© HELLMOUTHS

"We’re meeting my friend and their girlfriend," Carmen said carefully. Aaron had a jealous streak a mile long and she didn’t want to hit it. He nodded, contemplating.

"Interesting. Where?"

"You’ll see. Just get dressed!!"

Was Carmen excited?

Oh, yes.

5

Carmen shut the door rather exuberantly and smiled. She was so happy for Zeke. Granted, there was that small hint of jealousy that was inevitable for any friendship; but she was happy nevertheless.

"Aaaaroooooon, dearrrr!"

"Yeah," he muttered from the bedroom. She figured he was changing—Aaron worked a day job. 

"We have a date tonightttt!"

"But it’s not Thursday," he protested weakly. Carmen shrugged and smiled warmly at him.

"It is somewhere!"

8

"What’s her name?! What’s she look like?! Is she nice?! She better be nice!"

"Her name’s Elise, she looks a little bit like that Nora Goth girl, and she’s super sweet."

"AWESOMEEE! You know what this means, right?!"

"No…"

"I have to meet her now." Carmen smiled smugly, pulling him into a hug. "I knew you’d get a girlfriend someday. :3"

6

"So… Spill the beans, Zeke. You’ve been acting super duper happy lately. What gives?"

"Oh, nothing," Zeke said happily, rolling his eyes. Carmen shoved him playfully.

"Oooo, I get it. Somebody’s got a giiirrrlllfrieeeeend!"

"You got it!"

"HA! I knew it!" "What’s her name?! What’s she look like?! Is she nice?! She better be nice!"

8

It took weeks upon weeks of doing basically nothing, but Carmen’s arm healed up just fine. She saw no reason to go to the hospital; she had broken her arm by falling off the monkey bars in sixth grade. No big deal there. As her arm healed, Carmen found many things to do: paint the nails of the broken arm, watch television, read some old classic books, paint small pictures, cut her hair—basic one armed tasks.

Carmen continued to have lunch with Zeke on a near-daily basis, and had dinner with Aaron every night. Though she knew very well what he was capable of, Carmen chose to look past that and ignore it, as she always had. Yes, there would be scars, but not if you didn’t think about it.

Zeke’s many protests didn’t stop her from being with Aaron, though. If anything, she just felt more compelled to be with him. He had moved from Nebraska to Bridgeport to be with her, after all.

5

He was sitting on the couch, flipping through channels mindlessly. Carmen closed the door as quietly as she could, but he didn’t react.

"Aaron?"

No response.

"Aaron, baby, I’m so, so sorry."

Nothing.

"Aaron? Aaron, please, talk to me."

"Sit."

4
Carmen changed back into the dress she had on last night and left, heels in hand. Her arm hurt like hell, but she had driven in worse conditions before. The only thing she felt right then was fear. Utter, consuming, absolute fear. She was hoping he would be hungover and asleep, but the chances of that were little to none. He always waited for her after his drinking nights, and then have his way with her, no matter how painful it got for her. It was his way or not at all, and Carmen loved Aaron too much to ever let go of him. Maybe it wasn’t love, maybe it was fear that kept her with him, but she knew she would cry if he died. And she hoped he felt the same way.
The drive home seemed way too fast.

Carmen changed back into the dress she had on last night and left, heels in hand. Her arm hurt like hell, but she had driven in worse conditions before. The only thing she felt right then was fear. Utter, consuming, absolute fear. She was hoping he would be hungover and asleep, but the chances of that were little to none. He always waited for her after his drinking nights, and then have his way with her, no matter how painful it got for her. It was his way or not at all, and Carmen loved Aaron too much to ever let go of him. Maybe it wasn’t love, maybe it was fear that kept her with him, but she knew she would cry if he died. And she hoped he felt the same way.

The drive home seemed way too fast.

6

Carmen spun Zeke around and fully embraced him, loving that she had a friend who was male who could just be a friend and not want more. 

"What time is it?"

"About noon."

"I really should probably go…"

"No, you shouldn’t; but you’re going to anyways, aren’t you," Zeke sighed. Carmen nodded painfully. Her arm still hurt and she still had a headache.

"Thank you, again, Zeke, for everything."

"I could drive you home—"

"I need to face this alone. I’m sorry," Carmen muttered, not wanting to leave his arms. He was so warm, so comforting…

"Stay safe, Carmen."

10