Chapter 14: Issues
Updated: May 13, 2019
With the last of the fireworks putting an end to the Fourth of July and our trip to the beach, we headed home. I had to face my friends and when I got the chance to fill them in about the shit that went down with me and Candace, they were going to flip. Candace was a bitch to all of us here and there, but I usually got the worst of it. She knew how far she could get with me because she knew that I would never hurt her. She knew that I saw her as the only sister I ever had and with my family being as fucked up and as distant as it was, she knew that I was always going to do whatever it took to make sure she was safe and keep her close to me.
Just like I expected in the back of my mind, I had grown tired of partying and staying out all night. I spent so much time at Danny's house that he had started dropping hints that I should just go ahead and move in. That was definitely going to be out of the question. My parents let me get by with a lot but they would definitely lose their shit if they stumbled into my room and everything was gone.
"Have you talked to Candace?" he asked as he curled up beside me on the couch. "Hell no. I still want to kill her because of that shit she pulled," I answered coldly. "Calm down. She may have hit you below the belt, but I've always known you two to be pretty close. How'd you get so tight?" I hated telling the story, but it was the only way people could understand our bond. "Our moms are sisters. Melissa and Lilith. Aunt Lil is older." He smirked. "Lilith? Mother of Demons?"
"Yeah, that explains her daughter. When we were kids, we got into a car accident. We both got some broken bones and a few bumps and bruises, but her baby sister didn't survive. Ever since then, we've been stuck to each other like glue. We've always protected each other. Candace has been pretty fucked up since it happened. We were only six, so over the last eleven years, she's been trying to find a way to cope. Sometimes I feel like she just uses me as a crutch." I was ashamed to admit it, but Candace's drug problem had probably gotten out of hand because I never tried to stop her. I was always trying to make sure that she could enjoy her high peacefully when I should have been trying to stop her from doing it in the first place. But I knew better than anybody that most of us needed some kind of drug to be able to cope with the struggles of life. It wasn't right, but it was human nature. We needed something that could give us a temporary way out.
"Well, you don't have to listen to me, but you should probably make amends with her. I know you guys love each other and even though I freaked out and probably shouldn't have called her a fiend, you still love her and she makes you happy," he explained. "For the most part," I added, "I have my problems and drinking is just as bad, but I just worry a lot that she's going to end up dead. I know she doesn't have enough sense to find fresh needles. The best thing for me to do right now is stay the hell away from Candace.” Danny held me tight and stroked my hair. "I know you'll figure it out," he said as he gave me a reassuring smile.
I sent a group text out to Rachel, Mel, and Jamie telling them that we needed to talk. I left Candace out. Mom and Dad hadn’t seen her either, so my guess was that she either found somewhere to be or she fled back to West Virginia. I really didn’t care either way. I was washing my hands
of Candace for right now and that would be the end of it. I couldn’t save her if she didn’t want to be saved and I knew that being saved and getting clean was the absolute furthest thing from her mind. I was probably going to come around and let her back in, but it was going to take some time.
Being around Danny for so long had started to change me. I never felt the need to try to patch things up with people. I was always prepared to just write them off and leave it alone. It was always a lot less painful that way and that's how I kept my feelings from getting hurt. But he seemed eager to get to know more about my parents. He claimed that he was still trying to figure them out and considering the fact that my parents never did anything to hurt me intentionally, he wanted me to find a way to communicate with them better.
I honestly couldn't believe how far he was willing to go to pull me out of my comfort zone. I didn't admit it to him, but it actually made me happy. He could sense that I wanted things to change in my life. He was good for me and I could tell that he only wanted me to be happy. The only way I could accomplish that was to repair any broken relationships within my family and put an end to feuds that I thought were going to last forever.
One minute, we were sitting on the couch watching a random movie in silence and the next, he was brushing my hair off of my shoulder to gently place kisses up my neck, stopping just below my ear lobe. His lips were locked with mine as his hands tangled furiously in my hair. These were the moments that I was beginning to live for. Why spend all of my time pushing myself to the edge of shutting down until I opened my eyes the next day when I could spend it getting lost in him? The way both his lips and teeth grazed my neck sent my heart running in a sprint toward the finish line that I craved more and more these days.
I boldly pushed him onto his back, swinging my leg over his body to straddle him. "Damn girl. I don't like being manhandled," he said jokingly before connecting with my lips again. "I can be in charge sometimes," I said as I pulled him up by the collar of his shirt. "I can see that," he chuckled. "I love the new Sydney." Once again, he was making it seem like I was an alien that had taken over the body of who I had been before.
I noted the sound of my phone chime, but with his hands pawing at the brim of my shirt, I ignored it. Whoever the hell was texting me was just going to have to wait. My mind and body were only focused on him. Being with Danny sent those dreaded teenage hormones that I always heard so much about into overdrive.
My phone chimed again. And again. And again.
"Answer that or turn it off or something," he said, planting kisses down my neck and into my cleavage.
I groaned and swung my leg back over to lean over and snatch my phone off of the coffee table.
R: What's going on?
M: Yeah, every time you disappear for a few weeks, you always come back with dirt, so spill.
J: Where the hell is Candace? No one has seen or heard from her.
R: We have to plan your birthday party Sydney Gayle!
I rolled my eyes and climbed off of the couch. I started pacing as I tried to pull my mind together to be able to tell them about the fight between me and Candace. After a few minutes, I just couldn't wrap my head around it all. I didn't want to say it or even think it, but Candace cut me deep. I wanted to be a better person, but she made sure to remind me how fucked up I was.
I took a deep breath, deciding to reply to Rachel's text about a birthday party. It was the easiest to handle right now.
I felt Danny's lips pressing on my neck from behind me, sending chills down my spine. He wrapped his arms around my waist, resting his head on my shoulder as one of his hands trailed up the center of my chest. "Down boy. This'll take like two seconds," I said as I pried his hands off of my torso. He groaned and plopped back down on the couch.
Me: Bitch, what birthday party??
R: You're turning 18, Syd. You HAVE to have a party. You're getting one whether you like it or not!
R: Just a small get together. Nothing major. You know how Reggie has been lately.
Good. They were all distracted and didn't ask anymore questions about Candace. I had been so anxious to tell them and at the last minute, I chickened out.
"What's wrong?" Danny asked. Even with my back to him, standing across the room, he could tell that something was wrong. "No. Not at all," I said quickly to disguise the fact that I was a little shaken up. "You sure?" he prodded. He could obviously catch onto the fact that I was lying.
"Yeah, just catching up with the girls."
J: Meet us at Rachel's. Candace just showed up.
My heart dropped and I was beginning to panic. I didn't expect her to come popping back up so soon. I didn't know if she would be sober or not and if she was, who knew if she would have another blow up like she did at the beach. I was secretly hoping that she would apologize first because there was no way in hell that my pride was going to let me. I wasn't in the wrong, so surely she wasn't going to expect to get an apology from me.
"They want us at Reggie's," I called to him over my shoulder. "Shit!" he shouted as he jerked himself off of the couch. He went into the bedroom to grab his keys while I was slipping into my shoes. "I swear to God, your friends have some shitty timing," he said mumbled in annoyance.
As usual, all of our friends were camped out on Reggie's front porch. Rachel held a large piece of white cake with red, white, and blue icing covering the top as she perched on Reggie's laugh. Mel and Jamie sat on the concrete steps, fanning themselves. And there sat Candace. She sat Indian style on the banister looking like she hadn't slept in days. The sorrow in her eyes broke my heart. She looked like she hadn't eaten in weeks. Her skin was pale and covered in a sheen of sweat and she looked like she was about to vomit. The closer I got to the porch, the better I could see her arms. Not a bruise or track mark in sight. I was proud.
I also got a closer look at the cake Rachel was scarfing down and my mouth began to water. My taste buds were in a frenzy, craving the taste."Syd, I'll just get you a piece. You look like you're about to chew off Rachel's hands," Reggie said as he laughed to himself. He went inside and returned with a piece that was slightly smaller than the one my mouth was lusting after. Within seconds, it was gone and my stomach still wasn't satisfied. Danny cackled and went inside only to return with another piece. My appetite wasn't satisfied until three more pieces later. Everyone's eyes were locked on me watching as I inhaled piece after piece. My mouth was having an orgasm and all of my friends were gawking at me.
I snapped out of my spell that the cake had me under and got a little uncomfortable from all the staring. "What the hell are ya'll looking at?!" I growled. They all pulled their eyes away from me.
"So, I've been clean since I left the beach and let me tell ya, these withdrawals have whooped my ass for the past three weeks," Candace explained. The withdrawals had really taken their toll on her and we could all tell. She looked like shit, but I bet that was nothing compared to how she felt. In the past, she would puke and shake and sometimes she would even have diarrhea and a fever. She was usually confined to the bed because she simply didn't have enough energy and strength to do anything else.
"I shouldn't have said what I said. You're the closest thing to a sister that I have," she said as she teared up. Candace had spent the last thirty minutes groveling. I wanted to believe her and I wanted to forgive her, but I came to realize that if someone truly loved you, they would never hurt you in the first place. I kept replaying her apology over and over again in my head, but still found it hard to concentrate because of a wave of nausea hitting me like a wrecking ball.
"She should have killed your ass," Melanie said with a scowl on her face. "Yeah, Syd's never hurt you. Why would you hurt her?" Jamie asked. I couldn't cheer them on for coming to my defense because my stomach continued to turn. My eyes darted around, frantically searching for a clear path to dump my stomach contents. I was drenched in sweat and the next thing I knew, I nearly threw myself over the banister as every bit of the cake I had ended up on Reggie's bushes. "Shit!" Rachel groaned in disgust.
"Are you alright?" Danny asked as he rushed to my side. The nausea subsided and I was able to pull myself back together with ease. I was used to throwing up, it wasn't that big of a deal to me. "Maybe you just have a stomach virus. You know that shit spreads like wildfire," Jamie suggested. "Yeah, and it's a billion degrees out here right now," Mel added. Danny held my face in his hands, giving me a once-over. He kissed my forehead and wrapped his arms around me. The way he held me, you'd swear that I had cancer and was on my last leg.
"Alright, so we have two weeks until your birthday. I know that we said no more parties, but we'll make an exception for you. You're the baby of the group." I sat on Danny's lap and Rachel's proposition caused him to tense up. I knew that this wasn't going to go well when we made it back to his place later. "Rach, I don't need a party. A bunch of unnecessary shit comes with parties." I glared at her, hoping she would take the hint and drop the subject. But Rachel being Rachel wasn't going to take no for an answer.
I hadn't been to a party or even had a drink since Danny and I made things official. I never took him as being the jealous type, but a part of me was expecting to be proven wrong. "Trust me, Sydney Gayle," she said with a sneaky grin. It felt good to be away from that lifestyle for a while, but I still had a weakness for it. I still wanted to have fun whether I was locked down or not. I would never even dream of cheating on Danny or flirting with other guys, he could trust me.
Another wave of nausea hit me again and I went back to the spot I threw up in the first time. A few short minutes passed and I was throwing up again and again and again.
"Maybe you should take her home. It's got to be this heat," Candace said tenderly. She was still trying to prove how sorry she was and showing that she was concerned was a good start."Yeah, I'll just go ahead and crash for the night when we get over there. I guess I'm just have to rest and let it run its course."