Letters to Juliet
'Have you heard from Paige?' Olive, Paige's crazy red headed friend said as I joined the rest of her group.
It turns out the hallway hadn't been as empty as I had originally thought. It didn't take long for rumours to start about how Paige had had a meltdown because Matt had dumped her. The more people started talking in hushed whispers the more I wanted to punch someone. My protectiveness over Paige brought out some anger issues in me.
I didn't know Olive that well but it was clear that she and the rest of Paige's friends were just as worried about her as I was.
'No, have any of you?'
'Nope.' They all said in unison.
It had been three days of silence from her side and as Matt skipped school the first two out of three, we weren't any closer to getting the truth.
'I just don't get it. He seemed smitten with her when we all went out together. He must be an amazing actor because he had both Harrison and I fooled.'
'I can't believe it either. After all this progress as well.' Olive said.
'She didn't tell you?' A voice burst out. It came from a skinny guy whose name I couldn't quite remember. He wore a pair of thick black rimmed glasses that were obviously too big for him as every five seconds he pushed them further up his nose with a slender finger.
'Tell me what?' I looked at each and everyone in the group for an answer but it was only when my eyes landed on Olive that she shook her head and sighed.
'Paige she...she gets depressed. It's a very long story but Paige used to go to a private school across town from here. She got bullied a lot and it got so bad that she had to move schools. We obviously took her into our arms when we realised how cool she was but unfortunately some people here are friends with her old tormentors. For the last couple of years things have been good for her though. Then when you arrived and started talking to her it was like she completely gained her confidence back. Now though it's like we're back to square one. She hasn't had an episode like that in years.'
All of a sudden things started to click into place. The way she practically jumped out of her skin like a timid mouse when I first started talking to her.
'Now I understand why her Mum's so...you know.'
'God this is all my fault. I'm the one that convinced her to go out with him.'
'This is not your fault! You don't know what she was like before. I don't think you realise how much your friendship means to her.'
'Our friendship means everything to me too but you didn't hear her. She was...'
'That wasn't her. Not really anyway.' Glasses guy said. Now that he was trying to comfort me, I felt bad that I couldn't remember his name.
'I'll tell you one thing though. I'm going to kill Matt when I get my hands on him.'
My sources told me Matt was back at school today but so far I hadn't seen him. He must've been keeping a low profile because he hadn't been with his usual friends at lunch. My only hope of catching him was after school. Hopefully I'd manage to corner him before he could rush home. So that's why at bang on 15:30 when the bell rang, I flew out of my seat in History and rushed to take my place leaning on an oak tree outside the school gates. From here I could watch everyone leaving so Matt wouldn't be able to hide from me.
'You look like you're pretending to be in some crappy spy movie.' Nora said as she appeared at my side out of nowhere. I wasn't sure if I should be concerned because her doing that no longer seemed weird to me.
'I'm trying to looking menacing.'
'Is that what it is? You look constipated.'
I threw her a dirty look before focusing back on the front doors. The more people that left the harder it was to keep track of everyone.
'Hey Mrs Smith, I hate to break it to you but your boy has clocked you and is making a beeline in the opposite direction.'
My head jerked to where Nora was pointing and she was right, he was trying to make a quick exit.
'Shit!' I pushed myself off of the tree trunk and wove myself through the hordes of teenagers. Thankfully the same people were also holding Matt up so eventually I managed to catch up to him.
'Matt, I need to talk to you.'
Matt jumped obviously not expecting me to have clocked him. He quickly avoided eye contact with me and tried to walk off.
'I'm sorry I can't talk right now Eve.'
'I don't care. You're not getting rid of me that easily.' I managed to grab onto his arm and pull him so he was facing me. Matt was a lot stronger and bigger than I was so if he wanted to he could've got away but thankfully after I gave him one of my hopefully stern looks, he sighed and met my eyes.
'I know, you're here to tell me what a piece of shit I am.'
'I haven't heard the full story yet so the jury's still out however it's leaning towards that yeah.'
'Look I know she doesn't want anything to do with me but can you tell her that I didn't mean to hurt her and I care about her so much.'
'If you care about her then why did you break up with her?' I said with what I guessed was confusion etched on my face.
'That's what she told you? No that's not...I didn't break it off with her she broke it off with me.' Matt's voice cracked and for a moment I thought he was actually about to start crying. Well this was an unexpected turn.
'Why? Why would she do that?'
'I didn't think at the time what I was doing was wrong! Now I see it from her prospective I can see why she's hurt.' Matt said ignoring me. I was now starting to feel bad that I made him have this conversation right here and now, as people were seriously staring at us.
'Matt.' I said as I shook his shoulders so snap him out of it. 'Spill!'
Matt sighed but nodded in response.
'I lost a bet with my friends. They always make fun of me for being in the "dorks" math class so when I lost a bet, they dared me to go on a date with someone from that class. Thing was that didn't seem like such a bad dare to me because I already had a crush on Paige. This was a way of being able to ask her out and if she turned me down, I could blame it on the dare. I know it sounds douchey but I guess I'm just not as confident at this whole thing as other guys are.' Matt said as he self-consciously ran a hand through his hair.
'She said yes.' I filled in.
'Yep. I never told her because it didn't seem like a big deal. That was until one of my friends said something to her.'
'Is that why you didn't want her around them? She said she knew something was up because you didn't want to introduce her to them.'
'I just knew what my friends would do. They've been pushing me the last couple of weeks to see if I'd told her.'
'So, one of them did and she flipped.'
'I tried to explain but she wasn't having any of it.'
'Well it doesn't exactly sound great. Ask her out for the dare and then dump.' I was beginning to see why this was such a big deal. Especially as she was used to people being cruel to her for years. This "dare" must've brought back old feelings for her. Jesus. It didn't take a genius to figure out Matt didn't have a clue about this part of her past either.
'I know that's how it sounds but I promise that wasn't it. I had a crush on her for months and thought she'd turn me down if I'd told her. She's not exactly the most approachable person, she can be really scary if she wants to be. I really do have feelings for her though. I tried to explain all of this to her but she wouldn't listen to me. I've called, texted, I even went round to her house but her parents wouldn't let me near her.'
'Yeah well that's not a surprise.' I sighed. Ok now I really was feeling bad for him. He was clearly upset over the whole thing.
'So that's it? You're giving up on her?'
'I'm not giving up I just don't know what to do.'
'Yes you do. Matt if you like her like you say you do then you'll make her listen to you.'
'I told you. I went to her house and she wouldn't speak to me. I couldn't even get past the front door.'
'No but I can.'
And that's how I ended up back at Paige's house, stood on the gravel driveway staring up at the intimidating house. I took a deep breath and made my way up the porch steps and knocked on the door. Thankfully I wasn't waiting long until the door opened.
'Eve.' Paige's mum greeted me as she opened the door.
'Hey Miranda. Is Paige here?'
'She is but I don't think she up for seeing anyone just yet.'
'It's ok mom.' Paige's voice said from inside the house. 'Let her in.'
Her mum sighed but opened the door wider to let me in. Paige was sat on the stairs watching me. She smiled when I saw her but it didn't fully reach her eyes.
'Hey.' I whispered.
'I'll leave you girls to it.' Paige's mum said clearly noticing she was third wheeling. As soon as she left, we both broke down.
'Paige I'm so sorry!'
'No Evie I'm sorry!' She said wrapping me up in a hug.
'It's all my fault. I shouldn't have pushed you out of your comfort zone.' I said as tears fell from my eyes.
'Shut up you idiot it's not your fault. Without someone like you to push me out of my comfort zone I'd happily spend the rest of my life in my room watching Netflix. I shouldn't have said all those horrible things to you.'
'Now you shut up. I need knocking down a peg or two every now and again.' I shoved her playfully as we pulled away with big grins on our faces.
A sniffle coming from the kitchen brought our attention over to Paige's mom.
'You girls.' She said before wiping a hand under her eye like she was brushing away a tear.
'Uh mom.' Paige whined clearly embarrassed. 'Come on Evie lets go upstairs.'
10 minutes later we were both sat on her bed with the princess diaries on the tv in front of us and stuffing our faces with food from Paige's secret stash.
'Your friends spoke to me.' I blurted out before I could stop myself.
Paige sighed but didn't look angry.
'They told you my whole pathetic past then.'
'Why didn't you tell me?'
'So you could feel sorry for me? No thanks.'
'I wouldn't pity you if that's what you think. I would've forced you to tell me their names though so I could go full Incredible Hulk on them.' I said making Paige laugh. Instantly the tension released from her and she look more relaxed.
'As much as I would die to see that... I'm over that part of my life now. Unfortunately, my mental health doesn't like hearing that. I stopped taking my medication. That's one of the long list of reasons why I totally flipped. It sounds so stupid and naive now I look back but I stopped taking them after I met you and started talking to Matt. I was so happy that I thought I was beyond it. The thing I forgot though was it doesn't matter what point of your life you're at, mental health issues can creep back in at full force when you least expect them. I'm now back on my meds and feel a 100x better for it. I've learnt my lesson. Thank you for seeing me at my worst and not running away though.'
Paige gave me a smile as she squeezed my hand. Looking at her now I knew what she said was true. She was herself again, the girl I saw the other day a distant memory.
'I'm going to ignore that thank you because it's not necessary. That's friendship. I get it though. I'm getting there but all it takes is one thing to unexpectedly remind me of my parents or sister and it's like the air is sucked out of me.' I took a deep breath before comfort shoving a handful of crisps into my mouth.
'Matt came here yesterday.'
'I know. I might have spoken to him today.'
'Let me guess. Ready to go full hulk on him?'
'Well nobody hurts my friend and gets away with it! He told me he's been trying to speak to you but you were ignoring him. He also told me that you broke up with him and not the other way around.' I was treading on thin ice now but I didn't care.
'You've done your research.' She joked before looking at her hands. 'I know he deserves an explanation but I'm scared what he's going to say when I tell him.'
'After speaking to him today I don't think there's much you could tell him that will change his feelings. Which reminds me.' I pulled my bag onto the bed and riffed through it until I found what I was looking for.
'This is for you.' I handed Paige a letter that I'd promised to guard with my life.
'This is Matt's handwriting.' She said stating the obvious.
'He thought it was the only way to get you to listen to him.' I quickly glanced at my phone. 'Oh and that's my cue to leave. Lindsay wants me home.'
I quickly got up, gathering my things as I went whilst Paige's eyes stayed glued to the letter.
'Call me if you need anything.'
'Lindsay doesn't want you home does she?' Paige said finally prying her eyes away from the letter to narrow them at me.
'Nope.' I shut the door behind me and ran down the stairs. Oh, the things I do for young love.