To my distress, I soon realized why Sam had first introduced the event as a “special dinner.”
They had made a freaking feast, like the sort of Thanksgiving dinner you saw on TV, the perfect dinner to feed twenty people. But this time, it was just me, Sam, and Cecil. My heart sank as my stomach churned. Nausea from the nervousness, not just the scent of food. How was I going to get out of it?
I sat and talked to Cecil while Sam bumped around in the kitchen. When he came back, Cecil got up to go get something out of the oven.
Sam came around my back and put a plate in front of me. “Eat.”
My heart sank even further. It was loaded, two inches high with rich foods, nearly spilling off the edge. “Sam…” I begged in a whisper.
“Eat,” he replied, harsher this time, staring at me.
I did what he said, I began eating. But once I hit my usual limit, which was wasn’t much, I stopped.
“Sam, I’m not used to so much… it’s going to make me sick,” I whispered in shame.
I did, all that I could without vomiting there at the table. A cold shiver shot through my body, my face going pale. Tears formed in my eyes. I didn’t want to disappoint him, but I just couldn’t do it. I looked up at him, apologizing with my eyes.
He didn’t force me anymore. “You need to fix this,” he rumbled angrily.
“I am trying,” I whispered.
Cecil came back, his own plate loaded, and chatted away amiably. He was the cheeriest I’ve ever seen him, which felt weird since I was feeling so down. So was Sam. It was strange that Cecil didn’t sense the tension.
Sam disappeared into the kitchen again for another ten minutes without an explanation. But when he kissed my forehead in farewell later that night, there was beer on his breath. I winced. I made him sad.
The fact that Sam drank bothered me. I’d seen what alcohol does to people. I’d sworn to never touch it. But it was different for Sam, because Sam was different. It soothed him. Instead of taking away his reservations, his control, it focused him. It calmed his rage down, it made it easier for him to control his temper. He drank when something was really bothering him.
And I had bothered him.
Before I left, I grabbed a Sticky-Note and a Sharpie.
I'm sorry I ruined March 23rd.
I know it's because you love me. I'm trying.
The next day, as the warning bell was ringing for first period, Sam appeared next to me. He kissed me, which was weird because we rarely did so when other people were around, never in a crowded hallway with people staring. But he kissed me, put something in my palm and let me walk into Spanish.
That was weird.
I sat down in my seat, people watching me disapprovingly, and looked at what he had given me. It was one of the same Sticky-Notes that I had used the night before, a note written in his careful script that proves he didn’t learn to write anytime lately.
You did not ruin it, I did.
I am sorry I upset you. I know you are trying. I just hate that you are hurting and I can't do anything about it.
I love you, too.
PS. I remembered why we celebrate March 23rd. It was the first time Cecil ever beat me in a wrestling match. Dumb, huh?
Stapled to the note was a bag of green grapes. It made me smile.
At least until Senor Tibet yelled at me. “Senorita Shea. No comer in la clase.”