Through His Lens (edited version)

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I hate the way I don’t hate you

The next few weeks flew by in a blur of exams, art assignments, football games and an attempt at having a social life. When the 1st of February rolled around, I couldn't believe where the last four weeks had gone. Harrison had been just as busy as me so since New Year's we'd only been able to squeeze in a few dates and they'd mostly consisted of helping each other study for exams. However, exams were FINALLY over so now we had more time to do something other than hanging out at home, watching movies and making out in between study breaks.

It was Friday afternoon and Taliah and I, like the rest of our classmates were trying to escape school as quickly as possible. The both of us having been boring over the last couple of weekends, had decided we were going to make the most of every second of freedom we had this weekend. That meant there was a list as long as our arms of things we'd wanted to do for weeks that we had to fit in. At least two great movies had come out over the last month that we didn't have a chance to see, so as we walked through the main doors and down the school steps, we were trying to organise our weekend.

'Whatever we do we have to go try out that new Chinese place in town. Jeni went there last weekend with her parents and said the food was amazing!'

The thought of Chinese food instantly made my stomach grumble meaning it was a no brainer for me.
'I'm always sold on good Chinese food. Hey, how about we go there first tomorrow before the cinema?'

I was too busy in my noodle and popcorn filled daydream to realise Taliah had gone still beside me. I, oblivious as ever carried on talking.
'Which film do you think we should see first?'

'Evie...'

'Maybe we should see the horror film first and then the rom-com after, that way it'll hopefully stop us from getting nightmares.'

'Evie!' Taliah abruptly pulled me to a stop jolting me out of my daydream.

'What?' Instead of looking at me Taliah was staring off into the distance wide eyed. 'What're you looking at?'

'Not what, who. Please tell me this is just my shitty memory and that's not who I think it is.'

I followed the finger Taliah was using to point to some oak trees to the side of the car park. When my eyes finally landed on who Taliah was pointing at I thought my stomach was going to fall out my ass.

'Please tell me I'm seeing things.'

'I don't think I can Evie because then I'm seeing things too.'

'Holy shit!' I whispered. Just as I was about to avert my eyes to look for an escape route, he found me.

All of a sudden, he desperately pushed passed the crowds of students trying to make their own escape so that he could reach me. A few gave him evil eyes as he barged passed but he didn't seem to care.
I, like the fool I am stood rooted to the spot.

'Eve! Thank god I found you, I need to speak to you!' He said desperately.

Even though he was there standing in front of me I still felt shell shocked. It was like I was living a nightmare and I wanted to pinch my arm to see if I'd wake up.

He looked like a dishevelled version of the boy I left back in England but that couldn't be right. Finally, I managed to find my words when he reached out to touch me.
'Adam, what're doing here? How did you find out where I went to school?' My voice sounded calm but really, I was in a state in between shock and anger.

'I spoke to your grandma.'

'You what?!' I screeched loudly. 'What the hell Adam?!'

'I needed to see you!' He said grabbing hold of me. I pulled out of his grasp and stood back. 'You were ignoring my calls and messages so I had no choice.

'No choice! So you decided to stalk me? What don't you understand about someone avoiding you!' I hissed.

'We can't just leave things like they are. We have to talk about this.'

'Talk about what?! It meant nothing, means nothing. It happened and now we've moved passed it.'

'You might've been able too but I can't. I need you to understand.'

'God this is so frustrating. It's like talking to a brick wall!'

'Erm guys I think you should move this conversation along, like right now.' Taliah said desperately. It was at that point that I realised everyone leaving school had stopped to listen to our argument. People were whispering and nudging their friends like they'd just caught hold of the next best slice of gossip.

Taliah took my hand and moved so only I could hear her.
'Look I know you don't want to talk to him but it looks like he's not going to leave if you don't.'

I turned to look at Adam's desperate face and took a deep breath to calm my anger.
'Fine. We can talk, but not here.'

'There's a coffee shop in the hotel my dad and I are staying at. It's called the Clairmont on beach drive, it's only about 10 minutes from here.'

'I know where that is. I can drop you off.' Taliah said.

I gave her a look that was my way of asking if she was sure. Being my best friend, she knew exactly what I meant and nodded.

I turned back to Adam not quite believing what I was about to say.
'Fine we'll meet you there.'

Instantly his face broke into a relieved smile.
'Thank you, Thanks Taliah.'

'Don't thank us just yet.' I said before pulling Taliah over to where her car was parked not bothering to see if Adam was leaving with us or not.

'I can't believe he came all this way to speak to you!' Taliah whispered.

'I'm fuming Taliah.'

'I know but I think you're doing the right thing. I don't think there was much else you could've done in that situation.'

'Oh god I hope so.' I really thought I was but when I caught Harrison's eye as I was about to get into Taliah's car I second guessed myself. He was stood at the top of the school steps watching me. I didn't need to be a mind reader to know he'd seen and heard the whole thing. Without even realising it he'd been only about 10 feet away.

He looked angry, very angry.

A group of people walking past broke our connection which gave me the excuse to get into Taliah's car. I quickly got my phone out of my bag and typed out a text to Harrison.

Please don't be mad. The only way I could convince him to leave was by agreeing to talk to him. Taliah's coming with me. I'll hear him out and then tell him to stop trying to contact me. X

Like Taliah said, I didn't feel like I had a choice but to hear Adam out. At the same time though I felt like I was possibly making the biggest mistake.

I put my phone back in my bag and focused on the short drive to the Clairmont.

When we got to the hotel we quickly parked up and made our way into the lobby. From there it was quite easy to find the coffee shop where Adam was already seated.

'I'll go and sit over there ok, give you both some privacy.' Taliah said motioning to a small table near the back.
'I'm here if you need me.'

She shot a glare over at Adam before giving me an encouraging smile and squeezing my hand.

As I walked over to the table Adam smiled with relief and stood up.
'Thanks for meeting me.'

He was fiddling with the hem of his shirt like he was nervous.

'Don't thank me yet, I haven't decided if I'm going to stay or not.'

'Fair enough.' He waited for me to take the seat opposite before sitting down himself. He took a deep breath before looking at me.
'Look I know I crossed a line.'

'With what, kissing me? Talking to my elderly gran behind my back? Coming here? What Adam?'

'All of it. I just needed to tell you why. Please, you don't have to say anything but I just need to tell you why.'
He gave me a pleading look which I hate to admit chipped away at my resolve a little.

I sighed and ran a hand down my face.
'Fine. Seeing as you travelled all this way. Go on then.'

'Ok, where shall I start?' He forced a chuckle but stopped when he saw my unamused expression.

'What I didn't tell you when I last saw you was...well since Nora passed away I've been going to therapy. Not long after she died I was diagnosed with depression.'

Wow, of all the things I thought he'd say it wasn't that.

'I wasn't dealing with it all very well and then there was everything with my parents, well you know all about that...' Adam took a deep breath before carrying on.

'I'm not proud of it but I started relying on alcohol to help me get through the days. After a while it started becoming a little more obvious, so one of my friends told my school who told my parents. Of course, my parents being their usual selves didn't have a clue, but that's another story.
So yeah since then I've been going to therapy. It's helped a lot, I now don't feel like I have all these things I want to say that makes me feel like I'm going to burst.
I'll admit Sophie helped me a lot as well. She understood the hole Nora had left behind. Our mistake was letting something more happen between us. It wasn't healthy and..it was like we were just using each other for comfort, to make the pain hurt less I guess. We broke up after Christmas.'

I raised my eyebrows in surprise but didn't interrupt him.

'Anyway, going in to why this is all relevant to you. I was finally getting back to a good place but then I saw you on the ice rink and it knocked me for six. You looked so like her, I thought I'd seen a ghost.
All of a sudden, all these overwhelming feelings came back. I can only describe it like a drug addict getting a fix after a year clean. I didn't see you as you Evie I saw Nora. I didn't mean to kiss you. It really was a mistake. I can't take back what I did but I just need you to understand for me it wasn't you I was kissing, it was her.'

His chocolate brown eyes were searching my face with a hope in them that I would understand. In some way I did. He sounded so heartbroken; I couldn't help but feel sympathy for him.

Grief was a funny thing. It never really goes away it just seems to get gradually smaller over time.

After losing a loved one or in my case loved ones, you think about them every day without fail. After a while instead of making you want to cry the thought will make you smile. Smile at the memories that randomly pop into your head, at a joke you think they'd find funny or a movie they had loved coming on the tv.

Sometimes though it just takes that one thing to remind you of the pain and then all of a sudden you're spiralling again.

I wanted to be angry at Adam but the more I listened the more I understood. He lost someone he loved too.

'In a weird way I think I get it.'

'It felt like I was saying goodbye to her.' He whispered.
'When I realised what I'd done I felt awful. I spoke to my therapist and he said it may help us both by getting it out in the open. So you know the truth. I shouldn't have spoken to your Gran behind you back. I'm sorry for bombarding you with messages and for turning up at your school like that. It wasn't cool of me. I felt like if anyone was to understand though it would be you.'

'It's ok. You didn't go about it the right way but...I accept your apology.'

At this stage it felt like the only thing I could do. There was no point holding onto the anger. I also felt the urge to tell him something I hadn't told anyone. Before I could stop myself, the words were falling out of my mouth.

'I see her sometimes.' Adam looked up, confusion etched on his face.
'Nora. I see her sometimes. Do you think I'm crazy?'

Now it was my turn to look desperate. What I wasn't expecting was the soft smile that lit up his features.

'I see her too. She might be a reflection in the shop window or I might hear her laugh in a crowd of people. If you're crazy then so am I.'

We smiled at each other before Adam looked back down at his hands.

'So you said you're here with your dad?'

'Yeah things have been gradually getting better with my parents. We've been talking more and both mum and dad come to therapy with me sometimes. Dad's here on a work trip which is how I managed to get here to speak to you.'

'I'm glad things are working out better for you Adam, I really am.' I smiled softly as we both fell into silence. After a short while Adam spoke up again.

'I know this is selfish but I want to thank you. What happened with you felt like the closure I needed. Not that your boyfriend would be happy about that I'm sure.' A strained laugh escaped his lips.

'Yeah he wasn't pleased but that was more my fault than yours.'

'Why?'

'Because I didn't tell him. I was too afraid to tell him in case I lost him. That's my new problem. I now have a fear of losing those I love. I guess that's what happens when you lose three family members in one day.'

'It's not you Evie, it's not some curse that's been put on you. What I've had to learn is we all lose people we love. We can't hold onto them forever no matter how much we want to. We just have to remember the impact they made on our lives in the time that we had with them. This is what shapes us and makes us into a better person. It makes you really appreciate the little things.'

'When did you get so wise Adam?' We both laughed and Adam shook his head.

'My therapist is rubbing off on me.' The smile he had turned quickly into concern as he looked at me.
'Just please don't close yourself off. You've got the same strength and determination your sister had. If anyone can make it through this stronger it's you Evie.'

I didn't stay much longer after that. Adam said he wanted to thank me because all of this had felt like closure for him but I had to admit, now I was in the car on the way home it felt like closure for me too. It was a puzzle piece I needed to figure out so that I could keep on moving forward with my life.

When we pulled into the driveway, I instantly recognised Harrison's black car parked out front.

'Do you want me to stay?' Taliah asked as I gathered my stuff. She'd planned just to drop me off and then go over to Lucas' house to hangout but I could see now she was hesitating.

'No you go! You've done enough waiting around for me today. You go and have fun.'

'If you're sure..?'

'Yes go. See you later ok.' I got out of Taliah's car just as Harrison got out of his. I wanted to run away when I saw his moody facial expression but I knew the longer I put this off the worse it would get.

I walked over to where he was leaning against his car, hands in pockets, watching me. I attempted as small smile but when I didn't get one in return I focused on my feet.
'Hey.'

'Hi.'

'Erm there's no one home, do you want to come inside?'

His response was delayed as he looked at me as if he were searching my face for something. I was just starting uncomfortable under his strong gaze when he sighed and pushed himself off of the car.
'Sure.'

We walked up to the house in silence as my heart hammered against my rib cage with nerves. When we got inside Harrison walked off into the lounge as I took my bag and jacket off.

'Did you get my text?' I asked softly interrupting his pacing.

Harrison laughed harshly.

'What?'

'Did you turn your phone off or purposefully ignore it?'

'It was in my bag.' I said frowning. I quickly grabbed my bag from the hallway floor and dug around in search of my phone. It was only after I pulled it out that I realised why he had laughed. My lock screen was filled with notifications of text messages and phone calls from Harrison. Now I felt like a bitch.
'I wasn't ignoring you I just didn't hear my phone going off.'

'Right.'

'You're pissed at me.'

'I've been sat here for fuck knows how long going crazy wondering where the hell my girlfriend is. To be calling and texting with no response. For you then to come back here acting like it's no big deal you've just spent two hours with the guy that kissed you! I'm angry with you yes!' His raised voice surprised me and on instinct the ability to form words fell out of my brain.
'Are you going to explain or..?'

'I didn't know he was here.' Harrison scoffed but let me continue. 'I promise you I didn't! Like I told you before I blocked his number from everything. Him turning up at school was a surprise to me as well as you. I was shouting at him, asking why the hell he was here and how he found out where I was. He wanted to talk to me alone and I told him he was crazy but then Taliah suggested it may be a good idea, seeing as the whole school was eves dropping.'

'Don't make out this is Taliah's doing. It was your decision to go with him.'

'I know that and I'm not! I'm just telling you the truth. She suggested it probably wasn't the worst idea and I thought in the moment it was probably better than shouting at each other in front of the school.' I sighed and took a seat on the sofa.
'We went for coffee and talked, that was it. I'll be honest though after hearing him out I think it was probably a good idea we spoke. We talked about my sister and he explained why he kissed me. That was it.'

'He flew half way across the world because of some innocent kiss. Seems a little drastic to me.'

'He didn't just come here for that. He's travelling with his dad and it just ended up that they were coming here.'

'Sure.'

All of a sudden it dawned on me the underlying message in everything he was saying. I thought he was making out Adam was somehow in love with me or something but then it clicked, it wasn't that at all.

'You don't believe me do you?' My voice cracked as I said the words. When I finally managed to look up at him his green eyes intensely connected with mine. They were filled with hurt, anger and pain.

'I don't know what to believe.' His words were dripping with hurt and honesty. 'It hurts that you trusted Taliah with this and not me. Everything's "well Taliah was with me so if you don't believe me ask her". I don't want to have to ask her to believe you. I feel like I'm being turned into the kind of boyfriend I'm not, controlling and jealous. Why did it not enter your mind that I might've wanted to go with you, to meet him? Did you think I wouldn't let you talk to him or that I'd try to start something with him? That's not me and you know that. So I can't help but think why doesn't she want me to meet him?'

My eyes went wide at what he was insinuating.

'Hang on, I don't not want you to meet him. If you want to meet him then do. I didn't think that's something you'd want and I'll be honest it didn't even enter my mind to ask you to come with me rather than Taliah.'

'Yeah because you weren't thinking about my feelings in that moment, you were thinking about you!' His words felt like a punch to the stomach. Especially when he was looking at me with such malice.

It had never even occurred to me that I was putting my feelings first and being selfish. The more I thought about it the more I realised he was right. I'd been holding things back in the hopes of not getting my heartbroken without even thinking of his.

He must've sensed I didn't know what to say as he carried on.

'It would've been nice to know my girlfriend trusted me enough to let me in. I've never forced you into telling me anything but I thought we'd reached a stage where you trusted me. Then Adam comes along and it feels like there's a brick wall going up again. It's like you're pushing me away.'

'I do trust you.' I said through my voice breaking and unshed tears. 'I'm just not the best at expressing my feelings. Sometimes I forget that I do have someone I can rely on.'

Now it was Harrison's turn to stay quiet.

'That's not the only problem though. You don't trust me, do you? You don't believe that what happened between Adam and I was just an innocent kiss, a mistake.'

I wanted him to rush over to me and say he did trust me, that now our fears had been said everything would be fine. That didn't happen though.
'I want to trust you but..no I don't.'

I forced my eyes closed and told myself to be strong. I didn't want to cry when I heard the answer to my next question.
'Ok then, where do we go from here?'

He took his time to reply but when he did, he sounded as heartbroken as I felt.
'I think we need some time apart. I think you've still got some stuff you've got to sort through and us being together isn't helping.'

'You want to break up!?'

'No I don't!' He urged desperately. 'I just think we need a break. I don't think you realise how much I care about you, I care about you so much that I don't want what we have to be completely ruined. I can't imagine not having you in my life.' Now it was his turn for his voice to break.
'I think time apart will help us so we can come back together stronger.'

'I don't really have much of a choice do I? You seemed to have made up your mind.'

'I have.'

'Ok. Then I think it's probably best you go.'

'Evie-' He reached out to grab me but I backed away.

'Don't! Don't comfort me. I want you to go.'

Thankfully he did as I wished. After one last longing look, he walked away from me. I managed to hold it together until the front door slammed shut before I crumpled into a broken mess on the floor.

All of a sudden all of the pain i'd ignored and run away from all those months again broke down the walls I'd built. The floodgates had opened and I was instantly consumed.

Everything i'd been worried about happening had happened. I'd tried to protect the last fragile pieces of my heart but it seems in doing so I've still ended up hurt.

In all the pain there was also anger. Anger that I let my guard down enough to let someone into my heart. He was the main person that tended to the little bit left that I had and even tried to mend the broken parts. He was getting there but then this happened and it was like a sledgehammer had been taken to the healing pieces.

As I cried my weight in tears, I felt undeniably homesick. All I wanted was to be 1000s of miles away from here with my Mum, dad and sister surrounding me like the comfort blanket I used to have. I felt more grief in that moment than I had in months.

It's time's like this when you're in the most pain that you can't imagine things ever getting better. Some day when I've experience more in life I'd know how to deal with this better, but right now it was all too much. It didn't feel like it would get better. I was overwhelmed with my feelings for Harrison, as well as my family, and it all seemed like too much for a 16-year-old to deal with.

Just when all seemed lost a pair of arms wrapped me up in a hug almost instantly calming me. Not that I could see with my blurry tear-filled eyes but I didn't need sight to be able to know it was Nora. I've never felt more heartbroken yet relieved at the same time.

'You're ok baby girl, you're ok.' She soothed, cradling my head as I cried on her shoulder.

'I've missed you. I've needed you.' I managed to strangle out in between hiccups.

'I know, I'm here now. I'll look after you.'

'How can you forgive me after..'

'Shhh.' she interrupted. 'there's nothing to forgive.

'Why does it hurt this much?'

Nora took my head in her hands and urged me to look at her.
'Because you have the biggest heart with so much to give. It'll get better baby girl I promise you.' With her determined eyes looking into mine I really started to believe her.

'When?'

'I can't tell you that hunny, but what I can tell you is you are so much stronger than you even realise. You're becoming this incredible woman that I'm so proud of. Please remember that. In the darkest of times just remember how amazing you are.'
'I think Harrison's a great guy but he's also just made the biggest mistake. He'll realise that soon if he hasn't already.'
And with that she kissed me on the forehead and rocked me as I cried.
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