Home » » REASON TO BREATHE BY REBECCA DONOVAN: 28. The Truth

REASON TO BREATHE BY REBECCA DONOVAN: 28. The Truth

28. The Truth

Somehow I lived through the rumors of what didn’t happen between
Drew and me. I was mortified when one of the girls from the basketbal
team asked, in front of everyone in the locker room, if Drew and I had
sex at Keli’s. Jil tried to defend me, and it worked for the most part
with my teammates, but it didn’t have the same result with the rest of
the school. No one else asked me to my face, but I heard the whispers
when I walked down the hals. Sara’s urging me to “just ignore them”
only confirmed what they were whispering about.
I wasn’t invisible anymore, and there was no point in trying to fade
away again. More people recognized my promotion in the social hierarchy
and were bold enough to try to talk to me. At first it was just
smal talk, to which I awkwardly responded with short answers. Then I
was invited to parties and out with a group of people I would never
have known if they hadn’t approached me. I always deferred to Sara to
plan our weekends.

I remained trepidatious with my ghostly comings and goings through
the house. I didn’t know how long my absence was going to be accepted
without an explanation of where I was coming from and going to.
My stomach stil dropped at the sound of her voice, anticipating the
moment she’d notice me again. But as the month progressed, I was stil
just an occupant in their home, without any expectations besides the
Saturday morning chores.
I missed seeing Leyla and Jack. I heard their voices in the distance,
but rarely saw them. I convinced myself that this was better for them -
that way there wouldn’t be a chance of my world disrupting theirs
again. It made the hurt more bearable, especialy when I’d hear Leyla’s
excited stories from behind the closed door of my room.
During the first week of February, Anna and Carl announced that they
were taking Sara and I to California during our school break to visit
coleges. My coach arranged meetings with a few schools that were interested
in me. Carl spoke with George to approve the trip, which I’m
sure raked under Carol’s skin. I hoped retribution wasn’t waiting for
me when we returned.
Sara was beyond excited with thoughts of us going to colege together
in California. I was thriled as wel, doing everything to ignore the fact
that we were going to be in the same state – actualy staying in the
same city - as Evan.
His nightly hauntings became less frequent. I would think I finaly escaped
him, just to cry out in the night, propeled back to the dark bedroom
sobbing. Sara stopped asking about the nightmares. She’d silently
watch me recover from the bed across from me.
It was hard to heal when I saw my brokenness in streaks of red and orange
displayed on the wal of the Art room. Ms. Mier praised that it was

my best piece yet and said she was proud of my honesty. I absorbed
her words without reaction. I’d hoped that releasing it on the canvas
would help me move on, but I knew I was never going to put him behind
me.
I alowed my heart to remain silent. It continued to ignore Drew’s
touch. But I embraced the warmth he ignited within the rest of me and
the enrapturing swirls of excitement that clouded my head whenever
we had a moment alone together.
It was easy to get lost in the breathing and kissing. But over time, the
urgency increased. His hands wandered more, seeking the touch of my
skin, gradualy inching up or down. I felt like I was constantly redirecting
his creeping hands and trailing lips. He wouldn’t say anything, but
I knew he was hoping I’d just give in and stop resisting. Instead of
talking about it, I started to avoid being alone with him.
My evasiveness roused a wave of guilt. I tried convincing myself that it
was because I wasn’t ready, and it had nothing to do with Drew. We
didn’t have another conversation about our relationship after Keli’s
party. We never discussed our feelings or expectations.
I took what we had at face value. We liked to be around each other. We
easily found something to talk about, and he stil made me laugh
without much effort. The public affection and the moments of breathlessness
confirmed our attraction to each other. So what was there to
talk about?
“You stil like me, right?” Drew asked while we sat on the couch in
Sara’s entertainment room. Sara and Jil had gone to the store, and we
were waiting for a couple of Drew’s friends to arrive for a night of horror
movies. We had decided to stay in since our flight left for California
first thing in the morning.

“Of course I do,” I answered in alarm, my stomach dropping at the unprovoked
question. I gently pushed his foot with mine as I sat facing
him on the couch with my back against the arm. “Where did that come
from?”
Drew shrugged, but remained serious. I tried to connect with him, to
make him smile, but he avoided looking at me. I was so confused.
“So, why don’t you want to be alone with me anymore?” he asked after
a moment of silence.
I sat up straighter, suddenly fearing where this was going.
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“You seem to always find an excuse. If you like me, then why don’t you
want to be with me?”
I didn’t respond, knowing what he was realy asking
Drew leaned forward and grabbed my calves, puling me across the
couch, draping my legs over his. He put his arms around my waist and
inched me closer until our faces were less than a foot apart. The entire
move happened so quickly, I didn’t have time to react.
“I want more from you,” he stated softly, gently brushing his lips
against mine. “I want you to want me too. I want you to need to be
with me as much as I need to be with you.”
He pressed his lips to mine, lingering. I could feel his breath quicken. I
listened in shock to what he was realy asking me, too panicked by his
words to feel his lips.

“I know you want me,” he whispered, our lips inches apart. When I stil
didn’t kiss him, he puled his head back to look me in the eye. Concern
washed over his face.
“You don’t?” he asked cautiously, slowly sitting back against the arm
of the couch.
I couldn’t answer. My hesitation caused him to narrow his eyes, examining
my stunned face. He looked away, not liking what he saw.
“Hey!” Jil exclaimed when she and Sara reached the landing. I quickly
pushed myself off of his lap and scooted to the other side of the couch.
Drew forced a smile to greet Sara and Jil. Jil began loading the smal
upstairs fridge with beers. I stood from the couch and offered to help
get things together in the kitchen. Sara tossed Drew the remote and
told him he was in charge of picking the first movie.
“What happened?” she asked, sensing my mood change.
“He pretty much just asked me to have sex with him,” I responded
quietly as I dumped a bag of chips in a bowl.
“No way!” Sara exclaimed in shock. “What did you say?”
“I couldn’t answer him,” I confessed guiltily.
“You didn’t say anything?”
“I was trying to figure out what the answer was when you two arrived.”
“So now he thinks you don’t like him at al, right?”
“I told him I liked him,” I explained. “But he said he wanted more
from me.”

“Are you ready for this? With him?”
“I like him. But…” I shrugged.
Sara smirked, and said, “I know.”
“What should I do?”
“Just treat him like you normaly would, and try to avoid being alone
with him for now. But you have to talk to him about it eventualy. He’s
going to see right through you anyway when you keep rejecting him,
and it won’t matter.”
I was confused. “What do you mean?”
She smiled. “If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then I can’t tel
you.”
“Sara,” I pleaded, “you’re not making any sense. What are you talking
about?”
“Here, bring these bowls of chips upstairs, and kiss him or something
so it’s not awkward al night.”
Jil entered the kitchen, and I hesitated before grabbing the bowls from
Sara’s hands, stil trying to decipher her message. I climbed the stairs
slowly, figuring out how to approach Drew. I decided aggressive and
direct was best.
I set the bowls of chips on the table and intercepted Drew’s view of the
television screen while he flipped through movie titles. Reluctantly he
looked up at me. I moved closer and straddled his legs, hovering above
him. He raised his eyebrows in reaction to my forwardness.

“I want to be with you,” I whispered, looking down at him. I placed my
hands on the back of his neck, running my fingers into his hair. “But
I’m just not ready.”
He looked at me in confusion, obviously expecting a different answer.
He was about to slide out from under me when I quickly added, “Right
now - but, soon.” I didn’t know why I lied to him. It was easier than
admitting the truth.
I leaned down and firmly pressed my lips against his. Before I could
pul back, he had his hands on my back and he quickly flipped me over
onto my back so that his body was on top of mine and my legs were
wrapped around him. He continued to search for my lips as my
breathing quickened. He tried to rol me on my side, but the momentum
forced us to rol off the couch and onto the floor. I started
laughing, deflating the intensity, as he groaned beneath me. He looked
up at me and smiled. I pushed myself off of him and slid back on the
couch as the voices of the guys with Sara and Jil neared the top floor.
During the movies, Drew and I laid on oversized pilows on the floor, in
direct sight of everyone, so he couldn’t get away with too much. Everyone
else was scattered on the couch and loveseat, making comments
about the pathetic girls wandering alone in the dark and warning the
guys to look behind them right before they were slaughtered. I had my
head propped against Drew’s taut stomach while he played with my
hair. I fel asleep during the middle of the second movie.
“Evan?” the voice asked, crashing from my nightmare back to reality.
I shot up and looked around the dark room. I woke on the floor, under
a blanket and tried to place where I was. I was in Sara’s entertainment
room I realized - then I remembered watching the movies.

I felt him sit up next to me. I knew in that moment what had
happened, and I was afraid to turn around. I wiped the tears from my
eyes and slowly faced him. He looked exactly how I feared –
hurt and confused. But he also looked pissed, and I wasn’t expecting
that. I stared at him, trying to calm my quickened pulse, but it remained
heightened with the silent confrontation.
“Nightmare?” he finaly asked.
I nodded, preparing for what was next.
“About Evan?” he bit. I looked down, unable to meet his eyes.
“I get it now,” he whispered in agitation. I glanced at him as he shook
his head slowly.
“Drew,” I pleaded. He stood to put his shoes on and grabbed his jacket.
I couldn’t find the words to make him stay. The truth was… I didn’t
want him to stay.
I remained on the floor, watching him disappear down the stairs.
That’s when I noticed Sara on the couch wrapped in the arms of an unconscious
guy. Sara peered over the arm of the couch with sympathetic
eyes, having heard everything. I looked away.
~~~~~
“You did much better than I thought you would while we were in San
Francisco,” Sara complimented on our flight back from California. “I
was waiting for you to lose it.”
I was relieved I’d been so convincing. In actuality, I searched the face
of every guy we passed, hoping to see him.

“I almost caled him,” I confessed, unable to look at her.
“I’m not surprised, but he wasn’t there.” My mouth dropped open as I
turned to stare at her. “He’s snowboarding in Tahoe with some friends
for the week.”
“How do you know?”
“I asked Jared,” she confessed. “I caled him when I found out we were
staying in San Francisco for a few days, thinking maybe we could
bump into Evan so you could get some closure. Don’t worry; Jared
promised not to tel him.”
I didn’t know what to say. When I thought about it, I wasn’t exactly
surprised that Sara did this.
I tried so hard not to think about him, but it was impossible not to
when we were right there. It ate at me that he was so close and I could
possibly see him at any moment. I picked up my phone probably a
milion times and hit 5. Every time I saw the preprogrammed Evan displayed
on the screen, I’d hit Cancel. Now those agonizing moments of
trying to decide if I could push the Send button didn’t matter at al. He
wasn’t even in San Francisco.
“Speaking of closure,” Sara continued, “what are you going to say to
Drew?”
“I have to say something, don’t I?”
“Yeah, you can’t avoid him forever. The school isn’t that big.”
After a pause, she asked nervously, “You are over, aren’t you?”

I let out a short laugh. “Don’t worry, Sara, I won’t continue torturing
you. You don’t have to pretend to like him anymore. It’s over.”
“I did like him,” she said, then thought better of it. “You’re right, I
didn’t like him. Mostly because I didn’t –“
“Like me with him,” I finished. “I know.”
“He wasn’t right for you.”
“I know,” I answered honestly. “Drew is that guy. I’m pretty sure he
would’ve broken up with me when he realized he wasn’t going to get
anything. I think it’s pretty obvious we’re over.”
“You stil need to tel him,” Sara urged. I didn’t know what I was going
to say. The unavoidable talk was weighing on me more than I wanted
to admit.
But there ended up being no need to worry after al. The whole school
knew we were over before we’d even returned from California. I found
out when I heard, “I can’t believe Drew dumped you for Katie,” as soon
as I walked into school on Monday. Jil stared at me waiting for my reaction.
She wasn’t expecting me to laugh.
It took a few weeks, but the rumors simmered, and I was able to return
to my evolving world without any more distractions. Although the
rhythm had changed since the beginning of the year, I was content
with its predictability, and part of that was being alone
– which I readily accepted. I also accepted the silence in the house
when I retreated to my room each night.
I kept waiting for Carol to react in some way to my trip to California.
But al I heard when I returned from Sara’s was about the trip George

had surprised her with to Bermuda. I had a feeling George hadn’t told
her about California. I had no problem putting up with her gloating; it
didn’t leave bruises.
I concentrated on my classes, continuing to push myself to meet my
overachieving expectations. I performed on the basketbal court, helping
our team finish the regular season with only one other loss. I
laughed with Sara more than I used to, now that we were
“weekend sisters,” as she liked to refer to us.
Even the pain that murmured in my chest and the nightmares that
continued to wake me became a predictable part of my existence. I accepted
them, and I moved on – I was stil surviving.
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