Harry and I got inside the small rural restaurant which I noticed had only two customers left. I wasn’t surprised; after all, it was already two in the afternoon, everyone had already had lunch.
Although surprised by our rare schedule, the waiter still greeted us with a warm smile. He noticed we had brought our luggage with us inside the restaurant and asked us if he could take them while we had our lunch. I smiled politely and handed him my suitcase, Harry doing the same. He then took us to a table for two next to a window.
For some unknown reason, Harry was avoiding making eye contact with me as we sat down. To call his attention, I place my hand on top of his. His eyes fluttered right into mine.
“Much better,” I commented.
“You aren’t mad at me, are you?” he asked, his eyes looking away again.
“Harry, the letter thing is done with, let’s not talk about that again-”
“I just want to be sure,” he insisted with a calm, smooth voice, “Listen, whenever I wrote to my mum I always told her I was fine and that I was doing great, which was clearly a lie, but in my mind feeding her with lies was the only option because if she believed I was fine, maybe she would be less worried, and consequently she would become better.”
“I know what you mean,” I answered, “When you are sick and you get good news you feel instantly better.”
“Exactly,” he agreed “But my point is, I said what I said because I don’t know any better than to lie so that people won’t worry about me. Your actions didn’t make sense to me at all, but for you they might make.”
I was quiet, absorbing his words.
“I never told my parents about your existence, but you already know that,“I told him as I looked out the window, noticing a few raindrops landing soundlessly on the glass of the window “Can you imagine how they would react when they found out I ran away from Hudson with a boy they never heard of before? I am glad you stopped from giving them a heart attack.”
A chuckle escaped his lips as he looked out the window as well, noticing the clouds becoming denser “Yeah, you are quite right... May I ask you something?”
“Of course, you don’t have to ask that.” I found his request very strange, so I concluded what was coming wasn’t going to be easy to answer, although the atmosphere was much lighter.
"Why didn’t you tell them about me?”
His question puzzled me, making me frown “That’s obvious, isn’t it?”
“Not that obvious to me, but you have always been smarter than me so I’m not surprised I don’t get it.”
There was a moment of silence as I thought through what I would say. I knew exactly why I hadn’t told my parents about Harry because I just didn’t want to explain everything, which was quite a lot.
Having Harry sat in front of me, his eyes burning through my skull and into my brain, it seemed like he was seeing the truth before I even had the chance to acknowledge it myself.
I could see the disappointment in his eyes, the slight slope of his shoulders, but what made my heart sink was the sad smile on the corner of his lips. I knew what he was thinking; that I didn’t tell my parents about him because I was ashamed of him, or because I felt like he didn’t matter and therefore wasn’t important to tell my parents about. I could see he was literally thinking of the worst case scenarios in his head and it broke my heart that he was even considering such.
“I never told them because I wasn’t sure if I loved you or not at the time, but now that I am one hundred percent sure that I am absolutely in love with you, it doesn’t really matter, does it?”
That was when the waiter came to our table and handed each of us a menu. Harry took his menu from the waiter’s hand without taking his eyes off me, his once hurt smile much softer.
“Shall we order?” I asked him, leaving the subject behind.
Throughout the whole of lunch, we never touched the subject of the letter and why Summer had never told her parents about me, and I’m glad we didn’t. We shouldn’t have wasted time on those matters which we both knew would hurt us one way or another and would change nothing.
But her response was simply too amazing for me to forget it that easily.
It was definitely not the right moment to bring that subject up, especially taking into consideration that we had been fighting since we stepped foot off that train, but I just couldn’t help it. It seemed quite irrelevant at first when I voiced that question aloud; I mean, did it really matter? No, but for some reason I still wanted to hear her answer, knowing that it wouldn’t change anything.
But I already knew the answer. I mean, it was obvious why she hadn’t written to her parents and told them about me; if she hadn’t told her friends for fear of being labelled it was only natural she hadn’t told her parents either. Even so, I wanted to hear it from her.
What surprised me the most about her answer was that she actually made me believe what she said was the truth. From everything she could have said, that was what I least expected, and I really felt it.
Why did I believe what she said was true? Because that was the exact same reason why I hadn’t told my mum about her either, and the funny thing was that I never told her my motives to emit her existence, so she couldn’t have been possibly saying what I wanted to hear.
I was never sure if I would end up with her or not, if I could trust her enough with all of my secrets. I was afraid she wasn’t feeling the same I was, and I didn’t want to give my mum false hopes. Yes, that news would make her happy for a while, hell, she would be thrilled, but when I went to Germany all alone she would realise it was either all a lie or I would have to lie to her on her death bed, saying that Summer, supposedly my girlfriend, had to stay at Hudson because her parents wouldn’t let her come with me or some shit.
I never expected I would be a reality.
We left the restaurant after paying. I noticed Summer was extremely uncomfortable with the price of our lunch, but I didn’t comment or make a remark. I knew her motives.
“We still have an hour and a half left,” she said as we left the restaurant, a light drizzle of rain barely noticeable as we walked on the foreign street. “What are we going to do?”
Good question. What could we do to burn time?
“What about going on an adventure?” It sounded more like a statement than a question because I knew she was up to it.
“That sounds good, but what adventure? I have never seen such a small town... There is nothing to do here.”
She was right. We were in a foreign town, and it was pretty small, we had no idea what to do or where to go.
“Let’s just explore and see what we find,” I concluded, not really knowing what we would encounter. That’s the fun part of any adventure; it’s unpredictability.
We walked down an alley road aimlessly but with an attentive eye, the cobbled sidewalk slippery due to the delicate raindrops that fell.
We passed old households, apartment buildings, small sole trader shops, all of which were dull and unattractive. The rain was starting gradually to fall faster, and I noticed Summer closing her jacket, pulling its collar to keep her face away from the cold.
That was when I noticed an abandoned house at the corner of the street. The first thing I noticed was its façade; the yellowish paint of the exterior of the house was crippling. There were red tiles missing from the roof, revealing parts of the weather-beaten wooden beams. Some of the windows were open (and if you looked close enough you could see they still had curtains) while some were closed, but shattered by rocks or other objects.
“Look there,” I pointed in the direction of the house “Is that adventurous enough?”
“Uh, I don’t know what you are thinking but the answer is no,” she said, gesturing with her hand that she passed whatever idea I had in mind.
“We have to go inside!”
“Eww, what if there are rats in there?” Summer asked frowning.
“Oh, come on, you aren’t telling me you are afraid of little, defenceless rats, are you?”
“Of course I’m not afraid!” her pride spoke louder “They are just disgusting. I have had very bad experiences with rats and I don’t want to relive then.”
I rolled my eyes “Well, it’s going to start raining hard soon. Let’s just take shelter at least. If we encounter a single rat we can leave.”
She sighed, but I noticed a smile in the corner of her mouth “Okay, let’s go.”