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My eyes were slow to open...probably because the melted cheese I was drowning in glued my eyelashes shut. I sat up with a jolt, half my face wet with pizza grease, and tried to catch my bearings. My Jeep. I was in my cruddy Jeep- passenger side. Who the hell was driving?

"Oh good you're awake," Jewel's voice, sharp and clear, came from beside me. She was gulping down a jumbo sized bright blue slurpee, one hand resting low on the steering wheel, gaze trained on the empty stretch of road before us. "I was getting worried."

"Why was I asleep to begin with?" My head felt like a heavy bucket of dishwater with rotting chunklets of memory floating on the surface. I pressed my temples and looked out the window only to realize I recognized none of the combination of trees and farmhouses passing us by. "Uh- Jewel, where are we?"

"A ways outside Cincinnati."

"Wha-" A numbness settled over me and bile rose in my throat. I did the math in my head. We were approximately three hundred and fifty miles away from our home in White Chapel, Illinois. I gibbered, "We have finals tomorrow!"

"Today. We had finals today. Or would have. We were halfway through Indiana by that time." Jewel handed me a plastic bag from 7/11. "You look horrible. If you're gonna puke, you better do it in this. This car's taken enough abuse."

I took the bag as a precaution and struggled to put my swimming thoughts into words. "Jewel...wha--how?! How long have I been sleeping? WHY ARE WE IN OHIO?"

Jewel's knuckles were white as she gripped the steering wheel. "About eighteen hours, I'd say. A lot longer than I'd thought. I got you pizza 'cause I thought you'd be hungry when you woke up." She motioned to the sad piece of soggy pizza which now sported a surprisingly accurate mold of half my face. "As for the why of it....why not? We needed to get out."

"Spontaneous road trips are not for the week of senior finals!" I bellowed then regretted it. Sickness crawled up my throat and emptied itself into the plastic bag. When I lifted my head again, Jewel her brown eyes narrowed with worry.

"You okay?" She reached over and felt my cheek which was now slightly clammy. "Shit. You're heating up."


I was. Suddenly it was hotter than Satan's ass crack in this damn car. I cranked the window down and I swear steam escaped out of the window. My eyes screwed shut tightly to fight against a growing dizziness. What the hell was wrong? Something I ate? Then a horrible thought occurred to me.


"Jewel?" I groaned. "Why exactly was I asleep for eighteen hours?"


It was impossible to miss the look of guilt that crossed her face. I swore under my breath,

"Christ Jewel what did you do?"

Desperation doubled the size of her eyes, "Remember Annette's party last night?"

Oh, did I ever. It had been nights of firsts. First shot of tequila, first drunken fall down the stairs, first kiss with Jewel. I looked at her now through half-lidded eyes- her tangled dark hair she refused to brush and dirty fingernails- and remembered the feel of her tongue down my throat. I couldn't remember what happened after that. At one point Jewel had passed me water from a plastic bottle and that was it. Nothing after that. But there was something different about the water wasn't there? Something slightly off.

"Jewel," I breathed in disbelief. "You drugged me."

"...Maybe a little."

Unparalleled betrayal sliced right to my core. I wanted to ask her why. Why was she doing all this? From the moment Pop and I took her in at the start of the school year- just a wandering girl looking for a place to crash for the night- I'd known she was unstable. But this? I could've died! Might be dying. Nausea rose again and I puked my guts into the 7/11 bag. I licked my lips and tasted the salt of my sweat.

"Gotta pull over," I moaned and slumped against the door, eyelids fluttering closed.

"Cory? CORY!" I heard Jewel shout. "Shit, shit shit. Alright, here's a gas station."

We pulled over gravel. The familiar slam of my Jeep's door. Hurried footsteps. Small arms wrapping around me. I don't remember the trip into the gas station or how Jewel managed my dead weight but the next thing I knew I was lying on my back in the middle of the bathroom floor, a flurry of worried voices from strangers sounding incredibly loud. Jewel was trying to reassure them that everything was fine but they were not convinced. One of them threatened to call the police. Oh, Jewel did not like that one bit.

She was at my side then. Her cool hand felt heavenly against my sweltering forehead. "They're calling an ambulance for you. Christ this is not how I wanted things to go. With all my heart I wanted to take you with me." I tried opening my eyes to look at her but the harsh fluorescents above us were like a sharpened blade straight to my occipital lobes. She took my hand and kissed it sweetly. "I can't stay here. People here are already starting to ask questions and soon the police will be involved and I cannot tangle with them, understand?" She made to stand up, but I gripped her hand. The whole thing was surreal. None of this made any sense. She looked down at me with the saddest expression I think I've ever seen. "You've been so good to me Cory. But it's time for me to move on. It was fun while it lasted. I'm sorry I did this to you, but the paramedics will take good care of you, baby." And with one final squeeze of my hand she let go and disappeared of of sight, leaving me to grasp at the air like a helpless infant.
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