May 14, 2013
It was a few minutes past five—quitting time—so I hurry to finish straightening the boxes I’ve been putting on the shelf. Walking to the back of the store I take off my apron and grab my jacket. I leave through the back door, to avoid the customers, and slip my jacket on. Finally, it was Friday, the end of my work week.
There was a slight salty mist in the air that wasn’t really rain, but still felt nice on my skin. I walked toward the woods, and then I was on the trail towards home. I always used the trail as my route to get wherever I was going as another precaution to avoid seeing anyone. I strode slowly, admiring the evergreens that smelled so sweet and familiar this time of year. I usually wasn’t in any hurry to get home and spent more time walking there than necessary. The scenery was enjoyable and I never got tired of the nature around La Push. That part, I would miss when I finally left.
The small clearings along the sides of the trail—that Sam and I had usually kept free of weeds and plants—were now grown over by a light cover of vegetation, as I had supposed would happen. Occasionally families or tourists would go on picnics in them but this summer after they had grown over with weeds, they hadn’t been used as much. We used to lay out there on a blanket in the middle of the night and watch the stars when the sky was free of clouds.
As I passed the second clearing on my walk, which was more hidden by the trees than most, I was surprised to see it was clear of any plants. Maybe the city council had decided to—a flash of movement caught my eye, interrupting my thoughts. Then a giggle. I took a few steps back, since I had nearly passed it now. Standing between three young evergreens was two figures standing with their bodies closely intertwined.
I recognized them almost instantly, their postures familiar, and gasped. The man heard and looked up.
“Lee-Lee.” He groaned quietly, throwing his head back like a child who had been caught stealing candy.
I began to sprint towards home quickly. The even pace of Sam’s bare feet sounded behind me as he began catching up. Angry did not even begin to describe how I was feeling. How could he share our place with her? I ran faster, pushing myself harder. This was our place, not theirs! Even now, since he had left me heartbroken and alone, it was mine. The only place I had left to be completely alone. Sam’s hand caught my shoulder and spun me around, knocking me hard to the ground.
“Leah,” he began and paused kneeling to help me up. I growled in protest and scrambled to crawl away but he grabbed my ankle, bringing him back to the ground in almost an army crawl. His skin was still hot, like a scorching fever.
“Kîka!” I shout, spitting the Quiluete word for ‘get away ‘ at him.
Sam ignored what I said and began again. “Leah, I’m sorry, really . . . it just happened—I wish I could explain.”
Emily caught up with us then. “Hey. I—” She didn’t finish her sentence before Sam was shouting.
“Emily, go back to the house now!” He was trembling, his hand shaking my leg. I kicked and kicked trying to get free but his grasp was still tight.
“But, Sam, I—” Emily protested but was cut off by Sam again.
“Now!” He pointed in the direction we had come from.
Emily walked back towards the clearing, her head hung low. I wasn’t sure whether it was because of shame or grief. Sam let go of my ankle then, but moved to sit beside me when she was out of sight. I stood up, ignoring him.
“Lee-Lee.” He stood next to me and reached for my hand.
I jerked away from his reach and put a hand up to stop him. “Don’t even . . .” I shake my head. “That isn’t my name.”
“Sorry, Leah.” He paused. “Hey, I love you.” Sam’s words repulsed me. How could he even stand to say that when it obviously wasn’t true? I had seen them together more than once now and Seth’s gossip told more honesty than Sam.
I rolled my eyes and turned on my heel, stomping away. Sam grabbed my swinging hand with his fiery grasp.
“Leah, I love you. But Emily . . .” I tried to get away again while he spoke, his sharp words cutting at me. “Emily is the one I need to be with. I’m going to ask her to marry me. But I do love you, you and her. I know she is your cousin but . . .”
I finally broke away and started running home again. Why? was the only question in my head. Sam ran after me but not as quickly as before.
When I got home I slammed the back door shut, and kept my stride, running up the stairs. I caught a glimpse of Seth and Mom, who were in the living room watching me, confused. I slammed the door to my room too, and a moment later I could hear Sam’s deep voice talking to my mom downstairs. He had followed all the way. I stood hovering behind my closed door. What to do, what to do? I was hungry. And had to use the restroom. The sound of footsteps coming up the stairs forced me to hurry my decision. I locked the door and sat on my bed, already foreseeing what would happen.
Sam came down the hallway and knocked on the door, calling my name and trying to coax me out. I didn’t answer and pretty soon he gave up. The Sam I had known before would have sat down outside the door and waited. It might have taken me hours, but eventually I would have opened it to face him. Not anymore. Now he had a fiancee to go home to and I no longer mattered.
“Leah, hon, can you open the door please? He left.” This voice was soft but strong. The voice of my mother replaced Sam’s.
I sighed as I got up and unlocked the door, then laid back down with my face against my pillow as she walked in.
“What happened?” Mom asked me. She sat down on my bed, her voice was soothing but nothing could help.
“Didn’t Sam tell you?” I spoke quickly, hurrying to spit his name from my mouth. It always tasted bitter now, like a bad aftertaste to our relationship.
“Yes, but your perspective would help. And it might help you to talk about it. I know you have had a rough time but you’ve hardly spoken to anyone since before he was missing.”
“I hate Sam.”
“Don’t say that. He is just trying to do what’s right.”
“Yes it is. He ruined my life. Emily too.”
“Leah-h!” She said my name louder this time, not liking that I could say something so harsh about my ‘almost sister’.
“You’re on their side anyways! ” I half yell. “You wanted my perspective and you got it.”
Mom sighed and left the room, returning later and throughout the weekend to bring me food, which I picked at but hardly ate. It was almost like when I first saw them together all over again. Once again, my heart was broke. Broke, broke, broken, always breaking heart.