Regretting You

Regretting You

Colleen Hoover



I wonder if humans are the only living creatures that ever feel hollow inside.

I don’t understand how my body can be full of everything bodies are full of—bones and muscles and blood and organs—yet my chest sometimes feels vacant, as if someone could scream into my mouth and it would echo inside of me.

I’ve been feeling this way for a few weeks now. I was hoping it would pass because I’m beginning to worry about what’s causing this emptiness. I have a great boyfriend I’ve been dating for almost two years now. If I don’t count Chris’s moments of intense teenage immaturity (mostly fueled by alcohol), he’s everything I want in a boyfriend. Funny, attractive, loves his mother, has goals. I don’t see how he could be the cause of this feeling.

And then there’s Jenny. My little sister—my best friend. But I know she’s not the source of my emptiness. She’s the primary source of my happiness, even though we’re complete opposites. She’s outgoing, spontaneous, and loud and has a laugh I’d kill for. I’m quieter than she is, and more often than not, my laughter is forced.

It’s a running joke between us that we are so different, if we weren’t sisters, we would hate each other. She’d find me boring and I’d find her annoying, but because we’re sisters, and only twelve months apart, our differences somehow work. We have our moments of tension, but we never let an argument end without a resolution. And the older we get, the less we argue and the more we hang out. Especially now that she’s dating Chris’s best friend, Jonah. The four of us have spent almost every waking hour together as a group since Chris and Jonah graduated high school last month.

My mother could be the source of my recent mood, but that wouldn’t make sense. Her absence isn’t anything new. In fact, I’m more used to it now than I used to be, so if anything, I’ve become more accepting of the fact that Jenny and I got the short end of the stick in the parent department. She’s been inactive in our lives since our father died five years ago. I was more bitter about having to parent Jenny back then than I am now. And the older I get, the less it bothers me that she’s not the type of mother to meddle in our lives, or give us a curfew, or . . . care. It’s honestly kind of fun being seventeen and given the freedom most kids my age would dream of.

Nothing has changed in my life recently to explain this profound emptiness I’ve been feeling. Or maybe it has, and I’m just too afraid to notice it.

“Guess what?” Jenny says. She’s in the front passenger seat. Jonah is driving, and Chris and I are in the back seat. I’ve been staring out the window during my bout of self-reflection, so I pause my thoughts and look at her. She’s turned around in her seat, her eyes moving excitedly between me and Chris. She looks really pretty tonight. She borrowed one of my maxi dresses and kept it simple with very little makeup. It’s amazing what a difference there is between fifteen-year-old Jenny and sixteen-year-old Jenny. “Hank said he can hook us up tonight.”

Chris lifts a hand and high-fives Jenny. I look back out the window, not sure I like that she likes to get high. I’ve done it a handful of times—a by-product of having the mother that we do. But Jenny is only sixteen and partakes in whatever she can get her hands on at every party we go to. That’s a big reason why I choose not to partake, because I’ve always felt a sense of responsibility for her since I’m older and our mother doesn’t regulate our activities in any way.

Sometimes I feel like I’m Chris’s babysitter too. The only one in this car I don’t have to babysit is Jonah, but that’s not because he doesn’t get drunk or high. He just seems to maintain a level of maturity despite whatever substances might be running through his system. He has one of the most consistent personalities I’ve ever encountered. He’s quiet when he’s drunk. Quiet when he’s high. Quiet when he’s happy. And somehow even quieter when he’s mad.

He’s been Chris’s best friend since they were kids, and they’re like the male versions of me and Jenny, but opposite. Chris and Jenny are the life of every party. Jonah and I are the invisible sidekicks.

Fine by me. I’d rather blend in with the wallpaper and quietly enjoy people-watching than be the one standing on a table in the center of a room, being the one people are watching.

“How far out is this place?” Jonah asks.

“About five more miles,” Chris says. “Not far.”

“Maybe not far from here, but far from our houses. Who’s driving home tonight?” Jonah asks.

“Not it!” Jenny and Chris both say at the same time.

Jonah glances at me in the rearview mirror. He holds my stare for a moment, and then I nod. He nods too. Without even speaking, we’ve both agreed we’ll stay sober tonight.

I don’t know how we do it—communicate without communicating—but it has always been an effortless thing between us. Maybe it’s because we’re a lot alike, so our minds are in sync a lot of the time. Jenny and Chris don’t notice. They don’t need to communicate silently with anyone because anything and everything they need to say rolls off the tips of their tongues whether it should or not.

Chris grabs my hand to get my attention. When I look at him, he kisses me. “You look pretty tonight,” he whispers.

I smile at him. “Thank you. You don’t look so bad yourself.”

“Wanna stay at my house tonight?”

I think about that for a second, but Jenny spins around in her seat again and answers for me. “She can’t leave me alone tonight. I’m a minor about to spend the next four hours ingesting a lot of alcohol and maybe an illegal substance. Who’s gonna hold back my hair while I vomit in the morning if she stays at your place?”

Chris shrugs. “Jonah?”

Jenny laughs. “Jonah has typical parents who want him home by midnight. You know that.”

“Jonah just graduated high school,” Chris says, talking about him like he’s not in the front seat listening to every word. “He should man up and stay out all night for once.”

Jonah is pulling the car into a gas station when Chris says that. “Anyone need anything?” Jonah asks, ignoring the conversation being had about him.

“Yeah, I’m gonna try to buy some beer,” Chris says, unbuckling his seat belt.

That actually makes me laugh. “You look every minute of eighteen. They aren’t going to sell you beer.”

Chris grins at me, taking that comment as a challenge. He gets out of the car to go inside, and Jonah gets out to pump gas. I reach into Jonah’s console and grab one of the watermelon Jolly Ranchers he always leaves behind. Watermelon is the best flavor. I don’t understand how anyone could hate it, but apparently he does.

Jenny unbuckles her seat belt and crawls into the back seat with me. She curls her legs beneath her, facing me. Her eyes are full of mischief when she says, “I think I’m gonna have sex with Jonah tonight.”

For the first time in ages, my chest feels full, but not in a good way. It feels like it’s being flooded with thick water. Maybe even mud. “You just turned sixteen.”

“The same age you were when you had sex with Chris for the first time.”

“Yeah, but we had been dating longer than two months. And I still regret it. It hurt like hell, lasted maybe a minute, and he smelled like tequila.” I pause because it sounds like I just insulted my boyfriend’s skills. “He got better.”

Jenny laughs but then falls back against the seat in a sigh. “I feel like it’s commendable that I’ve held out two months.”

I want to laugh, because two months is nothing. I’d rather her wait an entire year. Or five.

I don’t know why I’m so against this. She’s right—I was younger than her when I started having sex. And if she’s going to lose her virginity to someone—at least it’s to someone I know is a good person. Jonah has never taken advantage of her. In fact, he’s known Jenny for an entire year and never made a pass at her until she was sixteen. It was frustrating to her, but it made me respect him.

I sigh. “You lose your virginity once, Jenny. I don’t want this moment to be while you’re drunk in a stranger’s house, having sex on someone else’s bed.”

Jenny moves her head from side to side like she’s actually contemplating what I’ve said. “Then maybe we could do it in his car.”

I laugh, but not because that’s funny. I laugh because she’s making fun of me. That’s exactly how I lost my virginity to Chris. Cramped in the back seat of his father’s Audi. It was absolutely unremarkable and wholly embarrassing, and even though we got better, it would be nice if our first time had been something we could look back on with fonder memories.

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