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The foundation series bo.., p.2
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       The Foundation Series Box Set, p.2

           Kira Adams
 

  My jaw dropped open, unconsciously. Did Jax Austin really just ask me if I was going to the party? Why would he even care? Conscious, finally of my open mouth, I closed it swiftly. I didn’t even know where to start, so I went with the only thing I could come up with. “Naw, that’s not really my scene.” I tried to quiet my nerves.

  “Oh really—and what is your scene?” He asked, appearing intrigued.

  The shrill cry had me exhaling on the inside. Saved by the bell. Having to tell Jax that my usual weekend consisted of lots of snacking, TV, and usually hanging out with my parents or having sleepovers with my two besties, staying up all night gossiping about him, was not on my agenda. Plus Kari Ann’s prying eyes were getting old.

  He turned around, and as quickly as I felt like a part of his world, I was again, an outsider; an outcast.

  * * *

  I walked into my house sighing after a long school day. All I wanted to do was slip into some sweats and relax, but seeing my sisters face as I passed by the living room, halted that plan.

  “I heard you got invited to Cooper’s party this weekend?” Kayleigh eyed me, suspiciously.

  “Not exactly,” I replied, taking a seat next to her on the couch. “Jax asked if I was going, not necessarily invited me.”

  “Well, you can’t go, Peyton,” She exclaimed sternly, but one look at my fallen face, and she softened. “Look, you know how much I would love to have you there. But I don’t want to have to be looking out for you all night; I don’t want anything bad to happen to you. Plus, you know Mom and Dad are never going to let you out of their sight.”

  “Why would anything happen to me?” I asked, hesitantly.

  “Just promise me you won’t go, please.” She was pleading with me; I was floored. I knew how little her friends thought of me, but my own sister?

  I shook my head lightly before standing up. “It would be nice if for once you could act like my sister, instead of someone who hates me so much. What did I ever do to you? Huh? What did I ever do to deserve this? Do you ever wonder why I chose to do what I did?” I grabbed my backpack and booked it up the stairs before my evil sister could see what she caused.

  “Peyton!” I heard her call behind me, but I didn’t care. The tears were already welling up in my eyes. I hated crying in front of anyone. Crying made me appear weak. As much as I had been bullied and teased in the past, I had learned to save face. I had taught myself how to make it seem like they hadn’t gotten to me…even when it killed me some days. I had learned to save my crying sessions for my room or the bathroom at school.

  I had more walls up than the Great Wall of China. It was sad, actually. The fact that no one knew the real me, except for a handful of people, was unfortunate. I was a very creative person. I loved acting, singing, writing, dancing, you name it.

  I had grown up acting and had landed the lead in almost every production I was a part of. I loved music, it was my life. That was the main reason Madison and I bonded so quickly in middle school and became so close, so fast.

  She too lived for music. She introduced me to an entirely new world I had never known existed before; pop/punk, emo/screamo, indie, etc. We attended as many live shows as we could. Our favorite band was DarienMae, and together, we had seen them in concert and met them more than five times.

  I remember the first time I met Colton Lee, the lead guitarist of DarienMae. He was screaming into my face and pressing his forehead against mine and I was transfixed. I knew in that moment that I needed to know him. After the show I nervously went up and asked him for a picture. He was so genuine and sweet, I couldn’t stop smiling. He even gave me a pick from his set that night after I asked. I knew there was something electric about Colton when our arms were wrapped around each other tightly for hours, just embracing one another. I looked up at him in a quiet moment and remarked, “You know you’re my bitch, right?” This only sent him into a round of chuckles.

  “Oh really?” He shot back. “Then make me a t-shirt the next time you come see us play.”

  “I will.” I looked up at him smiling, and I meant it. We returned to each and every DarienMae show after that and I wore a neon yellow “Colton is my bitch T-shirt”. It became my staple. I even made him a t-shirt that said “Peyton is my master”. What could I say? The setting and element gave me confidence I never knew I had in me. It was the music. It coursed through me like a wild river.

  My new love for that genre of music also opened up my eyes to the possibilities of joining a band. If image wasn’t so strongly focused on when it came to being a front man, I probably would have already been on stage. But my size fifteen wasn’t only uncomfortable for the world around me; I wasn’t entirely secure in my own skin. Therefore, my confidence was lacking.

  Wiping the remaining tears away, I sat down at my desk with a pen and paper. I didn’t know what I wanted to write, but just let my fingers do the talking.

  You never believed in me, always thinking I would fail. I can be who I want to be, and I will prevail.

  So it wasn’t necessarily coming to me as quick as it usually did, but it was a start.

  * * *

  Knock, knock.

  My eyes opened slowly, taking in my surroundings. I was in my room, head on my desk, and I’m pretty sure I had been drooling judging by the wet spot near my mouth.

  Knock, knock.

  Still attempting to fully comprehend what was happening, I lifted my head up and swiveled around in my chair.

  “Come in,” I fought to say through a long yawn. How long had I been asleep for?

  My door opened gradually and my mother’s familiar dark green eyes peeked out from behind it. I rubbed my own in an attempt to clear my vision and watched as she slinked into my room, taking a seat on my bed. “Hey,” she said lightly, avoiding direct eye contact.

  Everything had been different since that day. My mother had always been my biggest fan, my biggest supporter…but after the incident it’s like she couldn’t look me in the eyes anymore. Like she was disappointed with me, or worse yet, scared of me.

  Her curly brown hair looked disheveled and her olive eyes appeared beyond exhausted. It had been ten days since my failed attempt, and I was positive she hadn’t allowed herself more than three hours of sleep a night. To say she looked terrible, would be an understatement. “How are you doing?” She asked, shifting her eyes nervously around the room, making sure not to lock with mine.

  “I’m okay,” I answered honestly. I hated what I had done to my relationship with my mother. She had always been my best friend and there for me, but it all felt so different now. I used to tell her everything. In a way, I wondered if she felt betrayed by my selfish decision…

  Honestly, it was like pulling teeth being in the same room with her. It was obvious neither one of us knew what to say; how to act.

  “How is school going?” She was fishing; trying to gather information to make sure that I wasn’t going to try to off myself again.

  “It’s going.” I wanted to give her more—I wanted things to go back to normal, but that was easier said than done.

  Even though she was avoiding eye contact with me, I was daring her to look at me straight on. I was dying for that sense of familiarity. I watched as silent tears began to trickle down her face, twisting my stomach into a million tiny knots. I never intentionally meant to hurt her. “I’m sorry,” I found myself saying at the first sight of her tears. “I wasn’t thinking.”

  It broke my heart knowing that I did this to my mother. That I was the cause for her unhappiness. She didn’t deserve any bit of it. My cheeks grew hot with embarrassment and guilt; tears were threatening to pour out the sides of my eyes. How selfish I had been…

  I got up from my desk and made my way to the bed, plopping down beside her. Hesitantly, I rubbed her back with my hand in a soothing motion. “I’m sorry I’ve put such a burden on you…”

  I must have said the magic words because after what felt like an eternity of her dodging my glances, she f
inally locked eyes with me. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you. I’m sorry I didn’t realize how unhappy you were.” She was sobbing as she choked her words out.

  “Mom.” I stroked her hair softly, tucking a few fly aways behind her ear. “You’re my best friend. I love you.”

  “I keep going over what I could have done to prevent it.” She was referring to my suicide attempt. “It’s hard not to feel like I was partially responsible.”

  I shook my head aggressively at her admission. “This was not about you…and I know that sucks to hear, but it’s true. I was battling my inner demons, and honestly, I still am.”

  “Oh, Peyton!” She cried, instantly throwing her arms around me. We sat there, holding one another, crying on each other’s shoulders for what felt like hours. Finally, when my eyes felt like they were glued open from the insane amount of tears I shed, I pulled away gently from my mother.

  “I can’t say that I’m better…because that would be lying. What I can do is promise you that I won’t ever make another selfish decision like that again.”

  I could see the tension in her body slowly begin to dissipate. “I think that you need to see a therapist. I think it would be good for you to have someone to talk to.”

  My shoulders stiffened as her recommendation flowed through me. Trusting people was not a strong suit of mine…and telling a stranger my deepest and darkest secrets? I would rather not…

  “I’m just trying to take it day by day. Please don’t ask me to do something I’m not ready for.”

  Her face fell and I instantly felt like a bitch.

  “I will talk to someone about it…when I’m ready. But, I need to make that decision on my own…I hope you understand.”

  She nodded her head lightly. “I’m here ya know. Whenever that time comes. I’ve always been here.”

  I glanced back at her thankfully. We were taking baby steps and I couldn’t be more grateful.

  Two: Are You Trying to Get in a Fight With a Vending Machine?

  Killing Me

  Hit me harder

  I’m already on the ground

  Give me your best shot

  Throw me around

  Kick me while I’m down

  Curse my name in vain

  I won’t make a sound

  As I slowly slip away

  You don’t understand that what you do affects me

  You think you’re so tough, but you’re nothing

  I die a little more with everything you do

  Can’t you see? You’re killing me.

  Sticks and stones

  Break my bones

  Words will always

  Hurt me

  I wear my heart

  Right on my sleeve

  I need to stop

  Being so naïve

  You don’t understand that what you do affects me

  You think you’re so tough, but you’re nothing

  I die a little more with everything you do

  Can’t you see? You’re killing me.

  Throw a punch

  Straight in my face

  Hold me back

  As I try to run away

  Chase after me

  With fire in your eyes

  Try to show me

  How you live your life

  You don’t understand that what you do affects me

  You think you’re so tough, but you’re nothing

  I die a little more with everything you do

  Can’t you see? You’re killing me.

  Stab me right in the back

  When I’m least expecting it

  Lay me down so gently to die

  And then drown yourself in your sorrows and regrets

  You don’t understand that what you do affects me

  You think you’re so tough, but you’re nothing

  I die a little more with everything you do

  Can’t you see? You’re killing me.

  You’ve killed me.

  It was Thursday, and talk of Cooper’s party was running rampant. My sister had been attempting to finish her conversation with me for two days, but I was avoiding her like the plague. I didn’t have it in me to let her make me feel lower than low. I had even been waking up an entire hour earlier just so I could sneak out before she woke up. Luckily, I had the two most incredible best friends in the world who would meet me early at school so I wouldn’t be alone. It was seven, and school started in an hour.

  Normally, I would meet the girls at my locker and we would gossip for a good half hour before finding some trouble to get ourselves into…but this morning no one was waiting for me at my locker. In fact, the halls were pretty bare, minus a few peers, here and there. I opened my locker and put my backpack inside, then headed to the vending machines. I had forgotten to eat breakfast and my big stomach was making me pay for it; growling nonstop. I made it to the vending machine, and after a few minutes of mulling over the contents inside, I decided I would simply get a rice krispie treat. I put my dollar in and hit the number for it, but as it was about to fall, it got stuck, dangling from its original position. “Shit,” I whispered to myself; that was the only dollar I had. I was not giving up without a fight. I began pushing and kicking the machine, to no avail, when suddenly, I heard footsteps behind me. I was too embarrassed to keep trying so I quickly accepted the fact that I would have to starve until lunch.

  “Are you trying to get in a fight with the vending machine?” It was Jax. How in the world he was here, at school, as early as I was, was beyond me. “Hey you, we never got to finish our conversation the other day.”

  He remembered! I felt more giddy then a teeny-bopper getting to see the Biebs in concert for the first time. My heart was racing and I had to keep reminding myself to breathe. “Yeah, sorry about that.”

  He walked right up to the vending machine and swiftly unplugged it. “A little trick I found out,” he whispered. The rice krispie treat fell immediately after the machine was unplugged.

  “Wow. Thank you.” I could feel my face turning bright red. I was embarrassed beyond belief as he handed me the treat. I turned to walk away, but realized Jax was in tow with me. I looked up slowly at him, wondering why suddenly, after all these years, he was finally giving me the time of day.

  “So, Cooper’s party…” Jax trailed off, as we walked along in awkward silence.

  “Yeah?”

  “You should come. I don’t really feel like hanging out with a bunch of dumb jocks and douchebags. Come on, you can keep me company.” He stopped walking suddenly, and just looked down at me, awaiting a response.

  “I don’t think I’m invited...and plus my parents would have a conniption fit,” I replied, pushing a strand of hair out of my face.

  “Let me take care of your invitation—can you take care of your parents? Tell them you are going to a friend’s house. Bring your friends too. The more the merrier.” I was sure I was dreaming, or at least hallucinating. Did Jax Austin really just invite me to one of the exclusive parties his friends hold?

  “Ok,” I responded, my voice cracking. I could tell Jax noticed the uncomfortable tone in my voice because before I knew it, he had closed the space between us, our bodies inches apart from touching.

  “Listen, if it sucks that bad, we can bail.” He used the word ‘we’ in relation to speaking about us. If I wasn’t hallucinating, I was in some serious alternate reality.

  I couldn’t talk, so I just nodded my head in agreement and then began walking in the complete opposite direction of my locker unintentionally. I stopped abruptly when I noticed Jax was in tow with me. “Where ya headed?”

  It would be quite embarrassing to admit he had thrown me off my game so much so that I had accidentally walked in the wrong direction…so I made up a white lie on the spot. “I was going to check out the signup sheet for the fall play. Is that alright with you?” I snapped, then immediately began kicking myself in the face. Jax Austin was finally giving me the time of day—any time of his day—and I was
biting his head off.

  “You like acting? Me too! I’ve always wanted to try auditioning…” He seemed unfazed by my outburst. “Mind if I come with?”

  I shook my head, speechless, turning on my heel and continuing toward the fake signup sheet. We continued walking in unison. “So…” I finally said to fill the awkward silence.

  “Did you do the homework for English?” Jax asked; referring to the haiku we were assigned to write.

  I nodded, staying mute.

  “Really? I had a ton of trouble with mine. I sat there for thirty minutes looking at a blank sheet of paper. Are you going to share yours?” He looked down at me then, his blue eyes entrancing me.

  I shrugged. “Probably not…I was delirious when I wrote it, it probably isn’t any good.”

  “At least you did it, that has to count for something, right?” Not always.

 
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