Me, myself and I
After god knows how long of me crying on the living room floor on Friday night, Nora managed to convince me I may be happier in my own bed. Almost instantly I fell asleep.
When Lindsay got home, I managed to fob her off pretending to be ill but Lindsay wasn't stupid.
I somehow managed to get through a brief recounting of the previous night to Taliah who must've filled Lindsay in. On Saturday evening she managed to coax me out onto the back porch with her, bringing back memories of a cool evening a few months back. It was there that she gave me the perfect mix of milky sugary tea and played with my hair as I snuggled up into a blanket.
She didn't need to say anything. The fact that she was there holding me, a motherly figure, that was all I needed. It helped ease a little bit of the homesickness I felt.
On Sunday Zara, Jennifer and even Paige came over with bags full of cookie dough ice cream and rom-com movies. I felt bad that I'd ruined the movie and Chinese food day I'd had planned with Taliah but she promised it was no big deal, we had other weekends.
It helped it really did. Knowing that no matter what there were people around me who would help to pick me up when I was at my lowest, but every time I'd start to feel a little better, I'd remember I hadn't heard from him. The whole weekend had been radio silence and that thought was enough to bring me crashing back down to the ground again.
When Monday rolled around, I just wasn't ready to deal with it yet. Lindsay let me have the day off after I promised I'd go into school on Tuesday. I was thankful. I quickly appeased Nora by having a shower and then headed straight back to bed.
I spent half of Monday night and Tuesday morning tossing and turning and then when I'd eventually fallen to sleep car headlights followed by screaming jolted me awake. That's right, the nightmares were back and they were as pleasant as ever. By 5am I'd had enough. I was fed up and craved nothing more than to feel the burn in my limbs and cool fresh air drenching my skin.
I don't think Marley could believe his eyes when he saw me creeping downstairs. For the last couple of months my sleeping pattern had been fairly normal so my morning runs had become less frequent. I hadn't been up for a run this early in a long time but Marley's waggling tail and jumping up and down showed that he was pleased I was up and ready to go.
I decided to go a different route today. I tried to play it off as me wanting to explore a different area of town but we all know it's because I didn't want to bump into him, even though the chances of that happening would be slim at this time of the morning.
Marley and I ran through the unfamiliar streets eventually making our way up a hillside. It took a while but eventually when we puffed our way to the top, I realised this was where Harrison had taken me for our first date. I would've cried if I hadn't been overwhelmed with another feeling, amazement. If I thought the view was good up here at night it had nothing on the sunrise.
It was a chilly morning but that didn't stop me from sitting down on the damp grass to watch the scene unfold in front of me. The sun was just starting to creep over the horizon washing the town in pinks and oranges. It wasn't much before six but I was starting to see the early signs of life.
Sitting up here watching the town felt so peaceful. It made me feel like an outsider watching in, rather than someone who had a life down there. It also helped that Marley was cuddling himself up next to me.
I wished I could've paused that moment and stayed there all day but I'd made a promise. A promise to myself that I was going to get through this day. I'd had my weekend of moping around and I didn't want to feel sorry for myself any longer. Begrudgingly I pushed myself up off of the floor, took one last look out at the town and then lead Marley back home.
'How're you feeling?' Lindsay asked pushing a plate of toast over the counter to me. I guess me saying I wasn't hungry enough for breakfast didn't go in her books.
I feel numb
'I'm feeling ok.'
I started picking at the buttery toast which made a satisfied smile replace her worried expression, well briefly.
'You were up early this morning.'
'I couldn't sleep. I thought I'd take Marley out for a run.'
Lindsay leant on the counter and looked at me.
'You know if you need another day off just tell me.'
'Thanks Lindsay but it's ok. I need to go back and the longer I put it off the less I'll want to do it. It's easier just to rip the plaster off.'
'It's when you say things like that all I can see is your Mom. She was strong like you.' Lindsay kissed me on the forehead and then left me in the kitchen alone.
Eventually Taliah rushed herself downstairs, unfinished homework in one hand and a hairbrush in the other. After quickly smushing a pop tart into her mouth we were heading off to school.
'Does everyone know?' My stomach was churning so much I now wished I'd taken up Lindsay's offer of staying home again.
Taliah threw me a panicked glance before focusing her eyes back on the road.
'I don't think so.'
As soon as we got to school people were trying to sneak quick looks and then whispering with their friends.
'Vultures the lot of them.' Taliah mumbled at my side.
I sighed, shutting my locker closed before leaning on it.
'It's what I expected. I'm sure something will happen by lunchtime that'll get them talking about something else.'
'Yeah, I'm sure you're right.' Taliah didn't look like she believed it but she gave me a smile. Even I didn't believe it and the words came out of my mouth, but it was worth a try.
Taliah glanced at her phone as it beeped but after a quick read, she shoved it back in her pocket.
'Are you not going to answer that?'
'It's Lucas. He wants to know where I am.'
'Answer the boy.' I urged.
'It's ok I'll see him in class in a bit anyway.' She brushed it off like it was no big deal but I knew what she was doing and it only made me love her even more.
'Taliah I'm ok, really.' I gave her my best at a smile and squeezed her hand. 'If you stay with me any longer, you're going to be late for your class and I don't want you to get detention.'
'My class isn't that far from yours.'
'It's on the opposite side of the school.'
'Still, it's not that far.' She mumbled making me laugh.
'Go and meet Lucas. The boy is probably feeling deprived because he hasn't seen you this morning yet.' I rolled my eyes but I was only teasing.
Let's just say the two of them really seemed to be making up for all those years they spent hiding their feelings from each other.
'Ok fine but I swear if I hear anyone gossiping about you, I don't think I'll be able to stop myself from knocking them out.'
I giggled and pulled her into a hug.
'I'll fight your corner with Lindsay and Simon when you're explaining why you've been expelled.'
'Thanks babe. See you later.' She slapped me on the bum and left me standing by my locker.
I managed to make it all the way to the girls toilets by my first lesson before needing to give myself a pep talk. Having people stare at you was a lot for an introverted girl, so thankfully when I crashed my way into the girls toilets I had them all to myself to talk myself out of having a meltdown.
I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and inhaled deeply. No matter how much confidence I tried to put on I couldn't ignore the fact that the girl looking back at me looked like a mess. Under the cover of my baseball cap my skin looked dull, my eyes bloodshot and bags under my eyes.
Comfort and blending in was key in helping me survive today, so I'd thrown a large jumper on this morning and my black cycle shorts which were peeking out underneath. I'd reverted to thinking back to old chameleon Evie in the hopes of blending in with my classmates. I'd wanted nothing more than to be ignored today but it seems like I'm also wearing some beacon visible to everyone apart from me.
Letting go of my breath I rolled my eyes and splashed some water on my face. I'd be lucky if that helped to perk me up but it was worth a try.
'You can do this Evie. No matter how much people stare just remember it's none of their god damn business.'
'Hear hear. Breach it sister!' Nora said flicking my hat off my head.
'The more you look like you want to be invisible the more you feed their gossip.' She undid my pony tail and fluffed my wavy hair.
'Do you have any lip balm?'
I nodded pulling a small cosmetics bag out of my rucksack. Nora attacked my face with the few products I had with me then finished it off by pinching my cheeks.
'Sorry.' She didn't look sorry at all.
'It's to add colour.'
I looked in the mirror and I had to admit I looked better. Not great, but it was an improvement.
'Now, in between lessons listen to music. I'd recommend little mix because damn they have some catchy songs that say fuck you, you're missing out on a hot bitch. If you can't listen to music sing a song in your head.'
'I think I can do that.'
'Yes you can. Just remember I'm here with you. I'm always here with you.'
Nora was right, I could do it.
In the end, I managed to make it through all of my morning lessons and breaks in between by doing what she told me to do.
I also realised I never gave my sister enough credit. She had good advice and the music thing really helped. It distracted me from overthinking and dulled my nerves.
It was no secret my sister had racked up a handful of boyfriends in her time. Many of which had meant her name had been at the centre of people's gossip more than a few times, but I'd never have guessed she'd struggled with it. She'd always seemed so confident but maybe she even had her own sister fooled. How else would she know the best advice to give?
When lunch time rolled around, I'd amped myself up so much I felt ready enough to perform my own concert. Luckily that meant walking into the busy cafeteria was a little less scary.
'What're you listening to?' Paige asked pulling an earbud out and almost scaring me half to death.
'I'm onto Girls aloud now.' I said putting the dangling earbud in her ear so she could listen with me.
'Yeah you know, the girl group. Made music in the early 2000s.' Paige looked at me with a blank expression as we sat down at the groups usual table where Matt was already sat.
'Come on you must know them. Cheryl Cole was a member; she had the baby with Liam Payne from One direction.'
'If you say so.' She shrugged handing me back my earphone.
I couldn't help it. For the first time in days I burst out laughing.
'I swear you've had a deprived childhood not growing up dancing around to girls aloud in your bedroom.'
Paige reached up and poked my check with her finger.
'Yeah well you make me laugh.'
'Ok then you're welcome.' Paige said with a satisfied smile.
I was just about to grab my lunch from my bag when I had the overwhelming feeling of being stared at. I know, I should've been used to that today but this felt different. Have you ever had that feeling? Minding your own business and you just know someone is really focused on you. Well it was that.
As if I had a radar telling me where to look, I almost instantly found the pair of green eyes watching me. The smile Paige had put on my face slowly dropped as I had the feeling of being punched in the stomach. I don't know whether Harrison wanted me to know he was looking at me or I'd caught him staring by mistake but it didn't take long for him to avert his eyes.
'Are you ok?' Zara asked taking the seat next to me.
I tore my eyes away from him and focused back on my friends who were all watching me with worried expressions.
'Yeah I just wasn't expecting it. It's the first time I've seen him since Friday.'
'I saw him this morning. He looks like a wreck.'
'Good, so he should.'
After that the conversation switched to something more light-hearted but I was struggling to keep up. My mind kept on replaying that moment where our eyes met. Zara was right, he did look like a wreck but it annoyed me that he still looked so hot.
The longer the day went on the more I started to dread what I had to do after school. I'd missed practice on Monday so I was preparing to feel the wrath of Tom, but also I'd have to spend an hour and a half near him. There were plenty of things I'd rather have been doing but just like going to school this morning I knew I just had to get it over and done with.
At least today I wasn't late. My history lesson has finished early so I ended up arriving earlier than most of the team. I'd fully prepared to warm up as far away from the group as possible but Tom was like a bloodhound and he saw me immediately. The look of surprise on his face was unexpected though.
'Hey. Look sorry I missed practise yesterday.' I scratched my neck sheepishly when I realised I wouldn't have to explain why I'd skipped yesterday, of course he knew.
An uncomfortable silence fell over us as Tom looked like he didn't know what to say. I almost wanted to smile at his unease of whether he should comfort me or not. Thank god I didn't.
'That's...ok. I wasn't expecting you to come.' Tom glanced around the group of guys that were already here before lowering his voice to me.
'I thought you two were doing the whole space thing.'
'He wanted space not me.' I tried to hide the emotion laced through my words but it didn't work.
Again, he glanced around the group before motioning for me to follow him to the edge of the football pitch where we wouldn't be overheard.
'Evie...well....look I don't really know how to say this.' Tom refused to look me in the eye and shifted on his feet.
'maybe it's best you don't come to practise for a while. You know that way you can respect each other's space.'
I couldn't quite believe what I was hearing.
'Hey you didn't want to be on the team in the first place, did you? Now you're off the hook.' He tried to smile but it fell when he saw the look on my face.
'You're kicking me off the team.'
Tom sighed and his slow response was answer enough.
'Evie. I really don't want to do this. I just think it's best.'
'Yeah, ok you've made your point.' I started to walk away but Tom calling my name made me turn back around. I thought for a moment he was going to apologise and say he was being an idiot.
'Erm sorry this is awkward. Can I have the top back? Coach will kill me if I don't get it back from you.'
I managed to hide my emotions long enough to pull my jersey off. Thank god I'd worn a long sleeve top underneath as after this humiliation I don't want to see Tom's face again.
'Here.' I chucked it at him.
I wished in that moment that I had the courage to have a go at him. To shout at him for picking sides and for being a crappy friend to me. I really had thought he was a friend of mine, that the whole team was but I was obviously wrong. By the end of our conversation pretty much the whole team were there and making it very obvious they were watching us. I didn't stick around long enough to see if Harrison had joined the group as well but I had no doubt he would've known.
As I walked away, I urged myself to hold the tears in long enough to make it to the locker room but a few betrayed me.
'Evie?' I didn't know who it was but I didn't particularly want to find out.
'Hey Evie! Wait up, it's me Joseph!'
I sighed with relief a little and let him catch up to me.
'What's wrong? Are you ok?' He reached up to wipe a tear away but I moved away from him.
'Please don't. I don't want them to know I'm crying.' I took a deep breath and tried my best to hold the rest of my unshed tears in.
'Did you know?'
'They've kicked me off the team.'
'WHAT?! Those assholes!'
Well if I was unsure if Joseph was a true friend or not then I didn't need to be. He looked furious.
'I can't believe those fuckwits. Let me talk to them.'
'No!' I grabbed hold of his arm and gave him a pleading look.
'Please don't. They've made their beds they can lie in it.'
'Well if they're going to kick you off the team then I don't want to be a part of it.'
'No please don't do that for me! You love playing football. Please, please don't quit. Look I'm going to go, I don't want to be here anymore but please stay.'
His eyes studied my face as if trying to figure out if I was only saying what I was saying to be polite. He obviously saw how determined it was though.
'Fine but I'm not going to promise that I won't try to give them all a few bruises though.'
'Give them a few from me please.'
'Sure thing.' He said with a grin. 'I'll speak to you later ok?'
'Yeah speak later.' I let him pull me into a hug before hurrying off, not wanting to stay here any longer.
If only I could've had Beyoncé playing during my conversation with Tom, maybe then I would've felt confident enough to tell him where to go. Sadly, music wasn't able to save me in that moment which meant I wasted tears on someone that didn't deserve them.