( For his brother’s friend …. 😇 )
Written by:- Williams Kendall____✍🏽
🏈 CHAPTER NINE🏈
“Alright, Bitches! It’s been too long since we talked,” Kayla’s voice came through my laptop speaker slightly muffled. “How’s the first month of school gone?”
I smiled at the screen as Brit told us about pledging her sorority, but it didn’t reach my eyes. I listened to my two best friends swap stories about their experiences—the parties, the boys, the new friends. Normally, this would be relaxing for me. Sitting back and being a silent spectator to The Brit & Kayla Show. But now, I just felt lost.
They both seemed to be loving their schools and the freedom of college. I knew they would, of course, they were social butterflies who lived for having fun. Listening to them now though, I felt like I had become disjointed from my previous self. I wanted to yell at the computer screen that they were being reckless, and vapid. That not everything was fun gossip all the time, and sometimes a person needed to talk about something of substance.
Like being drugged perhaps… I hadn’t told either girl about what happened last month. I had tried a few times, but it never felt right. Our group chat conversations always moved so fast, with Brit and Kayla both ripping the topic in new directions. I never had a chance to talk about what I had gone through.
If I’m being honest, I also wasn’t sure I wanted to hear their take on what happened. I knew I was dumb for taking a drink from a stranger, I didn’t need to be reminded. I didn’t need to be called, “Baby Lotty” and fussed over for being so naive.
“So anyways, Lotty what’s new?” Brit drew me back into the conversation that hadn’t included me since the inception.
“Oh well, classes are going okay. A history major isn’t quite what I thought it would be, the papers are really h-rd. But one of my prof’s gave us this really cool assignment. We get to write a short story based on a historical event. So I’m excited about that…” Both girls nodded politely as I spoke but I almost rolled my eyes at how unenthused they clearly were.
“That’s awesome Lotty,” Kayla said in a sugary voice. “Please tell me you are actually having fun too though! Any parties?”
“Nope. N-no parties,” I stuttered out. “I have been having fun though, my roommate is super nice and we’ve been spending tons of time together. I made a new friend too, Emmett. He’s busy with football all the time but he’ll still come around.”
“A football player? Is he the one from your Instagram? Seriously Lotty? He is h-ot! Don’t you think?” Kayla pressed.
“Uhm. I mean… I guess? We are just friends though.”
“Girl WHY. Jump on that! Why be friends with a h-ot football player when you can be friends.” Brit wiggled her eyebrows as if her innuendo wasn’t already perfectly clear. Frustration boiled up inside of me as I tried to remain calm. Had they forgotten who I was in the month we’d been apart? When had I ever “jumped on” anyone? They knew intimacy was important to me—special even.
“Oh yeah, well actually speaking of Mads and Emmett I’m supposed to be meeting them to study soon so I better go!” I forced a smile at my laptop screen.
“Love you, Lotty! Go get your man.”
I shook my head as I closed my laptop. How was it possible to love people so much, but yet not… like them? Had Brit and Kayla really changed so much in a month? As I brushed my hair and got ready to leave a nagging thought rattled around in my brain. Maybe they weren’t the ones who had changed. Maybe it was me?
Since the Pep Rally, my emotions had been all over the place. I remembered most of what happened to me, but I still didn’t complete a police report. The football team had scoped out the frat that threw the party, and apparently, the guy who I describ£d didn’t pledge with them. There had been a few randoms that showed up that night, so they assumed it had been one of them. I received all of that in a short text from Archer a few days after I’d left his home.
Archer was a factor in my unruly emotions for sure. That day we had spent together was so different. It was like we both decided to put aside our preconceived notions of each other and just exist in our own world. He didn’t treat me like the kid sister of his best friend, and I didn’t treat him like the bain of my existence. The morning after though, that all changed right back.
A blush crept over my skin as I thought back to that day. The night before Archer and I had stayed up late, eating pizza and watching movies. The sounds of the party downstairs had triggered my memories and my anxiety.
Being near Archer helped somehow though. I mean, his awkward attempt at comforting me had broken me out of my initial breakdown—but, even afterwards, he had calmed me. I think it was because Archer’s pres£nce was so large, so domineering. He casted a shadow around the rest of the world in a way that made himself the focus—without even knowing it. With him next to me, it was all I could focus on. The rest of the house and the party dropped away and we were in a bubble.
We must have fallen asleep at some point—both laying down in b£d facing each other. I awoke the next day to my head being squ-eesed to death. My face was smooshed into a h-rd surface and pressure on the back of my head kept me locked in place. Archer had grabb£d onto me in his sleep and held me like a teddy bear to his chest. Every time I tried to pull back he would grumble in his sleep and crush me further towards him.
I finally had to reach up and pinch Archer’s cheek to wake him up. From my position at his chest, I angled myself up enough to see his eyes snap open. He blinked, disorientated for a moment before looking down to see me. His arms flew away from me like my skin burned him, and I was finally able to take a deep breath.
Things had gotten awkward after that. Archer shuffled away to the bathroom right away and stayed in the shower for almost half-an-hour. We passed the morning quietly, neither of knowing what to say or do now that the bubble had popped. Finally, around noon Archer took me back to my dorm and stiffly bid me goodbye.
We talked briefly over text—mostly just him checking in on me. He had checked about filing a police report, then updated me about the frat guys. But besides that, I hadn’t seen or spoken to Archer.
Now, it was the first week of October and I had created a routine. Go to classes, focus on homework, hangout with Mads and Emmett, and try to forget about my night with Archer. So far I was 3/4 successful. My classes were stressful, but I had settled in well enough. I still struggled with the in-class discussions but that was only one small part of my overall grade.
Leaving my dorm, I walked towards the field next to the USC library where I was meeting Mads and Emmett. My new friendships had brought me so much happiness this last month in contrast with all of the stress. When I came home from Archer’s that day, Madeline had been waiting for me. She was so supportive, but not in a babying way. She had hugged me and let me release my tears on her shoulder for a while. Then, when we were done she stared me in the eye and told me I was a strong b-word who could get through this. Surprisingly, at that moment, I truly believed her.
Emmett had stopped by later that day and crushed me into a bone-breaking hug. I was shocked to see some tears in his eyes as he apologized profusely for taking me to the party. I forgave him instantly, of course, it wasn’t his fault—it was the guy who drugged me. Well, and my own for not saying no.
Although, when I had said that to Emmett, his face became a mask of anger that didn’t fit his bright and happy features.
“Don’t you dare blame yourself, Charlotte,” He had said.
“Yeah, shit like this happens to people all of the time. It is never the victim’s fault,” Madeline vehemently agreed.
The three of us spent the rest of the weekend together, relaxing and taking my mind off of what happened. Then from that point on, we just stuck together.
“Hey Charlotte! Over here!” I heard Madeline calling to me. Looking up from my thoughts, I saw her and Emmett both lounged out on the grass surrounded by books. I walked over to them and plopped down before adding my own books to the mess.
“Hey Smalls, what’s good?” Emmett said without looking up from the notes he was taking.
“I’ve told you before Emmett and I’ll tell you again. I do not know how to answer that question,” I replied sassily as I opened my binder. We spent the next hour quietly studying next to each other. The only sounds were the scraping of pencils on paper and Madeline’s nails clicking her keyboard.
Much to my pleasure, this had become our regular study spot. Even though it was technically Fall, the h-ot LA sun beamed down on us almost daily. The well-kept lawn made for the perfect, soft cushion as we sat around reading, taking notes, and writing papers.
“Hey, uhhh Charlotte?” Emmett interrupted my peace, “Have you spoken to Archer recently?”
“What? No, why would I?” I asked, thrown that he’d mentioned Archer.
“No reason. He just seems… I don’t know, different recently. I mean he’s never been the nicest guy ever, but I always felt like deep down he was a softy who just needed love.”
I laughed loudly at him. That was a very Emmett assessment of Archer.
“So you don’t think that anymore?” I asked with a coy smile.
“I don’t know what that man needs… Jesus maybe? But he’s been impossible for the last few weeks. His fuse is so short, he just explodes at all of us for every little thing.” I frowned at that. I realized I really didn’t know Archer well enough to decide if something was wrong or not. I mean, that 24 hours we spent together was the most I’d spoken to Archer in years and we really didn’t even say much.
“I’ve met the guy twice and I barely even know what his voice sounds like,” Madeline offered from behind her laptop.
“Yeah sorry Emmett. But as far as Archer Johnson goes… I’m just as clueless as you.”
Later that evening I was back in my dorm listening to music. It was a Saturday night, so for many college students that meant going out with friends and partying. For me though, it was my night to blast music and clean my room.
My routine had been to get all of my homework done on Friday nights and during the day on Saturdays. Then Saturday night was for cleaning and laundry. This left Sunday for me to relax and recharge before school on Monday. It was the perfect system.
Checking my phone, I saw that it was 12:05 am. The dryer cycle for my laundry would have just finished. I grabb£d my basket and left the dorm to walk down the hall to the laundry room. After collecting my clothes I walked back and dumped them all on the b£d to fold. As I org-nized everything, a flash of red caught my eye.
Sighing, I picked up the USC Football hoodie that Archer had leant me at his house. I’d had to wear it home the next day, and he never asked for it back. I washed his clothes right away and set them aside to return to him, but then I’d gotten weak and craved the comfort of his over-sized hoodie. I’d wear it for a few nights then wash it again, swearing this time I’d leave it till he wanted it back. But then I’d wear it again… It was a vicious cycle.
Frick it I thought as I grabb£d a towel and the hoodie. I went to the bathroom and showered before throwing my hair in a bun and brushing my teeth. Once I had Archer’s hoodie on I preened like a cat that had just found a sunny spot of carpet. Dang, this thing is comfy. Then I went back to my room and threw on a pair of underwear before returning to my laundry. Once I had this stuff folded I could finally go to b£d.
I had just placed the last of my clothes into my closet when a loud banging erupted through the dorm. Madeline had left early in the evening to meet up with some of her Poly Sci friends, had she forgotten her key?
I crept slowly to the front door, as the banging continued. Moving my face up to the peeph0le, I scrunched one eye closed to look outside in the hallway. As my open eye focused on the figure outside my door I flew backwards in shock.
Like comment and share