Through His Lens (edited version)

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'Are you sure you don't want to come with Matt and I to the cinema tonight?' Paige's muffled voice said through the phone.
She didn't seem to understand the concept of FaceTime. She'd spent most of the half an hour we'd been on the phone showing me more of the ceiling than her actual face. We may as well have just been having a regular phone call.
It also didn't help that she was currently stuffing her face with Oreos. Normally I'd never stand in the way of a woman and chocolate biscuits but not whilst I was trying to make sense of what she was saying to me.

'As much as I would love to be a third wheel to the happy couple, I've got plans with Lindsay.'

After what had happened at school today, I was even more excited for a chilled evening in, eating takeaway pizza and watching the princess diaries.

'Well the offer still stands if you change your mind. We're going to see this new documentary that came out last week about fossils. The reviews sound amazing!'

Wow. I was practically jumping up and down to go now...

'Thanks Paige, I'll let you know if I do.' I tried to say it with as little sarcasm as possible but I just couldn't help myself. Thank god Taliah burst through my bedroom door as I was about to get a lecture about needing to broaden my mind.

'What do you think of this dress?' Taliah said barging her way in to stand in front of my floor length mirror. She was wearing a fitted black dress that looked like a million other dresses she had but I knew she wouldn't give up until I said something other than it looks nice.

'You look great. Is it new?'

'Yeah it is. I got it from this little independent store that makes cute unique dresses like this.'

Taliah ran her hands over the fabric lovingly as I tried to see the 'unique' that she apparently saw. It really did look like your average LBD.
'Is it too try hard though?' She said frowning at me in the reflection of the mirror.

I wanted to show as much interest and enthusiasm as Taliah clearly thought the dress deserved but I never have and never will share the same passion for clothes as she does.

'The dress is gorgeous there's no doubt about that. Tell me if I'm wrong though but I thought this party was a little more on the causal side? What do you think Paige?' I said deflecting onto her so I could get a break from Taliah's scowling. I flipped the screen so Paige now had a view of Taliah.

After a few seconds of silence Paige gave her verdict.
'Hmmm very nice.'

Ahh shit.

'Paige, I need more than that!' Taliah said rolling her eyes and planting her hands on her hips.

'Well what do you want me to say? It looks like a black dress. You know fashion isn't my thing. I wear the same 5 outfits on rotation.'

Taliah took a deep breath and pinched her nose in frustration.
'I don't know why I bother asking you two. Although I think you're right about the casual thing Evie. Jeans and a cute top it is.'

Taliah stomped out my room as my phone beeped with a missed call for the millionth time this afternoon.

I heard Paige take a sharp intake of breath pulling my attention from the notification back to her.
'Is he still trying to call you?'

'He is yes.'

'Wow. You can't knock the boy for trying. Are you going to answer him?'

'No! He ignored me for weeks. Let's give him a taste of his own medicine.'

'Hmm.' Paige said before falling silent again.

'What does Hmm mean?'

Paige stayed silent for a few seconds and I could tell she was debating whether or not to say what she was thinking.
'Ok..don't bite my head off. Don't you think you should hear him out at some point? That's what you said to me when Matt and I had our hiccup.'

'This is more than just a hiccup Paige!' I said a little shrilly. I saw her recoil back on my phone screen and instantly I felt bad.
'Sorry I didn't mean to put you down. I will talk to him eventually but just not right now. Besides, I know it sounds petty but..I just wish he would try a little harder than a few phone calls and texts.'

Instantly Paige's face softened.
'Hey I get it and I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking.'

Paige glanced at something off screen and winced.
'Bad time I know but I need to leave to meet Matt. Can I call you later?'

'Sure. Speak later. Have fun at your science evening.'

I rang off and plugged my phone into the charger at the side of my bed. Now I was all alone I didn't really know what to do with myself. Lindsay wasn't going to get home for another hour or so as she had to work late. I could hang out in Taliah's room but she was in one of her stressy moods. I've heard her throw things at the wall and scream "that's it I'm not going!" going about five times already. It was best I stayed clear of that.

Nora had given me strict instructions that I wasn't allowed to bother her because she was downstairs watching Dr Phil, so I guess I'd just have to entertain myself for a little while.

I glanced over at my desk and my eyes landed on my art book. With help from Ms Stevens I managed to submit everything I needed for the Goodwin art scholarship yesterday. I was storming ahead with my 'Nightmare' art project because of all the extra time on my hands and pent up anger, so I didn't really have to do much this weekend, but I guess whilst I was waiting for Lindsay to get home I could sketch out this painting idea I had.

I pushed myself off my bed and sat down at my desk. I quickly got up my Pinterest board and the pictures I'd taken at the weird and wonderful store, then I began sketching my idea onto some paper.

The idea I'd been running with so far into my nightmare project was the idea of being trapped. To be honest I'd become a bit obsessed with the picture I'd taken of the doll trying to escape the bird cage. It was like it was stuck with me for some reason.

I sketched out a girl standing in front of the mirror. Even from behind I could tell she was beautiful, she was also neat as a pin without a hair out of place. However, her reflection showed the opposite of her. That girl was banging against the glass in distress. She was trying to escape but she couldn't, she was trapped.

I got so engrossed in my sketch that I almost jumped out of my skin when I heard the knock at the front door.

'I'll get it! It'll be Lucas.' Taliah shouted from the opposite side of the landing.

That was fine with me, it meant I didn't have to get up.
I was trying to get my focus back onto the sketch again but I couldn't help but be distracted by what was going on downstairs.

'What do you want?' Taliah said with an edge to her voice. I frowned at her bluntness but when I heard a male voice reply I understood.

'Come on Taliah I need to speak to her.' The boy pleaded.

I got up from my desk and made my way out onto the landing. From here I could only see Taliah as she was blocking the small gap between the door but from her body language, she didn't look happy.

'I don't care what you need.' She said with one hand on her hip and the other gripping the door.

All of a sudden Nora appeared by her side and burst out laughing.
'Burn!' She held her hand up for Taliah to high five forgetting that she was a ghost only I had the pleasure of seeing.

'Taliah who is it?' I called out as I made my way down stairs.

She turned around to look at me but didn't open the door any wider for me to see who it was.
'It's no one .'

'Taliah.' I said sternly which only made her roll her eyes.

'Fine. It's Tom. He's waffling on about needing to speak to you.'
With a huff she finally released the door so Tom and I could see each other.
I've seen a few of Tom's emotions, he was usually either very happy or shouting at us during football practise because we were doing something wrong. I'd never seen him so sad before. He stood on the porch with his hands in his pockets and shoulders slumped over. His brown eyes were pleading with me to hear him out.

I wish I was a stronger person, that I could shut off my feelings and tell him to go to hell but I couldn't. It was like looking at a puppy that was feeling guilty because he'd destroyed the slippers he was playing with.

'It's ok.' I said turning to Taliah. 'I'll speak to him.'

Taliah didn't even try to hide her 'are you mad?' face but I just shrugged in reply.

'Fine. You're lucky she's even giving you a chance.' She said pointing at Tom aggressively. I love Taliah for protecting me but seeing how tiny she was in comparison to him was a little funny. Although that being said I had no doubt in my mind that she could beat him up.
'And be warned Thomas, I know Karate.'

Tom nodded and if I wasn't mistaken, I think he gulped as well.

With one last evil glare Taliah spun on her heal and headed back upstairs.

'Come on, let's talk outside on the deck.'

I pulled the front door shut before Nora had the chance to follow me like I knew she was about to.

'Hey I can walk through doors you know!' She shouted but thankfully got the message to leave me alone.

'Thanks.' Tom said with a look of appreciation. 'Taliah can be quite scary when she wants to. I probably would've run away if you hadn't come to the door.'

'That's probably wise. You don't want to see her when she breaks out the karate skills.'I said seriously. One look at Tom's scared expression and I couldn't help but breaking into a small smile.
'Come on let's sit down.'
I didn't really need to sit down but it was more to stop myself breaking too easily. There was something about Tom that made him hard to stay mad at, even after everything.

He did as he was told and sat next to me on the porch stairs. He didn't say anything at first so we both just sat there in silence looking out at the setting sky until he sighed and relaxed his posture so he was now leaning his elbows on his knees.

'You're being too nice to me.'
I turned and watched as he kicked a stone with his shoe.
'I almost want you to scream and call me a piece of shit because you being nice makes me feel like even worse of a person.'

'Hey, I think I've done enough of that today don't you?' I said a little sheepishly.

I was proud of myself for finally getting everything off of my chest earlier but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little embarrassed by my outburst. Especially as more people were witnesses to it than I first thought.

'No you haven't. Actually you went easy on us.'

'I don't know about that.'

'Evie. You were right earlier when you said you're a better friend to me than I am to you. I owe you the biggest apology and I don't really know where to start.'

I had a feeling this was where this was going and I didn't really know what to say either.
'How about, I'm sorry?'

'I don't think sorry cuts it.' He said looking me dead in the eye.
'You've been nothing but a good friend to me yet I threw that away because I thought I had to take sides. I felt put in the middle, like I had to pick one or the other but really neither of you made me choose. I put myself in that position and in turn have been a shitty friend to you. You're right, we were also being a bunch of hypocritical assholes because we ended up throwing you away like we said Jake would.
I don't know if you know this but I see you like a little sister. For some reason that made me think our friendship was unbreakable because we're family, you know?'

I really wanted to stay strong but looking into his eyes I saw remorse and instantly my walls started to crumble. I'm empathetic ok, it's my weakness.
'None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes, some more than others. God knows I've made a few. I think as long as you learn and grow from them then you're not a bad person in my eyes.'

'I'm so sorry Evie.'

'I know.' I put my hand on his shoulder and squeezed it.
'Apology accepted.'

His face instantly broke into a smile and before I knew what was happening, he was wrapping me up in a bear hug.
I hated to break up our moment but the boy was a lot stronger than I am.

'Oops, sorry.' He said letting me go. 'I'm just too excited.'

Jesus how could anyone stay mad at this boy!

'Not that I'm trying to get rid of you but you'll need to go soon if you want to go to Jasper's party.'

'Oh, I'm not going.'

'Why not?'

'Well this girl I know gave me and my friends a piece of her mind today. After that I wasn't in the party mood.' I play scowled at him making him grin and nudge me.
'I'm going over to Harrison's house with Joseph. We're going to watch movies and eat all the food his moms made us.'

'Wait Harrison isn't going either? What about..actually you know what it doesn't matter.'

He tried to hide it but I know I saw Tom's lips curve into a smirk before quickly being masked.
'He cancelled on her. It turns out she was being her usual manipulative self.'

Wait wasn't that what Jake said?

'What does that mean?'

'I should be keeping myself out of this but..what the hell. Katie told Harrison you were dating Jake to get him to agree to go out with her. It worked obviously, because Harrison then saw you with Jake and got jealous.'

'But..I only ended up hanging out with Jake because he was talking me out of a meltdown after I heard Katie bragging about her date with Harrison. Jesus that girl is something else.'

'I know. That's how she's ended up with the nickname the snake. She looks sweet and innocent but she's venomous.'

'Yeah you're right about that.' I glanced back up at the sky and watched as the last slither of sunlight disappeared behind a cloud.
'What do I do Tom? He keeps calling me.'

Tom turned away from me like he was thinking better of answering but it didn't take long for him to give me his attention again.
'Whilst some might accuse me of being a little biased, I think you should talk to him but only when you're ready.'

'He was being an asshole today.'

'Yeah he was.' Tom agreed. 'But it's only because he cares, he cares so much Evie. He may be a good actor but I know more than anyone how much this has torn him up. I'm not saying that to make you feel guilty I'm saying it because a part of you thinks he doesn't care.'

I wanted to disagree with him but I couldn't.

'I actually have something for you.' Tom continued.
'Don't be mad but when I told him I was coming over he asked if I could give this to you.'

He passed me a red leather-bound book that he'd had rested on the porch steps next to him. I didn't recognise it as anything of importance until I opened the first page.

I was so taken back by what I saw that for a while I completely forgot Tom was still there.

'I'm going to let you have a look at this by yourself. I'll see you later ok.' I felt him ruffle my hair and kiss the top of my forehead but everything else was a blur because I couldn't take my eyes off the photos.

I saw my mum running through sunflower fields and my dad chasing after her. She giggled as he eventually caught up to her and span her around whilst she threw her head back laughing. It was like watching a movie reel.
The photo album looked well-loved and a little old fashioned. At the top was written Anastasia's 35th birthday in handwriting that I didn't recognise. In the same unfamiliar scribble were descriptions written underneath each photo.

On and on the pages went of picture-perfect family photos until we made it to someone's house. The sun was shining and my mum was beaming as she chatted to a blonde-haired lady who looked just as happy as she did. Next to a photo of my mum and dad was a gap but indentations on the page showed a photo had once been displayed there. I wondered if the photo Hilary had given me that was currently sat on my desk upstairs would fit perfectly here. My parents were wearing the same clothes in it and the dates matched up with how old my sister and I would've been.
There were people in them that I didn't recognise but maybe because they were taken in the early 2000s and everyone looked different now.

Eventually I made it onto a page full of children whose over excited faces practically screamed off the page. In the bottom left hand corner was a photo slightly different to the others that stood out to me. Two children, a boy and girl similar in age sat in a sand box playing with what looked like a Tamagotchi. The boy had been smartly dressed in a shirt and trousers with his hair combed to the side. The girl was dressed to match her sister, her hair in bunches and showed a missing tooth when she grinned.
All the other kids were still burning off copious amounts of energy but these two were focused on what they were doing. They were in their own little worlds together. Below written in the same spidery handwriting was Harrison playing with Evelyn.

It felt like my heart stopped as I stared at the pair. I had no memory of this yet I felt so connected to it. As if it were only yesterday.

I maneuvered so I could lean on the porch banister and doing so made a letter fall out from the back of the book. This time when I read out my name, I recognised the writing.


Last year I met this girl that changed my life forever. From the second she barged into my life with her blue eyes and adorable accent she had me. I knew from the first five seconds of meeting her that I'd spend the rest of my life proving I deserved you.
I once met this little six-year-old girl with pigtails and a missing tooth. Our parents encouraged us to play together and I even let you play with my Tamagotchi. I'd completely forgotten about that day until I saw these photos again but clearly, I knew how special you were even at seven because I didn't share my Tamagotchi with anyone! (If you don't believe me ask Lindsay!)
That little girl that I'd had a crush on slipped my mind as I got older but fate has a funny way of balancing out coincidence.
My grandma gave me this book a while back and told me that one day I'd need to give it to you. She didn't say when but that I'd just know when you needed it the most.
You once told a friend that when it seems all hope is lost if you really want to get through to someone you care about, you'll find a way. I understand you don't want to talk to me right now but I needed to tell you this, to give you these photos.
I've made a number of mistakes, many that I'm ashamed of. I hold onto the hope that someday you can forgive me and I won't lose you forever, but I'll understand if it's too late.
There's one last thing that I need you to know. For selfish reasons really because I need to get it off my chest before I burst.

I Love You.
With all my heart.

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