tagMind ControlConfidence

Confidence

byBethesda©

I'm lost. That's all I can think as I try to get it together. I've procrastinated to the point that now it's pretty much over. I had weeks to prepare and instead of being a normal responsible adult, I've acted like a child and pushed it off until the very last minute.

I'm not going to have a Halloween costume tonight.

First of all, I shouldn't be blamed since I didn't want to do it to begin with. The whole thing was Rachel's idea and she acted like she did us a favor by coming up with it.

"We should do a group costume this year!" She exclaimed while we were out having lunch a couple weeks ago. "The three of us should all go together!"

"Wouldn't it be lame if we all wore the same thing?" Tia says in typical Tia fashion. She's always the one to point out what is lame and what isn't.

"No, like a theme," Rachel corrects her, sounding annoyed that her brilliant plan wasn't understood right off the bat. "Like we all go as Charlie's Angels or something."

"Charlie's Angels is lame," Tia says. She's so predictable.

That's when Rachel turned to me. "What do you think Haley?"

I'm always the one in the middle with them. I can tell Tia's not on board but I think her dislike for the idea is much less palpable than Rachel's enthusiasm.

"Well, okay," I say. Rachel's about to jump out of her seat so I cut in before it's too late. "But only if we come up with something cool. Not Charlie's Angels." I glance at Tia and she shrugs. I've successfully appeased both of them.

Looking back, I wish I had agreed to Charlie's Angels. That would've been easy! Wear tight fitting black pants and a tight fitting black top and make a gun pose all night. Simple. No, instead I let Rachel decide on Hocus Pocus. The worst part is, I don't even know the movie all that well. Apparently it was Rachel's favorite as a kid and Tia seemed to know it too. They told me it was a movie about three witches, so I thought it'd be easy. All I have to do is find a witch costume during Halloween. Since I'm blonde, they made me the Sarah Jessica Parker character. It wasn't until yesterday when Rachel texted me to make sure my costume was ready that I remembered about it. After Googling some images of the movie (something I should've done weeks ago) I realized I was going to need a lot more than just a regular old witch costume. There's no way I'm going to be able to put this together. We're going to a friend's Halloween party in a few hours and at the moment the only thing I have even resembling a witch is my uncombed hair.

What is wrong with me?

It's not so much the costume thing that I'm upset about, it's more the fact that I'm always do things like this. High school ended four months ago and I'm not going to college because I missed the application deadlines. I'm single because my ex-boyfriend got tired of what he called my "flakey nature". Whatever that means. I just don't like responsibility. I hate it when people depend on me for stuff or when people want me to make decisions. I just want to be left alone. Is that too much to ask?

Well that's exactly what I got. Adam left me and we've barely spoken since.

I think I'm just going to show up to the party in regular clothes. My costume will be no costume. It'll be so meta.

After staring into my closet for a good twenty minutes hoping some kind of inspiration will hit me, I give up and head downstairs to the kitchen. My mom is cooking dinner. She glances up when I come in.

"Still here?" She asks.

"Uh-huh," I say as I get a glass of water.

Ever since my parents found out I wasn't going to college, things have been different. I notice they don't look at me anymore. It's like I'm a walking embodiment of disappointment. I never knew college was so important to them. My dad mentioned off hand that he just assumed I was taking care of it. Why would he assume something like that? College costs tons of money. Weren't they surprised I never asked about money? It's just as much on them as it is on me. Maybe it's because I told them I did apply to a couple schools and didn't fess up until graduation a couple months ago.

"How can you be so irresponsible?!" My dad scolds me, right there on the football field after the ceremony ended. "Don't you care about your future?"

I could see a couple of people around me snickering and laughing. I felt so embarrassed, so I just put my head down and didn't say anything. My typical response.

"So you have nothing to say?" He pressed on.

Usually this is the point when my mom will cut in and tell him to ease up but this time she didn't. She stayed silent, shaking her head ever so slightly.

She agreed with him.

"Dad, stop," my sister Erin said. She had just finished her freshman year and a few of her friends were there looking at us. She became pretty popular this last year (much more than I ever was after four years). Some of her friends were actually in my year. She's always the one everyone likes, even my parents.

I glanced up at my dad finally and he just gave me this dead look. Then he put his arm around Erin.

"Let's go," he said, and walked away.

I looked at my mom and she just shook her head and turned to follow my dad, leaving me alone on the football field, surrounded by happy families all celebrating the accomplishment of graduation. Everyone except me. I fought back some tears and eventually joined them in the car. We drove home and no one said anything.

That's how it's been the last four months and tonight is no different.

"I thought you were going out tonight?" My mom asks me, snapping me back to the present.

"Uh, yeah, I am," I say as I drink my water.

"Well, don't stay out too late."

I nod as I finish my glass and set it on the counter and turn to leave.

"Haley," my mom says.

I turn around and she points with her eyes to the glass I left on the counter. I forgot to put it in the dishwasher.

"I'm not your maid," she says as I walk around her to the dishwasher. "You're an adult now. The least you can do is clean up after yourself."

"I'm sorry," I say as I leave, heading back to my room, the whole time thinking about how if Erin did that she wouldn't say anything.

Up in my room I stare at myself in the mirror. I wish I had more confidence. I wish I was more responsible. I wish people liked me.

I also wish I had a million dollars but what good are wishes?

I have on a pair of tight fitting jeans and a low cut black v-neck blouse. Maybe I should get changed? It is a party. I should probably put on a skirt but it's cold outside. I don't want to be freezing all night. I am showing some cleavage, isn't that all guys want anyway? I am a B cup, that should count for something. I wish my boobs were like my grades, C's. Oh well, add that to my list of complaints. After staring at myself for longer than I should, I finally decide this is the best it's going to be. I run a comb through my hair and grab my purse off the dresser.

Tonight's going to be a shit show.

*******************************************************************************

It's easy to find the house since there's tons of cars parked outside. I have to drive a few houses down the street in order to park. I take one last look at myself in the rearview mirror to build some confidence.

You're strong. You're a warrior princess. You're Xena.

That's the best I can come up with. It doesn't seem to help but oh well. When I step out of the car I see a group of trick-or-treaters leaving someone's front door, all of them looking in their bags at the candy they just received. The man waves to them as they walk away and then notices me. He's older, but not "old". I would guess mid-thirties. He's handsome and I can't seem to look away. After looking at him for longer than I should, he smiles at me and waves. I put my hand up and give a slight wave back. He's probably a good twenty yards away but I swear I can see right into his eyes. My whole body becomes warm despite the cold chill of the October night. I swear I think there's a light coming from his eyes but I'm sure I'm mistaken. It must be the reflection of his porch light. It's not until he closes the door that I come back to myself.

Smooth Haley. Real smooth.

God, I'm such a weirdo in front of guys. He probably double locked his door after seeing me lear at him. I start walking down the block toward the party and am reminded of how cold it is tonight. I should've brought my jacket. I wrap myself in my arms and try to warm up. I'm always cold, probably because I'm all skin and bones, just a hundred and five pounds. I was never any good at sports or anything athletic for that matter. Tia always complains that I'm so skinny and yet I never work out. She's a little thicker than most, so she's always self conscious about it. That's probably why she hated the Hocus Pocus idea. Since I'm Sarah Jessica Parker and Rachel is Bette Midler, that leaves the heavy set one for Tia. She wasn't amused to say the least.

The party is in full force when I walk up to the house, the music clearly can be heard from outside. No one answers the door after I ring the bell, so I try the handle. It's unlocked, so I let myself in. Just as expected, everyone has a red solo cup in hand. I recognize most of them despite their costumes but most don't recognize me. They were all people I went to high school with but it was a very large class. I kind of faded into the crowd throughout my four years. I find the keg before I find Rachel and Tia, so I pour myself a drink. I'm not the biggest fan of beer but that's all I see so far. The house is big, the bottom floor having rooms I don't even know the purpose of. Why would someone need more than one sitting room?

When I get to the room with the TV, that's when I see them. They both see me at the same time and I can tell immediately that they're pissed. Both of them went all out. Rachel's hair looks like some kind of red chair cushion and Tia sports a black bee hive. They each look like they came out of the 1600's. I walk up to them and am about to apologize but Rachel cuts me off before I do.

"What the fuck!" She yells over the music. "Where's your costume?"

"Well...I..." I try to come up with something but all I do is stumble.

"You forgot, didn't you?" Tia accuses.

"No, I reminded her yesterday," Rachel answers and looks back at me. "You said everything was 'cool'." She uses air quotes around the word "cool" because that's the type of person she is, someone who uses air quotes.

"I tried," I say, pleading my case. "It was hard to find."

"Why didn't you ask for help?" Rachel demands. "I could've helped you."

"Well...I don't know." It's all I can think to say.

"Now we look stupid," says Tia.

"No you don't. You look great!"

"Yeah, but it doesn't make sense if there's only two of us doing it," Rachel says, clearly yelling now. "There were three witches in Hocus Pocus, everyone knows that. If it's just two of us, then we're just witches. Regular old witches."

"Yeah," Tia cuts in. "I could've got a witch costume from Party City. Instead I had to drive around looking for this stuff."

I start to feel uneasy in the pit of my stomach. People are starting to stare. It reminds me of graduation all over again.

"I'm sorry," I say.

"Yeah, you are," Rachel says. She looks to Tia. "Come on." And just like my dad did, Rachel walks away.

Tia lingers a moment and shakes her head just like my mom did. I think she's going to say something but decides against it and walks away. I'm left standing there on my own and when I look around, I can see people looking at me snickering. They're all dressed like they're in some shitty B horror movie and yet they're snickering at me. I can feel tears start to swell up behind my eyes.

Don't cry, I think to myself. Don't cry, don't cry, don't cry.

But of course, the more I think that, the stronger it becomes. The flood gates open and my vision becomes glassy looking through the film of tears. I take a drink of beer only so I can put the solo cup in front of my face. I chug the whole thing so I can keep the cup there long enough, hoping the tears will go away by the time I'm done, but they don't. I'm still standing there crying. I hear someone behind me laugh and that's when I realize I don't want to be here anymore. The only reason I came was because of Rachel and Tia and they've left me. I put my head down and head for the door. No one tries to stop me. In the back of my head I was hoping at least Tia would come up and stop me, telling me she's sorry. I get through the front door and before I know it I'm walking back down the same sidewalk I was just on not that long ago. I shouldn't have chugged the beer as I start to feel a little dizzy. I'm such a lightweight.

I get to my car and start rifling through my purse for my keys. Of course it's the one thing I can't find. I have a moment of panic as I wonder if I left them in the car but before I have a chance to look through the window, I hear them clang in my bag. My hand reaches too forcefully and I drop the whole thing, spilling it's contents onto the concrete sidewalk.

I can't do anything right!

Suddenly it all becomes too much. My mind is firing in all directions and thoughts of what just happened mixed with graduation and all the silent disappointed looks from my parents over the last four months congeal into something that freezes me on the spot. I can't move other than my hands, which cover my face as I begin to cry. I lean back on my car, sobbing. I wish I wasn't like this. I wish I was just...I don't know.

That's when I hear his voice.

"Tissue?"

I look up, wiping tears from my eyes and see the man from earlier standing in front of me holding out a tissue. Behind him I can see his door is open, the light from inside spilling into the night air. He looks at me with a kind smile and again I swear there seems to be light emanating from his eyes. I can't seem to turn away from him or speak. I try to think of something to say but nothing comes to mind. He leans in and dabs the bottom of my eyes with the tissue.

"There you go, it's okay. You know, this kind of crying is supposed to be for Valentine's Day, not Halloween." He looks satisfied with his joke.

"Th...thanks." At least I got something out.

I start to feel my body become warm again and the longer I look in his eyes, the more the feeling of crying starts to subside. I don't know why but I'm starting to feel better.

"There you go," he says. "That's better. I'm Ethan. What's your name?"

"Haley."

"Well Haley, you seem to have made a mess of your stuff." He glances down at the sidewalk. I completely forgot about my purse. He leans down and pushes the fallen items back into my bag and hands it back to me. "There you go."

"Thank you," I say.

We stand there in silence for a moment. I realize the man is truly beautiful. His blue eyes accent his light brown hair. He has a tight brown t-shirt on that shows the contours of his broad chest. He's a little taller than me, though most guys are.

"You want to come inside," he says. It's not a question but more a statement and suddenly the thought of following him into his house makes my body feel warmer. I definitely do want to follow him inside.

We make our way into the house and he closes the door. It's large, just like the one the party was in. Next to the door, a bowl filled with candy sits on a pedestal. He sees me glance at it.

"Take one," he insists.

I grab a bite sized Snickers and unwrap it.

"Come, have a seat," he says.

We walk into a large kitchen that looks like it's straight out of the Martha Stewart catalogue. Gadgets and utensils line the walls and counter.

Have a seat on the stool, I hear in my head.

I glance at the end of the counter and see three stools lined along the lip of the kitchen counter. How did I know there would be a stool before I saw them? I take a seat anyway. Ethan goes to the cupboard and pulls out a bottle of wine. He doesn't say anything to me as he does this and I don't say anything to him. I just watch. He opens the bottle and pours two glasses of wine. He comes back over and puts the glass in front of me. Suddenly I realize wine is exactly what I wanted. He takes a seat on the stool next to me and holds his glass up to toast.

"Happy Halloween," he says.

I clink my glass with his. "Happy Halloween."

We both take a drink and set our glasses down.

"So," he says. "Rough night?"

"Kind of."

"What happened?"

I look down, ashamed to have cried over something so stupid as a halloween costume. "You don't want to hear about it."

"Tell me," he insists.

Suddenly I can feel the tears start to build again and I can tell the only way to stop them is to tell him what happened.

It's okay, a voice says in my head.

I glance up because it sounded like his voice, which means it wasn't in my head, but I swear it felt like it.

"Well," I begin, "My friends planned a group Halloween costume and I kind of forgot to wear it. Well no, I didn't forget to wear it, I forgot to make it. We were supposed to go as Hocus Pocus since there's three of us. I was supposed to be-"

"Sarah Jessica Parker," he says cutting me off.

I look at him. "How did you know that?"

He snickers. "You're blonde."

Of course. Obviously. "Right. Well, I dropped the ball."

"And they got mad at you?"

I nod.

"Your friends were overreacting."

Again, a statement, not a question. But now it does make sense. They were totally overreacting.

"Well yeah, I guess," I say.

"To treat someone so poorly over something as small as a halloween costume. It seems childish."

I suppose it does. I can feel myself start to feel better. In fact, I start to forget why I was so upset to begin with. What does it matter? I glance back at Ethan and he's looking at me with his eyebrows raised.

"Sorry," I say. "It's just that it really does seem silly now that I say it out loud. I don't know why I was so upset."

"You just needed a little help," he says and takes another drink of his wine.

Suddenly I realize where I am. I'm in some strange man's house. Why did I come in here? What am I doing? I don't even know this man. I glance up at him.

You came in because you wanted to, I hear in my head. I swear it sounded like his voice but I was looking right at him and his lips weren't moving. My heart starts to beat faster. What's going on?

"No need to be alarmed," he says. "I just want to help you."

My heart is racing and I start to feel a panic attack coming on.

"Haley, look at me," he demands. I look at him. "You're going to calm down now."

As I look into his eyes my heart starts to slow down to a normal pace. I can feel a sense of calm rush over me.

"All better?" He asks.

"Yes," I say. "How are you doing that?"

"I just am." It's what I do, I hear in my head.

I shake my head, trying to make sense of what's happening. "I'm sorry, I just..."

"What?" He asks.

"It's weird but...I don't know."

"You can hear my voice in your head." I know you can. It's okay.

I stand up from my stool and take a step back.

"How are you doing that?" I ask.

It's just what I do. It's okay.

"Stop saying it's okay."

"Why did you leave that party tonight, Haley?"

"What?"

"Why did you leave? And be honest with me. Be open."

Suddenly I want to let everything out. Suddenly I want to unleash everything I've had bottled up inside since before I can remember. I want to let him know who I really am and what I really think.

Say it out loud.

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byBethesda© 18 comments/ 43343 views/ 49 favorites

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