Cherry Creek - Dani Matthews


I'm running late today, all because I’d avoided my ex at the downtown bus stop this afternoon. The last thing I need is to be late for my part-time job. I can't afford to lose it. Mom and I are just barely making ends meet as it is. After quickly buttoning up my blouse, I rush to the bathroom across the hall and brush my long, blonde hair back into a sleek ponytail. Then, I adjust my black skirt while hurrying back to my room to grab my shoes. If I'm not out of the apartment within the next five minutes, I'm going to be late.

Maybe I should have just dealt with Brad instead of avoiding the bus stop and taking the roundabout way home. A frown mars my face as I slip on my shoes before walking down the short hall into the living room. Brad’s been acting weird lately. We broke up last week, because he’s been getting a bit obsessive and controlling with me. It’s like a switch has been flipped somewhere inside him. He’s always around, and when he’s not, he’s demanding to know where I’ve been or who I’ve been with. It’s odd, because Brad has never been the possessive type. He’s always been laid back, and he’s always given me more than enough room to breathe and be my own person.

We’d discussed his behavior just last month, and he’d been just as frustrated as I had been during that conversation. He has no idea why he’s feeling this way. He can’t explain why he needs to be near me constantly. We’d tried to work on the issue, we really had. But last week things went too far when he wanted to have sex, and I hadn’t been in the mood. He wouldn’t take no for an answer, and he’d kept trying to persuade me. I’d broken up with him on the spot and stormed out of his house.

This past week has been extremely difficult for me. Brad seems to be everywhere. He’s always trying to corner me if I leave the apartment, always pleading with me to take him back. I swear there’s something not right with him. He’s also beginning to look scruffier as the days wear on. He’s not shaving, and he has dark circles under his eyes.

And he smells.

I’d noticed that the other day. He’s not taking showers.

It’s time to go to my mom. I’ve been avoiding it, because my mom’s kind of flighty at best. That’s the nicest way to explain her. Her attention span is short. She’s more like my sister rather than my mom. I swear, sometimes I feel like the adult, and she’s the child. But tonight, I have to talk to her. She has to know what’s going on with Brad, because I’m thinking a restraining order might be needed.

As I pick up my purse off the end table, I feel sad and a little bleak. I never thought this would be how my relationship would end with him. It’s not like I’d expected to be with him forever. I’m only seventeen, and I’d looked at our relationship logically. High school romances rarely last past graduation. But what we’d had was good. It had been solid. I’d just assumed we’d be together until things naturally fell apart. But what’s happening now, it isn’t natural. It’s downright strange. It’s almost as if Brad has turned into a completely different person.

A hard knock on the apartment door startles me. My head jerks up, and my heart sinks. If that’s Brad, I’m definitely going to be late. There’s only one way out of this third floor apartment, and that’s through the door he’s standing behind.

I slowly walk over and peer through the peephole. Sure enough, Brad stands there. His short, brown hair is a mess, and thickening whiskers line his strong jaw. As I gaze at him, I see that his eyes look a bit sunken in.

His fist thuds against the door again, making me gasp. “Let me in, Livvy. I know you’re in there.”

“Brad, you need to leave,” I say as steadily as I can through the door.

“Just give me five minutes. Please. I’m begging you, Livvy.” He sounds like he’s about to cry.

I peer through the peephole and see that he’s wiping at tears. My chest tightens. I’ve never seen Brad cry.

“Please,” he pleads. “I swear I won’t touch you. I just need you to hear me out, that’s all. Then, I’ll leave you alone. I promise. Please