East Side Academy

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Chapter 54 - Apologize

“You tell me that you’re sorry, didn’t think I’d turn around, and say (that) / “It’s too late to apologize (it’s too late).” / I said, “It’s too late to apologize (it’s too late).” – Apologize, OneRepublic


“James, Arya,” I hear a voice from behind me.

“You have got to be kidding me,” Arya says frustratedly, and then I turn around.

He’s back, in the flesh. Henri Young is in Arya’s driveway. He doesn’t look like himself though. He’s usually so confident and arrogant, but right now he just looks scared. I guess we didn’t notice his car pull up with all the arguing.

“What are you doing here?” I say angrily. Arya is behind me and I remain in between them.

“I came to talk to Mia,” Henri says.

“She’s not home,” I say flatly.

“James,” Arya whispers to me.

“So you should leave.” I say, “And don’t come back.”

“I want to apologize to you, Arya,” Henri says around me, looking at Arya behind me. “Please just talk to me. Just a moment.”

I hear Arya walking up behind me and feel her at my shoulder. “You don’t have to do this.” I whisper to her, “You owe him nothing.”

“But he owes my sister everything,” Arya whispers back and looks at Henri.

“I’m so sorry, Arya,” Henri says, “I did the unforgivable. I truly hurt someone that you love, and I deserved much worse than what you did to me. I am sorry for hurting your sister, I can see what a horrible thing I did. I want to apologize to her. I know she won’t forgive me, but I want her to know how sorry I am. I want her to know that I know that I hurt her and that I will never do it again. Please, Arya. Please let me talk to her.”

“I already told you she’s not home!” I say to him, but he never takes his eyes off Arya.

“We just got home.” Arya says, “Let me check if she is here. I’ll be a moment.”

“Thank you so much, Arya,” Henri says sincerely and she turns to go into the house, leaving me outside with Henri.

“So I heard you won the championship,” Henri says, “congratulations.”

“I was disappointed that I didn’t get to kick your ass out there, but I had to respect your team for what they did,” I say.

“I know you hate me, James,” Henri says, “and I don’t blame you. I just wanted to come here to apologize to Mia and Arya. That’s it. And then I’ll leave.”

“And that will clear your conscience?” I ask.

“No.” Henri says, “But they both deserve an apology, and if Mia wants to yell at me, she can.”

“She should knee you in nuts,” I say.

“She should.” Henri says, “I have to do this now. I am moving out West tomorrow to live with my mom in Victoria. I will be tutored and homeschooled for the last few weeks of Grade 11 and then go to a boarding school for Grade 12.”

“A fresh start? Where no one knows who you are?” I say.

“I can’t turn my life around here.” Henri says, “Everyone hates me. I have to leave. I have no choice.”

“Took the entire town turning on you to make you realize what you did was wrong?” I say.

And then I hear the front door open and both Mia and Arya step out. I didn’t think she would do this. Mia comes right up to Henri and stands in front of him. Arya comes to my side and I wrap my arm around her waist, wanting to feel her, wanting her to be close. To protect her.

“Mia,” Henri says breathlessly.

“My sister told me you have something to says to me,” Mia says sternly, showing no emotion.

“Yes.” Henri says, “I came to apologize. I don’t expect you to forgive me, but I want you to know that I know how much I hurt you. I was a monster. I will never forgive myself for what I did. I deserve what has happened to me and so much more.”

“You have no idea how much you hurt me. You never will.” Mia says, “I hope you never forgive yourself, because I know I will never forgive you. You took everything from me. You left a permanent scar on me that will never heal, no matter what I do.”

“I’m so sorry, Mia,” Henri says.

“I hate the sound of your voice.” Mia says, “It’s just a reminder of everything that happened. I can’t forgive you, Henri. You did the unforgivable. But I applaud you coming out here, for being repentant. I can only hope that now you will never do to someone what you did to me.”

“I will never hurt someone like I hurt you, Mia.” Henri says, “I will live with this for the rest of my life.”

“And so will I,” Mia says. “I think you should go.”

“Right.” Henri says, “But you and Arya should know that I am leaving tomorrow. I am going out to the West Coast. You won’t have to see me again.”

“I feel bad for the West Coast then,” Mia says.

“I’ll leave you, now,” Henri says and then he walks away and drives off in his car in silence as we all just stare at him leave.

“Mia,” Arya says to her sister, releasing herself from my grip and I realize how hard I was holding onto her. But she never complained for a second. Mia turns to her. She has no emotion on her face. I have no idea what she is thinking. “Mia, are you okay?”

“I needed that.” Mia says, “I finally had the upper hand over him.”

“You did great.” Arya says, “And now none of us have to see him again.”

“Thank goodness,” Mia says relieved.

“What do you want to do, Mia?” Arya asks her.

“I need to run,” Mia says, shaking her arms. “I need to get rid of this energy.” And then she runs back into the house, leaving Arya and me alone together.

“Thank you, James,” Arya says.

“What for?” I ask, “I didn’t do anything but bruise your hip.”

“Having you here meant everything.” Arya says, “Staying here. Being with me. I don’t know if I could have remained calm if you hadn’t been here.”

“You would have been fine, Arya.” I say, “You are far stronger than what you give yourself credit for.”

“Thank you, James,” Arya says and then we just stare at each other.

Mia runs out the door in her running gear and headphones in. “See ya!” she calls as she runs down the sidewalk to a trail path.

“I’m sorry for yelling at you, Arya,” I say, breaking the silence. “I know you only want what’s best for me.”

“It’s what your friends and family want too.” She says, “Everyone cares so much about you, James. They all hate seeing you this way. You carry a burden too heavy for you.”

“There’s no other way, Arya,” I say. And then she comes up to me, closing the distance between us. She puts her hands to my face and just stares up at me.

“There’s always another way, James. No matter what is happening, you can always come to me, whatever the problem is, we can work it out. Even when it seems like too much.” She says, but something tells me those aren’t her words. They’re words someone said to her and now she’s repeating them to me. She kisses me, softly at first and then more deeply. I wrap my arms around her small body. She’s the one who breaks the kiss before I am ready. “I am not giving up on you and I’m never letting you go.”

“I’m sorry for asking you to.” I say, “I just want what’s best for you too.”

“You are what’s best for me, James.” Arya says, “When are you going to realize it?”

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