Chapter 10: School
Random pieces of conversation flew into Owen’s ears as he walked towards his locker. “Who are you gonna go with?” One said. “You know Duke? He’s such a hottie!” A girl squeaked somewhere. “Dude, I don’t know how to dance…” Someone said.
Owen felt a huge headache develop as he heard everyone speak at once. He reached his locker and instinctively dialled the combination into the door. Everything about dance annoyed him.
“Hey! Snap out of it!” A voice said from behind him. It was Morgan.
“Sorry man… It just hasn’t been my week.” Owen noted.
“Don’t worry about it. You look… Like garbage. Just a big pile of old garbage.”
“Really, you should become a therapist.”
Morgan flashed cheeky smile. “You know it. And you can be patient number one… Let me work my therapeutic powers… You’re sad. And tired”
“Sherlock, please, you’re going too fast for me to keep up. How is your leg?”
“Fine, Alyssa warded your place? You’re standing here so I assume you haven’t been horribly murdered.” Morgan mockingly squinted at Owen.
“Just had other things on my mind.” Owen said exasperatedly.
“If you wanna know what I really think, here it is; You tried to move on too fast, and now you’ve slowed down. Right now you’re probably considering lying low, letting life pass you by for a while. But Lisa wouldn’t want that, and it sucks that Eva broke up with you but you have to keep moving. I mean, I could have told you that you and Eva were bad for each other. But I guess you like finding things out the hard way.”
“Okay, wow. Guess you know me pretty well.” Owen noted
“We have been friends for a pretty long time. Minus, you know. This last year.”
“I won’t comment on that. You left out the whole fiasco at your house the other day.”
“Well, forget about that for a moment. You’re letting Eva get to you. It’s her turn. You need to get back on your feet. We’re seniors, there’s a dance, let’s make sure you aren’t miserable about two girls at the same time.”
“I dunno. I just have no energy for getting turned down.”
“You worry too much, plenty of girls are willing to go for an ugly guy like you.”
“Ouch. You know what? I think I’m entitled to some self-pity and moping. I know you’ve been through this ten times over, but cut me some slack, okay? I’m not you. But I’m trying. I’m trying really hard, but for the time being, I’d like to just feel like crap by myself. Because I… I don’t what else to feel. ”
“Guess we’re on the titanic together. It hurts like this every time. Every single time. Oh yeah, if you see Zoë, her dad died yesterday. Vicious stuff. He was on patrol yesterday and he got jumped. Something got to him, right in his car. They found his corpse in pieces and his car up in flames. They can’t trace anything. No leads.”
“Wow. And here I’m feeling sorry for myself. She’s also got problems. You don’t think it’s something… I dunno, not normal? As in, has something to do with a certain lady who walked into our lives yesterday.”
“No, not this seems pretty mundane. If it’s not just some creep, it could have been a vampire but I’d know. Anyway, we should go to his funeral. She’s… Ever since she and I… Stopped being she and I… She’s been different.”
“She’s been different to you.”
“I can’t imagine why.”
“Maybe it has something to do with the fact that you act like a ten year old around her.”
“I do not!” Morgan whined.
“Sometimes I think that there’s a directly proportional mathematical relationship between your age and the distance between the two of you. They decrease at the same rate.”
“Thanks, Professor, but I dunno. She just gets under my skin. I don’t know why, she broke up with me, not the other way around. She acts like a total bitch whenever I’m around. And just when I’m around.”
“Well… You two ended badly.”
“There is no good way to end. Just less painful ways.”
“Do you regret it?”
“Not that I’d tell anyone else, but no. How did we get onto the subject of me? You’re supposed to be depressed today. C’mon, we’ve got English now…”
“You know what Morgan? She lost out too. I mean that guy she’s dating now, Damian… He’s a big step down from you. Which is saying something, because you are the perfect asshole. Really. I mean it.”
“Thank you for the vote of confidence.” Morgan winked.
As the day went on, homework and assignments piled up, overall boredom skyrocketed and when the final bell rang, students rejoiced. Half of their week was behind them, and while some remained optimistic, others realised that they had no free time. Owen and Morgan found Zoë outside her Art class, talking to her teacher. He seemed very concerned, and she put on a brave face… They waited until she was outside the classroom.
“Are you okay?” Owen asked, and put his hand on her shoulder.
“Yeah, yeah… No… Not really.” She looked at her toes.
“Zoë… I’m so sorry. Your dad never deserved this. I never thought we’d have a sick bastard like that here… In Thornville, of all places.”
Owen ran out of things to say… He stared at the ground trying to find something to fill the silence. Morgan seemed to find his voice.
“I remember when we went to see that stupid horror movie when we were kids. He threatened to castrate me with a hammer and staple the remains to my forehead if I dared try anything. I always thought your dad was a cool guy. I’m really sorry about him. Zoë… I know you’re strong, and I know we haven’t had the best track record. But if you ever wanna talk or anything… I’m here.”
“Morgan… That must be the first time in six months you haven’t been a total ass.”
“Yeah, sorry. Not that you’ve been the easiest to deal with either, but that seems kind of small and stupid now.”
“I-… I know. I’m sorry.” She said, holding her arm.
“No, I’m sorry. I was a total asshole. Guess messing up a good thing brought out the worst in me. I hope you found what you were looking for.” Morgan said, and walked off. Zoë bit her lip, and looked at her shoes… Owen noted the way she flinched when Morgan said the one girl I thought I had a future with. Owen tilted his head and smiled.
“Just when you think you have Morgan pegged, he surprises you.” Owen noted.
“Yeah. We had a pretty bad break-up, I’m surprised he even came to talk to me. Sometimes it seemed like he’d hate me forever.” Zoë said.
“I wouldn’t say he hates you… I do remember you called him a liability, though. Not that he was very mature about the whole situation himself, but there was probably a better way to say what you meant.”
“I didn’t mean it the way it came out. Just meant the entire situation was an emotional burden. I didn’t want another person disappointed in me, and you and I both know he had feelings for Lisa. Sometimes it felt like he was settling for me.”
“I understand. Although, when you’re ready… I think Morgan needs to hear it more than I do.”
“You’re right. I miss us hanging out.” She said.
“I do too. The timing sucks but sometimes in the worst moments, we find opportunities to fix a couple broken things. From where I’m standing, it looks like the two of you could still salvage your friendship. Might be worth considering. Also, sorry to hear about your dad. He died fighting. If anything, that’s the best way to go. And If there’s anything I can do for you, don’t hesitate to ask.” Owen said, and smiled. Zoe nodded, and Owen turned to walk off.
“Hey Owen?” She called back.
“Yeah?” He stopped.
“She’s a total bitch. You could do so much better.”
“Don’t waste your time worrying about me, I’ll be just fine. You’re the one I’m worried about.” Owen weakly smiled.
“You know, no one said everything is going to be okay. Nobody’s told me that yet. It’s just been ‘I’m so sorry’ all day long. I don’t know what anyone thinks they can achieve by apologising. It’s not their fault, they won’t make me feel better, and I’m pretty sure my dad is going to stay dead no matter how many times I hear it… So I just really wanna hear that it’ll be okay…”
Owen walked back, and put his hand on her shoulder. Zoë hugged him tightly, and began crying.
“It’ll be okay, Zoë. I promise.”