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Chapter 19 – Cheering up

Saturday, December 24th, 2016

Today is Christmas eve, and though I’m normally really excited for Christmas break, I’m not too happy right now.

It’s ten in the morning and I’m still in bed. I’m afraid if I get out, I will end my streak of flawless days. Every day the fear of fucking up something is growing, because I just knowthere will be a moment in which I do fuck up.

I nearly did on Wednesday when I tried to visit Calo.

Seino told me it was better to leave Calo alone for a while, that it had nothing to do with me, while it obviously had everything to do with me.

Before, Seino told his mom to let me come over because I managed to make him go to school on a bad day. I managed to see Calo the very first time he had an episode after we met, because Seino felt confident enough I was able to calm Calo down. Which I somewhat did.

But now, Calo left myhouse in the morning, and he didn’t show up in school ever since. He hasn’t answered any of my texts or other futile attempts of getting in contact, and all contact is now via Seino.

Who simply keeps repeating Calo isn’t doing well enough to respond to my messages.

And currently, I’ve been texting with Seino about what I can do to cheer Calo up.

Because that’s what is making me anxious; the need to make things right. I stopped organizing my stuff, and Calo got an episode. So, I’m back at organizing my stuff to prevent causing any future episodes.

And then there’s the fact I want to return the favour. Calo messed up school’s regular order of the day twice, turning it into some sort of playground to raise awareness about OCD and my compulsions in particular.

And currently, I’m anxiously in bed, afraid to get out because I might fuck something up, while I should swallow my pride like Calo did for me and go out to try and cheer him up as much as possible.

So, after doubting ever since I woke up around eight, I force myself to get out of bed and into the shower.

I scrub just a slight bit more because I want to be at my top game when trying to focus on another person’s problems instead of mine. I can best have my habits out of the way as much as I possibly can.

After my shower, I find one stack of clothes left for me by Pyper, and I pack some essentials to take with me towards Calo. Since I’m not exactly sure on how to cheer him up, I also take my polaroid camera and two cassettes with me to make photos if we might end up going to a beautiful place.

I’d kill myself if I wouldn’t be carrying my camera when I stumble upon a hidden gem of nature or whatever. It happened once, when I got lost in a city with dad, and I didn’t have my camera while we found this labyrinth of tiny beautiful streets, covered with flowers and decorated with all sorts of colourful ornaments. The next day, the sun wasn’t as bright. It was actually a bit clouded and rainy, and the pictures turned out ugly and useless. Then, we went back home since we were staying in a bungalow, because I tripped over the mat in front of the door and completely freaked out.

I never managed to get back to the streets to take new photos.

So, camera present in my bag and I’m good to go.

I successfully tap the lights to the right beat and end up executing any other compulsions without too much trouble.

“Morning sweety.” Mom pecks a kiss on top of my head as she walks into the kitchen behind me to make me breakfast, while dad puts away the remote to sit down next to me. I can hear Pyper practicing violin in the small, useless-to-park-a-car garage and I smile at the sound.

Pyper playing the violin is a very good sign. Pyper only plays the violin when she’s feeling extremely well. Because once she starts playing, she can go on for hours and hours in a row. And when she’s not feeling to strong, she’s incapable of playing well, and that frustrates her too much.

Pyper feeling extremely well, puts me in a good mood, giving me some confidence today might be a good day.

“Thanks for dropping me off mom,” I tell her, leaning into the car while I just got out.

“Call me when I need to pick you up again, okay?” She smiles, though it’s evident in her eyes she’s worried about me, which I get since I stayed in bed longer then usual, and I look a bit tired and slightly anxious.

The latter still because I wonder when I’m going to fuck up, or end up in a panic attack, or whatever negative thing that could happen.

Like Calo telling me he doesn’t want to be friends anymore. I don’t think I would be able to live with that, knowing what it’s like to have a best friend, and then losing it because I’m Faulty Favre.

I nervously fiddle with my sleeves after ringing the bell.

I haven’t even told Seino I was coming over, so when he opens the door, he is in the least a bit surprised, trying to hide it.

“Neo,” he whispers, sounding a bit tired. “I don’t know if it’s a good thing…”

“I want to do something back for him. He helped me big time at least three times,” - which is a good amount of times to help – “and now I want to do something for him in return. That’s how friendship works, right? Helping each other?”

Seino chuckles a bit, before he nods, opening the door further to offer me entrance. I hop inside and Seino by now is used to my irky habits, ignoring such things with ease. “He’s still in bed and I doubt if he will come out today. I think he had three panic attacks throughout the night.”

Which makes my stomach churn in a bad way. I know what those attacks are like and I wish I could do something to prevent them from happening to such a sweet guy as Calo is.

“And Prayaav and I were about to head over to a nearby tropical swimming pool. Harper is the only one home today, so if something is wrong, you’ll just have to call her.”

“Tropicana?” I ask him curiously, remembering the last time I had been there. It was before germs were freaking me out. But every now and then, I feel good enough, steady enough, to go to a public pool.

“Yeah, they reopened last week.” Seino nods and smiles. “I tried to get Calo to come, since he loves swimming, but I didn’t succeed un persuading him.”

“Let me try,” I tell him, putting my backpack in the corner of the office, before I run upstairs, skipping the first and last step, panting in exhaustion as I make it to Calo’s bedroom door.

My condition sucks, sue me. I never do any sports, other then the before mentioned yearly swimming trip. “Cay?” I knock on his door, not getting a response from him.

I knock again, and a third time, before I open the door anyway.

Calo is seated in the corner of his bed, his comforter pulled around him and a hoodie over his head. He’s staring at the door with bloodshot eyes and tearstains on his cheeks.

“Hey…” I mutter, closing the door behind me before walking over to the bed. I sit down next to him, and he instantly leans towards me, sniffling a bit.

“I can’t do it anymore,” he whispers with a broken voice. “I’m so done.”

“I know it’s hard…” I lie, not knowing exactly what he feels whenever he has an episode. “But it’ll get better. And you know it’ll get better sooner if you go out and do something.”

“I don’t have the energy.”

“Oh,” I whisper disappointed, though it’s fainted. “I was thinking about joining Prayaav and Seino for a swim, but I can stay here with you.”

“No… no, go.” Calo pushes himself away from me again, hiding back in the corner. “Just leave me here.”

“No, Cay.” I sigh deeply. “I’m not going without you. I kind of need someone who can calm me down if needed. And I’m not leaving you like this.”

“I don’t want to swim.”

“Right, well, we’ll do it next time,’ I drawl, again pretending to be disappointed, wondering if it even helps a bit. “I’ll keep you company.”

“You will?”

“You’re my best friend, off course I will.” I chuckle a bit forced, nudging him a bit. “I’d do anything to make you smile again.”

“Really?” He pulls up an eyebrow. “Even call of your plans?”

“It’s not like I really promised to go already, I just told him I wanted to go. They’ll be fine without me.”

“But you want to go.”

“Cay, stop it, okay? It’s fine.” I crawl closer to him, pushing my head against his chest. “I’ll be right here, cuddling you until you feel better.”

“Fine!” He groans, pushing me away, throwing off the comforter. “Let me take a shower and we’ll go swimming.”

“Huh?” I didn’t even expect him to give in this quick.

“You do realize I like you, a lot, huh?” He grumbles, darting around his room to grab stuff to shower. “I can’t let a chance slip to see Mr. Favre in a swimming trunk.” It’s all sounding a bit void of emotions, but it made my face heat up nonetheless. “And I need to be there in case you freak out because if the many tiles.”

“They have big tiles at Tropicana.” I chuckle, pushing myself to the edge of the bed. “I’ll be fine, for the most part. Just… the germs might freak me out.”

“We’ll be fine, Nee,” He tells me showing a small smile. “As long as we make each other smile, right?”

“Right,” I answer with a wide smile of my own. “Anything to make you smile.”

“Likewise, Favre.”

As I grew more nervous, not just because of the swimming, but also because I’m borrowing a swimming trunk from Calo that is a size too big, about to visit a rebuild tropical swimming pool. I really hope they stuck to the big tiles floors while rebuilding the pool area, or I’ll be in trouble.

“Don’t worry,” Calo tells me with a flat voice as we sit down in the bus. “If you want to get out, we get out.”

He persuaded me into taking a bus, since neither him, nor Seino or Prayaav has their drivers license. It’s my first bus ride in years and I feel a bit uneasy.

But I’m doing this for Calo, like he’s tagging along for me.

We’re doing this to help each other.

Because that’s what friends do, right?

Though I would never go this far to help, for instance, Angela. But I am doing this for Calo because he needs to be cheered up.

And I need to expand my world.

“What if they placed tiny tiles instead of the big ones they had last year?” I whisper, fiddling with a string of the backpack I’m holding. I left my polaroid camera in Calo’s room, not wanting to take it with me to a swimming pool.

“I’ll carry you to the pool if I have to.”

“Yeah, and everybody will laugh at me…”

“We’ll pretend you injured your knee and you can’t walk, but you can swim.”

“Cay?” I turn around to face him, while Seino and Prayaav are cheerfully chatting away in front of us. “I need a favour.”

“What is it?”

“I was never able to go down the slide. I want to go down the slides.”

“What prevented you from doing so?”

It seems as if talking about my fears, my compulsions, is distracting him in a way that there’s more and more emotion returning in his words. It’s less flat, less void of emotions. His eyes are less panicky.

He looks better every second.

“The stairs. They’re tiled, with small tiles. But I want to go on the slides so badly. The highest one, the steep one.”

Calo can’t fight back a smirk on his face, nodding. “I’ll carry you if I have to. But I heard they were remuddling everything to give it a more natural look, so maybe they fixed the stairs too.”

“Good, I hope they did.” I nod, sitting back in my seat, taking in a deep breath. “And the diving boards, I hope they changed the steps.”

“I know a way up if they didn’t. You’ll jump off the diving board today, okay?”

“If you say so.”

Every time I do something like this, something normal to others, I’m facing things I have missed out on for my entire life. It feels unfair, yet I can’t help but freak out if I try to do any of the regular things.

Whenever I go to this swimming pool, all I do is swim, or sit around in a chair because I’m bored of swimming.

But that was before I had friends to go with.

I only went swimming with my parents, or Pyper and her friends. Who all left me as soon as possible.

I manage to survive the bus ride without panicking or freaking out over something, and as soon as we enter the changing rooms, it’s evident they altered things in a good way. Whereas before the floor held large tiles, it’s now completely flat, with lines on the side. But I don’t have to touch them, or step over them, or do anything weird to get into a stall myself.

I change as quick as possible, never once stepping my bare feet onto the floor because that will cause a panic attack.

As soon as I come out, Calo, Prayaav and Seino are already waiting for me, Calo’s eyes wandering over my body from head to toe. We swallow in the same time, since I can’t help but notice his abs, and how tanned his skin is.

And I somewhat like the view.

And I think he does too, even though I feel a bit insecure about my body as I have no muscles to show off.

“Ready?” Calo nods, and we head towards the area with sunbeds, placing our stuff on two of them, since the rest is already taken.

The floors are still with large tiles, so there will be no carrying me to the pool. But Calo has different plans. He grabs my wrists and pulls me towards the slides. “Let’s do a recon and see if it’s possible.” At least, by now, he sounds excited to be here with us. So, I guess the plan to cheer him up a bit, worked.

We stop in front of the stairs, noticing they removed the old tiled stairs. They’ve build a stairs out of rocks, large, flat, rocks.

My eyes widen and I can’t help but jump excitedly. “I’m going up!” I call out, climbing the steps, still watching my footings, but going up nonetheless. “I’m so happy we went here today!” I turn around to find Calo, Prayaav and Seino all smirking over my excited state. “Don’t laugh, this is my first time ever!”

“Good, I’m glad I’m here to witness it.” Calo chuckles as he passes me. I catch up with him and side by side, we climb the stairs further and further.

There’s two slides, one that is steep and quick and has been on my bucket-list for years, and a new slide, that requires tubes to go down on. There’s single tubes and double tubes, for couples of friends to go together.

“We take the fast one first.” I point towards it, not willing to wait any second.

“You know, you’re really cute when you’re happy like this.” Calo tells me under his breath. “I like it.”

“Thanks,” I mutter, as I feel my face burn over the remark. And the little tingles in my stomach make it even worse, because I don’t know if they’re good, or bad. Does he make me feel that way, or is it the nerves and excitement of finally being up here?

I shake the feeling off, stepping into the slide, ready to go down as it is my turn.

Calo watches me as I watch back, nodding as to tell me to go. “I’ll see you down there.”

I nod, smirk, and push myself unto the dark tunnel. At first, it’s not that steep, but then there’s a bump and it bends down further, as I shoot through the slide, unable to hold back a laugh because of the giddy feelings in my stomach.

It reminds me of the time as a kid, whenever Pyper and I would go on swing sets, going back and forth as fast and hard as possible, to feel the tingling feelings in our stomach.

I feel all energetic and excited, nearly unable to wait for the rest to come down, only to run all the way back up.

And since Prayaav and Seino take a two-person tube, Calo and I do the same. He sits in the back, I’m in the front, and we float around on the easy ride, as it’s a slide that is divided in parts, some with slow water flow, some with a small tube, some with whirlwinds under the water.

And we’re just talking, laughing, trying to get the others to fall of. We’re just making fun, when we’re in a part of a slow waterflow, and Calo leans forwards, leaning his chin on my shoulder.

“Say, Nee?” He whispers as his hand tickles my arm playfully. “Thanks for making me come today.”

“Your welcome, Cay.” I turn my head to look at him and for a few seconds, we just stare at each other.

Then, I do something I never expected to do myself, and I think it surprised Calo too.

I lean forwards to connect our lips in a very careful kiss.

And since the tingly feeling in my stomach is back, I guess it’s safe to say, Calo makes me feel that way.

He makes me feel that good.

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