"The difference between this love story and all the rest is that she changed my life..."
|Chpt. 1 (Incomplete)
December 15 2011
I’m drunk as hell. I barely know where I am, what I’m doing, and who I’m with. But I know one thing; I have to impress my frat brothers. Especially Maxy, he’s like the ring leader, the commander. He’s the one to impress, which is understandable since he’s tall, blonde, and has to fight the girls off with a stick. So, when he hands me another Everclear shot I thankfully take it down, one…after another. Now I’m sitting on the couch at the frat house getting close and comfortable with some girl who I hope is my girlfriend and I’m pretty sure I won’t be going to bed alone tonight. My head is spinning and I just want to lay down but Maxy and the boys are all looking at my every move so I take another shot and start making out with blondie next to me. The loud music is pounding in my head and the girls dancing on the pool table all look like waves of colors swaying back and forth. She giggles, the blonde, and things are getting crazy around me. I’m just trying to keep steady ground as we both get up and stumble into my bedroom and lock the door. Once we’re in bed I realize it’s not my girlfriend… I know I shouldn’t be doing this but the girl is so hot…I think. And me and Taylor (my girlfriend) just got in another fight so I deserve it, right? Now I’m fumbling to get her clothes off and It’s like my hands are tilting sideways and she’s tilting the other. I laugh and she helps me out…damn. What am I doing?
I felt a tap on my cheek
“River, man wake up your going to miss class.” I blinked my eyes open and was greeted by the worst migraine and Maxys’ stupid smile standing above me.
I groaned and sat up, rubbing my eyes, “what man?”
He tapped my shoulder and started to walk out, “Your class starts in a couple minutes bro.”
“What?” I blinked and glanced at the clock. 9:30, my class starts at 9:50.
“Fuck” I said, jumping out of bed and grabbing my jeans and shirt. I turned behind me and was surprised to find the bed empty. She must have already left to go to class. I ran to the bathroom as I slipped the shirt over my head and splashed my face with water. My headache wasn’t backing down. Maybe I could just skip this one. But no, I’ve already missed the first two days. I grabbed some toothpaste and squirted it into my mouth as I leaned over to rinse out with sink water. I sloshed it around and sprayed myself with axe to try to cover the smell of beer and…other things. My blonde hair was a mess and I looked like crap but I wasn’t about to miss another day of class. I spat out the toothpaste and grabbed my pants, throwing them on as I tossed my book bag over my shoulder. When I opened my bedroom door the house was almost empty, everyone was probably already in class
“Seriously?” I rolled my eyes and ran out the door. My long board was propped up on the balcony. I grabbed it and jumped on, skating at ultra speed. Luckily the Economics building wasn’t that far from our frat house. I shook my head, trying to drown out the buzz in my ears from my headache. I finally reached the building with a couple minutes to spare before class started. I grabbed my long board and walked slowly, not wanting to look like one of those rushing freshman who always sped in last minute. I walked in the building coolly and strode to room 400. I could hear the loud chatter and my stomach flipped. None of my frat brothers were in the class so I would have to go at it alone this semester. I opened the door and walked in. I got a couple glances from some girls but for the most part no one paid attention, or seemed to notice my hangover state. Well, I sighed, that wasn’t so bad. I climbed the stairs to the second-to-top row and sat in the first seat. A black girl with thick curly hair was sitting a couple seats down, she had some hella nice legs and a pretty face. She glanced at me then looked away. I slouched in my seat and propped my head back, trying to ease the pain of my headache and the threat of my nausea. I could feel the black girl glancing at me and for some reason it made me feel self -conscious. I shifted my position to face more towards the wall and closed my eyes. This better not be a long-ass class. I sighed again and rolled my fingers on my temples. I heard the doorknob click and seconds latter a booming voice on a microphone. I slowly opened my eyes and straitened up, grabbing my backpack to retrieve my textbook and notepad. The pretty black girl now faced forwards and didn’t seem to be paying any attention to me anymore and I was glad. I didn’t want to be seen like this by anyone really. The professor, who’s name I think was Mr. Andrews, was large and short with a balding head. Typical. He greeted us all with a wave and walked behind his podium. I could already tell this was going to be one of those lecture-the-whole-time classes so I let my mind wander. I tried to trace back what happened last night but all I remember was banging the blonde girl then blacking out. I’m hoping I used protection or she was on the pill. If Taylor finds out I’m dead. I shook my head trying to get rid of the memories of last night. Why had I let them get me that drunk? I never want to drink that much again if this is how I’m going to feel afterwards. Professor Andrews clapped loudly and that usually is an indication that teachers are going to say something important. I turned my attention to him
“Now class I’m going to divide you into random groups and with these groups you are going to develop a presentation on Capitalism. You can choose your own topic but It needs to be done by next meeting. Each person must speak once. The details should be on your syllabus. This will count as a test grade.”
Of coarse. The one day I’m hung-over as hell is the day he decides to do a group project. He pulled out the roll and called out random names for the first group. Everyone started to get up and separate.
“Josh, Alexis, Brian and Chelsea for group two…” I collected my stuff and got up, waiting for my group to be called.
“River, Marihenny, Betsy, Chris and Jasmine for group three”
I glanced around to spot who got up. The black girl in my row did then so I guessed she was in my group. Great, I look like death and now I have to face this pretty girl.
I turned to her as she picked up her bag and looked around
“Are you group three?” I said, my voice raspy from last night. She turned to me and smiled, one of the brightest smiles I had seen in awhile. It was friendly and open. She nodded and came towards me, her backpack hanging off her left shoulder, it had a pink M sewn on the top so I guessed she was Marihenny. I grabbed it and took it from her. It was heavy as hell.
“Thanks.” She said, still smiling at me and looking into my eyes. Her voice was low and sweet, not what I expected.
“No problem. What do you have in here? A body?” I smirked.
She laughed a little as her eyes shifted the room. I remembered that we had other team members and searched the room for them too. A tall guy with black hair and broad shoulders that looked familiar walked towards us.
“Are you in group three?” I asked as a short-haired chubby girl walked over to us too
“Yeah man. Isn’t this project bull?” The black haired guy asked, I noticed for his accent that he was probably from Jersey.
I nodded as I almost got thrown over by a sudden pang from my headache. The last girl was a tall light skinned girl with big eyes and boobs. We all sat down to where we could face each other. I was hoping the pretty black girl…Marihenny? Yeah Marihenny would take over.
She sat next to me and her legs were so long. They were so close to mine. She smelled like vanilla cupcakes, which would be nice if I wasn’t so nauseous.
“So I guess we should pick a team leader.” Marihenny said. The rest of the team nodded and looked expectedly at her. I did too, waiting for her to nominate herself.
She glanced at each member of the group then at me
“I think you should be the leader.” She smiled slightly. I stared at her blank. Was she serious? Why would she choose the hung-over frat guy to be the leader? Why did she think I was leader-material? I laughed lowly
The other team members squinted but didn’t say anything. I slouched in my chair and glanced around
I cleared my throat, “No I think you should.” I glanced at her quickly, but it was hard because she kept staring into my eyes, and eye contact made me nervous.
“No you should. “ she retorted, “you’re a good leader. Judging by your shirt you’re a frat. Aren’t frats supposed to be good leaders? Role models? “
She smiled and I couldn’t tell if she was joking or serious.
The light skinned girl pitched in, “Yeah I agree with her.”
The guy with black hair nodded but seemed only interested in staring at Marihenny. I fought the urge to roll my eyes. I sighed, not wanting to deal with this right now.
I pulled out my notebook and a pencil, “ok well I’m going to need everybody’s number and email,” I handed the book to Marihenny, “Everyone is going to have to gather information and send it to me and I can make a PowerPoint.” I glanced around at everyone, and they nodded, Marihenny was looking out the far window now, seeming to not be paying attention anymore. I glanced at the other two girls, “What do you guys want to do it on?” The light skinned girl shrugged, “we can do it on capitalism’s history.” She said, staring at me.
I nodded, not really caring. “ok that sounds good. So everyone have your individual information to me and I’ll put the presentation together. We can run through it a couple days before class to make sure it’s in order.” I retrieved my notebook after Light Skin put her information down. They all nodded, Marihenny was still looking out the window.
“Ok?” I said, directing to her, She snapped back from whatever world she was just in and smiled that bright smile again, “yeah, information to you and we will meet soon. Got it.”
I stared at her for a couple seconds before turning away.
We all got up and retrieved our bags, other groups had left before us so I was glad that at least we looked like we cared a little bit. My headache was starting to pass and I was glad of it. I didn’t want to face Taylor already with a headache, seeing as how she gave me one most of the time anyways.
Marihenny was a couple paces ahead of me. As I walked behind her I noticed that She had a really nice- I shook my head. What am I thinking?
“Hey Marihenny.” I called to her. She turned and slowed down, smiling. This girl was always smiling.
“How do you know my name?” She stopped so we could walk down the stairs together. I was still a little hung-over and praying I wouldn’t fall.
“what do you mean?” I said, looking at her confused.
She shrugged, “It usually takes people awhile to learn other peoples names. I know I’m bad with it.”
We reached the door and I opened for her like my mom always taught me to do, she thanked me, Marihenny I mean, not my mom.
“Because it’s a cool name I guess” I walked by her side now, not sure why I had the urge to talk to her, she was practically a stranger to me. But for some reason I felt like we had met before.
She shrugged, smiling up at me through her eyelashes. I couldn’t help but smile back, like a goof.
“No,” she said, “River is a cool name.”
I shook my head, “no it’s not it’s a stupid name that is confusing, because every time someone is talking about an actual river I look like an idiot when I’m looking for who is calling for me.” I ran my hand through my hair, probably messing it up. We walked out into the hot summer air and the campus was a lot more active now, people walking around, studying on the grass, talking to friends, I grabbed my long board from the bike rack and ignored the glances I got from some of the guys walking past. What? A white guy can’t walk with a black girl? Marihenny laughed lowly, noticing the stares, she kept her head down, “Your funny.”
We both walked towards the Commons and I guessed she was about to get something to eat, I wondered if she thought it was weird that I was practically following her.
I laid my long board down and got on, “Well, it was nice talking to you”
“Yeah.” She nodded
I got on my long board and started back towards the house. I knew Taylor wanted me to stop by her dorm soon, I was praying she hadn’t found out about last night, I grabbed my phone from my pocket and sighed with relief when there were no messages from her. In the clear. I headed back towards the frat house. I knew I would be in for a lot of rap from the boys about last night. I really didn’t want to talk about it. I sighed as I took in this time by myself, riding down these old stained sidewalks, the smell of pines overwhelmed me, seeing as how those were the main trees they decided to fill the campus with, the needles were everywhere and made it hard for the lawn workers to keep the grass clear. I’ve been at Daughtry University in Florida for half a year now and I still haven’t gotten used to the squirrels feeling so comfortable with me that they would practically come up and introduce themselves. I smiled at one as it scurried across the street, stopping momentarily to stare at me, I waved at it, then glanced around to make sure no one saw me just wave at a freaking squirrel. The orange brick Sigma chi house was now in sight. I sighed, not feeling like dealing with anyone and what they had to say, I mean I love my brothers, but they kill me sometimes. I walked up the stairs and pulled out my key to open the door. Once inside I was overwhelmed with the smell of must and beer. The house was still a war zone, beer bottles on the counters and floors, empty pizza boxes scattered everywhere, girl…items all over the place. I shook my head. Somebody is going to have to clean this up…I picked up a pizza box, and it’s probably going to be me.
It’s your typical frat house. At Daughry frats and sororities were almost treated like the kings and queens of the campus and the house showed that. It had tile floors, a kitchen with stainless steal and a pool out back. There were three stories, two guys to a room. I lived on the first floor luckily, so I only had to share a bathroom with four other guys. The living room was set up nicely with a projector t.v. and tan leather couches that had multiple unidentified stains. I grabbed another beer can and headed to the trashcan. As I threw it away I heard the sound of footsteps. I turned and was greeted by Finn, the youngest brother. He was really smart at school and graduated early and came here through a scholarship, he was just barely 18 yet he could drink like a sailor. The guys liked to pick on him by calling him Troy because he looked like the brown haired fruit from the High School Musical. I liked the kid though; he had a good heart and never cussed or had sex. He got a lot of rap for it but I admired his ability to have actual morals and, you know, values.
I picked up another beer can and threw it away before speaking
“Hey.” I said, our usual greeting
He stopped, scanning the living room and proceeding to shake his head in agony.
I laughed, “you know the procedure.”
He nodded silently and went over to pick up a pizza box, taking out a cold slice that somehow wasn’t devoured last night. I never knew how he could eat hung over.
He spoke, “oh by the way The Hottie stopped by to see you. I think she is out back with some of the guys waiting for you.”
By The Hottie he meant Taylor, but all the boys opted out to calling her that behind her back. I sighed and rubbed my eyes.
“Ok,” I threw an empty beer bottle at him and headed towards the back, “And I don’t appreciate you calling my girlfriend that, douche bag.”
He laughed, calling behind me, “hey, we call it like we see it.”
When I reached the back porch it didn’t take long to spot Taylor, she was surrounded by my brothers who all seemed way too interested in what she had to say, when they saw me coming they all leaned away, pretending to be suddenly preoccupied. I stared at Taylor’s ass, she always seemed to want to wear the smallest shorts she could find when she came to visit me at the house. Her long brown hair swayed as she turned around and greeted me with a smile. I forced a smile back and hugged her, bracing myself for a groin kick or a sharp bitch-slap…neither came and I knew I was really in the clear
She released from my arms and kissed me quickly, “hey baby.”
“Hey.” Was my response, as usual, and she hated me for that, but I wasn’t the type to be excited about people, not even her.
She sniffed my shirt and wrinkled her nose, “you smell.”
I forced another small smile and thought up a quick lie
“Yeah my laundry wasn’t finished so I had to throw on old clothes.” I looked past her head as I said it.
She stared at me blankly then nodded quickly like she was deciding to believe me.
She bit her lip and looked up at me with big eyes and I knew that look
She steeped closer to me, whispering in my ear, “I’ve had a hard week Baby, can we go to your room and have some fun?”
I glanced around at my brothers who were pretending to not be staring, I cleared my throat, nodding silently and lead her back into the house towards my room.
Sex with Taylor was actually starting to get lack luster, just the same old bump and grind, I mean it felt good of coarse, but I actually had to imagine other girls while doing it with her. And this time, as she screamed out my name and I rolled from on top of her, all I could do was stare up at the ceiling and think of the black girl, Marihenny, and her bright smile.
I squinted as the sun shone through my window, morning sadly causing me to wake up early. I sighed with relief. Friday. Also known as every college students’ saving grace. I turned to Jett, who roomed with me, he was a big burly guy who played football and ate like a monster. He didn’t talk much but when he did he always had something significant to say. He snored loudly and I still hadn’t gotten used to waking up to it, I took my pillow and chucked it at him, he flinched but didn’t wake. I got out of bed, stretching my neck and back. Every Friday I visited my mom and sisters. Our house was about an hour away from the campus so it wasn’t a long trip or anything. I showered, brushed my teeth and got dressed and grabbed my wallet, keys, surfboard and wet suit. Today would also be a surfing day, I need to be out there, with the waves, and the tide was flagged red today…perfect. I opened the door and was greeted by Finn, Maxy and Dave, who’s a short, snarky red head with lots of money to blow. Most everyone was still asleep though and the house was pretty quiet besides the sound of bacon crackling on the stove. I walked over and grabbed a piece, ignoring the pop of the grease on my hand. I turned to the boys, Finn was sitting at the kitchen bar “helping” Maxy with his math homework as usual and Dave, who we sometimes call the ‘house chef’, was mixing something in a bowl
Finn was pointing at a problem on the paper, “No Max, A plus B not A plus C, now square the two” He looked up at me, trying to hide his frustration, I grinned and took a bite of bacon, rolling my eyes and pretending to look exasperated, something Finn was known to do when dealing with Maxy and his math dyslexia.
Maxy finally saw me, “Oh, morning sunshine. Had enough sex in the last few days?” He grinned but I could tell he saw me as a threat, he always saw everyone as a threat.
“Har-Har” I snorted. I took another bite of bacon and pretended to shuffle through some mail on the counter but he wouldn’t let up
“Yeah that girlfriend of yours, she’s a looker but she’s sure not one for brains, huh?”
I felt my jaw clench.
“That’s for sure.” I said dryly. Finn just stared at the counter quietly
Maxy smiled his dumb smile, “Well if you ever get tired of her I’ll take her off your hands bro.” Then he did that annoying thing where he would laugh and it was the kind of laugh where you automatically laughed back even if nothing funny was said.
After we laughed at nothing I grabbed my stuff and a Krispy Cream from a half empty box sitting on the counter and headed towards the door, ready to get some fresh air.
I called behind me, “Going to the house.” And was out the door before I could get a response.
The sun shone bright and I could feel myself sweating already as I headed to my Jeep. I was so glad to get away and go back home, home was the only place I really felt…alive. I walked for what felt like a mile to the student parking and reached my car, or my Baby, as I called it. I placed my board and suit in the back and hopped in, blasting the air and my radio. First I needed to stop by the grocery store for some food.
I pulled into the bumpy dirt driveway of my house. The house was not what you would call impressive. It was a small square brick one that had aged badly through the years. It only had three bedrooms and two bathrooms and one old television in the living room that decided when it did and didn’t want to work. Most of my brothers didn’t know just how much money we didn’t have. But my job at the local surf shop made enough for me to be able to help out as much as I could. Before I could park my littlest sister Behati (yeah we all have crazy names), busted through the front door, her blonde curls flying behind her.
“River!” She smiled bright
I smiled back too, putting my car in park and jumping out, taking her in my arms and throwing her up in the air effortlessly, she giggled as I caught her and put her down, ruffling her hair.
“Hey munchkin! Is that a new dress? How pretty!” I said in my over zealous voice I used for her that mom never did. She looked down shyly and nodded. Then mom walked out, she is a small lady and she has bright red hair that’s only from her moms side of the family, she has green eyes too, most people never could tell she was our mom because of our blonde hair and blue eyes we got from our dad. My mom never smiled much, she had a stern face from years of work and sacrifice but when she would smile it’s like she turned twenty again. She stood at the doorway waiting as I grabbed the grocery bags out the back seats. Behati helped me carry them to the house while she told me more about her new dress and how they found it on clearance at the salvation army. I nodded, pretending to be absorbed.
When I reached the door mom gave a slight smile and hugged me quickly, moving aside so I could come in, she was like me, not one for being excited about seeing people, not even her kids.
“I picked up a few snacks.” I said, entering into the darkly lit kitchen and setting it on the counter. It smelled like chicken and old house. Behati stood behind me and watched. Whenever I came home she would follow me like a shadow, asking millions of questions about everything. My oldest sister Mel came out of her room then and smiled when she saw me. She’s 17 and a senior in high school, she was soon to go to college and I didn’t even try to think of how we were going to pay for that. Her features are a mix between my mom and dad. She has reddish blonde hair and hazel eyes and my dad’s straight teeth and sly smile, a lot of people thought we were twins when we were little. What she didn’t get from either of them was her outgoing personality and her ability to make anyone laugh and smile at the drop of a dime. I’m not sure who she got that from, grandpa Daryl probably.
Mel started helping me put away the stuff as mom moved back to the kitchen to cook
“River, you know you don’t have to buy us stuff like this.” Mom said, not looking up at me, but I could see a smile playing on her lips
I nodded, taking out a small box of cookies and handing it to Behati, bringing a finger to my lips in a “shh” gesture, she smiled and ran to her room with it.
“I know I don’t have to mom, I want to,” I said.
When my dad left when I was ten my mom swore she would never depend on a man again, she made it her goal to raise all of us without help. As we got older though it got harder for her to afford the things we needed and I eventually had to get a part time job at sixteen to help pay for bills and stuff. Some of the boys made fun of me for acting like a “dad” but I would never tell them the truth of what made me that way.
Mom walked over to me, her small palm taking my wrist, “Thank you River…really.” The way she said it though, like these groceries were some kind of gold, made me shiver, but I smiled and nodded
I turned to Mel, “So I heard report cards came out little miss. Let me see.” I held out my palm, tapping my foot over exaggeratedly. She rolled her eyes but gave me that sly smile and walked to her room, coming back seconds later with a folded piece of paper. I took it, bracing myself but was surprised when a row of A’s and B’s graced the front. I nodded
“Could be better.” I smirked
“Oh shut up!” she said, grabbing it from me but trying to hide a smile.
“I’ll take you out for ice cream later to celebrate. “ I said, knowing her favorite treat was Baskin Robbins. She didn’t say anything but as she walked back to her room I saw her shoulders relax.
“So how is Taylor?” my mom asked in a small voice behind me
I turned back around and was about to answer ‘fine’ when I noticed she was gripping the counter, her knuckles turning white. Her face was flushed and her eyes locked on the sink like she was focusing on not falling over. I walked over to her quickly, grabbing her waist
“You alright mom?” I asked as she released her grip shakily.
She nodded silently, her eyes seeming somewhere else as she grabbed the frying pan on the stovetop
“Why don’t you let me finish cooking that.” I said, trying not to sound worried as I took the pan from her hand, I noticed her arms had become a lot skinnier than they were before. She nodded and walked out the kitchen slowly, almost ghost-like and into the living room, sitting down on the couch and laying her head back with a sigh.
I focused hard now on fixing the chicken and ignoring the sick feeling in my stomach that something defiantly wasn’t alright.
The beach was practically empty when I pulled up. Only a couple other surfers were here and there, trying to catch some good waves. The sun was starting to go down so I only had a little time to be out there. I got out of my jeep and zipped on my wet suit over my trunks. Remember when I said home was the only place I felt alive? Well scratch that, home and the water were the only places I felt alive. When I was on the water, one with the waves, I felt like I had control again, all my problems didn’t matter and my only focus was the next wave I could catch. I grabbed my board out the back and headed towards the blue. When my board hit the water and I started paddling I forgot all about my stress at school with the boys, I forgot about cheating on Taylor… multiple times. I forgot about my moms shaking hands. I paddled in further, waiting for the first swell. I was able to make it and even catch some air before wiping out, As I came up as the ocean crashed above my head, I wiped the water from my face, breathing hard and wishing I could stay here forever.