It was a big admission for me, to say 'I love you' to Porter. This could still all go wrong and end up a big calamity where I got hurt in the end but trust had to start somewhere for me and I felt Porter understood me to some degree so he was a good person to put my trust in, being in love with him was another reason.
I was still worried slightly that Julian was right in some part. But I couldn’t let his words and my fears born out of them run my life. So, I trusted Porter.
We start going out and exploring Blue Hill with Maya more. She still welcomed Porter and me with open arms when she came back from her Thanksgiving holiday with her family. I don’t know if she’d told them about what happened with Julian and Kristen but she sat in the music room with us as we started practicing for the talent show. She was a bright sparkler of encouragement for Porter while I attempted to instruct him on how to play. We had sessions where he would play the piano, or sing separately and together so he could get used to doing all of them and memorize the notes and lyrics.
We became a bit more expressive holding hands in public and sharing quick kisses. Everyone knew essentially anyway so there was no point in hiding it. Julian, Greg, and Kristen still glared at us, Porter had nicknamed them “The Glaring Trio” at this point, Maya still seemed saddened by the loss of her friendship with Kristen though.
Photos and teasing remarks were still being sent around the internet by them, too. You would have thought they were stalkers or obsessed with us rather than taking a picture to make fun of us.
The courtyard had been decorated with outdoor Christmas lights and looked like a sky full of colorful stars at night. On the weekends, we’d sneak out in the middle of the night and run through the courtyard playing tag in the snow. It was a blast. The three of us had become good friends in the past three weeks.
One night, a week before we were due to go on Christmas holidays Porter came down with a runny nose and a fever. We were supposed to go out that night together with Maya. But he felt too worse for wear. He encouraged us to still go, though. So, Maya and I got dressed up in our winter clothes, coats, boots, and all. We went to get supper first, at the café I and Porter had gone to multiple times with her now. We’d told her about Alice and she began to speculate how she could die in this small town where not much was going on.
“Maybe it’s a car crash, does she drive?” she speculates. “She could be murdered, too. It’s weird to think about. It would be weird to know you’re going die in general even though it’s common knowledge that we all die eventually.”
I shrug, “I can’t tell exactly when, I just know she’s going to die earlier than most people her age because her song is louder.”
“So, are Porter and I’s life songs at the same volume, and then our like death songs are just whispering in the background?” she questions.
She’d become a lot more curious about my powers in recent weeks. I and Porter hadn’t told her he was silent though.
“Yeah, it’s like that until you reach about thirty, and then it gets slightly louder as the years go on,” I explain.
We’re on our way back from our night out when Maya stops walking suddenly. I turn to see what’s going on and she’s just standing a few feet back behind me with her head hung looking at the ground.
“Back in middle school, I had a crush on you,” she starts. “I never told anyone because I didn’t want them to see me as the girl who liked the freak. After you left in ninth grade, I had a crush on this girl in my freshman gym class back at my old high school. I didn’t realize it was a crush really until I had a dream about her. I was sad when Kristen stopped being my friend because I liked her. I knew she’d never go for it but I still liked being her friend. I know you’re with Porter and everything and I know I’ll probably find someone someday, but I just thought I should let you know.”
“You can’t help who you like Maya, just like I can’t. Just like I also can’t help that my ears can tune into more frequencies than normal ears,” I reply.
I turn and walk back to her. I hug her lightly, I can feel her face pressed into my shoulder.
“You can’t love someone else if you first do not love yourself. You had to learn it was safe and okay to be different before you could accept yourself or tell anyone else,” I continued quietly.
I release her after a little bit.
“It’s getting late,” I whisper “We should head back.”
“Yeah,” she replies smiling.
Maya seemed a lot lighter with all of that off of her chest. We started to develop our own interests that we shared together. One of them being celebrity crushes. She would sit beside me in Biology no longer worried about being associated or seen with me and after the lessons, we would text back and forth since I couldn’t really take my headphones off without getting a massive headache. She’d show me pictures of celebrity girls and others she thought were cute and I’d give my opinion we’d do the same for guys but Porter would weight in, too.
That week we packed up together. Maya for the trip back home to her parents and Porter and me for our own Christmas together at his parents. I hadn’t met them officially still, but we’d had short conversations over the phone or skype. Hilana was also excited to meet me.
When the 18th of December arrived, we were ready. Porter and Maya’s parents were coming tomorrow to pick us up. We spent our last day in town roaming around together. One last time before we’d be separated for two weeks and lots of miles.
Porter and I were walking hand in hand while Maya walked backward in front of us talking. So, much had changed in the last few months. I’d gone from being a lonely outcast to making friends, and falling love. I was happy.
“Hey, Maggots,” someone shouted.
We were not some goddamn fly larvae, we turned to see who it was. We don’t recognize the guy or others around him. He looks to be in his early to mid-twenties. Maybe he was a resident of the town?
“Who said you could walk down our town street holding hands?” they call out to us.
Obama did five years ago technically, even before that though it wasn’t illegal.
“Buzz off,” Maya throws back.
At this point, they weren’t only talking about us anymore because she liked the same gender in some instances, too.
Their songs sounded like raving electric guitars with light tapping cymbals in the background. Almost like “Bad to The Bone” by George Thorogood & The Destroyers. Their songs got to a screeching point where my ears hurt and I backed away slightly trying to cover them. My eardrums were ringing.
It used to annoy me when my father listened to the song ironically in the car and sometimes I think he did it to annoy me.
“What are you going to do, little missy?” they questioned Maya.
“We can love whoever we want to as long as it’s not hurting anyone. How is them, holding hands hurting you?” she spat back.
“It’s hurting my eyes, and it’s wrong,” he comments back.
“Don’t you have a boyfriend, girly? Why aren’t you hanging out with him instead of these losers?” another one questions her.
“Maybe I hang out with them because they’re genuinely good people who care about each other and me. They’re good friends, they understand me. They’re not jerks like you or my last boyfriend and friends,” she responds.
“I bet she’s a lesbian,” one states.
“Why do you care? Why is it any of your business?” Porter asks.
“Maybe because you're walking down my street,” the first one states.
“Do you own this street? Did you make this town? Is this your town? Do you even live on this street? We’re just people walking down the street, going somewhere. It has nothing to do with you. This is our life, not yours. We can do what we want with our life. We don’t even know you, we have no impact on your life. We’re just living ours, like you were living yours before you saw us. Maybe you should think about that before you speak to someone next time,” Porter retorts.
He turns away from them to go back to me and they grab him by his sweater and pull him to the ground. He lands on his back. Maya goes off and pushes the guy as he tries to get in a better position to pin Porter to the ground.
They’re a little more hesitant to touch Maya. I guess I should be glad they have that decency. One of the guys soon grabs her around the shoulders though and lifts her off, she’s still trying to kick him.
I take my hands off my ears finally ignoring the songs making my ears bleed figuratively. I help Porter up from the ground quickly while they’re trying to get Maya under control, Porter goes after the guy who is holding her around her shoulders. Once he’s off her, she breaks away and the three of us run back towards Copper Cove Academy.
Once we are safely inside the gate and know they aren’t following us we stop to catch our breath. My ears are still ringing from the tone of their songs.
“Is everyone okay?” Maya asks looking up at us.
“Yeah, physically anyway,” Porter replies coming over to me to check on me.
“Your ears okay?” he asks. “There wasn’t even that many of them.”
“They were just loud,” I replied, rubbing my temples.
“I’m going off to bed, see you guys in the morning?” she replies.
“Yeah, good night, Maya,” Porter replies trying to look at my ears to see if there is any physical damage even though it probably wouldn’t be evident.
“It’s fine, I’m fine,” I reply quietly.
He backs off a bit.
I take my glasses off to clean them, I put them back on and take Porter’s hand.
“I’m sorry,” I apologize. “I guess I’m still not use to others being around when things go wrong.”
“It’s okay, before I met you, Hilana and my family were the only people I really talked to about myself,” he replies quietly.
“Let’s go get some rest we have a long drive ahead of us tomorrow and you’ll probably have to play twenty questions with my parents,” he comments.
He takes my hand and we walk back to my dorm room. We go inside, my bed is lit up by the moonlight. We take our shoes, sweaters, and pants off and crawl into bed in just our underwear and shirts.
I take my glasses off and set them on the nightstand. We lay down together and he wraps his arms around me and kisses the top of my head. I fall asleep in his arms under the moonlight excited to spend my first Christmas in three years off the school’s campus.