My hands idled on Hope’s, entirely concealing it within my palm. My chin rested on hers as she enjoyed my bed. I roused from my sleep as the pulsating alarm resounded throughout the room, imbuing me with aggravation and replacing the silence that previously dwelled in the area.
I was only able to climb away from my bed after minutes of coaxing from Hope.
With my new car, I drove both of us to school. The piercing stares from those in our level were expected since they would have heard about my absence.
I was known in the school only because students were hasty to notice my father is a man who grabs opportunities. He ended up on a few prominent interviews as a burgeoning businessman. After finding out Hope’s father was prosperous, the top of the town, I would not be stupefied if she were approached daily instead.
We stepped out, entering the school with stares following our every movement. The moment we landed a foot inside, faces were directed at us. I caught Hope muttering under her breath, abhorring the attention monumentally, although she was familiar to it.
We failed to reach our usual spot before a familiar face came into view.
“I panicked when I heard you were involved in an accident. I’m so glad you’re okay,” Ashley said while grabbing my hand.
“I’m fine now,” I told her as her gaze landed on Hope.
“Can I talk to you?” she asked Hope, obfuscating us. She had lost control when talking to Ash once, and an unprepossessing fight transpired. I did not want it happening in school.
Still, I knew I could not control her. She looked over to me, flashing a reassuring smile before saying, “Sure.”
Both Ash’s and my eyes expanded in shock. She only spoke to certain people, yet she exposed her voice without much disinclination to someone who had once spoken to her in an ill-mannered way. They made their way across the hall to a space for them to talk privately.
I tore my eyes away, closing the distance between Grayson and me, who was tapping on his phone as usual.
“Hey, where’s your girl?” he asked the second I stepped beside him, looking up to scan the hallway. His eyebrows raised as he spotted them.
“Are they talking?” he asked with a tone of incredulity. “Didn’t Hope tell me she only spoke with you, your family, me and Josh?”
I shifted my attention to him. “Aren’t you more shocked they’re together?”
He looked between them just as Ash flashed her a sincere smile. One which was not forced.
“She’s never been a problem.” He shrugged.
“Hope almost broke her nose once when she talked about her dad,” I told him with my eyes still glued to the two girls.
“Touchy subject, she should keep her mouth shut if she knows what’s best for her,” he said, receiving no response because I know precisely that Hope is wholly capable of it, even if she is not blinded by towering ire.
It was then Hope returned, clicking her locker open after entering the combination. I avoided prying since there must be a reason they were private about it, but Grayson immediately stepped beside her and asked bluntly.
“She heard,” Hope said vaguely, gently shutting her locker after grabbing the needed books. Turning to Gray then me, she let out a soft laugh at our expressions, which urged for her to continue.
“I just didn’t realize everyone knows of my stepfather’s crimes and the fact that he’s in prison. Ashley apologized for last time since she knows the whole story now and sounded sincere, so I let it go,” she told us, earning a nod from Gray before he went back to his device. I registered what she said, or more specifically the way she sounded when talking about it.
She had a look of uncertainty, one I had seen quite a few times to know something was unsettling her.
“Angel?” I called, confirming that statement when she took a few seconds before replying. “Did something else happened when both of you were talking?”
I caught a glance of her face, and I could have sworn I saw that look of utter desolation and anguish she had always veiled under that blank expression. Before I could say anything else, the bell rang. She shot me an involuntary smile and left for her class.
I saw her both times in the classes we shared. She sat beside me to clear up the misconceptions I had, but still had the look of despair every time she was left alone to think for a bit.
After school, Hope sent me a text informing me that she was in the car instead of our typical spot. I noticed her in the passenger’s seat, realizing she never once mentioned she had the second key to the vehicle.
Upon perceiving me as I climbed into the shimmering, ravishing vehicle, Hope reached for the side of the car and pulled out the car keys identical to the once I currently held.
“I forgot to tell you since the morning that I had this extra key that I kept with me.”
She held the keys closer to my hand, urging me to take it.
“Keep it,” I said, gently pushing her hand towards her. “You can drive our car freely, that car I had previously was from my uncle, you bought this with your own money.”
She looked at the keys in her palm, then back to me. “But I wrecked your last car,” she said with a touch of sorrow lacing in her tone.
“Josh did,” I said, holding her hand to reassure that the crash was not her fault. I know she blamed herself, even after she learned Josh was the cause of it.
I started up the car and drove towards the west, never once releasing her hand in my grasp.
I adored the way her refulgent eyes twinkled stupendously after passing the sign that stated the west was just up ahead. Endless buildings started streaming in more rapid than a brain could register from outside the car’s window. Beside the roads were the restaurants, hotels, and shops—the glamorous downtown.
People roamed the streets, some holding hefty bags of bought and gifted items. From inside the car, the sound of music was audible from a band with instruments and an effortlessly perceptible speaker beside them.
After parking my car and unlocking it, she did not waste another second before stepping out to greet the west of our town. Rows of resplendent cars surrounded us, all of a variety of colours.
Together, we exited the parking lot and strolled towards where the shops were. We already spotted an advertisement on a large screen in the distance. I had been here a couple of times, yet the view of this side of the town is always phenomenal.
I caught a glimpse of Hope’s expression, and I could finally see the genuine wide smile which I had been yearning to see since earlier today. Despite it being a setting Hope usually expresses her distaste towards, a bustling area, it made her feel carefree. I learned from our conversations that she adored feeling this way. As if she could do anything she wanted to.
We explored the area for a few minutes, frequently taking the route with more empty spaces, avoiding the risk to lose each other in some crowd or having to push through a throng.
It took a moment before we decided to have dinner in a restaurant since Hope mentioned it could be an extravagant meal to celebrate my discharge from the hospital.
After entering the eatery and settling down on the seats of our given table of two long sofas suitable for four people, we ordered our food and had a conversation until it served.
“I’ve been thinking for quite a while and wondering if I should start talking again. I stopped because I felt communicating led to trust, which I only agreed with more after I met you, but after talking to Josh for so long but never feeling like he was a friend or someone whom I trust, I feel like the statement is now false.” She waited for my opinion on the matter.
“It’s your choice, trust is something you feel is important, but you grant it to others. I don’t think talking to someone will make you trust them,” I responded. “Isn’t it easier to talk anyway? I don’t think you’ll just instantly trust a cashier when you’re buying something.”
She let out a hearty laugh and explained, “It’s more like a reminder too, that what happened and what I saw will never be forgotten.”
“Was that why you talked to Ashley today?” I asked, eager to know. “You didn’t get to reply when I ask if something happened during your chat with her.”
She was avoiding it, and I was concerned. She struggled to smile and avoided having meals.
The Hope I know is the most formidable person I have met, and we share a relationship I cherish. I have nothing to hide from her, and I wished she felt the same. Hope was someone inhospitable and unemotional when we first met, who had lived a gruesome and atrocious nightmare but still stands with her head held high. But after the ice surrounding her heart melts, I discover she is indeed an angel behind the plans of retaliation.
She entombed her feelings, and I was fortunate to be someone she shares it with. It was almost unfeasible to make the angel shed a tear, for she had bottled every pain in her chest.
But in front of me sat a girl who is immensely susceptible to showing how she felt. The frown which she concealed seemed as if it were etched permanently on her face, and I could feel the atmosphere take a sharp turn from what it was a second ago. It felt like she was radiating torment and despondency. The air was heavy, and her expression caused a sudden ache in my chest.
Before she could continue, her eyes started to glisten, and a lone drop of tear from the side of her eye streamed down her cheek, followed by another.
Her words came out strained and brittle. I stayed silent, instantly pushing myself up to my feet and making my way over to sit beside her. I wrapped my arms around her shoulders. She was sniffling as she hugged me back, burying her head in the crook of my neck.
“I’m sorry…I don’t know what came over me,” she whispered.
“It’s okay, you don’t have to tell me,” I replied in a low voice, holding her closer than what I thought was possible.
“No, I want to,” she told me firmly, pushing away from the embrace, using the back of her hands to wipe the tears away.
“I have no idea why this affects me so much. It’s all I can think about the whole day.”
I kept silent for her to continue.
“I had always kept my past as a secret, but now everyone knows about it, and I despise it. I used to get approached in school because they think I’m wealthy, but every five seconds today, people came up to me to apologize and say they’re sorry for something they didn’t do,” she uttered in a voice as delicate as trust. “It hurts because I remember everyone doing the same when my dad died, and I feel like I’m living it all over again, except its ten years later.”
“Hey,” I said, my voice just a little higher than a whisper. “I hate attention too, but it follows me around. You’ll get through it I promise.”
I leaned towards her, resting my hands on her shoulders as my eyes scanned her face of dried tears, her pair of blue orbs, her beautiful features.
It then flickered between her eyes and lips.
“You’re strong,” I told her, and before I could control myself with second thoughts, I planted a swift kiss on the side of her lips.
A soft giggle escaped her mouth, looking at me with suspiciously narrowed eyes and a roguish small smile. It was all to make me satisfied.