Previous – Losing Control
Hey beautiful, I miss you. Call me.
Listening to Timothy’s voice message while I drive home makes me forget I’ve been crying non-stop since I ran out of class. It makes me smile. He’s the only person I have to talk to.
I call back.
Timothy answers on the second ring.
“Misa! Wow, I miss you so much.”
“Hey Timmy.” I wipe my tears with one hand and force a smile to mask my sadness. “How’s everything?”
“Eh, the usual nonsense. My family is annoying. I’d rather be with you.”
“Me too.” My voice breaks and I can’t hold my emotions in.
“Misa?” He sounds like he knows something is wrong. “What happened?”
A thousand tears burst free. I quickly pull into a grocery store parking lot to my right before I crash into someone on the road.
“You’re crying… Misa, what happened?”
“Ugh, I got caught cheating. Instructor Inga went crazy and ripped my quiz up. Then she threw it in my face and a stupid piece sliced my cheek!” I check myself in the vanity mirror. A thin red slice runs across my left cheek from nose to ear. “It was so embarrassing.”
“Yeah… I-I didn’t plan on it, it’s been so hard to concentrate lately and I’m about to start my new job next week too… It’s, I—ugh! Hold on.”
As I blow my nose, I catch my reflection in the mirror again. My eyes are red and puffy. My natural makeup is smudgy and faded from wiping my eyes so much.
I’m so disappointed in myself I slam the mirror shut.
I’ve never cheated on anything. The first time I do, I take someone else down with me. Why didn’t I copy those answers down from Emilian fast enough? No, that’s stupid… I shouldn’t have cheated at all.
Emilian hates me, I’m sure. I see his face every time I look at my sunflower. He gave that to me for friendship. But I swear he was about to kiss me when our hands touched in class… He was looking at my lips, I think. I don’t know. I’m so confused!
Timothy says from the speaker. I forgot he’s still on the phone.
“Do you need me?” His voice is husky and charming.
“Yes.” I respond, maybe too fast.
Me being miserable and alone is a recipe for disaster. I want to feel better. I need to feel better, and if Timothy can do that—
“I can bring you here.”
“To the district?”
“What?” Wow. He read my mind. “When?”
“But…” I quickly blow my nose and check the clock. “Aren’t you hours away?”
“Arrangements can be made.”
“Do you want to come, Misa?”
Oh, yes… “Um.”
“I’d like if you were here with me.”
“Timmy, you know my car isn’t in the best shape to make that kind of long drive.”
“Don’t worry about that. You’ll fly, private. Pack a bag. You’ll get to my place in no time.”
“Your place? What place?”
“But you live out here, in Black Mountain…”
“I live in the district as well.”
“What—since when? I’m so confused. Why do you go to school in Black Mountain then? Everyone says the district is much more exciting.”
“No one knows me in Black Mountain. I like it that way. Anyway, I’ll have my people pick you up from your place, drive you to the airfield, and fly you to me. You can tell me about your day over dinner and drinks.”
What does he mean no one knows him here?
When I accidentally saw Timothy’s bank account on our first date, there was only two thousand something in it. He told me he doesn’t work. How does he have people and two places to live?
“Um…” I sniffle and look at my forever sunflower beside me in the passenger seat. It’s still attached to my backpack strap, deflated and depressed. Even the yellow petals are faded, as if they were drained of life.
“Misa, if it makes you feel better, first-time cheaters don’t get kicked out, they get suspended for a week, minimum. You should get a portal message from the admin about it soon. Trust me, I know. I cheated in my first year. So that means no school, and no work since you don’t start until next week. With that free time, imagine all the fun we could have alone.”
Well, that’s good to know. I was nervous he’d want me to meet his family. He’s killing me with his tempting ask. What is it with him and Emilian?
If I do get away, I can avoid Emilian while things cool down at school. I’m not ready to face him yet after we got caught cheating. He gets so angry, too.
Maybe I should text him. I told him I would…
“Misa? Are you there?”
“Yes. Yeah, I’ll go.”
“That’s what I want to hear.” He pauses. “My people will be at your door in an hour. I’ll text you their info.”
“Okay. Um… Should I bring anything in particular?”
“Just yourself, beautiful. Go get ready. I can’t wait to see you.”
My tires squeal as I tear out of the parking lot.
I need to get ready.