Cover Photo © Rosalie Thorne
Editor – Z. V. Ezell
By Rosalie Thorne
This is the continuation of Lorianna’s story!
The first installment was #PastelPrincess.
So, make sure to check that out before diving in.
“You’ve been mostly-dead all day.”
- The Princess Bride
“This is so Gossip Girl,” Sophia comments through laughter.
I snort and then sip on my Dirty Shirly. “I cannot believe Parker and Macen convinced him to do this.”
Standing in one of Boston’s hottest clubs, the elite of Excelsior Academy have taken it over for the night of Chris’s eighteenth birthday. It wasn’t hard for this group of the rich and famous to not only get the club for the whole night, but to also pay whoever they needed to pay to have an open bar, even though we are all under age. In addition, someone – as a gift – hired Luca Manfe himself to be the head chef of the event. And now that Gabrielle Russo is far away in New Jersey, the paparazzi are the least of our worries.
It's a far cry from what Chris-Cross originally said he wanted for his birthday, a “super chill” game-night with pizza and sheet cake. But Mayday did have a point in saying that you only turn eighteen once and why waste a perfectly good opportunity to party? As I watch him cross the crowded floor, the birthday boy really does seem like he’s having a great time.
Knowing it will be a hot minute before he makes it back to the VIP section, I follow So-So to the sofa. Before I can even get out of my heels, she gives me a look with raised eyebrows, “So….”
She smirks, “Marriage, huh?”
I roll my eyes but can’t help but smile. “Eventually.”
“Says the girls who, I don’t know, not even a year ago hated Christopher O’Crosphen with every fiber of her being.”
I swat at her, “It’s not like it’s some harlequin romance that my mama writes! We’ve known each other forever and… well,” but I’m having a hard time putting it into words.
After setting my drink down on the table, I pull my legs up to sit comfortably. “Well, I don’t know!” I laugh. “We have so much history and stuff in common and love each other a lot….” A little flustered I look her straight on. “Don’t you believe in soul mates?”
She leans her head side-to-side. “Devil’s advocate though, what about all the issues you did have? And, like, have you guys had The Talk? Like, the what you both want in the future, talk? Where you guys what to live, if you want kids, all that really important stuff? I’d hate for you to get so wrapped up in this…,” but then she stops abruptly. I can tell she was about to say fairytale as she has in the past but knows how much that hurts me – like I am some naive, innocent, hopeless romantic that is in love with the idea of love rather than Chris. “… romance, that you are going to compromise all your hopes and dreams and goals and plans.” I know her heart is in the right place, talking from the experience that led her borderline abusive ex to rape her.
After a long moment, I sigh. “But that’s just it So-So… I don’t care? As long as I am with him, it feels right.” Clearly, this doesn’t appease her mind and her head shakes every so slight as she goes for her drink on the table. I continue, “We both want to live in Europe, we both want to get married and have kids, and we both love each other more than anything in the world. Isn’t that enough?”
“I just don’t want you to get hurt.”
Chris catches my eye as he walks towards us. “He would never hurt me,” and I know in my heart and soul that’s true.
When Mama wakes me around three in the morning, I fear the worst. But then I see Papa standing in my bedroom doorway… I start to wonder why else would she wake me in the middle of the night? Suddenly fearful something is wrong with my friends or the trip to Italy we’re supposed to leave for in roughly ten hours, acid rises in my chest.
In a blur of words, she explains that Chris is at the door waiting for me. She seems… happy, maybe even excited as she shuffles me downstairs though, which eases me. But when I see him only a step inside the townhouse, I hear Papa grumble behind me, I don’t know what to think. Just as they leave us, heading toward the kitchen I very distinctly hear him say “this is not going to be good” after Mama gushed about how “romantic” this is.
After wrapping my linen cardigan around my waist, I tuck some loose hair behind my ear, “Hey.” My voice is wispy and a little rough. I clear my throat and take a step closer to where he’s leaning against the door, “Hey?”
His hand doesn’t come to mine when I reach for it. As he shifts from one foot to the other his face comes into the beam of light from the kitchen revealing his sullen expression, with sunken cheeks, chapped lips, and unblinking, blood-shot eyes. He’s not looking at me exactly… sort of next to my left ear. “Lorianna,” he says in a very low whisper.
Very concerned, I step closer and reach for his hand again. Though I touch him softly, he seems to wince. Pushing himself into the corner by the door, he shakes his head once.
“Chris… what is it?”
A death? A sickness…? Something he obviously needs to tell me in person before the world wakes up and news starts circulating. Looking at him desperately, I ask again “Christopher? Is it… is it your –”
But he stops me by shaking his head once more. “Several weeks now a particular subject has been under discussion.” His voice is low, emotionless, almost prepared-speech-like. “And under the advisement of my father, I’ve come here…,” he swallows hard. “I’ve come here tonight to tell you: you are no longer my girlfriend.”
I laugh. “What?”
He finally looks me in the eye. Too many emotions wash over his face, most falling into the realm of pain and heartbreak and loss. His hand reaches for the door, and he says, “I’m sorry,” in a depleted tone.
I realize I’m still laughing and the first thought in my head is just over three weeks ago on his eighteenth birthday where he suggested we get married the day after my eighteenth birthday. Not an unfamiliar subject, not a subject we take lightly. And I had agreed.
And now… now?
“Really, what?” my voice speaks my mind.
But his answer was to close the door in my face.
Everyone arrived at the agreed-upon time. Everyone had their bags and passports and everything they could even acutely need for our Summer vacation to Italy. Everyone is loud and excited and seems to fill the whole downstairs even though it’s only the seven of us and my parents. Variety boxes of donuts being riffled through, mugs of coffee or tea and glasses of juice being chugged, they’re all getting in as much energy as possible before our all-day journey.
No one seems to notice I’m not eating. No one seems to notice that I’m not talking.
No one seems to notice that He isn’t here.
Even Mama and Papa are running around like hyper-active, spastic kittens because the only two things I said after I told them He broke up with me was one – don’t tell anyone and two – we’re still going on the trip.
After I got up and was ready at the agreed-upon time (surprising them), they tried to be upbeat while we waited for everyone to arrive, saying that this trip is probably exactly what I need.
I don’t know, I don’t care.
The outside world still moves on even if my personal world has ceased to exist.
It is only when we arrive at the airport and are huddled in front of the wall of glass doors, that someone finally notices His absence.
“Hey, wait… are we about to Home Alone Chris?”
I wince at his name, almost instantly feeling like I’m about to throw up.
Of course, as they would – as they should if my universe hadn’t become a black hole – they look to me. I can see Mama give me a look and Papa open his mouth, but I shake my head at them.
I barely manage out the words “He’s not coming.”
Those who were originally his best friends look at each other and it’s very clear he hadn’t told them, not even Parker. Parker looks to Macen.
There’s a darkness in Macen’s eyes and a stiffness in his body… because he can now see it in me. He knows me. He’s been through Hell and back with me, (Hell and back with Sophia). If anyone is going to Hulk out over this, it will be him.
Everyone well aware of the battle-mode Mayday has, they go quiet. The rushing of cars, the loudness of people, it all seems to fade away when I finally look into Macen’s eyes.
“Did he?” break up with you?
Empty, I answer, “Yes.”
“But why?” … did he say?
Cold in the Summer heat, I shake my head. “I don’t know.” … he didn’t say.
“Are you…?” okay?
My eyes drift away for a moment. “No.”
“But you still want to?” go on this trip?
“Are you sure?” … ‘cause we can go home right now. I can go find him and kill him right now, Lori. Are you sure?
And that is that.
He didn’t even cancel his ticket; he just didn’t show. I can hear the flight attendants calling for him for final boarding and none of us fill them in. Everyone takes turns sitting next to me, in His seat, even while I sleep.
My parents are in charge of my medication. They are fully aware of how much and how often, and then come to me with my pills when they’re supposed to. Even when I do feel pain, I don’t try and fight it – fight them, trying to manipulate my way into getting high. Not with my friends so close… not with how hard this was for my parents last time.
I’m better than that.
… aren’t I?
The moment we go in for our final landing, everything seems to change.
Thus far, everyone has acted like nothing is wrong. Taking cue from me, following my lead, you would have never guessed I’d had my heart eviscerated within the last day.
Like any movie or show that had a group of close young adults going on vacation, we acted rather stereotypically to that. I did smile, I did laugh… getting caught up in the moments and feeling a burst of life like a shooting star.
But when we come into our final landing, that fleeting light shifts, steading, and even if it’s very small, flickering like a birthday candle, it stays shining.
Caught up in the moment, in life, in the adventure, I become completely and utterly distracted.
To get the most out of our trip, from our wake-up-call to when our heads hit the pillows, everything had been planned weeks in advance. Seeing so much, doing so much, eating so much… experiencing so much! Heart pounding, mind racing, everything is so impactful and though-provoking and heart-consuming I keep going to bed exhausted but waking up with a spring-in-my-step, ready for more.
He never shows. His family never shows.
But my friends surround me. And my parents stay the whole trip.
I am medicated, I am fed, I shop, I play, and I get enough sleep. I am distracted in every waking moment.
If someone didn’t know any better, they’d think I’m the happiest girl on Earth. They’d think I’m having the best time of my life, and this would be a fundamentally changing trip for me.
And they wouldn’t be wrong.
But… everything must come to an end.
I am able to mimic Italy trip Lorianna for Macen’s eighteen birthday extravaganza.
I am able to mimic Italy trip Lorianna for Fourth Of July with Sophia at The Pentagon.
I am even able to mimic Italy trip Lorianna for my own birthday, turning seventeen in all my Leo glory.
Doctor Renfield takes a deep breath. “And do you really believe that? Really feel that? Are you sure?”
I nod. “I can’t not go back to school. No matter what my parents say. No matter if I could get away with medical leave or finish out my education in Benovia with Papa. It’s just one more year and I’ll have a high school diploma from one of the best private schools in The Unites States.”
I ease forward, forearms on my knees with my hands loose in the air, my eyes down. “I have a life here. A good life. It may not feel that way – I may not feel…” anything, “but logically…. Logically,” I repeated, “it’s good. It’s good and safe and there’s no logical reason for me to run away.”
She eyes me carefully and sighs again. “And is everyone supportive of this? Your parents, your friends?”
“My parents are worried it’ll be too much.”
“Can you understand why?”
I give a hollow laugh. “Even when everything was perfect, school was overwhelming. Double appointments during finals and all. I know,” I groan and sit back against the plush cushions. “I know why they’re worried – I get it, I do. But everyone gets broken up with.
“This isn’t some brand new, tragic event. Everyone gets broken up with” I repeat softly, “and they deal with it – they bounce back, they move on.”
“But not everyone is you, Lorianna.”
Oh, believe me… “I know.”
I can tell from experience: it’s all true… the world really does lose color when depressed. Colors are faded, sounds are either too soft or too sharp, and I may smile and laugh but I can’t seem to hang on to the joy or happiness. Even with my friends, I’m not exactly happy… just, sort of, less depressed.
Less sad, less pained. In comparison, I suppose that could be defined as happiness. But nothing like I’ve felt before. Nothing like I was before.
I am not that girl, not anymore.
Routine is more important than ever now. And though sometimes following through with all my routines may seem like the most important thing in the goddamn world, like my life literally depends on me completing my day exactly the right way… sometimes it seems pointless and pathetic.
Updating my social media, for example, is a perfect hit-or-miss activity. Sometimes it’s the only thing I want to do all day but sometimes I stare at my phone and can’t help but ask myself … really? But then the thought of not doing it, even if I’m temporarily fully convinced it’s stupid and meaningless, sends me into a tailspin.
I have to follow routine… I just have to.
I have to do everything I’m supposed to.
And I always have to be prepared.
For every possible outcome, no matter what.
One way or another, the world found out what had happened. I received a lot of apologies and well-wishes and ‘that suck’s and ‘don’t worry he’s an asshole anyway’… sometimes from people who didn’t even know me. I received a lot of support from outsiders… I just wished it made a difference.
One particularly sweet girl who I’ve chatted with a few times on Tumblr randomly messages me. Because she misses my #PastelPrincess tag, she suggests running with a #MonochromaticPrincess tag now that grey scale is all I’m wearing.
Instead, I remember how Han got his name and choose solo.
Solo… meaning one, meaning only, meaning totally and utterly alone.
The last weekend before school starts is finally upon us. As someone once explained to me ‘making appearances’ at a slew of parties is exhausting. But at least we don’t stay long enough for any real conversations to happen – we don’t stay long enough for anyone to bring Him up.
That’s the thing that most people get around to asking about after ‘making sure I’m okay’, is not what happened (as I anticipated) but where is He?
He left my doorstep that morning and vanished.
His social media went silent. No texts, no calls, no emails either.
The last thing anyone could find on Google was something about me and him in the Spring.
People even tried reaching out to his parents, but their offices claimed the Prime Minister and his wife ‘are far too busy to deal with such nonsense inquiries’. People even tried reaching out to his brother, but his brother was studying aboard (not in the USA, nor England) all Summer and very specifically did not reply when He was mentioned.
And as much everyone wants to pick my brain and I am just a constant source of gossip, that much more are people looking around every corner of every party and hoping that’s when He’ll decide to show his face again.
As I was slowly breaking apart a brownie from the dish labeled ‘no pot’, his name is dropped from across the kitchen. The conversation continues with “He has to, you know?” one Senior boy is saying to another. “This is the last weekend. There’s no way he’s just going to show up to school on Wednesday with being gone all Summer.”
“Wouldn’t he though? That’s totally the right play here. Or…” the second boy lifts his eyebrows and shifts his shoulders. “Maybe he won’t show up at all.”
This leads a girl to chip in. “He was planning on taking college classes this year. Maybe… maybe he’s just skipping out and going to some university in England.”
My feeling of nauseousness is stifled and a new feeling of dread spreads with my blood running cold. I text my mom to see if she has any news from Charlotte. But, like every time I’ve asked, her response is “He’s alive”.
Is he coming back?
For Senior Year?
It was decided this morning, apparently.
Are you sure you wouldn’t rather do online classes?