This didn’t change anything. I kept repeating that sentence over and over again in my head.
What he said didn’t change anything. Actually, it made it worse. I was ambivalent, and that was worse than how I felt before. My mind was telling me something, but my heart was denying to accept it and vice versa. I was divided in not only what I felt was right and wrong, but also – and much worse – what I really felt.
He told me he loved me.
Somehow I already knew it, in the way he looked at me, the way he spoke to me. Still, it was such a shock. The conviction in his voice was almost heart-breaking, his desperation only adding to support his true feelings. He wanted me to believe him, and I did, but there was this string pulling me every time I thought about forgiving him. I couldn’t just yet; he had to understand that he couldn’t get away with what he did so easily. How he made me feel couldn’t be forgotten and replaced by his loving words just like that. I couldn’t forgive him so soon.
There was also the explanation to his explosion of fury, which was also adding to my divergence. It was an explanation, yes, and although no reason could justify what he did, at least he didn’t almost kill two people because he “felt like it”. At least he did it because he felt something stronger than indifference.
Everything was so confusing and so many things weren’t said on my behalf when he appeared out of nowhere to justify himself. Then again, I said so many irrational things that I couldn’t recall them all. Now that I was calmer and with my emotions somewhat under control, the rational part of my brain started to work again. Some things I told him were merely to break him, to make him feel as miserable as I felt. That was so incredibly selfish of me, and unfortunately, I think I might have succeeded on increasing his misery. I knew I had overreacted, but that was a characteristic of mine that I couldn’t seem to let go.
I felt things too deeply, and I knew it too well by now to try to deny it. Maybe that was why sometimes I felt so joyous and I had a huge smile on my face for no apparent reason. Maybe that was why sometimes I felt an infinite sadness lingering on my chest and ripping my heart for no apparent reason. Deep down there was a reason, I knew it, I just amplified it and felt it twenty times more than I really should. I cared too much, and that was both a blessing and a curse.
When I got to Hall A, I couldn’t find the strength in me to go upstairs and have to explain everything to my friends at three in the morning, so I just went to the community room to see if I could get some rest, which wasn’t much after all. I was now in the community room, the faint light of the morning entering through the cracks of the curtains. I was lying down on a couch with my knees close to my chest and a blanket covering my body but the cold still seemed to creep in.
I looked at a digital clock which was on top of a desk. I had an hour before lessons started, and I was without a doubt not ready for what I was inevitably going to face. I could envision clearly the faces of every single person at Hudson staring at me as I walked down the corridors, as I walked outside, as I had lunch. I could hear their prying whispers, their sarcastic comments, their questions which I didn’t have answers to myself. I could sense the gossip, the pressure, the awkward moments that I would face for an undetermined amount of time. I was afraid of what was about to happen, knowing that if someone saw me I would be bombarded with questions to both my actions last night and of my whereabouts after I was gone.
I pondered if I should even go to lessons. Should I go through that pain just for the sake of six hours of learning absolutely nothing that could help me in any way or form? If I didn’t attend, more questions would arise and I would be creating an even bigger problem.
As I laid awake on the surprisingly comfortable couch, I couldn’t suppress the wish of having someone there to hold me. I was feeling completely lost, and I could really use some comfort from someone. I really needed someone to tell me everything was going to be okay, that I would get through this and everyone would forget about this in no time.
Where were my friends now? Where did they go after I left the battle scene in tears? Why didn’t they go find me after they noticed I wasn’t back after one, two, three hours? Shouldn’t they, above all, come and help me? Shouldn’t they put all their judging and questioning aside and help me first? Yes, I knew I did something quite shocking that deserved a lot of explanation, but why didn’t they come?
One problem at a time, I told myself. One feeling at a time.
I sighed heavily, my stomach grumbling due to my lack of nutrition. But food was the last thing I wanted. I got up abruptly from my resting spot, only to realise I was already with my uniform on. I put my shoes on and took a small mirror from my bag which was resting on the floor by my feet. I checked my tie and made a proper knot, tried to make my hair presentable and adjusted the collar of my white shirt that was visibly not clean. I looked rather scruffy, but I didn’t really care. Without hesitation, I swung my bag onto my back and walked towards the door. I reached for the handle, and before opening it, I look a deep breath and swallowed hard.
No turning back.
I could hear faint footsteps from the upper floor and noise from the showers to my right. I felt my stomach turn into knots and I hurried outside, thankful that nobody saw me yet. The coldness of the morning struck me, and for a couple of seconds the iciness that took over my body was the only thing on my mind.
That was another characteristic of mine: obliterating reality for a couple of marvellous instances.
I moved swiftly through the path that led to the main building where my first class would be taking place. My breathing was starting to speed up and my hands were starting to get sweaty, my eyes frantically looking in every direction to see if anyone was around. I opened the door of the building once I reached the top of the stairs and once again took a deep breath to brace myself. I knew people would be there, even if only teachers, and my heart was hammering against my chest, making it almost impossible to breathe.
Once I opened the door I immediately spotted a group of students in the entrance hall, and as soon as one spotted me, they all turned to look at me while I pretended not to be paying attention. I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but the hurried whispers didn’t lie. My cheeks turned crimson and I literally sprinted up the stairs, away from the group.
If I reacted in such a way towards a small group of students I did not know, what would happen when I faced my classmates? The nerves were starting to eat me inside as I found the right classroom and entered, closing the door behind me.
I closed my eyes and took yet another profound breath. Mission one, complete. Now I just had to survive the rest.
I took a seat on the last row at the back and took out my notebook and started to do the homework that was due today since I hadn’t done them due to last night’s event. I lost no time and started my work, losing myself in it for some moments. Suddenly, the door opened and the sound of voices boomed inside the small room. My blood froze, as well as my hand that was writing countless numbers on the squared notebook. I kept my head down, too afraid to see the faces of the people that had just walked in.
After noticing my presence, they all came inside in silence, taking their seats without a word. I continued to write random numbers on my paper, trying to distract myself from the world around me. From my peripheral vision I noticed everyone was looking at each other, not knowing what to do or say.
Soon enough, the murmuring started. This time, I could clearly comprehend what they were saying, and I was growing more nervous by the second.
“Oh my God, look at her...”
“I heard she was drunk when it happened...”
“Do you really think Harry and Summer are a thing?! Impossible...”
“I wonder what her punishment will be...”
I gripped my pencil harder as my nerves started to transform into anger. That was when I noticed Anna’s silhouette enter the room.
She looked pretty as always, with her hair perfectly in place and her uniform immaculate. She wore, however, an unreadable expression that demonstrated both concern and curiosity.
“Summer,” She called once we made eye contact. In that moment, the only feeling in me was anger, and she noticed it. Watching her standing there like a statue made my anger grow deeper, and without noticing, the tip of my pencil broke due to the pressure I was applying on it against the paper.
“Alright class, settle down,” our maths teacher shouted as she came inside the classroom. Everyone took their seats, and Anna and I broke our gaze as she sat far away from me, close to the door.
Everyone was still gossiping about me, telling all the rumours they heard about me to each other. It was painful; firstly, to be treated like I wasn’t even there, and secondly, to have no one to defend me. I was kind of glad no one was asking me direct questions, but somehow I wish they were. They were all a bunch of cowards, and I couldn’t stand it.
When the teacher announced we could pack, the nerves started to creep inside my body once more. One thing was when I was inside a classroom, protected by the authority of a teacher and the typical rules of not talking and paying attention, but once in the corridor I knew what was waiting for me. To make it worse, what if I encountered Harry? That would be the cherry on top of the cake.
I was the first to leave the classroom into the busy hallway, getting numerous glances from prying students.
“Summer, wait,” I heard Anna’s voice echo behind me. “We need to talk.”
I ignored her and continued walking, but soon enough I felt her hand connect with my shoulder. I turned around, knowing that she wouldn’t let go of me. She just stood there with her arms crossed, as if waiting for me to speak.
“What the hell happened yesterday?” She went straight to the point. Obviously that was the first thing she asked me, not even taking a moment to ask if I was alright.
“Unbelievable,” I huffed in disappointment. I turned around again and continued walking.
“I need answers Summer!” She shouted only loud enough so the people around us could hear. Everyone was looking at us now, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I clenched my fists, but what I was really feeling was sadness and disappointment. Why was she humiliating me in front of everyone?
“And I need a friend!” I shouted back, earning yet another round of murmurs. A torturing lump was forming at the back of my throat, and I knew exactly what that meant. I was too weak, too hurt to conceal my emotions to myself.
I turned round and continued to make my way through the crowd, leaving Anna behind. Occasionally I would hear a nasty comment directed to me, and I would pretend it didn’t hurt me, but truly it was tearing me apart.
“Hey pretty girl, thank God you stopped that scum from killing those two poor guys last night! Someone had to do it, right?” Said one of the senior guys who was surrounded by his group of friends. They all giggled meanly as I passed by them, and I had to make an incredible effort to keep my warm tears from falling.
“Summer!” Called a girl that I had never talked to before “I’d love to know what Harry promised you… That was what you said to him last night!”
That was it, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I turned around in the opposite direction and went down the main stairs, running away from everyone. The hot tears were already falling, and I cursed at myself for showing weakness.
I ran down the busy stairs as fast as I could, only to come to the entrance hall that was full with more people. I turned left and found myself walking in the direction of infirmary, where I didn’t even hesitate entering. Once inside I let out a shaky breath. All I feared was happening; being judged, people thinking Harry and I were together, my life a freaking mess.
The Nurse jumped when she heard me close the door with a bang and immediately turned around. Her expression changed from surprised to concerned in a matter of seconds and she wasted no time in walking towards me.
“What happened Summer?” She asked with a sweet voice as she always did.
I didn’t say anything, just stood there in place, my mouth unwilling to speak. She surprised me by hugging me, throwing her arms around my shoulders and caressing the top of my head.
That simple gesture that I was in desperate need of was enough to make me cry with full force. How I needed someone to hug me so bad, how I needed to feel like I was not alone.
“I know what happened yesterday,” said the nurse, not breaking our embrace “Don’t worry, everything will be okay.”
I looked up at her, my words coming out in bumps “It won’t.”
“Summer?” A deep, raspy voice sounded through the room. The nurse and I immediately turned our heads in the direction of the sound. To my surprise, Harry’s frame was revealed from the door that led to the room in the infirmary. His hair was a mess and he looked like he had just woken up. My heart hammered in my chest at the sight of him.
The nurse broke our embrace instantly, and shifted her gaze between Harry and I.
“I think you have a lot to talk about,” she said with a sigh. “I’m going to grab something to eat; I’ll be back in ten minutes.”
With that, she walked in the direction of the door and left, leaving Harry and I alone.
“What are you doing here?” He asked, wasting no time as he took a step closer to me.
“I don’t know,” I said with honesty, not daring to look into his blazing eyes. “I just... I had to hide from everyone.”
His Adam’s apple rose and fell as he took his hand and placed it behind his neck “Was it hard? To face them, I mean?”
“Yes,” I said as I ran the back of my hand along my cheek which was wet with tears “You have no idea.”
“I’m sorry,” He said again, the tension in the room building up so fast I thought it would choke me to death.
As she stood in front of me, I couldn’t help but notice how out of my reach she was. I wanted to hug her tightly, to kiss away her pain, but there was something in me that held me in place. She looked so fragile, her slender body seeming like it was going to break into a million pieces if I touched her, like a porcelain doll.
“The nurse told me the two guys will be going home,” I told her.
“What do you mean, home?”
“They are going back to their families,” I said as I walked closer to her.
She let out a sigh of relief “At least I won’t have to face them too.”
“I also told her about us,” I let out, afraid of how she would react. Better to say it now that to wait any longer.
“She asked me why I wanted to see you so badly and why I was so broken,” I told her without hesitation. I didn’t care if it made me seem weak, no more lies from that point on “Of course I didn’t tell her your secret, I would never do that. She doesn’t know that we talked last night though, I kind of left the infirmary without her noticing so don’t tell her.”
She sighed once more, too emotionally drained to care about lying.
By that point I was close enough to her I could reach her hand, and although I was incredibly scared to do so, I did it anyway. She didn’t flinch, or move away; she just accepted the small gesture.
“Fuck what they think,” I told her, with the most serious tone I could muster “You know who you are, and what you are not, so just say fuck it and do your thing. How is it possible that you let those idiots who know nothing about you take away your smile? They don’t deserve that satisfaction.”
My words seemed to have an impact on her due her change in posture. She tilted her head upwards, straightened her back.
“Who cares anyway about what you do and what you stop doing? You don’t need to explain yourself to anyone. The ones who really love you will stay, and I know that was fucking cliché, but I discovered that many of them are true.”
“Not all of them are true,” she said, a ghost of a smile forming on her lips. “For example, you have to love yourself first before you love someone else.”
I chuckled at her words “Yeah, that one is so wrong in so many ways.”
We stayed in silence for a couple of moments.
“So now what do I do?”
“You go back there and you show them how strong you are. Let them say whatever they want; we know the truth.”
I had no idea where my words were coming from but I was glad I said them. As I thought about it, those words were like the constitution of my living; those were the words I lived by, the words I told myself every day. I knew them by heart, but saying them to someone else made me realise how sad they actually were. I didn’t want her to end up like me, but a feeling down in my stomach told me she was destined to.