Chapter 4

Chapter 4

A Chapter by Knight in Armor

I slid in and out of dreams of fantastical landscapes with black skies and pale ground. After around an hour, I gave up on my not at all restful rest, and decided to check on Zahara. My feet were silent on the plush carpet as I padded down the hall to her room. I gently knocked on the mahogany door, then cracked it open. "Zar?" I whispered.
She was sitting perfectly still with her legs pulled in front of her chest, staring at the wall opposite the door. She didn't answer. I walked up to the bed and repeated her name. She still didn't respond. I nervously brushed my hand over her bare shoulder. She flinched and smacked my hand, then realized it was only me.
"S**t, I didn't hurt you, did I? I mean, I know I'm weak, but you kind of snuck up on me, and maybe I hit you harder than I meant to, right? You're okay, though, right?" she babbled. I shook my head and sat down next to her. She continued, "I'm just, I don't know, thinking? Except I have the same thoughts repeating over and over again. I'm feeling stupid and weak for dating all these idiots. I'm feeling like a freak for having no friends. You know I have more roommates than friends? It's really just you, Sarah, Bri, Chelsea, and Donny. Other than Max and John, I've never had a problem with any of the rest of everyone living there, but I just don't really think of them as friends. Or anyone else. I have five friends. Other than that, it's just acquaintances I get along with well. And I still don't have my license. I'm going to be nineteen in a month, and I still don't have my license. I'm barely passing any of my classes, I hate being a waitress, my brother uses me for free babysitting, I'm a commitment phobe with trust issues, and I'm in terrible shape." I wrapped my arms around her as she wiped away a tear. "And I know this s**t is all my fault. I could get my license and raise my grades and stand up to my family and find a new job and start working out, but all I really feel like doing after I'm finished with all the s**t I do every night is collapsing and sleeping. I guess I'm just saying I'm f*****g miserable, and I'm in no way unique. I haven't had any of the worst things that could happen, and I couldn't even begin to imagine if I did. And I'm so much better than I used to be. You remember when I was 15, right?"
I nodded. "You were self destructing. But you've improved with age since then, right? Think about how much a*s you'll kick when you're 25! Besides, I'm worse. I'm a rich white boy with no responsibilities and I'm crazier than any of the rest of you."
She studied her hands, which were now both entwined with my own. "Well, you at least have reasons. Your parents are science geeks and have a creepy surrogate son. I mean, Joseph, never just Joe or Joey, is here as often as your parents in his own room, and he has his own mansion and business at age 24. Doesn't he have something else to do? And your parents seem to care more about him just because he's a goddamn genius."
"And your own family is perfect, giving you no reason to be a little weird," I answered.
She laughed, "Oh, is this a contest now? I think we'd have to agree to a draw, because if we're defending each other, we'll just argue ourselves out. Which might actually be what I need right now." She laughed again, then sighed and leaned her head against my shoulder. "Sometimes, I just wish I didn't have to deal with any of this, school, work, a*****e customers at work, you know. But I'll be okay. I can freak out every couple of weeks, blame it all PMS, and keep going, right?"
"As soon as you mention PMS, I'll agree to permanently fail. If I bleed out my crotch for a week, I don't get moody. I die. So, you win," I said. She laughed one more time, and her whole body slowly relaxed. I awkwardly repositioned my hand so I could rub her shoulders. We sat in a thick but companionable silence until fell asleep half wrapped in my arms. At first, I was surprised, thinking she had already slept for an hour like I did. I realized that she had just made the excuse to be alone, and I had intruded.
I couldn't figure out if I helped by bursting in on her or not. Now she had managed to relax enough to get rest, but she wasn't crying before she and I started talking. It ultimately boiled down to the same thing I always wondered: were we good for each other? We'd known each other since elementary school, and had actually become close friends in middle school. We stopped hanging out until she and I started going to school together again, and I realized I was crazy about her. I worried too much to do anything, though. She had so many problems, and they seemed to get worse when she and John dated the first time. Shortly after they broke up, she stopped hurting herself, stopped doing drugs, and even managed to get along with her family. When they started dating again a year later, she didn't start slowly killing herself again, but she started missing school more, her grades dropped from B's to C's, and she and her family started arguing more.
Even though I've never self injured and my only experience with drugs has been trying weed twice as a freshman, I haven't really been any better. The few casual relationships I've had made me so miserable I questioned my sexuality, even though I've never been even remotely attracted to a man in my life. Before I realized how much I really cared about Zahara, I'd managed a few healthier relationships, but I never felt like I could entirely be myself around any of my ex girlfriends.
Then, the only real female friend I had, one of only two people in the world I felt really knew me, was suddenly more beautiful and brilliant and wonder than I'd ever noticed before, and she was dating another boy. This magnificent person who I could really be my dorky, usually dumb, and occasionally crude self in front of was suddenly the person from whom I needed to hide myself the most. I simply could never imagine a scenario where Zahara knew how I felt and everything would still be okay. We were both too self destructive and emotionally unhealthy. I was clingy, and she was independent. Even if we started dating, we would wind up slowly hating ourselves and each other; I was certain of it.
Despite my terror of her finding out, I could never manage to stay away from her. I tried dating a few other people, but I felt dirty and creepy even kissing someone else when I could only think of Zahara. The few times I slept with a woman named Leslie while we were both 18, we both knew it wouldn't last, and that was the only reason we wanted each other.
Even now, with Zahara asleep in my arms, I was still holding back, pretending I was just her friend and feeling like the biggest d****e in the world. What kind of man convinces a woman he's just her friend while always secretly wishing she was his and he hers, then, in her time of need, lures her back to his house? My guilt pushed down on me like a tangible force, constantly reminding me of the monster I really was.
Before I could sink any further into my pit of self-loathing, my phone rang. I hit the side button to stop it, then slid it out of my pocket and whispered, "Hello?"
"Hey, this is Donny," Donny responded.
I sighed, "Are you calling to remind how stupid I am?"
"I wish! Some freaks broke into our apartment, they just smashed the whole door down, and then they tried to attack us, starting with Sarah, but Tom beat the s**t out of them and they all scattered. The police have already finished questioning us, but they're going to be here for hours more trying to figure out if whoever did it left any evidence, so this place is going to be considered a crime scene for at least 48 hours. Apparently some gang has been causing a lot of problems the last few hours. Any chance you and Zahara need some company?" he said.
I whistled. "Holy s**t, man, you're all okay, right?"
"Yeah, other than Tom's hands being sore as s**t now," said Donny.
"Jesus, that's crazy as hell. Of course you guys can all come over here.," I replied.
"Cool, thanks, man. See you in a half hour," Donny replied and hung up.
I tucked my phone back in my pocket, then gently edged away from Zahara and went downstairs. I ducked into the kitchen, gleaming counters and shining appliances winking at me from all directions, and found Magdalena. "Hey, my friends' apartment was broken into. They need someplace to stay since the police are going to be there for a while, so they'll be over in a little bit, okay?" I said.
Magdalena glared at me for a moment, then rasped, "Your parents said to not let anyone over but you, Jason!"
"I understand, but they need help right now. Gang members attacked them!" I answered.
"Oh, fine. Your friends are better than many of the ruffians running around these days, like the hoodlums who broke into their house," said Magdalena.
I smiled, "Thanks," and went back to Zahara's room. I stood outside her door a moment, then walked away. She deserved some rest before the place she had come to be away from her ex boyfriend was invaded by her ex boyfriend. I heaved a sigh, and headed outside to open the gate for everyone when they got to my house.

© 2012 Knight in Armor

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Added on March 23, 2012
Last Updated on March 30, 2012


Knight in Armor
Knight in Armor

Grand Rapids, MI

I'm Shining Knight. My profile picture is Marvin the Paranoid Android. I'm afraid that nearly everything else about me is classified information, unless you ask nicely. If you send me a read request, .. more..

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