When I got a call from Ava, I knew things were gonna go south fast if I didn't hurry.
The past couple of days had been very normal. I continued keeping an eye out for Ava all the while going on with my everyday routine. She looked fine as far as I could tell, so I decided to give her some space instead of breathing down her neck every second.
The kids at school told me she got a job at the local library. I think the only reason they brought that up was because they thought something was going on between me and Ava. I thought she was trying to make an effort, that maybe something I said struck a nerve and made her want to continue.
I was in my bed, napping when I got her call. I put clothes on in record time and dashed out of my house as soon as I heard her cries from the other side.
I ran towards the park near our school where she told me she was.
All the different scenarios playing in my head, making me go faster. Images of a dead Ava flashing in head, making adrenaline course through my veins. Maybe giving her space was not the right move. I should've talked to her atleast once after the bleacher incident.
I won't blame myself though cause I know it's not my fault but I will push myself as hard as I can to reach her before she....
I ran and ran and ran, as fast as I could. Not caring about on coming traffic or cars or people. Withing 15 minutes I was at the park, looking around for her. I took out my phone and dialled her number.
I heard her phone ring from where I was standing and I followed the sound. I saw her curled up on a white bench and shaking uncontrollably. I could hear her crying.
"Ava!" I ran to her. She got up as soon as she heard my voice and jumped in my arms.
There she stayed for hours just crying. Her tears seemed to never stop but I didn't mind. This was better than her doing something to herself.
Her cries soon turned into little hiccups and sniffles, her shaking stopped as well. I kept on patting her back and strocked her head to calm her down.
"What happened?" I asked her, finally being able to enquire what caused her to break like this.....again.
"Nothing" she said, her voice barely audible and very hoarse from all the crying.
"Get up, drink some water from the water fountain and then tell me, it has to be something if it had you in hysterics like this" I told her while pulling her up. She needed to hydrate herself after all the tears she shed. I'm preety sure there's no more water left in her body after that crying session.
I helped her to the water fountain. She bent down to drink but her hair kept getting in the way. I pulled them back which made her look at me.
I motioned for her to continue.
"Thanks" she said and dipped her head down again to continue drinking.
After she was done, we went back to the same bench and sat down. I turned to her, encouraging her to open up.
"I applied for a job and got rejected." She said in a very plain tone as if she was trying her best not to let any emotions slip up. She cried like a baby for the past few hours and now she's worried about showing emotions?
"Why would that have you crying like this?" I asked her. Does she think I'm stupid?
"I needed that job, you won't get it" she said to me in a condescending tone.
"Still Ava, noone cries over a part time job like this and don't you already have one part time job? Why do you need one more?" I pressed further.
"I- " her eyes quivered, she looked as if she was trying to figure out what to say or rather decide on a lie.
"I won't judge and I won't tell anyone. Just tell me, it won't help to keep everything bottled up, you'll explode " I told her, reminding her how stupid it was of her to keep every little problem to herself. She won't survive this way.
"My dad left" she said "and I need to make tuition for me and my brother" she continued.
"Oh" was all I could say. What do you say in a situation like this? 'I'm sorry'?
'it'll be okay?' Just what?
"Well, there I told you" she said, looking at me, pleading me with her eyes to say something.
"What about your mom?"I asked her. "And your sister? Why do you have to make the tuition?" I asked her.
"My mum hasn't worked for like 25 years and we don't know where Maddie is. Fucked up right?" She answered.
"That is fucked up. So this other job was how you were going to make tuition?" I enquired further.
"Yup! I was going to ask for an advance and add my library earnings to them and pay the fees" she told me.
Wow. I didn't have a single idea she was going through so much. I couldn't even imagine...she was just 17!
I looked at her, all of her properly. Her back hunched, head held low, face covered with tears and her eyes blood red. She looked like on the verge of death.
"Let's go" I told her "get up"
"Where?" She asked me.
"Sitting here and sulking won't help. Let's got get something to eat and we'll figure out a way to settle your tuition" I said. All she would do is sink deeper and deeper into stress sitting here all gloomy and shit.
I took her hand and went outside the park. Ava looked around us, trying to find something.
"Where's you bike?" She asked me.
"Oh uh I ran here" I told her making her eyes bulge. She knew where I lived, my house was kind of the biggest in town,so everybody knew where I lived and this park was quite far away from my home.
"You ran here?! From your house?! How are you not dead?!" She asked me with shock written all over her face.
"I'm not as bent out of shape as you. Might I remind you I'm a jock?" I asked her smirking. Ava was one of those kids who found new excuses everytime to get out of gym. I'd seen her, sitting on the bleachers in the gym room, reading and ignoring everybody else.
"I'm not bent out of shape, I ran here too for your kind information. I'm just not super athletic like you" she said mumbling under her breadth. Well atleast she wasn't crying anymore.
"Just stop pouting, we can get a taxi if you wa-"
"YES! I am not walking all the way back to the centre of town. That will break me" she told me very seriously.
I chuckled and took my phone out. Our town was not big enough to be a city but we did have taxis we could book.
"The taxi would be here in a minute" I told her. She nodded her head at me.
As we waited for the taxi to arrive, I started wondering how I could help Ava. I have never had a job in my life, I don't know how you get one or where you look for one. All I could do was offer her money which she would decline. How will I help her when I myself know nothing about all this?!?
All I could do was wrack every nook and cranny of my brain for an idea.
I looked at Ava once more. She looked lost in her thoughts. She looked so broken and troubled... I had to help her. After hearing her tell me about her family situation, it doesn't seem like there is even a single person she can rely on.
All this realisation did, was made me want to help her even more.