Lost In Him

By: Susan Ward


Rene just glares. “It’s not my fault that the guys you date all get bored with stupidity and narcissism.”

“And being a slut makes you a genius?” Tami coolly lifts a brow.

“No, the sixteen hundred on my SATs makes me a genius. The sex I do for fun. You’d know that if you had sex for fun instead of to hide your lack of intelligence.”

“I don’t have sex at all,” Tami says.

Rene gives her a nasty smile. “God, what a phony you are. Lying about it is almost as bad as using your body for power. Both are self-depreciating. That’s what makes you not a genius. You don’t screw for fun and you lie about it.”

Eliza is wide-eyed staring at me. It is clear this isn’t going the way she wants and that she doesn’t know what to do with Rene’s comment. I watch as it seems to take Eliza an excessively long time to formulate her response.

“Look, Chrissie, we can pick you up in about an hour so long as Rene doesn’t tag along,” Eliza says firmly. Then, fake sweet face in place: “Look, you have to swear not to tell Brad that I told you, but he’s going to be there. He really wants to see you. I think he wants to patch things up.”

And there is the hook. There is always a hook with girls like these.

“It’s going to be a killer party,” Jane says enthusiastically. “Eliza’s dad booked the private room at Peppers. Everyone’s going to be there. Brad got some really, really good coke for his birthday. He wants to celebrate with you.”

I realize that Eliza is watching the change of my expression and enjoying it in some sort of sick way. Stupid and cruel. I turn my focus back to packing up my stuff. “Enjoy your party.” I snap the cello case closed.

Eliza gives me an impatient frown. “God, Chrissie. Do you have to be so touchy about everything? There’s no rule that says you have to do the drugs. You won’t end up like your brother just by going to a party and having fun. Don’t you think you need to get beyond your brother, Parker? I’m sure they have parties at Juilliard. Are you going to ditch those too?”

My face burns and my stomach turns. That easily Eliza can diminish me into something small and inadequate. Get over my brother? Where does a girl get the nerve to say such a thing to someone? It is insensitive and cruel and ugly. Why didn’t it make her look ugly? She still looks Eliza perfect. I stare at her. There is a sudden, painfully heavy quiet all around me.

“Back off, Eliza,” Rene screams in a voice that shakes the rafters.

Father Morris looks up from the first row of the theater. He locks eyes on me and I lower my gaze because I know what he is thinking. Father Morris sees too much, too much of the time, though he’s kind of cool in that young priest, reformer sort of way where he tries to work the problems one-on-one with the students. I’m one of his favorite projects and I know his reaction to this. He didn’t hear Eliza. He’s thinking I shouldn’t be friends with Rene. He’s thinking he should call my father even though I’ve begged him not to. He’s thinking I lie every time I tell him I am OK and everything is just fine.

I look back up to see if Father Morris is still watching and focus back on Rene’s tirade. “…And I hope someday you get everything you deserve in life.”

Rene says that with just the perfect amount of bite. I hate that I didn’t say something to defend myself. I rush offstage and set off across campus with Rene following, praying that Father Morris doesn’t follow to the dorm room as well. I’ve told Father Morris things I haven’t told anyone. Things I haven’t told Rene. Things I doubt I’ll ever tell Jack.

I look down at the ground to hide my face, wondering how Father Morris got me to open up to him. I never talk about my issues to anyone, but somehow Father Morris got into my lockboxes. Maybe it’s a guy thing that makes it possible for him to break through my wall of protection. Or maybe it’s a priest thing. I don’t know. He just wormed right through my wall.

Father Morris is young and attractive, and when I find myself comfortable in the company of someone other than Rene they are usually male. A strange contradiction in my personality, but I feel more comfortable with guys than girls, though that isn’t saying much, and honestly Father Morris is a poor example of that theory because I know he can’t talk about what I tell him.

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