The Boy That Hates Books

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Chapter 44: The Fate We Were Destined To Meet

Not often does a story end so abruptly, so tragically as this one does.

Two people’s love falling apart, and heartbreak apparent with every breath they take.

Heartbreak is the worst pain, the worst loss. It can make you do horrible things, make you feel like everything you have ever lived for wasn’t worth it.

And as he drags her away from the truck they’d spent their short-lived journey in, there is only one thing on his mind.

’I took a risk that was worth this heartbreak. Because before, there was nothing there to break and burn. There was no true feeling or real worth, but now she’s taught me how to love.

I was numb, but now I feel alive.’

The stars hung like tiny lanterns in the sky, illuminating the midnight black.

I’d stayed silent for the rest of the journey, shrouded in confusion and anger. I only realised where we were going when we got there, and a pull of sadness dragged me further into tears.

It was the place he’d taken me when we’d first gone on our little adventure and he’d asked me to run away with him.

He didn’t say anything when he opened the car door and got out, and despite being scared of what was going to happen next, I followed him.

There was and had always been something magnetising about the way he moved, the way his eyes followed me, the way he spoke. It was as if everything he did appealed to me in a way my body couldn’t ignore.

I tried to balance myself on the unsteady ground, heart pounding in my chest. He walked through the willow trees that acted as an entrance to the little hideaway, and I trailed in his footsteps.

We were welcomed by the breath-taking view, which was ironic with everything that was happening. Because this was the opposite of beautiful.

He breathed. I blinked.

His skin was pale, body weak, as he wandered over to the brick wall we were familiar with.

“Don’t worry,” his eyes spoke a promise, “I’ve got you.”

I flinched from the memory.

In the present moment, he turned to look back at me. Patting the spot beside him, I went and sat down, nerves dissipating. They were replaced by exhaustion, and a wanting for this all to be over.

The breeze blew ever so gently, tickling the leaves on the trees until they fell like dew drops to the ground.

Our feet dangled just above this said ground, legs swaying in the everlasting night. The wall we sat on was made up of bricks, an array of shapes and sizes and colours. But it was unsteady like a Lego tower, the tip of a finger could knock it to the ground.

If the wall fell, he would fall down with it, and if he went down then so did I. Because I knew that I was way too deep into this now. Nothing could erase the time we’d spent in each other’s lives.

Treacherous simplicity hung heavy in the air and I gave a deep sigh, letting the smell of an eternal summer fill my nostrils. Warmth radiated from him, making me feel as if I was sitting beside a burning fire that sparked every so often.

His gruff voice rumbled the earth as he spoke, plump lips slightly parted, breathing on edge. I sighed as my heart sung and I let his words sink into me, slowly but then all at once.

“I think it’s time I told you the truth.”

And in that split second of a moment, I embraced everything. The journey we’d been on, the words we’d exchanged, the sound of our laughter chiming together and blessing my ears like birdsong.

And the lies. The flowing river of lies.

The words he was about to speak would clarify everything and become the truth of a lie, the absolution of a promise.

“Yeah,” I tried to keep my voice even, but it was a failed attempt, “I think it is.”

“I don’t think there’s any point in telling you I’m sorry. And I don’t expect you to believe anything that comes out of my mouth ...”

“I don’t want your pity!” The tears started again, and I watched as he only just managed to stop himself from reaching out to hug me. “Please just tell me why...tell me why you did what you did.”

“It wasn’t me,” He practically begged, the pain in his voice cutting like a thousand knives, “What happened wasn’t my fault Kirsten. I was framed.”

The words he said hardly processed, everything sounding fake. But then I made the mistake of looking into his eyes, and somehow I knew he was telling the truth.

“Austin and Alice,” he spat their names out like poison, “You thought you knew them well and so did I. But there was one massive difference between the people you knew and those that I did.

I knew them as Madison and Aidan. My brother and sister.”

I swallowed hard, trying to make sense of everything.

I had always known there was something not quite right about my two best friends, who had showed up in The Valley with no story but a name to their faces. But it was bigger than I’d ever imagined.

People tend not to question things when you think someone cares about you. That’s why it takes so long for people to come out of toxic relationships. Because that stability, that grounding love and everlasting comfort will disappear.

Little did I know, the toxicity of them was more poisonous than ever. It was death-defying.

The people I thought I knew like the palm of my hand held fake identities. They were related to him, and since all three of them had that almost otherworldly magnetic pull, it made sense. And they’d all attracted me.

I half expected him to tell me they were all vampires too, and I probably would’ve believed him. My mind was hazy. Confused and tired.

“We had a father, but like yours, he didn’t act like one. He never told us who our mum was, never showed us affection. He used to hit us, all three of us, but it had never gotten beyond a smack around the face or a kick in the shin. That day though...it did.”

I held my breath, wanting to reach out and hold him against me. But I couldn’t bring myself to. Because even though the look on his face told me otherwise, I couldn’t trust him anymore.

“It got to the point where if none of us did anything, we’d end up being the ones dead. But I was too afraid, too weak. It was Aidan that grabbed the bottle and it was Madison that smashed it around his head. They both played a part in murdering our dad but I didn’t touch him once.”

I reached over to place my hand on his fingers. They were icy cold. He pulled away, wincing.

“Don’t touch me Kirsten...please.”

I pulled away and crossed my arms, hugging myself. The sun was slowly rising on the horizon, waking up the skies and the people that slept beneath it.

“They panicked?” I asked, already knowing where the story was headed.

I usually loved it when people told me stories, but this one ... this one made me feel sick.

He nodded slowly, “Panicked is hardly the word for it. I can remember it as clear as yesterday, the metallic smell of blood filling my nostrils and making me gag, the cries and screams of my siblings, the panic of what to do. But then they had their own idea.

They picked me up and sat me beside dad, holding me down until I gave in. Aidan painted me in Dad’s blood and rubbed my hands over Dad’s clothes, whilst Madison warned me to stay where I was.

I remember her exact words, “If you dare move you’ll be joining him,” she practically spat in my face, shoving me down onto the floor.

In that moment I’d never been so scared.

They left the house and went over to the bar across from our street. Aidan came up with an alibi that they’d seen me asleep in my room before they left to go to the corner shop, and that our dad was downstairs watching television. When they came back they found Dad dead and went to wake me up before finding me crying with blood all over me.

They were stupidly clever. When they came back they dragged me upstairs into the bed to fit their alibi. I tried to get free of their tight grips but they wouldn’t budge, and Alice’s threats kept ringing in my ears over and over.

My throat was raw from holding back the screams.” He choked on the tears threatening to control every ounce of him, barely getting the words out.

“It wasn’t long after that they fled. They only took themselves, nothing else, and started a new life under fake identities.

I knew I was going to get sentenced for life, to a crime that I didn’t commit. No matter what I said they wouldn’t listen. So I ran away like they did, and started to live my life as a fugitive.

My siblings got away without a scratch. It was their alibi and my DNA on Dad’s clothes that sent the police after me. Eventually, I found my way into the valley, and that was when I saw you. You were reading on the grass in summertime and Kirsten, I meant what I said. You made me stop.

I’ve never been in love with anyone until I met you.”

He paused as if he was recollecting his thoughts.

“The reason I lied is because I knew you’d run and not look back. You wouldn’t fall in love with me, you wouldn’t even give me the chance. You would have the same reality that everyone else does. I’m a monster that should be silenced.”

“I am in love with you.” The words burst from me suddenly, overwhelming.

I couldn’t hold it back. I couldn’t just turn around and run.

“I didn’t have a single regret up until this moment.” I couldn’t stop myself, couldn’t pretend that this all meant nothing. Because it did and it always will and not even this could take back the time we spent together. The way we fell in love with each other.

Fearlessly. Breathlessly. Treacherously.

Whether what he was saying was true or not, I no longer cared. I had nothing to gain. Nothing to lose.

He immediately pulled me into him, our lips meeting for the very last time. I let everything wash away, tried to push back the fear. There was something telling me we didn’t have long, so I breathed him in as if he was the reason for breathing at all. He smelt like petrichor and something else unique to him.

Our lips were wet with tears, hearts beating in tandem. I dug my fingers into the scruff of his neck, mind dancing with one thousand possibilities of a future together.

And then, out of nowhere, the sound of sirens wailed through the air, the answer that had been there all along. The fate we were destined to meet.

The flashing blue and red lights seemed to blind me, accompanied with the piercing sound of sirens that turned my skin to goosebumps, and the sinking feeling that plummeted throughout my entire body.

Tears pricked my eyes and panic took a hold on me. My mind was set and focused on one thing and one thing only. This was the end of our story.

Like reading the final chapter of a book, like tracing your finger over the very last word before slamming the pages shut... it happened so slowly yet so quickly.

And here we are left with broken characters, some lessons learned, some forgotten tears and some forever words. Here we are left with an untold story. Another world.

I would tell my story. Our story. That was a promise I made to myself as I watched them approach him. The boy that I had only met two weeks ago, those two weeks where I felt like my life had just begun even though it had started 18 long years ago.

If he had liked books I would have told our story to him, under a duvet in the back of a car in a field in the middle of nowhere. But he hated books, and that made me smile.

‘The Boy That Hates Books’ was my nickname for him. And I would never budge from it. I’d fallen in love with my polar opposite, but heck was he an adventure.

We shared falling tears as they grasped ahold of him and pulled him back off the wall. We locked eyes as a pair of silver handcuffs were pulled out and locked into place around his frail wrists. Twigs snapped and the wind began to howl as our little area of the world grew noisy, above the sound of the wailing sirens.

The trees stood, lonely beside the wall we were just sat on. On top of the world as he’d said to me the day he asked me to run away with him.

“Look at it, isn’t it the most beautiful, broken place you’ve ever seen? Like an artist has just taken his paintbrush and splattered the colour everywhere without a second thought?”

His anger had shone through like it always did though as if he was screaming at our fractured society with his mouth shut.

“Don’t you just hate it, Kris? How humans have to be so selfish, so thoughtless to ruin such a place like earth. We breathe Kris, but have you ever felt the air rushing into your lungs like it’s really supposed to? Have you ever felt like a bird on a flight, weightless and free?”

“No,” I had replied. And I’d meant it, truly.

“I really hope one day you do. It’s the best feeling ever” his smile warmed my heart.

“You have? How?”

“I feel it every time I look at you. I feel alive.”

Oh, such a cliché love story ours was. Such a tragic ‘Romeo and Juliet’ mess.

But at the same time it wasn’t, it isn’t. Because no story feels special anymore, not now that I’ve lived my own. It’s been a roller-coaster ride whilst holding my breath. It’s been real, it’s been true.

They pushed him towards the police car and away from me, and it felt like miles was coming between us. Miles and miles.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from reading books, it’s to expect the unexpected and to believe in the unbelievable.

“KIRSTEN!” He shouted, trying to free himself from their grip and make his way back to me. “Please,” he sobbed, “let me ask her one last thing.”

I felt firm hands on me, as I too got seized under their hold. The handcuffs were cold against my skin and I shivered.

Never did I think that one day I would be taken as a criminal. And if that day ever did come, I’d expected to feel guilt as deep as the ocean. But I felt nothing. Nothing but sadness that this whole adventure had to come to an end.

I never even comprehended the fact that I would be arrested too, not even when I found out the truth. I guess I didn’t have much left to go back to, especially since I no longer had him.

I’d been blinded by him and his lopsided smile. Him and his hate for the one thing I loved. Those blue eyes and that beyond annoying urge he had to answer back to everything I said.

I met those blue eyes as he got pushed towards me, blonde hair ruffled and falling over one eye.

“Go on then,” one man’s voice urged him.

“Kirsten,” moments before he was breathless and crying, but now the tears had dried and his voice was steady. The calm after the storm. “What’s your favourite story to tell?” His Pacific blue eyes searched mine expectantly.

“Ours.”

THE END.

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