I drove until it was almost pitch black outside my windows before I stopped at a bar so far outside of town that I had no doubt that I wouldn’t bump into anyone I knew. It was the perfect place for me to hide out from everyone. There was also a sense of freedom and rebellion to the fact that I was doing something I knew my parents detested. I probably wouldn’t have even thought about going in to the bar if it wasn’t for those feelings; I probably would’ve kept driving until I got so tired that I had no choice but to go home. Instead I stopped my car and got out with steely determination. The bar was very dimly lit outside but from what I could see of it the bar looked a little grungy and unkempt. That made my sudden confidence and determination waver slightly, all the bad things my parents had told me over the years that happened in places like this came flooding to the forefront of my mind, but I made myself keep going. I had to do this! I had to prove to myself that my parents didn’t rule my life anymore! Mentally pushing myself, I began to run.
I probably looked completely stupid and weird as I burst through the bar door but I didn’t care. I immediately felt several pairs of eyes burning into me which made me look down to the floor and begin to panic inside. Silently I prayed for them to stop looking, to find something of more interest than me. I stood in utter silence for what felt like a lifetime but was probably only a couple of minutes until, one by one, I felt their eyes lift from me. Those few minutes whilst I was the focus of their attentions were probably the most excruciating few moments of my life. My heart pounded so loud that I swear I could hear it and my palms had begun to sweat profusely which is probably why, when their eyes turned away from me, I couldn’t help the heavy sigh of relief that escaped me.
Not wanting their eyes to turn back to me for standing in the one place for so long I forced myself to walk up to the bar and take a seat on one of the barstools. My legs shook the entire way. Getting to the bar was easier said than done though because the bar was at the other side of the room, past all those people who had been staring at me when I first came in. The bar was very dimly lit and from what I could tell the lights were red or at least had a reddish tint to them which was actually a little unnerving when you’d watched as many horror movies and TV shows as I have. In that moment I mentally cursed Mark for making me sit through all those movies with him. My parents would’ve killed me if they knew some of the movies Mark had taken me to. Most of the movies were actually pretty tame and watchable but there was this one movie he took me to which was about ghost hauntings that made me have nightmares for weeks afterwards.
“You gonna order something or you just gonna sit there all night” a voice asked from almost straight in front of me. I quickly lifted my eyes and found a slightly burly male bartender standing in front of me on the other side of the bar. His hair was brightly streaked with shades of red and orange which quickly caught my attention when I looked at him. His hair combined with his piercings and tattoo/s (I wasn’t sure is it was just the one big tattoo or several smaller ones that made up what I could see) made him look like the typical stereotype of bartenders that were always portrayed in movies or on the TV.
“Listen, you seem like a nice kid but if you do not order something I will have to ask you to leave. This bar is for paying customers only and I cannot have you taking up a seat that actual customers could be using.” The longer the bartender spoke the more pronounced his slight accent became. I couldn’t quite pinpoint where it could’ve originated from but from what limited knowledge I did have I couldn’t help but think that he maybe came from India or somewhere similar accent wise to there.
“B…but there’s only about 5 or 6 people in the bar right now and that’s including us” I heard myself say out loud. I had only meant to say that in my head. The fact that I hadn’t meant to say it out loud did nothing to change that it was still true. From what I could see when I had entered the bar was that there were 3 girls that looked around my age or a little older sitting at one of the tables at the back of the room plus me and the bartender. There had been another couple when I came in but I had heard them leaving as I took my seat at the bar.
“Listen kid are you gonna order something or not?” the bartender all but growled at me which made me jump slightly and point to the nearest thing I could see which in this case just happened to be a cocktail of some sort. I have to admit, it looked sort of pretty but I had no idea what was in it.
“I…I’ll have one of t…those please” I said quietly as I pointed at the cocktail. The bartender gave me a look that seemed to ask me if I was sure, which I wasn’t really, but I just nodded my head anyway. If I was going to do this I was going to do this right. I drummed my fingers nervously against the countertop of the bar whilst I waited for the bartender to come back with my drink. A part of me wanted to watch how he made the drink but another part of me, the daredevil part, wanted to be surprised. In the end the daredevil part won out and I ended up watching my fingers dance across the countertop instead of watching the bartender.
The bartender came back within mere minutes with my freshly prepared drink in hand. My hand shook something terribly when I reached out to take it from him but I forced it to cooperate and hold steady. I could do this. I was already a disappointment to my parents so what was one more screw up? That thought made me somewhat stronger and allowed me to grab the drink and take the first sip. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the overall taste of it. It was mostly sort of fruity but I could still taste the alcohol behind the fruitiness which made me more than a little hesitant to drink anymore of it. It probably would have been perfectly fine if I couldn’t taste the alcohol because then I could just pretend that it was soda or something but with the slight alcoholic taste I knew that the little voice in the back of my head, that sounded suspiciously like my mother, would nag at me. I held the glass in my hand just staring at the clear liquid inside, trying to decide what to do for several minutes. Drinking alcohol of any sort was a sin or so my parents had always drummed into me since I was small but I needed a way to escape and from most of the things I’d seen in movies or on the internet alcohol would enable me to do that, at least for a little while which was really all I needed. I just needed a break, from my parents, from the terrible things that their church, and probably them too, were doing. I was kind of terrible that I had to sit this long to try and decide something that most girls my age wouldn’t have thought twice about. I could wholly blame my parents for that one at least. I put the glass to my lips but before the alcohol had a chance to pass my lips I heard a couple of giggling girls beginning to speak.
“Hey, is that the girl you told us about?” I heard one of the girls that I’d seen earlier exclaim loudly and since I was the only other girl that wasn’t part of their group I felt inclined to listen in because they were most likely talking about me.
“Yes it is now drop it” a familiar but somehow foreign at the same time voice spoke softly. I also heard that same voice trying to hush the other 2 girls as they continued speaking loudly.
“What did you say her name was again? Robin? Rachel? Reagan? I know you said it was something beginning with an R anyway” the only girl who hadn’t previously spoken spoke up for the first time. Okay, this time I definitely knew they were talking about me. Could I really not go anywhere to get a break where people didn’t know who I was? Was that really too much to ask for?
“Her name is Raven-Jay. Now shut up because she’s right over there” the second girl who had sounded somewhat familiar to me earlier spoke again. Again I could hear how desperate she was to quiet her friends.
“Invite her over and we promise to be quiet” the first and third girls finally spoke after a long pause between them. Oh please no. I came out here to escape not to get pulled into something like this. It was like high school all over again where the bullies would call me over just so they could pick on me and I’d be stupid enough to go over. It was not happening again. I didn’t think I could handle it if it did. My life was bad enough, I did not need this.
“Fine I’ll ask her if she wants to join us but you two better be silent” the familiar girl whispered to the other two girls before she raised her voice to speak again. I was beginning to panic in my seat at what I knew was going to happen next. “Um…Raven…Raven-Jay?” the girl shouted over at me. Her voice shook a little and shy sounded nervous. I still didn’t want to turn around to face her but finally I had to because that small voice wouldn’t stop nagging at me about how rude I was being.
“Um…yes can I…can I help you?” I asked as I turned around to face the group who were still seated at their table. My jaw almost hit the floor when my eyes landed on the three girls who were currently waving me over to their table. There, sitting in directly in between the two giggling girls was Rue Melrose; a girl I had not seen since high school. We were sort of friends. Well, not friends really but we tended to cling together when we were hiding from the bullies. Rue was probably the only person who got bullied worse than I did because she was a little different. Everyone had been dead set against Rue ever since she came out in freshman year. I hadn’t turned away from her at the time because I genuinely liked her but I also hadn’t told me parents that I spoke to her either. At the time they and several other church going parents had tried to petition for Rue to be kicked out of the school because of her preferences. If there was one thing that the church, and my parents, hated more than Mr Connors and his family; it was homosexuals.
“Hey Raven, get over here, would ya?” the pink headed girl sitting to Rue’s left shouted loudly at me which made the other girl giggle even more and made Rue shake her head and glare at them both. Abandoning my drink, I made myself get up from the barstool and make the short walk to Rue’s table. I don’t know why but I felt really nervous about seeing Rue again after all this time, especially with everything else that was going on in my life right now.
“Um…H…hi Rue” I spoke softly once I’d approached the table. I felt oddly uncomfortable but I think that was more to do with the two unknown girls sitting at either side of Rue than actually Rue herself.
“It’s so good to see you again Raven” Rue jumped up from her seat wedged between the giggling girls and looked for a moment like she wanted to hug me but she must have changed her mind at the last moment because instead she placed a hand awkwardly on my arm.
“Uh…yeah…it’s…uh…good to see you too Rue” I mumbled quietly, my eyes flicking nervously between the other two girls and Rue. Rue seemed to notice because she promptly introduced the two girls.
“Before I forget Raven this is Amber Terrey” Rue said as she motioned to the girl with the obviously dyed pink hair on her left “and this is Megan Terrey” she said as she motioned to the brunette on her right. It took me a second to realize that both girls, Amber and Megan, had the same surname. I wondered if they were sisters or something. There was enough familiar resemblance for me to make that assumption so I didn’t really feel bad about jumping to conclusions. I had no idea what look came over my face but Rue quickly jumped in. “They’re cousins”. I nodded my head to let Rue know that I understood but I kind of wished that I could just disappear. Rue’s presence had always been comforting but I was way out of my depth here. As if on cue when Rue turned to look around at Amber and Megan they both burst into a fit of giggles and started nudging each other. I saw Rue shake her head slightly before she turned around again and began walking away from them towards me. I subconsciously took a step backwards but I was able to regain control of my legs to stop myself from going any further.
“I’m sorry about them.” Rue motioned to the giggling girls behind her once she was safely out of earshot of them. “They just don’t know how to behave themselves” she raised her voice slightly so that Amber and Megan could hear her as she said that which, of course, just made them laugh harder. I was starting to get the feeling that they were laughing at some private joke that I was missing out from the way they kept sneaking glances over and me and Rue.
“So…what have you been up to since graduation?” Rue asked once Megan and Amber’s laughter had died down a little. I was a little surprised that she no longer sounded awkward like she had when I’d last saw her. Even listening to her for a few seconds I realized that she was no longer that fragile person I had known; she seemed less scared and more far confident. It was good to see that she’d gotten over, or at least moved past, the bullying she’d faced throughout high school. I kind of wished I could be more like her in that respect. My bullying still haunted me every time I was around or had to talk to people.
“I…um…I’m interning at CC Business Centre. I just started a couple of weeks ago actually” I answered after a brief pause on my part. Rue nodded her head and a small smile crossed her lips.
“What do…uh…what have you been up to?” my manners chose that moment to kick in which made me ask her the obvious polite follow up question. She didn’t seem to mind though; in fact she actually seemed glad I’d asked her.
“My dad thought it would be best if I got away for a while so he sent me to France to stay with my mom, my step-dad and my little brother. My little brother was a massive pain but I think it did me some good being out there. I mean, I definitely feel like I came home feeling stronger than I’ve ever felt before” The corners of her mouth turned up in a small smile which grew larger as she kept speaking. Her eyes were far away though; as if she was maybe remembering some happy memory from her time in France. I couldn’t help the small laugh that escaped me when I remember how much Rue used to complain about her little brother after visiting him and her mother during the holidays when we were in school together. If I remember correctly Rue’s little brother Yves was 7 or 8 years younger than Rue and Rue had only ever gotten to see him over the holidays because when Rue was 4 or 5 her French mother had moved back there whilst Rue had stayed with her dad.
“I stayed there over the summer and when I came home my cousin had gotten me a job at the salon. I’ve been working there ever since and I really enjoy it” Rue’s smile grew larger and she lit up as she spoke about her new job. She kept looking at me with that smile on her face which was making me feel ever so slightly uncomfortable.
“Did you ever…um…sort things out with that…um…um…girl you liked” I asked the first question that came to mind. I wasn’t very good with small talk so I was really struggling.
“I don’t really know. I haven’t really seen her in a while.” Rue answered after a long pause on her part. She looked all shy and bashful as she answered but there was this fire in her eyes that told a completely different story altogether. I wondered what was up with her; this wasn’t her normal behaviour at all or, at least it hadn’t been when I’d known her. I couldn’t really think of anything else to say to her. My normal conversations didn’t normally last this long.
“So…um…uh…um?” I tried to wrack my brains for any random topic to talk about but I was coming up empty. I was also beginning to feel slightly suffocated because I’d noticed that Rue had moved closer to me. There was barely any space left between us whatsoever.
“Uh…Rue?” I whispered as my eyes flicked from side to side, desperately trying to find an escape route for me.
“Raven” she whispered. Her voice sounded different, almost like she was flirting with me but that couldn’t be; she knew I was straight, didn’t she?
“Rue I don’t…” I started to say in a panic but it was too late because before I could finish her lips were against mine. There was a hint of desperation and frustration to the kiss but mostly it was just full of lust and passion. The small voice in the back of my head that sounded like my mother was screaming at me that this was wrong and that I should pull away immediately in disgust but despite that I found myself kissing Rue back as passionately as she was kissing me. More surprisingly than that, was that I was actually enjoying the kiss. As the kiss went on the voice kept getting quieter until, eventually, it disappeared altogether. As she felt me respond to her Rue moved her hands from around my neck down to around my waist, pulling me closer to her as she did so. She seemed to get braver as the kiss went on uninterrupted because not long after wrapping her arms around my waist she slid one of her hands under my shirt and rested it gently on the bare skin on the small of my back. I felt a soft sort of groan escape me. I didn’t really have that much experience when it came to this kind of thing because I’d only ever kissed Mark but even I could tell that this kiss was so much different from the kisses he and I had shared. This kiss was far more passionate but it was also soft and sweet too. I kind of preferred this kiss if I was being completely honest with myself. Wait! What was I thinking! This was wrong; completely and utterly wrong! I wrenched myself away from Rue’s embrace in disgust and revulsion; disgust with Rue for kissing me in the first place and pure and utter revulsion at myself for allowing myself to kiss her back.
“Raven I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have…I’m sorry” Rue said softly. Her face was nothing but apologetic but her overly expressive eyes gave away how she was really feeling inside; they were filled with tears and they looked as if I’d killed her puppy or something. Normally that would have made me feel bad for causing a person I’d cared about pain but I was currently too freaked out to care at all.
“Raven, please can we just…” Rue murmured softly. She was trying to get eye contact with me but I could not bring myself to meet her eyes because I was scared that if I did I would end up thinking about the kiss again and how much I enjoyed it. I had to get out of here! I had to get somewhere where she couldn’t affect me again; somewhere where I could be normal again!
Without really thinking about what I was doing I spun around and began running towards the exit. I felt Rue’s eyes on me as I fled but I didn’t care. I kept running and didn’t stop until I reached my car. I was extremely grateful I’d only had a tiny sip of the cocktail I’d ordered in the bar right now. I’d stumbled a little when the cold air had first hit me but thankfully I was fully stable within a few seconds but that had been the only side effect of my drinking so far. As soon as I could stop my hands from shaking I grabbed my keys from my trouser pocket and unlocked the door. I know that it was silly but as soon as I was in the car I locked the doors again. I was scared that Rue would follow me and tempt me again. One time and there was a slight chance that my parents would forgive me and an even slimmer chance that they would just agree to forget it happened altogether but if it happened more than once then there was no chance at all. They would put me into one of those straight camps that the church used to talk about for Rue when we were in school together and if that didn’t work they would throw me out and disown me forever. I don’t think I could handle that. My parents may be over controlling and real pains to live with but they were the only family I had; I couldn’t lose them. I wanted to cry so badly but I stopped myself whenever I felt tears pooling in my eyes because I knew that I didn’t deserve to cry. A single tear slipped past my control as I started up the car and began the long drive home. The streets were silent as I drove through them. I‘d rolled my window down when I’d begun driving so that the chilly night air would stop me from crying. As I drove there was not one person in sight. It was like the world was mocking me for my horrendous mistake, like I didn’t deserve to be around people.
My parent’s room light was still on when I eventually got home. I couldn’t face them and I knew that if I went in now my mother would no doubt be ready to confront me about why I’d been out so late. So instead I switched my engine off and curled up on my seat in the darkness. Thoughts, about Rue and about everything else I’d ever done wrong, started swirling around in my head as soon as the car went dark. I tried my hardest to make myself think about all the random useless things I knew about but the other thoughts kept attacking until I had no choice but to let them flood my mind. They were overwhelming and the urge to cry was stronger than ever but I still fought against it. It was 2 ½ hours before my parents’ bedroom light eventually went off. Even then, I still didn’t feel safe enough to go into the house in case my mother had laid a trap for me and was sitting patiently in the dark so I sat for another hour or so in my car with the constant ticking of the clock on my dashboard as my only company. The constant tick, tick, ticking of the dashboard clock was enough to drive anyone a crazy let alone someone who had as much going through their head as I did. Amazingly somehow I was able to make it through the whole hour without breaking although I was pretty darn close by the end.
I just about threw myself out of the car when the hour was up. There was a slight chill in the air as I stepped out of my car and the sky was beginning to lighten a little bit on the horizon. It was sort of refreshing and served to clear my head after being stuck in my car for 3 hours. I stood outside my car for a few short moments just trying to get the cool air to clear my head of what I’d done earlier but all too soon I found myself choking up. The need to cry and let out my feelings was becoming near unbearable but I still refused to let myself.
My hands shook somewhat when I opened the front door but thankfully it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t open it. The house was in complete darkness which was to be expected, I guess, when I went inside. It was so dark in fact that I was afraid that I would trip over something and alert my sleeping parents to my presence. Fortunately I knew the rooms in this house like the back of my hand so I was easily able to manoeuvre my way safely through the room. The stairs on the other hand were a different matter altogether because no matter how long you spent going up and down them you never really knew which one was going to creak. It had been like that for as long as I could remember and my parents had never bothered to fix it because they didn’t see a problem with it. I slid my shoes of at the foot of the stairs and began tiptoeing in an effort to stop the creaking altogether. I got to about the fourth stair from the top without so much as a hint of creaking then as soon as I placed my foot on that stair a loud creak echoed throughout the silent house. My natural reaction was to freeze but instead of going with that I jumped up the last few steps and sprinted for my room as quietly as possibly in case the creak had woken my parents.
Once inside my room I jammed my door shut then collapsed on my bed, completely breathless. It wasn’t long after I fell on my bed that the tears that I’d been trying so hard to hold back earlier broke free and began to stream mercilessly down my face. I felt like a completely terrible person. Why had I allowed myself to do what I’d done? I was straight! I did not like that kiss! I was not going to think about it ever again, it was always going to be my dirty little secret! I kept repeating to myself over and over again in my head. I so wanted what I was saying to be the truth but it wasn’t. I did enjoy the kiss and I was thinking about it which was only making me cry harder.
A/N: I forgot to say when I originally published this that Megan and Amber Terrey aren’t my sims. They are from this legacy here written by the amazing Jax.