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15 May 2010 @ 12:21 pm
this is a delicate unravelling  

this is a delicate unravelling
parenthood. amber. post-solace. rated r.
summary: amber tries to deal with hurting haddie.

notes: rated r for language and a brief adult situation.  
This damn show has the uncanny ability to make me feel sorry for the wrong people :)


Crosby hits a wrong note and Amber blinks down hard, eyelashes damp, and it’s not the first sign that she’s not going to be able to hold this all in. Her lip quivers inadvertently and her grandmother’s arms are laced around her neck lovingly. She doesn’t deserve any of this and she shrugs out of her grasp quickly, not turning when her grandmother calls her name or when her mom gives her that look. (She doesn’t have to turn around to predict her mom’s behavior. She just knows.)

She bangs into the counter as she races towards the stairs, her entire body shaking relentlessly as she tries desperately to pull all of this emotion back inside. She finally collapses onto the bathroom floor, fists pounding the cool tile angrily, because really, she has no one to blame but herself.

This is what she does. She creates problems where there aren’t any. She ruins things. It’s all she’s ever known.

Her mother raps at the door softly, calling her name, but she’s already working on drowning her out. She turns on the shower, in a vain hope to wash out the sound of her sobbing, because she’s just not sure she’ll ever be able to stop. She thinks she might drown to death and they’ll never know if it was from the running water or her own tears.

She’ll know though.



Haddie’s friends brush by her in the hallway, shoving her into the row of lockers to her right. She grips her elbow tenderly. There’ll be a bruise before lunch time and that at least will make Haddie smile.

Amber sighs and skips English. There’s really not much point in going to class. She can’t concentrate anyway.

She shoves her way through the side door into the courtyard and Steve’s leaning against one of the columns, staring at her helplessly. She wishes he could just be a jerk and laugh about this like any other guy. She hates him for feeling bad, and even worse, she hates him for not leaving her alone.

"Amber please," he pleads and it’s the same argument, only nothing’s changed. Haddie’s still her cousin and she’s still the villain and Steve’s still the not-quite asshole who managed to destroy both of them without ever really trying.

"Don’t you get that I can’t?" Her voice shakes. She’s not feeling so certain of her words anymore, confidence fading. She’s exhausted and it’s showing. "Steve, I just can’t."

He opens his mouth to protest, the same way he has so many times before, but finally shuts it and nods.

Amber freezes, unsure what to make of his retreat. It only lasts a second but it’s enough to lend him hope.

"I should have never dated her," he remarks slowly.

Amber rolls her eyes. "But you did." She shrugs. "We can’t change it. Any of it. Just let it go and move on."

It seems like easy advise.



It’s brazen, she knows, sitting on Haddie’s front porch, her Aunt Kristina completely unaware of the hell she’s put her daughter through. (Soon she will though, and she mumbles a soft apology to her aunt, because soon, she knows she’ll be hating her.)

For now, Amber just sits there, pretending to read a worn copy of Lolita while she waits, sweat rising over her brow.

Haddie’s sandals clink on the cement. "You’ve got to be kidding me," she snaps.

Amber sighs. "I didn’t know how else to get you to listen."

Haddie laughs loudly. "Don’t you get it? I’m not going to listen. You and me? We’re through."

Amber’s face crumbles. "Haddie, I messed up. Big time and..."

"No, you don’t get to be all nice and try to make me feel bad," Haddie remarks, waving her hand in the air as she steps around her cousin. "You don’t get to do that."

"Haddie, please, just listen, because..."

"I don’t want to!" she shouts, tossing her books onto the ground beside them. "I don’t want to hear another word you have to say! Why don’t you get that?"

"I know!" Amber remarks. "I know, I don’t deserve..."

"Then stop talking to me!" Haddie screams. "I don’t care! Everyone was completely right about you. You’re a complete bitch and you don’t care about anyone other than yourself."

"That’s not true..."

"All you do is make everything worse!" Haddie insists.


"No, it’s true. My mom was totally right about you. My dad, Aunt Julia, even your own mom...they all know it. Everybody in this family talks about it. God, it’s the same reason why your own dad doesn’t want to see you anymore. All you do is..."

Everything goes black, but not before she remembers tackling Haddie to the ground.



Her mom’s hovering over her bed when she wakes up, body aching. She remembers Haddie slapping her. The rest is a jumble of anger and regret.

"Mom," she begins, ready for her lecture. "I didn’t...I didn’t mean..."

Sarah runs her hand over her daughter’s forehead, petting her hair lightly. "I know," she promises.

Amber doesn’t ask her to explain. She just sleeps.



She hangs out with Jeremy fromart when she skips class, leaning against the chain link fence under the bleachers. Sometimes they just sit outside and smoke cigarettes while he talks about his dead-end band and job at the record store.

Most days he fucks her in the back of his car. He doesn’t even take her jacket off. She knows this means something.

She doesn’t even care.

She knows that means something more.



Steve keeps leaving mix cd’s in her locker. It sucks because she always ends up keeping them. She tells herself she just has the same taste in music as him, but it’s not that simple. It never is.

She likes him and she secretly dreads the day that he gives up on her. She knows it’s coming. It’s only a matter of time before he moves on.

Haddie starts dating some jock named Josh who plays basketball and tennis and walks her to all of her classes. They hold hands in the hallway and he kisses her forehead and she seems genuinely happy.

She still won’t talk to Amber.

The memory of her words still stings.



She hates that she remembers his damn address. She shows up in the middle of the day, armed with a laundry list of reasons for wanting to scream at him, but when she stands at his front door, she feels small and powerless.

She knocks for an hour straight. Tears don’t tug at her eyes like they used to. Expectations aren’t dashed. There’s no disappointment or sense of betrayal anymore.

She’s all cried out of tears for her dad. Most of her knew he wouldn’t answer. Part of her just wanted to try.

She has too much to say to him, too many things that he doesn’t want to hear, things he’ll probably never be ready to hear.

Amber bets he’ll dodge her for the rest of her life, just to ensure she can’t get closure on this.

It would be just fucking like him.



Mr. Cyr’s in her living room talking to her mom about her behavior and lack of attendance. He’s willing to offer her make up assignments and essays. He sounds concerned.

Her mom’s flirting with him.

She lets out a sigh.



She’s in gym when it happens, stopped midway around the track, hands resting on her knees as she tries to catch her breath. Her ponytail swings over her shoulder as Haddie stops across from her, arms folded like armor across her chest.

Amber stands up straight, mouth parting slightly. She doesn’t know what to say.

"I shouldn’t have said that," Haddie confesses finally, looking away from her. "About your dad. I shouldn’t have said that."

Amber tilts her head to the side. "It’s okay. You were...angry. You had every right to..."

"No, I didn’t have the right to say that," Haddie remarks. "It wasn’t...I just wanted to hurt you."

"I know," Amber admits.

Haddie shoves her hands into her pockets. "I don’t hate you, you know."

Amber looks up at her slowly.

"Shut up," Haddie remarks, rolling her eyes. "It’s not like I like you either. But I don’t hate you."

Amber smiles.



There’s a box in her locker. She stashes all of Steve’s cd’s in there.

She waits until he’s watching and throws them into the trash. It’s not about hurting him. It’s about not hurting Haddie.

He stops running into her in the hallway. He turns into a ghost.




"You’re a good kid," her grandmother tells her. She wonders how much the woman knows. Her eyes always seem to be guarding secrets.

Amber shrugs.

"Amber," her grandmother begins, smiling at her knowingly. "I love you."

Amber rolls her eyes and slinks out of the living room.

"I love you too," trails after her.



"You can date my mom," she announced, before homeroom the next morning. Mr. Cyr looks up at her, eyebrows twisted into a look of confusion mixed with surprise. "If you want to," she adds.

"Amber, you haven’t..."

"I know," she nods, handing him a pile of papers. "I’m really sorry. I knew how nice you were and I...I took advantage of the fact that you wouldn’t fail me." She’s being honest now, sick of weaving webs of lies.

Mr. Cyr takes her papers slowly. "I can’t just forget this ever happened. I can’t..."

She sighs, sitting down at the desk in front of him. "I know," she admits. "It’s not like I’m expecting an A or anything."

He sighs, shaking his head bitterly. "And what are you expecting?"

She shrugs softly. "I don’t know. That you could explain this crazy book to me?" She holds up her copy of The Scarlet Letter waving it in the air.

He smiles lightly, arms folding across his chest as he leans back in his chair. "You don’t like it?"

"No, I do," she insists. "I just...I don’t understand why everyone hates her. I feel bad for her. She made one mistake and it’s like she has to spend the rest of her life paying for it."

Her eyes meet his vulnerably, teeth digging into her lower lip.

He tilts his head. "Can I tell you a secret about Hester Prynne?"

Amber nods expectantly.

"Not everybody hates her."

She smiles.



Her cheek’s pressed into the banister of the staircase, legs tucked into her chest, hidden out of sight. Everyone’s downstairs for Drew’s birthday, and she should be too, but she can’t seem to face her family right now, not with everyone knowing what she’s done.

She hears her Uncle Adam’s voice. "I know," he remarks, sounding tired and upset. "Sarah, I know."

"She’s a good kid who’s been dealt a rough hand," her mom pleads. "Most of it’s my fault, I mean, who else has she had to look up to?"

Amber holds her breath, grip tightening around the banister.

"She makes mistakes, same as everyone else," her mom continues. "She takes risks and she lives and sometimes she hurts people and she doesn’t mean to, but I can tell you one thing Adam; she never makes the same mistake twice."

He sighs quietly. "Sarah..."

"Haddie would be lucky to have a friend like Amber. She’s the greatest person I know and you know, she forgives so easily. She just wants to be loved, Adam."

Amber’s throat tightens.

"Haddie’s not mad anymore," Adam admits. "And Kristina doesn’t hate Amber. We don’t hate Amber. Just...let them work it out, okay? Let Haddie deal with this in her own time."

Her mom’s sigh is heavy. "Okay," she agrees, voice cracking slightly.



"Hey," Haddie remarks, inching up the stairs slowly. Her left hand rests easily on top of the banister while her right digs inside of her pocket. She rolls her eyes. "Lame party, huh?"

Amber laughs. "It’s to be expected," she replies.

Haddie shrugs. "Yeah."

Amber shifts uncomfortably from her perch on the top step, eyes drifting to the ground.

"So, I have this stupid assignment for my English class," Haddie begins. "And I can’t understand a word the author’s writing and I’m ready to drop it, but my mom won’t let me."

Amber laughs. "I don’t think they let you drop English."

Haddie grins. "I think I could make a pretty good case."

Amber chuckles. "So, what’s the book?"

"The Great Gatsby."

Amber smiles. "I love that book."

"Yeah, well, you’re a freak," Haddie laughs.

Amber freezes.

"I was joking," Haddie offers, eyes falling to the floor.

"Oh," Amber remarks, rolling her eyes. "Yeah, I guess I am."

Haddie takes a step closer to her. "So anyway, I was talking to my mom about getting a tutor. She’s all ready to pay like a boatload of money for this college guy who apparently comes highly recommended or something...I don’t know. But, Mr. Cyr mentioned you might be able to help, and I just thought that might be better than this strange guy who probably will talk to me like I’m five or whatever."

"Oh," Amber replies, nodding quickly. "You want me to help you?"

Haddie shrugs. "If you can, yeah."

Amber nods. "No, definitely. I um, yeah."

"Yeah?" Haddie asks.

"Yeah," Amber agrees.

"Okay," Haddie remarks, turning to leave. "Oh, so grandma’s telling really embarrassing stories outside and Drew’s friends are being totally lame. So, just watch out if you come down."

Amber shakes her head. "Thanks for the warning."

Haddie nods. "Actually, I was thinking of going for a walk, if you wanted to come?"

Amber freezes. "Um, yeah, okay."

Haddie motions to the door. "Okay, well, I’ll just be outside, so..."

"Yeah, I’ll meet you," Amber nods, rising to her feet.

"Okay," Haddie remarks, turning around.

"Okay," Amber replies, to no one really. She’s used to being let down, but she’s not used to people expecting her not to let them down.

There’s been enough self-loathing and deprivation for one year, she thinks.




"Bye mom." Amber calls, sliding her coat on as she hurries to the front door.

Sarah looks up from her book. "Hey, where are you going?" she calls, climbing to her feet.

"Out," she remarks, reaching for the door.

"How ambiguous of you," Sarah remarks. "Where and with who?"

Amber laughs loudly. "Seriously?"

Sarah rolls her eyes mockingly. "Seriously," she insists.

"I have friends," Amber insists.

"Yeah, thanks for the update, now I want names."

Amber smirks. "I’m going to the movies with Haddie. Okay? Happy?"

Sarah smiles. "Oh you and Haddie? You guys are talking again? I mean, that’s great, it’s just...wow, I didn’t...."

Amber rolls her eyes. "Are you going to cry?" she teases.

Her mom chuckles. "Fine, go, have fun."

"Yeah, whatever," Amber remarks.

She means to say thank you.



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