Home > Summer of Sloane(5)

Summer of Sloane(5)
Author: Erin L. Schneider

I scowl back and forth between him and my brother, daring Penn to say one word. “Why does everyone keep asking me that?”

With a knowing smile—proving that this has to be a guy rule I didn’t know about—Dr. Craig lifts my hand, his fingertips a little on the cold side, as he gently flutters them from my wrist to the tip of my thumb. And I’m not gonna lie, even that slight contact hurts.

He immediately orders a set of X-rays and walks me back to the lab where they take them. He makes small talk about my mom, asking how she is and sharing old memories from when they worked together to help pass the time.

As soon as we’re finished, he walks me back to my room, but excuses himself to check in on another patient. Penn and my father are talking in hushed voices when I enter, but then all goes quiet when they see me.

“Really? Please, don’t stop talking on account of me.” I’m suddenly feeling light-headed, so I clamber back up on the plastic mattress and lie down.

My dad hesitates for a moment before launching in. “The Hudsons say Tyler got McKinley pregnant. Is that true, Sloane?”

I look away, and both of them let out a string of expletives that would make even a trucker blush. So it seems Penn didn’t know the whole story. And that’s probably a good thing, since he would’ve broken more than Tyler’s nose, and I would’ve spent my summer alone in Hawaii, while he spent his in juvie.

My cell phone buzzes with an incoming text, then buzzes quickly again.

“It’s been doing that a lot,” Penn says. He nods toward my bag sitting on the chair next to him, but I shake my head no. It buzzes again before Penn reaches in and turns it off.

And I know word has gotten out.

With the rate gossip flies around the halls at my school, I can only imagine how everyone is chomping at the bit to hear the juicy details of what happened…but I also know very few actually care if I’m okay. Those that do will leave a message, and at some point, I’ll talk to them. Just not now.

I wonder if any one of those incoming texts might be from Mick, with an answer to my “why.” With a real reason for doing what she did. Something, anything, that will help me understand how I came to be sitting here right now.

My dad grips my foot in my flip-flop and gives it a shake. “I think heading out to Hawaii might be exactly what you need right now.”

I can’t help but think that maybe he’s right.

Two hairline fractures, one black waterproof cast, and an enormous bottle of heavy-duty painkillers later, we’re finally back at home. Dinner is quiet; no questions, no idle small talk, no nothing. And it’s exactly what I need.

I pop a painkiller and head upstairs to finish packing. I realize how difficult it’s going to be to swim with this giant mass of a right hand, especially if it’s expected to stay in a cast for the next four weeks. I’m going to have to come up with something. Anything to keep my mind off everything else. Everything that’s trying to creep forward in my mind, as if I’ve forgotten.

Like I could forget.

I can’t decide what’s worse…Mick’s betrayal or Tyler’s. It’s a constant battle between my brain and my heart, flipping back and forth.

That same sinking feeling I felt earlier in the park is back with a vengeance. I want so badly to wake up and find out that none of this is real, but my mind won’t let me get out of it that easily. And I realize so much of what’s been important to me my whole life is no longer there.

I finally check the texts and voice mails on my phone. I can’t believe there are over forty different messages, some of them from people I barely even know. I respond only to three of them—close friends of mine on the swim team—letting them know the exact same thing: Yes, it’s true what they’ve heard. No, I’m not okay. And thanks, when I feel like talking, I will.

There’s also a text from Mick:

So sorry about your hand. Please talk to me. Please.


I ignore her and attempt to tackle brushing my teeth with my left hand—although I’m not sure how good a job I do—and change into my pj’s. That’s when the room starts to spin and I feel like I’ve downed an entire fifth of vodka, all on my own. But at least my hand doesn’t hurt.

I start shoving who knows what into my luggage, and everything else gets kicked under my bed or thrown in my closet. I’ll deal with it when I get home at the end of summer, along with everything else I know I’ll need to face sooner or later.

But then I see the framed picture of Tyler and me on my nightstand. Our photo from prom last month, the night we had sex for the first time. Two weeks after he slept with Mick.

And that’s when the tears begin to fall.

I swipe at my face, trying to make it stop, angry that my own eyes are betraying me. Because I don’t want to feel this way.

Before I can stop myself, I pick up the picture and hurl it against the wall with a deafening scream. It shatters, then litters the floor in a million tiny pieces. I sag against my bed and slide down to the carpet, joining all the broken shards. They look exactly how I feel.

Penn is in my room a moment later. He sits down next to me, knees pulled up in front of him, and leans his shoulder up against mine. Hiding my face in my hands, I mumble, “Why? Why did he do this?”

“I don’t know why,” he says. He doesn’t make up any crap, and he doesn’t say things just to make me feel better.

“And…and what makes it worse? I slept with him after prom!” I stutter.

Penn stiffens next to me.

“I’m s-sorry, P., I know you don’t wanna hear that.”

I turn away from him, and the black cast on my arm that outweighs the rest of me sinks against the side of my leg. I kick at the edge of my bulging suitcase with the tip of my slipper. What the hell did I pack?

Penn rakes his fingers down his face and takes a deep breath. “You’ve been with the guy forever. I figured it had to happen sooner or later.” He holds up his hands as if to cut me off from sharing any details and shakes his head. “It only makes it worse, ’cause now I really wanna kick his ass.”

The damn tears start all over again as I cover my face. “One year. One year I’m with that asshat. And now I feel like I didn’t matter to him at all. Like what we had didn’t matter at all.”

“Sloane, you know that’s not true. Tyler may have fucked up…big-time—but that doesn’t mean he didn’t care.”

I doubt my brother even realizes that what he’s said is in the past tense. Didn’t care. As in Tyler cared in the past, but doesn’t anymore. Maybe that’s why he did what he did. Maybe he stopped caring and I never even noticed.

It takes a while for me to calm down and finally fall asleep. But then I dream I walk in on Mick and Tyler and I see certain body parts that, while I’ve seen separately, I definitely shouldn’t see together. I wake up over and over during the night, sweaty and panicked, hoping it’s my crazy imagination that’s creating these stupid dreams. But then I see the cast on my hand and I know it’s real.

I know it really happened.



Our flight is early in the morning, and the hustle of getting to the airport and getting through security has kept my mind occupied. By the time I sit down in my seat and shut off my phone, all I want to do is close my eyes and fall back asleep.

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