“I’ll be back. Promise.”
The face has blurred over the years. Maybe when she was younger she could picture the shape of the nose and color of her eyes.
Her smell, cigarettes and peaches, and the feel of her soft hands wiping away tears never goes away.Her mother was attempting to be comforting, but soon gave that up. Like she did her.
Dad sat in the car, smoking a cigarette, the ones that make her cough, but she liked the smell of them. She didn’t like Dad that much, though. Mom, she thought, genuinely tried sometimes.
When they pulled up to the gas station, Mom and Dad were fighting up front, words she didn’t quite understand. Rey was okay enough to continue scribbling with the crayons mom made her take from the last diner they went to.
Her head popped up when mom slammed the car door, opened Rey’s door, leaned over to unbuckle her from the seat, and told her to get out of the car.
Mom was crying and her makeup was smeared around her face. She knelt down to Rey’s level outside of the car.
“Your Dad and I have to go do something. You’ll stay here.” Mom leaned back into the car to grab the blanket Rey carried around with her. She took the blanket and held it tight to her little body.
“Can’t I come?” She loved her mom, so much. She missed her when they would leave her sleeping in the car at night.
“No, sweetheart.” Rey started crying, she couldn’t help it, she just wanted her mother.
Her mother wiped away the tears before pulling her into her body, wrapping her arms tight around her.
“I’ll be back. Promise,” she sniffled into her hair.
“O-kay,” the small form sobbed against her mother's breast.
Quickly, her mother disentangled herself and hopped back into the rusty old car. Rey walked over to the building and sat back against the wall, wrapping the blanket around herself.
She watched her parents drive away, but her mother couldn’t look at her.
When the police picked her up after dark, she couldn’t help but scream for her mother. The owner had called after Rey refused to move from her place against the wall.
A nice woman in uniform picked her up and let her beat against her back without getting mad. Maybe she understood the situation far greater than Rey did in that moment. The lady knew her mother wasn’t coming back.
“Come back!” Rey screamed into the night as she was plopped into the backseat, tears rolling hot down her face, blankie clutched to her chest.
Drug addicts weren’t a thing Rey knew about. The dots only connected years later when one of her many foster parents hissed at her “no-good crack baby” after Rey dropped her dinner plate, breaking the glass and splattering food.
She lost her dinner privileges for a couple days.
Trusting people is hard. Anyone she’s ever had to rely on has hurt her.
The door of Rey’s life is made to be run out of.
Surprisingly, all of Rey’s hair has yet to fall out, even with the amount she is pulling it at the moment.
Ben called, and she just hung up.
Hearing his voice, it caused something in her to freak. All he said was “Hi, is this Rey?”
That one sentence set off every alarm in her head.
She stuttered a couple indecipherable sounds before furiously pushing the end call button. He called back almost immediately, but Rey couldn’t do it.
The weekend is almost over. At school, he’ll ignore her like before.
Thankfully, Maz was out of the house when he called. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have been able to ignore the second and third ringing.
It’s almost too much. What she feels for him.
How she still feels him, moving within her. She woke up this morning with a pain between her legs. Her insides were sore, not that she minded the pain. It only served as a reminder of an experience she’ll never have again.
Maybe it’s the way her heart leaps out of her chest whenever she remembers a specific moment between them. Nuzzling herself into his chest, his absent minded caresses, him shaking over her. She’d never felt so close to another.
It’s all going to come crashing down around her. He’s probably embarrassed to have slept with her.
She barely gets a wink of sleep. She’s going through the motions, avoiding hard questions from Maz, putting on her clothes that other girls are revolted by, trying to be invisible.
He’ll leave, he’ll run out. Like dad, like mom.
Her classmates whisper and look at each other whenever she enters the classroom. Laughing to themselves, wrongly assuming she doesn’t understand the source of hilarity. She curls in on herself, trying to seem smaller than she is.
By lunch, she can’t take it anymore. Instead of going to the lunch room, she runs out the back door of the school to the walkway between the buildings and the football fields.
Immediately she begins walking back and forth, counting her three steps within the squares. The rooms facing the walkway are mostly storage and the teachers’ lounge, she’s not worried about anyone seeing her. The fields are empty, everyone's inside for lunch.
She’s alone, like she’s always been, and it’s crushing. Ben will leave, she knows it.
Rey pulls her sweatshirt tighter around herself, repeating step after step as her mind swims through the humiliation.
She’s not sure how long she paces, but eventually her mind calms to where she’s not on the verge of screaming. Though, some amount of tears managed to slip past.
After all that time of wondering what it felt like to be held, to be that close, she’ll never get it again.
Leaning against the concrete outer wall, she buries her face in her hands and slides to the ground. The weight of shame is more than she can bear.
Similar to her state of mind, it feels as though a cloud has come over her with a sudden coolness on her skin.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuckity, fuck.
Peeking up through tears, she sees Ben Solo, looking so beautiful, staring down at her. The sun's glow framing his head like the savior himself.
“What–what are you doing here?” She rasps through sniffles.
“I have gym,” he gestures to the basketball shorts and hoodie, “ but I saw you.”
He sees me.
She had sex with this person and now she can’t look him in the eye.
A hand lifts her chin, Ben’s kneeling in front of her, eyes intense and dark. His plush lips purse as he wipes away the tears framing her eyes with his thumb.
Her heart jumps into her throat. Rey just wants to nuzzle into his hand and never leave it.
“Why did you hang up?” He asks it more like an invitation to speak than a question.
Her head drifts off to the side as she shrugs and shakes her head.
The rest of his class is on the far field, too far away to see them.
“Rey, if you don’t want this thing between us to keep happening, you have to tell me.” His voice cracks a little at the end.
“It won’t work.” Her words are thick with despair.
Meeting his gaze again, there’s tears pooling in his eyes, mirroring her.
“We can try, can’t we?”
Maybe, for him she will. If it will make him happy and this ugly feeling swallowing her go away.
“Is that what you want?”
He moves next to her, leaning back against the same wall. Taking her hand from its place wrapped around her knee, he kisses the back of it. “Yes,” he murmurs.
Rey lays her head on his shoulder. Ben let’s their hands drop and noses into her hair. He wants me.
“I’m sorry,” she whispers, maybe to him or another version of herself. She can trust him, she can try.
“It's okay, I’m here.” Lifting her hand with his hand, their lips meet and Rey sighs into a feeling that could be happiness.
Soon enough, Rey feels more comfortable with Ben than any home she’s ever known. Maz loves to have him over for dinner, but Rey doesn’t like going over to Ben’s as much.
His parents are extremely different people. Leia, workaholic, stoic, and determined. Han, carefree, hilarious, and easily angered.
During the first dinner that Ben had invited her to, Han and Leia left in the middle to scream at each other in the kitchen, like they couldn’t hear them clearly from one room over.
Ben shoved his chair back, took Rey by the hand, against her protests, and dragged her out of the house. In his car, he drove them to the old stone quarry and parked in the shade of a couple trees.
He had her right in the car, frustration and anger burning through him, but Rey didn’t mind. She was glad to be his coping mechanism, and it’s not like she didn’t get anything out of it.
Covered in sweat and fluids, he whispered his apologies afterward. He held her and covered her face in kisses, she had never felt more needed. She had never felt more loved.
Ben stops hanging out with his teammates outside of practice and Rey becomes closer with Rose from her history class. She and Ben sit with Rose and her boyfriend Finn at lunch. Rey actually eats the school lunch now. Everyone at her lunch table does, she doesn’t feel self-conscious of it anymore.
Rey couldn’t dream of a world where she wakes up alone anymore, she could however fathom a world if she woke up and it was only Ben and her.
Every so often, Rey hears whispers.
“ Why is he dating her?”
“They deserve each other, he’s hideous and she's a freak, how poetic.”
Yes, how poetic.
Ben’s old friends regard her with looks of hatred. Nothing new in that respect.
Rose is the best friend she’s never had. They go shopping together, since Rose is an “expert thrift shopper” and finds clothes for Rey that are not ugly with the little amount of allowance Maz had given her.
As a joke, she buys knee high socks and a pleated plaid skirt, Rose encourages her, laughing all the while.
The first time Ben sees her wearing them is when she visits while his parents are away, suddenly the skirt isn’t a joke anymore.
Sometimes, they fight. When Ben is ignoring her to play Xbox with Finn, or when Rey is letting her fears get to her, ignoring his texts for hours.
They make up in one way or another. Crying in the others’ arms, or yelling until passion takes over and they take out their anger with their bodies.
Sometimes, Rey reverts to her old ways. She throws on the baggy jeans and bleach-stained hoodies and looks at Ben all day.
It’s harder to do now because he knows her schedule, but sometimes she just likes to watch him as he walks in front of her in the hallways. She can admire the way he is without disruption. Tall body and swaying hair and bow legged walk, but at the end of the day, she’ll kiss him senseless in his car, if only to rub it in the face of her past self.
She also remembers on these days that Ben is more than the version she pined over. He is frustratingly stubborn and angry and insecure. He’s always correct and Rey can’t help but feel a little small around him sometimes, not in the way she likes to feel small.
But he’s also so forgiving and understanding and loving. Ben’s her anchor with his hand or his mouth or his cock, he’s there to make her feel loved.
His parents’ behaviors have affected him deeply like her. When Han leaves and doesn’t come back for a month, Ben is a wreck.
She had assumed that Ben was living the perfect life that she had always wanted with money and parents at his disposal. Rey is his shoulder to cry on when Leia takes her own anger and grief out on him, yelling about his shortcomings in every area of his life. Rey is there for him, as he was there for her.
Laying in his arms on the couch, snow falling outside the window, reindeers and snowmen singing on the television, he holds her tight. She rubs her nose against his, his beautiful nose, and lets herself be grateful.
Maybe this won’t last after she walks across the stage in June, maybe it will and they have to survive long distance and college life without each other, but Rey isn’t worrying about that right now.
Rey has Ben, and he hasn’t run out yet.