posted on 17-Aug-2002 1:18:32 PM
Cruel
by: Laura Wilson
Disclaimer: I own nothing


“Come on girly…just do it once. Everyone else is doing it.” I hate being called girly, or sweetie, or deary, or any of those other pet names for friends. So who are these people and what horrible teenage stunt are they trying to coerce me into now? Well…they’re my quote unquote friends. Really these people don’t know a thing about me…and well…if they ever did know…the bleach has fried that part of their brains.

My friends, Bunny, Muffy, who I call Puffy (she doesn’t like that much), Buffy, her boyfriend has an unhealthy obsession, are trying to convince me to bleach my hair. I thought we had this all worked out…I let them do whatever stupid, idiotic things they want to do, and they let me be myself. Why do I hang out with these people if they don’t even know me? Sometimes it’s nice to not be known.

I can hear my friends whining on the outside of my thoughts. God, don’t they ever shut up? Their incessant pleas for me to do it and fit in with everyone else are driving me crazy. They want me to bleach my hair and look like them. Sorry, not, but that is so not going to happen. I have naturally dark hair and am not going to bleach it to look like everyone else. I like being different.

“Come on Liz. It won’t hurt your hair, and if we…ummm…I mean, if YOU don’t like it we can always dye it back for you.” Okay, they are officially annoying me. Guess it’s time to move to a new group of uncaring people who pretend to be my friend. This conversation was over about five minutes ago, as far as I am concerned. I don’t even give them a second glance, grab my bag and walk away from them. They’re following me. Why do they care what I do? I don’t care what they do? Why else would I call them Fluffy, and Puffy, and whatever they like to be called. I don’t get it. Why would anyone want to be called Muffy? One of the great mysteries of the world I guess.

Another mystery is why I can’t find a job. I think my parents are secretly sabotaging every chance for freedom and happiness I get…they moved me here after all. My parents…do I hate them for ruining my life? Nah, oddly, no matter how much I think I hate them…they always have a special part in my heart. They moved me here in fourth grade…I’m a senior now. I used to fit in…really I did…then I stopped feeling. Strange how when you distance yourself from everyone and feeling how you can live and not care about anything.

I’m sure I sound like a slacker. I’m not…honestly. I do well in school, take the advanced classes, have an after school job…I even take drama lessons so I can be an actress. Every night I go home to my parents and act like the loving, respectful, perfect daughter they think I am. Honestly, I didn’t know parents could be so naive. Maybe they’re not…I think they’re just living in a fantasy world…can’t say that I blame them.

Senior year is almost over…and I’m still seventeen. I’ve been working since I was 15, saving up money so that I can get out of here as soon as I graduate high school. Graduation is in two weeks…two weeks and I’m out of here. I have half a mind to bail before graduation is even here…no, I don’t want to make anyone talk about me. Haha…why do I care if people talk…it’s not like I’m ever coming back here. I’ve got big plans…and Murrieta doesn’t have a part in any of them. Two weeks and I will have some major distance between me and this little town that’s trying to grow up.

So…back to my family. My parents have been married for many years…not sure how many. I have two older sisters…and a nephew. My mom thinks maybe I should move in with my 23 year old sister and her son. Sorry, but no thanks. My parents have fought out loud for so many years. I think the fighting started when we moved here. They’re still together…but sometimes I wonder why. I’m not complaining. My parents are the reason I have so much drive. It’s not that they have always given me their undying support to reach for my dreams; they allowed me to stop feeling. There is no way in heck that my parents will let me just leave their house and the state when I’m still 17, well…at least not legally.

I remember when I realized I had stopped feeling. My parents had just had a huge fight and my mom had left to go for a walk. I was writing my friend a note…I had real friends then. I discovered I didn’t feel anymore…or care. I fought feeling. Feeling brought shame, fear, hate, and self-loathing. I haven’t felt in two years. I eventually drove off all my good friends, now I’m left with the ‘uffy’s and ‘unny’s…and Alex.

I’m driving home in my car now. It’s a white civic. I’m a careful driver…it amuses Alex to hell. Oh shit…what’s he doing now? His car is parked on the dirt shoulder of Los Alamos Rd and he’s lying on the hood. He looks like he’s waiting for me…which he probably is. Of course he looks up in time to see my car going by. Damn…I have to stop.

Damn it’s dirty here. Couldn’t he have picked a nice cemented place to wait for me…say my driveway? Now I really have to wash my car. I’m groaning and complaining as I walk over to him. He just smiles at the sky and then at me. How the hell am I friends with such a happy guy? I guess we balance each other out.

“What the hell are you doing out here? You know you can get a tan at my house if you wanted to.” He looks at me, yawns, and stretches. Alex is really tall and gangly…looks like a younger and taller Tom Hanks, actually.

He looks me over, taking in my defensive stance. Alex knows me well enough to know not to mess with me today. He always takes my anger in stride. That’s what he’s doing today…he reaches to hug me. I don’t feel like fighting him today…so I hug him back. So like the freaks we are…we sit on his hood, just hugging…on what’s a busy street for Murrieta.

Still holding me, his chin resting on my head, he starts to talk. I can feel his vocal cords vibrating against my head, it’s very comforting. “Bad day, huh?” That’s an underestimation. Alex is the only person who has made it through my stonewall, the only person to hear me laugh…the only one to hold me as I cry, for the past two years.

“Yeah. Ms. B’s were bitching about how I should bleach my hair so I can look like them all. Not going to happen.” Don’t get me wrong, not everyone at MVHS are stupid, bleach blonds…Alex and I aren’t like that…my old friends aren’t like that. Some act like blonds, but not the ones who really were bleach blonds. It was fun though.

I’m too busy thinking…the only words I hear Alex saying are: “Let’s go home.” I nod…disentangle myself from his arms…get in my car and follow him back to my house. I don’t think I mentioned Alex lives with me and my parents…he does.

Alex grew up in New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Colorado, Florida…everywhere; his parents are in the military…they move about once a year…they recently moved back to Nevada…Alex didn’t. He turned eighteen a few months ago and he didn’t want to leave…me. He’s been living with me for two weeks…my parents want him out.

I don’t know why they want him out. Maybe it has something to do with the time my mom checked on me in the middle of the night…Alex was asleep in my bed. Don’t judge me…I was sleeping on the couch…and let him have my bed. I was trying to be nice. I sure hope Alex sleeps completely clothed. Ooh…so wrong.

Well…we just reached my house. My parents are gone for the night. They go out once a month as “therapy for their souls.” I’m sure it’s more like ‘therapy for their marriage.’ Oh well. It’s ritual for Alex to be here on this night. I have conveniently scheduled my emotional breakdowns on these nights. Alex is always here to hold me when I’m falling apart.

I love Alex. Not romantic love, just friendship/brother-sister love. He’s already found his soul mate. Her name is Isabel. She lives in New Mexico. Alex wants to go see her after graduation…I want to go with him. He says we’ll talk about it. Yeah, I know I’m gonna win.

Alex doesn’t have a key to the house, so he’s going through my window. That faulty window has been wonderful this yeah…makes it a lot easier to sneak in and out of the house. I follow Alex through the window. He’s sitting on the floor, so I spread out on the bed and claim it as all mine.

“Alex…” he puts a tape in my tape player and presses play. “Hey sit down, put your money on the ground, ‘cuz it’s gonna be a tragedy,” by Sugar Ray is blaring through my stereo system. “Alex, we need to talk about what’s gonna happen after graduation.”

Alex looks at me and sighs in defeat. He knows if he doesn’t let me go with him, I’ll find some other way and be all on my own. “Fine, Liz, you can come me. There’s someone I want you to meet anyway.” Damn, that was easier than I thought it would be. Wait…there’s someone he wants me to meet? What the hell does Alex thinks he’s doing? Maybe it’s Isabel, and he wants his best friend to meet his soul mate. Yeah, that’s a simple explanation. I’m trying really hard to convince myself that’s what it is; I’m sure it’s not, but a girl can believe a lie if she wants to. Damn, Alex doesn’t look happy anymore. Why?

“Aladdin? You okay?” He nods; guess he can’t wait until we can get out of here. Yeah, that’s it. “Liz? Got any gum?” I nod and toss him my purse. Damn, I forgot I left Paul’s cigarettes in my purse. I’m trying to make him quit. It’s hard…I steal them from him whenever I can. I have a big box of 40 packs of cigarettes in my closet…and Paul is still a chain smoker. Good thing he doesn’t plan on playing football past getting a scholarship to college.

Alex takes a piece of gum and starts on his homework. I sigh, rise off of the bed, grab my purse, and my uniform, and head off to work. Alex doesn’t even look up. I go out the door this time.

Part 2
I listen to pop music-well, not really…poppy-punky music. I listen to Blink 182, Linkin Park, Stained, and POD, need I go on? Okay, so maybe only Blink 182 is poppy punk. Ever wonder where the 182 came from? I can tell you…that’s how many times the word ‘fuck’ is used in the Godfather. My radio is blaring the song that says, “I’m never going to go back home, I’ll run away…I think it’s time for me to leave.” I can relate. It’s all good.

Grrr…I listened to this yesterday…oh well…doesn’t matter…there’s the diner. I’m a waitress at the local, hot spot diner in Murrieta. Great fun. I take a deep breath, sigh loudly, put on my lip gloss, grab my keys, uniform, and purse, lock my car and walk into the backroom…let’s get this over with.

I like my job. Strange, huh? Waitresses are supposed to be happy…. I’m not. Actually…I can be happy…when I’m paid to be. Did I mention I’m going to be an actress…well, that or the head microbiologist at Harvard. I will be…no matter what my parents think. If I’ve convinced them I’m happy, I can convince the world anything.

Someone behind me is singing…Paul. I sing along…Blink 182…I can’t resist. No, Paul, I’ve told you a million times I won’t be your new girlfriend. Paul likes me…he asks me out three times a week…I say no every time…but he still comes back for more…from me…what’s wrong with the boy? He thinks I’m hot…can’t blame him for that. (Primp, primp) Nah, I’m just kidding.

Paul is walking towards me. Ooh, now he’s wrapping his arms around my waist. Am I melting? Nah…that’s just wrong for so many reasons. Stonewall Parker doesn’t melt…walls can’t melt. I step away before I turn back into a feeling sap. Hmmm, how bout some fun? I cup his cheek with my hand, smile, and walk away. Wait…what have I done? Ugh.

Paul isn’t such a bad guy…I think I might even like him a little. Liking Paul is like slipping back into an old habit…I had a really big crush on him two years ago. I’m waiting to find a guy I fall in love with a guy at first sight…Paul just isn’t that guy. Oh well. I’m not sure why lafs mean so much to me…it just does. I hurry and change and check in with the manager…he just nods and glares at me. What’s his problem? Maybe the rumors are true, maybe his wife did leave him for Quick Rick…ummm, that sounds wrong on so many levels. Rick delivers mail quickly…he’s a good postman. That’s a little better…I guess.

I pop my back, grab my order book, and walk into the main room. There’s some short chick with pink hair sitting on a stool. Interesting. The girl with pink hair looks irritated. I’m gonna go with my instinct and say she hasn’t been waited on yet, people tend to avoid what they aren’t used to. She looks at me when I walk into the room. I tell her I’ll be with her in a minute, walk over to the tape player/radio. Turn off the shit that has been playing and pop in my work appropriate mixed tape…Youth of the Nation…ooh, yeah. A chorus of “Liz’s here” sounds when I press play.

That chick’s head is bouncing to the music…guess she has good taste in music. So…I finally walk over to her, paste a fake grin on my face and say in a welcoming tone, “Hi! I’m Liz and I’ll be your waitress. What can I get for you?” She looks at me in obvious amusement.

“You can drop the cornball act…Liz. I’m used to downers.” Is that fake amusement or real? I think I could get along with her. She doesn’t seem like she takes anyone’s crap. Joy…neither do I.

My smile dissipates. “Joy. I only fake it for new people. Everyone else knows me better…they just laugh if I act happy. Blah. What can I get for you?” I realize she’s not holding a menu, but a newspaper…and a picture of her…with a really hot guy…hopefully her brother or something. I think I’m falling in lafs with the guy in the photo, not that that’s possible or anything, but…you know. Oh well. She looks sad and tired in real life.

She sighs. “I have no money…I just hitched rides from New York. I was hoping to get a job. Can I talk to the manager?” Ugh…another waitress. Wait, who am I to judge? Ms. Waitress here. Okay, she hitchhiked from New York all the way to California. Aite…I’m impressed.

“What’s your name?” I ask. She doesn’t look like she wants to tell me…well at least that’s what I get from one eyebrow being raised. “Come on, you know my name. Plus, (I roll my eyes) I need to know who I’m hiring.” She looks confused now.

I can tell she doesn’t want to tell me. Damn, she’s more stubborn than me. “Ava Mazzy. Like the band Mazzy Star.” Ava laughs, the Depends Underwear song by Blink 182 is playing. I laugh too; it’s a funny song.

"Depends"

I don't want to urinate on myself
I don't want to urinate on anyone else
Well, I guess that really doesn't matter anymore
Because I can't control my bladder anymore

Well, I guess it all depends (undergarments)
Well, I guess it all depends (undergarments)

Step back in the light
No more soiled nights alone
But I guess I don't have a care
Because there's not a load in my underwear

I'm sick of offending everyone I meet (go, go, go, go)
I'm sick of crying myself to sleep on rubber sheets (go)
I had an accident today
I left a soil on a bus seat, I didn't know what to say

But, I guess it all depends (undergarments)
Well, I guess it all depends (undergarments)

Step back into life (go, go)
No more soiled nights alone
Well, I guess that I don't have a care
If I don't have a load in my underwear

“Yeah, funny song. Well, Ava, I’m Liz Parker, the assistant manager. You’re hired. If you need any help finding a place to stay…I can help you, or you can stay at my place for a while, it’s pretty much a motel for people who need a place to stay….” Shut up Liz…why are you being nice to some girl you don’t even know? Maybe I need another friend. Blah. I just look at her with my eyebrow raised.

Ava sighs again, what’s wrong with her? Is she depressed? Running away from abusive parents? Abusive boyfriend…the guy in the photo? Why am I interested? I hate people. Oh well. “Thanks…that would be nice. Why do care, though?” Her face expression shows my actions versus words are confusing her, that plus the fact she’s talking and looking at me like she expects me to change my mind and suddenly bite her head off. What’s she heard about me? Kidding…I’m guessing she hasn’t had a very good life. But back to her question…it’s a trick question, what do I say? I get the feeling she would be able to see through any lie I could quickly develop. Grrr.

I decide to tell her the truth. I sit on the stool on the other side of the counter and wipe absently at the already clean surface. “I don’t know. I think Alex’s behavior and attitude are wearing off on me…I’m becoming nice now. Blah.” I make a disgusted face and she forces a tight-lipped grin. “Well, since you’re here, we’ll get you all situated.

The next four hours are spent teaching her what to do. Well…most of it was spent talking about our pasts and we’re up to what’s happening now. Ava is an orphan. She grew up on the streets of New York with her brother Rath, and friends Lonnie and Zan. Zan, the guy in the photo, was the only one who tried to protect her…when he died she didn’t feel safe with Lonnie and Rath anymore. I told her about my past and she seems to understand. Could it be I’ve gained another friend? Wow…guess I’m growing up.

Time to go home…I spend the ride home assuaging Ava’s fears about whether my parents will let her stay for a while. Dare I actually say…my life is going good right now? I pull up in my driveway. I park and help Ava carry her meager belongings to the house. I glance at her and see she’d biting her lip. Guess she’s still nervous. Oh well, whatever.

I unlock the door. My dogs look happy to see me, and then they see Ava. They sniff her and wag their tails. Huh…usually my dogs hate all strangers…even my cousins. Whatever. “Alex?” I yell…why isn’t he answering me? Duh…he’s not here. His car wasn’t in front. Hmm, he’s usually always here at night, I’m sure he’ll be back later though.

Ava is petting T&P, my dogs. I turn around and lead her into a room to the right. “Alex isn’t here. This is where you’ll be sleeping. The couch is a fold out.” She nods, puts her stuff down and sits on the couch.

“Liz? Is that you?” My mother yells from her office. I can hear my Dad cooking in the kitchen. Know what that means…cleanup duty later…KP. Of course it’s me, mother dearest…I’m always here, but why are you? Of course I would never really say that. That would be mean and hurt my dearest mother’s feelings. I may get upset…but I don’t want her to hate me…as weird as that sounds.

I stifle my snide remarks before I answer. “Yeah, Mom, I’m home. Umm, what are you and dad doing here? I mean…I thought tonight was your guys’ night out on the town?” I did…I thought tonight I would be blaring my radio, dancing around with my dogs, singing at the top of my lungs, and eating cold, day old pizza. Yum. Well, it looks like I’m not going to get that tonight. Grrr.

My mom comes out of her office to talk to me. Oh…she got her hair cut…it looks nice…I guess. My mom has silver hair; she doesn’t like it to be called gray. She used to wear it long…it looked thin and straggly. Blah. She cut it after some kid asked her on Halloween if it was her real hair. She looks much more professional now.

She looks at Ava, who is standing behind me. I guess now would be a good time to say something. “Oh.” Yeah…really broke the ice didn’t I? So…I sigh, irritated, of course. “Mom, this is Ava, she works at the diner with me. She needs a place to stay for a while. Ava, this is my mom. She raised me….” Enough said. My mom forces a smile at Ava. Am I going to get in trouble for this? I hope not.

Ava walks over to my mother and shakes her hand. “It’s nice ta meet ya Mrs. Parker. Thanks for lettin’ me stay fah a while.” Hmmm…I just noticed Ava has a little accent. Duh, she grew up in New York, she should have an accent. Wonder why I didn’t notice it earlier. Maybe it comes when she’s stressed. Ava smiles sweetly at my mother, and, big surprise, my mom relents…even thought the girls she is currently looking at is the proud owner of pink hair.

I leave my mom and Ava to talk and make my way to see my dad. My dad and I actually have a pretty good relationship. He’s stirring something and looks up when I enter. I walk over to him and give him a kiss on the cheek. “Hi, Daddy.”

He smiles at me. “Hey sweetie. How was your day? Make lots of money? See Paul?” My dad freezes. Yeah Dad, you better…I never told you about Paul. I’ll let it slide. Sweet smile.

“Yeah…” I grab a carrot stick and munch on it. “I made about 50 bucks in tips. Joy. I’m gonna go clean up.” So…I didn’t tell him I brought home a friend to live with us for a while. He’ll find out soon enough.

I run up the stairs and go into my bedroom, grab some clean clothes and take a quick shower. I throw my uniform in the hamper. My uniform isn’t that bad, it’s not a green, button up dress, with an alien head apron, which Alex says the waitresses in Roswell have to wear. Mine is a white t-shirt with the logo of the diner, a black skirt, black tights, black shoes, and a black apron. Not bad…but now it’s covered in some little kid’s chocolate milkshake he spilt all over me. Yech.

I dress quickly in the black jeans and light green sweater I grabbed and run down the stairs. Dinners ready, I grab the drinks and carry them to the table. Aaw…a family dinner, how sweet.

Dinner was uneventful. We all sat around eating, making unimportant, shallow small talk and pretending to be people we aren’t. My parents quietly and quickly slipped into their fantasy world where everything is perfect. Ava slipped into her own little world, God knows what that world is. And I was stuck in the real world…where I was forced to stare at the scene unfolding in mute horror. We all talked, asked questions, appeared like we all cared…even if we didn’t…nodding silently…pretending to think. The sarcastic comments in my head were held captive, not allowed to tarnish my parent’s opinion of their perfect daughter…the me they think they know.

After dinner, I cleaned up, Ava went to sleep, and my parents went to watch television. I proceeded to do my homework. At 10:30, I said goodnight to my parents and went to my room. I grabbed my pajamas, my apartment pants and a tank top…and found Alex’s notebook.

Alex still hasn’t come home. I have no idea where he could be…he’s usually always here by 10:00. But he left his notebook under my pillow. Why doesn’t this seem good to me? Probably because it’s never happened before. I’m afraid to read the note taped to the notebook. Why? Alex has never been mean to me; he’s always been here for me. I swallow, my fears and the normal saliva, and reach for the note.

‘Lizzey,

I have to finish the story. It needs a happy ending, but the heroine needs to feel again. Liz, you need to feel, I’m leaving so you’ll feel. Damn it, Liz, feel for God’s sake. I’m going to New Mexico…Roswell…to see Isabel. I love you Liz, and I always will. Remember that and that you’re the story…you always were.

Love,
Alex’

I open the notebook and read the title. Cruel by: Alex Whitman. The story of a lost girl. Chapter one.

“She stumbled down the hall, bruising her wings in her erratic flight. The dream was always the same…every night. An interminable corridor in which she blindly crashed into the walls stretched out in front of her, beckoning for her to crash for the last time. When she woke, life was the same. Her nightmares and her life were indistinguishable from each other. She lied with deftness, covering the truth, the bruises. The lies were talking over her life.

She didn’t feel anymore…she had no reason to. Everyone else around her felt enough…they felt the pain….”

I couldn’t read any more. My life is Cruel. I am she, she is I. It worked…I feel. I curl into a ball on my bed and sob…heartbreaking sobs that never end. It hurts to feel. Oh God…it hurts.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 17-Aug-2002 1:22:05 PM ]
posted on 17-Aug-2002 1:19:51 PM
Part 3

If Alex left so that I would feel, he can come back now. Every since he left, I have been trying to readjust to the old life I led. I’ve started hanging out with my old friends again. I brought Ava with me to rejoin the society I left behind. We’re all a little weary of each other.

I idealized my old friends. They really aren’t what I thought they were. They’ve changed a lot…or I have…it’s hard to tell. It used to be so easy to talk to them, now I don’t talk; I just listen as they talk. No one asks me if I’m okay, I think they’re afraid that if they make me talk, I’ll leave. I guess they saw what has happened with all those other people and groups that I pretended were my friends.

Everyone has started hanging out at the diner now…well, except for my old best friend. Ever tried to become friends with your old best friend? It’s kind of hard. She doesn’t hang out at the diner because she never has time. Of course, when we were best friends, she still never had time. I knew we were drifting away from each other long before I broke away from the group.

I just realized something…I have never seen any of my friends at the diner, until they started hanging I started talking to them again. Now they’re always here, always around me…and it’s annoying. We have no more school now, graduation ceremony rehearsal, but no classroom experience. Thank God.

I went shopping at the mall in Temecula. I love shopping. I got new pants, sweatshirt, a couple skirts, a dress to wear to graduation, a simple black cocktail dress that I love, shoes, earrings, makeup, all the things I need for summer. I also bought a chest; trunk thing to put all my stuff in…it’s already in the trunk of my car.

Ava and I already made a plan to get out of Murrieta. One week and she already wants out. Here’s what we decided, nah, I already know it…it’s going to surprise everyone…but we’re out of here in a few days. I’m kind of worried about leaving, my parents.

I’m worried about my parents. I don’t know why…they’ll survive without me. My mother used to tell me that when she won the lottery, she was going to send me off to boarding school somewhere I didn’t want to be. I never went to boarding school. My mom started to prepare me years ago about how to do things myself that I would need to know to live by myself, but who prepared my parents to live on their own? Nobody. I’m sure they’ll be fine…I’m sure everyone everywhere will be fine.

For so long I have wanted out, ever since I was a freshman. This is one of the one of the things that told me my best friend and I didn’t know each other anymore. Starting in January of our sophomore year, I told my best friend I couldn’t wait to get out. That as soon as graduation was over, I was out of here…and she didn’t listen. In March my friends and I were talking about colleges…and my friend actually said, “Maybe the reason you don’t want to get out as bad as we do, is because you’re younger than us.” What? Where did that come from? I thought she knew me…see…I was young and naïve. Look at me now.

I went driving around yesterday, under the guise of house looking. I don’t know why. For some reason, every time I look for houses, I always see a half dressed guy…usually an elderly man. That’s wrong in so many ways. But yesterday I was cruising around in my civic, my sunglasses on. Look at me…I’m so cool. Yeah…uh huh, no.

I went a little crazy at the mall. I also got my belly button pierced. My parents would flip out if they knew I got that. Surprisingly, they didn’t flip out when I pierced my own ear when I was in 10th grade, but this is a whole different thing. Well…I also got a tattoo. It’s a black and white butterfly with the phrase ‘I believe in Destiny’ written in plain black letters. Surprised? Ava was, even if she was there when I got it done…Paul was surprised too.

One good thing has happened since Alex left. I went on a date with Paul. I told him that as soon as we graduate, I’m leaving Murrieta. He understands that nothing serious can happen between us. As he said “Well…a week and a half is better than nothing.” I had to agree with that…so I nodded and kissed him. It was sweet.

The manager at the diner is getting a divorce. He called in one of his old college friends, who is a lawyer, to handle the case. He brought Mr. Evans in all the way from Roswell, New Mexico. His daughter is Isabel, wow, small world. I told him to tell Alex that I’m coming to find him as soon as graduation is over.

There’s only one reason I’m sticking around until graduation…I’m valedictorian. I want to give my speech and surprise everyone with the fact that it’s over…and we’re gone. The speech is already all written…it’s got quotes from songs, and teachers, and generalizations about the future. It’s nice, but satirical. It’s all good.

I got into a fight with my mother the other night about my intentions of leaving. She doesn’t like that I’m going to be 17 and out of the nest. She says that all my sisters planned on doing that and look at them. I’m not my sisters, no matter how much I look like them, which is very little, or may resemble their attitudes, I am not my sisters. I have different goals, different priorities, and a different life. Watch me go, Mom.

I went on the Internet, God bless the inventor of the Internet, and found an apartment to rent in Santa Monica. I’m moving in in August. Until then, I’m going to Arizona, where I was born, and to see Alex. He can’t escape me. I get the feeling Alex is also trying to protect me from something or someone. I can’t understand why, I can take care of myself.

Nothing really eventful has happened recently. Annoyance at my friends, work, finding Alex and a place to stay, is pretty much all that’s been going on. I talked to Mr. Evans, he says that Ava and I can stay at his house for a while, it’ll be a little crowded, but that we’re free to stay for as long as we want too. Mr. Evans is pretty cool; even though I’ve only known him a couple days, he seems like a second father already.

I packed my trunk already. My parents don’t know that. I put all the clothes and stuff that I don’t need to use for the next week and a half. Ava and I are leaving at midnight after graduation. I want to stop at the karaoke/pizza place on our way out of town…Ava doesn’t like that idea. Who’s the one driving? I’ll be singing karaoke at midnight. Bwa-ha-ha…ha.

I’m sitting on the couch in the back room of the diner right now. I can see through the window looking into the main room. My friends are sitting there…I should probably get off my ass and go serve them…most likely they’ll want me to talk to them, rather than just get their orders and run away like normal. Another waitress goes up to them, but they wave her away. Snobs. Uh-oh, the ‘uffy’s and ‘unny’s just walked through the door. This should be interesting.

The uffy’s and unny’s make their way to the table as far away from the door as they can get…which means they are conveniently sitting right by the backroom. Ugh…my breaks over. Time to face the hungry masses. I grab my order book, retie my apron, sigh, stand up tall and enter the room. My friends look up at me. Okay, my old friends, and then the uffy’s and ‘unny’s. Really I need something new to call them. Ms. B’s. Yeah, that’s their new name.

I walk over to my old friends, and smile at them. A small smile, all my smiles are small, and then I can’t help but bite my lip. I bite my lip when I’m nervous. Glad that’s a new habit they don’t know about. They look up. Oh, look…my old best friend has joined them…I guess cross-country is over for the seniors. Huh, interesting.

My old b.f.f, I guess our friendship wasn’t forever, looks up and smiles at me…I force a small smile. Things are still strained, especially between the two of us. “Liz. Hi…we were wondering if you wanted to go to the movies with us later? Movie Experience, Ashley’s boyfriend can get us in for free.”

I smile politely. “Sorry I can’t…I already have plans. Can I get you guys something to eat?” They look a little disappointed. Wow…I thought they didn’t like me anymore. Oh.

They nod and give me their orders, which I quickly write down. “Okay guys, I’ll go get your drinks and be right back.” I smile again, turn around and go get their drinks quickly. I give them their drinks and walk away. I’m not paid to socialize with customers, even if they are my friends. On to the next group of probably irate ex-friends. I have to take a deep breath before I address them.

Muffy looks at me sweetly. I smile back like I care what they think. They smile to each other, okay what is this? Did they come in here to just look at each other and smile? So…Muffy must be the new leader…she talks first. “Liz, we decided to invite you to the hot party tonight. All the cool people are going to be there.” Mentally, I’m grimacing. There is no way in hell I will go to a hot party with these people. I haven’t talked to any of them in days, why would they make an attempt. Something isn’t right here. Oh well, what do I care?

I take a second to figure out what to say. I smile sweetly again…Goddamn it…is that all I’m doing today? Gag me with a fork. “Sorry I can’t…I have other plans tonight.” I give them the same explanation I gave the others. I’m glad I already had plans…I didn’t make them up…I really have something to do tonight. Paul’s taking me to the karaoke pizza place. Okay, what’s with Liz and the karaoke, huh? I like singing.

They don’t look sorry…they’re all scowling at me. Okay…this probably isn’t about me. It’s probably about one of them got dumped and they want to steal Paul away. Fine…take him. Actually, that’s not okay. “You know what, I have a job to do. I’m a waitress at this diner…that you’re sitting in. Diner’s are for eating food you buy here. So…here’s the ultimatum…buy something or get out.” Yeah, I had major attitude delivering that speech…but they annoy me.

Their scowls are still directed at me. Didn’t their mother’s ever tell them not to make such ugly faces…if someone smacks you on the back, your face will stay like that? My mom told me. I am so tempted to smack Muffy on the back and see if that really works. They’re annoyed. “Be a good girl, and get me some fries and a cherry coke.” Of course your highness, right away. Whatever.

“You know what Muffy? Bitchy looks really bad on you. Leave it to the professionals.” I smile and turn around. I can hear the ‘humph’ halfway across the diner. I walk into the backroom and start laughing. Ava’s in there already. She looks amused when she sees me.

“Yo, cornball, what’s so funny?” I swallow my laughs, put on a calm face and answer. “Haha…I just pissed off Muffy…I don’t think we’ll see her around here anymore. I’m surprised they would even talk to me when I’m working. They have this whole rule…no waiting on others because it drags the whole group down. The horror.” I clasp my hand over my mouth and looked shocked. Oh my, making money is so horrible for the group. Need I say I am the only one with a job?

I stand straight and tall, well, as tall as I can, and walk back into the diner. I grab the drinks Ms. B’s ordered and take them to them. They don’t say anything as I place the drinks in front of them…they don’t even look at me. I think I won.

“Cornball…your shift is over.” That’s Ava…I don’t know why she calls me cornball, but she does. Oh well, it’s way her of showing affection; after all, I am her first best friend. I’m not sure how we got to be such good friends…but it’s all good…I’m glad I have a friend to lean on, God knows I need one this week. Well, time to go get ready for my date with Paul. I can’t help but smile at that…my boyfriend. Something’s are always good.

I hurry out of the diner to go home. This is our third date in a week. I’m actually sad I’ll only be here five more days…only five more days to be with Paul. Who would’ve ever thought I’d be sad to leave something? Well…there’s always something you don’t want to leave behind…I guess Paul’s my something.

I unlock my car, throw my purse on the passenger seat, buckle my seatbelt, and start the car and leave. I’m in a hurry to get home so I can look all pretty. Crazy, isn’t it? I have p.o.d in my car. “I’m thinking bout forever…I’m tripping on whatever.” I love this song, it’s mellow, not fast, but it’s good, you know?

I zip down Los Alamos, Whitewood, and finally Blackthorn, I live right by there…pull into the driveway…and run through they house to my bedroom. I grab the clothes I already picked out, and take a long shower. I dress in my black short skirt, black tank top, and black high-heeled boots. I like the color black.

I brush my hair and make my way down to the garage and toss my uniform in the dirt clothes. I’ll wash it after I get back. I think I’ll let my hair dry naturally; it’ll have a little bit of a wave then. My parents are both home. I hug them…and say hi. They smile to see me look so happy…I smile back at them. Time for makeup. I’m a minimalist today…foundation, lip-gloss, mascara and I’m good to go.

Time to go meet Paul. Ding-dong, the doorbell is ringing…my mom answers the door. “Liz, Paul is here. Are you ready to go.” After I zip my boots up I will be. I thought I was supposed to meet him there. Oh well, this is good too. Ziiippp…okay all ready. Grab my purse and run down the stairs.

“Hey Paul, let’s go.” I hug both my parents, tell them I love them and I’ll be back by 10:30. My parents look happy to see me happy…glad I can give them that little bit of happiness. I love my parents very much…I’m glad they’re here for me whenever I need them…even if they’re here when I don’t need them. I walk out the door and Paul follows me, closing the door. I wave to my parents and walk to Paul’s car. He opens the door for me and get in.

“I thought I was going to meet you there? What happened to change your mind?” He looks at me, takes my hand in his, and smiles.

“I wanted to be next to you as soon as I could.” He drops my hand and looks to the road again. I bite my lip, and smile slightly. That’s sweet, but kinda creepy…or at least it is to me. We pull up to the pizza place and walk inside. My fears dissolve when I enter this place. It’s like my third home. “I wouldn’t mind being an actress, but I love to sing,” is the motto of my life. Well, not really, but it’s close to it.

Paul leads me to a table right by the stage and I sit down happily. We order our pizza and drinks; drink to our delight, then Paul gets up to sing. “Thinking About Forever,” what a coincidence…I was listening to that earlier. Paul isn’t a bad singer, but he’s not the best. When he’s finished, I smile and kiss him. He kisses me back a little longer than I would’ve liked. Okay my turn.

I love singing…especially here. I’m a pretty good singer…I can definitely hold my own…unless you ask me to sing all those patriotic songs…but that’s mostly because I don’t the words. Whatever. My song is Oil & Water by Majandra Delfino…I love singing that song…so I do that now. The people here are nice, they applaud me loudly. Maybe I should be a singer…nah, probably not…we’ll see.

It’s loud here…oh well; sometimes volume is comforting...like when you’re feeling weird about your boyfriend…definitely good to be around volume then. We eat pizza to our heart’s content, and get about four refills on our drinks. Joy…I probably have orange slice flowing through my veins. I tell Paul and he laughs at me. That’s something I don’t miss…everyone laughing at me.

I get up again and sing Fallen Icon. It’s a long mellow song, but I just want to sing. Paul smiles at me the whole time I’m up there. How could I sit next to him and worry about his behavior. Liz, he’s just a caring, wonderful boyfriend, you’re not used to good guys. Paul isn’t my first boyfriend…I’ve had others in the past three years, but they always seemed to be into something bad…they all were nice to me…but when they weren’t around, they weren’t thinking off me. I’ve never dumped.

Okay, now the volume of the speakers and all the talking people is getting on my nerves. I grab Paul’s hand; we pay the bill, and walk to the park a block away. We sit there, just talking about what he’s going to do after high school. He’s going to UCSD; he got a football scholarship to go there. I take the time to tell him he has to quit smoking, or else he’ll lose his scholarship when he can’t play anymore. He sits silently…he knows I don’t approve of his habit; he says it’s just too hard to quit. I know he can…my daddy did.

We walk back to the pizza place and get in the car. He drives me back to my place. My parents’ car is gone…guess they went to go see a late night movie or something…oh well. I get out of the car and walk to the door with Paul. I hug him and give him a quick kiss. I start to turn around to go in when he grabs me by the arms.

I look at his hands on my arms, and he quickly lets go…and begins to talk. “Liz, I know we said that nothing serious could happened between us, but…maybe you should rethink your decision.” He looks at me and lowers his face down to mine. I push him away hard. He doesn’t move more than an inch.

“No…I don’t think I should. I don’t want a serious relationship. Especially not now...and not with you.” That was mean I know…but he’s freaking me out a little. He walks forward a little…pinning me against the wall of the house, putting his arms on both sides, blocking me in. I take a deep breath.

“No…listen to me…I really think you should reconsider.” He steps closer to me…his body is crushing mine against the wall. Paul’s hand holds my face; his other is on my waist, holding me in place. He leans in to kiss me…I move my face, and he slaps me…hard. He takes advantage of my exposed neck to wrap his hand around it. He’s holding my hands behind my back. Bastard, asshole, fucker…. he better let me go. I tell him so and he just laughs at me.

His laughing at me is the last straw. I spit in his face, gross I know. He backs away…which loosens his grip on my neck. I knee him where the sun doesn’t shine. He falls to the ground. Paul puts his hands on my waist and shoves me against the wall again. I use my knee to deliver a blow to his head before he punches my knee. So I scream…and he stands up again.

Paul coves my mouth with his hand, and his arm shoves me and pins me against the wall again. He reaches down, gets a grip on my shirt and rips it off. Okay, come one, Liz, you can get yourself out of this. Take a deep breath. I take my deep breath, well, as deep as I can with his hand covering my mouth, kiss his hand, to make him think I’m complying. His grip loosens again.

His hand is still covering my hand, so…I bite him…hard. I can taste his blood in my mouth. I knee him with my uninjured knee…he shoves me to the ground and tries to get a hold on my skirt. Okay, buster your fun is over now. I knee him, he falls onto me, pinning me to the ground. I knee him again, roll over on top of him and punch him in the face.

I’ve been working out. You need a good body to waitress. If you do…the perverts give you a better tip. I get good tips. I punch Paul in the jam, and then the nose. His nose crunches and blood spews out. Yuck.

I punch him again and he loses consciousness. I grab my purse, run to the door and unlock it, hurriedly get inside, and lock the door. I look out the window in time to see Paul waking up again.

Ava calls from her room, her voice sounds tired. I probably woke her when I slammed the door. “Hey cornball, that you?” I run into her room, she’s rubbing her eyes and getting out of her bed.

“Yeah, Ava, it’s me. Come on, get up…we’re leaving tonight. We’re not staying here another night. Hurry up, let’s go.” I sit down on her bed and cry. She pulls me into a hug and holds me as I cry.

When I stop crying, she picks up her stuff and puts it into her bag. “Liz…go get your stuff…you’re parents are gone for the night…so let’s get out of here.” I nod, glad that I have a friend, and run up the stairs. I grab my clothes, change quickly, and run back down stairs. I’m glad that I put most of Ava’s and my stuff in the trunk already. Bastard. Why do I always attract the creeps who are good for nothing? I really need help.

I look through the window at the front of the house. Paul and his car are both gone. I nod to Ava and we leave the house. I look at the ground where I kicked Paul down…there’s a drop of blood discoloring the sidewalk…I cough and choke. Ava walks behind me and leads me to the car. I put our stuff in the backseat, get in, lock the doors, make sure my cell phone is in the glove compartment and start the car.

It’s time to get out of here…guess I’m going to find Alex sooner than I though. I’ll call my parents and leave them a message. I look around the street before pulling out of the driveway and I notice Paul’s car is parked across the street from my house. I pull out of the driveway and go down the other way. Paul’s car starts and I can tell he’s following me. Wow, car chase…how can I get rid of him.

I drive down Los Alamos, and get on the freeway. Of course, at 11 o’clock at night, there aren’t very many people, so I drive fast. I get off at the exit at Sun City, where my grandma lives and drive around for a while. Then I get back on the highway, get off on the next city and drive around there again. By the time I get back on the highway, I’ve lost Paul. For the next hour I drive at 75 miles per hour, hoping the police will pull me over. No such luck. I don’t slow down, or look back until I’m out of the county. And that’s why I stopped myself from feeling…you let people in…and all they do is hurt you.

Part 4

I really should stop soon…I need to make a couple phone calls…and get gas. So I pull off on the next exit, Sunset Ave. So I didn’t make it completely out of the county…I realized I was going west, so I turned onto the 60, and then the 10. I’m heading east now…well I would be…if I were moving. I’m pumping gas now…wow…look at me pump gas. Waa-hoo, having fun now.

Part of my plan was to not use my bank account at all…I don’t want anyone to be able to trace me…guess that means no checks anymore. Hmmm…wonder how I will explain that I need my paycheck in cash to my future employer. When I walk into the room to pay for the gas, the guy at the register looks up at me.

The guy is about 25, blond hair and green eyes. He’s about 6 foot 1…and he’s just staring at me. I walk up to him and his eyes don’t leave my face. “What are you doing out here at 3 in the morning? Shouldn’t you be at home sleeping?” Okay, what’s with the asking me questions? This guy should mind his own business. Well…I’ll tell him.

“I left my home town…had to get out of there.” He just looks at me. “Look at my face, do you see a bruise?” He nods his head almost imperceptibly. “Well, that’s why I left. Heading for Colorado.” He nods again. Okay, I admit it…I lied. I’m not heading for Colorado, but he doesn’t need to know that. I pay quickly and leave.

When I get to the car, Ava is sitting in the driver’s seat. She says she’ll drive for the next couple of hours. We’ll be in Arizona in another 5 hours. Huh, I’ll get up at 6 and take over again. We could just rent a room at the motel across the street, but I don’t wanna waste my money. My head is killing me. I’ve had a slight headache since we left Murrieta, but now it’s a full-blown migraine. I blame the cash register dude…he burned a whole through my head with his staring.

I nod, groan and collapse on the back seat. Within five minutes of being on the highway again, I’m asleep. I sleep well, except for when I woke up from falling of the seat. One minute I’m asleep, dreaming about graduation…the next I’m waking up, after landing on the floor of the car. Well, that was a rude awakening.

Ava looks really tired. I tell her to pull over and we switch places. Before my seatbelt is even fastened she’s already asleep. I hope she doesn’t snore. I hate it when people snore. My aunt had to sleep in the same room as me when we went to Arizona. She told me not to snore…guess who snored. Yep, she’s a heavy snorer…. but apparently Ava isn’t. Good.

So here I am, just cruising down the…wait, where am I? Shit…I was supposed to call Mr. Evans…. too late now…he’s going to the airport to catch his plan to New Mexico. Oh well, guess I’ll just have to surprise him and everyone else. Have you ever driven to Arizona? It’s pretty boring. The way I know, you drive by Barstow and eat in the McDonald’s tourist train thing. You have to. But the freeway is this long, long, never-ending red road. No one even drives on it…except for the lonely truckers. If I weren’t driving…I would do the little honk sign and see how many of them honk. By the time they get to Barstow, coming back from Arizona, they’re pretty lonely, and honk readily. Great fun.

It’s nine a.m. now. Ava just woke up…I’m hungry. Oh, look…Bullhead City. Ooh, yum, don’t they have a Denny’s or an IHOP here? I’m pretty sure I remember one. I’m just driving around until I find one…no wait…why settle for Denny’s when we can drive to Laughlin Nevada? Casinos, here I come.

Strange how they don’t allow minors into casinos, but in order to get to the dining rooms, you have to go through the casino. Oh well, guess I’ll have to tell the security guard what we’re here for. Pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit; you name it…we’re here for it.

“Good morning, sleepy head. Rise and shine…we’re in Laughlin now. Let’s go get something to eat.” Ava glares at me. What…is it something I said? Okay, now here comes the jaw-breaking yawn. I have a feeling we’re both going to be very tired from the lack of sleep soon.

“Yo, cornball, sorry to break it to ya…but I’m not goin’ anywhere. I’m not decent to be seen in public. Plus I need to take a shower. So drive through a Mickey D’s or something. Fast and painless.” Ava crawls into the passenger seat and buckles her seatbelt. Duh, what was I thinking? Oh yeah, I’m hungry.

I spot a Burger King and pull through quickly. “Welcome to Burger King. What can I get for you today?” I order random things that sound good, Burger King has the best onion rings, or so I think. I order a crown too…it might come in handy someday. Plus, I can go to all the Burger Kings I go to, get a crown from each one, and have a collection of Burger King crowns from Arizona and New Mexico. Sounds like fun to me. Ava groans when she hears my order for a crown. Come on; give me a break…I need to do something normal.

We pull over and chow down. If it doesn’t get all over the place, it doesn’t belong in your face. Wrong fast food place, but anyhow…this food doesn’t belong in my face. We’re out of Laughlin quickly and back on the open road…until I stop to buy a map.

Okay, we should be in Roswell, New Mexico by tomorrow night. Yahoo Maps say it’s a 20-hour drive. I think we can stop tonight at 7 and check into a hotel…and since we didn’t last night…we can get two separate rooms…at a cheap place anyway.

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ down the highway. Look at me…I’m just cruising in my white civic with my Burger King crown proudly placed upon my head…aren’t I cool now? My air conditioner is blowing full blast…it’s kinda hot at noon in Arizona. Okay, we’ve been driving for 11 hours now. Ava is messing with my cd player.

“Ava, look in the glove compartment. I stashed a couple cd’s in there.” She nods and pulls out a new mixed cd. My favorite: Linkin Park, POD, and Blink 182…what more can you ask for? Nothing…if you ask me.

At 7, we pull off the road into a hotel, pay and go our separate ways. We drove through another Burger King before going to the hotel. Now I have three crowns. Yeah. I unlock the door to my room and go inside. Lock the door, and sink into the bed. The room isn’t bad. Kinda dull, but not bad.

The bed is one of those bedspreads that look like watercolor has been splashed all over with. The walls are light blue, and the carpet used to be white, now it’s dingy off-white. Well, the carpet is kind of bad…but the bed is soft. I roll over and grab the phone. I dial the number I want and wait for someone to pick up.

A soft female voice answers the phone. “Hello?” Damn it, why couldn’t he have picked up. Grrr…

“Hi.” I put on my nice tone. “Could I speak with Mr. Evans please? It’s very important.”

“Sure, I’ll go get him.” The speaker puts the phone down and I can hear her going to go find Mr. Evans. I sit on my end and just hum and sing. Singing calms me down.

It’s a while before someone comes back. Did they forget me? I hope not…it really is important that I speak to Mr. Evans. Finally he comes. “Hello, Phillip Evans here.”

“Mr. Evans? This is Liz…Parker. Ummm…I’m just calling to tell you that Ava and I had to leave Murrieta. We’re a couple hours between Phoenix and Roswell. We should be there around two tomorrow. Umm…is the offer to stay still good?” I’m worried, and I let my voice betray my feelings.

Mr. Evans chuckles and then sobers down again. “Liz…it’s okay. You can come stay with us. I talked it over with my wife and she says it’s okay. You can sleep in Isabel’s room…she graduated last year and moved out a couple months ago to be closer to her college. I’ll take the day off and be here to welcome you two when you get here.”

Well, that’s a relief. “Thank you Mr. Evans, it means a lot to me to be able to turn to you.” I thank him again, he says the usual “no problem,” we say goodbye and I hang up. That was easy, and I’m so glad I got it out of the way again. I hurry and take my shower, brush my teeth, and collapse onto my bed.

There’s a knock on my door. I grab my blanket, wrap it around me and go to the door. I look through the window to see who’s there…its just Ava. I open the door and she barges in.

“Yo, cornball. We didn’t make any plans about what we’re doing tomorrow. So, what are we doing? Come on, I’m waiting on pins and needles here.” I’m such a leader; everyone looks to me for direction. Good thing I have tomorrow all planned.

“Ava…. tomorrow we are driving to Roswell. I called Mr. Evans and told him we’d be there around two, so we have to leave around 10 in the morning. We can sleep for 13 hours if we go to sleep now. I want my thirteen hours of sleep…and I am going to get it. Go back to your room and go to sleep. Night, see you tomorrow.” I reach over and give her a hug…before showing her out the door.

I push her slightly, she sighs and leaves. My bed looks pretty comfy now. I didn’t tell Ava exactly everything. I also plan on going to Burger King twice, and getting two new crowns. I wonder where the closest Burger Kings are.

Part 5

What would a mix of dinner and lunch be called? Breakfast and lunch is brunch, so would lunch and dinner be lunner? Why is it that lunar sounds like Lou, but lunch sounds like lun, like lunkhead? Why am I thinking about this? Because there’s the local diner, the Crashdown. I park the car and walk in. A middle-aged guy approaches me. “Hi, I’m Mr. Carlson, can I help you?”

I nod. “Yeah, Mr. Carlson. I was wondering if you were hiring waitresses. I’ve worked at Joe’s diner in Murrieta for two years…lots of experience.” Mr. Carlson looks me down, and nods.

“We are hiring. And…you’re the newest waitress.” Now if only it was that easy to find an apartment to rent. Of course I mutter that. “What?” Mr. Carlson asks me. I tell him. “Well, Ms. Parker, (I had to tell him my name to get the job) I’m renting the apartment above the diner. You can rent that for six hundred a month. Sounds good?” Of course it does. Did it really happen? No…that would be too easy. Although Mr. Carlson really did hire Ava and me. Goody.

Time to go see Mr. Evans. Ava and I hop into my car and drive down the streets of Roswell, following the directions carefully. “Liz…how long are we going to be staying with the Evans’? Are you sure we can stay there?” Ava just happens to be voicing my fears this time.

“Ava…I already talked to Mr. E. He said we could stay for as long as we need too. I want to rent an apartment so we can get out of his hair though. You know he’s said we can go to him for help.” I ramble on and on…obviously I’m nervous. I wonder where the nearest karaoke place is.

Well, here’s the street. I find the house and pull up into the driveway. I turn off the car and Ava and I walk up to the door…I ring the doorbell. After a few seconds, Mr. Evans answers the door. He sees Ava and me and pulls me into a hug. I told you he was like a second father figure to me.

“Mr. Evans…thanks for letting us stay. It’s so nice to see you again. I hope we’re not putting you out at all. It really does mean a lot to me to be able to come here.” Mr. E just nods and leads us in to meet his wife and daughter, Diane and Isabel.

They’re both sitting at the kitchen table, drinking coffee. Mr. Evans leads us in, and Ava and I stand there uncomfortably…fake smiles posted on our faces. Isabel speaks first.

“Hi, I’m Isabel. You must be Liz and Ava.” She nods at us when she says our names…well; it’s better than pointing. Why do I have to have a huge bruise on my face when I meet my best friend’s friends? Why, I ask, why? Oh well, it’ll go away. “So…Liz, you’re Alex’s friend right? How come we weren’t allowed to tell him you’re coming? He would’ve been thrilled.”

I smile at the mention of Alex. Even though he left, I still love him. “Yeah, I’m Alex’s friend. I just didn’t want him to know I was coming…I came sooner than I though anyway…he would’ve been worried. I don’t want to worry him.” I know very well that I have worried Alex…a lot.

Diane smiles at the both of us. “Well, Alex should be here in about ten minutes. I’m glad both of you could come. Let me show you two where you’ll be staying.” Diane puts an arm around Ava and her other arm around me, and squeezes. She keeps her arms around us and guides us through the house.

Ava is sleeping in the guest room by the Evans’ office, and I’m sleeping in Isabel’s old room by her brother’s room. I never knew she had a brother. I wonder why Alex and Mr. Evans never mentioned him. Maybe he’s a real disappointment to everyone.

I take a couple minutes to clean up. I want to look presentable when I see Alex. I wish I could cover up this bruise. Oh well, now Alex will see what he left me to become. Damn him…it’s all his fault. Well, okay, it’s not all his fault…just most of it is. Aite, Alex is my scapegoat.

The doorbell rings and Isabel runs to go get it. I’m supposed to stay out of view…I think I’ll give Alex a heart attack. Well, maybe not, but he’ll be really surprised. What weak words. I can hear Isabel telling Alex that she has a surprise for him. I can just imagine what kinds of kinky thoughts are running through Alex’s brain right now…ugh, so wrong.

I come out of the room and walk into the front room. I see Alex before he sees me. He’s sitting on the couch next to Isabel. Damn, I was hoping he’d be standing up so I could see him fall down. I walk into the room…Alex just stares at me. “Hey Alex. What’s new?”

Alex is out of his seat in a second and hugging me. “Alex, let go of me, or loosen his grip. Alex, I can’t breath.” Alex mumbles an apology and pulls away from me a little bit. Then he squishes me back to him again. Why bother complaining? I’m glad to be back in Alex’s embrace again.

He lets go and grabs my hand. Alex leads me to the couch and sits down. The rest of the couch is full; so he pulls me down to sit on his lap. No complaining. Even though he left…I’m still glad to see him. Alex looks at me face, and runs a finger over the bruise.

“Lizzey, what happened? Are you okay? Why are you here? How’d you find me? Tell me everything.” I look at Alex and laugh. He pulls me into a hug and gets comfy. Good…I do have things I need to tell him. First though…I start crying. Why am I crying? Because…I’m happy, and sad, and happy, again…and pissed off as hell. I punch Alex in the shoulder and get off his lap.

“Alex! How could you do that to me? I thought you were going to stay and then after graduation, we were going to leave together. I come home and your gone, you leave me a note and your story and leave! How could you do that to me? Jerk…answer me when I’m talking to you! How, why, what, why did you do that? What am I doing here? I shouldn’t be here. I don’t belong. I shouldn’t have come. Bye, Alex.” I stop and look at Alex. He looks overwhelmed.

He’s Alex. How could I have gone off like that? Because he’s Alex. I can’t leave now; I walk over to Alex and hug him. He hugs me back, and pulls me down again. Isabel and Diane leave. I guess it’s apparent that we need to talk. I wonder how they figured that out. “Liz, tell me what happened…and then I’ll tell you why I left…and we’ll figure out what’ll happen from here.” I sniffle and bury my head in his shoulder. Get it together Liz; you’ve completely lost it. Oh well.

“Okay, Alex, I’ll tell you everything that’s happened since you left. At work, I made a new friend, Ava. She came with me. I tried getting to know my old friends again…we didn’t fit together anymore…but we all tried. And I went out with Paul a couple times. Two nights ago, we went on a date, and he attacked me. Ava and I got the hell out of there, right then. I couldn’t stay anymore. Oh, Joe, the manager of the diner, he’s getting a divorce. His wife really did leave him for Quick Rick. I wonder if Rick left his wife. Anyway, Joe called Mr. Evans to deal with the case. I got to know Mr. Evans, and he said Ava and I could come stay with him for a while. So here we are. And that’s all. Now why the hell did you leave?” I lean back and slap him…hard. And then I hug him again.

Alex takes a deep breath. “I left because I thought it would make you feel again. I thought you would feel the loss of my leaving. You’d feel bad, but at least you’d feel. I didn’t think it through, obviously. Are you done beating me up now? I want to go back to Murrieta and beat Paul up…I don’t want him to ever hurt you again.” I look at Alex again; he isn’t calm after hearing what’s been going on. His hold on me has tightened again, and his hands are balled up into fists.

I laugh…it’s wonderful to have someone to protect me. “Alex, it’s okay. I don’t think Paul will find me here. Plus I don’t think he’d go out of his way to find me. I don’t mean anything to him.” He nods and his grip loosens a little. “I was wondering…what’s with Isabel’s brother? Neither you nor Mr. Evans has ever mentioned him. What’s wrong with him…is he in the crazy house or something?” Alex’s embrace tightens again. He looks at me, straight in the eye.

“Liz, listen to me. Stay away from Max. I don’t want you near him.” Okay, what with this? Since when does Alex decide whom I can and can’t be around? He doesn’t. But I’m still intrigued about Max. What’s wrong with him? “Max used to be really shy, reserved. He dated a few girls, but he was always looking for this special girl. Then he started dating Tess. None of us, his friends, Maria, Isabel, Michael, Kyle, and I could figure out why he was dating her…she was nothing like the girl Max said he was looking for, she was blond, bitch, gerbil of a whore. Tess convinced Max that they were meant for each other, that they belonged together, and he believed her. They dated for nine months. Tess confessed that she was pregnant with some other guy’s baby. She ran off with the father shortly before I left. No one has seen or heard from her since. After she left, Max started dating every girl in sight. Maria says she hears the girls in the bathroom talking about their experiences with Max Evans…a new girl every other night. I don’t want him to set his sights on you…and he will, if he sees your pretty face.” Alex cups my face and looks at me seriously. Okay, maybe I will stay away from him…but then again….

“Thanks Aladdin. Ummm…I’d love to stick around and chat…but I’ve got stuff to do…already. I have to drive Ava to work…even though it’s close enough to walk to…and I saw this place I wanted to go check out.” I’m ready to leave and Ava isn’t ready yet…I’m leaving her. You snooze, you lose.

I get in my car, turn the air condition up and pull out of the driveway. When I was driving to the Evans’ I saw an apartment building. It was only a couple blocks away from the Crashdown. I retrace my steps and pull into the parking lot. I get out of the car, grab my purse, and lock the doors. The manager’s office has a light on in the window. The light is one of those fluorescent ones that say: MANAER. The G burnt out. Huh, I can tell this is one high-class place.

I knock on the door and it falls open. I hope this isn’t like on television. I’ll walk into the room, open a door and a dead body will fall out at me…like on Diagnosis Murder. I was so sad when they took that show off. God bless syndication and the people at PAX. I walk into the room…and look around.

A guy walks into the room. “Can I help you?” I look at the guy. I hope he’s no indication to how nice the apartments are. The manager is wearing an undershirt that probably used to white. It’s barely tucked in, because it barely fits over his beer gut. He’s holding a beer in his hand, which he periodically shoves in his face. The can has scratch marks from his scratchy chin. And worst of all are the pit stains under his armpits. I try hard not to throw up, or show any disgust at all.

I smile and nod. “Yeah, I’m looking for an apartment. Hopefully something cheap. Do you have vacancies?” The guy takes a look at me and another gulp of his beer.

“Yeah, we have two apartments. One is one bedroom, and the other has two bedrooms. Are you interested?” Well, could I see them? That would make it a lot easier to decide, duh. As if he could read my thoughts, he picks up a big pile of keys and beckons to the door. “Do you want to see them? I can show them to you, right now.” I walk out the door and sigh.

The manager leads me through another door and into the building. He heads to the stairs and tells me the elevator is broken. I nod, and start walking up the stairs before he can. He tells me what level to climb to, the third. I really don’t want him to be looking at my ass, but I really don’t want to see his. With my luck, he’d probably have a plumber’s ass.

I climb the stairs quickly and reach the third story faster than I ever thought I could. I was really motivated by the thought of that guy looking at my butt. I have to wait for him to make his way up to the third level. I’m leaning on the wall when he finally arrives…huffing and puffing. Well, that’s what you get for drinking and eating until you get a stomach like that.

The manager puts his hand on the small of my back and guides me to an open door. I quickly walk through and look through the apartment. Mr. manager stays in the living room. Huh, well, the place could be worse. He showed me the two-bedroom apartment first. It’s half furnished, not that I will ever sleep on those infested things called beds, but hey, they’re there.

The walls are brown, but I can fix that with some paint. Most of the flooring is tile, but the carpet isn’t that bad. It’s a dark color so you can’t tell how bad it really looks. I do a quick check of the apartment. With some major work, it might pass as livable conditions. I’ll take it.

I walk into the living room and tell the manager my decision. He tells me he’ll meet me down at his office to sign the paperwork. I tell him I want to look around and make a list about what I’m going to have to do to this place. He nods, and leaves. I look around again, sigh, and make a list on a spare sheet of paper in my purse, of all the cleaning supplies I’m going to need to clean this place up.

As I walk outside of the apartment, the door to the next apartment opens. A guy and girl walk out, arm in arm. They look about my age. The girl is a little taller than me; she has green eyes and dark blondish hair a little past her shoulders. She’s laughing as the guy locks his apartment. Who’d want to break in? The guy has light brown hair that needs a haircut…badly. He’s kind of tall, and muscular. He’s laughing at the girl…and gives her a quick kiss on the cheek. How sweet.

The girl looks at me. “Hi, are you renting this apartment?” I nod. “I’m Maria DeLuca, and this is your neighbor, Michael Geurin. I hope we can get to know each other…welcome to Roswell.” I smile…she seems nice. The guy looks at me suspiciously. I’m guessing he’s paranoid.

“Thanks, I’d like that. So, wanna help me make this place livable? Relax, big guy, I’m not going to kill you or Maria. I’m a nice person…well, most the time.” Michael looks at me strangely…he’s making me nervous. I hate it when people make me nervous. Maria smacks him.

“Sure, how bout I come over tomorrow around 4 in the afternoon?” I tell her it sounds good…she leaves and I stand there for a second…then head down to the manager’s office. I walk into the office and Mr. manager already has the papers sitting on his desk.

He asks to see my driver’s license to make sure I’m eighteen…or emancipated. Did I mention today is my eighteenth birthday? Happy Birthday to me…I get a new apartment. Yippy. I sign the papers, get my copies, I have to have copies of everything in case I get into trouble, I don’t plan on it…but it could happen, and my key. I say goodbye and leave.

I get out to the parking lot and Maria is sitting on the hood of an old red Jetta. I wave to her and go to my car. She calls me over so I walk over to her. “Liz, off of the 285 South, there’s an old warehouse…well, it used to be…now it’s a club. If you’re looking for a job, I know they’re hiring. Michael and I are going to be there tonight. I’m singing with the Whits. They’re my friend Alex Whitman’s band-” I interrupt Maria.

“You know Alex?” She nods. “Then I’ll definitely be there. Alex is my best friend. The reason I moved here, actually. I’ll see you tonight.” Maria and I say goodbye and I drive away in my white civic. I like my car…and it’s name…Bobbette, or Bob, for short. I find the 285 S and drive until I see the new club. There are a couple cars already there: a blue convertible, and a green bmw.

I park and walk into the club. A guy in his mid thirties approaches me. “Hi, I’m Nick…what can I help you with?”

“I heard you’re hiring.” I know I already have a job at the Crashdown, but I’m out of school, and it would be fun to work at a club. Well, of course I get the job. Waitressing, and a little bit of dancing, is my job description. If no one is dancing, this guy I have yet to meet, and I have to go out there and dance together until other people do. Apparently this guy is supposed to be pretty good looking…can’t wait until I meet him.

By the time the tour is over, I’m bored out of my mind. I know how to dance, and I know how to waitress…can I go now? Damn it, Nick, shut the hell up. Okay, maybe I’m a little bit grouchy.

Another guy walks into the room. He’s around six feet tall, dark, dark brown hair, brown eyes, damn fine body…if I do say so. He walks up to Nick and me and just looks at me. Then he speaks. “So…is this my dancing partner?” He’s hot…but I get the feeling he’s not the kind of guy I want to be around. Alex probably wouldn’t approve of him either.

“Elizabeth Parker, meet Max Evans.” My mouth drops open. I knew I didn’t want to be around this guy. Max looks at me smugly…I guess he knows his father is letting me stay at his house. He looks me over, his eyes staring at one place longer than the rest of me. I stand there and just look at him…staring him down in the same way he is at me.

He nods approvingly, and smirks at my attempts to hide my disgust. What a creep…and I have to work with him. Grrr. Sorry, Alex, I can’t stay away from him after all. At least I won’t have to live with him. I turn around and walk out the door after saying goodbye to Nick. I get to my car when I hear someone yelling.

“Parker! Parker, wait!” I turn around to see who’s yelling at me. Damn, it’s Evans. I wait, curious to see what he wants to say. He runs up to me, and I lean against my car, showing him my full-blown attitude of annoyance. “Parker, I know you’re the girl who’s staying at my house. I’m Max Evans, welcome to Roswell.” Maybe I misjudged his; maybe he is an okay guy. I smile at him. “And I just want you to know, I’m always around if you want to screw around.”

Yeeeaaahhh, now I see Alex’s point. “Fuck you, you creep.” He nods.

“Yeah, that would be the idea.” I groan. Oh my God, what a fucking creep. I force a smile.

“Get away from me, jerk. I wouldn’t be caught dead in your room, even if you were the last guy on earth. In fact…I would rather die a virgin.” I smirk at him…and his disappointment, get in my car and drive away. I’m glad I already rented my apartment.

On the way back to the Evans’ house, I stop by the grocery store. I buy all the cleaners and bleach I need. I use fifty dollars just on cleaning supplies. I drive back to the apartment and leave the cleaning stuff in the kitchen. I look at the kitchen and have to work on it before I can go back. I take the bottle of bleach and pour it onto the counter and the sink.

After two hours of cleaning, the kitchen is almost okay. I’m going to have to remember to get some baking soda for that refrigerator…and I’ll be lucky if that’s even makes it better. I lock up and leave the apartment before I look at the time…eight o’clock…time to go to Burger King.

I get my next installment of crowns and chow down on my onion rings. Heaven, I’m in Heaven. Okay, that’s a little strong, but still. Dinner done, time to go get ready to go to the 1947, that’s the name of the new club where I’m working. Joy.

Isabel is ready by the time I get there. “Maria said she ran into you and you’re going to 1947 tonight. I have to go now, if I want to see Alex before he goes on…so I’ll see you there…and save you a seat at the table.” I thank her and she leaves. I hurry and take a shower.

I put on as little makeup as I can get away with, dry my hair and pull my dress out of the trunk. I finally get to wear my new black dress. It goes down to my knees, and has a little ruffle at the bottom. The top is a v-neck, with no sleeves. It looks perfect, of course. Well, good enough. I pull my hair into a quick French twist, letting the ends fall free, and step into my high heel, black sandals. Okay, all ready.

As I exit the bathroom, I run into…whom else, Max. He looks at me approvingly. I brush past him, and hear him say, “You know where to find me.” I turn around and tell him I’m moving out tomorrow.

I say goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Evans, look into Ava’s room, she’s already asleep, and leave. I turn up my radio and drive singing at the top of my lungs to the music. Heaven…again. This night would be even better if I didn’t have that bruise on my cheek. Oh well, I doubt anyone will notice it in the dark.

I finally pull up to 1947. The parking lot is pretty crowded. I can hear the loud music all the way out here. Great fun. I walk into the club and look around for Isabel. I spot her and walk over to her. Isabel is okay, I guess. I bet she used to have bleach blond hair. She makes Alex happy so that makes me happy too. It’s all good.

Isabel smiles to me, pats the chair next to her and points to the stage. Alex and Isabel are on the stage. The music becomes slower, calmer and Maria starts to sing. I got it bad, and that ain’t good. Maria is pretty good…and so is Alex’s band. I knew Alex played the guitar really well, but I didn’t expect everyone to be this good.

I spend the night dancing by myself, with Isabel, Alex and random guys. Max ran into me once, knocking me to the floor. He helped me off the floor…of course he had to touch my ass in the process. I gave him the evil eye. He leaned in and whispered in my ear that I will be his…someday. Don’t hold your breath, buddy boy.

Part 6

It’s a new day. Today I go and clean that wretched apartment. Ava doesn’t want to live there. She asked the Evans’ if she could rent a room from them. They agreed. Why? And how am I supposed to pay for all the rent myself? I thought Alex, maybe…but it appears he’s living with Isabel.

Great…I already signed the papers, and I highly doubt Mr. manager is going to let me out of my contract. I say good morning to Mr. and Mrs. Evans. They’re sitting at the table, reading the newspaper and talking about what they have planned for today. How prosaic. Everything in this town seems to be prosaic.

I sit down and am eating a muffin when Max walks in. He looks at me, his smirk already in place. He sits down and looks at his parents. “Mom, Dad, I’m moving out.” His parents sit there in shock. Well, it all makes sense to me. He needs to have his own apartment for his nightly shag. I tune out his parents unrelenting questions…this is a family affair. Huh, I should probably leave. Nah.

Well, I wasn’t listening…until I heard my name. “What? Wha-huh-huh? What’s up?” My head snaps up when I hear my name. Max is smirking at me again. I look at Mrs. Evans because she’s the one that said my name. She smiles at me.

“Liz, maybe Max could move in with you. Since Ava will be staying here, you’ll need someone else to live with you…help pay the rent.” Huh, she’s got a point there. What? Am I actually considering this? This guy is a die-hard slut…I don’t want him to be experimenting in the same place I’ll be living.

Max slips up and whispers into my ear. “What are you afraid of, my little Liz? Are you afraid I’ll get to you?” Whatever. I’m not afraid. I’ll prove to him.

“Fine, Maxie you can move in tomorrow. I’m cleaning it up today. I expect you to be there to help me.” I stand up, smile at Mr. and Mrs. Evans, throw away my trash, and grab Max’s ass before I leave the room. Two can play at this game.

I make my way to the room I slept in and grab the few things I brought in. Mrs. Evans walks by my room, and stops. She comes in and sits on the bed…motioning for me to join her. “Sweetie, I want to have a quick talk with you.” I sit.

“What about.” She gives me a slight hug and lets me go. “I want to talk to you about Max. He really is a good kid. He’s made some bad decisions…ever since those bitches Tess…oops, forgive me; I really did not like that girl. She used Max to get what she wanted.” Mrs. Evans shakes her head to clear it. I smile comfortingly at her. I really want to know what’s with the Tess whore; she seems to have ruined Max. Why do I care? I don’t…I’m just curious. Yeah, Liz, you keep telling yourself that. But seriously…what could have turned him into such a male whore?

Mrs. Evans reclaims my attention when she begins to speak. “I want you to be careful around him. Something happened to him…he wouldn’t tell anyone though. Phillip thinks it’s a bad idea to have the two of you living together but I’m sure it’ll all be okay. Just…be careful, that’s all.” That was weird. A mother warning me about her own son. Kinda touching.

Mrs. Evans leaves me and I grab my bag. I run into Mr. Evans on the way to the front door. “Oh, Mr. Evans. I want to thank you again for letting me stay here for the night…and for letting Ava rent a room. It really helped me out a lot. I’ll stay in touch.”

Mr. Evans gives me a hug, I smile at him. He tells me I can come over whenever I want to. I might just take him up on that. When I first met Mr. Evans I was sure he would have a normal family…now I don’t think there is such a thing. People think my family is a soap opera…not compared to the Evans’. A daughter living with her boyfriend, a male whore for a son, I don’t know about the parents’…maybe this is normal for families now. Who knows?

I throw my stuff into Bob, my car, before I see Evans walking out the door. “Parker, I’ll be at the apartment in ten minutes. I have to make a quick stop before I get there.” Whatever…I don’t want to know what he has to do.

“Fine, Evans, just remember you have to help me clean…and you might want to bring your own bed. The one’s in the apartment are disgusting.” Max nods. Hmm, he’s not really that bad when he’s not looking at me, or talking.

I arrive at the apartment in five minutes. I open the door and cringe. This place is really bad. Too my surprise, Max shows up in ten minutes, just like he said he would be. I put him to work at cleaning the bathroom. It’s funny to hear this die-hard slut, complaining like a baby.

It’s so much easier to clean when there is music. I turn up Alien Ant Farm Movies. Max is singing along in the bathroom, while I sing along in the bedroom. Someone knocks on the door. I go to answer it. My next-door neighbor Michael is there.

“Hey…Liz. Max told me he was moving in with you. Can I talk with him?” Well, looks like he trusts someone besides Maria…although for the life of me, I can’t tell why it would be Max he trusts.

I lead him to Max…who is currently in a position his girlfriends would love to see him…I laugh. He’s kneeling in the bathtub, shirtless, with his ass sticking into the air. Michael laughs along with me. Laughing is good…normal, like my crown obsession.

Max glares at Michael and me when he hears us laughing. I tell him he has a nice ass…and he looks at mine. There’s that smirk, and a ditto. There’s another knock on the door. I sigh and go to answer it. It’s Alex.

“Liz. I heard someone was moving in with you. Who? Why did you let someone move in before I got to know them?” Max chooses that moment to walk in. Alex’s mouth drops.

I lean in and hug him tight, and whisper in his ear. “Don’t worry Alex. It’ll be okay. I can take care of myself.” Alex nods, hugs me, shoots Max a death glare and leaves. Max and Michael just stand there looking at each other. I guess everyone knows that Alex is protective me.

“Well, someone needs to clean. Is Maria still coming over later?” Michael nods. Why doesn’t that guy talk? He just nods, and grunts. Freak. Whatever, there must be something good about him…Maria seems like a pretty cool person. I nod and go back to my cleaning in the bedrooms. I switch cd’s. POD. Joy…it’s all good. Thinking About Forever…bad association…so I change the song quickly…Max and Michael look at me strangely. I shrug off their looks and go back to my cleaning.

There is so much crap in this room. Pieces of green paper littering the floor…mold in the walls. I had to rent a steam cleaner so that I can clean the carpet. Okay, my room is ready to be painted. Red…joy. I slap that paint on the wall quickly, swirling the paint into funky signs, curly-q’s, stars, moons, anything I can think of. It looks pretty nifty when I’m done. The images are subliminal…great fun. Two rooms done…livable. I should probably get started on the next room…Max’s bedroom.

I spend the next five hours working on the apartment. Michael, Max, and Maria helped. At the end of the day, I moved my stuff in and thanked my lucky stars for not having to work today. Max is gone…he did have to work today. Ah, the place is all mine. I went to the thrift shop and bought a makeshift couch. I collapse…and sleep until Max walks in.

“Max, put up a sheet on the window. I don’t want people to see what we’re doing.” I couldn’t buy blinds. I don’t think I have enough money to get them right now. Plus, I don’t want to lug them around when I move…I’ve already got a couch.

Max looks at me, rearing his face for a smirk. “Got something planned, Parker?” Grrr…doesn’t he think about anything else? He really shouldn’t have moved in with a girl who was attacked by her boyfriend. But then, he doesn’t know anything about me. I’ll stay until I find out what happened to him. A little teasing, and flirting, and dancing, should get the truth out of him quick enough.

“Get you mind out of the gutter, Evans.” Max smirks and walks to his room. I call after him. “You might not want to sleep in there tonight…I painted and the fumes will either kill you…or give you a bitchin’ high.” Max quickly walks back into the room and looks at me. “I get the couch Evans.”

He glares at me, as if he’s questioning my god given leadership abilities. The nerve. “Why do you get the couch?”

“I bought it. While you’re here…we should set down some rules. No sex outside of your bedroom.” Blunt I know…but necessary. Max stops his movements of settling down on the floor and looks at me. I can almost see the dark and twisted wheels in his head moving, forming a dirty response.

Here it comes. “What if we get ambitious…and want to see how sturdy the counter is? Come on, Parker, I’m wondering how agile that body of yours really is.” What did I tell you? Everything he has said to me, except for meeting me, has been dirty. Major one-track mind.

“Evans, get that thought out of your mind. You and me will never happen….” I stay silent for a minute, and Max gets up to turn off the light. On his way back down he reaches his hand out to find where he is. His hand lands on my leg. He grasps it and sits down. He removes his hand once he is settled on the floor. Guess Alex was right, all the girls he sees are his targets…no one is safe from this guy.

“Night Parker.”

“Night Evans.” I turn over on the couch and fall asleep.

It’s 2:30 in the morning now. Where am I? Sprawled out over Max Evans’ body. I fell off the bed. I had a dream some kid was shooting my dog with his bb gun. I wasn’t sitting around and watching it…obviously. So what’s Evans doing? Shifting under me. Dirty.

“Sorry.” I mutter and scramble up on to my couch. That was embarrassing.

“Anytime, Parker. I told you I was always available.” I roll my eyes, turn into the couch and fall asleep again.

The next time I woke up, it was 8 in the morning. Max is already gone. I get up and go to the bathroom. Brush my teeth, take a shower, brush my hair and walk to the kitchen in my bra and underwear. Of course Evans chooses that moment to walk through the front door. He looks me up and says “Nice.”

I walk back to my room and wiggle my hips. I can feel his heated gaze following my every move. I close the door behind me and pull on my jeans and white tank top. I have to work today at 1947. Waitressing during the day, and then some more waitressing and dancing at night. Joy.

I open the door and walk to the kitchen. I bought muffins and orange juice last night. I stuff a muffin in my mouth and take a swish from the orange juice…straight from the carton. Evans stares at me in shock…guess his sister would never do that. Well, what the hell, you only live once.

“Bye Evans, see you at work tonight.” I stalk out the door and drive away to 1947. I put on my apron and start busing tables. This place is pretty much a diner by day, nightclub by night. It’s all good. I bus tables for hours, until finally it’s seven and Max walks in.

All the employees, except for me, work hard at making the place into a club, from its daytime atmosphere. At eight, we’re ready to open. I took an hour-long break, now it’s time to get back to work. Max and I are on door duty. We stand there and make sure everyone coming in is 17 or older. Shouldn’t they have two really big, bulky guys doing this? That’s whom they always have on television. Isn’t life supposed to be fake anyway? I’m bored, so I sing along to the music.

“Evans…this bites. I’m going to get a drink. Later.” I leave…and notice Max leaves his station in a minute. I order a drink. Now we’re supposed to get people to dance. How dumb is this? Everyone comes to a club to sit and eat food? Aren’t all teenagers supposed to love dancing? I mean…look at me. I dance in the car, like that weird commercial with that girl who looks a little like Nelly Furtado is doing that dance in the passenger seat and it’s supposed to look good but you can’t decide if it does or not; the one where all the parents ask you “Is that supposed to look good? Do you think it does?” And you never know what to say, so you say no. What’s in this drink? Damn it, they don’t serve alcohol…do they? Course not, that’s illegal. Sugar…lots of sugar. Yech.

Max approaches me, sits on the stool next to me…not looking at me…probably staring at some girl. “You wanna dance, Parker?” What’s with the last names…I feel like we’re cops or something.

I nod. “Sure, Maxie. After all, it is our job.” Max and I get off our stools and he takes my hand. We both stop and look at our intertwined hands. Nick is spotlighting as deejay tonight. He spots us making our way to the dance floor and puts on a new song. Blank Page by Smashing Pumpkins. A slow song.

Max wraps his arms around my waist as I wrap mine around his neck. We move slowly to the music. I rest my head on his shoulder. It’s actually comfortable in his arms…not that I’ll ever tell him that. Max is muscular; my head is resting on a muscle. It’s firm, yet soft. Perfect. What am I doing? Enjoying dancing with a guy I am supposed to stay away from? Damn it.

I can feel everyone’s eyes on us. Slowly people get out of their seats and make their way down to join us on the dance floor. By the time the song is over, the floor is cluttered with couples. Some couples, like Max and me, barely moving to the music, while others are making dramatic productions of the dance. I smile into Max’s shoulder.

Nick puts on Good by Alien Ant Farm, from the American Pie 2 Soundtrack. Max and I are unable to leave the floor. We’re in the middle, surrounded by dancing people. I lift my eyebrow and he nods. We stay there and dance along. I sing…and to my surprise, Max does too.

I’ve got it good for a woman,
She’s something else,
She’s not quite human.


Max and I are actually enjoying ourselves…together. We do our own individual moves. The arm, hip, down, and ups, all look good together. Do we look like we belong in one of those movies where all the teenagers, who are really in their late twenties, look perfect, but were really choreographed? We do…unintentionally. The song is over and I collapse into Max in a gasp of laughter. He grabs me the arms and helps me over to the bar.

We sit and order drinks. Water for me. Damn it, I need to pee. I tell Max I’ll be back and wander off to find the bathroom. I find it quickly. Good. I close the stall and I hear two girls talking together. “Did you see Max with that bitch? I’ve never seen her before, who is she?” The other one replied, “I don’t know. She doesn’t go to school with us. Why would Max waste his time on her, when he could have one of us?”

I flush the toilet and walk out to wash my hands. The girls are quiet and keep applying their makeup. Damn, that’s a lot of makeup. I wonder if they’re the Roswell aliens that crashed down in 1947. I can’t even see their faces to see if they’re human or not. Their faces bring new meaning to the term, “Pancake Makeup.” I’ve used that stuff during plays, and still looked more real than these girls. I muffle a laugh, and they look at me. I can’t tell if they’re blushing or not…being caught talking about this bitch.

“Hi. I’m Liz. Max’s bitch.” Umm, did I just say I was Max’s? I did…oh well. These girls are glaring at me. Doesn’t anyone in this town know how to do anything besides glare and smirk? I hold my hand out as if I were going to shake their hands. They look at me in disdain. Oooh, new expression. “What? I washed my hand, it ‘s clean now; I had to wash off the germs from my Maxie, though.” The girls turn around with a huff and walk out the door.

Huh, I wonder what their problems are. All I tried to do was introduce me. I’m laughing on the inside. I hurry and check my makeup and go back to the bar where I left Max. Evans is gone, dancing with one of those whores I met in the bathroom. They’re dancing pretty close…too close. Wonder if you can get an STD from just dancing. If you can, I’m pretty sure one of those two will end up with one. Yuck.

I advert my attention and find where I hid my half drunk bottle of water. A take a swig and a guy approaches me. He looks like a nerd, if you ask me. He’s about 5 foot 10, really skinny. His hair is parted down the middle of his head, each side carefully slicked to the side. His shirt is checkered, button up, tucked into his pants…and buttoned all the way to the top. He’s actually wearing suspenders keeping his pants up. The copper on the suspenders shines and glitters in the little lights above the bar. I can’t tell what color his eyes are, his big, thick glasses are hiding them from him. He sits down on a stool next to me.

I take another swig of my drink and look at him. I smile at him, and he looks down shyly. He looks at me and doesn’t look away. “Hi…I’m Sean. Want to dance?” Sure, why not? What could it hurt? Plus, I love to dance…and you always have to get to know someone before you can judge them. You can’t judge a person by their cover…come on; you all know your parents told you that.

I nod at Sean. “Liz.” I take his hand and lead him out to the edge of the dance floor…not far from Evans. Slow song. I take Sean’s hands and put them on my waist, and then put mine on his shoulders. We move to the music…a lot more than I moved when I was dancing with Evans.

Sean pulls me closer, and I bump into him, unintentionally. I try to push him back a little…and I succeed. I look at him and smile. What is he doing? His hands are traveling down lower and lower on my back. Didn’t his mother ever teach him manners? Like don’t get fresh with a girl when you don’t even know her last name? What a wannabe male whore.

The next thing I know, Sean’s hands make contact with my ass, and then he’s pulled completely away from me. I see Sean pushed across the floor, into some other girl…and I’m taken into someone else’s arms. I look up to see who my night in shining armor is. Evans…what’s with that? Evans looks at Sean and tells him something. “You’re supposed to treat a girl with respect.”

I laugh…like he knows. This die-hard slut knows how to treat girls with respect? Why do I find that hard to believe? I bury my head into Max’s shoulder and sway to the music with him. We stay in each other’s arms until the song is over. When the song stops, I pull away and tell him thank you.

“No problem. The kinder I am to you, the sooner I can show you that you’re supposed to be with me.” I laugh…at him…not with him.

“Thanks for telling me the game plan. Nothing you do is going to convince me of that.” I start to walk away when Evans grabs me and growls in my ear, “Don’t be so sure…I’ve gotten everyone I wanted, so far.”

I pull back and look at him angrily…then lean in his ear. “So you want everyone huh?” I bite his ear and pull back. He just looks at me, I walk away. When I go back to the bar, I look at the stage. Nick is setting up for the band. I guess the Whits are playing again. “Nick, who’s playing tonight?”

Nick looks at me and tells me it’s some new band that came to him, begging to play. I nod and walk away. The band finishes setting up and starts to play. The first thing I think is…they’re pretty good. They are…but they don’t have a lead singer. Well, that can be fixed. Who is the best at karaoke? Me.

Nah, I don’t think I’ll even talk to them about joining them…I already have enough to do. Just then I look at the clock. Wow…I can go home already. I grab my stuff and walk out the door. I feel that heated gaze on my back…it’s slowly becoming familiar to me…Max.

I drive home with no radio on. I’ve been listening to music since I got up this morning…I need a little down time. I drive down the highway quickly…I might go for a drive someday. I drive straight home, even though I pass the Burger King. I’m afraid they might get suspicious if I ask for a crown everyday.

I run up the stairs to my apartment quickly. Alex is coming over tonight. I barely finish taking my shower before I hear a knock on the door. I run to answer it and let Alex in. He looks nervous when he enters. He’s holding a newspaper in his hands…wringing it. I take from him before he rips it to shreds. It’s my high school’s paper, The Talon.

“Alex, what are you doing with this? Where’d you get it? And why are you so nervous?” Alex looks at the paper in my hands.

“Liz, I wrote the newspaper advisor, donated money, and asked to get a copy sent to me here. Look at the story on the bottom of the page.” I look.

“Valedictorian Reported Missing. Liz Parker, this year’s valedictorian, was reported missing three days ago by her boyfriend Paul McPhillan. Paul says he thinks, “Her new friend, Ava, was influencing her. Why else would she have left her family, friends, and her loving boyfriend, me?” Paul says he is not willing to lose her, and will find her this summer.’ Okay, I see what has you so nervous. Paul’s just being stupid, acting like he cares. He doesn’t. Alex, don’t worry, he won’t find me.” Alex doesn’t look convinced.

I sit down on the couch next to Alex and hug him. He relaxes a little bit. “Liz, I don’t want him to find you. I don’t know what to do. Maybe we should go to the Sheriff-“

“Alex, knock it off. Paul is not going to find me. And even if he did, he wouldn’t try to hurt me again. It’ll be okay, Alex, I’ll be okay.” Sometimes Alex can worry too much. Damn it, I can take care of myself. I don’t need people to treat me like a fuckin’ baby.

When I say goodbye to Alex, Max walks in the door. Alex leaves quickly and I’m stuck with Evans. “I’m not staying here tonight. I have a date with that girl from the club.” I roll my eyes.

“Good, see you tomorrow at work.” Max looks at me. I show no expression. He confuses me. I know he’s a male whore who is only after one thing…but then why can he be so gentle to me? What’s wrong with him? What Max am I really seeing? “You’re a pretty good dancer.”

“Yeah, you are too. See you at work.” I say goodnight and walk past Max to my room. Again I feel that heated gaze on my ass. Damn it, the fuckin’ whore doesn’t have to tell me when he has a date with a whore from the club. Now I’m getting fuckin’ grouchy. Why? I don’t give a damn about what he does.

I close the door and grab my sleeping clothes. I walk into the bathroom, brush my teeth and change into just underwear and a tank top. I’m alone tonight; I don’t need to be decent for other people. I walk back to my room and run into Evans. He grabs my arms to steady me. I just look at him, and he just looks at me. I wrap my arms around his neck and pull him closer to me. I raise my head as he lowers his.

Damn it Parker, what are you doing? I stop myself and pull away quickly. “Shouldn’t you be meeting that whore now?” I walk away and look at him

“I wouldn’t…if you would admit I had a chance with you.” He whispers something I can’t hear.

“Evans, you better go meet that whore before she gets upset. Good night.” I turn around and walk away from him. I can hear the front door slam as Max leaves. I fall down and try to fall asleep…I can’t.

The front door opens and I hear heavy footsteps. I don’t hear the bitch giggling, so I doubt she’s here. I open my door and peak outside. Max is sitting on the couch. I think he’s already fallen asleep. I walk to my bed and grab a blanket. I open my door quietly and creep over to him. I lay the blanket on him…his eyes are shut and his breathing even.

He grabs my wrist, his eyes still shut. “You want to know what happened?” No, I don’t want to know what the hell happened between him and his date. I’m not inta learning that kind of information. “I mean about Tess. The bitch that nobody liked. I didn’t even really like her. Do you want to know what happened?”

“Yes. Are you going to tell me?”

“Yes.”

posted on 17-Aug-2002 1:20:55 PM
Part 7 A

So here I am…waiting for the truth. The truth sets you free, after all. Max sighs and sinks lower into the couch. I sit next to him and grab a corner of the blanket. Max’s eyes close and I just sit and look at him.

“Before Tess, I was…naïve and innocent. I was looking for the one girl to fall head over heals in love with. Then I met Tess. She asked me out and I said yes. I was drawn to her, even though she was nothing like who I was looking for.” He pauses and keeps quiet for a while. I look at him. Is he trying to tease me, or is this just really difficult for him to think about?

“She convinced me that she was right for me. That we were meant for each other. I believed her. She was different, exciting. Tess had moved here from New York and was wilder that anyone I had ever met. We dated for 6 months.

“3 months after we started dating, I saw her hugging and kissing another guy. I confronted her about it and she swore she would break up with him the next day. She said she loved me and didn’t want anyone or anything to come between the two of us. I believed her again. A month later, I saw her with another guy. A month after that I caught her buying a pregnancy test.” Max stops and looks at his hands, clasped in his lap.

Quick question. “Did she tell you that you were the father?” He nods.

“We had slept together a while before. She didn’t tell me the truth until she got sick. She thought she and the baby were dying. Tess told me the baby was Paul’s.” Paul? No, can’t be my Paul. Can it? I reach out and pull Max into a hug.

Poor Max. Do his parents know about the baby? How much do they know? Mrs. Evans said something happened that he wouldn’t tell anyone about. Is Max going to tell me what it is?

I pull Max’s head down to my lap and stroke his hair gently. “Max? Where did Tess go? What happened to the baby?” Max is quiet for a minute. I have a feeling he’s holding information from me.

“After she got better, she ran off with Paul, back to New York. She had the baby. It was perfectly healthy. A little girl. Looked exactly like it’s whore of a mother. The baby is turning one next month.”

“So why are you a male whore now? What made you become like the girl you hate?” Of course, there are the differences, like Max doesn’t have a relationship and cheat on that person, but he is still sleeping with every girl he can get his hands on. No pun intended.

“Male whore huh? That’s what you think I am? I’m not…just another guy looking for the perfect girl. Tess opened up my eyes. She showed me that the world isn’t perfect. Everyone and everything is flawed. There are no happy endings, no happy ever after’s…the world is cold, and dark, and unrelenting. People who go through life thinking everything is perfect are just disillusioned.”

Huh, a guy with my point of view. Maybe I should thank Tess for showing another innocent how life really is. Of course, I find a guy who shares my perspective…and he’s a die-hard slut. Grrr…but then, nothing’s perfect.

“So, what about you? What happened to you? Why are you in Roswell?” I lean back and look at him.

“Are you familiar with the phrase shit happens?” He nods. “Well, that’s it. Shit happens to everyone. Sometimes the shit is too hard to handle and you leave. That’s my story.”

“I just spilled everything to you. And that’s all you’ll tell me about you? Shit happens?”

“What? Do you expect me to tell you everything about myself?” He nods. “I’m not that kind of girl.”

Max sits up and looks at me. I squirm under his scrutinizing stare…and then I stare back. “Fine…just tell me something. All I know is your name and that you work at the same club as me…and where you live.”

I sigh. “Fine. I was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I turned eighteen and wanted to get out.” I stop and look at him defiantly.

“You’re lying. Alex told us he met you in California. Tell me the truth. What are you hiding?” I look at him. How is seeing through my lies? No one else does…well, except for Ava.

“Whatever. The truth…I was born in Phoenix, Arizona, moved to California when I was five, lived in Santa Rosa, Ventura, SLO, and Murrieta. Something bad happened and I wanted to get out of Murrieta. Ava and I left in the middle of the night. There, that’s the truth. Happy now?” I stand up and walk away from him. He nods.

Okay, now that I told him that I want to know what he’s doing here. Didn’t he have a date with some whore tonight? I ask him and he shrugs.

“I did. I left though…she was a whore…anyone could get her. No real challenge…thought I’d come home to the challenge I left behind. Did my telling you what happened change anything?” No siree, buddy boy.

“Nope…I can tell you’re not telling me everything.” I turn towards him. “Why don’t you just tell me everything?”

Max pulls back, both literally and metaphorically. “I can’t.” His voice turns harsh. “I can’t tell you everything. Even if I wanted to…I just can’t. Don’t pressure me.” Max stands up and walks to his room. I stand in shock as he slams his door.

That surprised me. That guy has some serious issues. He needs help. And yet…I’m intrigued even more. I know some of what does on in the guys mind…but now I want to know the rest. I stand there for a minute before getting a drink of water and then going back to bed. I actually fall asleep.

When I wake up in the morning, Max is already gone. He left me a note saying he’ll see me at work. How sweet…but I get the feeling he’s saying that he doesn’t want to see me until then. Well…I guess I put an end to his unrelenting pursuit of me.

I get dressed and ready. Today is my first day of working at the Crashdown. Joy. More waitressing. Since it’s Monday, I don’t have to work at the club…I do have to waitress, but no dancing. Good…I don’t think I could dance with Max today. Things are bound to be more than a little weird.

As soon as I’m ready…I leave the apartment and lock the door. There’s a single red rose sitting on the doorstep…and a note. “Sorry about last night.” I read the note out loud. Probably meant for Max. Oh well…wait there’s something written on the bottom. “Let me make it up to you tonight, Liz. Meet me here after you get off work at the Crash. –Max”

How precious…he left me an apology note. Wait…what does he want to makeup for? He didn’t do anything wrong. We both tried to find out the truth and we both got rejected. I hope this isn’t one of his plans to make me be his. Guess I’ll find out in 7 hours.

Part 7B

I traded my car in today. I love my civic…but I wanted a car no one in Murrieta would trace me to. It’s a Mirage…my new car. Joy. I like it.

So who would’ve thought Alex has friends in high places? I wouldn’t, but he does…at the car dealer’s. Ha…I left Alex to take care of all the paperwork, told him to make copies, and walked to the Crashdown. I love having friends who will do anything for me.

First thing I noticed when I walked through the door of the Crash, was how completely different it is from 1947. The waitresses here have to wear a bluish greenish button up dress, an alien head, metallic looking apron, with the eyes pockets, and…antennas. Holy shit…I have to wear antennas.

I also notice that Maria is the only waitress working and the place is getting crowded. I nod at Maria, go into the backroom, put on the uniform and walk out to help her. She smiles and I smile back as she takes off her antenna and walks into the backroom…leaving me alone for fifteen minutes with the hordes of hungry people.

Well, this shouldn’t be any different than any other place I’ve waitressed at…only, instead of a burger, it’s a Will Smith. Oops…almost forgot to put my lip-gloss on, look around, and sigh. So I…put my lip-gloss on, look around and sigh. I’m so predictable.

I walk up to the nearest table that has people and no food. “Hi, I’m Liz and I’ll be your waitress today. Can I get you anything?” Nothing happened for 4 hours, save Alex coming and giving me the key to my new car.

Max comes in at 3, when I’m cutting the tops off strawberries. He surprised me and I cut myself on accident. “Damn it.”

“What?”

“I cut myself.”

“Let me see.” Max takes my hand in is, and wraps it in a towel. He leads me to the sink and runs my hand under the water, blocking my hand from my view. What’s that tingling in my hand? Have I lost that much blood? “It doesn’t look too bad. Just put a band-aid and it’ll be fine.”

“Thanks, Doctor Max.”

“No problem.”

I look at my hand. All the blood and pain is gone. There’s only a little slit. I could’ve sworn I cut my hand worse than that. I grab a band-aid and Max takes it from me and gently puts it on my cut.

“I just came down to make sure you were planning on coming to dinner tonight?” I nod. We say goodbye and he leaves. I go back to cutting strawberries and Ava comes in. I don’t cut myself again.

I look up and smile at her. She smiles back. “Yo, cornball, haven’t seen you around much. Having fun living with the Evans boy?”

I bet she likes him. “Ava, you like him don’t you?” Ava looks down and blushes. “That’s why you wanted to live with the Evans’…you thought you would be living with Max.” Ava looks at me, mumbles something and walks to the door to the main room. Guess I was right. “Ava.” She stops and looks at me again. The color on her cheeks had faded to the light pink color of her hair. “Let’s do something tomorrow. Go find the mall or something.”

Ava looks at me. “Sure. How ‘bout 11?” I nod. Joy. A day with my best gal pal. Good. I need a day of fun. Hasn’t Ava been working every day since we got here? She needs a break, too.

At 6, I say goodbye to Ava after changing back into my normal clothes and grab my keys. I walk to the parking lot and look for my civic. I can’t find it. Ooh, yeah…I traded it in. Damn my memory.

I find my Mirage, throw my shit in the backseat, sit down in the front and pop in a tape. System of a Down this time. Joy. I drive to the apartment quickly. I wonder what Max planned. This isn’t some excuse to convince me I should be with him, is it? It better not be.

I climb the stairs slowly. I finally arrive at the apartment and open the door. Sunlight floods the room. A small round table is set with two plates, two glasses, and a vase of yellow and white daisies. How sweet.

Max comes into the room and sees me standing at the door. He stops, looks at me and then around the room. He walks to the cd player and the voice of Nelly Furtado drifts through the room. “I borrowed the cd from Iz. I hope you like it…all of this.” I nod, smiling. The whole thing is so precious. “Ready to eat?”

“I have to use the bathroom…then I will be.” I walk to the bathroom and freshen up. I walk to my room and grab something quickly. When I join Max, he’s putting food on the table. Chicken cacciatore. Yum.

“I hope you like it. I wanted to make something special, but I didn’t know what you liked.” He’s so sweet today. I wonder how many dates he had to cancel on to do this. Damn it. Why can’t I just be nice for even one evening? Watch it, Parker…keep your attitude and snide remarks to yourself. Don’t hurt him…especially not tonight.

Max is looking at me expectantly. “It’s great. Let’s eat.” We sit down and start eating. Neither of us says anything. Maybe I should give it to him now. I touch what I had decided to give him, making sure it’s still on my lap.

“Umm, Max. I want to give you something. It’s not much…nothing like dinner, but it’s something only a few people have other received from me. Here.” I reach out and give him one of my Burger King crowns. Okay, maybe that’s not a normal way of saying I’m sorry…but hey, it works for me.

Max reaches and takes it from me. I ignore the tingling sensation I feel when our hands touch. I can’t let myself fall for him. Keep telling yourself you have that power and control, Parker. Maybe you can convince yourself…eventually.

“I love it, thanks.” Max’s voice shakes me out of my reverie for the second time tonight. Well, I’m glad he likes it. I’m bored of just sitting here. I think we should go buy a TV, and I tell him so. He laughs at me. “Nah, my…week ago works at the used goods shop. Let’s go dancing. Neither of us works tonight, it’ll be fun.

Hmm, not a television…but it’s not a bad idea. I guess I can miss my Trading Spaces again. It won’t fix the never-ending boredom at home…but, what the hell? I nod, take the dishes to the sink, rinse them off and toss them in the trashcan. They’re paper plates…I haven’t bought real ones. Why bother? I don’t plan on staying here long. I brush past Max and go get dressed in my normal black outfit. Black jeans, tank top, and boots. Hair in a ponytail and I’m good to go.

Max is wearing a black button up shirt and blue jeans. His hair falls of its own accord. He looks…yummy. That’s such a pop culture saying. Hot…that’s a little better. “Come on, slut muffin. Your jeep or my car?”

“Slut muffin?”

“Yeah? What’s wrong with that? I got it from my friend. I like it. Deal. Your jeep or my car?” I really don’t see what’s wrong with the slut muffin name…who knows…maybe it’ll become one of those popular names that everyone calls all their friends. Hope not…it’s special.

We finally arrive at the club in Max’s jeep. His jeep is named Bob. Go figure. What are the odds we both name our vehicles of transportation Bob? I’m a nerd…I know. The world is a small place. “It’s a small world after all…” Why do I think that and “It’s the song that never ends…” used to be one song. It would definitely be the world’s most annoying song. I repeat, yes, I am a nerd.

Max and I make our way into the club. There are not very many people here on a Sunday night. All the seniors are graduating on Wednesday, maybe their parents are making them stay home and have family time with the children they know they can’t keep forever. My graduation is Friday. Max grabs my hand and we make our way down to the dance floor. There’s actually a good number of people dancing. A fast song starts up and we start dancing.

I close my eyes and just dance. All the other dancers can make sure they don’t hit me. I open my eyes and peer off the dance floor. Paul is sitting at a table watching me. I look to the other side…Paul’s there. I spin in a circle and every face I see is Paul’s. A pair of hands grabs me and stops my spinning.

I look at the face…expecting to see Paul. I pull back and look at Paul. It’s Max. I scream and collapse. He found me.

Part 7c

Ugh, my head is killing me. A hand is gently stroking the hair away from my face. I relax until the hand starts to annoy me. I reach up and brush it away, and open my eyes. Max is there. My open eyes are staring into the worried, brown eyes of Max Evans. What happened? The last thing I remember, I was dancing and saw Paul.

Paul. Damn him. Even the thought of him…because that’s all it was…all it could’ve been…. Grrr…will I ever forget him?

I scramble to my feet quickly and look at the doorway. Paul is standing there smirking at me. He waves his hand at me, and walks out the door. He’s really here. He found me. Oh God…help me.

Someone places his or her hand on my arm. Please don’t let it be Paul. I turn around and face Max. Okay, I think I’m becoming paranoid, thinking everyone is Paul. It was all my imagination. There is no way that Paul could’ve found me. Yeah, keep telling yourself that, Parker. Damn it, why do I have to convince myself of so many things?

“Liz, are you okay? What happened?” I want to tell him, really I do…but I don’t want him to get caught up in the tragedy that is my life. I look at Max and set my face.

“Max, let’s go home. I think I’m a little tired. Let’s go.” Offering no excuse as to the scene I just caused, I turn around and walk out the door. I cast a panicky glance around the parking lot. What would I do if Paul really were here? I don’t want to think about it. Yeah, denial is always a good way to deal with issues. Yeah, uh-huh…no.

Nobody is standing in the shadows. Nor is dust moving, like it normally is when a car has left. Everything is still. Yes, there’s my proof, no Paul, just an overactive imagination. Paul was just the product of my tired mind producing a visual image of my worst fear. Not that I would ever admit to anyone that Paul is my worst fear…but he is. He scares me.

Max walks past me and I follow him to the jeep. I don’t wait for him to open the door for me. I climb in on my own. I’m on my own now. I can’t let anyone more in…especially not Max. His life is fucked up enough, without my adding to the shit he has to deal with.

We ride home in silence. When we get to the complex, I run up the stairs, unlock the apartment and dash to the bathroom. I turn on the shower, climb in, sit down and let the water run over my bare skin…and sob.

I let the water mix with my tears for ten minutes before I finally wash my body and hair and get out of the shower. I get dressed in my real pajamas, run a brush through my wet hair, brush my teeth and leave the bathroom.

I go to my bedroom, not even saying goodnight to Max. Once in my room, I turn off the lights and burrow in my bed. Max is in the bathroom, taking his shower now. I listen to the running water and am lulled softly into sleep…the face of Paul still fresh in my mind.

“Talking to the mirror again,
But it’s not listening.
Cleaning my dirty mind like a toilet,
But it won’t give in.
Drinking spirits in the hopes that I will find myself one.
All I can rectify is that that the party’s just begun.
I feel like falling asleep and never waking up.
It’s not that my glass in empty,
But I need another cup.
When all the doors around me shut one by one by one,
I feel like falling asleep but the party’s just begun.”

I wake in the morning, shaking form my dream. I was dreaming about Max and Paul showed up. He killed Max and then turned to me and told me I’m next. Paul told me he was going to kill me. Yet, strangely, I’m more worried about his implied threat towards the life of Max. He said he was going to kill us…both. Calm down Parker, it was just a dream. Paul wouldn’t do something like kill Max and you. Sure, he attacked you, but he wouldn’t kill you…would he?

My eyes fly open and search the room expectantly. Everything is normal. My blankets are twisted around my legs; they almost trip me when I get out of my bed. I have to make sure Max is okay. I won’t let Paul get to him. I have to protect Max. I can’t fuck up. Why don’t I just call the police? I don’t think they could handle Paul. Something’s off about that guy.

I finally succeed in extracting myself from the grasp my blankets have on my legs. If only it was that easy to free myself from Paul. I run to Max’s room and look at Max. He isn’t moving; I walk quickly and sit by him on his bed. He looks troubled, his eyes closed, his forehead crunched together. I stroke his hair away from his face and he looks at peace, now.

Max breathes steadily and I just sit and watch. His even breathing comforts me, and makes me sleepy. I kiss my fingers and press them lightly to Max’s cheek. I stand and slowly make my way to Max’s door. I turn around and look at him again.

“Night, Parker.” He was awake.

“Night, Evans. Sleep tight.” I walk to my room and lay down on my bed, a smile crossing my face. Why do I feel so accepted by Max? Oh, I know why…he accepts every girl who looks his ways. I’m trying to convince myself of that. I wish he had told me the whole truth. He will…I know it.

Part 8

I get up at 9:30 and hurry to get ready. Today is the day Ava and I are going shopping. I’m glad. So it seems you can’t really leave your problems. I grab my keys and am about to run out the door when Max leaves his room. I stop and watch him stumble to the kitchen, rubbing his eyes and yawning.

I smile at him and he smiles back. Before I can say anything, someone knocks at the door. I grab my purse and open the door. It’s one of those blond bitches from the club the other night. Probably the one he had a date with.

She smiles at me and I make my judging face at her. She looks like she’d get along with the Ms. B’s. Blond, bleached hair, colored contacts, I’m guessing, a low cut, pink, slinky blouse and a leather miniskirt. Her hair is curled and pinned onto her head. Her makeup completely overpowers her face. Her pouty smile is bugging me.

“Is Max here?” She asks me. I can’t believe Max would go out with her. Oh well, to each their own, whatever floats your boat, whatever bakes your cookie, etc.

“Max, there’s a girl here for you?” I turn and smile at him and breeze past the hoochie walking towards Evans. As I leave, I can hear her asking Max if they’re still on for tonight. I pause outside the door to hear his response. He says yes. That’s it. I’m done with him. Sure you are, Parker.

I run down the stairs and to my car. It’s 10:35. I’m a little early, but I want to talk to Mr. Evans. I think I should tell him about Paul. I drive carefully, past Alex and Isabel walking out of the Crashdown, hand in hand. Aaw, how precious.

I pull up at the Evans’ house and Ava answers the door. I hug her quickly. “Hey, Ava. Is Mr. Evans here?”

“Nah. He went to work a couple hours ago. Why? What’s up cornball?” Ava looks at me cautiously.

“Nothing. I’ll tell you later. Are you ready?” Ava grabs her purse and we head down to the mall. As we drive, we talk about how she loves living with two seemingly normal parents. She likes having a normal life, finally. I’m glad for her, really, I am.

“So, what’s up cornball? Why did you want to talk to Mr. E?” I look straight ahead at the road and make sure to have no emotion in my voice.

“I saw Paul last night at the club. He found me. I don’t know how…but he did. I think I should leave again…or tell the police. I used to think Paul was just a little off, you know…mentally…but now I think he’s just dangerous.” I can tell Ava is looking at me. I pull the car over and look at her.

“Lizzie, it’ll be okay. No one will let Paul get to you. Alex, Mr. E, and I will protect you. Everything will be okay. Just don’t leave us, Lizzie. Stay with us.” I look at Ava and a single tear escapes my eyes. My stonewall is slowly crashing down around me. I wipe the tear away angrily and start the car again.

“So…how ‘bout them Lakers?” Ava laughs and we relax. The rest of the trip is filled with our silly stories, nonsense chatter, and a trip to Burger King. Ava groans when I ask for a crown, I just laugh joyfully.

We finally make our way to the mall and go inside. Ava buys a new dress. It’s kind of tight; spaghetti strapped, crisscrosses in the back, and goes down to the knees. It’s a blue/pink dress, one of those that shimmers different colors in the different lights. A few pairs of pants, lip-gloss and earrings and her shopping is done.

I bought a new pair of black jeans, black and gray skater shoes, a new black tank top and a black duster. On a whim I bought a white dress. It’s spaghetti strap, form fitting, down to the floor, with stars and moons embroidered from the top to right above the waist. I bought a sweater jacket to go with it and a pair of dangly star earrings, and a new lip-gloss. Watermelon…yum.

We finally left the mall at 6. The whole way home we laughed about everything and nothing. I drove Ava home and stopped at the grocery store. I like to cook, but don’t very often. I don’t know why, but I want to make oatmeal cookies. My teacher once said that that recipe was the only recipe that wouldn’t benefit from being changed. I add extra vanilla and cinnamon. I like vanilla and cinnamon, so it’s all good.

I drive home slowly and arrive at an empty apartment. I cook cookies, expecting Max to come in any minute…he doesn’t. I really don’t want to be alone tonight. I wonder if Alex and Isabel will let me stay at their place for the night.

I walk and grab my cell phone and dial Alex’s phone number. I really need to remember to get the phone service connected. Alex picks up the phone quickly. “Hello?” His voice sounds mutted, he’s probably eating dinner now. Oops.

“Hey, Aladdin. It’s me. Did I call a bad time?” I bite my lip.

“No bad time is a bad time for you to call me. What’s up?” I smile; Alex is so sweet.

“I was just wondering if I could come spend the night at your place. I don’t want to be alone tonight, and Max is on a date with some whore tonight. But if you’re doing something tonight…” I hope he isn’t.

“Well, the band was going to come over and practice, but I can cancel-“

I cut Alex off. “No! Don’t cancel! I’d love to listen.”

“Okay. Hey! As your best friend, I know how much you love to sing. Want to sing a song with us?”

Okay, how can I turn down an offer like that? Singing helps me not feel depressed. Yeah, okay, I know I’m depressed; I just don’t do anything about it. Why bother?

“Liz?” Alex says me name.

“Oops, sorry. Spaced out for a minute. I’d love to. Thanks, sweetie. So, I’ll see you later, aite?”

“Liz, I think you got a new neighbor. Maria told me she was finally moving in with Michael. Do you hear anything going on?”

“Alex, I don’t want to listen.” I stop, I hear Maria yelling.

“Michael! I will not live in an apartment with that poster on the wall. I have to go to practice. I want that poster off when I get home.”

“Maria, you wanted to live here. Accept it. Accept me.” I stifle a laugh. I have to listen to this everyday from now on, huh? Ooh, great fun.

“Yeah, Alex, I have a new neighbor.” I start laughing and Alex joins me. “I’ll see you in ten minutes.” We say goodbye and I grab my purse and a few other things. I arrive at Alex’s a few minutes after Maria. She spots me and waits for me. I smile at her and we walk up to the apartment together.

Alex answers the door and hugs us both. Alex and I hug for a couple of minutes, and I whisper in his ear. “Paul found me.” Alex pulls back, his face void of color. I smile at him weakly and hug him again. I disentangle myself from Alex and say hi to Isabel. She smiles hesitatingly.

Alex decided for me to sing a song by Maria, called brings me Back. It’s a good song, I like it. I watch the band practice Love Hurts and Love Kills before we practice my song. “You’re like an angel with that sweetest smile, but when you use it you’re one evil child.” La la…la.

I steal a glance at Alex, he and Maria are playing the only instruments in this song, two acoustic guitars. Alex is smiling, a great big smile, and has a glitter in his eye. Music makes him happy. I’m glad. I finish the song and hurry to sit on the couch and watch. Maria starts singing In the Air Tonight.

The rest of the night I spend listening to the band practice. At ten, the band left and Isabel went to her room to read. Maria promised to drop my tomorrow and I smiled and nodded at her. When she left Alex and I were left sitting on the couch. I stand and walk around before returning to sit on Alex’s lap. His arms automatically wrap around me, drawing me closer to him. I rest my head on his shoulder, and we both stay like this, content to be with each other.

My mind is at ease until Alex starts talking. I sigh and slide down so my head and neck are hanging off the side of the couch. I listen as he asks about Paul, whether or not I’m sure or not. Yes, Alex, I’m pretty sure I know the guy who is trying to kill me. I tell Alex that and his face voids of color for the second time tonight. What did I say? Was it the part about Paul wanting to kill me that upsets Alex? Good going, Parker.

“Either you stay here, or I’m moving in with you.” Aaw, my knight in shining armor. Isabel’s soul mate, my knight. Hey, it’s all good, you know?

“Aladdin, I love you, honest. But that’s not necessary. He…he was probably…ummm, a hallucination. Yeah, umm, that’s it, just a hallucination. I was really tired and I must be getting sick, cough, cough. It’ll be fine, just keep living here.” I do love Alex, but I can take care of myself. Of course, I’d never tell him that in so many words, though.

I sneak a peak at Alex. His face is set, but he nods his agreement. I can tell he doesn’t like, but he’ll go along with it. If he really wanted to protect me, he could’ve stayed in Murrieta…with me. Am I still bitter? Of course. I’m always bitter. I’m bitter enough that the rest of the world doesn’t have to be. Anywho….

I lie down and hear Alex’s whisper. “Just stay safe. Call me if you ever see him again. I’ll rip his head off.” I grab Alex’s hand and squeeze it to let him know I understand. I do. He squeezes back and we stay like that, squeezing each other’s hands to the point of pain, until I begin to fall asleep. Alex lets go of my hand, and moves me so I can fall asleep on the couch. Sorry, buddy, I need to get ready for bed before I can go to sleep.

I want until Alex closes the door to his room before getting up. I grab my stuff I brought and in five minutes, I’m ready for bed, I open the bathroom door and Alex is sitting on the couch. He lies down and I lay beside him. I give Alex a quick kiss on the cheek and pull a blanket up to our arms. Alex kisses my forehead and we fall asleep.

I wake up at 7:30 am. Alex stirs and wraps his arm around my waist. I sigh and shift. Alex always was a late sleeper. I disentangle myself from his arms, scribble a note and place it by his head, grab my stuff and leave.

Okay, so I probably shouldn’t have just left without saying goodbye. But, umm…oh well? I walk out into the hallway. Someone sure snores loud if I can hear him or her from here. I walk farther down the cream colored hallway and with each step I take, the sound grows increasingly louder. As I arrive at the elevator, I see a man on the ground…snoring.

The elevator doors are open, and try to close periodically. The man is lying with his torso outside in the hall, and his legs sprawled out in the elevator. The doors close and bounce off his stomach of jiggling fat. Umm…yuck. I’m just going to go…and take the stairs.

The sky is blue and the sun is shining. I’m sure somewhere a pretty little bird is singing his heart out. Okay…flashback to that scene in Shrek where the bird explodes from singing too high. Ooh, great fun.

As I walk to my car, people are staring at me. Why? What did I do now? Do people here not walk outside and sing? Do people here not sing, “Don’t let me get me?” Okay, I have a weakness for singing Pink’s songs. “Tired of being compared to damn Brittney Spears.” Whoosh, all the heads of senior citizens in their matching sweat suits turned to look at me when I said the “d” word. “She’s so pretty, that just ain’t me.” Okay, once again from the top!

Why do people find me odd? I’m sure every teenage girl has walked down the street singing. Umm, maybe I should’ve changed out of my pajamas before I left. Duh, Parker, nice girls don’t leave the house looking like they’re dressed for bed. Well, not here. I’ll have to remember that, if I want people to think I’m a good girl…which I’m not always. Although, I did find out that good girls can get away with almost anything.

Anywho…I jump in my car and drive back to my apartment. I wonder if Max is here or not. Probably still with that girl from yesterday. Love it or leave…I hope he left it…umm…her. I arrive at the apartment and look around. Damn it, he hasn’t been here. Well, Parker, that’ll teach you to get your hopes up. Just let them all die.

I’m conforming to society’s belief of normality today. Look at me, wearing my normal workout attire. Woo-hoo. Anywho…I don’t like conforming, it’s just not me. I lock the apartment door and walk down the stairs.

When I get outside, the sun beats on my face. I turn and just jog down the street. Just running, just trying to escape my problems. That’s all. Not some big complicated thought process. Just escape…that’s it…all it ever is.

As I end what must be my second mile, a car pulls up behind me. I keep running, not paying attention to the world inside me. Oops, a Freudian slip; the world outside me. The car pulls into my peripheral vision, matching my speed. Oh, it’s the jeep, meaning Max.

I keep running, not looking at him. I don’t want to deal with him right now. I can’t. I can’t get involved with him, and I’m afraid I will, whether or not I want to. Max keeps driving patiently, probably waiting for me to acknowledge him. Sorry, hun, not going to happen.

“Liz.” He calls out to me. Hmm, getting forward now. Okay, so my emotions are a little off today. But hey, wouldn’t everyone’s be if they had seen someone they are deathly afraid of, the night before. Well, I’m betting they would be.

“Parker.” I keep avoiding him. If I do this long enough, he’ll go away right? People don’t like being ignored; it annoys them enough to leave, right? Sure it does. I’m always right. I’m also trying to convince myself of that. “Parker. Stop. Let me give you a ride home. It’s warming up and I don’t think you can make it back the mile miles you are from home. Ten miles is a lot in the heat. Come on, let me help you.”

Nope, nope, nope. Hearing those words, I turn and run down a narrow alley. I don’t need help.


Part 9

People used to offer to help me. But their offers were never sincere, genuine, just ways of trying to manipulate me into being what they wanted. The offers eventually died down…around the time people stopped asking me if I was okay. I think Max’s offer was genuine. But…who is he to help me? He needs help himself. Help to stop the addiction to new whores and his nightly shags.

I stop in the middle of the alley to catch my breath. Have I really run five miles? And how, exactly, did Max find me? I probably don’t want to know. Oh well. I guess Max really did have a point there, how am I going to run five miles back? Hey, maybe I can hitchhike, although I doubt people would appreciate if I did that.

Well, I guess I’ll just have to run and walk. I turn right out of the alley and start running back in the direction of the apartment. I hope I don’t get lost. Maybe next time I should bring a map with me…. Nah, that would be show that I’m new here. The five miles goes quickly if you don’t pay attention to how slow the environment around you is going. That’s why I don’t like to run just for the sake of running, you can never go fast enough to make it look like you’re going anywhere…but it’s great if you’re stressed.

The five miles go quickly and soon I’m walking up the stairs to my apartment. I open the door and walk quickly to my room. Max is sitting on the couch in the front room reading a book. He puts his book down and watches me as I cross the room. Again I can feel his stare as if it’s a physical entity. It hits me softly, and soothes my nerves. I close the door gently and my feelings of fear and general bad feelings wash over me and make me feel like I’m drowning slowly.

I walk to my bed and sit down slowly. I let the waves of emotion wash over me and push me into the depths of despair. The abyss of loneliness…whatever the deepest, darkest part of ourselves could be called. I can hear the deep rumble of Max’s voice. He must be talking to someone on the phone. I pay no attention and recline onto the bed.

The voice disappears as I close my eyes and focus on the dark emotions I’m feeling. I would go on another run, but I’m physically worn out by my ten mile run. I sit up suddenly and go to my bag. I pull out the sharpest thing I can find and sit back on my bed.

Looking at my arm, and then the sharpest thing I could find, a safety pin, I put the pin to my arm and look at it. Not moving…just looking, imagining. It’s come to this to relieve the horrors of my mind, huh? I thought I was stronger than this…regressing to a state where I can’t control the feelings anymore. I push the safety pin against my skin and pull quick long strokes against my bare underarm.

The slash of skin breaks into dotted lines. I touch the line, feeling the automatic reaction of the skin to swell. A door opens heavily, but it barely registers in my dull mind. The pressure of everything builds in my ears until I can’t hear what’s going on around me…if anything even is anymore. Two male voices talk energetically before the door to my room opens. I look up and see Alex standing in my doorway.

Alex looks at me, his gaze landing on the drop of ruby, red blood bubbling through the broken, slashed skin of my arm. I touch one of the lines, and feel the raised scratch, the drop of blood wetting my fingers.

“Liz, what did you do?” He looks at me expectantly. I look down and back at him. My voice comes out flat, monotonous.

“Nothing, Alex. I didn’t do anything.” I’m sorry Alex, I didn’t mean to. Alex crosses the room to sit beside me on my bed. He grabs my arm. It hurts, but I won’t grimace, I won’t respond to the feeling.

“Look at yourself, Liz, feel. You were, but now…Liz stop forcing me to watch you hurt yourself.” What? I’m forcing him to watch me hurt myself? Well…he can leave again. I lived without him before, and I will again.

“You want to see feeling? I’ll show you feeling.” My voice slowly rises. “Don’t try to control me. I told you the day I met you, nobody controls me, nobody has and nobody ever will-“

“Liz, seriously, look around. You are being controlled. Paul is controlling you. Even from another state he scares you. You have given him the power to reduce you to what you are. He can make you self-destruct. Just look….”

“Get out, Alex, get out.” Alex looks at me, stunned, and turns and leaves the room. I can hear him talking to Evans as I curl into a ball and rock myself back and forth. Parker, how could you do that? You just told one of the only people who cares about what happens to you, to leave. You basically told him you don’t care what happens anymore. Get a grip, Parker, nothing is worth losing Alex over. Things of momentous value dawn on me slowly. But as always, when I realize what happened, I realize Alex is right. Paul is controlling me. And that is so hard for me admit. I don’t like being controlled. I open my bedroom door and walk slowly into the front room. Alex and Evans are standing by the front door.

“Alex, stop.” He stops and we just look at each other. I walk to him, hug him tightly. He holds onto me as if he’s afraid to let go. I know I am. I’m afraid of what might happen if I don’t have Alex to cling to…to keep me sane. “You’re right Alex. And I’m scared about it Alex.” Tears are collecting in my eyes, and I sniff to keep them in. I pull back and look Alex in the eyes. My tears spill over and Alex pulls me closer to him. “I’m so scared, Alex.”

I collapse into a sob and fall to the ground. Alex sits beside me, gathers me into his arms and rocks me gently. He lifts me and hugs me. “I am too, Liz. We’ll get through this, though…together. You and me against the world, babe.” I smile weakly at Alex and hug him again. As much as I try to be a Teflon babe, I do need someone to lean on. I’m just glad I have Alex.

As we sit there, I become aware that Evans is still in the room, watching Alex and me. I stand up and nervously tuck the strands of hair that fell into my face behind my ear. Max takes a step towards me and tucks the ones I missed behind my ear for me. I smile weakly at him, and he looks at me, concerned. I wish I didn’t make him concerned so much.

“You okay?” As Max speaks, I realize his hand is still in my hair, stroking it gently. But this time his actions don’t bother me, they’re just comforting. I nod and move my hand across my face to rub my eyes. Impishly, I lean in and give him a quick hug. I pull back quickly and separate myself from him. I look at him and laugh out loud at the goofy grin spreading over his serious face. I lean down and give Alex a hug and kiss, laugh and go back to my room.

I grab some clean clothes and quickly take a shower. When I join the real world again, I’m wearing a pair of loose black sweatpants and a black tank top. The sweatpants are rolled at the top, showing off an inch of my stomach. Max’s gaze hits me softly again and rests on the inch of skin showing. I walk past him and grab my new black shoes, slip them on and stand as tall as I can.

Max is still looking at me. His gaze has slowly shifted to my face though. I put my hands on my hips and shift my weight to one leg. “Well, are you going to get ready? We have to go to work in half an hour.” Max looks at his watch and walks away quickly to get ready. I laugh and my stomach joins in. Oooh…how long has it been since I’ve eaten? Last night…when Ava and I went to Burger King. Grrr…I’m hungry. I look at the clock, twenty minutes until we have to go to work. The shower is still running.

I grab whatever food I can find and sit down at the table. After I finish eating I run and put my makeup on. When Max finally gets out of the bathroom, I brush my teeth and am ready to go. Max is sitting on the couch waiting for me, so I sit on his lap.

“Aite, slut muffin, let’s go. You can drive tonight, I’ll drive tomorrow.” I try to get up, before I realize that Max’s arms are wrapped tightly around my waist, anchoring me to him. I sigh and stop trying to get up. “Slut muffin, come on, you have to let me up or we’ll never get to work. And if we never get to work, then I’ll never get the money I need to afford rent, and you’ll have to move back in with your mommy and daddy, and I’ll have to move back in with mine…and mine live 20 hours away…I’d never see you anymore.” I lean in and kiss him on the cheek as he lets me go. Okay, so I’m flirting with danger, oh well, it’s fun for me.

“I’m only letting you go because I have a feeling I need a little time to make you understand that you and your hot little body will be mine someday.” He runs his hands down my arms and stomach and I shiver…unintentionally. I better not let this flirting game go to far…. Although, honestly, I have no intention of ever being his.

I lean in and whisper in his ear. “We’ll see.” I cup his face in my hand and stand up to grab my bag. I walk out the door and Max follows me, locking it behind us. His gaze lands on my ass as I walk. I intentionally wiggle it back and forth for him. Nice view, Evans? Hope you like it. Honestly, that guy is such a male whore.

Max opens the jeep door for me and I climb in, smiling sweetly at him. He gets in and I turn on his radio.

“Long distance information, ring me 608
Laughing at the other end, get me my prescription
Come and walk my dog, please get me anything
You can’t seal fate with a kick
You should know it doesn’t work that way
As for your lofty aspirations
You couldn’t give them all away throw away
Those precious things that just don’t last throw away
Everybody’s been cut like broken glass
Just how long is all of this really gonna last
Get someone I used to know, in another place of time
Please please me, you’ve been places I’ll never go
Begged the questions I’ll never know
You’ve had so many arms around you
This time you’ve hit an all-time low
So many things just don’t last
So many things like broken glass”

We drive to the club in silence, and I stare at the cuts on my arm. I hope they go away quickly. I hate seeing things like this, and I hate other people to see them. I’m glad that the environment in which I work in is not lit very brightly. At least the bruise on my cheek is fading away.

Max pulls into a parking spot in the back. We sit there for a minute before either of us even unbuckles our seatbelts. What is this? A staring contest? That’s what is seems like, what with both of us just sitting here watching each other. I smile at him and unbuckle my seatbelt and climb out of the jeep. I wait for him by the car and when he catches up, grab his hand.

Why is it that every time I touch him, I have to pretend I don’t feel the sparks? I do…every time I touch his hand. I’ve never felt this about anyone…so why when I do it has to be a male whore? One of the great mysteries of the world, I guess. Oh well, great fun.

We walk slowly and enter the back entrance so no one sees us together. I let go of Mac’s hand when we get inside the club and take a couple steps away from him. I don’t know why…I just do. Max sees Nick and goes to talk to him. I grab my apron and go into the main room of the club to take orders.

No one is dancing yet. Why is it that every time I work here, I have to get the dancing started? Sure, it’s part of my job, but I thought people actually liked dancing. Oh, my bad. I deliver a couple of orders before I get tired of seeing all the bored people sitting there not doing anything. Where’s that damn Evans when I need him? I see him at the bar, and cross the empty dance floor quickly to reach him.

“Evans, come on, we have to get these people to dance. It’s annoying me to no end.” Max looks at me, and walks around the bar and grabs my hand to lead me down to the dance floor. I look at Nick and tell him to play something with a fast beat; he nods, and grabs a new cd.

When Max and I reach the floor, the first strands of Pink’s “Don’t let me get me,” starts. That’s one of those songs you’re never really sure about how to dance to. Well, Max does. He grabs me in his arms and holds me tightly to him. I wrap my arms around and move to the beat with him. We slowly close the gape between us and move our hips time. I roll my hip and bounce into his on both sides. Max’s hands are moving restlessly up and down my back, trying to find a spot to land.

The dance ends too slowly, and a fast song starts. Max lets go of me and we dance by each other. I raise my hands to my head and do a slow body roll, brushing against Max, whose hands grasp the bare skin of my waist. He moves to the music with me, and I turn around and walk backwards slowly. He holds on to my waist and travels with me. We dance off the floor, no one notices, they’re all too busy dancing themselves.

I grab Max’s hand. I don’t know what’s going on, but I need to get Max out of here. It’s just a weird need. Max puts his hands on my waist again, and stops me. “Liz, what’s going on? Where are you taking me?” God, Max, we don’t have time to talk, we need to get out of here now. Of course I can’t really tell him that. I look around nervously. I can’t see anything wrong, but something

Don’t think, Parker, just get out of there. Now. I take a step closer to Max, pressing my body up against his, cup his face with my hands, and kiss him. He doesn’t respond for a minute, but then his hands thread through my hair, his hands alternating their grasp on my hair to their restless running up and down on my back.

I pull back and grab Max by the hand and pull him towards the back door. We exit the building and my leg buckles under me. I grab Max, and he helps me stay balanced. The pain in my leg recedes and we walk back to the jeep. Max unlocks the doors and we get in and drive away…back to the apartment. I take a look at the club and see Paul exit through the front entrance. I knew there was a reason I wanted out of there.

What is Max going to think? I feel badly about having to kiss him, I can’t have a relationship with him right now, it’s too dangerous, but what if he thinks that’s what the kiss meant. I sneak a peak at him. His face is set, his worried line crinkling his forehead. He looks at me and sees me watching him. I lower my eyes and look away.

“My self esteem
It’s been low
Go ahead and count it
It’s been lower than low
I know the feeling
Of what’s stealing
Right down from under me.”

I lean my head against the seat and watch the world go by without me. Max drives quickly and we get to the apartment in record time. I jump out of the car, followed closely by Max. I don’t abandon him, he deserves and explanation. I unlock the door and we go in, I sit on the couch. What am I supposed to tell him? Can I really tell him that they guy who wants to kill me is stalking me, and I had a dream he wants to kill him, too? You know…I really don’t think that would go over too well. But it could just be me….

Max sits down next to me. I wish I knew what he was thinking. The confused look has faded from his face, now he just looks worried. Did I worry him…yet again? Really, they’re must be some record for how many times one person can worry other people in a set amount of time. I’m sure I’d take the record.

“Liz, will you please tell me the truth?” I should’ve known that this would happen. I really don’t think he wants to know the truth I really have. Too bad I can’t make something up and try to pass it off as the truth. I want to tell him…but like always, I can’t.

“Max, you deserve the truth…but I can’t tell you. I don’t want you to get involved. Trust me, it isn’t happy. When I get everything cleared up…then I’ll tell you.” Max stands up and walks to his bedroom. He looks at me, opens his door, and just looks at me.

“You can trust me, Liz.” He walks through his door, and closes it. And I’m left here, sitting on the couch…alone again. Oh well, I asked for it. I could tell him the truth and ask him to love me even though I kept secrets, or I can be alone. What do I want to end up? Do I want to end up being some old spinster who spent her life in solitude? Or do I want to let someone in and lead a fulfilled, happy life? Lonely…decrepit…happy…blissful. Let me think…lonely…happy…lonely…happy…lonely…happy. Give me a little time to make my decision. How ‘bout the one to make me happy has to break down my defenses? Honest, true, and pure love…I like it. But why do I think Max is already breaking down my defenses?

Part 10

I’m sitting in the Evans’ backyard, pretending to carry on a meaningful conversation with Isabel, Maria, and Ava. Honestly, pretending is the operative word here. I’m just sitting here, nodding occasionally. Ava’s just lying there, a happy content grin smothering her face. How did I get myself trapped into this girl’s day? I answered the phone.

Damn that damn thing. Strong, I know, but hey, I could be enjoying my freedom right now. Damn Watson. Anywho…I did answer the phone, it was Alex. He asked if I would go spend time with his girls today. Of course I said yes…don’t ask why. Wimp.

Anywho…now I’m sitting here in my black one-piece bathing suit. It’s really conservative in the front, but then there’s no back on the back, except for two thin straps.

“So…Liz…” my head whips up when Isabel addresses me. “What do you think of my brother?” Ummm…excuse me? What do I think of Max? Well…I think he’s a hot chunk of meat. Well…maybe…nah, he’s my hot Secret Agent Lover Man. But of course I won’t tell his sister that, or would I? Of course I will.

I keep my face lifted toward the sun, but answer clearly. “He’s hot…and a damn good kisser….” Gasps are heard. Oh my…I think I shocked them. A slow grin travels over my face. “He’s my Secret Agent Lover Man.”

Maria starts laughing…hysterically. “That’s great Liz. You almost sound like the whores trying to get into his pants.” I sit up and look at Maria; a faux shocked expression on my face.

“Moa? I’m offended. Plus, he’s more than willing when it comes to all those whores. I’ve seen him dance with them. Of course, I didn’t like seeing it. I’m not jealous, it’s just Max Evans anyway.” Umm…oops…did I just say that out loud? Judging from the laughter, I’m guessing I did. “So…Ava…why are you so happy today?”

Ava stops laughing and shoots me a death glare. I laugh. God, it’s good to be evil. But now we’re all paying attention to Ava. Honestly, she is in a really good mood. I wonder what happened.

“Well…umm…what time is graduation? I met a guy, and he wants me to go see him graduate and then go to a party with him to celebrate. I told him sure…so I need to know when to be ready by….” I look at her and beckon for her to give details. She sighs in resignation. “His name is Kyle Valenti…and I met him at work.”

Isabel and Maria are sputtering, and trying hard not to spit out the drinks they just put in their mouth. It’s an odd picture, Isabel with her face puckered up, covering her mouth with her hand, an odd, sputtering laughter filling the air around her. And Maria…don’t even get me started with the odd child look on her face. I start laughing simply because everyone else is.

“Kyle? Kyle Valenti? That’s crazy. Nah…Kyle is a great guy, actually…one of our closest friends. You saw through the letterman jacket that quickly, huh? It takes most people a little while.” I lay my head back down and listen to the pleasant conversation.

“Liz. Do you want to go to dinner with us? We don’t have any more tickets for graduation, but dinner would be nice.” Maria asks, looking straight at me. Why? Am I automatically part of their social group? It’s just a tad bit odd…well, if you ask me, and lets face it, I’m a dumbass. “Maaaxxx would love it if you would.” She stretches his name for a long time.

Why would I care if it makes Max happy if I’m there? Only because he’s the love of my life. Aite, I can be sarcastic. That was me being sarcastic. Can you imagine Evans being the love of someone’s life? The apple of their eye? Aite, that is a stupid, stupid saying.

“Sure, why not? What time?” Wait…did I just say okay? What am I thinking? Nothing much, actually…. I look at Maria and Isabel and watch the knowing grins on their faces grow. Hmm…I made them feel smart, huh? That’s good…I guess. I’m kinda out of it right now….

We all chat like good friends for a while, and then we help get Maria ready. I won’t have this. Well…I won’t be getting ready with friends to go accept my diploma. I could go back, but I don’t feel like driving for twenty hours without knowing where Paul is exactly. Plus, Alex doesn’t have plans to go back either.

When Maria is ready, I grab my stuff and leave. I just feel like driving around for a while. Checking my mirrors every five seconds to see if a car is following me kind of takes away from the scenery of the desert. Aite…I admit it, I’m paranoid.

I think maybe I should go home now. I want to make my hair all crimpy for dinner. Oooh…I get to dress up. Joy, joy, joy…I like dressing up. Lala…la. I turn the car into the parking lot and make my way up to the apartment.

I pause at the door. I just have this gut feeling I shouldn’t go in there. Wait…a gut feeling? I’ve never really understood. How does someone know what their heart is saying versus their mind? Are our minds corrupting us? Is that why my grandma told me to listen to my heart, right before she died? And what about gut feelings? Do you really feel them in your gut…or is just a term? I don’t know. Honestly…I don’t care much. I open the door. All the lights are out, but I can make out a figure gliding slowly in the darkness.

“Max?” The figure turns towards me, raises his hand and the door slams, extinguishing all light from the apartment. Umm, what’s going on here? “Max? Is that you?”

The lights flicker on and suddenly I’m standing face to face with Paul. Oh God, no, please don’t let this be real. I close my eyes and open them again, hoping it…he’s just a part of my imagination. My eyes open and look back into the cold, emotionless black depths of Paul’s mocking eyes.

“Sorry, sweetie, it’s just me. Sorry to disappoint you.” I try to move, but I’m stuck in the spot where I stand. It’s like one of those nightmares where you know the monster’s going to get you, and you can’t do anything to prevent it. My heart is beating wildly, like it’s trying to escape the confines of my chest. I hope he can’t hear it. I hope he doesn’t know how…scared I am.

Paul walks slowly towards me, turns around and waves his hand at the CD player. Music turns on. Killing me softly with his song…killing me softly. I’m pretty sure neither Max nor I have that cd.

“What do you want, Paul? What did you come here for?” I look at him and try to glare defiantly. Try being the operative word here. I’m terrified, not only of him, but also of everything he symbolizes to me. What’s going on here? I never used to admit, not even to myself, that I was scared.

Paul grasps my chin gently and laughs. I move my head away. His voice is cold, sharp, and to the point when he answers my question. “You.” Hmmm…I wonder how much weirdness tolerance I have left in this lifetime.

I shake my head away from his grasp. He grabs my neck gently and pushes me against the door. I back up slowly until my back thuds against the door. Paul stares deep into my eyes, as if searching for a key to make me fall apart. I just stare back, trying to mask my emotions. The only thought I can even think is what is he doing?

Paul grabs something off the counter and a dull shine catches my eye. A glimmer of ephemeral light ripples down the length of a palpable knife. One hand on my neck and the other holding the knife, he guides me slowly to the couch. He tightens his hold on my neck, extends his arm with the knife backwards, and plunges the blade into my stomach.

Part 11

They always say that when you die, your life flashes before your eyes. I’m not seeing anything that has happened; I guess all those years of repressing everything worked. Instead, I’m seeing everything I won’t do: tell my family I love them, sing with Alex, laugh with Maria, shop with Ava, get to know Isabel, graduate from a prestigious school, have a career, buy a house, eventually have a family, get married. I’ll never dance with Max again. Max…I’ll never get to tell him how I really feel.

My body convulses off the couch to the point where my head lifts up giving me the view of my stomach. My own blood is wetting the dark material of my shirt. I can see the blood exiting my body. My life literally ending before my very eyes. Why didn’t I do something to stop this? I should’ve done something…what if Max comes? Paul will kill him too.

Loud footsteps shake me out of watching my life force drain from my dying body. Hmm…why do I have to think about this so much? Is it really a big deal that I’m dying? That in a few days my body will be buried six feet under in a big, clunky casket; that people will stand stoically by my grave, watching my resting place being filled in with dirt? Does it matter that my parents will fall apart? Does the pain this will bring even matter? It does…to me, at least.

Paul appears by my side, sitting on an empty space on the couch. A laugh fills the void of noise, and then an emotion, however fleeting, crosses Paul’s face. Regret. Such a horrible thing to see on your murderers face before you’re even dead. But, hmm…what can I do about it? My time is up, the timers going to ding any minute now, I’ll kick the can…yup…does it seem like I’m being calm about dying? Well…I’m scared shitless.

My hand is wet. I lift my head and see Paul kneeling, his tears flowing on my hand. He whispers quiet words, about how sorry he is. Well…that doesn’t really help me a lot does it? Then he does something odd. Paul reaches his hand over my wound and a red light streams out. My body stops convulsing as wildly, and the blood flow slows. I venture to look at Paul, and again, his eyes are dried and red, his face set in a delighted evil smirk, like he’s enjoying watching me slowly die.

Mom, his voice sounds so far away.
My own blood’s all around me,
As I try hard not to cry,
I hear the paramedic say,
“This girl is going to die.”
I’m sure the guy had no idea,
While he was flying high,
Because he chose to drink and drive,
Now I would have to die.
So why do people do it, Mom,
Knowing that it ruins lives?
And now the pain is cutting me,
Like a hundred stabbing knives.
Tell sister not to be afraid, Mom
Tell Daddy to be brave.
And when I go to heaven,
Put “Daddy’s Girl” on my grave.
Someone should have taught him,
That it’s wrong to drink and drive.
Maybe if his parent’s had,
I’d still be alive.
My breath is getting shorter, Mom
I’m getting really scared.
These are my final moments
And I’m so unprepared.
I wish that you could hold me Mom,
As I lie here and die.
I wish that I could say I love you, Mom,
So I love you and goodbye.


Okay, I’m not the victim of a drunk driving accident, but the sentiments are the same. The intense stabbing pain in my abdomen slows into increasingly long moments of pain. While I may be dying slower…the pain is more intense, I wish my Mom was here, to hold me as I die. I do wish I could tell her I love her…just one more time. I wish…I wish I had another chance to live.

The door suddenly crashes open, and Paul, startled, takes his hand off of my stomach. My body convulses, and I see my blood beginning to pour rapidly again. My eyes look at the figures walking into the room: Alex, Michael…and Max.

Stunned silence fills the air while all four guys stare at each other. Okay…someone please help me…I’m kind of dying over here. I don’t want to put an end to your testosterone filled staring and stalking match, but umm…I don’t want to die…sorry? Okay…I’m not sorry.

Max speaks first, “Where is Liz? What did you do to her?” Oh, Oh!!! I can answer that one! I’m over here, conveniently hidden by the couch, and he stabbed me…at the moment I’m dying. La de da…I’d twiddle my thumbs waiting for help…but I only have enough energy to lie here, think sarcastic thoughts and convulse periodically.

A thud catches my attention as the unconscious body of Paul falls to the floor. Damn…how did I miss that? Is he dead…I hope so. I guess I can die now…now that the one who killed me is. Just as I’m about to give into the impending darkness, Max plops down at my side, his face contorted when he sees the blood seeping out of my stomach.

“Liz, LIZ! You have to look at me. You have to look at me.” He tells me, his voice sounding like a lost kid looking for a way to make everything all better.

He gently reaches down and rips my tank top open, exposing my stomach and the wound. Maintaining eye contact, he places his hand where my blood is gushing out of my body. I’m sucked into a connection with Max and everything that’s happened between us flashes before my eyes, as well as the childhood memories I have repressed. When Max removes his hand, I move my hand feebly, and touch my stomach; it’s covered in blood, but there is no wound.

I look at Max. His face reveals his panic. Why? Is he panicking because he just single-handedly saved my life? How’d he do that?

He looks at me, his emotions shining in his eyes. Before I can say anything, Paul starts to stir. Max stretches his hand towards him and Paul collapses back onto the floor. Hmmm…nifty. Sure would have been nice if I knew how to do that.

I sit up slowly, shakily. Max places his hand on my back and comforts me. I pull the tattered remains of my shirt closed, and look, stunned at Max. Honestly…how am I supposed to look? Max just single handedly saved my life. Literally. He just gave me the second chance I had been wishing for.

Alex rushes over to me, and envelopes me in a huge hug. “Careful, Aladdin, you’re going to get blood all over you.” Alex pulls back a little and grimaces at the sight of all the blood.

“Are you okay?” Oooh…stereo surround sound; Max and Alex asked me at the same time. Aaw…how precious.

“Yeah, guys, I’m aite. Really…I’m good. I’m just gonna go and, uhh, clean up a little.” I say, pointing to the bathroom.

“Alex, go with her.” Max tells him. Alex nods and leads me gently to the bathroom. He turns on the shower and turns around to let me get in. Alex is great, honest he is. I step under the running water; letting it cascade over the blood, and watch the two substances mix. I can hear Alex looking at the magazines in the bathroom.

“I’m just gonna sit here and read this Home and Gardens you have.” I can hear Alex flipping through the various magazines.

“That’s Max’s, not mine, hon.” Silence. Guess he figured that out.

“Oh yeah, these are Max’s, no doubt about it.” I laugh and continue getting clean.

“Avert your eyes, Alex.” Alex is such a saint, he turns around, covers his eyes with one hands and hands me a big towel with the other. “Thanks. Now you stand in the shower so I can get dressed.” We trade places and I get into my new clean clothes. I look at my reflection in the mirror. What is that? On my stomach is a glowing, silver handprint. I touch it gently, and it doesn’t change. I put my hand on the print, but it’s larger than my hand. Must be Max’s. I think it’s time we had a talk. “Aite, Alex, I’m presentable now.”

Alex grabs my hand and leads me out, back to the living room. Paul is tied in a chair, with Max and Michael circling him. We stop, and watch from places where the no one can see us.

It appears they’re interrogating Paul. “Why Liz?” Max asks quietly. Yeah…that’s a good question. Why me?

“Because she’s special. Didn’t you know that?” Hmm…I’m special? Really? How sweet. My ex-boyfriend turned stalker turned attempted murderer claims to have tried to stab me to death because I’m special. Wow…that’s a great reason…NOT.

I peak at Paul; his face is being smothered by his evil smirk. Max’s face is tight, the anger apparent. Michael is just standing there, his arms folded, a look of disgust as his expression of choice when he looks at Paul. Michael’s fists clench periodically.

“Of course I know she is. How could I not? Explain. What happened? How did you go from being a father-to-be with Tess to Liz?” Okay, I’m still stuck on the fact that Max knows I’m special.

“I took Tess to New York and thought I’d go see this little town in Southern California. I left…and saw Liz. I couldn’t go back to Tess, so I stayed. It’s really not that hard to understand.”

“But why Liz specifically? I thought girls like her weren’t your type.” Excuse me? Girls like her? What does he mean by that? Exactly what type am I? Oh, I hate phrases like that.

Paul starts talking and it attracts my attention. “When it’s Liz, you don’t care what your type is. Like I said, she’s special. I saw her and wanted her.” Now I feel like a piece of meat. ‘I saw her and I wanted her.’ And to think I was always my horrible self around him. God, why do I always attract the creeps? “And, you know, if I can’t have her…no one will.” Oooh…creepy.

Paul raises his hands, which is odd, considering how they were just tied behind his back. He stretches his hand out towards me. Aite, I’ve come to realize, hands outstretched like that isn’t always a good thing. A black ephemeral ball of light comes rushing at my head.

The next thing I know, Alex is pushing me out of the way. Max puts up a green shield like thing, and Michael shoots a green ball of light at Paul. Paul falls to the ground, his empty eyes already clouding over in the wake of death.

I look at Alex. Paul’s ball of light or power or whatever almost got him; the top hairs of his head are singed. We all just stay where we are and look at the lifeless body of Paul. Alex reaches over and grabs my hand.

Five minutes later, Max comes up to us and grabs my other hand. Alex lets go as Max guides me to his bedroom. I guess I’m going to finally know what the hell is happening.

“Max…you better tell me what’s going on because I am dangerously close to having a mental and emotional breakdown right now.” I tell him, after he closes the door.

We stand there; he just looks at me. I talk again. I hate the silence game. “Aite, um, so help me out here, Max. I mean, what are you?”

He looks at me and finally answers. “Well, I’m not from around here.” Well, that helps a lot.

“Where are you from?” Max points up. “Up north?” Max points higher and slightly raises his eyebrow. Oh…he’s even hotter when he does that. Aite, concentrate Parker. “You’re not an…an alien…I mean, are you?

Max looks at me and gives me his patented half-smile. “Well, I prefer the term ‘not of this earth.’ Sorry, it’s not a good time to joke. Yeah, I am. Wow, it’s weird to actually say it…. Liz, listen to me. You can’t talk about to anyone about this. Not your parents, not Ava…no outsiders. You don’t understand what’ll happen if you do. Liz, please? Now my life is in your hands.” Max looks pleadingly at me, his amber puppy-dog eyes gazing deep into mine. I’m stunned by how much pure, raw emotion is gleaming in them.

This is a lot to deal with right now. “Max, I need a little time alone. I’m…going to my room, now.” Okay, I can accept all this. I think in a way I already have. Honestly…I just need a little time to think about it all and what it means. I walk blindly to my room and think, while listening to the commotion in the living room.

Max comes in later. “Everyone else went to dinner. I thought I’d stay here with you. We need to talk.” I just sit on my bed and smile at him. I pat the bed by me and he sits beside me. “I can’t imagine how you must feel right now. I mean, I’ve thought about telling you a thousand times.”

How is that possible? Every seven seconds? Nah…that’s a different statistic; the one about guys and thinking about…well, umm, you know. “You have—me?” Max laughs at me. Grrr….

“Sorry, I just keep picturing you in that dress, with the, uh…cupcakes…on it.” What? I don’t have a dress like that? “Forget it, it was a long time ago.”

“Oh my God. That’s right. I can’t believe I actually wore that thing? Wait…I had that dress in kindergarten, I didn’t know you until this week.” Hmm…week argument. “Did you like, read my thoughts or something?” Well, he’s an alien, what couldn’t happen?

“No, I—I don’t read minds. When I healed you, I made this…I don’t know, this connection. And I got this rush of images…an image of that dress flashed into my mind, and I knew how you felt about it.”

“How did I feel about it, Mister Wise Guy?”

“It was the single supreme embarrassment of your life. But your mom made it for you; she was so proud of it. She’d never made a dress before, so you wore it. For her sake.” Hmm…he’s good. “I’ve never tried this before, but maybe I can make the connection go the other way. So you can see, you know, that I’m still me. I have to touch you.”

I nod permission and he reaches out and takes my hand in his. “Now just take deep breathes and try to let your mind blank out.” I follow his advice and get a rush of images…Max and Isabel being found by the Evans’…Max on his first day of school…Max dreaming about the perfect girl for him, the one he knew he was meant for…Max seeing me for the first time…the two of us dancing together….

I could feel everything he was feeling. I could feel his loneliness. For the first time, I was really seeing Max Evans. I saw me as he saw me, and the amazing thing was, in his eyes, I was beautiful. Max breaks the connection and lets go of my hand.

“Did it work?” I nod silently; my eyes gleaming with unshed tears. Max looks down, embarrassed. Max Evans has put a force on me. It’s like my whole life changed in an instant. It’s just so ironic that when something like this happened to me, it was with an alien.

“I need to know the truth, Max. I need to know everything.”

“Okay.”

“Okay.” I pull my list of questions from my pocket. Max looks at it, amused. What can I say? I like lists. I’m not ashamed of m y love. “Where did you come from?”

“Antar. It’s ummm…pretty far away. When the ship crashed, I wasn’t born yet. It was a pain trying to get answers.”

“So there was a crash?”

“All I know is that it wasn’t a weather balloon that fell that night.” Hehe…I didn’t think so; I did a research paper on the crash…but back to Max….

“The ship crashed in 1947. You’re 18.”

“We we’re in some kind of…incubation pods.” Umm…odd….

“We?”

“Isabel, Michael, Tess…and, umm…Ava are also like me.” What? Ava? Aite, I’ll let this go for now, but the next time I see that girl I want answers. How did they know she was? I highly doubt Ava would just go up to them and tell them she’s from another world. Unless…maybe they have a way to tell aliens from humans? Our vibes maybe….

“Well, that answers that question. What powers do you have?”

“We can connect with people, as you know. We can manipulate structures. And we can—“

“Wait, what does that mean.” Max waves his hand in front of my wall. The subliminal messages smooth out and then reform. Nifty.

“That’s how I healed you.” Like I said, nifty.

“Max, who else knows this?”

“Very few people. Up until about a month ago, my parents didn’t even know. We don’t tell anyone. We sort of think our lives depend on it. Maria, Alex, Kyle, Valenti, and my parents; that’s all.”

“So, when you healed me, you risked all this getting out, didn’t you?”

“Yeah.” Ooh…no pressure there.

“Why?” Just curious.

“It was you.” I smile self-consciously and then somber.

“Max. I need to tell you something. I like you; I liked you before this whole thing happened. I don’t know why, though. I know you’re this whole male whore, die-hard slut, but there was something special about you. I tried convincing myself that I didn’t care, but I couldn’t….” I look down, and blush, and paste a quick smile on my face. Max pushes a stray piece of hair behind me ear.

“You had a, uh….”

“Hair thing right. Thanks.” I spill my heart to this guy and all he can do is move a piece of my hair. I knew I should’ve kept it to myself. No one could ever love me the way I love him. I don’t deserve love.

“Sure. Liz, I like you too. I feel this strange connection to you, even before I technically made a connection. But, umm…anyway, I feel…normal, human, around you. But, Liz, it’s not safe. I mean, for you and me to…it’s not safe.”

“I don’t care.”

“Liz—I really, really, wish that this could be something, you know, more. But it can’t. We’re just….”

“Different.”

“Yeah.” Max stands and turn to leave.

“Max?” I never got to thank you. For saving my life.” I tell him when he turns around to face me again.

“Thank you.” With that, he turns and leaves. He leaves the door open, both literally and figuratively. I’m Liz Parker and today I died…but then the really amazing thing happened…I came to life.

"It's about finding someone that is pure, perfect for you, that completely defines love in all sense of the word for you" -Jason Behr

aZNroSweLl anglgrl thanks, for the fb. Hehe…so emotional. Yup, it’s real. Not a nightmare. As for Max healing? Well, read on and find out. Sorry it took me so long to get it out. Hope you enjoy it.

Starynight12312 thanks for the fb. Paul is a creep. Max is great. Will he save her? You’ll just have to read this part and find out. Hope you like this part. The last part was so short because I had major writers block and wanted to get something about before everyone forgot about this story. Sorry to disappoint you. Sorry about that other story. I hate it when authors just drop a story. Lol, thanks…I’m glad that you love cruel (it’s my dying baby)

ice rose101 thanks for the fb. Whoever said life was fair? Life is unfair…and then you die. That’s how the story goes. Lol, I’m just kidding…mostly. Here’s the more you wanted. (no matter how much I type that, it just won’t sound right!) hope you like it. Thanks for the bumpage. Hmm…am I one of those “wicked-story updates?” thanks for telling me your opinion. I’m going to try to start writing the sequel very soon.

Meagzie thanks for the fb. You’re welcome. Do you get to boss me around? Umm…I guess so. But why would you have to? I’m not like some people who never update. Wink wink. You’re right about Liz needing to learn how to be independent and not leaning on other people. Aite, you want Max and Alex to kick Paul’s ass? Well…can’t promise anything. Hope you like this part; sorry it took me so long to get it out. Oh, btw, thanks for changing the subject line for me.

hipntrendy1 thanks for the fb. Is this the first time to my story? Glad you found it. Paul isn’t like the average stalker bad guy…. Hope you like this part.

everyone, I’m so sorry it took me so long to get this out. I’ve had it written for a couple days, but had to type and reread it a couple times. It gets a little general, but only for a while. Hmm…I’ve lost readers. Bummer…I hope they come back cough:mary;strawbehrry shortcake;KA;cough. Excuse me; maybe I should get someone to look at my cough. Wow, I’m going to actually be sorry to see this story go. Oh well. Anywho. Umm…could everyone please pray for my sister again? As I’m writing this, I’m praying for. She was just transferred to Loma Linda Medical Center; you know, the one with the great intensive care for preemies. Thank you in advance…it means a lot to me. Aite, well…on with the story, personal problems aside.
-lora

“Will I ever get to see the ending to my story? I’ve crawling in the dark, looking for the answer.”

Edit: Strawbehrry Shortcake hmm…my bad. I am so sorry about that. Can you ever forgive me? Lol…I did not want to get Liz out of wearing that dress. I forgot about it. Not that that’s better…but still. Sorry I stopped it there, I didn’t know what else to write. Sorry it took me so long to get this out. I hope you like this part.

Part 12


The next day I pretend like everything is normal. I work and pretend to be a cheerful waitress interested in what people want to eat. When I get home from work, I go to my room and stay there.

I’ve been rejected by the male slut of Roswell. I’ve been turned down by the guy who has made so many notches in his bed-posts that he doesn’t have bedposts anymore. I know, I’ve seen the stubs.

I venture into the kitchen. Paul’s body is gone. All that’s left is a bunch of dust or ashes or whatever. Is that some alien trick? Did the good guys cremate the bad guy? Honestly…I’m not too curious about my murderous ex-boyfriend right now. Give me about five minutes.

Max is in the kitchen. He hands me some food, and I take it. “Thanks.” He nods and I walk back to my room. Are things going to be awkward like this? I half close my door, and then open it again to go talk to Max. “Max…aack!” He’s standing in my doorway. Freaky kinda.

“Liz…can we…umm, talk?” He looks down shyly. When he looks at me, I can’t resist his sweet puppy dog eyes. His hands are clasped, and I grab one and lead him into my room.

“What did you want to talk about?” This should be good. Reject me and then come back. I’m pretty sure he’s trying to punish himself for some reason. But why punish me, too? “What are you doing here, Max?”

“Well, I have orders from my planet to take over the Earth.” I brush past him to put my clothes back into the hole called a closet.

“Besides that.”

“I want to make sure we can still be friends.” I pause and look at him.

“Yeah. I mean, we are.”

“Good.” Yup, that’s good. A great big ball of good.

“Why wouldn’t be?” Yeah, umm…that’s what I meant to think and say. Well, at least I said it.

“We seem to be avoiding each other since…that night.” Umm…Maxie? It was only last night. It’s only been one day.

“Max, people do a lot of dumb things. Anyway, I understand.”

“And we’re friends?”

“Yeah, we’re friends.” I brush past him again on my way to sit on my bed.

“Just friends?” Well…that’s what you wanted.

“Yeah, we’re just friends. Max?” I turn to look at him.

“Yeah?”

“Were you, like, umm…green?”

“Green?”

“Before you took human form, were you three feet tall and green and slimy?” I laugh and look down, embarrassed. “Sorry….”

“It’s okay. No, we always looked like this. Except for the, uh, third eye.” Max moves his head down. Third eye? Really now…. I lean forward and stare at the back of his head. Max peeks up at me. “Kidding!”

“Yeah, I knew you were kidding.” I laugh and shove him, playfully of course. “You’re such a jerk!”

“Yeah, well, that’s me. Jerk, alien king, male whore, not to mention slut-muffin. Anything else to add to the list?” I look at the ground again.

“Well, hottie didn’t seem to be on it originally,” I mutter under my breath. Max’s laughter distracts me from my fixation and fascination with the floor. My face blushes. “My God, did you hear that?”

“The hottie comment? Sure did. Oh, by the way, ditto.” Aaw…how sweet. Hmm…I’m sure my blush just got even worse. Bummer.

I used to pray for something to happen, something to just break the routine, you know, of school and work…something to make a small town bigger, that would make a small town girl feel bigger, too. And ever since I got my wish, and Paul tried to kill me, and Max Evans patched a stab wound two inches below my ribs, I’ve realized one thing…that the bigger your world gets, the bigger your problems get, too.

“Liz? Knowing me is going to screw up your life. I screw up everyone’s…”

Guilt complex? Interesting, psychotic maybe…but interesting. “No, Max, it’s just the opposite.”

“Thank you for saying that.”

“It’s the whole truth, Max.” I’m imagining…well, I’m imagining a whole bunch of things I shouldn’t be. Like what Max’s bare skin would…bad, bad Parker. I smack my hand and walk closer to Max.

“I better go.” Why? Tell me everything, Maxie.

“Why?”

“Cuz if I don’t go right now, things are gonna change.”

“Change how?”

“I’m gonna have to touch your hair…cuz it’s so soft….” Max runs his hand gently through my hair. I move y head to fit more completely into his hand. “and I’d have to tell you that…no matter what we go through, it’s all worthwhile for me because we’re together.”

“And then?”

“And then…I’d have to do this….” Max cups my face in his hands, and gently strokes my cheeks with his thumbs. He pulls me closer to him, until we have almost complete body contact. Our heads move together and angle slightly. I close my eyes and feel Max’s warm breath gently crashing against my face in soft, warm puffs.

Our lips make contact in a gentle kiss. It’s a kiss of future promises, past regrets, happiness, strawberries and cream, love at the beach, and secrets shared. A kiss of what’s coming…a promise to our hearts, and a balm to our souls and hearts.

His lips move against mine in a slow rhythm. His tongue brushes against my lips, asking for entrance. I grant it and sigh softly when his tongue meets mine. We dance together in a slow sensual dance. I become vaguely aware of our arms. Mine are flung around Max’s neck, securing him to me. Max has one arm around my waist, his hand slowly caressing my waist and back. His other arm is pressed against my back, crushing me to him. His hand is running tenderly through my hair.

We finally pull back from a lack of oxygen. We rest our foreheads together and gasp for the air our lungs are demanding. When I can express my thoughts, I whisper in a breathy tone, “Change is good.”

Max pulls back, and looks at me, excitement flashing in his eyes. A shy half-smile is beginning to show itself on his face. “Liz, let’s go out tomorrow night. On a date…it’s been such a long time I’ve gone on a real date with a girl I liked.” He looks at me expectantly, and I shiver. Even with the front of being a die-hard slut, he still has a shred of his youthful innocence. Probably hangin’ on by a thread. My body misses the warmth of Max already. Max notices my shiver and pulls me back into his arms. I melt against him.

“Sure, where?”

“Senor Chows,” he answers me. His vocal threads reverberate against my head. ‘It’s late. Time to get some sleep.” I nod drowsily against his strong, chiseled chest. Max places a delicate kiss on the top of my head and pulls away. “Goodnight, Liz.” He opens the door and I call out to him.

“Max?” He turns and looks at me. “Will you sleep in here with me? I had nightmares last night…about…him.” I lower my eyes, and then lift them to see Max nod at me. He goes to get ready. I grab my stuff and run to the bathroom before he can get there. I close the door as he reaches it. Hehe…I’m competitive.

I hurry through my routine, and get dressed in a pair of threadbare black pajama pants and a plain black tank top. I unlock the door and let Max in. As I squeeze past him, he grabs me by the waist. I can feel the shocks up and down my spine. Max turns me so I can look into his eyes. I’m memorized by his amber eyes and the emotions displayed so clearly: passion, excitement, and a youthful hope.

Amber is the color of your aura,
Natural shades of gold displayed naturally.


His eyes promise me happiness. Happiness…am I ready for that? Do I deserve to be happy? What do I deserve? I pull my eyes away from his, throw him a quick smile and walk solemnly back to my room.

Max and I both have our own emotional scars to heal, to get over. Can we really be happy, together? What does the future hold for us? Am I ready to grow as a human and accept the pursuit of happiness? I shut myself off so I wouldn’t feel, but Max has broken through my defenses. He’s seen my soul, and he’s still here. Can we heal each other? Is this right?

I climb into my bed and pull the covers up to my chin. I curl up ans try to avoid the outside world trying to make me adapt. Max walks into the room, but I don’t move or look at him. I can feel his gaze landing on me, and calming my unsettled nerves. I turn my head and lock eyes with him.

“It’ll be okay.” Max tells me. I pull the covers away and let Max crawl into bed with me. Max wraps his arms around me and pulls me closer to him. I curl up again, rest my head under his chin, and melt slightly into his arms. This is right, I know it is.


Part 13 A

I woke in the morning and sighed when I felt Max’s strong arms wrapped around me. I panicked. I didn’t remember anything about what had happened. Who was it that was holding me, a prisoner, to him? Who was trying to control me now? I fought. I hit, and scratched. Like I said I panicked.

Then I opened my eyes.

Funny how everything can change in a split second. I opened my eyes and saw everything around me. I saw the light flooding through the curtains I forgot to close last night, the light beige of my sheets, my own dark hair spread over my pillow. And then I saw who was holding me captive. It was Max.

I realized something in that moment, as I watched his eyes open, his grogginess showing through. He isn’t holding me physically captive to him. But he is holding my heart. But then, didn’t I willingly give it to him? Life is confusing when I think about Max Evans. My stomach squirms and I feel like I don’t know anything. I may be a know-it-all, but I really don’t.

Max opened his amber eyes and looked at me. But he didn’t look concerned, or confused. He didn’t look at me like he knew he was better than me, but he didn’t look at me like I was a goddess; which is good, because I’m not. I’m Liz Parker and that is all that I will ever be. I know it is, it’s also all I’ll ever let myself be. Max just looked at me. His eyes showed he was excited to wake with me in his arms, even if I woke fighting and scratching.

It isn’t always easy to let someone in when you have spent years shutting yourself off. I realized through the years, that I was never strong enough to keep everyone out. I always had my friend, my confidante who I break down to, and let them comfort me. For years that person was Alex. He was the only one who knew the inside of my heart, who knew the dark secrets that I held hidden inside myself.

What dark secrets could I possibly have? I’m Liz Parker. I grew up as a middle-class, suburbia white girl. What could possible be wrong with my life? Appearances are deceiving. Words are deceiving. Every possible thing that people use to express themselves, is deceiving. How can people say body language tells the truth, that eyes tell the truth? Everything can be faked. You can grow up fake, but then someday, somehow, you have to find yourself.

I look at Max, and see the excitement. How can I possibly be the one to squelch that? I can’t. I can’t hurt him. I can’t let him get hurt. I know it’s crazy, but if he hurts, I know I will too. How is it possible for the two of us to be connected so completely, and for me to just know that we are? It makes no sense, really? But since when has anything associated when aliens ever supposedly made sense, or even been easy?

I give Max a quick kiss, and watch him close his eyes in contentment, his grasp on me loosening slightly. I take advantage of this distance to pull myself away. Physically people, not mentally or emotionally, I’m talking literally here. Had enough of that philosophical crap that makes you think. Plus, I just woke up, how am I supposed to think like that?

I grab some clean clothes that fell to the side of my dresser, and open my door. Why do we bother closing doors when we are the only people here? It’s not like it can get any more private. Umm…gonna stop thinking now.

Lala…la. Damn…I was just thinking that. I guess it really is impossible to stop thinking. Did I mention that since opening the door, I’ve been standing there, with my hand on the handle, just watching Max breathing? What is this fascination with watching him breathe? Maybe it’s because he utterly appears to be a Greek God visiting me for a night? Umm…I’ve gotta get my head out of the clouds.

I shake my head and walk out of the room, closing the door behind me. I don’t know, maybe we do it because it’s something we were raised to do. I’m talkin’ about the doors here. I walk to the bathroom and turn on the shower. I put all my stuff on the floor, and go piss like a race horse. Too much information, I know, I know.

I like to sing in the shower. Especially my variation of the Oscar Mayer song. I get in the shower and lather up.

My bologna has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R.
My bologna has a second name, it’s M-A-Y-E-R.
Oscar Mayer,
You’re my hero,
You make bologna out of heaven knows what.
What is bologna?
What is the moon?
Do I really care?
Does anyone?
I used to eat bologna,
Then I heard the rumors,
Of what my beloved bologna really was!
Pigs rump, pig eye, pig intestine too!
But what is it really?
Will you tell me?
Ooooooohhhhh!
Oscar Mayer, you’re my hero,
I guess you think,
What we don’t know
Won’t hurt us.
OOOOOOOHHHHHH!
But Oscar Mayer,
My dear, beloved hero,
I think I’ve got a piece of pig brain
Stuck in my artery!!!!”


I stop singing when I am interrupted by laughter. It’s not loud laughter, but it isn’t quiet laughter. It’s medium laughter. It’s all good.

“You sing that song often when you take showers?” I listen to the voice, rinse my hair and put my conditioner in.

“Yup, my all time favorite shower song.” More shower stuff. “What do you want, Max?”

“Well, I need a shower too, I was thinking maybe I could just take one with you.” His hand starts pulling back the shower curtain. I slap it.

“Not now, Max. I’m not that kind of girl, I have morals, you know.” I tease around with him. Don’t get me wrong, I do have morals, and I’m not that kind of girl.

He takes his time and answers me in a low, seductive tone. “You wouldn’t know that from last night.”

“What are you talking about? We didn’t do anything last night.” I turn the water off and wrap my towel around me.

He waits until I step out of the shower to say anything. He grabs me by the waist and pulls me to him. I look at him, and the desire strikes me head on. “The things you were doing in my dreams and fantasies last night. Wow, Liz, just wow. I can’t wait to try them in real life.”

I pull away and look at him. “It’s too early for you to be having thoughts like that,” I tell him.

“When it comes to you, Liz, it’s never too early.”