The Boy That Hates Books

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Chapter 10: Apology

The thing about apologies is this, would there ever really be a need for them if there wasn’t anything to apologise for in the first place? Why pour salt into open wounds, and then try and stitch them back up again?

Because that is exactly what Austin Myers did to Kirsten that night at The Highway Cafe. He saw where she was vulnerable and he took this for granted. He told her to get her head out of books. Told her to come back to reality. When the truth is, Kirsten doesn’t quite know what reality is any more. Pain had made her lose her grasp on the truth, so she hides herself with lies.

The truth is, sometimes the strongest people are actually the ones who are falling apart. And no apology could ever fix them back together again.

“It’s for you.”

Blonde curls. Blue eyes. Grey skies.

Alice stood at the door, hands at her sides and lips slightly parted.

“Alice it’s Saturday, no school.” I slowly made my way up to her, confusion written all over my face.

Like recently announced, Alice wasn’t one for last minute plans or quick decisions. She would usually tell me when she was coming round, not just show up unannounced.

“I’m not here to walk you to school Kirsten,” I stayed silent, “I’m here to apologise.”

The confusion remained as I stood staring at my best friend, who looked almost as lost as me.

“Apologise for what?”

“Last night.”

“Oh.”

“Yes,” Alice’s reply was immediate, “and I’m sorry that Austin couldn’t be here to do the same, he’s a little preoccupied at the moment.”

Alice’s voice seemed to drop into a hush, and my whole body tensed for an instant.

Something wasn’t right.

“That’s okay, I wasn’t really expecting an apology.”

“What he said wasn’t nice,” Alice rushed, “and you need to know that we only want the best for you and we always will. If anything bad happened to you I don’t know what I’d do with myself...” Her words seemed to tumble out carelessly, rushing like a waterfall.

“Alice,” I stopped her, “nothing is going to happen to me.”

She seemed unconvinced. I steadied my gaze with hers.

“You need to promise me that you’ll look after yourself, especially at a time like this.”

“Why are you saying all of this?” I questioned, “is everything okay Alice because if it’s not I’d rather you tell me.”

A breath hitched in her throat. I swallowed hard.

“We’re moving away for awhile.” She blurted out.

My heart plummeted.

“Moving away? Why, when?” I could barely string together a sentence.

She couldn’t move away. She couldn’t just get up and leave. Where was all of this coming from?

“Not forever, just for now,” Alice sounded as if she was trying to get too many words out at once, “We need to go back to our home town for awhile...something’s happened.”

“We?” I felt the ground shift beneath my feet.

“Austin too.” Alice’s eyes looked sad.

A heavy ache had made it’s way into my chest and settled there, causing me to put my hands over it and dig my nails into the green fabric of my jumper. I was going to lose my two best friends, my two only friends, and be left waiting for them to come home?

“You have to understand that this isn’t our home Kirsten,” Alice spoke again, as if she’d read my mind, “We aren’t from around here and we have family that we need to visit,” she hesitated, “friends that we never even said a final goodbye to.”

“When are you leaving?” tears pricked my eyes.

“Tomorrow.” She sighed.

My mouth became incapable of moving, lips sealed shut.

“You have to promise me one thing though Kirsten,” Alice continued, “no matter what you do, do not go near that boy.”

“What boy?”

“The one that we saw at the cafe last night.”

“Him? I don’t even know him, why would I?”

“Just please promise me,” she pleaded, “he moved here recently and you need to trust me when I tell you that he’s bad news.”

“What do you mean by bad news?” I was growing more agitated by the second, confusion a restless wanderer in my mind. She’d just sprung this all on me without a second thought, without even giving me a chance to process it.

“Promise me.”

There was finality in her tone, telling me not to ask any more questions and just agree with her. Alice was good at persuading people. She was quirky and convincing and always had confidence in what she was saying. That’s one thing I loved about her. She always made me feel secure and in place, and was always there to fix things when they went wrong.

“I promise.”

“Good,” she smiled, “Come round mine tonight and we can say our final goodbye.”

Her familiar smile and cheerleader-like spirit did little at comforting me, as the words she spoke sunk in. Final goodbye. For some reason I felt like she meant it, and that this really would be the final goodbye. I could read Alice like a book and I could tell that she wasn’t telling me the full story, I knew that something was out of place. Alice’s story was missing some pages, and mine had just lost two characters.

It’s all the same. People running away. It seems like everyone in my life is only temporary, and soon they will run with the rest of them. Into the shadows. Into the unknown.

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