Original Work: You'll Always Find Your Way Back Home, Chapter 13, Part 1
Chapter 13, Part 1
I was having a practically interesting and enjoyable dream when my phone rang, abruptly startling me from sleep. I was confused, trying to figure out how my dream-world had suddenly become a dark room in California and what, exactly, had woken me up in the first place. But the phone was still ringing on my bedside table and I reached for it, my head still groggy with sleep.
Albeit briefly, I hoped the caller was Joshua. We’d exchanged numbers at some point during the previous day, though a glance at the bedside clock, which informed me it was a little after four in the morning, assured me that if I wanted to talk to Joshua, I needed to go back to dreaming. At least for a little while.
The caller ID informed me that the early (early) morning caller was Jordan, which was the only reason I hit the accept button, though I don’t think my words were anything close to English.
“Oh, so you are still alive.” Jordan chirped, ever the morning person. I reminded myself that it was only a little after seven there and she was probably parking her car in the school parking lot. “I was starting to get worried, seeing as you haven’t even so much as answered a text message since your first night. I thought the natives might have killed you off.”
I managed to stifle a groan and decided that it might not be a good idea to remind Jordan of the fact that it wasn’t even morning here. “Yeah, I know.” I mumbled, still coming out of my sleep state. “I’m really, really sorry. But I promise that you’re going to forgive me when you hear who I’ve been spending time with.”
I could hear Jordan tapping her fingers on the steering wheel of her car, her patented gesture of impatience. “This better be good.” She teased.
I propped myself up slightly on my pillows, regrettably coming more awake with each passing second. “Joshua. Beckett.” I saw the tiger slumped dutifully next to me and I smiled. “We went out on a date yesterday.” It seemed fair to call it a date, especially given the way it ended.
If I hadn’t been awake before, the sound of Jordan shrieking in my ear loud enough to shatter the windows in her car definitely made sure I was awake now. “Oh my God!” At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what she was shrieking. “Are you serious?! No way! No way! Tell me everything! I need to know now!”
Just as I’d suspected, she seemed to have forgiven the radio silence. Even though I really just wanted to go back to sleep, I told Jordan the only slightly abridged version of my date with Joshua, making sure to end it with the fact that we’d sort of made out in his car outside in the driveway. Throughout the story, Jordan didn’t do much interrupting, just a lot of squealing, which I’d just talked through without missing a beat, figuring that was exactly what she would have wanted.
When I’d finished, I glanced at the clock and realized that she was missing homeroom in order to hear how I was reaping the benefits of my mistaken identity. But she didn’t seem to be rushing to get off the phone with me; in fact, I was worried that she was going to be pumping me for minute details at any minute.
“I cannot believe this is happening, I cannot believe that you kissed Joshua Beckett! That you spent all day with him! I am flying out there right now!” Jordan continued to squeal and I could practically see her bouncing around in her seat, living vicariously through me. “I just cannot believe this is happening! I turn you loose and you’re going on dates and making out with boys!”
I shrugged even though Jordan couldn’t see me. “I mean, it was Joshua, what was I supposed to do?” Not to mention the fact that I’d been wanting to kiss him pretty much since the first time I’d run into him after my first public appearance as Emilia. “Unfortunately, he thinks I’m Emilia.”
“Isn’t that supposed to be the point?” Jordan questioned and I could easily see her arching an eyebrow, a gesture she’d practiced countless times in the mirror for such occasions. “I mean, isn’t that the whole reason you’re out there in the first place?”
“Yeah.” I relented, though I didn’t take much accomplishment in the fact that I was clearly doing a very good job at exactly what Linda and Schapelle wanted me to be doing a good job at. “But still…it would be nice if he was having a great time with Scout.”
Jordan sighed and I could hear her dangly earrings rattling, which I took to mean that she was shaking her head. “Idiot, he is having a good time with Scout, he’s just…calling you by a nickname.” Good point, now I was wishing I’d called her sooner. “And besides, you’re the one going out with Joshua Beckett. If I was going out with Joshua Beckett, he could call me whatever he wanted.” Again, I felt like she had a pretty good point.
“Jordan, how is it that you always know the perfect thing to say?” I questioned, smiling slightly into the darkness of my room.
“I’m just that good I guess.” Jordan replied with her usual modesty and I could hear the pleased grin in her voice. “So, I saw some story about you and Michaela on the news the other day, tell me-” Before she could finish her request, she paused and interrupted herself with, “Uh oh, Officer Booker is on his way over here. I’ve got to go.” Without much more of a goodbye, Jordan hung up the phone, no doubt hurrying out of her car with an excuse for our on-campus police officer, who enjoyed spending his day rounding up truant students.
I didn’t envy Jordan and her run-in with the law. However, as soon as she hung up, I felt a deep pang of home-sickness, stronger than the previous feelings I’d been trying to fight down for the past several days. Suddenly, all I wanted was to go home, to be back in Independence with Jordan and Zach and my dad and everyone. This place, it wasn’t home, there was no one here who really knew me and all my crazy tics that I tried to keep hidden until I really got to know someone. Being with Joshua had been the closest I’d been to being myself again but even still it somehow hadn’t been the same, though it had been a welcome breath of fresh air. This room, this state, these people, it wasn’t my home and I suddenly felt lonelier than I had since I stepped onto the plane. What was I doing here? I really didn’t belong here, I could put on a good show, I could run a good game, but I would never fit in, I would never actually find a place with Linda and Emilia and everything they had built for themselves. Even the unfamiliar smell of the sheets and the feel of the pillow made my heart hurt and lump rise in my chest. I wished Jordan hadn’t hung up, I wished I’d had more time to call my dad, to talk to him and my brothers and Beverly.
I rolled over and pressed my face against the pillow, feeling hot tears on my cheeks for the first time since I’d gotten to California. Maybe I was just tired, maybe it was the automatic loneliness of being awake at four in the morning but suddenly I felt like I was completely alone, lost in an alien place without anyone to keep me company or make everything make sense. Even though I knew I could demand to be put on a plane any time I wanted, even though I knew I could walk out the door right now and never look back, I let myself give into the lonely and lost feelings that were currently surfacing in my body. I hadn’t realized how much I was holding back until I was letting myself cry into my pillow, holding the stuffed tiger to my chest in a strangle-hold.
I must have cried myself back to sleep because the next thing I was aware of was the impatient knocking on my door. I lifted my head, groggy and confused, my cheeks sticky from the morning’s bout with homesickness. I tried to take a mental inventory of my current feelings and realized that, aside from feeling bleary from the abrupt awakening, I felt more like my normal self, like my pity party had been a direct result of the early hour. At last the rude and impatient awakenings felt normal.
“Scout! Are you awake!” It was Schapelle who was doing the knocking, her bracelets jangling with every rap. “We’ve got a busy day, busy busy!”
Yawning, I pushed myself into a sitting position. “I’m awake.” I called back and finally she stopped knocking. “I’ll be downstairs in a minute.”
That seemed to satisfy Schapelle because she didn’t say anything more and after a beat of silence I figured that she had gone downstairs herself, no doubt to reconvene with Linda and go over the game plan.