I’m in my dorm room cranking out a paper for Freshman Seminar when an uneasy feeling washes over me. I stop. Is Jules okay? For a moment, I consider ignoring my gut but it will be impossible to focus on drawing a parallel comparison between You Can’t Go Home Again by alumna Thomas Wolfe and the reality of the college experience while second guessing myself.
I find my phone at the bottom of my backpack and call her.
“Hey, Babe, what’s going on?” It’s been four months since I started picking up on her emotions. She no longer shrugs this fact off when I call. It’s the elephant in the room of which we do not speak.
“Andrew!” I catch a sniffle in the pause. “Oh, damn. I dropped my notes! That’s what I get for trying to get all this stuff out of my car at once. Crap, it’s blowing everywhere. I’ll text you in a min.” She hangs up.
I wait a few minutes, but the sad feeling from Jules only intensifies. With a sigh, I save the doc on my laptop, and grab my keys.
I find her car parked on the side of the building. Strange how I feel magnetized to her and as we draw closer, we snap together.
But then I see him. Nick.
He’s sitting in the front passenger seat next to Jules. They are speaking animatedly, and I as I draw closer, Jules is sobbing and shouting at him. That bastard. Why the hell does she hang out with him? I’ve had enough. I yank open Nick’s door and stand in the way.
“Wrong side, Buddy. She’s on the other side.”
“This is the side I want.” I stand my ground.
Slowly, Nick swivels and steps out of the car. I hold fast, drawing myself up as we stand face to face.
“What did you do to her this time?” And ever so slowly, my scarred knuckles lift and I poke him in the chest with one finger.
Nick doesn’t reply. His eyes narrow and something in his body tenses. In the split second when I anticipate his countermove, the other door slams. Jules scrambles around the car. Neither of us look away.
“Andrew! Nick! Stop! You have to stop!” Jules yells. There’s panic in her voice. I don’t understand why she protects Nick. The guy’s obviously a jerk.
Nick tilts his head a fraction. “I don’t answer to you.”
“You’d better start.”
I land one hard, forceful punch to his face before Jules jumps between us. She’s clawing at me, hysterical. Nick doesn’t even move. He stands silently, watching as I am forced to address her. I break my gaze.
“Andrew! How could you do that? You promised!” She beats on my chest a little. It’d be cute except that she’s so upset.
Barely loud enough for me to hear, Nick says, “That one was free.”
I begin making my case, drawing us a few feet away from him as I speak.”He’s always upsetting you. Why do you let this jerk treat you this way?”
Then she gives me that look. The one where she reads me and the assessment is not good. It begins to dawn on me that I might have screwed up. Again.
“Nick hurts you, Jules. Why aren’t you yelling at him?”
I reach for her and she rebuffs me. Uh oh, she crossed her arms. I realize Nick is studying us intently.
And then I realize Jules is holding his gaze. It’s almost like they’re talking. She’s pissed. Jules shifts her stance, like she’s yelling at him. Her whole body language is that way. Only she’s not saying a thing as one hand gestures. She actually points at him. Nick rolls his eyes in disgust and looks away from her. His eyes settle on me then dart back to hers. She startles then looks up into my eyes.
I see fear.
Without a doubt, I’ve seen something I wasn’t suppose to see. I glance between them.
They both wait for my reaction.
This is it. The moment when it all becomes crystal clear. I step forward and press a finger into Nick’s solid chest one last time, appreciative to see the darkening mark on his face.
“Stop. Upsetting. Jules.”
He nods in the slightest of movements. He seems almost grateful.
I turn and walk away.
@ Copyright 2013 Amy Tupper
Blinded can be purchased at Amazon.com