Oliver wasn’t successful yesterday; that’s how he saw it, at least.
Sure, he had gotten each question asked of him in government correct, had impressed his PE teacher with his ability to play any sport he attempted accurately, had scored three goals in thirty minutes after school at practice, and he had gotten on his pestering English teacher’s good side.
But he hadn’t managed to get to William.
He hadn’t managed to reveal what the kid was hiding inside, wasn’t able to apologize for the past, and he wasn’t able to get through to William the fact that he wanted their friendship back. But, today, he was determined to change things.
Sure, he had said that yesterday, but today he would walk up to William and hold onto him, prevent him from leaving, keep him close until he could get out everything he wanted to say.
He could do it. All he needed to do was stride up to his locker, smile his ever-charming smile, and speak.
Just talk, and chat, and grin. Oliver was a pro at conversation.
He was friendly, and loving, and knew how to keep at a good topic. But this, this, was driving him crazy.
His heart was racing, his nerves were causing his hands to tremble, and his palms were slick with sweat, clammy and uncomfortable.
As he snatched up the car keys (his dad agreed to carry on carpooling with his mates, said it was good to form friendships with coworkers), the dread in his stomach settled and was ever-present, his entire being feeling as though he were just on the edge of a gut-wrenching anxiety attack.
He shook his head, rolling his eyes at his inner turmoil, and stalked out of the house, his backpack in hand, quiet and careful not to wake his mother and sister, who wouldn’t have to get up for another hour yet.
The bitter air of Laketown’s rising winter was familiar, so much so that it was nostalgic, and Oliver couldn’t help the hint of longing that twisted the heavy weight currently resting on his heart.
He missed it.
The way things were.
When he ran around this small yard with the single oak tree, and chased birds with William Levi, falling down in the dirt on occasion, his mother snapping at him when he walked into a clean house dripping in mud.
Oliver smiled, remembering when things were so easy.
There was no judgement or chaos or confliction when you were a child. You didn’t think before saying, or doing something, or acting a certain way.
You just did.
Growling at how very melodramatic he was being this morning, Oliver slipped into the car seat of his father’s Mercedes, started the engine, pulled out of the driveway, and begun the short trip to Laketown High, prepared to face William Levi in all honesty.
“…twenty! Ready or not here I come!” Oliver Emerson stalked through the cold air, sweeping through each and every bush, shrub, flower bed. He checked behind each tree, his makeshift plastic playground, the generator at the back of his house. Where the heck was he?
“Okay! You got me. I give up now,” Oliver sighed, admitting defeat, whilst simultaneously growling under his breath. He tugged his gloves upwards, tightening their grip and glanced about, checking over everything one final time before officially throwing in the towel, “Will, where are you?”
“Up here,” The voice sounded from behind him, soft and gentle, with an air of mocking certainty, and Oliver quickly turned on the spot, revealing his best friend atop the roof of his house, sat with his feet dangling down, just above the entry way.
“No way! That’s cheating,” Oliver complained, but beamed anyway, jogging over to where his friend was sat, staring upwards at him in utter astonishment, “How’d you even get up there?”
William shrugged, the fabric of his navy ski-jacket shifting noisily, as he grinned at his friend, blue-grey eyes shining in mirth, teeth white and bright, “Your dad left out the ladder.”
Oliver scoffed in amazement, nodding his head at his friend’s revelation, remembering distinctly that his father was putting up the Christmas lights just a few days ago. And there William sat, face illuminated by tiny, glowing crystals, whilst he bit his lip smugly, awaiting his friend’s presence beside him.
With a soft laugh, Oliver ran to the back of the house, climbed the ladder carefully, and wobbled his way over to the edge of the roof, grinning widely, excitedly, before placing himself down next to William Levi, allowing his legs to hang lifelessly below him.
“Is this what it’s like to be tall?” William pondered, mouth slightly open, eyes watching the sky.
Oliver giggled, “I don’t think anyone is this tall, Will.”
With a shrug, Will turned to face his best friend, “I hope I get taller.”
“You will. I’m sure of it.”
Oliver stared blankly at the school building, watching intently as students filed in, all dressed differently, each and every one of a different appearance, emotions, however, all quite similar: unamused and unwilling to go to class.
With a sigh, Oliver turned off the car, pushed himself out of his seat, yanked out his backpack, slammed the door behind him, and locked up the vehicle, a sharp honk sounding behind him as he headed for the doors of Laketown High for the third time this week.
It was already Wednesday. His first week of school in a town he hadn’t been to for years was almost already half over. He cringed at the thought of another week awaiting him, just after the weekend.
He would do something with William this weekend. He had to. Not just because he wanted to, but because he felt like he needed to.
Oliver picked up his pace, eager to be sure he had enough time to speak with William before going to Pre-Calc. He passed familiar faces, some members from his soccer team even stopping to pat him on the back or say friendly hellos, whilst he merely waved and sent them each a sharp nod of his head.
He headed through the blue doors, staring down the aisle of lockers and spotting the exact person he had intended on finding, a hint of nerve-wrecking déjà vu hitting him right in the gut.
As Oliver rushed to get closer, shoving others out of the way, the same as yesterday, he took note of what William was wearing.
His skinny jeans were black and snug, his shirt was a light grey, bearing the image of a goofy looking wolf, sunglasses sitting atop his nose. Black boots were laced and rising up to the middle of his shins, and he wore a black beanie, which, ultimately, was against dress code, but he didn’t seem to care.
Oliver smiled to himself.
Same old Will.
With a deep breath, much like he’d done yesterday, Oliver stopped on the spot, just beside William’s locker, where, yet again, William stood, swooping downwards to snatch up his backpack and hoist it over his shoulder.
“Hey,” Oliver beamed at the dark-haired boy, watching as William slammed his locker shut and locked it, spinning the wheel of the silver latch.
“Hi,” Will snapped, barely glancing Oliver's way, and began to stride away from the hall, obviously heading to class, and perhaps attempting to flee from the conversation, yet again.
Oliver wouldn’t have that. Couldn’t have that.
He jogged after the boy, trailing beside him as he dodged other teens, stalking out the doors of their current building and into the courtyard, the air biting and frigid.
Oliver shivered in his sweatshirt, and then noticed William merely pressing on, in a simple t-shirt.
“Not cold?” Oliver called out, attempting to start a conversation, and, obviously, failing miserably.
“No,” was the only response he received; a soft, almost inaudible murmur as Will continued to force himself onwards, passing other students while gripping tightly to the sketchbook in his hands, so tightly his knuckles were fading to a bright white.
Oliver swallowed, took a deep breath, and stuck out a hand, stopping William in his steps, gently and desperately.
With a glare, William glanced up at him, eyes burning, far more grey this morning rather than blue, and Oliver could tell he wasn’t pleased at having been halted in his rapid stride to get to his second period class.
“So, I was wondering,” Oliver began, going for a
small smile, eager to boost his old friend’s spirits, or at least tone down the
guarded expression he was currently receiving, “if we could plan something, for
like, over the weekend, you know?”
Oliver cleared his throat and dropped his eyes to his black sneakers, “Talk about stuff, our lives, all the shit that’s happened in between.”
When he looked up to face William once more, he was pleased, and rather frightened, to witness a small smirk, wide enough to be considered grim, and bright enough to be considered friendly, “How ironic.”
Swallowing, Oliver shook his head, “What is?”
“The fact that you seem to actually care about that stuff now.”
Oliver held his breath for a moment, watching that malicious, yet pleasing, smile fall within an instant, merely replaced by a look of resent and disgust, of which didn’t reach William’s emotionless eyes.
“I don’t understand.”
With an awkward shift in his positon, William adjusted the placement of his backpack, and glanced over at the art building, as though deciding whether or not to simply make a run for it.
Instead, he sighed and turned back to Oliver, staring straight through him, pale complexion shining in the early morning light.
“Sorry. I’ve got a busy weekend. Studying. School work. You know, the sort.”
Oliver tried not to be hurt by the weak excuse but what could he do? He had, in fact, abandoned this boy and it would take time, he supposed, before William opened up to him.
“Right, yeah. Of course. Maybe next weekend?”
“Yeah. Maybe,” Will nodded and whirled around, stalking off towards his next class.
Oliver merely stood, watching him walk away for a moment, before turning and heading to Pre-Calc.