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Return to Paradise

Return to Paradise (Leaving Paradise) Episode 6

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Return to Paradise (Leaving Paradise) Episode 6I pull my hand back. “I’m fine.”Maggie tsks and bends down so we’re face to face. Her gaze meets mine. “No,

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Return to Paradise (Leaving Paradise) Episode 6

Return to Paradise (Leaving Paradise) Episode 6

Return to Paradise (Leaving Paradise) Episode 6


I pull my hand back. “I’m fine.”

Maggie tsks and bends down so we’re face to face. Her gaze meets mine. “No, you’re not.”

I need to turn the tables or lose whatever control I have when it comes to me and Maggie. My resolve to push her away is weak as it is. I better step up and be the guy she thinks I’ve become.

“Are you bending over like that on purpose?” I ask her as I gesture toward her chest. “‘Cause I’ve got damn good view of your tits right about now.”

 

Maggie

t Caleb’s words, I straighten and cross my arms over .my chest to prevent further ogling. “You’re disgusting,” I whisper, hoping nobody else heard his crass remark.

“Thanks,” he responds.

I slide under my covers, unwilling to look in Caleb’s direction. “Bleed to death for all I care.”

“Want your towel back?” he asks, his cocky attitude out in full force. Why does he do that? One minute I feel like he’s being his true self, the Caleb I once knew, and the next minute he acts like the guy he wants everyone to think he is.

No.

“Will you two quit flirting already?” Trish chimes in. “Either admit you guys have a thing for each other or go to bed. Or both.”

“I don’t have a thing for him,” I declare.

“You used to,” I hear Caleb mutter under his breath from his bed beside me.

“Ancient history. Didn’t I tell you I moved on?” I mutter back.

 

“Go to sleep, Maggie,” Caleb says roughly. “You’re getting repetitive.”

I turn my back to him. So what if I keep insisting it’s over? It’s true. If I’m completely honest, I guess a part of me still yearns for the way things were when we were together. But I know he’s the last thing I need in my life, and it’s obvious Caleb and I are on the same page in that respect. He’s been trying to push me away by goading me, and he’s doing a great job of it.

When my body finally relaxes and I feel like I’m drifting off, Trish starts snoring again.

I glance at Caleb. He’s lying on his back, wrapped in a wadded-up sheet, with his arms folded behind his head. He’s obviously not sleeping. As if feeling my gaze on him, he turns to look at me. The bunks aren’t that far apart, and if I reached out I could touch his bare shoulder.

He sighs and slightly shakes his head, then looks away. I turn on my back and focus on the squeaking springs above me, wondering how I got here. When I got the call from my physical therapist asking if I wanted to be part of this program, I really felt like it was my chance to close this chapter of my life. I thought if I could share my experience with others instead of keeping all my feelings bottled up inside me, I could make the accident a part of my past and be able to look forward to the future.

I wish Caleb felt the same way and could put our ugly past behind us. To be honest, though, I don’t think he’ll get past it until he admits the truth.

PAY ATTENTION  Return to Paradise (Leaving Paradise ) Episode 3

The truth.

He has no clue that I know he didn’t hit me with that car. I’ve been itching to tell him I know the truth.

But I can’t. He’s obviously keeping up the facade for a reason.

I force myself to fall asleep and forget that Caleb is sleeping next to me.

In the morning, when I’m walking back from the bathroom on the gravel path that leads to our cabin, I find Lenny sleeping soundly in a patch of grass. He’s snoring so loud the sound echoes through the entire campground. I suppress a laugh. He could definitely give Trish a run for her money in the snoring department.

Damon is waiting inside the cabin. “Can someone tell me why Lenny is sleeping outside instead of in a bed?” he demands.

“Maybe he wanted to sleep with his relatives?” Trish says, shrugging.

Damon doesn’t look happy. “Not funny. His face already looks like a tomato from the morning sun beating down on him and there are a crapload of mosquito bites on him. Someone wake him up. Now.”

“I’ll do it,” Caleb says.

“I’ll go with you,” Matt offers and the two boys leave the cabin.

When the three boys walk back in the cabin a few minutes later, one good look at Lenny and my mouth drops open. I didn’t realize it as I walked past him this morning, but Damon was right. Lenny’s face is bright red and totally sunburned. Mosquito bites are scattered on his face and body.

Lenny points at each and every one of us and says in a warning tone, “Don’t. Say. Anything.”

“What the hell happened to you?” Damon asks Caleb as he gestures to the dried blood now caked on Caleb’s hand. Damon is totally confused.

“One of the beds tipped over last night,” Erin chimes in. “Caleb caught it before it crashed on Maggie and me.”

I think the rest of us are shocked Erin actually spokeshe’s been so quiet.

“Lenny tipped the bed,” Trish says. “On purpose.”

Lenny sneers at Trish. “Do you know what they do in jail to people who snitch?”

“Lenny, I won’t tolerate threats so knock it off. Follow me to the infirmary. Caleb, you too. I want your hand checked out. The rest of you, pack up the van and go to breakfast. The dining hall is the big building by the front office.”

When we’re all ready, Damon, Lenny and Caleb head for the infirmary while the rest do as instructed. The dining hall is a huge building with rows of picnic tables. At the end of the room, teens line up with trays and choose their food.

“So what’s the real story with you and Caleb?” Matt asks me as we join the line.

I wonder how much I should reveal. “It’s super-complicated.” I grab a carton of milk and look at Matt. “Need help?” I ask when he picks up a tray and balances it on his arm.

“I got it,” he says.

I really admire Matt for that.

I watch him balance his tray steadily on his functional arm while we pick our breakfasts and head to one of the tables to eat.

PAY ATTENTION  Return to Paradise (Leaving Paradise) - Page 4

“Nice way to avoid the question about Caleb, Maggie.”

“I’m not avoiding it,” I tell him.

He raises an eyebrow, obviously not convinced.

Trish and Erin sit down opposite us. What should I say? How much should I tell Matt? This trip is supposed to be about not holding back and letting it all out. Caleb hasn’t been truthful with me or anyone else … and I feel like it’s eating away at him. I won’t let it eat at me.

I turn to Matt. “Caleb and I were involved after he was released from juvie.”

Wow

I watch Matt’s reaction go from shocked to curious. The accident and the consequences connect me and Caleb forever, whether we want it to or not. But Matt doesn’t know the entire story. Damon, the guy who’s supposed to know everything about each Re-START participant, doesn’t even know the entire story.

“What did he go to juvie for?” Matt asks.

“Umm…” I take a second to figure out what to say, how to put it into words.

“Tell him, Maggie,” Caleb says, sticking his head between us. “Spill it.” Before I can even answer, Caleb snaps, “For hitting Maggie while driving drunk.”

Matt’s mouth opens wide in shock. “Holy shit. For real?”

“For real. Right, Maggie?” Caleb narrows his eyes at me as if I betrayed him. “Why don’t we announce it to the entire room?”

No.

“Come on, Mags. Be adventurous.”

“You’re not serious,” I say.

He clears his throat. “Watch me.”

SEVEN

Caleb

wasn’t really gonna tell everyone in this damn place that I’d gone to juvie, but seeing Maggie on this let’s-shareabsolutely-everything kick pisses me off. This Re-START program is a bunch of crap. They think talking about the accident will miraculously fix everything. I have news for Damon and everyone else involved. Nothing will fix my shitty life. Nothing will erase the past two years. Nothing will change the fact that I’ve got no friends or family left. I’m just living … surviving, really.

Finding Maggie in an intense conversation with Matt made me want to grab the guy’s shirt and pick a fight with him. The guy is cool, unlike that tool Lenny, but when I moved in closer and found Maggie confiding in him, my veins fired up.

I scan the room and eye a bullhorn by the front door.

“Caleb, don’t,” Maggie says.

I ignore her as I cross the room and pick up the bullhorn. I click the siren switch. An obnoxiously loud, piercing shriek echoes throughout the building-a good thing, because everyone immediately has their attention focused on me.

I bring the bullhorn to my lips. “I’ve got something to say,” I bellow into the mouthpiece.

Damon is standing in line with a tray full of food. I expect him to run up to me and grab the bullhorn out of my hand, but he doesn’t. Instead, he puts down his tray and nods for me to continue.

“I drove home drunk from a high school party,” I say, my voice sounding foreign to me as the words flow out through the bullhorn. “I hit a girl, and left her lying in the street not knowing if she was dead or alive. I was a jock, a guy who’d probably get a wrestling scholarship to college and I didn’t want to screw that up. So I ditched her. In the end, I was busted and went to jail for a year.”

PAY ATTENTION  Return to Paradise Episode 1

I unclick the sound button. The place is silent. I can imagine what I must look like … the cool high school jock boy who screwed up and is now whining about it. Nobody is gonna feel sorry for me, not that I want or expect them to.

When I look over at Maggie, she shakes her head and turns her back on me. She’s shutting me out once again, but I don’t care.

I press the talk button again. “When I came out of jail, I got involved with my victim.”

More than a few teens in the room go wide-eyed at this new piece of information. They’re whispering in shock and pointing at me.

“We kissed, we fooled around … she snuck me in her house and we slept together. People warned me not to get involved with her, but I did. Biggest mistake of my life.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I watch as Maggie slides off the bench and heads for the swinging doors. Good of Matt follows her.

“Maggie!” I say through the bullhorn. She flinches and stops in her tracks. “You want to add something? I skipped the part when we were in Mrs. Reynolds’ gazebo.”

I follow Maggie, who thinks that talking is better than keeping your mouth shut. I hope I’ve changed her mind, and she realizes that living in La-La Land is better than facing reality.

“That’s the girl I’m talking about,” I say, pointing.

“Shut up, Caleb,” she hisses at me.

I hand her the bullhorn. “Truth hurts, huh?”

EIGHT

Maggie

ere back in the van headed to our next destination, Freeman University. After the dining room incident, I hobbled far into the woods and cried. Matt followed me. He didn’t ask whether Caleb’s statements were true or not … he just stood there while tears rolled down my face and I wiped them with the back of my hand.

Caleb’s little show this morning was beyond obnoxious.

He lied.

He twisted the truth.

He mocked me, and he mocked whatever relationship we’d had.

Taunting me to reveal what happened between us in Mrs. Reynolds’ gazebo was too much for me. That night Caleb and I shared precious private moments I’ll remember for the rest of my life. It was perfect; from the twinkling lights he’d carefully wrapped around the entire gazebo to the romantic way he kissed me after I slow danced in his arms. He treated me like I was the only girl in the world who mattered, and the only girl he’d ever want to be with.

This morning, he tainted my memory of that night forever.

To be continued……

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Hey, I'm Kennedy, a writer and a self taught blogger who loves to explore the innovation of blogging related things.

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