I swallow and bite my lower lip. “It’s hotter in New York than I thought,” I chuckle nervously, feeling his nose brushing against mine. “I need a fan.”
He smirks, “Why do you need a fan?”
“I just told you-”
“You already got the biggest fan...right-” He points two fingers at himself. “here.”
I roll my eyes and push him away, unable to hold back my laugh. “Joshua Lynn Greyson, you’re the worst comedian in the world!”
He held my wrists, rushing his thumb down my veins. “I told you never to mention my middle name.”
I stuck out my tongue.
He pretends to bite it.
Josh’s playful smiles fade.
“You’re serious again.”
He sighs, “I’m sorry for earlier.”
I tuck my lips over my teeth. “No, I should. You only care about me, and I blew a fuse.”
He tucks a strand of hair behind my ear, a cold hand on my cheek. “I care, HayBug.”
“I know...but this is how I look right now-”
Josh exhaled, “Hailey, it was never about how you look.”
“But you were sc-”
Josh ran a hand down his face. “Hailey. Let me ask you this again. Tell me again, why did you lose all this weight?”
I swallow, unable to respond. He leaped off the counter and began walking out of the room. I grab his shirt. “Jos-”
He turns around and licks his lips, placing his hands on his waist. “If you want to lose weight for yourself, I’m okay with that, but what did you say earlier? You told me you’re losing all this weight because of what others think of you.”
“There isn’t anything wrong with losing weight-”
“Losing weight for others, suffering for others. Wasting your hard earned money for others. Is it worth it? Doing all of that, for strangers’ approval?”
My hands tighten. “You don’t know how I feel, Josh!” He opens his mouth, but I quickly cut him off. “Spending day after day being called a fat pig. Having people oinking in your face!” my vision began to blur.
He took a step towards me and extended his hand, tangling it with mine. “Who’s bullying you? Tell me. I’ll take care of th-”
“What are you going to do? Throw all of my middle school classmates into prison?”
“HayBug, I didn’t know.” He swipes his thumbs across my wet cheeks. “What about your friends?”
“You’re going to think I’m a loser after you hear this story.”
“Never,” he whispers.
“They abandoned me,” I try to laugh it off, but it’s harder than I thought.
“Wh-What did they do?”
I bit my inner cheeks.
He closes the distance between us. “HayBug, tell me...please.”
Inhaling a shaky breath, my lower lip pours out involuntarily. “They tricked me into going to this party, and there was this guy.”
Josh’s hands tighten on mine. “Th-There was a guy?”
I nod, “This guy my friend was crushing on.”
He exhales, “Okay...continue.”
“He asked me to go to a room with him to check out a gift he was going to give my friend, saying how he likes her. I thought he genuinely likes her, so I went with him”
“Alone?” He asks slowly.
“No, of course not. I went with another girl.”
“Oh...then what happened?”
I swallow, then exhale. “I was the first to walk inside the darkroom, and they poured garbage on me.” The tears began streaming down once more. “E-Everyone was wearing pig masks, and they all oink at me...including my friends...or who I thought was my friends.”
After the party, I ate alone - no, I was isolated. Day after day, strangers tripped me in the hallway. They shove garbage into my lockers. They called me a fat pig in front of my face. I hated how I had to eat in the bathroom...alone. So, I could avoid other disapproving looks.
“Look, the fat pig is trying to eat more than garbage.”
“About time she looked in a mirror.”
Josh placed a warm hand on my cheek, forcing my eyes to lay solely on him.
I told myself it was okay; after all, I have everything I need.
Moreover, I don’t need fake friends.
Josh wraps his arms tightly around me as his fingers rush down my hair. “Shhh... Don’t cry, HayBug...They aren’t here to bother you anymore,” I hold onto his shirt tighter, feeling his body shake vigorously. “I promise...They won’t be bothering anyone for a very long time.”
I didn’t know how long I cried in Josh’s arms, but before I knew it, we were in bed together. I stifle a yawn, attempting to stretch my body, but he had me down on his usual lockdown. The light brewed through the curtains as I sat up, rubbing my tired eyes.
Adjusting my blurry vision, I push Josh aside, who flop over and continue snoring. Stepping out of bed, my toes wiggle against the wooden ground. The bedroom is furnished with the furniture and a few brown boxes, indicating Josh was ready to move into the dorms for a new year. From every clean white wall are smiled colored photographs of our families.
Above us is a beautiful mural, hand-painted by someone who knew what they were doing. The scene is of a starry sky that cruises down the streets in the winter festival. The colors were vibrant and energetic. On the side, an open closet reveals neatly folded clothes and multiple bins - most likely, Mrs.Greyson’s work.
My smile widens, seeing multiple guitars hung on the wall signed by famous players. My hand skim across the signatures -
Josh rushed towards me, almost tripping on his untied shoelaces. “HayBug! Guess what! I just got my first guitar!”
I clasped my hands together. “Cool!”
He smiled widely, holding the guitar in the air. “And guess what!”
“I’m going to be a famous musician one day!”
He nodded, “Yup, but you’re going to have to be my number one fan! Okay?”