Every Girl Does It
It's official. I’m going to Hawaii. Yes, I know Preston will be there. But I won’t back down from a challenge. Please, afraid of him?
There’s no fear, but there’s attraction, and it’s like gravity. And if I’m being honest, that does scare me. Because I deserve to be hurt by him. The whole situation is the perfect revenge. If I have any fear it’s that his sarcastic and arrogant presence will tempt me to end his life before we land in Hawaii.
As my chest heaves thinking about his smug grin, I start to feel my heart beat faster, and I begin to panic. Is this what it feels like to have a mental break down? What’s happening to me? Without thinking, I run to my computer and WebMD comes up as my homepage. Kristin would kill me if she knew I still checked my favorite website. Searching my symptoms, I start to hyperventilate. And so I call Kristin, forgetting she’ll be upset that I’m doing this, again.
“Kristin!” I’m seriously loud at this point.
“Yes?” Poor dear is afraid of me.
“I’m going crazy.” There, I said it.
“No, you're not.”
“Yes, I am!” I argue. “I have all the symptoms. I—”
“Amanda,” she scolds. “Did you go on WebMD again? I thought we discussed this, no more WebMD. Remember last time you did this?”
“No,” I lie.
“Amanda.” Now she’s using her mom voice.
“Okay, fine, I remember.”
“Now, be a good girl, hang up the phone, and go for a run or something to expend all your energy. No coffee. What’s gotten in to you lately? How did it go with the measurements? Sorry for that, by the way. And you’re leaving in less than three days for vacation with your best friend. You need to calm down.”
She’s right, so I take a deep breath and hang up the phone. She isn’t just right about me needing to calm down and run, she’s also right about the whole WebMD thing. Last time I went online, I convinced myself that not only was I going to die from a paper cut, but also that I had some sort of flesh eating disorder that was going to shut down all of my internal organs. I spent a night in the hospital over the paper cut and freaked out not only my friends but my family that ended up driving three hours just to make sure I was going to survive.
It was bad, but it was four years ago. How dare she hold that against me. And it wasn’t even my fault. Even if I was watching a special on Dateline about germs and how if you’re too clean your body can’t fight off the germs anymore leaving you exposed to flesh eating viruses. So it’s Datelines fault for keeping America too informed. And how was I to know that paper cuts are sometimes more painful than normal cuts because they slice the skins surface; stupid nighttime television.
Sighing as I look at the clock, I see that it’s around eight pm so I still have time to make it to the gym. These next few days are going to be jam packed with work before we leave for the airport. As I think about Hawaii, I choose to buy an extra ticket for Mrs. Butterworth. I couldn’t bare the thought of her having to have some strange person cat sit. It sounds creepy to have someone come in and feed you, pet you, and leave again. Well, that’s what I get to look forward to when I die alone in a retirement home. Sigh.
This time I shall be prepared. Not for Preston, but in general. So I pack my cute work out clothes, yoga pants as well as my new hot pink racer back top. Just in case there’s some new gym member that looks interesting. Heading to my car, I hop in and speed off to the REC center.
I notice that the place looks just as dead as before, and oddly enough the front door is wide open. I close it behind me and run toward the stairs to get to my treadmill, then I’m attacked.
“Ahhhhh!” I let out the loudest shriek known to mankind.
“Get it off!” Screaming, I twist in a hundred different directions at once. There’s some large black object flying around my head toward me in a menacing fashion. The movie The Birds flashes before my eyes before I crumple into a heap on the floor.
Someone runs down the stairs in the direction of my body, which is now in the fetal position, and chases away the crazed animal before coming to my aid. My knight in shining armor! My hero! My— “Oh.” I say rather loudly.
“What do you mean ‘oh’?” Preston retorts as he leans down to pick me up off the floor.
“What was that?” I try to keep my voice from shaking but can’t because I’m so terrified.
“A bird.” He holds back a smile.
“A bird! No way, I don’t believe you. It couldn’t have been a bird, it tried to kill me.” My eyes are huge as I try to show him with my hands just how big the bird was.
He tells me to follow him with his little finger and leads me back outside near the trees that line the Rec center. “Do you see that?” He asks. Nodding, my throat goes dry as I look at a tree full of black birds.
“Somewhere in there is your bird. They sit around here a lot. The building is warm this time of year, so it makes sense they would invite themselves inside. You scared me back there, I thought you were getting mugged, not mauled by a sparrow.” He scowls at me then turns to walk back in the gym.
“I could have been!” I yell after him as I follow him up the stairs.
He turns to look at me, not at all concerned.
“I’m scared of birds.” Admitting this requires the last shred of pride to die, so I follow him inside with my head hanging in shame.
“I’m sorry what?” He’s now walking toward me with an amused smirk on his face.
“I’m afraid of birds.” I say quieter this time not daring to look him in the eye.
“Birds,” he says plainly.
“Birds,” I confirm.
“All birds or just flying birds? If you were trapped at the zoo and an ostrich came running for you, would you scream? Or how about penguins, technically they’re birds.” He pauses for a minute waiting for my answer.
“You’re mocking me. I shouldn’t have said anything because everything is a giant joke to you.” I turn to walk away and trip over my own feet sending me sailing into the fake tree by the benches, knocking it over. “I meant to do that.” I huff as I stroll to my treadmill and begin running.
“It’s okay,” he says as he starts to run next to me. “I have things I’m afraid of, too.”
Slowing down, I turn so I can look at him. I ask, “Like what?”
“Hippos.” He shakes his head in disgust. “They terrify me.” He winks and continues running as I stand there with my mouth, yet again, hanging open for flies to stroll in to.
“They’re quite vicious, like polar bears,” I answer, getting my stride back. Is he trying to make me feel better? That’s surprising, and sweet. I feel myself start to smile.
“At least I’m afraid of something that actually makes sense,” he states before hitting the up button on his treadmill.
Forget what I said about him being sweet. He’ll never be sweet, just mean. And well, a terrible excuse for a human being.
“It makes sense if you know why!” I yell, trying to catch my breath from the sprint I am trying to overcome.
“Okay,” he says, pushing the red button on both our machines. “Humor me.”
The whole time running I didn’t break a sweat; but now, when he turns to face me with his body and green eyes, I start to perspire like I’m running the New York City marathon! Nervous, I shuffle my feet back and forth before preparing my story.
“When I was little—”
“Oh this should be good,” he interrupts.
“Hey! No interrupting. Do you want to hear the story or not?” I put my hands on my hips in frustration.
“Sorry.” He apologizes “Please continue.”
I do everything I can to not meet his eyes, considering they make me forget to breathe and all, and decide to concentrate on the seriousness of my story.
“When I was little.” I glare at him and continue “I went to the park with my parents and went to play on the s
I look up to see Preston’s face, knowing he’ll probably say something sarcastic any time now, and see that he’s actually compassionate.
“I’m sorry,” he says as he puts his hand on my shoulder in a protective manner. “That sounds frightening, and I shouldn’t make fun of you.”
My heart starts fluttering as he leans over me and pulls me into a hug. I get ready to say thank you but am silenced by his talking.
“So this, um, incident, how old were you? Four or five years old, I’m guessing?” He pulls back from the hug looking touched.
“Fifteen,” I answer quietly before turning the treadmill back on.
His eyes widen in surprise before he starts doubling over in laughter.
“Fifteen? You were fifteen?”
“It was scary!” I yell in his direction.
“Why were you swinging at fifteen anyway? You should have been, I don’t know, out with your friends getting into trouble, not going with your daddy to the park.”
“It was tradition,” I snap. “Plus, my dad’s dead,” I add as I continue running, faster this time considering what I just said. I hadn’t talked about my dad in a long time, and it wasn’t Preston’s fault. Sometimes memories were better left unremembered. He had been gone a while, but the pain sometimes still felt too fresh.
“I’m sorry, Amanda, I didn’t know.” He stops my machine again and genuinely looks upset.
“It’s fine.” I smile trying to hold my tears in. “Actually, I think I’ve had too much excitement for the night. I’m going to head home.” I stop my machine and head down the stairs feeling Preston’s close proximity behind me.
“Amanda.” He pulls my arm from my side and holds onto my hand before I smile weakly and say goodbye.
It takes exactly three seconds for me to get from the door into my car.
Once I’m in my car, I can’t help myself, the tears start and I cry my eyes out for about ten minutes before I notice that Preston has been standing outside my car door the entire time. He knocks gently on the window as I unlock the doors.
He sits and listens to me cry, hands me a tissue, and leaves.
So maybe he’s not so bad.
But then again, he did get me to snap at him. I guess we will find out in a few days once we start our trip.
Remember when I said we’d find out if Preston had a heart? He doesn’t; he absolutely does not have a heart. He is at this moment flirting with the lady at the ticket counter. I think he’s trying to get us bumped to first class, but she looks too smart to fall for it. After all, he’s being rather obvious.
Rolling my eyes in irritation, I turn toward Kristin just before I see Preston return to us with a large grin on his face. “Good news. Got us all bumped up to first class.”
“Super,” I answer. At least I get to sit next to Kristin while the boys talk shop. Picking up my phone, I decide to check my email while we’re waiting in line for security.
It’s Bobby. I hope you don’t mind, I Facebooked you and got your email address off your page. I know we haven’t talked in awhile, but I thought it would be cool for us to hang out, maybe grab a bite to eat or something?
Let me know.
Strange, why is he so interested? Shaking my head, I smile to myself as I reply that I’ll contact him after my vacation in Hawaii.
“What are you smiling about?” Preston sneaks up behind me and peeks over my shoulder.
“Nothing,” I snap. “Has anyone ever told you how annoying you can be?”
“I only annoy people that deserve it. I hope that wasn’t an email from Bobby, but it looks to be his email address. Want to know how I know?”
“Nope and it’s none of your business.” I grab my stuff and push forward without looking at him.
“He’s a womanizer,” Preston answers without my asking him.
Spinning around to face him, I’m momentarily taken aback. I hadn’t realized how close our faces now were. Whispering so no one can hear me, “What makes you think that? Are you jealous?”
“Hardly.” He huffs. His mouth smells like peppermint. I’m momentarily dazed by his lips before I answer.
“Well, it’s not a big deal. Plus I’ve been down that road and back, thank you. I don’t wish to re-visit it.”
I turn my head and put my stuff on the security belt before taking off my shoes. Preston does the same, but I can tell by the way he’s looking at me that this conversation is far from over.
“What do you mean re-visit it? Have you dated that tool before?” He looks disgusted with the idea.
“It was a long time ago and I’ve changed.” Stepping through the metal detectors, I sigh as I hear the beeping sound. I take off all my jewelry including my earrings and rings and step through again. Preston watches in amusement as the beeping still goes off. Emptying my pockets, I continue to beep, so now I’m called by the uniformed officer, and I brace myself to be searched.
Preston walks through clean as a whistle, while I’m getting patted down by a man named Jorge. I weakly smile as the beeper stops at my belly button and goes off telling everyone within a safe distance that I’m either smuggling a gun in my pants or I have a piercing. Praying they think it’s a gun, I whisper to Jorge in hushed tones that I have a bellybutton ring.
“You must take off belly ring, ma’am.” His accent sounds Spanish. He uses his hands to show me that I need to lift my shirt. This can’t be happening, but it is so I slowly lift my shirt revealing a tiny belly button piercing. As if my embarrassment isn’t enough, he pulls out the beeper stick again and runs it over the piercing “just to make sure”.
Glancing over at Preston, I see his eyes are locked on my piercing instead of my face. He’s judging me. I was only eighteen and it was a rite of passage. I still remember Grandma Ned’s face when she found out that her grand-daughter had a hole in her belly button. She made me memorize the chapter in Proverbs that talks about the perfect woman as if to tell me that it was so far from what I was that it would do me some good to engrain it in my head.
Closing my eyes, I’m finally told I’m free to leave. Although Preston has an unreadable expression on his face, he has at least had the decency to grab all of my stuff. We waited for Kristin and Brad to go through then began heading to our gate.
“What an interesting piercing, Amanda,” Preston teases.
“I was eighteen.” It was useless to defend myself against this man.
“It’s funny; it shows you aren’t as controlled as you’d like people to think.” He leans down letting his peppermint breath fan my face and says, “I like it,” before catching up with Brad.
Kristin turns around noticing my discomfort and asks, too loud might I add, “Amanda why are you all red? Are you tired sweetie? Are you okay?” Why can’t women read each other’s minds? It would be so much easier on everyone. Preston’s laughing, I only know because though I’m behind him, I see his shoulders shake, translation, he’s barely able to contain his mirth. There’s no justice in the world, I hate that he knows how uncomfortable he makes me feel. It’s so inconvenient to wear your emotions on your sleeve.
We get to the gate in record time, meaning Brad was so obsessive about us getting to the airport two hours before our flight that we literally got to our gate two hours before boarding. This is not a good thing, there is
Or can she? I notice that the coffee shop has already started selling their Christmas drinks. Well, one won’t hurt. Getting up, I go to the nearest stand and order a peppermint latte from a barista who looks less than pleased to have to put down her People magazine and help a customer. There’s something deathly wrong with society when people who are at work don’t want to work. When she finishes, I leave her a fifty cent tip hoping to cheer her up, but instead I get a weak smile and a “please come again”.
Rolling my eyes, I pass Preston who is thinking the same thing. Crossing my arms in frustration, I watch the barista jump up from her seat and ask him for his order. She twists her hair, yes twists her hair as if she is twelve, then tells him it's “no charge”. Before she hands him the coffee, I see her writing on the cup, with disgust I see a name and number next to the drink name. What is it with women throwing themselves at men? Particularly at Preston. He, with a sudden pep in his step, turns around toward me.
“Could you be any more disgusting?” Bumping into him to show my frustration, I roll my eyes while taking my seat.
“Excuse me for wanting free coffee? If it makes you feel better, I left her enough tip to pay for it and then some, if you’re thinking I’m a cheap person. Poor girl.” He smiled as he sipped his grande peppermint latte. We have the same taste in coffee? “Plus, I’m guessing if it would’ve been a guy you would’ve gotten something free, too.”
I think about this for a second then answer, “You're right, I would have.” Feeling better, I sip my coffee and look away.
“Challenge accepted!” He exclaims getting up from his seat next to mine.
“What do you mean challenge accepted?” This can’t be good.