Loch Ness Monster
I believe that every teenage girl feels like a freak at some point on the road to adulthood. I, however, am a real freak. Nessie's story.
7. Turns Out, I'm a Masochist
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I hated high school. Or, rather, I hated when Carlie was at high school. It was the most nerve-racking time of the day for me. I couldn’t move. I just sat there most of the time, waiting for her to come home. Sometimes the TV was on, or sometimes I had a book open in front of me. To an outside observer, it would appear that I wasn’t thinking about her, but the Cullens knew. Especially Edward.
“Maybe you should eat something,” he suggested. “Would that help take your mind off her? At least for a few minutes?”
I just shook my head. Nothing helped. It was painful not to be near her—like someone had punched me in the gut and the blow never ended. It was hard to breathe, hard to think, hard to keep myself calm enough that I didn’t run to the school, find her, and assess her condition.
Edward smiled in a way of understanding. He’d told me the way I felt about Carlie seemed very similar to the way he’d felt about Bella when he’d first fell in love with her. “Luckily, though, she doesn’t attract quite as much danger as her mother,” he’d laughed.
“Sorry, Jacob,” he shrugged, not knowing how to help. It wasn’t his fault. No one could help, but his effort was appreciated. “Less than an hour,” he added with a little hope.
“Thanks,” I mumbled gruffly.
“Don’t mention it,” he nodded once and headed upstairs.
Edward and I were…well, friends? It was still strange after all these years, though our reasons for disliking one another had all but been erased. It didn’t bother me in the least when he kissed Bella, or when she smiled coyly as they made their way to their bedroom to do…well, more. In fact, it bothered me less than it bothered the Cullens—Emmett, especially, because Bella’d beaten him arm wrestling three times and he was forbidden from sex jokes for the rest of eternity.
“Jake,” Jasper came bursting through the front door and appeared in the living room, eye’s wide.
“What?” I was unbelievably rude from seven to three. It was a known fact.
“Emmett found a bunch of black bears, and they just woke up! You want at it?” he sounded so excited, and I knew I would have been if he’d asked when Carlie was home.
“No,” I sighed, melancholy pervading my voice. “But you have fun.”
He gave me a look of sympathy and pity and was gone.
A few moments went by, and I tried to close my eyes and think of something else. I flicked on the TV and watched a few seconds of some E! show, counting down the most horrible acts of violence ever.
Oh! Bad plan. They showed one shot of a school shooting, and I shook. She had to get home soon. She just had to.
“God, you’re so pathetic,” I heard Blondie as she brushed past me, on her way outside—probably to get a piece of the bear action. “I don’t know why you won’t just go to school. We did it for years.”
I had no smart retort, “She doesn’t want me to.”
Carlie had never explicitly said that she didn’t want me around at school, but it was obvious when the Cullens left high school to give her space, she had wanted me to go as well. She’d wanted to stand on her own—and apparently, I frightened her little friends.
“But you’re miserable,” she shrugged.
I shook my head. She would never understand. “I was fine until you started talking to me,” I shot, too angry.
She sucked in a breath, and turned on her heel to leave, “Suit yourself, mutt.”
I titled my head to crack the bones in my neck and hopefully relive some tension, and then closed my eyes again. I took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. I figured if I could at least calm my body, I could live with turmoil in my mind. I refused to think of anything, and tried to focus on cleansing my brain—Bella had suggested that. “In through the nose, out through the mouth. It’s what they do in yoga,” she’d shrugged.
“Jacob?” Alice’s voice sounded very far away, and I fought hard against reacting to it. I was almost calm.
“Please, Alice,” I said through clenched teeth. “Not right now.”
“Okay, sure,” she said. “I just wanted to make sure you hadn’t turned into stone.”
“Nope,” I over-articulated.
“You know you look like an idiot,” she laughed.
“Yep,” I couldn’t help but smile just the slightest bit.
I heard her sit down next to me. The right side of my body felt a little chill. “So, you didn’t want to go play with rowdy carnivores?”
“Did I mention my not wanting to talk right now?” I still fought to open my eyes.
“I don’t know, did you?” she played innocent. “Well, I don’t blame you. They’re all crazy—probably going to come in here all muddy with their clothes ripped to pieces. It’s disgusting.”
“Alice,” I almost growled.
“I told Jasper I wasn’t going to watch it, so if he gets himself killed, I’m not coming to his rescue,” she said, happily.
“How sweet,” I gave up and opened my eyes.
“Hmm,” she smiled. “It’s funny.”
“What’s funny?” I asked, completely monotone.
“You remind me so much of him,” she nodded.
“Jasper?” I wrinkled my forehead. I guessed, coming from her that was a complement, though I didn’t see the resemblance.
She laughed, “No. Edward. It’s uncanny.” I sighed. I’d heard it before. In fact, the only one who hadn’t mentioned it was Bella. “He used to sit there, just like this, and wait for Bella.”
“He was with her most of the time,” I reminded her.
“Not when it was sunny,” she pointed to me. “Oh, God, he was so irritable. Then, when he was with her, he was just as bad—freaking out whenever she tripped or sneezed or breathed.” She shook her head, “At least you don’t watch her sleep.”
Only cause I sleep when she does. “Yeah,” I shook my head. “That’d be…uh…”
“You know what he used to call himself? A masochistic lion,” she giggled.
I frowned, “Lion?”
“The lion and the lamb?” she tried.
“Like March?” I guessed.
She found that endlessly amusing, “Sure, go with that.” She shook her head, “It’s really not important. Edward likes to be dramatic and metaphorical. Hey, there’s something else you got going for you; you don’t try to be eloquent about your suffering.”
“I’m not a lion,” I agreed.
“No, you’re a wolf,” she pinched my cheek, and I push her away. Giggling, she stood up, “A masochistic wolf.” She put her hands on her hips, “What will they think of next?”
“Jake!” she burst through the door, her face flushed and hair messy.
“Hey, Carlie,” I stood up and smiled, feeling all the weight of the past few hours lift off me.
“Hi, Alice,” she smiled, letting her books fall on the table next to the couch.
“Hey, hon,” Alice nodded, and moved toward the door. “Maybe I’ll go check on them; make sure they still have all their limbs.”
“Have fun,” I smirked, now totally at ease.
She nodded and shut the door behind her. Carlie pulled me into a hug, “Geez, it’s freezing out there.”
“That’s what I’m here for,” I smiled, hugging her back.
“Oh, stop, you’re good for lots of other things,” she pulled away, but held my hand. “You eat table scraps, you’re entertaining when you do that little ‘beg’ thing, plus—pretty to look at.”
I am a masochist, aren’t I? “Well, at least there’s that,” I chuckled.
“Yeah,” she tucked her hair behind her ear and bit her lip. She was nervous? Why? “Uh, could we take a walk? Like, outside?”
“Sure,” I nodded. “Is something wrong?”
“No!” she shook her head. “No, nothing wrong. I just need to talk to you…kind of, ask you something.” She let go of my hand. “Meet you at our spot?”
She didn’t wait for me to agree, and I barely caught her running off, out the door and through the woods. Without thinking, I stripped off my clothes and shoved them in my mouth, running out the door and phasing as I went.
Our spot was the tallest tree in the forest, where we balanced on the tallest branch, totally out of sight of anything living, except for a few birds. No one knew about it, not even Edward. We agreed never to think of the exact spot in order to keep in secret. She’d been three when we’d first come out there.
“Come on!” she was already up in the tree, when I got there, seeing as she didn’t need undress and change into a different genetic form in order to get there. “I’ll close my eyes! Get up here!”
I barked up to her, letting my clothes drop to the floor, and began to phase back.
“I’m eight hundred and ten, Jake! Come on!” she whined.
“Give me a second,” I chuckled, trying to pull my jeans on as fast as I could.
“One Mississippi!” she yelled.
Once I was finished dressing, I jumped up and grabbed her ready hand. She had no trouble pulling me up, and I sat on the branch opposite her. “Well, that was thrilling.”
“Gotta keep you on your toes,” she smiled.
“Of course,” I laughed. “So, Carlie, what’s up? What do you need my particular expertise on?”
“Uh, well, it’s not really an expertise, thing. It’s more of a—a favor?” she looked down at the leaves on the branch she was sitting on.
“A favor?” I wrinkled my brow, curious and a little worried.
“Yeah, like a personal favor—from you to me,” she said.
“Sure,” I nodded. “Whatever you need.”
“Well,” she sighed. “I wouldn’t agree so easily. You might want to actually listen to the favor first.”
Like it matters. “Okay, Carlie, shoot.”
“Okay, well,” she ran a hand through her hair. “There’s this girl—I think you might have met her—uh, Emily?”
I tried to think of the girl’s face, but nothing came to mind. I had trouble remembering Carlie’s friends. Most of the time, I was focusing on her; it was a little difficult for me to look away. “Uh, sure,” I shrugged.
“Yeah, so, uh, she…she and her friend, uh, Mel? They were planning on going, like, together—not, like, a lesbian thing, but more to like—fight the system or something. But, uh, anyway—this guy asked Mel to prom, and she said yes, so then Emily’s kind of left, well, high and dry, you know?”
I just stared and nodded.
“So, she was going on and on about how much this sucks and how everyone on earth already has a date and how much prom is going to suck now, and then she…she asked if I knew anyone who would be available…”
“And so…” she bit her lip. “I mentioned…you?”
My mouth formed a little ‘o.’ It wasn’t that the thought was all that unattractive to me—being near to Carlie the night of prom would probably make those few hours much less trying.
“I mean, you don’t have to do it, Jake. I’m sure she would, you know, understand. It’s just…it would mean a lot,” she shrugged. “To me.”
“Carlie,” I said.
“Please, Jake! Oh! And I’ll pay for your suit, no problem, and I promise I won’t abandon you. We could…you could eat my food, and we can dance to horrible music and…it’ll probably be at least a little bit of fun.” She smiled that smile that she knows I can’t resist.
“All right,” I sighed. “As long as you promise a little bit of fun.”
“I do!” she exclaimed, excited. “Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, Jake!” she wrapped her hands around my neck and pulled herself to me. “You’re the best!”
I shook my head against her. Emmett and Jasper were going to have a field day with this. But that didn’t matter. Carlie was happier than she’d been since before Nahuel, and that meant I was happy, too.
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