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Someone i used to know, p.1
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       Someone I Used to Know, p.1

           Patty Blount
 
Someone I Used to Know


  Also by Patty Blount

  Send

  TMI

  Some Boys

  Nothing Left to Burn

  The Way It Hurts

  Thank you for purchasing this eBook.

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  Copyright © 2018 by Patty Blount

  Cover and internal design © 2018 by Sourcebooks, Inc.

  Cover design by Vanessa Han

  Cover image © Treasures & Travels/Stocksy

  Sourcebooks and the colophon are registered trademarks of Sourcebooks, Inc.

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews—without permission in writing from its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.

  The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

  All brand names and product names used in this book are trademarks, registered trademarks, or trade names of their respective holders. Sourcebooks, Inc., is not associated with any product or vendor in this book.

  Take Back the Night organization’s trademarked name used by permission of Take Back the Night Foundation.

  Published by Sourcebooks Fire, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc.

  P.O. Box 4410, Naperville, Illinois 60567-4410

  (630) 961-3900

  Fax: (630) 961-2168

  sourcebooks.com

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Names: Blount, Patty, author.

  Title: Someone I used to know / Patty Blount.

  Description: Naperville, Illinois : Sourcebooks Fire, [2018]

  Identifiers: LCCN 2017061768 | (pbk : alk. paper)

  Subjects: | CYAC: Rape--Fiction. | Brothers and sisters--Fiction. | Family problems. | High schools--Fiction. | Schools--Fiction.

  Classification: LCC PZ7.B6243 Soq 2018 | DDC [Fic]--dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2017061768

  Contents

  Front Cover

  Title Page

  Copyright

  September

  1

  2

  3

  4

  5

  6

  October

  7

  8

  9

  10

  11

  12

  13

  14

  15

  16

  17

  18

  November

  19

  20

  21

  22

  23

  24

  25

  26

  27

  Epilogue

  Resources

  Acknowledgments

  About the Author

  A Sneak Peek at Some Boys

  Back Cover

  To the men in my life—Fred, Rob, and Chris—for supporting me on this odyssey, for not being that guy, and for giving me hope.

  September

  1

  Ashley

  Your Honor, thank you for letting me address this court. The first thing I want to say is that I couldn’t wait to start high school. I liked the defendant. I really liked him. And I thought he liked me back. But now I know he never saw me as a person. I was nothing more than an opportunity for him. So now I can’t wait until I’m done with high school.

  —Ashley E. Lawrence, victim impact statement

  NOW

  BELLFORD, OHIO

  The mirror is my enemy.

  So is the closet.

  There’s literally nothing to wear. Clothes litter my room. Several pairs of jeans are balled up on my bed because they hug my butt too tightly. T-shirts lie in piles on the floor because they’re too clingy. Shorts and skirts? No. They reveal too much leg. I throw them over my shoulder. Dr. Joyce, my therapist, claims it’s normal to have trouble getting dressed after what happened.

  I always tell her I don’t care what’s normal after what happened; I just want normal—without qualifiers. I want to open my closet, pull on any old outfit, and not obsess about people thinking I’m asking for it.

  “Ashley?”

  I glance up and find Mom in my doorway, looking me over. I’m wearing a robe even though it’s about ninety degrees outside.

  “You okay?”

  “Fine,” I lie and dive back into my closet, mopping sweat from the back of my neck. We’d agreed that I’d go to school on my own today. It’s time.

  “Ashley, look at me.”

  I pull my head out of my closet and meet her eyes.

  “Honey, I know you’re upset. We all are, but I promise you, it’s going to be okay.”

  At those words, I clench my jaw and shoot up a hand. Then I just turn away because, honestly, I don’t know which part pisses me off more…the colossal understatement implied by a wimpy word like upset or the addition of the pronoun we, suggesting everybody else in this family knows exactly how I feel when they don’t have the slightest clue.

  She sighs but nods and then steps over to the closet, rehanging the discarded clothes I dumped on my bed. “We haven’t looked west yet. California is truly beautiful. You know I’ve never been there?”

  I roll my eyes. We haven’t looked anywhere. All we’ve done is talk about it, so I say the same thing I always say when this comes up. “Mom, I don’t want to move away.”

  “But it could be a fresh new start for all of us, Ashley. No one would even have to know you were—”

  “Mom.” I cut her off, forcefully this time. “I really have to get dressed.”

  Her blue eyes, the eyes both of my brothers inherited, fill with the look that’s become way too common over the last two years. It’s disappointment. Is it directed at me or what happened to me? I don’t know anymore, and I don’t think it even matters. All I know is it’s so acute, I can’t bear to see it and have to look away. Once again, I return my attention to the closet to find something to wear.

  “Okay. Have a great first day. Call if…if you need me.” She turns and heads downstairs.

  I don’t answer because great days are yet another myth I’ve discovered in a long series of them, starting with the concept of justice. I roll my eyes. California. Like it would be no problem to just shut down Dad’s auto repair shop and move a family of five across the country where there are no grandparents, no aunts, no uncles or cousins.

  As the front door closes and the engine starts in the driveway, my phone buzzes. It hardly ever does that anymore. I glance at the display, annoyed when some stupid tiny seed of hope blooms because there’s a text message from Derek.

  Derek: Good luck today.

  Rage ignites inside me like a match held to dry leaves. Cursing, I kick over my hamper, swipe every last book and paper off my desk, and come perilously close to hurling my cell phone at the wall. Good luck. Could he be this clueless?

  As this is my brother, yes. He could be and often is this clueless…and worse.

  Ashley: Yeah. Sure. Luck. That’ll help.


  The phone buzzes again.

  Derek: I’m sorry. I swear I am.

  Sorry? I almost laugh. Derek doesn’t do apologies.

  “Derek, tell Ashley you’re sorry,” Mom would order him after he’d made me cry for some thing or another.

  And he’d say, “Sorry, Ash.” Mom would walk away or turn her back, and he’d stick out his tongue or roll his eyes and smile that Derek smile, and I’d know. I’d know he wasn’t really sorry. He was only saying it to make Mom happy. Apologies happen when you own up to having been wrong, and Derek has never been wrong in his life.

  I stare at the words I’d have given anything to hear my brother say two years ago, but they’re too little, too late, and knowing Derek as I do, false.

  I toss the phone to my bed and go back to pawing through every drawer in my dresser and every hanger in my closet for something to wear and finally spy something. It’s this old maxi dress Mom bought for me years ago. The tags are still on it. I grab it and hold it up. It probably doesn’t fit. I think I was twelve or thirteen when she bought it.

  There’s a little pang in my chest. Twelve or thirteen.

  Before everything changed.

  I swallow hard, trying to hold on to the pain because if it gets loose—

  Deep breath. Hold it in. Okay. Dress. Right.

  I hold the dress up to my body, considering it. Yeah, it might work. I slip it on, smooth it out. It’s actually a bit big. And ugly. Shades of dull beige and brown in a paisley print that hangs all the way to my ankles. I grab a sweater to hide my shoulders revealed by this outfit and smooth down a cowlick in my hair, which has finally reached shoulder length again.

  Above the shelf on my wall, there’s a mirror Mom bought so I could get ready for the new school year. I’d smashed the old mirror in another fit of rage not long after I’d hacked off my long hair. Yeah, this outfit does work. It hides pretty much everything.

  I grab my phone and try to visualize the day ahead. Tara, my best friend, will meet me at school. She always has my back. The rest of the school is a different story.

  Derek’s words rattle around inside my head like some kind of curse. Good luck, Ash Tray. You’ll need it.

  Deep breaths. Breathe in, hold for one…two…three…four, breathe out. In, hold, out. In, hold, out. I hate doing these breathing exercises because I feel like a total loser. I mean, who has to concentrate on breathing?

  Traumatized people like me, that’s who.

  Two years. It’s been two years. I’m fine. I’m absolutely fine. I roll my eyes because that’s another thing I must do. Tell myself complete and total lies. It’s supposed to help me believe them, turning them into what my therapist claims are self-fulfilling prophecies. I get it. The power of positive thinking and all that crap. But the truth is, I’m still waiting to feel fulfilled, yet I keep doing the same stupid breathing exercise, and I keep repeating the same stupid lies until finally my heart stops trying to beat out of my chest.

  This is it—the first day of school. Junior year. I can do this. I can. I will do this.

  I do something else…something my therapist never told me about. I visualize. I imagine building a dam…a little beaver dam of logs and twigs and dried mud to keep all of the triggers and memories and rage and…pain from leaking out into my life. I spend some time shoring up my dam, and with one last deep breath, I head downstairs, pretending the dread that’s still climbing up my rib cage is anticipation for the first day of my junior year.

  I see two coffee cups in the sink and dishes from my parents’ breakfast. It’s normal and typical, and it gives me something to hang on to while I wrestle all that dread back behind the dam.

  I glance at the clock to make sure I have time and discover it’s after 8:00 a.m.

  No, that can’t be right. I woke up extra early.

  My shoulders sag while I stare at the clock blinking on the microwave over the stove and then pull the phone from my pocket. It shows the same time. How? How is this possible? They’re wrong. They’re both wrong. They have to be. I run to the family room, but the cable box is blinking the same time.

  I’ve not only missed the bus, but I’ve missed the start of first period.

  I shoulder my bag and start walking.

  I thought I was past this. I thought the days when I’d lost huge chunks of time doing nothing except breathing were behind me.

  • • •

  School is terminally irritating.

  I missed first period entirely, and by the time the old bat in the front office gives me my pass, I’ve missed half of second, too.

  “Ashley. Hey,” Tara whispers when I finally take my seat in lit class, her face split in a huge smile. “What took you so long?” And then she looks at my outfit. “What are you wearing?”

  I shake my head. “Don’t even.”

  She puts up both hands in apology—or maybe surrender—and turns back to her notebook. Mrs. Kaplan is reading us the class rules and information about homework, exams, and class participation. I know this drill so I zone out. I take a look around the class, see who’s here, who’s not, and spot Sebastian Valenti over by the window at the same second he jerks his eyes away from me.

  They’re really amazing eyes. Hazel. I used to think hazel was a color but found out it actually means eyes that change colors. Sebastian’s eyes look green sometimes, and other times, they look brown, and I’ve even seen them look practically yellow. Sebastian’s a good guy. The best. He saved me when my stupid brother didn’t. Wouldn’t. He keeps asking how I’m doing, and I keep saying fine. And that’s about as deep as our conversations ever get, so I just don’t bother anymore. I haven’t talked to him all summer. But he’s still a really good guy.

  “May I have your attention please?”

  The PA system cracks into life, and Mrs. Kaplan takes a seat at her desk while the principal welcomes us back to the new school year and tells us about some after-school clubs. And then, right after an announcement about several new teachers, Principal McCloskey ruins what’s left of my life.

  “We’d like to welcome our new calculus teacher, Mr. Davidson, to Bellford High. In addition to teaching calculus, Mr. Davidson has agreed to help us start a new and improved football program. Tryouts for this year’s Bengals team will be held after school.”

  A cheer goes up around the classroom.

  I sit in my seat, frozen. I’m fine. I’m absolutely fine. I lie to myself, but my brain knows better, and I can feel that old pressure spinning inside my chest.

  A hand squeezes mine, and I jolt like I’ve been struck by lightning. I look up into the concerned eyes of Tara. That’s when I discover everybody in the entire class has swiveled around to see how I’m taking this news. Most people look concerned, like Tara. But others are triumphant, like Andre, sitting at the front of the classroom, and Bruce, over by the windows next to Sebastian. I can’t stand it, can’t deal with it. Suddenly, I’m on my feet, running for the door. “Ashley! Ashley, come back here!” Mrs. Kaplan shouts after me.

  I dart across the hall into the girls’ bathroom and lock myself into a stall. I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine.

  I repeat the words over and over so fast, they morph into percussion that syncs to the pounding of my heart. It’s bad enough seeing everybody stare at me. Everybody blames me for canceling football.

  Derek blames me.

  My brother blames me for what happened two years ago. I can never forget that…or forgive it.

  It doesn’t matter how many lies I tell myself or how deep I bury those memories, how strong the dam is. Those memories—the pain they cause—they keep finding ways to break out, and I’m just not strong enough to hold them back.

  I don’t think I ever will be.

  TWO YEARS AGO

  BELLFORD, OHIO

  It’s raining, but I don’t care. I love the way the air smel
ls when it rains. Earthy. Clean and fresh and—so alive. I’m totally psyched to start high school and don’t care if there’s a hurricane. Armed with my bright pink umbrella, I’m ready to head to the bus stop, but Mom says Derek could have the car if he drives both of us to school. I squeal and clap. I love riding shotgun with Derek…when he lets me, that is.

  Derek’s been treating me like crap for ages. We’re only a year and a half apart, so we shared a stroller, took baths together, went to gymnastics and soccer together. We were on different teams, though. That always bugged me. I wanted to play on his team. We’re a unit, a combo special, a team. Justin, our brother, is a lot older. He has his own separate life. But Derek and I are best friends. Nobody knows it but me, but Derek wants to make video games when we grow up. He has a ton of cool ideas, too.

  At least, he used to. He never talks about that kind of stuff with me anymore. Now he’s all about football and girls and driving and avoids me as much as he can. I annoy him. I don’t see how that’s even possible. I try to do all the things he always liked doing with me like movie nights and epic game battles. Now he just rolls his eyes and says I should get a life.

  But this is my first day of high school. So that means we can hang out again. I’m older and not so annoying. Derek doesn’t argue with Mom about driving me to school, so I kind of assume that means he’s finally outgrown his problems with me. Mom said he would…eventually. I also kind of assume that driving us to school also means driving us home. He has other ideas.

  “Take the bus home. I’m hanging with my friends later.”

  “Oh,” I say, smile fading. “Yeah. Sure.”

  My first day of high school is awesome in every possible way. I have lunch with Donna Jennings, a girl I know from middle school, who got her hair cut in this really cool undershaved style and got a boyfriend over the summer. She showed everybody the gold heart necklace he’d given her, and my heart sighed. It had stopped raining by the afternoon, so I take my time heading to the parking lot to ride home with Derek, but the space where he’d parked Mom’s car is empty.

  Darn. I was supposed to take the bus home. I totally forgot.

 
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