her daughter could properly learn how to run one. Blanche had tried to explain this to Lemon because when Lemon spoke with her father it became a shouting match. So, Blanche had stepped in and that turned into more tears and anger and a complete shutdown. She needed a way to convince Lemon that she could have her bakery she just wanted her daughter to have the proper tools to be successful.
Booth after booth and Lemon wasn’t opening up to the idea. Blanche pulled them to one more and got talking with the recruiter and it only took mere seconds for her to notice that the children had completely run off, “Jen. We lost the kids.” Blanche turned her friend around and showed her the empty spaces where Reid and Lemon once stood.
when you are kind to others, it not only changes you, but the world.
The fireworks on fourth of July had been amazing, but not as amazing as the girl that Jacob had sat next to that night....
Too bad he was too nervous and dumb founded to even find words to speak to her.
Jacob nervously twiddled his thumbs most of the night. Letting out an 'oo' or 'ahhh' here or there. And not before long, the light show had ended and they were saying their goodbyes. How come Jacob had no problems talking to Tabitha before, to just turn into an utter babbling fool around her. How come that had happened?
They still talked occasionally... So at least that meant Jacob hadn't completely destroyed their friendship, though he was sure that the soon to be senior had no plans of going out with the soon to be sophomore ever again. How he had royally messed that up so bad, he would never understand.
At this point, Jacob had other things to focus on. He had spent so much time over the last few weeks, focusing on Tabitha, he had been neglecting his best friend, Oliver. Though Oliver had been busy more so than usual lately. Jacob still felt bad, he didn't want Oliver to feel forgotten.
Jacob wondered how it must of been going with Romir, Oliver's boyfriend... Or fake boyfriend? Jacob still wasn't exactly sure what that meant. But he was glad Oliver was happy.
They had made plans to hangout before the college fair, Jacob's mom, Kathy, called up the stairs to Jacob who had just hopped out of the shower. Wrapping a towel around his waist, he scrubbed his hair with the hand towel laying beside the sink. "Jacob!! Are you almost ready to leave??"
Truthfully, Jacob was nowhere near ready. But he had made his friend wait long enough. "Just... 5 more minutes!!" He called back as he speedily got dressed, before booking it down the stairs, four at a time. He passed by his mom, almost sending her into a spin like one of those looneytoon characters. Making it out the door before she could even pick up her purse.
It was a quick drive to the library, Jacob unbuckled his seat-belt as Kathy pulled over to the curb. "Thanks mom!" He said, giving her a quick peck on the cheek as he hopped out of the car.
"Just send me a text when you need to be picked up!" Kathy rolled down her window as Jacob closed the passenger door. "I'll bring by lunch, text me you and Oliver's orders, 'Okay?" She raised an eyebrow of concern like they would forget. "And Oliver, sweetie, if you change your mind, I am more than happy to give you a ride home tonight." With that Kathy left with a nod, pulling away from the curb and heading back towards home.
"I haven't seen you in forever!" Jacob exclaimed as he nudged his friend with a light elbow. "What's new?"
TL;DR Oliver is still pretty sure he's being stalked, but that's fine. At least the college fair is relatively safe.
How lonely it is, to be drowning in a place where everyone can swim
Seeing Jacob's mother's car again was normally such a relief. They two friends had been apart for a few weeks since the start of July... this was mostly Oliver's fault for having been so quiet all that time.
Today, though, Oliver could barely manage a wave until he actually saw Jacob disembark the car, as if he didn't believe it was really his family's until that proved it.
Oliver didn't say anything to Jacob's mother when she offered again to give him a ride home at the end of the day. Truth be told, Oliver hadn't decided whether he was going to go home at all tonight. He'd be in trouble if he stayed out the whole night, but he'd be in trouble for sneaking out anyway... why not delay the punishment? It was never really about what he did. It was about how angry his mother already was when she found out.
There was safety in timing.
And maybe one night out on the street wouldn't be so bad. At least it was summertime; he wouldn't freeze to death.
Jacob asking Oliver what was new was a heavier question than intended. The smaller of the boys closed his eyes, trying to find the thoughts again, but when he did find them, he seemed to have fallen into a deep state of dread. He'd turned a few shades paler, stopping in his tracks. "Someone knows where I live." Oliver hardly paused even to breathe as he explained the situation, stammering and speaking almost too quietly to be heard. He kept tapping his fingers against his wrist, as if counting out the fractions of seconds that passed between his words. "Well... someone else knows... knows where I live, so now it's her and Romir and whoever t-told Romir, so now anyone could know. This girl was in my building, and... what if it-- and I... I don't want to t-to talk about it."
It was well known that Oliver refused to give out his address, but he'd never been clear with anyone as to why. He'd say things like "I can't" or "I don't want to get into trouble", but when pressed he seemed worried that he would be robbed or killed if the wrong person knew his whereabouts. But no matter how many times he was asked, he refused to explain.
He anxiously shifted positions, fingers still rapidly flicking his wrist. "But at least we get to be at the college fair."
The promise of a safe afternoon away from home was nearly good enough to let him momentarily forget about the crisis he was under. He nodded to himself almost reassuringly. "So it's not so b-- so bad. Right? Probably not."
By the time they arrived, Oliver seemed to have mostly recovered from his brief bout of paranoia, aside from glancing side-to-side every few seconds and walking half on tiptoes, even though there was no need at all to muffle his footsteps in an open area like this with lots of people walking around. Oliver leaned over a bit closer to Jacob, giving his friend a light tap on the shoulder. "What do you want to look at?" He asked, eying the layout of booths. The fair was busy, but it was laid out neatly and wasn't too loud. A few quiet conversations at each booth, and that was it. Even now, he could manage easily. "You should pick. You... could go to college if you wanted, p-pr-probably. Oh! Also..." He turned around to give Jacob a terse stare, holding out an empty palm as if for a handshake. "We c-can't meet at the library anymore. I have to... to pick somewhere else. Right now. Today."
"Are these hypoallergenic?" Josephine questioned, scrunching her nose and holding the boquet at a distance to prevent risk of her allergies acting up. Upon confirmation, she perked up, gently cuddling the pink flowers.
Noticing silence on her boyfriend's part, Jo frowned. She loathed silence. She was a quiet person but she loathed silence. It reminded her of all the hours spent at home in her room with nobody to talk to when they weren't absolutely obligated to do so. Part of the reason she'd started dating Alexei was so she'd never have to have that uncomfortable silence.
Maybe she was just being spoiled. After all she was used to him jumping up and down wanting to talk to his princess all the time. Was it really so weird for him to act like a normal person and sit and drive in silence? He certainly wasn't obligated to sing her praises 24/7. Maybe she'd just have to be the noisy one until he was feeling up to it again.
''So have you been to this aquarium before?" She questioned him, tilting her head. It was kind of a silly question. After all anything Josephine had done she was certain Alexei had done the same years before. It was actually kind of irritating how everything was so new and exciting to her, yet old to him.
Not that Alexei acted bored with her or anything. In fact he seemed more than happy to walk Jo through all of her firsts. But how happy was he really? How much of his goofy enthusiastic nature was him overcompensating? She unintentionally made him laugh a lot with her somewhat innocent nature, but that didn't really count. It would always be funny to watch a newborn puppy flop around on it's back but it was so much more annoying to teach it things. Maybe things would have been easier if she'd gotten some experience under her belt before getting with him.
Thankfully he seemed to be back to his old antics, as he dashed out of the car to open her door for her "I can think of wprse ways to go than your murderer boyfriend who brings you flowers on dates." She commented, her arm dramatically reaching back to the car where the flowers currently lay as if devastated to be separated from them. "Goodbye my lov-hey!" Josephine squealed, as Alexei grabbed her from behind and started cuddling her. "Stop it," She turned around to press a quick kiss to his lips "No trying to eat or make out with me in an aquarium, have some class."
She turned around, and Alexei's arms immediately found her waist again. The building was............a sh*tshow. Maybe that's how aquariums were supposed to look though. She didn't exactly have a point of reference for them after all.
Her face immediately frowned upon reading the seal's sign "Aww Muffy and Buffy? Did you do this?" She glanced over at Alexei, with a mock frown on her face. It wasn't exactly the greatest start but she knew Alexei liked to cheer Jo up when dates went wrong. Why shouldn't she return the favor?
As Logan parked her car, opened the door, she took her first breath of freedom. She did it. She had finally left Drew behind and she was ready to become the author she hoped she could be, and she was home back at the childhood home of her mother. Sure, the house had been vacant for the better part of a year…or two but Logan could handle some minor renovations to a house. It was left to her mom and Logan had explained she needed a vacation to her mother and now she was back in Anchor Bay. The stress was off of her shoulders, the drugs were completely gone, she really could become someone away from the terror that she had desperately trying to stay sober from. Sure, it seemed boring to not do drugs or party but two years ago Logan had been a wreck, she was a shell of herself. Lying to get money, stealing from her family just to get her next fix. Now, she was clean and still healing from that dark time. Yet, she couldn’t quite let go of Drew. Maybe it was love, maybe it was something of comfort that she couldn’t quite release but she couldn’t shake him and the hold he always had on her heart.
Now she was free and she decided to enjoy the beach for a bit. The sun was shining, the weather was nice and a little sunshine always cured sadness. Or at least she hoped it would help keep her distracted in a town that was once home but now she felt like an alien. An outsider and as much as she believed she belonged a part of her yearned to be back in Vermont curled up next to Drew. That was until he began to blow up her phone. She had done her best ignore him but it was difficult the more desperate he got. The more he plead with her to tell him where she was, how he needed her. He couldn’t handle coming off of his highs, but he always craved her during them. But those moments where his mind was clear were the times, she craved the most and she knew it was more addictive than any drug she had ever consumed. So, she caved and told him where she was. This only gave her a few hours to prepare for his arrival and a drink was needed.
As Logan changed her outfit after a small Twitter exchange, she made her way to the bar. Really in no rush, she just needed a drink. One that was strong and could swallow the fears that lay at the forefront of her chest. Alcohol never cured the sadness but it could numb her fear. Numb the worries of what Drew could destroy in such a small town. What damage they could do to each other but she wanted him. She wanted him more than she could ever explain in words and that was the worst part of her addiction. He was her addiction that she wasn’t sure she wanted to break, but at least she could enjoy her few moments left of freedom. As she sat down at the bar, she ordered herself whiskey, no mixer, not a shot. She wanted to savor the liquor as it burned its way through her and burned through what was left of her fears.
Dustin stood quietly in the hall, clutching his skateboard by the trucks as he peeked through the glass door to spy Winona working through her dance routine. He was early meeting up with his girlfriend--not that he minded waiting around though. He was just happy she agreed to hang out with him. They hadn't done so that much as of late. Officially, Nona was busy practicing at the studio the last couple of weeks, but Dustin was sure she was still upset and mostly avoiding him after what had happened at the Moores' party.
Plus he always loved watching Nona dance. It was fascinating to see someone move in such an impossibly graceful manner, all on tiptoes no less, and make it look completely effortless. And Nona never looked more beautiful and serene as when she'd lose herself in her art, doing what she loved.
"Nono," Dustin grinned as Winnie eventually stepped through the door. He placed his board gently on the floor so not to let it clatter and disturb the quiet of the studio, holding his arms out to wordlessly beg for a hug. But once she'd slipped easily into his arms, Dustin couldn't force himself to let go. He instead held onto her for a bit, trying to swallow the lump that was suddenly in his throat as he pressed a kiss to her forehead. He'd been so busy worrying over the status of their relationship and Nona being mad at him that he'd hardly allowed himself to feel how much he'd really missed her.
He finally pulled back to give Nona a wan smile, indulging in his standard greeting of covering her face in kisses. "Oh...I uh, have something for you," Dustin added sheepishly, pulling a small box wrapped in pink paper out of his pocket. "It's nothing really, but..." He trailed off with a shrug, suddenly feeling a bit stupid even giving it to her. It wasn't like he expected Winnie to just forget everything because he gave her a present, but it just now occurred to him that's exactly what it looked like he was expecting.
Inside the box was a bracelet, a delicate rose gold chain with tiny roses fashioned of the same metal interwoven among the chain links, and a little charm in the shape of pointe shoes dangling from it. His dark eyes flitted nervously between Nona's face and her hands opening the package, watching intently for the first sign of a reaction to what she thought of the gift.
when you are kind to others, it not only changes you, but the world.
“Yea! It should be a lot of fun, I know that college is forever away… But it’s worth a stop by I think.” Jacob shrugged his shoulders as he started walking towards the high school.
“No.. Not bad at all.” Jacob smirked, trying to lighten Oliver’s mood. He seemed more stressed out than he usually was.
The walk from the library to the high school was quick, though Jacob wasn’t sure if that was because of how often they had walked it, or if it was actually a short walk. Either way they were finally at the College Fair. “I can’t wait to be a sophomore!” Jacob said as they came into sight of the high school. “It’s going to be so great to get back this fall.”
Jacob loved school, he enjoyed classes and spending time with Oliver. Seeing Tabitha every day…
He hadn’t realized that he had completed zoned out, closing his eyes abruptly as his friend tapped him lightly on the shoulder. “I’m not even sure what I would want to do… Or where to even look…”
“You could go-“ Jacob went to tell Oliver that he could also go to college if he wanted, but the subject was quickly changed. “Wait. What?” Jacob was confused as to why they had to change the place they had been meeting. “Why?” He furrowed his eyebrows as he looked over at his friend. “Where do you want to meet then?”
there are so many beautiful reasons to be happy....
Astraea tried to keep up her head up, but meeting the blue eyes of the cashier in front of her seemed to be an impossible task for her to accomplish. “Oh, I don’t know.” She said nervously. She knew nothing about Bang Energy drinks to be fair, “I thought the flavor looked fun… I guess.” She awkwardly tucked a strand of her blonde hair behind her ear.
She felt like she had been standing there forever, starring at the groceries in front of her. How long was too long? Was she already way passed the awkward stage. “Oh shoot I have to pay you.” She quickly said as she reached towards her purse that was slung over her shoulder.
Only to stop mid opening of her wallet. “What?” She stammered, finally meeting the man’s eyes in front of her. They weren’t just blue, they had hints of green in them too. “You really don’t have to do that…” Astraea’s smile grew, and her cheeks turned bright pink. “Are you serious?” Her eyebrows raised, and her mouth dropped open slightly as he handed her the plastic bag.
“Thanks.” She smiled pressing her lips together to keep her smile from growing too big. “I’m Astraea.” She reached her hand as she introduced herself to the clerk.
“You might be right you know, about these taking years off your life… But you only get one, so why not live it.. Right?” She bit the corner of her lip, knowing what she said was probably the stupidest line she could have come up with. But she had learned over the years of being away from home that most things were worth trying at least once. At least then she could say she did.
TL;DR Oliver considers the solitary lifestyle of sea turtles.
How lonely it is, to be drowning in a place where everyone can swim
"I don't know!!!" Oliver snapped, far more fierce than he'd intended to sound. Flinching as he heard himself, he lowered his voice to just above a whisper. He thought for a long moment, trying to come up with something.
He wasn't ever going to use the library as a hiding place again, he thought.
That was probably where someone found out where he lived. Someone who told Romir, and certainly could have told anyone else by now.
Now they know him there. And if anyone ever saw him there, while someone was looking for him... perhaps they'd think nothing of it when turning him in. For all they'd know, they were doing a good deed.
That was why he couldn't be safe there anymore. It was like school now: only as safe as home.
"...maybe, if, when-- b-basically when you, you don't-- if I whenever..." Oliver tried to start three different sentences in the same breath and instantly became tongue-tied. He stopped, dragging in a slow inhale before beginning again, only to lose the whole thought and come up with nothing.
He closed his eyes and felt his fingernails claw up the side of his face. He kept trying to tell himself that it was fine for now, that no one was going to call home on him right now... had his mother even noticed that he wasn't home?
She could have.
Oliver couldn't help but think then how incredibly lucky most reptiles were to be independent from birth, to grow up without having a family. A sea turtle will never even meet its mother. That wasn't to say that Oliver usually envied sea turtles: there were actually tons of reasons why he'd never want to trade places with one. For one, sea turtles don't form friendships.
That was probably the one thing Oliver would never change about his life. After all that time, he'd finally found other people he could trust. There were good people out there. He knew them. That alone kept him out of a lot of trouble.
He didn't realize when he'd picked up a small informational leaflet about Tufts University from the table next to them, but now he was rapidly folding and unfolding it in his hands, creasing the glossed paper into smaller and smaller squares. He didn't say anything else to Jacob after that, partially turned away but still watching his friend out of the corner of his eye. To make sure he hadn't left.
Olivia could tell that her husband was avoiding her. He was spending longer nights at the firehouse and only came home when she was at her studio downtown. She knew that because she would find unwashed dishes in the sink or a load of laundry tumbling in the dryer when returning to their shared house. There was a rule that had always existed between them that was that either of them could bring up the fact that they wanted to close their relationship and settle down as an actual married couple; but instead of listening when Nolan brought it up, Olivia avoided it. She didn't want kids right now, she wasn't even sure if she wanted kids to begin with. Her mother had enough grandchildren, did the woman really need more? And they both decided on having an open relationship because they married young, there was so much that Olivia still wanted to do that she couldn't do if she was in a monogamous relationship.
Now Nolan wasn't one to get angry and explode on his wife, he usually secluded himself and gave her space. Liv knew that she was being a little unfair to him. Her choice to skip over the most vital conversation of her marriage had resulted in Nolan sleeping in the guest room too. Both of them had tried to appear normal in front of her family and Isa, who had been staying with them, but it was hard.
The rift was too large.
The model was starting to feel lonely and scared, was this gonna be the reason that Nolan left her? No, she didn't want to think of that. She couldn't think of him leaving too, not when she loved him so much. But this was just who she was, she couldn't force herself to live a certain way. She wanted to be genuine with Nolan, but she also didn't want to lose the effortless relationship that they had had the past few years.
Olivia had tried to not let this daunt over the person she showed everyone she was. She let her problems boil under the surface but listened to Chance ponder about his sexuality, Winnie ask about her current relationship and past relationship, helped Diana settle in her new apartment, guide Isa stability in the chaos that was the past few weeks. Her problem was something that only she needed to figure out with her husband, she didn't need to vent to someone else about it. Keeping it bottled up was a lot easier in a way, despite her husband avoiding her, focusing on others was what she needed. From the drama to the assistance to the drinking to the sex. And what better way to find all that than a college fair filled with the tumultuous teenagers and young adults of Anchor Bay.
Liv sat at a booth advertising her alma mater, University of Miami. A flask was settled in her purse and she doodled a few ideas around in her open sketch book hoping to bide the time.
TL;DR Ivy runs into Liv and discusses going to school in Florida.
Don't threaten me with a good time
Parties come and go, and in their wake, they leave only headaches and that lingering fear that there's something out there in the world more fulfilling.
And a handful of small first- and second-degree burns.
For a couple of days after the party, Ivy was walking around with flecks of spark burns dashed over her face like red splotchy freckles. And despite the stinging, she never once for a minute regretted being nearly decapitated by a firework. Sure, maybe her life flashed before her eyes a little bit, but what's a good party without a little near-death experience?
Besides, she'd pay in money or blood to hang out with Liz again sometime. The new girl from Chicago was a rare kind of cool, one that made her think for a moment that maybe there were people who didn't lose their spark when they got old.
Ivy was so, so used to hearing things like "you'll grow out of it" and "when you get some more maturity...". All too often, she found that 'maturity' went hand-in-hand with being a boring prick. Ivy didn't know how old Liz was, but she was assuming maybe 20, and if that was still Fireworks Age, then she had a good 6 more years of worthwhile living.
The other new people who had arrived in town one-by-one over the summer were less impressive, for the most part, but some were entertaining enough.
After the party, though, life quickly fizzled back into the monotonous status quo of Anchor Bay that she'd grown to despise. Even a boring old college fair seemed more fun than another day of flopping around in her room bullying people on Twitter and counting the cracks on the walls. So despite not having any plans to actually pursue higher education, and being several years away from having to make a decision on the matter, she was almost excited to pull on her roller skates and head back into town to talk college with the nerds.
When she got there, though, she was disappointed but unsurprised to see that nothing had been set on fire and everyone looked painfully sober. She took off her skates and slung them over her shoulder, realizing then that she'd neglected to bring a spare pair of shoes. Her socks were going to get destroyed, but there was no way in hell she was going home.
There had to be something interesting happening here. If not, she'd make it happen herself.
But wouldn't it be nicer to have a partner in crime?
And just then, she spotted the perfect subject sitting behind one of the booths, doodling away in a sketchbook. Ivy caught the young woman's attention by yelling "Oh shit, hi Liv!!!!" ...it was quite an honor that Ivy had opted to use the woman's proper nickname. Liv Matthews-Marriott was another adult who restored some of Ivy's faith in the adult population of her town. Though Liv was not quite even a decade older than her nieces and nephews (both biological and acquired), she had taken on a role as Anchor Bay's Wine Aunt. Ivy didn't know anyone who didn't love her. So wherever Liv had spent 4 years of her life and probably thousands of her hard-earned dollars, Ivy decided it was worth a look. Clearly, the University of Miami hadn't killed Liv's spirit too badly. At the very least, it seemed that way on the outside.
Ivy ran up to the booth and started flipping through the assortment of fliers. "Ooh, Miamiiii..." Ivy looked down at the cartoon pink flamingo on her shirt and grinned. "I have family there!" Liv had no way of knowing that Ivy had spent part of the morning joking with Zach that she was raised by kinky flamingos in Florida, so the comment made even less sense out of context than it would've if she'd known the whole incoherent story. "Tell me about this place." She sounded almost excited, as though she were only 90% joking. "Do they have alligators on campus? Can an alligator enroll? Can you name at least 3 alligator alumni? If you say no then we're through. I can't go to an anti-alligator institution. That's not ethical."
Something had clicked in Chance's head and he was scared again. All of a sudden everyone expected something from him. Max. Lemon. Mariah. Tabitha. Isa. And sooner rather than later, Frankie was going to need something from him too. His sister didn't say that this would be this hard, she had actually said the opposite. That after accepting himself and telling those important to him, it would be easy. But no.
Everyone was asking something of him that he didn't know how to provide. All Chance wanted was to finally meet who he was, yet now he didn't want to.
Why was this so hard?
And here Max was in front of Chance, probably thinking that the runner had fully figured himself out. Chance was impulsive, this was impulsive, but he couldn't stop it now.
Yeah, we can talk. Chance replies as he lets Max lead him out of his room. And your room isn't a problem, you should see Liv's studio office. He chuckles, stuffing his hands into his pockets. The two boys pass by Mr. Berkowitz, Chance giving a quick wave goodbye.
It was the end of July, but Chance could kind of already sense a tinge of fall in the atmosphere just like he sense the tinge of tension that existed between his friend and himself. Max kissed him. He kissed Max. What the hell were they supposed to do now? Everyone that knew probably thought something was going on between them, but was it really that easy. And was it really that easy with Max? Mind you, both boys had a crush on someone else and Chance considered Max one of his best friends, but Max was never really great at the whole talking about feelings and neither was Chance.
Now Chance understood why Max never wanted to tell Harper. If they couldn't talk about this or talk about them, is their friendship ruined? Chance glanced over Max's figure with a look of panic hoping that that wasn't the case. How does one talk about this?
Do you know what college you want to go to? Yes, you talk about it by avoiding it.
Max followed his friend out of his room, though as soon as they stepped out, he already looked as though he wanted to turn back. It seemed to take forever for them to just get down the stairs. He waved goodbye to his father, but once he was out of sight he swiped his father's phone off the kitchen counter, quickly shoving it in his pocket as he walked out the door.
Stealing made Max's stomach turn, but lately Isa had been talking to his father again. After everything that had happened, she kept confronting him about Max's mental health, something Max had been trying for months to keep everyone out of. He didn't want her to know all the things that had happened, because if she did... would she blame herself? Would she ever be able to move on knowing what he'd done? Would she still talk to him?
She was trying to force him into therapy without knowing the whole story. The thought of having to go through that was too much to handle. Isa doesn't know what she's talking about.
You don't need therapy.
That was why he had to block Isa off of his father's phone. So he wouldn't tell her anything. She couldn't know. No one could.
Max had almost forgotten how much he was missing fresh air. It was a beautiful day, a little cool for July, a slight breeze... he could smell the ocean from here. In the weeks he'd been hiding away in his room, summer seemed to have turned a corner and for a moment he almost worried about how much time had passed.
He had an immediate instinct to reach out and take Chance's hand, and only just barely suppressed it. If anyone saw them holding hands, that would be the end of it.
So instead, they walked side-by-side for a few blocks in silence, and time seemed to roll to a stop until Chance caught his attention again to ask him what college he wanted to go to.
Of course, the first question was harder to answer than he'd ever be able to actually say to Chance.
"Oh." Max visibly cringed. "I haven't. I haven't thought of it." He hoped that would look better than saying he didn't think he was smart enough for college. "...where do you want to go? I'm sure you already know... like, track stuff at least. I mean, if that's what you want..." It was all Max could do not to mention anything that was weighing on both of their minds. The kiss, whatever they were going to say to everyone else... what they were going to call whatever it was they'd become. Were they really "just friends" anymore?
What did he even want? What did Chance want?
Max rubbed his elbows for a moment, glancing off to the side. "Sorry. It's just been a while since I've been outside, right? It's gotta be that." He tried to laugh, but only managed a weak half-smile. "Everything feels weird now."
Max felt his father's phone buzz in his pocket and prayed that it wasn't set to ring. Phone theft was not a conversation he was ready to have with his friend.
Dance, along with painting, was the only way that Winona could truly let go. She had put her all into this art form hoping that it would allow her separate all her earthly feelings and ascend to something almost celestial, this was when Winnie felt most powerful. Where she felt perfect, where nothing could go wrong.
She'd been spending a lot of time at the studio for a multitude of reasons. One, she needed to submit an audition tape to Juilliard in order to gain admission to a workshop the school was holding over the summer. Attending the program meant an easy admission into the school, if she didn't go to the workshop it was going to be hard getting into Juilliard the following fall. Another reason she'd been at the studio was to avoid her boyfriend. She didn't know how to sit around him knowing that he had feelings for someone else or the fact that she had done something completely out of character with Noah. Dancing let her forget about it all. But like all good things, her session had to end.
Winnie spots Dustin peeking into the room from the other side of the door, she gives him a small smile before walking over to collect her things. She switches from her point shoes to some white vans, wrapping the dancing instrument together and stuffing them in her practice bag. Seeing Dustin always made Winnie's heart skip. She had strong feelings for the boy and she wanted this relationship to last, but she didn't want to be a second choice again. But the kisses overpowered her insecure feelings and she could only feel the butterflies that fluttered in her stomach. Hey babe, missed you.
This was genuine. Dustin towered over her by only three inches, so when he pulled her into his grasp, her head landed on her shoulder and she relished the feel of his embrace. The dancer couldn't deny that she missed this. When her boyfriend pulls out the gift wrapped box, it makes Winnie a little nervous; and when the charm bracelet finally sits in her open palm, Winnie feels a slight pain in her chest along with a warm feeling. There is a tear that clouds her right eye, and she's not quick enough to wipe it away before it travels down her cheek. Oh wow, um, what's the occasion? The jewelry dangles between her fingertips as she looks as the delicate gift. She looks up to Dustin, a soft look on her face accompanied with a grin. Holding out the bracelt, she asks, will you help me put it on?
Isa hated one person right now and that person was herself. She had been so blind to the needs of her brother, her friends, to everyone because she decided to disappear. She looks at her phone at the messages between her and Liz, Max, and Chance. She was trying to do better at paying attention. She hasn't, that time away with Auntie, and Lemon has taught her that. She didn't see that Lemon was hurting, just like she didn't see that Max was hurting. She knew of course that his anxiety grew worse over the past year but she didn't know why or how it did. It all grow to a point in March, at first she thought it was her doing. She was really messed up back then, she had just gotten the news that her mother took the job offer and was planning on leaving Isa behind without even a word of fight between them. So she spiraled. drinking and drugs became her best friends once again. If she wasn't with Chance or Max, she was drinking and on drugs trying to forget. Even once showing up to Max's house high as fuck. It was that moment that she decided to stop, it was the moment when her brother begged for her to stop destroying herself.
So she did, it was hard and sometimes she fights the urge to go back to the drinking and the drugs and sometimes the urges win. She tries to stay away from her family when that happens. She doesn't want them to see her as the monster she was at times. Even Liz doesn't know about her struggle with drugs and alcohol. Isa didn't want her to know about them. She knew about the drinking. A rule that they made, that had already been broken by Bear, but she doesn't know about the drugs. It was hard enough hiding it from her when she first started when she was 15, and now it's even harder but now Max needed her. He needed her sober at least 90% of the time. She looked at her phone again, looking through the messages with his dad. He didn't trust her, no parent did. It was only right. She didn't exactly do a good first impression but she promised him that she would make her brother go to therapy even if it cost her their friendship. She didn't want her brother to become like her. Someone who didn't know love. Someone who didn't think they could be loved.
Isa looks outside the window, and sees Liz's car pulling up. She sighed and thought to herself, someone who couldn't say the one thing that she wanted to say to the one person who ever made her feel like she was someone. She then opens her mouth calls out to say that she was leaving but closed it, remembering that Liv was at the college fair and Uncle No was probably at the firehouse again. Like he has been for a couple of weeks. Isa wasn't stupid, she knew that they were fighting or something. She doesn't know what about and Auntie was trying to act like everything was fine but it wasn't. She even thought that it was about her. Something that she did. She didn't want that to be true of course but it's a weird occurrence that they started ignoring each other, when she had just moved it. It's hard not to think it wasn't about her.
Isa walked out the door, closing it behind her. She walks to the car and just smiles seeing Liz's face. Nothing could hide the smile on her face. She brought her happiness just by being herself and by her side. "You are late. I might have to get you a watch Bear. " She teasingly said to her person. "Are you ready to meet Blu? She's kinda clueless at times but I love her. She's a good boss too. " She then noticed that Bear wasn't saying anything back to her, she turned to look at her. Liz had that look on her face that serious look on her face, and Isa just took her hand softly and gripped it just as softly. "What's wrong Bear? I know I'm beautiful but don't get stunned by me. " She adds softly as she jokingly smiles softly at the girl who holds her entire heart but doesn't know it. Doesn't know it at all.