Status: active;;

Right Now

I'm on My Way

I glance down at my phone, mostly out of habit by now. As expected, there is no message from Brianna, there hasn’t been since the camping trip. A month has flown by, and each day, the hurt I feel at the lack of contact with my best friend seems to get worse. I haven’t really talked to the guys, either, which really sucks. I know they’re busy, and I will never begrudge them for that. I just wish I didn’t feel so cut off from the group of friends I made. Olly has sent a few texts - mostly descriptions and pictures of food she’s made in class that never fail to make my mouth water; I only ever seem to send back texts saying I’m jealous.

I lock my phone, sliding it into my hoodie pocket, and focus on the lecture. My mind doesn't want to cooperate, no matter how hard I try. It keeps going back to the day my words messed everything up. I had never once thrown her familial situation in her face like that, and the memory still leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I've relieved that day over and over in my dreams; each time, I attempt to stop myself, to force myself to bite back the words, but all I succeed in doing is watching her face close off as everything we've ever had is shattered. My chest tightens, and a little voice in my brain whispers that nothing is ever going to be the same.

A hand falls onto my shoulder, and I jump. My knees hit the underside of the desk. My instructor raises a brow when I look up at her.

“Miss Bryce, is everything okay?”

“Uh, yeah, I'm fine.”

“I only ask because I dismissed class five minutes ago.”

I close my eyes against the shame, nod succinctly, and gather up my stuff. Her gaze is a palpable weight on my shoulders as I hurry from the room. Students mill around on the sidewalks, and I start the dance that comes with being on campus. Moving quickly through groups of chattering people and ducking under the frisbee that zooms past, I finally reach my car. I check for any missed messages, hope a feeble thing in my chest; there’s only a text from Jacob inviting me out the next night. I send back a thumbs-up, feeling a small smile playing at my lips. He and I have become pretty close since I got back from London. I won’t ever get in his car again, but we still talk every day, and we’ve hung out outside of school multiple times - including various house-parties on the weekends. It’s nothing like spending time with Brianna or Harry, but it’s good enough to distract me from the loss I feel since the friendship with Bri ended.

Jacob is waiting for me by the front door of the house by the time Anna drops me off. Her face is impassive, but her eyes give away her displeasure; I promise her that I'll be good and give her a call when I'm ready to go home. She nods stiffly, watches me as I slide out of the passenger seat, and then drives away quickly. Biting my lip, I stare after her, then I shrug and turn to step carefully through the yard until I reach the porch. Jacob throws open his arms, and I don't even get the chance to move out of reach before he’s enveloped me in a bone-crushing embrace. I can already smell the liquor on his breath.

Thankfully, he isn't the only person I know here. Sonia is perched on the back of the rundown couch when I walk in, and her face lights up when she sees me. I peel away from Jacob and rush to her side, hugging her tightly. She has been my saving grace in class lately; she caught me up on the instructors’ teaching methods, gave me her notes from when she took the classes, and tutors me if something isn't clicking right. I know I would be close to giving up on becoming a nurse if it wasn't for her. I stand next to her, and we chat for a few minutes. She's nice enough to introduce me to the group she was talking to before I interrupted.

The song on the stereo changes, melds from something wild and frantic to smooth and bumping with bass. Sonia grabs for my hand and latches onto another girl, drags us both to the centre of the living room where we dance together. I have no rhythm, tripping over my own feet, but it isn't as uncomfortable or awkward as I feared. Instead, we laugh at my clumsiness and continue moving to the beat. Someone pushes a drink into my hand, and I glance up at Jacob. He grins in response and disappears through the throng of partygoers. Max gives the cup a distrustful look, takes it from me, and pours it out into the bucket a couple of feet away.

“Don't you know not to drink something you didn't make yourself?” she asks when she rejoins us.

“Oh, c’mon, I wasn't gonna be dumb enough to actually drink it!”

“Mmhmm, sure, white girl.”

I pull back, scandalised, and gape at her. “You're white!”

“But not dumb!” she giggles before pulling me in again so we can continue dancing.

Everything is swirling together, a mass of blurring faces and shifting walls. I laugh even as my knee collided with the edge of a step, and strong arms heft me back to my feet. Guys reach out to slap at my shoulder - but why? Girls shoot me judgmental looks before turning away to talk with their friends. I stumble down the hall; I don't even know where I'm going, I just know something is up here that I need. What do I need? I can't concentrate on walking and my confusion at the same time, but someone pushes me forward, and I give up trying to make sense of my thoughts. Something soft and bouncy is beneath my back, hard and unyielding on top of me, and my head swims as I try to drag in a breath. Whisky coats my tongue, I choke on the liquid as it slides down my throat; my sinuses burn fiercely when some of the whisky goes the wrong way and fills the back of my nostrils. I can’t breathe properly, and fear buzzes to life in my veins when a mouth descends onto mine. My fingers press into the expanse of shoulders above me, but the body isn’t moving - not away, anyway. Thick fingers slip between the waistband of my jeans and my hips, tug at the material, while a hand comes up to cup my breast. Panic bursts into existence, and I struggle harder, muttering no no no against the lips on mine.

“C’mon, stop bein’ so difficult.”

“No, stop, I don’t - I don’t want this.”

Somehow, I manage to lift my leg enough to slam my knee upwards, and I bite down on the tongue that’s forcing its way between my lips. I’m suddenly free, no longer weighted down by unrelenting muscle, and I scramble to my feet, running to the wall on unsteady feet. I slap at the wall repeatedly until my hands find the light switch. Jacob has one hand over his mouth, blood seeping between his fingers. Bile fills my throat, and I manage to find the bathroom, vomiting as soon as I fall to my knees in front of the toilet. Someone shouts in disgust from the hallway; a cool hand presses to my forehead, and I turn my head to stare up at Max. Sonia stands right behind her. Both of them look worried.

“You okay, girl?”

I nod shakily and slowly stand. “I, uh, I think I’m gonna go home.”

“Want us to stay with you until your ride gets here?”

“Nah, y’all stay. It won’t take her long.”

“Okay.”

I push past my friends, hurry down the hallway and avoid looking into the bedroom I left Jacob in. Nobody looks twice at me as I push past them and stumble out the front door. The noise from the party echoes even after I can no longer see the lights from the house through the dark. I pull my phone from my pocket, pleasantly surprised underneath all the disgust and fear that it's still with me. Unfortunately, the battery is at twenty percent. I lock the device again and set out in what I hope is the direction of home. There are fifteen miles between the two houses, but I would gladly walk it barefoot if it meant not being around Jacob anymore. Even the thought of his name sends icy shivers down my spine.

Darkness presses on in all sides of me. The katydids scream from the trees, and the grinding chirp of crickets and grasshoppers join the cacophony. I tremble all over at every shadow or shifting of branches, petrified that Jacob has come after me. Thunder rumbles, and lightning forks across the sky. I huddle further into my jacket and pull out my phone, finding the number and pressing the device to my ear. My breath rattles out of my chest; I shiver violently at the gust of wind that blows against me. The gravel crunches under my boots; something rustles in the woods to my right, and my throat tightens. The world spins and dips around me, and I force down the stomach acid trying to come up. The tears fall faster the longer the line rings and rings without answer. Fear and panic nearly overwhelm me when the voicemail picks up.

“Hey, uh… God, Bri, I’m sorry. I know you’re not talking to me, but-but Bri, I really need you. I need my best friend. So fucking much. Please… can you please call me back? I - I went to a party, and I, fuck,” I hiss as my ankle twists on a rock; I kick at the side of the road and bite back a scream, sobbing, “goddamn it, Brianna, why aren’t you here? I need you, and I know I fucked up everything up, but I need you here. Please call me back. Please.”

[Brianna’s POV]
“You know damn well you’re going to listen to that,” whispers Louis, and I drop my phone quickly, like it's scalded me.

“No, I’m not. I still haven’t forgiven her.”

“Look, I understand that, okay? I do. What she said was completely out of line. But, love… She called. When has Koty ever actually called you on something other than Skype?” He nudges me gently. “Just listen to it, yeah? Then you can figure out what to do from there.”

I think back to all the phone conversations I’ve had with my best friend since I left Tennessee; he’s right. She always texts me on Kik or calls me through Skype so neither of us get long-distance charges that we can’t afford. I grip Louis’s hand tightly in my left even as I press on the voicemail icon, switch to speakerphone. The audio message is filled with static and a low booming followed by a loud crack. Then, DJ’s voice comes on the line, and fear takes hold of me, doesn’t let me go, as she speaks. My eyes burn when the tears fall, but I can't stop staring at the screen of my phone as DJ’s voice, so frightened and in pain and wobbly, echoes in the silence of our bedroom.

The instant the message ends, I shove myself out of bed and to the closet. I know about half of the clothes I grab aren't really mine, but I can't care less as I toss them onto the mattress. Louis helps by dragging a suitcase out from under the bed, shoving the clothes haphazardly inside. I run down the stairs to shove my feet into a pair of tennis shoes - the size of the sneakers tells me they're probably his. He follows with my suitcase, pushing me impatiently toward the door.

The ride to the airport is full of silence and my racing thoughts. What happened with DJ? I chew at the edge of my fingernails, and Louis is just as scared as I am if he isn't going to scold me for picking the habit back up after so long of not doing it. He reaches over and grabs my free hand, and I cling to him.

“I managed to get you on the next flight out,” he says as he speeds through a yellow light. “It leaves in an hour and a half, so no goodbyes, okay? The boarding pass is in your email.”

I nod shakily. I nearly throw up in the passenger seat, not helped at all by the way he takes a corner sharply enough that I’m terrified the tires are leaving the ground, but I swallow it down and try to make a joke, “That must have cost a fortune.”

“Just make sure our girl is all right, and we’ll call it even.”

We don’t speak until he screeches to a stop in the drop-off lane in front of the airport. I lean over and kiss him quickly, and he gives me a reassuring smile before I rush out of the car. I barely remember to grab my luggage. Thankfully, the fact that I’m literally running through the airport at eight-thirty in the morning seems to be the signal for everyone to get the Hell out of my way. I can’t stand still as I wait in line to board, shifting from foot to foot and glaring if someone makes a comment under their breath at my impatience. All calls to DJ’s phone go straight to voicemail.

Boarding brings no relief; now I'm stuck in this damn plane for over ten hours, and I can't check in on my best friend. I don't have Anna’s number, so calling her is out of the question, and I deleted my FaceBook when I left Tennessee. My knee jumps as the flight attendant goes through the safety spiel. I'm too worried about Deej that I don't even get that nervous flutter I usually do when the plane taxis down the tarmac before lifting off.

Hold tight, DJ, I'm on my way.
♠ ♠ ♠
title credit home sweet home motley crue