It seemed like I was living in another universe, like everything was different, although I was exactly in the same place I had always been. The people seemed different, the talks seemed different, although we talked about the same things.
Since that moment when Harry and I exchanged glances, everything became gloomy, like I was up in the clouds, not really paying attention to anything specific. If felt like I was in a state of somnambulism. I was plugged out from the real world, and I felt very, very confused, but not to the point of letting anyone find out what I was hiding inside my head.
My brain had always worked in either two ways; the first way was methodical: step by step, one thing after another, making sure I had the first question solved and checked before I moved to the next. The second way is logical: I do not simply accept an answer if I don’t understand it. There is always an explanation, always. Both of these methods come hand in hand, and due to this, I have always been sort of a detective, needing to solve things, craving the truth.
But I was entirely lost. I didn’t know where to start, who to ask help from, should I even ask help? I felt like a musician inside a laboratory full of doctors that were trying to create a drug to fight against some kind of incurable disease.
The only thing I was certain of (and it was probably the reason why my brain had shut down) was that Harry Edwards thanked me (indirectly of course) for keeping his and Summer’s secret. The vile bully that had been terrifying the whole school for two bloody years, thanked me, me. I knew he hated me as much as I hated him, and I was completely taken off guard when he did so. It was the last thing I expected from him.
I froze the moment I realised he was looking at me. I thought he was going to explode of anger because I knew his secret, but instead he thanked me for not spreading it, which I have to admit, was very close to doing.
After some long hours of thinking, I decided to not tell anyone, not even Anthony who was helping me find out what was wrong with Summer, why she acted the way she did when Harry fought the two older guys. Now that I knew the reason behind it, I couldn’t find the strength in me to do so.
At last I came to a decision: I wasn’t going to be biased. I was going to look at things as if wasn’t connected to them in any way. I was going to forget I hated Harry, that I was on the school’s side, everything. I was going to put my feelings apart, and give Harry and Summer a shot. Prejudice was what caused the fight between Summer and me, so if I wanted to understand her motives and possibly become her friend again, I would have to forget about what the school thought and think for myself instead of having everyone’s opinions influence mine.
I noticed Harry and Summer walking in the gardens once or twice, but if you gave them a glance you wouldn’t say they were in love with each other. They were excellent at hiding their feelings in public and I applauded that. They already had to deal with being seen together (which arose suspicions), but hide their feeling in front of everyone, that was something. I also noticed what everyone was saying about those two. It seemed like that topic was the only thing people talked about those days. Many almost assured they were friends or even more than that, others though Harry was blackmailing her or something. They claimed that no one would be Harry’s acquaint in free will, that no one who was “on our side” would be willing to bond with the “enemy”.
If only they knew what I knew, if only they had seen Summer’s crystal clear eyes and heard her honest words they would never say those things again.
Anthony was the one that talked to me mostly about them. Some weeks before I expressed my curiosity about them and since the moment I shared my views with him he started to think like I did, and became a detective like I did.
I had tried to tell him that he should forget it in hopes that he wouldn’t ask more questions. I didn’t want him to find out, but deep down I knew I could relax: he wasn’t smart like I was, he would never figure it out by himself. He wasn’t scheming or astute. He would never figure that complex game out.
Pushing the subject aside to the best of my abilities, I walked outside after my study hour in the library to get a breath of fresh air. That was when I saw Summer on top of a dazzling red bicycle, simply riding around the fields without a care in the world, a smile splattered across her face. She looked so happy, too happy if we took in consideration everything that had happened. Her face was glowing, her hair dancing in the wind.
I spotted Harry moments later, walking with his hands in his pockets close by. His features were a reflection of hers, if not even happier. Although I sensed a tad bit of nervousness from him (possibly because they were out in the open, in front of everyone) but apart from that he looked proud. Not that obnoxious kind of proud, that proud that is as simple as the word itself. Harry must have given her the bike as a gift. It all indicated so. But it was hard to believe. Since when did Harry start being considerate towards others? Maybe he was just like that towards Summer, but why? What was it so special about her that made Harry be “less Harry”?
I immediately changed course and took the long way to Hall A, not wanting them to see me watching.
“Hey Anna!” I heard Amanda call me from behind. I turned around and saw she was accompanied with Lucy and Lottie. They were walking fast, eager to reach me.
“Have you seen Summer’s new bicycle?” she asked, contempt in her tone.
“Yes, it’s pretty isn’t it?” I simply responded as I continued walking.
“Pretty?! Anna, can we talk about how she got it? It’s really strange how all of a sudden a bike fell from the sky!” The words poured out of her perfectly coloured lips.
“I don’t see how that really is of our concern. Look at her, she’s happy and that’s what matters,” I said, a shocked expression settling on her face. The girls all stared at me as if I was an alien. “What? Are you pissed because she is happy?”
“Of course I’m pissed. She shouldn’t be happy at all after what she’s done.”
She wasn’t serious, couldn’t be. Was she literally meaning those words? Did it give her pleasure to see Sumner suffer? I chuckled sarcastically out of disbelief but didn’t argue. I knew fighting with them would lead nowhere.
“The point is,” said Lottie, her hands waving in front of my face “It’s clear that Harry gave her that bike. I didn’t even see her leave the school, so he must’ve been the one to get it. Doesn’t it at least bother you?”
We had already reached Hall A, but I didn’t want to have that conversation inside so I stopped near the entrance door.
“Why should it? It’s none of my business.”
“Do you hear yourself?! Why are you all of a sudden on her side?”
“I am not on her side-” I took a deep breath, wanting to end that useless argument once and for all “Look, I just think that whenever you see her happy you start to point out every bad thing she did just to try to belittle her and that’s wrong. She was our friend before; you should feel at least a little bit of remorse when you say things like that.”
“But we didn’t say anything, we just stated the obvious!” Amanda said. She was actually right, but I knew they were going to start insulting her when I started to agree with them. And also, the tone of their voice when they approached me indicated that they were planning on doing so.
“But you already did, and I bet you would do it again.”
“Oh, so now you are defending her? Must I remind you that Summer is on Harry’s side, that she chose him instead of us, a guy that killed a little kid Anna?!”
That was not true. We just started ignoring Summer, it was our fault that she was related exclusively to Harry, but I decided not to tell her that.
“I know that. I know that it is very shocking that that scum managed to be nice to someone, but have you took a minute to think about all the people that could have given her that bike? Her parents, her cousins maybe? What are you basing your conclusions on? Some smiles and glances between Harry and Summer prove that he gave it to her? Congratulations Sherlocks, all of you deserve a prize.”
Amanda played with her fingers, Lucy looked at the floor, Lottie was biting the inside of her cheek. They hated to admit they were wrong, but they knew they were.
“Now if you excuse me, I am going to take a shower,” I said as I walked inside “I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”
Once I entered the building I could still hear them talk about the matter and I rolled my eyes at it. Everyone had grown so obsessed with Harry and Summer, and it seemed like I was the only one who hadn’t.
I ran up the staircase and went to my dorm to get my things for my shower that I so longed for, but then something on Summer’s nightstand called my attention. A single flower was inside a glass of water. That flower had been there before, but only now was I paying attention to it. I approached it and noticed it was wilted. The once white petals were beige and full of wrinkles, the stem was brown, but it still supported the once beautiful flower.
It was still beautiful though, the simplicity of it emitting calmness and serenity.
“What are you doing?” A voice echoed in the room in rampancy.
I immediately turned around with a sudden movement to find Summer standing near the door.
“It’s a lovely flower,” was all I managed to say after some seconds of standing frozen in place, like a small child who was caught stealing one more cookie from the jar.
“It’s been there for a long time,” she responded, closing the door and moving towards her wardrobe.
“I know,” I sounded stupid. It was the first time we talked since she told me about her secret relationship with Harry. “Harry gave it to you during the Winter holidays, didn’t he?”
“Wow, you can add two plus two,” she said sarcastically.
“I just assumed it because when we arrived from our holiday’s the flower was there and it wasn’t before,” I simply stated.
“He gave it to me on my birthday,” she said, looking at the flower for a couple of seconds. “I know it may sound absolutely absurd to you, but he is actually very thoughtful.”
Yes, it sounded like a barbarity to me, and I wanted to deny it, the fact that he was capable of being nice to someone. It seemed impossible to me, but there was proof in front of me.
“Talking about that, the bicycle… “I started, but the brightest of smiles appeared on Summer’s face and I had to stop mid-sentence.
“It’s marvellous isn’t it?!” she exclaimed, bringing her hands close to her chest in excitement.
In that moment I realised something I hadn’t before. I bet Summer was dying to tell what she was feeling to someone, anyone. If I received such a special gift, I wouldn’t waste time in telling everyone about it, wanting to express my happiness.
“Yes, yes it is,” I responded, not knowing what else to say. What could I say? It was not like I was in any position of saying anything.
“Uh- well, I have to go now,” said Summer after our little exchange and light atmosphere disappeared. Right before she walked out the door, she stopped walking. It seemed like she was having an inner debate to which she could not ignore. She slowly turned around, as if fearful, and said: “Do you think I could sleep here tonight?”
For a moment I thought that she was going to ask something that would make us very uncomfortable or something that I didn’t want to hear. I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding.
“It’s your dorm, I don’t have a say if you stay or not.”
“I just thought that maybe you didn’t want me here…” she looked at the floor. I could sense her nervousness from the other side of the room “Never mind. I better get going.”
And with that, she was out of there.
After our little five-minute conversation, I knew that our friendship had not died yet, only adding to my divergence. The truth was inevitable, and the truth was choosing which side I was on. I did not believe in sides, I did not believe that situation needed to have sides, but it was not my game, not my rules.
Which side was I on? Was I supporting my former best friend who fooled and lied to us all and was dating my mortal enemy, or was I on the side of my old friends who had been supporting me since I can remember, the ones who have seen what Harry can do to disparage others?
I had no idea.