I was unwavering. I’m handcuffed to who I’m supposed to be.
I’m the guy you don’t take a chance on.
I’m the guy who has all the best intentions and none of the graceful follow through.
I’m the guy your dad hates and your mom still fantasizes about during their stale moments of passion.
At least, I used to be all of those things until the girl I loved from a safe distance decided I was too much of risk.
I used to be all those things until I saw Addi’s poisonous red lips taunting me to hurt a little bit more.
She had been chewed up and spit out by everyone who was supposed to love her.
A girl full of destructive risks was going to make me the best chance she ever took.
I used to vie for my parents approval, I never wished my perfect sister any good wishes, and let the voice of insecurities become a bitch.
I’m no longer her shadow of imperfection.
I’m the girl you want a wild night with even when I giggle and tell you I’m not that kind of girl.
I’m the girl who has a chip on my shoulder, filler in my lips, and a master list of all the corrupt things I want to try before I die.
Get drunk at a college party? Check.
Sleep with a married man? Check.
Fall in love? That is going to be the most corrupt thing I have ever done.
Convince someone to love me, every rotten part.
Growing a fucking conscience enough to let anything haunt me wasn’t in my DNA. Changes like this only happened from loving… and losing.
I automatically swung my legs over the bed and leaned over, pressing my elbows into my knees to steady my breathing. No matter how many times this had happened, none of it felt comfortable, and I wasn’t getting used to it.
It always happened the same way: Layla standing in front of me, but unable to hear or see me. I was invisible to her, and that hit too close to reality. She never saw me, not like how I saw her. Her vision, her heart, her words… every ounce of care was reserved for someone else, long before he waltzed into her life.
Adjusting my tangled necklaces that hung down to my chest, I noticed the sweat coating my body, like I had run a few miles. That was new.
I was hoping Addi wouldn’t wake up. I peered over my shoulder at her sleeping body, wrapped in silk pajamas and wearing an eye mask, preventing her from witnessing this.
Nothing about her was average, not even how she slept.
When my breath finally normalized, I got up and headed towards the bathroom to analyze how shitty my outside probably matched my growing conscience inside. The abrasive lights made my eyes buckle and close, and I fumbled for any kind of dimmer switch. Just like my feelings: on a low.
I looked like death. My blonde hair was curling, like I just got out of the water and let the sun bake my curls into position. My eyes were still squinting and had dark bags under them. My skin was a paler version of its norm. Easily now, pushing through the surface was my soul—that goddamn thing I buried so deep that I thought I’d only see it again when I died.
Giving up on my reflection, I walked back to bed, but not before seeing my name in Addi’s cursive on an In-N-Out bag I hadn’t noticed before: Hunter, eat some damn food.
That’s what I loved about her: cursive on the outside, but fucking bold and underlined inside.
Much like her debut novel, The Best Years, life certainly imitated art. Transplanting from the South to the East Coast, Elena currently lives in Connecticut with husband, reformed bad boy.
Find her on her social media through Twitter at @elenamonroe, Instagram at @elenamonroewrites, Facebook at @elenamonroewrites, and more