But I say none of that, because I sound crazy.
Even in my own thoughts.
Wade’s not saying much, and his silence makes me want to snatch back the words I just said and shove them into a deep, dark hole. The words that make me sound dumb and irresponsible and so incredibly foolish. That’s me in a nutshell.
And I hate myself for it.
“We all do dumb shit when we’re seventeen, eighteen years old,” he finally says, shooting me a sympathetic glance. “Don’t beat yourself up over it.”
“Kind of hard not to when my stupidity ruined everything,” I say sarcastically. “I was dumb throughout high school. Not really dumb, I guess—more like spoiled. I thought I could get away with everything.”
Oh, and I did. I got away with pretty much everything but murder. Smoking a joint in the girls’ bathroom with my friends in between classes? Did that. TP’ing the principal’s house the weekend before my junior year was finished for the summer? Yep, did that too. I cheated on tests, I stole this one girl’s earrings because I thought they were beautiful and I wanted them. Then I promptly lost them not a week later. Once I got drunk with the basketball team in their locker room after a particularly brutal game and the coach found me stumbling around, close to passing out with all the guys watching me, leering at me. They probably had plans for me.
The coach saved me that night, and never breathed a word about that incident to anyone.
Yep, that all happened to me. You could’ve looked up risky behavior in teens on the Internet, and my photo would’ve popped up. I did stupid stuff. Went to parties I shouldn’t have gone to, messed around with boys who had bad reputations. Hung out with girls who had bad reputations too. I loved it. I strived hard for a bad reputation. I desperately wanted one.
The start of my senior year, my parents started nagging me about applying for college, and I didn’t. My grades weren’t the best. I didn’t want to take the SATs—too boring. So I partied and I had fun and I got barely passing grades and when I graduated high school, all my friends had a plan. A purpose.
I had nothing.
“I guess that’s what happens when you’re handed everything you could ever want and you never have to earn it.” I expected him to sound bitter, but he doesn’t. I know he doesn’t come from money, that he struggled and had to work hard for everything good that he has. My life was the complete opposite of his. He is what he is today because he worked for it.
I’m here, doing what I’m doing because I was forced to. This is not the life I expected, or wanted. If you asked me a year ago what I would be doing after high school, I would’ve answered, “Partying with my friends, hooking up with cute boys and having the time of my life.”
None of that came true. My parents kicked me out. My friends ditched me. The boy I had been semi-seeing before I got the boot didn’t bother responding to me when I sent multiple texts. I needed someone to lean on and he wouldn’t even give me a second of his time. He was done. I was checked off his list.
I got checked off everyone’s list.
“I’m the classic spoiled rotten rich girl who got everything taken away from me. I don’t deserve any sympathy,” I talk over him, cutting off whatever he’d been about to say. Maybe he was going to defend me, I don’t know, but I didn’t want to hear it. I’ve said and thought and used every excuse there is.
I’m done with excuses. I’m actually living my life now, and making my own choices. And it feels pretty good.
“You seem to be doing pretty good for yourself right now,” Wade says, his deep voice quiet and soft.
“I got lucky. My brother helped me get this job. Now I just need to remain on the straight and narrow and keep it.”
It’s not hard to stay on the straight and narrow when you have no one to party with. And that’s me, the ex-party girl who’s now a complete loner. Yes, Fable treats me like a friend, but ultimately I’m her employee. And yes, I’m spending a lot of time with Wade, but every moment we’re together isn’t real.
“I don’t think you give yourself enough credit,” Wade says, making me want to laugh.
“I think you’re giving me too much credit. You don’t even know me.”
“I can read people pretty well. You’re not a bad person, Sydney.”
“You’re only saying that because you like kissing me.” I can’t believe I just said that.
“No, I’m saying that because I see the way you are with Autumn and Jacob. You’re good with them. You care. And they care about you too. So does Fable. You two have become close. She likes having you around. That’s not because someone got you the job. You’ve done a good job. There’s a difference.”
I’m quiet. I don’t know what to say to him, how to answer that. His words make me feel good. Like I’ve accomplished something. I’ve just been living these last few months. Surviving. It’s been such a confusing time, and while I know so many others out there are suffering way more than I am, I still felt like I was suffering. I also realized I’m selfish.
I am. I can’t deny it. I’ve been that way my entire life. I’m trying to be better, and becoming a nanny—while not my first career choice—has taught me that the world doesn’t revolve around me.
“Thank you,” I finally say. “I appreciate that.”