“Come on, David. We’re almost late,” I called, knocking on his door.
It was Tuesday, the third day since Xavier left, and David was back home already. I had no idea what was keeping him so long inside his room. He usually used to finish up half-hour earlier than me.
“Xavier’s here? I haven’t heard his car?” He answered from the inside.k
“No. Xavier’s out of town. I’m driving you to school. Hurry up.”
“Where did he go?”
“Oh, stop asking too much questions and just come out, David. We’re gonna be late.”
The door opened and the sight of him almost had me blown and tumbling down the stairs. My mouth automatically fell open and I gaped at him, wide eyed.
“What’s with the hair?” I asked, gobsmacked. It was done in a stylish updo. He usually would comb it down. Well, that was basically how I taught him to do his hair.
“Do I look like Xavier?” He asked.
Oh my God. There’s a fanboy.
I pressed my lips together and nodded, smirking.
“You do. Here.” I reached out to fix his hair better.
“No!” He caught my wrists, looking terrified.
“I’m not going to ruin it. Trust me, I’m trying to help . . . look more like Xavier maybe.”
He did a pretty good job alone (no wonder the time he took) but it looked too messy somehow. So I ran my fingers once-twice to make it look more tamed. I didn’t think his teacher would appreciate the messiness.
“There,” I said, stepping back to take one more overview. “You look cool. Hmm . . . even the way you dress up is like Xavier.”
“Yeah.” He smiled back; pretty proud.
He was wearing black jeans, his cute, gray Vans and a Navy Blue Letterman jacket over a white baby-blue t-shirt; the exact dress combination Xavier usually used to do.
I chuckled. “Alright, let’s go.”
Getting inside my Chevy, I asked him as I helped him buckle his seat belt, “So, on the scale of one to ten, how much do you like Xavier?”
“Ten!” He showed me all ten of his fingers with his bright, gray eyes smiling up at me, “All ten of them.”
“Aww.” I grinned widely, grabbed his face and kissed his cheek.
He protested with a scream, “No!! Don’t!!”
I laughed . . . somewhat like those contented evil witches on fairy tales. For example, Maleficent.
“Don’t get a girlfriend yet,” I teased him as he got down from my car.
“Girls are stupid,” he mumbled back.
“Great if you still think that way.” I sighed.
He walked inside the iron gate where he instantly met his best friends, Jayden and Harry, in the sea of cute kids with cute schoolbags. From the way they were looking and speaking to him, they were as much surprised as I was with the new look. And they were appreciating it too. I noticed a few little girls looking at him from their corners and giggling away. I couldn’t help but smile at myself and wonder how he’d be when he grow up.
Will he grow up as the little nerd he is?
Or the little rock star that’s somewhere still sleeping inside of him?
Either way, I know he’ll be amazing.
I reached school and parked my car on the East Wing where Xavier always parked his Charger; his permanent spot, so to say. Nobody ever parks on his spot. Really. Basically, it was like these Reapers-boys rule the school. Almost half of the East Wing parking lot is always empty unless they turn up to school.
Scott turned up on his Volvo right after me.
“Morning, Xavi’s Mongrel,” Scott greeted me with a fist extended.
“Morning, Scott.” I smiled and bro-fisted him.
“How’s Xavi?” He asked as we walked the narrow way that led to the main-entrance.
“He’s not really okay. You haven’t talked to him since?”
“I have. He called. But the only thing he keeps talking about is his dog; how to feed him, what to feed him, when to feed him, what to not feed him.” He pouted and shrugged.
That instantly made me laugh. “He’s babies Captain a lot,” I said, chuckling.
“I’m still surprised why he didn’t name him ‘Sugar’.”
As we climbed up the stairs to the main entrance, he leaned in and asked me in a whisper, like sharing a gossip that shouldn’t go wild, “Something going on with Brit?”
“Umm. No. Nothing,” I shook my head.
I didn’t even want to think about it now. It clearly wasn’t going to fix a thing. It does nothing but screws things up between Xavier and me. It wasn’t worth it. There was only one Xavier in the world and he was with me. All I really cared about now was keeping him safe with me. There was only one Xavier. He was in love with me and I was in love with him too.
“Yeah. Better just ignore it,” Scott said, nodding.
I looked up at him. “I thought you didn’t know.”
He shrugged. “It was pretty obvious the whole time. For me, at least. I’m quite observant, you know. I’m always pretending like I don’t know.” He winked.
“Really. Why?” I asked in profound curiosity.
“I just figured I better leave it alone. It’s not like Xavi likes her back. It’s not even gonna change how he feels about you in any way. That guys too obstinate for that. You’re everything to him you know.” He smiled warmly.
I had seen Scott laugh, crack jokes, whine, smile a million times but this very morning, his smile looked seemingly foreign. He hadn’t smiled like that ever; soft and devoid of amusement but rich in sincerity. It just filled my soul with satisfaction and pride; the way he smiled when he said I mean everything to Xavier. Scott, the unnoticeably-observant guy knew it.
“It’s better off we never knew, right?”
“Yeah,” I answered.
“Knowing too much hurts, doesn’t it? And it’s impossible to forget once we know so, sometimes, it’s better to just ignore it. It won’t be easy but we can pretend. It helps. And eventually they might just be out of our mind.”
“Thanks for the tip,” I smiled.
“You’re welcome. See you around.” He smiled back and headed down the left hallway, joining the other students, for his locker. “Don’t forget to name your kid, McScott!” he looked back once and teased.
I chuckled, shook my head a little, and turned the other hallway.
“Did he just talk about baby? Like . . . are you pregnant?” A girl I’d seen around school but never really talked to asked me in somewhat like a whisper.
“No!” I exclaimed, shocked beyond any other vocabulary.
I was at my locker when I spotted Brittany down the hallway. Our eyes somehow met through the maze of students and for a while it looked like she was ready to avoid me again. If she did decide to, it was her choice. I wouldn’t hold anything against her. I’d made up my mind that I would just ignore anything that might turn out to be a sore finger in my relationship with Xavier in any way.
There was only one Xavier in the world.
There was only one person I was in love with.
There was only one Xavier.
I simply managed to flash a faint smile towards her. Then I looked back at my locker. Pretty soon – I don’t know what made her – she was coming down the hallway towards me, hugging her books to her chest. It seemed she was coming from the other block where her locker was.
“Hey, Alana,” she greeted gently.
“Hi, Brit.” I closed my locker and hugged my books too.
“Look . . . Um . . . I came to say I’m sorry ’bout everything. Maybe I should have let it slip when you told me to just forget about it. But I let it hang on, making things worst for all of us. When I think about it now, it feels so stupid. ‘Nothing gets solved by forgetting’. That’s some dumb line I said. So what I mean to say is, I’m ready to forget it too and get over him. I’m really sorry. Can we be back to friends now?”
I instantly smiled. I felt like a bird flying over the clouds and rainbows.
“Sure, Brit. I’m still not ready to break our friendship over a boy thing.” I smiled.
“You’re the best.” She grabbed me in a bone-crushing hug.
We went for English together.
“But how did Nikki even know ’bout it?” I asked on the way.
“Oh. She and I go a long way back. She was my first friend when I moved here. In within a month, I became quite popular in school somehow and then she started to talk behind my back. I found out and it was bye-bye-Nikki.”
“Oh. That means you’ve been liking Xavier since freshman?”
“Uh huh. But it doesn’t matter now. I still have a long life to live – I’d like to believe – I’ll find someone who love me back the way he love you.” A dreamy, wistful smile crossed her face and I lightly squeezed her arm. “Besides, I don’t want to be an antagonist in someone else’s love story.” She kind of joked and laughed.
“You’re not!” I beamed back. “You’re going to be an awesome protagonist.”
“By the way, have you seen Hunt?”
“I dared him to drink a mug of Broccoli juice last night. He did!”
“He did?!” I felt my insides starting to gag.
“Yeah. And I was supposed to drink too if he did. I didn’t,” she laughed. “I so don’t wanna meet him today. He must be pulling up something I really don’t like.”
“He would be Hart’s class, you know.”
“I know!!” She groaned.
Brittany was right. Hunt literally kidnapped her from the English door, hauled her up on his shoulders and ran around the school hallways shouting “Brittany Fleming’s hitting on me!”
I’d just ended a call with dad. He told me that the conference might be prolonged ’till the next Monday. It made me sigh. This was obviously not the first time he’d been away for a conference but every time he left home, I couldn’t help but feel eerily lonely around the house though he wasn’t home much of the time even when he was around.
So for the night, I’d done my homeworks and clean ups. I was in my PJ, waiting for Xavier’s late night call as usual. Usually, we used to talk before dinner too or either he’d text me something, or simply the three magical words for no reason. Those words were practically Smile Spells for me. I would text him back with lots of hearts.
But today, there was no text or phone calls from him since I left school. I’d texted him the three word. He hadn’t texted me back yet. I’d also texted if everything was fine. No response so far. It was ten-thirty pm now. I hoped and prayed that everything was okay out there.
I couldn’t sleep without hearing from him. I lay on my bed and stared up at the white ceiling, quietly, trying to calm my anxiety and worry; fiddling with the device in my hand. I thought of calling him too but I decided I shouldn’t. I mean, what if he was in the middle of something very important. I didn’t want to interrupt. Because I knew Xavier wouldn’t be that silent unless there was something going on.
When it was almost eleven, my phone rang – Narcissist. I bolted up from bed at once.
“Hey, Xavier. Is everything alright?” I asked breathlessly.
Don’t ask me how I lost my breath. I still have no idea.
“He’s dead,” he answered; his voice hoarse and tired. And then I heard him suck in a breath.
“Xavier.” My heart thumped so loudly I heard it like a drumbeat on my ears. I felt it pulse on my throat.
“Alana,” he exhaled deeply.
“I’m so sorry,” my voice trembled. And then he began to sob.
I kept saying sorry. Sometimes, you wanna say so much and help so much but sometimes, all you can do is say sorry. I wanted to hug him. I wanted him to lean onto me. But all we could ever do was exchange words and listen to each other’s voice; though there was so much more we were craving for.
“I wanna come back home,” he said, “I wanna come back to you. I can’t be here. I need you.”
Tears filled my eyes as I listened to his weak voice, longingly telling me how much he needed me. “I wish I was there with you, Xavier. I wish I could hold you.” This part around, I was also weeping already. I lay back on my bed and hugged a pillow tight, wishing it was him.
From the sound of his voice, I could tell he was tired already. With everything to do with his father, fear, worry, love . . . regret?
“What can I do for you, Xavier?” I softly asked.
“Just stay. I wanna talk to you for long. Hearing you voice ease me.”
“Sure. I’ll stay as long as you want. Where are you now?”
“I’m in my room.” His voice had changed because of nose block.
We talked for long. And when he had eased enough, he told me what happened. His dad had had repeated hemorrhage. There was nothing they could do. I didn’t ask him about Grammy because I knew he’d lose it again. Besides, there wouldn’t be much we could say. We couldn’t even imagine.
When the clock hand came around half past midnight, there wasn’t much we could talk about either and I began to sing to him.
You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make happy
When skies are gray
He laughed a little. I laughed a bit too, tears filling the corner of my eyes again. He didn’t speak a word. He listened. I kept singing and singing, repeating the verses over and over again; sometimes even making up my own cheesy lyrics.
I was no song-writer like him but for him, I’d do anything.
“Xavier,” I called softly, almost like a whisper.
He didn’t respond, except with his serene breathing; long and deep. It made me smile. He had fallen asleep, listening to me serenade.
“Be strong. I love you,” I said to his sleeping self and sent him a kiss through the phone.
I stayed up for fifteen more minutes just listening to him sleep until I finally hung up the phone, feeling sleepy as well. And when I did close my eyes, I had a smile on my face; glad that he was sound asleep now. I hugged my pillow even tighter and closed my eyes, imagining him in my arms.