Wednesday, January 5th
Too tired to deal.
Whitney is sitting at her table all by herself. This time, she doesn’t look okay with it.
“Should we invite Whitney to sit with us,” Annie, always thoughtful, asks.
“No,” Peyton says firmly. “No fucking way I’m sitting with her.”
“Oh,” Annie says. “Okay.”
I look over at Whitney. She looks miserable. I feel bad for her. And under normal circumstances, I might have gone to sit with her just to show the school that I’m not mad at her. No one knows what she almost did to Peyton. And outing me was not that big of a deal in the scope of things going on in my life.
But I’m just too tired to deal with her.
I don’t want to explain.
And what she was going to do to Peyton was horrible.
She deserves to sit alone. Have a social time out.
I stay put, pushing my food around on a tray, while everyone shares stories about what they did over their holiday break.
I’m lying in bed with Aiden, while he searches the internet and shows me all the articles about the wedding. Our quiet night is suddenly pierced with the shriek of sirens heading from the gates.
“What’s going on?” I say, suddenly panicked.
Aiden sees the look in my eye, drops the computer, and grabs my hand. “Grab your coat. I’m getting you out of here.”
His train of thought has obviously immediately gone directly where mine did. That it could be a diversion. That Vincent could be here.
As we open the door, Riley is getting ready to knock on it. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” he says to Aiden.
Aiden nods and the two of them led me all the way down the stairs to the laundry room.
Riley uses his key to open the tunnel. “I’ll see what’s going on,” he says then locks us in as the alarms go off in the dorm signaling that the school is on lockdown.
I start to speak, but Aiden shushes me, and pulls me down the tunnel. When we get to the entrance to Stockton’s, we realize we can’t get through this door without a key.
I slide down the wall and sit on the hard concrete. “In what situations do they do lockdowns? I remember them going through what we were supposed to do, but I can’t remember what the reasons were for.”
“It can mean a lot of different things, typically it just means there is a credible threat to our safety. Bomb threat. An intruder on campus. A breech in the fence. A nearby police operation. A national threat. Even severe weather.”
“But there was a fire truck, police car, and ambulance coming up the drive. If we were on lockdown . . .”
“It could be that someone was injured and the details are sketchy enough that they want us to stay put.” He reaches around in his pockets and pulls out his cell phone. “No service,” he says, getting up and walking down the tunnel searching for bars.
I hear his phone vibrate.
He reads, “Students, details are incoming, but one of our students is in need of medical attention. The school is on lockdown while paramedics work to stabilize her for transport to the hospital. There is no threat. Please just respect your fellow student by remaining in your rooms until further notice.”
His phone buzzes again. “It’s my sister. She wants you to call her.”
I get up and go down the tunnel to where he seems to have service and call her. “What’s going on?” I hold the phone out so Aiden can hear.
“It’s Whitney,” she cries. “She tried to kill herself. She called me to tell me she’s sorry. She was crying and sounded messed up, slurring her words, telling me what a bad friend she was. I told her I forgave her, even though I was thinking I never would, and hung up. Then I got worried, so I went to her room to check on her. Knocked on her door. Kept knocking. Finally had to get our house mom to check on her. She was breathing but unresponsive. We couldn’t get her to wake up. The paramedics are working on her now. I’m freaking out. This is all my fault because I wouldn’t sit by her at lunch.”
“Peyton, calm down. It’s okay. I’m coming over there. We’ll go to the hospital together. Be there when she wakes up.”
“Really? Can you do that?”
“Yeah, I can. I’ll be right there.”
I hang up and says, “Cooper won’t let you leave.”
“Cooper is going to be the one to drive us.”
I’ve heard enough.
Peyton and I are sitting in the waiting room listening to Whitney’s mom being all dramatic and making Whitney’s suicide attempt about herself. They told us a short time ago that Whitney would be fine and was waking up.
Her mom is now on the phone telling everyone she knows that her daughter tried to kill herself.
Finally, I can’t take it anymore.
“Maybe you should stop telling everyone you know about what Whitney did. Did you ever think maybe it was a cry for help? That she might not want all your friends to know that she was feel so desperate?”
She hangs up on whoever she was talking to and sits up straight. “I don’t think what I do is any of your business, young lady. I’m in distress.”
“You sure don’t act like it. Maybe instead of gossiping about it, you should be doing some introspection. Thinking about what kind of parent you’ve been. From what I’ve seen at school, you’re awful to her. All Winnie this and Winnie that. I don’t know why you’d want Whitney to be like her. She’s just an ass kissing clone of you.”
Peyton jumps in. “You let Winnie verbally abuse her. And you haven’t let her see her father in years.”
“You haven’t?” I ask. “Why not?”
“Because he’s a asshole and she doesn’t need a man like him in her life,” she says with disgust.
“Why is he an asshole?” I ask.
“Whatever do you mean?”
“I mean, why aren’t you with him? Have you even called him? Why isn’t he here?”
“He divorced me for his secretary. I told him he could have his divorce, but I’d make sure he never saw his children again. Whitney’s just like him,” she says, almost spitting.
“Did he want to see her?” Peyton asks.
“Of course, he did,” she says. “And I’ll be damned if I’ll call him.”
I grab the phone out of her long fingernails. I’ve heard enough.
“Give me my phone back!” she says.
“What’s his name?” I ask, scrolling through her contacts, but knowing it’s probably the one labeled Asshole.
“I’m not telling you,” she snarls.
Peyton says, “Your daughter just tried to kill herself. You’ve been taking out your hate for your ex on Whitney. She doesn’t deserve it. Do one thing decent for her. What’s his name?”
Winnie walks back into the room and hear the last part of the conversation. “You can’t say that to my mother.”
But her mom slowly sits back down, her eyes full of tears.
“Shut up, Winnie,” she says, fussing with her skirt. “His name is Malcolm. He’s under Asshole.”
I nod as she breaks down crying, Winnie rushing to her side.
I walk out in the hall and call him.
He answers with, “Why are you calling me now? You need more money?”
“No, my name is Keatyn. I go to school with Whitney. Look. I know you’ve been kept away from her. I know she’s told Whitney bad things about you. But I have just one question.”
“Do you love your daughter? Do you have any desire to have a relationship with her?”
His voice softens. “It’s all I’ve ever wanted.”
Then come to St. James hospital. She needs you.”
“What’s happened to her?”
“She tried to kill herself tonight. But she’s going to be okay. Her mom has been taking her hatred for you out on Whitney, for quite some time, I think. In spite of that, she’s beautiful and smart young woman. But what she really needs right now is her daddy.”
“I live nearby. I’ll be there soon.”
“She’s in room 345.”
About twenty minutes later, a handsome man who is very obviously Whitney’s father, rushes toward Peyton and I.
He stops dead in his tracks and glares at his ex-wife.
Peyton, who has just come out of Whitney’s room, grabs his arm and says, “Malcolm?”
He nods, so she leads him toward Whitney’s room saying, “She’s still out of it but her vitals are good. She’s going to be okay.”
I follow them down the hall and watch as he walks slowly into her room and looks at the daughter he hasn’t seen in years.
He gets choked up as he sits down next to her, takes her hand in his, and whispers, “Hey, Sugar Plum, Daddy’s here. There’s so much I need to tell you when you wake up but know that I love you, I’ve always loved you, and I don’t care what your mother says, I want you in my life.”
I sneak back to the waiting room. Whitney’s mom and Winnie are gone.
Peyton soon joins me. “Even after what she almost did to me, is it bad that I still want to be her friend? We’ve been through so much shit together.”
“I think you should follow your heart, Peyton.”
“What about you?”
“I don’t think Whitney and I will ever be friends, but I fully support you.”
She pulls me into a hug. “Thank you. That means so much to me.” She starts sniffling. “I can’t believe she almost did that. I almost tried to kill myself once too.”
She nods her head. “After my mom. Cam. I thought it would be easier not to go on.”
“What stopped you?”
“Yeah, he doesn’t even know that I was thinking about it, but he was kind to me. He knew I was upset, told me that he hoped we could still be friends regardless of his brother. Then he gave me a hug and I proceeded to cry all over his shoulder. And I decided then not to do it.”
“Dawson is a good guy.”
“Yeah, he is. Do you think we should call him?”
“I think he already knows,” I say, smiling as I see both Jake and Dawson walking down the hall toward us.