Against all odds, p.8
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       Against All Odds, p.8

           Kira Adams
 
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  I close the door behind me softly, slinking into my boyfriend’s townhouse. Today has been such a wonderful day already, I figure surprising him can’t hurt. As I shimmy up the stairs I hear noises from his bedroom, music is softly playing, but it doesn’t sound like something he would normally play. Is that Marvin Gaye I hear? I stifle a laugh as I round the corner after the last step and let myself in.

  The sight that I am met with is more than nauseating, it is downright upsetting. My boyfriend Bane is in bed with someone who clearly isn’t me…and by the looks of it, they are getting to know each other on a very personal level.

  “Marcus, you perv! Shut the door!” Bane calls without bothering to look up.

  I stifle my cry and that’s when his head shoots up, his eyes locking with mine. They grow wide as saucers, realizing I am not his roommate. “You asshole!” I scream and quickly spin on my heel to race out of his bedroom.

  The girl looks beyond confused as Bane jumps out of the bed, hurriedly throwing on his boxers. I’m halfway down the stairs by the time he reaches me. He is still indecent, wearing nothing but his boxers. “Austyn!”

  I attempt to pull my arm from his grasp but he tightens his grip.

  “It’s not what you think it is.”

  Where have I heard that before? “Oh, really, so that wasn’t a naked girl in your bed with you?” I remark snidely. Although I want to be tough, my tears give away the heartbreak I feel inside.

  “No, I mean, yes…no.” He can’t seem to get his answer straight. “We were just hanging out…”

  Does he think I am stupid or something? No scratch that…he obviously thinks I’m dumb as a doornail. “And what…she just happened to fall on your dick?”

  He grimaces before recovering. “Don’t do this…”

  “Do what?” I press, fuming.

  “Throw everything we have away.”

  “Oh, so that’s all my doing? I see…and here I was thinking that was your fault because I caught you cheating on me…my bad.” I can’t help the sarcasm that drips from my voice like honey.

  Suddenly, the girl emerges…fully clothed, surprisingly. It appears as though she has her purse and coat on and is ready to leave. She comes down the stairs softly behind us.

  “Where are you going?” Bane hisses at her.

  I turn around to eye her up and down. I want to see the girl he was willing to throw away the past three years for. Surprisingly, she isn’t anything special. She is mousy with flat brown hair and brown eyes. She isn’t extremely thin nor big. She sits somewhere in the middle. And she definitely isn’t the definition of the slut I pegged her for.

  “Look,” she addresses me rather than Bane. “I didn’t know he had a girlfriend…I’m sorry.”

  I shrug, tears spilling down my cheeks. “Don’t worry…you’re not the first and definitely won’t be the last.” I only wish I were joking. Less than two months ago I found risqué photos on Bane’s phone from another random girl. He had the same exact excuse then that it wasn’t what I thought and it didn’t mean anything. And a few months before that another random girl showed up at his place late at night and when I answered the door she seemed to get flustered and leave real quickly. Something tells me this isn’t the first time Bane has gotten physical with someone outside of our relationship.

  She slides by us, hugging the railing and when she reaches the door, she turns around again. “I’m really sorry.” At least she has a conscience. Unlike my filthy boyfriend. Actually, scrap that, my filthy ex. She scurries out the door and slams it behind her.

  I’m wiping away the tears when I decide it’s about time that I make my exit as well.

  “Where are you going?” Bane asks, firmly.

  “I’m going home,” I answer simply.

  “So that’s it then?” he presses. “That’s how it’s going to be?”

  I nod, sniffling. “Yeah Bane…that’s it.” I make it all the way to the door before something stops me. “Thank you,” I say softly, my back turned to him.

  “What?” he basically chokes out from surprise.

  I turn around, locking eyes with him from across the room. “I said thank you. If it wasn’t for this…” I point between us. “I never would have gotten up the courage to leave your ass. Hell, I probably would have been the naïve girl who married you.”

  He is speechless. Just staring back at me with a glare.

  I take one more look at him. Admiring his toned physique, his tattoos I’ve drooled over for nearly our entire relationship and his lip ring before finally feeling ready to leave him behind me. I turn the handle to open the door when I hear his venomous voice behind me.

  “If you walk out that door, we’re through. We are through forever,” he threatens me.

  I turn around forcing a smile upon my lips. “Good riddance.” And then I also slam the door behind me. I’m shaking when I make it onto the porch. At least I didn’t let him see me break down. I stifle a sob as I hurriedly make my way to my car. I take deep breaths attempting to calm myself down. My relationship is actually over. I guess it was naivety on my part, but I always thought because we were high school sweethearts we would be able to weather anything that came our way. I was wrong. Although I feel more broken than I’ve ever felt in my entire life…oddly enough, I feel empowered. I know that I made the right decision and while it sucks right now, I know it’s going to be the best decision for me in the end.

  One day I am going to find someone who will cherish me and love me unconditionally. Someday I am going to find someone who sees me as the only woman on the planet. Eventually…

  Ten – Coming to Terms with the End

  Avery

  Buying my girlfriend a drink was one thing. A small inconsistency I could handle…but he’s really got some nerve if he thinks he can do whatever he pleases without any regard to me. It’s the first night I’ve played out in a long time, and I don’t even get a chance to enjoy it because I am too focused on Austyn’s ex ogling her from across the room. He couldn’t have made it more obvious if he tried.

  I notice him approach her on my final song and my stomach is in knots. I am in the middle of my performance, and I am watching as he leans down strategically, tucks her hair behind her ear, and whispers something to her. My insides are fuming. I want to get this song over with so badly that I miss an entire verse. Luckily no one is familiar with the song other than Austyn, but when it happens, her eyes widen in a fearful way. She can tell his actions are getting to me.

  I finish the song on a high note, and because no one else is familiar with my song, my slip-up is easily forgotten. I want to take my guitar and smash it over Bane’s head. I can tell by his condescending looks that he’s enjoying rattling me up. By the time I reach Austyn’s side my fists feel numb from how tightly I’ve been clenching them.

  “Avery,” Austyn says softly as I approach the pair. Almost as if she feels guilty for being caught. What in the world could they have been talking about? “Bane was just leaving…” Austyn says attempting to alleviate some of the tension-filled air.

  “I was?” Bane asks, smiling widely. “Oh, yeah, that’s right.”

  He wants me to know that Austyn is covering for him. That he said something to her that makes her uncomfortable to talk about around me. I’m getting more heated by the second. “What’s your problem man?” I ask, daring him to look me in the eyes.

  “Problem? Who said anything about a problem?”

  “I did. I saw the way you were looking at my girlfriend…and in case you forgot, your story ended half a decade ago.” I have a few inches on Bane, so it’s funny when I notice him begin to puff his chest out like the typical douchebag he is.

  “Chill out man, we’re just friends…” He raises his hands up in surrender, but continues smiling back at me in a demeaning way.

  “Friends? When have you two ever been friends?” I test him. One thing about my relationship with Austyn? We came clean about our past’s right up front. Unfortunately for me,
I know all too well the pain and heartache Bane inflicted on Austyn. I know how long it took her to get over him. I know how long she truly felt broken. I don’t want him anywhere near Austyn or our relationship.

  He glances at Austyn and then back at me. “Okay, I can tell when I am not wanted. I’ll leave…but Austyn, think about what I said…and make the decision for yourself.” He begins to saunter off when I switch my eyes to Austyn.

  “What was that all about?” I can’t help the bite that comes off my voice.

  “Nothing…” She shakes her head nonchalantly, grabbing her jacket and slipping it on over her blouse.

  I glance at the back of his head as he exits the venue. “I wouldn’t say that was nothing.”

  “Really Avery,” she pleads with me grabbing my arm. “Can we just go home?”

  We make our way to the BART station in complete silence. I can’t even look at her. I can’t even look at my own girlfriend because I am seething with anger. Because she isn’t being honest with me. Because for the first time in six years, I’m insecure about our relationship.

  She attempts to hold my hand as we ride the rapid transit back to our apartment, but I can’t. I feel lied to, I feel betrayed, and I feel lost.

  When we finally make it into our apartment, before the lights have even been turned on, she finally speaks. “Avery, talk to me…I can’t stand it that you are upset with me.”

  I drop my guitar case loudly to the ground. I just want to forget all about tonight.

  I hear the front door close behind her and she begins to lock it. I walk to the light switch, flicking on a few so I can see her facial expressions. “What did he say to you back there?” It is a rare occurrence for Austyn and me to fight. We might argue or bicker, but we never fight. My stomach feels uneasy knowing it was all brought on by Bane’s reoccurrence in her life.

  She sighs loudly. Dropping her purse and keys on the dining room table before closing the distance between us. “He asked me out to dinner. He said he owes me an apology and he wants me to have closure once and for all.”

  I can’t even hide the disappointment that flashes across my face.

  “Hey,” she says softly, grabbing my face between her hands. “I didn’t tell you because I am not planning to go. I figured it would just create unnecessary drama.”

  I ponder her explanation for a moment. “No, you didn’t tell me because you are entertaining the idea of going…”

  Her face falls instantly and I know I am right.

  “Austyn, we don’t lie to each other…” I pull her hands off my face and begin heading to the bedroom. I can hear her footsteps behind me, following me.

  “I’m sorry…” she stammers, reaching back out for me.

  “You really want to hear him out?” I ask, ripping my shirt from my body. “After everything he did to you?”

  She breathes in deeply, contemplating her response. “You’re right…he made my life a living hell…”

  “Then why would you—“

  She cuts me off before I can even finish. “Avery, I never got the closure I needed…the closure I deserved. You know this. You know how badly I wanted answers after everything. You know how long it took me to get over what he did to me. Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to finally have those answers. To finally be able to put him behind me once and for all.”

  In a way, I understand where she is coming from but it doesn’t make it any easier to hear. It doesn’t alleviate one bit of my anger. One bit of the hurt.

  I take a deep breath in. “I guess you’re going to make whatever decision you want and there’s nothing I can do to stop you.” I unbutton my pants, letting them drop to the floor and then climb straight into bed. I want this night over.

  “Avery, don’t be like this, please.” I feel her climb into bed next to me, but I am squeezing my eyes closed.

  “I just want to get some sleep,” I reply bitterly before deciding to shut my mind off.

  * * *

  It turns out shutting my mind off was easier said than done. My dreams were invaded by Bane and his disgusting smile along with scenarios of Austyn going back to him. When I finally open my eyes, my chest feels tight and restricted.

  I glance over at Austyn and she is asleep, but her face is contorted with a sad expression. She doesn’t seem to be having much luck in the dream department either.

  I need air.

  Quietly, I slip out of bed and make my way to the kitchen where I help myself to a glass of water.

  The clock is the only bit of light illuminating the small area and I realize it’s only 5 am. I’m not a morning person whatsoever, but I’m not tired.

  I pull on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt and grab my bicycle. I need a breather. I need a moment away from all of this.

  Before I know it, I am outside on this crisp fall morning, riding away my frustrations.

  Being upset with Austyn is taking a toll on my mind, body, and heart. She’s my best friend and the one thing I want most in the world is for things to go back to normal.

  People are terrible drivers in general…but Berkley is overridden with unsafe drivers and road rage bastards. A car nearly clips me on my bicycle and I’m positive it’s simply because they are in a hurry.

  “What the hell, man?” I curse loudly under my helmet as I swerve around in an attempt to not biff it.

  My guilt is eating away at me little by little. Leaving without saying goodbye is definitely not our MO. But I’m more disappointed that we went to bed angry with one another—something we swore we’d never do. It’s all my fault. She was trying very hard to sort everything out before I simply closed my eyes and began tuning her out.

  As much as I don’t want her to go to dinner with Bane…maybe she is right. Maybe closure is just what she needs. I shouldn’t have been so quick to judge her decision. If one of my exes showed up and asked me for the chance to explain and apologize, I can’t deny the fact that at the very least, I’d be curious enough to hear them out.

  I’m thinking about what I can do to make it up to Austyn when a taxi comes out of nowhere. I don’t even have time to react before my bike is under the wheels of the taxi and I am mid-air.

  It’s only a few seconds, but I close my eyes, praying for her. That she is going to be okay without me. I am coming to terms with my death.

  And then my whole body comes to terms with the concrete, and everything goes black…

  Eleven – I Never Got a Chance to Say I Love You

  Austyn

  I glance up at the sky, the saltwater and sand invading my nostrils. I had forgotten how much I love the beach. How much I love this state in general. When Lee moved here, I knew I would come visit, but I never realized just how much I would enjoy it and want to return. It’s my second trip to Hawaii in a year and although I haven’t even left yet, I’m already mapping out my return with Avery.

  He couldn’t make the trip because he had a deadline to meet with some big wig client he has. That’s okay. I enjoy the time I get to spend with my cousin. He is my best friend and we always find trouble to get into together. I can see his tanned skin and black head bobbing up and down a few waves back. He’s been able to ride three waves in full. I’m not having as much luck. I love surfing, but today is just not my day.

  I wade myself back to the shore and plant myself down on the sand waiting for him to finish. After a few more waves, he joins me, stripping off his wetsuit.

  “Just not feeling it today?” he asks, eyeing me down with his dark eyes.

  I shrug. “Did you see me out there? Today is just not my day.”

 
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