Nico’s car was parked outside the apartment when Alex got home. She had gone back to campus and finished her classes for the day but her professor’s voices had all sounded like static in her ears. No one had seemed to notice and since she recorded her lectures she figured she’d be okay. She’d just listen to the tapes later and take notes. Once she figured out where she was living now since she and Elise were apparently quits.
There was a bitter taste in her mouth every time she remembered the confrontation at the mall. How Elise hadn’t even given her a chance to explain and instead just assumed the worst. The longer she sat in her car staring at the side of their apartment building, no. Staring at the side of her FORMER apartment building, the stronger that bitterness grew. As the sky grew darker it started to choke her. That’s what was causing her to cry. It wasn’t the fact that she had to climb the stairs and face her new ex. That wasn’t it at all.
Where was she supposed to go now? Her parents would take her back but that held as much appeal as a dumpster full of rotting fish. Alex knew exactly what to expect from them, they had made their feelings clear when she’d moved out. She could still hear their voices in the back of her head, “You’re just confused. It’s all this liberal garbage they’re teaching you at that school. Once you’re away from there you’ll see that this was just a phase.” It was just like her father to blame the school she had chosen. His baby girl wouldn’t be running off with another girl if she’d gone to his alma mater like he’d told her to.
Her mother had been about as understanding, “You simply haven’t met the right boy yet. When he comes along you’ll see that whatever this girl is telling you is ridiculous. It’s not a real relationship, sweet pea. She’s using you to make some rebellious statement to her family.” She had to shake her head to dislodge the voices. There was no way she was going home. She’d sleep in her car first. It actually wasn’t that bad once you reclined the seat back…
The sun was completely gone now and the streetlights were coming on. She’d wasted a whole hour and hadn’t accomplished a thing. She still had to go up those stairs and face the reality that Elise wasn’t hers anymore. That hurt but what hurt more was why. She hadn’t done a thing to deserve any of this! Okay, she’d been tempted to cheat but that was Elise’s fault too. If she’d just lightened up with the paranoia it wouldn’t have occurred to her at all. This was all Elise’s fault and she should go up there and throw it in her face, just like she’d done to Alex at the mall.
That line of thought met the bitterness and ignited a wave of anger. This whole situation was Elise’s fault, why was she sitting in her car crying over someone who’d rather cling to her paranoia than trust someone she claimed to care about? She may not have any idea where she was sleeping tonight but that didn’t change what she needed to do right that moment.
Kicking her car door open she grabbed the shopping bag off the passenger seat and got out. Her anger gave her a surplus of energy that sent her swinging the bag and taking the steps two at a time. There was a jangling as she unlocked the door, the tiny bells on the keychain that Elise had bought her when she’d moved in making Alex give a harsh laugh. She’d have to get something else to attach her keys to because there was no way she was taking those stupid bells with her when she left.
Elise was sitting on the couch with Nico’s arm around her. To his credit, Nico had a neutral expression on his face. Elise’s eyes were too red and puffy for Alex to make out exactly what her expression was. Not that she cared, it was way too late for this to be salvaged. Before anyone could say anything she went to their desktop computer in the corner and logged into her Facebook. It took less than ten seconds to pull up the group she and her cousins had put together so they’d be able to talk without their parents snooping on their conversations.
“Before you saying a fucking word, check out my Facebook.”
She disappeared into the bedroom with her shopping bag still clutched tightly in her hand. If she stayed in the same room with Elise for much longer she’d start screaming at her. That now familiar bitterness became almost unbearable as she looked at the bed she had been sharing with Elise. Shaking her head, she forced herself to pull her suitcases out of the back of the closet and start filling them. It was a tight fit but she managed to shove everything she didn’t care to leave behind into it.
Alex snorted as she heard the sounds of crying from the other room. Looked like Elise had found Deana’s messages to her, signed ‘your favorite cousin’. After this was over she might feel guilty about the petty impulse that had her sit Elise down at her Facebook but right now she couldn’t care less. She had never felt more embarrassed than she had at the mall that afternoon. Plus, she still had to figure out where she was staying that night. Her car was looking more and more likely. Zipping up her suitcases and giving the room another once over she realized how much stuff had been bought for her by Elise.
Next relationship, things would be different. No moving in with someone she’d only known for a few months, no matter HOW cute. The first hint of jealousy or a lack of trust and she was gone. A tiger didn’t change its stripes. Lesson learned. All she had to do now was get out of there and figure out the rest of her life without any more tears. Alex had shed all the tears she was going to over this. Once she was back in the living room she cut off whatever Nico was going to say. He was always trying to fix things and be the mediator for his cousin but she was done. Tossing the shopping bag at his chest she walked over to the computer to log off her Facebook account. Elise had followed her in real life so cyberstalking was definitely a risk.
“I was at the mall getting you a present. I don’t want it so you can still have it. Here are my keys. Goodbye.”
Twisting her car keys free of the annoying bell key chain, she dropped the house keys on the counter. Grabbing her bags she started toward the door, making it a point not to look at the couch. Alex didn’t want to see Elise. Now that the moment was here she didn’t want to risk changing her mind. There obviously wasn’t any trust here and she couldn’t go through this again. Just like she knew he would, Nico followed behind her and tried to apologize for his psycho cousin.
“There was obviously a misunderstanding. Alex! Come on, let’s sit and talk about what happened! Where are you going?!”
“Anywhere but here!”
She made it to the parking lot and into her car with Nico still trying to get her to stop. There was no way she was doing that. Elise may have decided on this breakup but Alex was the one sticking to it. She was better off alone. Her suitcases banging into her seat from the back reminded her that she’d better slow down. Turning out of the apartment complex and onto the street, she could still see Nico’s figure in her rearview mirror.
“I don’t care if she’s regretting it now. She chose this. I’m not staying with someone who doesn’t trust me.”
It was the truth but she hated the way her throat was tightening up again. That bitterness so strong it was bringing tears to her eyes again. Pulling off into a grocery store parking lot she gave vent to the emotions and ignored the people walking past her car staring at her having a breakdown. After the shit way today was going she deserved a few minutes before figuring everything out. Like where the fuck she was going!
When her hiccups started to ease she noticed the messages on her phone. She had a lot. Alex had mostly ignored her phone because she didn’t want to see the mountains of text that Elise and probably Nico was sending her, and those were there, but so were several from Deana. Instead of opening them up, she called her cousin. What she needed most that moment was to not be alone and hearing Dee would help her feel better.
“Oh my god, I’ve been texted you for hours! How are you? Are you okay? Did you make up with what’s her name? Ellie?”
“No, and we’re not going to. I just picked up my stuff and…I don’t know. I can’t go back home…”
Her voice was breaking but there wasn’t anything she could do about it. She hated this! Stupid Elise and her paranoia issues! She’d ruined everything and now Alex was left scrambling to pull her life together.
“You can come here! I was talking to my roommate and if you wanted you can share my room until you figure things out. We won’t even have to tell the parental units. It’ll be like a sleepover! I’ve got cherries jubilee ice cream and chips and your favorite salsa. Where are you? I can come get you if you’re too upset to drive.”
Deana kept rambling on talking about all the ‘break-up emergency food’ and air mattress she’d gotten after talking to her roommate. While Alex had been panicking and trying not to fall apart, her cousin had been finding her a place to stay. That had her tearing up again but for a different reason.
“I can drive. Text me the address and I’ll be there…thank you.”