“Get off me!” I shouted as four men tried to keep me down on the mattress of the infirmary “Can’t you fucking see I’m okay?! Let me go!”
The four men didn’t answer me as they pinned me down. They were holding my arms and legs, and I contorted my body like a fish out of water, trying to free myself.
“He’ll get tired soon,” One of the men uttered, looking at the nurse who stood nearby. I found out soon enough that the man was right. I involuntarily laid my head down on my acclaimed pillow (since I used it so often) and closed my eyes, letting out a heavy breath.
“You win, now let go of me,” I said as I relaxed my limbs. The four men looked at the nurse, to which she nodded reluctantly. The four men cautiously let go of my limbs, as if fearing that I would suddenly jump and run away, which I didn’t do, although the temptation was almost impossible to resist.
“Thank you, I think I can handle it from here,” The nurse told them, nodding courteously.
“We’ll be right outside ma’am,” The smaller of the four men said as they exited the room in a single file.
Immediately after the door shut, the nurse’s voice pierced my ears “If you try to leave I’ll call them back in, if you start shouting I’ll call them back in, if you simply do something that doesn’t please me I’ll call them back in and trust me, you don’t want that. Are. We. Understood?”
I nodded my head vigorously, ignoring the shiver that ran down my spine. I was both petrified and stunned at the nurse’s incredibly harsh words. I slowly lifted my upper body and glanced at the nurse for some kind of consent which she approved by not protesting, or at least that was my interpretation. She then grabbed a chair and placed it next to my bed. Then she went to a cabinet and took out some bandages, hydrogen peroxide and some utensils to which I did not know the name.
No words were said as she cleaned my knuckles and put a bandage around them. I tried to avoid looking at the nurse’s face, for when I looked at her I only found anger, disgust, and contempt, emotions which I could not bear.
In those couple of minutes of stillness my mind took me back what had happened minutes before. Summer’s expression when she looked at me was too painful. There were no words to describe the disappointment, the hurt, the despair in her eyes, all of which caused by me, only me. Her voice when she yelled at me perforated my body like a spade and the pain wasn’t subsiding, it was getting worse. I did not just screw up, I ruined everything, absolutely everything. I made her a promise and I ruined it all.
I was so lost in my thoughts that I didn’t even notice the nurse gently lifting my head upwards to clean the wounds on my face. Her cold fingers held the bottom of my chin as she tilted it, but I moved my head quickly away.
“What’s wrong?” She asked in an impatient manner.
“Nothing,” I muttered like a small child, not sounding very convincing.
Without warning, she grabbed both of my cheeks and forced me to look at her. Her expression changed when she looked into my eyes: her once threatening look had vanished, her expressions becoming softer. My emotions were crystal clear, or just so intense and brutal that she noticed them at once.
“What’s wrong?” She asked in a low voice.
I let my head fall down. I didn’t want her to see me cry. I tried really hard not to, but once she asked me the question directly I couldn’t resist. The pain was just too great, the guilt was completely eating me inside and I couldn’t keep it all in.
“I ruined everything,” I whispered, my voice breaking at the end.
She took both her hands off my face, letting them rest by her side. She sighed heavily before breaking the silence.
“I’m not going to pity you,” she stated “You sent that boy to the hospital, he has multiple broken bones and who knows what could’ve happened to him if you continued to hit him. It’s more than natural that you are feeling remorse, but I’m not going to comfort you,” The nurse tried to sound harsh, only to make me feel worse about my actions, but that wasn’t the entire reason why I was in such state.
“It’s not that…” I said with a trembling voice, still not looking at her.
“Then what is it?” She asked me.
“You don’t understand,” I told her, wiping my tears away with the back of my hand.
The nurse looked around as if thinking what to say next “Look,” she sat on the bed next to me, a gesture which I found surprising “You are possibly the only kid that comes to my office on a weekly basis, and by now I can say I know you fairly well,” she changed the tone of her voice “I have never seen you cry, I have never seen you break, and you have gone through many things. I understand this is not easy either. I want to help you, I really do, but if you don’t tell me what wrong I’m afraid I can’t,”
Her she placed her hand on top of mine, holding it tightly.
“It’s about Summer,” I said, almost bursting into tears due to the mentioning of her name, as more and more tears accumulated in my eyes.
I knew she was a stranger, a member of staff, an employee at Hudson that could tell everyone about Summer and I, but as I thought about it, she was the person I talked to the most after Summer. I had to admit, from every single adult in that damn school she was the one I liked the most. She didn’t reprehend me, or ask for an explanation to why I got hurt, she just fixed me.
“Can I ask you something?” I asked “What’s your name?”
She lifted her eyebrows in surprise but answered anyway “Marion.”
“Marion,” I repeated the words, trying to make that name sound familiar, trying to make it sound like the name of someone that I knew I could trust “I’m going to tell you a secret and I hope, even though I don’t really deserve your secrecy, that it stays between us.”
She nodded, and I started to tell her what really happened. I told her everything she needed to know about Summer and I so she could understand what was going on. I skipped the part of how our real approximation happened, being Summer’s secret. She didn’t need to know about that. With great effort, I told her what those guys said about Summer and how I couldn’t simply walk away and ignoring their vile wishes. I told her about my promise, and how I miserably broke it, and how horrible I felt.
It was so hard to talk about my moments with Summer, those marvellous things Summer and I had done together. For every good memory or the mention of her name I felt a sting deep in my stomach, and I held it together not to crumble down in front of Nurse Marion. But as hard as I tried, it was impossible to keep calm when I told her about the fresh memories: Summer leaving, and I cowardly not saying a single word to stop her.
Nurse Marion unexpectedly held me into a tight hug, letting me cry on her shoulder.
“I never wanted this,” I told her between sobs “I never wanted to hurt her.”
She didn’t reply, possibly because she didn’t want to agree with me and cause me even more pain.
“Harry,” she said I leaned my face backwards to look at her. Her eyes held some kind of sadness and pity “I had no idea you and her...”
“No one does, nobody knows,” I said “Please don’t tell anyone, she won’t ever forgive me.”
“I won’t,” she said with a self-assuring tone.
We stayed in silence for some moments, not knowing what to say to each other.
“You have to find her and fix what you have done,” she told me after some time.
I didn’t respond and I felt sick at the mention of those words. The truth was I was absolutely terrified of what was coming next. I had to face Summer sooner or later, and that meant having to see her hurt, having to hear her scream in my face how much of a fuck up I was. That was probably the biggest punishment I could ever receive.
“I can’t do it,” I said, shaking my head.
“Of course you can,” Nurse Marion continued.
“Don’t you see that I can’t fix anything now?!” I felt desperate “Don’t you see that I am hurting her more than making her happy? Talking to her won’t fix anything.”
“Harry, calm down.”
“Let’s face it, if she hadn’t appeared in that same second I would have killed that guy with my bare hands! She doesn’t deserve any of this… If I could go back to that day where I first talked to her I would have never done it.”
I was on my feet now, breathless as I looked down at the tiny woman. She didn’t look frightened, although I said the utmost truth, the horrible truth that should terrify most. I almost killed a person, for real this time.
“I am not going to say I disagree because I don’t entirely,” She said with honesty “But the thing is, you broke the promise before when you intimidated Zach by what you are told me, so why did she stay after that?”
I started at her blankly, not exactly knowing what she meant.
“If you made her stay back then you can make her stay now,” she clarified.
“But I crossed the line, I went too far this time. She won’t ever listen to me-”
“She will,” Nurse Marion guaranteed me “After you explain to her the real motive why you did what you did she will have to at least reconsider.”
I chuckled bitterly at her words “I almost killed him,” I was becoming what everyone thought of me, I was becoming what I most feared I would turn out to be.
She sighed heavily “Don’t say that.”
“You just don’t understand-”
“You know what you really need Harry?” she raised her voice quite significantly which somehow startled me” Self-discipline. You will do a lot of people a favour if you start using it.”
Those words ran cold down my spine.
“I am trying to help you, but if you refuse to accept it fine. Yes, you screwed up, and personally, if I were you I would feel really ashamed right now, or at least guilty, so stop acting like you are the centre of the universe and that you are the only one with feelings. Summer must feel really miserable right now, don’t you think?”
I swallowed hard at those words and lowered my head as I fidgeted with my fingers, trying not to look too affected by her words.
“You are sleeping here tonight,” She said decisively, putting her utensils back inside the cabinet. “I don’t trust you elsewhere.”
I didn’t trust myself either.
“I have no idea where she is,” I stated, not looking at the nurse “She can be anywhere.”
“She’s asleep just like everybody else,” said Nurse Marion as she turned the lights off “Now try to sleep.”
With that, she closed the door behind her and left the room in complete silence. I was alone, like I should be. I was suffering and I knew I deserved it. There was just something in me that told me that suffering was the least I could do, that I should be doing something more besides suffering
I had a feeling Summer was not in her dorm. She just couldn’t be. She was devastated when she stormed off, and I knew for certain that the last thing she wanted was to give any kind of explanation to her friends. She was too broken, too heart-rending to even be able to look into their eyes and have to lie. So if she wasn’t in her room, where was she then? I got up in a flash, putting my shoes on as fast as I could.
Nurse Marion was right. This wasn’t about me anymore, it was about her and everyone else I hurt. I had to somehow put my overpowering feelings aside and concentrate on what was really important. I was sure she wouldn’t forgive me, but at least I had to try, because without her my happiness at that school was fundamentally non-existent. I had to tell her I was sorry that very instant. I couldn’t delay it anymore; I couldn’t be a coward anymore. She needed to know the truth behind my actions, and although they weren’t really valid, at least I could explain myself.
I had no idea where she was, but I knew some places where she could have gone and hide. I would just have to go the every single one of them and hope for the best.
I picked up a flashlight that was resting on the bedside table and opened the door of the infirmary slowly not to make a sound. I looked around; Nurse Marion was nowhere to be seen. I left the infirmary, holding my flashlight tightly in my hands. The first place that occurred to me was the music room. Summer could very likely be there since no one was allowed to be in the main building at that time of night. I walked swiftly through the dark corridors and down the spiral stairs. I opened the door of the room, the light from my flashlight immediately being reflected by the grand piano and blinding me. After a quick inspection, I concluded the room was empty.
The school at night was an eerie, creepy place. There was no sound, no movement, just utter stillness and darkness. My heart jumped to my throat every single time I heard a noise, in fear that someone noticed I was gone from the infirmary and were taking me back there, but my mind was playing tricks on me and luckily there was no one in sight.
I quickly walked up the stairs again, not wanting to waste any time thinking of the next place to look. I just had to go where my legs took me. I found myself going upstairs to the classrooms. I made sure no one was around before I made my way down the corridors. After pointing my flashlight into every single little window on the doors and seeing she wasn’t inside any classroom, I quickly ran down the large staircase. I was evident that Summer was not in that building, so if she wasn’t in Hall B (I ruled that one out for obvious reasons), or in Hall A, she had to be in one of the other small buildings.
I moved outside as I turned my flashlight off. There was enough light from the tall lampposts that illuminated the paths to the other buildings, so I just had to follow them.
I went to the gym, the fourth largest building and the closest to the main building. It was so unlikely she would be there, but as I thought about it, it kind of made sense that she would choose to go there. She didn’t want to be found so she went to the last place anyone would look for her.
I tried to open the main door, just to find it locked. There had to be another way in. Thankfully I found another door behind the edifice that was opened, and I turned my flashlight on again.
The silence struck me. The darkness around me was incredibly suffocating, oppressive and even sinister. I moved through the halls until I reached the gym itself. The huge space seemed to be clearly empty and my faith was starting to fade, as well as my courage. Maybe she did go to sleep in her own bed after all, and maybe she told her friends the truth, and maybe I would wake up next morning and she would simply forget everything that happened between us and throw her feeling for me into the flames and everything would go back to how it used to be and I would be miserable.
I froze and listened carefully to try and identify what it was. Footsteps.
The sound came from not far away, but I could hear the sound becoming fainter. It could only be her. Now that I knew she was so close to me, reality hit me like a truck. I was scared, because I knew that I was going to find. She would be crying her heart out, desperate to feel something else rather than the crushing pain of reality, and when she saw me, I doubted if I was brave enough to even utter a word.
But it had to be done.
I dragged my body through the massive open space of the gym, the sound of my own footsteps disturbing the silence. As I moved in the direction of the sound it became darker and darker, the light from my flashlight seeming brighter as it became the central source of light. the only source of light coming from the flashlight in my hand. The sound started to become clearer and clearer as I took each step with caution, delaying what was inevitably about to happen.
That was when I heard someone running away in the direction of the exit, where I had come from. I could not see her body yet, but I knew it was her, I could feel her overpowering presence around me.
I hadn’t even realised I had dropped my flashlight on the floor, making a rattling sound that echoed through the gym. I didn’t think twice and started chasing her, blood pumping through my veins at a dangerous rate. That was when her figure came into view, her hair being the first thing that I saw as she turned the corner and went out of the building. Suddenly, my anxiety and nervousness transformed into frustration and anger. All I wanted was to talk to her, yet she was making it perfectly clear that the only person she wanted to see was me.
“Stop running for goodness sake!”
I opened the door of the gym and if felt like a bucket of freezing cold water had been poured on me due to the overwhelming coldness of the night. Not only the physical coldness contributed for my almost paralyzation, but also the sight of her. It was the first time I saw Summer properly after she stopped me from almost killing someone. She looked exactly how I had pictured her, but despite my previous acceptance of her state it did not minimise the shock of actually seeing her how I had imagined: she looked small, fragile, lost. Her face was overflowing with emotions, but the strongest of all was anger. In between the evident marks of crying, her mouth was closed into the tightest line, her forehead covered in wrinkles due to her frowning, and to my surprise, her fists were clenched.
“Go away, please just go away,” She said between gritted teeth “I don’t want to see you.”
The conviction and sturdiness in her voice surprised me. I could sense she was making a huge effort to conceal her weakness. She also seemed tired, her shoulders down, as if defeated. That only discouraged me in trying to speak, for I was drained of all the courage I had (which wasn’t much since the beginning).
“I will leave you if that is what you want, but I beg you to listen to me just for a few minutes,” I told her I as made sure we kept a fairly considerable distance between us.
“There is nothing you can say that will change what you did,” she said, the sound of the branches of the trees rattling in the background.
“I know that, but you must know the truth-”
“What truth Harry?!” She cut the silence of the night like a blade as she raised her voice “Do you have any idea of how serious this is? Do you regret what you did, or was this another one of your illogical outbursts of anger just so you can prove to everyone that you are the best, that you can’t be tamed, that no one can stand in your way?!”
“This is not about me anymore,” I raised my voice, matching her tone “This is about you. I can deal with my emotions later.”
Summer sighed in frustration and chuckled bitterly at the end. “What emotions Harry? The ones of benevolence and mercy? Because clearly those don’t seem to exist in you.”
Those words pierced through my heart. I knew that the longer I delayed the inevitable the more exposed we both would be to harsh words and the ugly truth.
“Look, I hit those guys because-” The memory of their words sent a shiver down my spine and I found it hard to finish the sentence, having to look away from her “Because they were saying the most unbelievable and disgusting things about you. They were talking about you as if you were an object,” I took both my hands to each side of my face.
“What did they say then?” She asked, crossing her arms, her hair swaying in the wind.
“No way, I’m not telling you. They were speaking of you as if you are a piece of meat and I couldn’t bear it.”
Summer’s expression was unreadable. She stayed quiet as she absorbed my words, but I wasn’t quite done yet.
“Oh my God Harry, do you really think they would try anything since that is what you are implying?!” She said exasperatedly.
“I don’t know… I have seen many things in this world that I never thought could happen,” I stated.
“Me too, and I think I have seen it all after tonight,” Again, she spoke harsh words just to hurt me, to hurt me like I hurt her.
“So tell me, why did you come? So you could explain yourself so you wouldn’t feel bad about what you did?”
“No, I came here so say I’m sorry,” I said with honesty.
“To say you’re sorry?” She said incredulously “You can’t heal things with a simple ‘I’m sorry’ and expect me to forgive you.”
“I don’t expect you to forgive me,” I took a step closer to her “I know I messed up, and I know that it will take a lot of time for you to trust me again, but you have to believe that I only did what I did because they should know better than to talk about anyone that way.”
She closed her eyes shut and sighed once again “Wow, look at you! How noble, how selfless of you in trying to teach people a lesson. You are such a bloody hypocrite-”
“I am so sorry-”
“Stop saying you’re fucking sorry!” She shouted, her eyes filled with pain “It won’t change anything! Do you what to know how I felt when I saw you hitting that guy? I am sorry to tell you but it was like I was seeing John in front of me and I never saw his face! This is not about being sorry anymore, this is about you doing the same mistakes all over again. I know you repent what you did but regretting won’t take back your mistake!”
If her words were piercing my heart before, my whole body was now being tortured. Of all people, she told me she didn’t blame me for John’s death, but there was the confession. Tears were building up in my eyes, and it felt like my chest was hollow. I had to remind myself that she was only saying those things because she was mad and hurt, but they all made so much sense to me despite them being overflowing with emotions. There was some silence between us, but she resumed shortly after, pushing her hair out of her face.
“Admit it, you can’t change and you will do this again sooner or later to someone who, according to you, either deserved it or not, doesn’t matter. I can’t live with that thought, that at the single provocation you lose control,” she paused, taking a step closer to me and she hugged her body due to the cold “Do you realise how many times I felt anxious for leaving you alone in fear that you would do something stupid and ruin everything?”
With that I was finished. There was nothing more I could say in my defence. She had won, and I lost miserably. All I could do was stare at her and hope that she wouldn’t kill me with her words, that she would be merciful.
“You learn with mistakes Harry, you make sure they don’t happen again, and I will make sure this will never happen again.”
“It won’t ever happen again. I swear it won’t,” I moved even closer to her, trying to convince her even though I knew I was failing miserably. If I didn’t believe in myself how the hell would she?
“I don’t think you understand what I’m saying,” She looked into my eyes. She had teardrops falling down her face, making her eyes glimmer in the dim light “This won’t happen again because I won’t let you hurt me anymore. I’m done with you.”
Finally, after all that pain, my heart stopped with those words. I should have known this would happen, I should have prepared to hear this, but I don’t think I would have ever been prepared. It felt like I was in a nightmare, my thoughts cloudy, reality
She was out of breath as her chest was expanding rapidly. Now the tears were rolling down her cheeks, and I could feel a lump forming at the bottom of my throat.
“Please don’t say that,” I was almost begging her. Did she understand the full impact of her words?
“If you really wanted me. then you should have thought twice before you did what you did.”
I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t just stand and hear those barbarities any longer. With my last strength, with almost all hope gone that I would be able to make amends, I could not give up.
“Is it that hard to see? Is it that hard to see that I love you goddamnit? That’s why I’m here despite knowing too damn well what you would say to me. I knew you would- destroy me, but I am here anyway because I love you!”
Her eyes widened at my words, and once I realised I had said them myself, my heart skipped a beat. My breathing was out of control, and I could sense so was hers. I have to admit, I was terrified at that moment, but at the same time I was relieved. Summer was looking at my chest, not daring to look me in the eyes.
“You had no right to say that,” Summer said slowly, her face sharp. She turned around and started walking away, taking her hands to her face. I stood petrified, watching her leave me. I didn’t know what tomorrow would bring, but I did not regret what I had told her. It was a coward move to tell her that I loved her in those circumstances but I could live with the fact that didn’t lie, I did love her, it wasn’t a desperate attempt in having her forgiveness. Even if she didn’t forgive me, at least I had the opportunity to say those words once.