Chapter 3 - Welcome To My Life

 Chapter 3
        Welcome To My Life

“To be hurt, To be lost, To be left out in the dark, To be kicked when you’re down, To feel like You’ve been pushed around, To be on the edge of breaking down, And no one’s there to save you, No you don’t know what it’s like. Welcome to my life.”
             Simple Plan, “Welcome To My Life”

I woke up to the sound of Gram yelling my name.
“Evan, you have to get up now!” That had to be the fifth time she called at me. Finally I decided it was time to stop ignoring her and just roll out of bed. I took a deep breath and stretched, well, tried to stretch, I was stiff, and felt like crap. I tried to stretch once more – bad idea. My bones made disturbing crack noises, that couldn’t be good, they were probably permanently damage. I turned my head to the right. Crack-Ouch. To the left. Crack-OUCH! Damn it! My whole body hurt. I glanced around and saw the window opened. So I slept with no covers, the window opened and in the same position the whole night. This made my stupidity official. Not only was I long gone from the valley of sanity, but I was also heading right into the valley of idiocy.
I got myself inside the first jeans, shirt, hoodie and sneakers that came across my path and made my way down stairs.
“Good morning,” I said to gram.
“Wow, just look at you, with those bright clothes and that big grin on your face, it looks like the sun came out just for you!” she said in the most cheerful voice she could manage. I frowned, glancing down at myself. My shirt and hoodie were grey, my jeans were a standard-blue and black sneakers, last time I checked these were not bright colors, but I hadn’t exactly been a part of the world lately. Is grey the new yellow? And if so, then what’s the new grey? Gram chuckled. Ah yes, she’s fluent in sarcasm.
She placed a plate of scrambled eggs in front of me. “Here you go sunshine,”
“Hello?! Mrs. Julia!” a vaguely familiar sing-along voice called from outside, the sound grew louder as the person whom the voice belonged too stepped into the house. I turned my head to see who it was. Dakota Johnson.
She stopped dead the moment she saw me, taking me in from head to toe. “Evangeline?” She said, eyes wide as a plate.
“Hey,” I said, waving my hand awkwardly, not sure on how to proceed.
“Oh My God!!!!” She squealed, her shock long forgotten, wrapping me in a huge hug, swinging us both from side to side.
 “Oh my God!” She said again, unwrapping herself from me but still holding me by the shoulders “It’s you, It’s been so long, I didn’t even recognize you! It’s so good you’re finally here” She grinned and hugged me once more. Dakota and I had once been amazing friends, Best friends actually, but then I moved to San Diego and, well, we all know how it goes; things change, people change and friendships fade. This was almost amusing, she had been a very constant and solid presence of my past until she was only that, my past. Now she was here, quickly becoming a part of my present. Funny how life works.
“Hey Dakota,” I tried to give her a smile, but I doubt I was succeeding since I couldn’t seem to order the muscles in my face to do it. “You haven’t changed much.” She was the same Dakota I remembered from eight years ago, curly blonde hair, big bright blue eyes, sweet looking face, and disgustingly enthusiastic.
“I asked Dakota to come here and take you to school, she lives two houses up the block, and she has a car, which you don’t, so I’m guessing you girls will have a great time and won’t cause any trouble.” Gram said, joining our lovely friend reunion.
“Don’t worry Mrs. Julia, I’ll take care of Evangeline, I’ll go start the car” she said right before heading back outside, but not without giving me an encouraging smile. I looked down at my place, no longer hungry. I turned my gaze to Gram and gave her a pained expression.
“Oh, come on Little Bear, don’t give me those eyes,” I groaned “and Dear, don’t smile until you’ve regain total control of your face, you.” Wise words. “Good luck Honeybee, take care, everything will be ok.” She soothed my hair, I loved it when she did that. It made me feel like that four year old, flying up stairs. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, push it aside, and no one will notice.
“Love you Gram.” I said, giving her a quick kiss on the check, and starting to make my way outside. I caught a glimpse of the worried expression on her face, it was the one that most people had given me lately, at first, it was the general look to all of us, the poor little people, they all lost the ones they most loved look, the pity look, and then, they started noticing me, the only one who didn’t cry, couldn’t. The only one who wouldn’t say a thing. My sorrow and my pain were visible when paid close attention, but I couldn’t make myself cry. People cried all around me, had breakdowns and such, like they were all playing a part in this huge play, everyone had a script but me. I would have been glad to play my part, to cry, flip out, say something or scream. I would have be so happy to read my lines and proceed, anything that could have made it easier, but I didn’t knew how to. I was given a role that I never knew when to play or how to act. So people started to avoid me, everyone else was simpler to be dealt with: Hug. I’m sorry for your loss. Move on. When I didn’t cry, people just, didn’t know what to do with me, so they avoided me, and left me alone, and I was ok. But people like gram, knew better, she had cried, in a quiet way, It was almost as if she didn’t notice her tears. She knew I wasn’t ok, and the uncertainty to know if I would even bee, was painful to her. . . and me. I wanted to go back and hug her and tell her not to worry about me, that everything would be like before, that I would dance and laugh like I used to. But I can’t, because it’s not true.
I stepped inside Dakota’s car, and as soon as I was in she started babbling about people from school and asking if I remembered them, which for the most part, I did.
“Oh My God Evangeline, this is going to be so much fun, you and me, together again” she said. Stupid grin and all.
I cleared my throat “Just call me Evan.”
“Oh… okay. Evan ten. It’s good you know, ‘cause, truth is, Evangeline is kind of long.” She said all of this in a really quick way, like she was running out of oxygen and had to get it all out.
I tried to ignore her, but her annoying happiness was making it hard to do so. I wanted to slap the smile out of her face, but I couldn’t do that, somehow in all that happiness, there was hope. Hope that there were still things left to be found, just not for me. Everything was too painful, the simple act of breathing hurt, and in some way, I was glad for that, It was my reminder that I once had a father, a life, that it all didn’t simply disappear, and I would welcome that pain with arms wide open, anything to know that there once had been a forever for me, stolen now, but it was there. I had only my sadness left, and I would hold on to it.
“So. . .” Dakota ventured “Do you have a boyfriend? Someone interested?” she said in that girly tone of hers.
“But. . . I thought you were dating someone, I think his name was Jim, James, or something?”
“Jules.” I corrected.
“That’s right! Jules, what happened?” she glanced at me.
“We broke up.”
“Oh, So you no longer see him?”
“He’s no longer here” and that’s when she gave me the look, the look, which meant she understood that I was not just referring to him not being here in this city, but not being here at all. She knew.
She fell silent and placed all of her attention on the road. I saw that she was uncomfortable, but if her being that way meant she would stay silent, then it would be a price I would gladly pay; her bubbly demeanor disappearing in one world. Just like my word had. Looking out the window all I could think of was that a second ago we were having a conversation, and then nothing. Just a few weeks ago I had a family, and then, nothing.
The school was really pretty. It was a beautiful structure that resembled more a small town than an actual school. On the left side of the hallways you found the lockers and classrooms. On the right side, pillars that held the structure, and through the spaces between them was a simple square shaped lawn were many students could be found resting, studying or simply enjoying the feel of the grass beneath them. Many walls were covered in stones of different shapes and sizes, the walls that weren’t decorated were painted either deep brown or light peach. My former school made you try to remember what crime had you committed in order to end in such a place and why were you being punished in such a way; grey all around you, bars on every window and door. To say that I had been pleasantly surprised with how the new school looked would have been an understatement.
Once we were walking through the hallways I couldn’t help but think that a) everyone seemed too damn happy. And b) that Dakota had become pretty damn popular. The whole walk was filled with “Hi Daky!” and “Hey Dakota, how was your weekend?” Which was being not only annoying but also an inconvenience to me, because once the damn happy people finished greeting Dakota, they would have their gazes fall on me and ask “Evangeline? Is that you?” No, I wanted to answer. I am a fragment of your stupid imagination you damn happy person. I didn’t answer that though; I simply nodded and gave them the best smile-cringe I could manage.
“Oh look!” Dakota pointed and some people coming our way. “I want to introduce you to some of my closest friends.” She grabbed my hand, making sure I would follow and we stopped before two strangers, both guys. She told them my name and told me their names, launched into this story about how they arrived to Samson Valley a few years after I left and blah blah. They both smiled politely and welcomed me, I just nodded and smiled-cringed.
They kept on talking while I counted all of the lockers along the wall. Somewhere during my counting, Dakota asked me a question.
“What?” I asked.
“I said, what’s your schedule?”
I searched for it in my messenger bag, and then handed it to her.
She began scanning the schedule. “We have AP English together right before lunch! And I think you also share a few classes with. . .” She kept talking and I pretended to listen to her, mercifully, the bell rang at that moment, I mumbled a ‘see you later’ and headed off to my first class.
When I entered the classroom I was surprised to see that there were no separate pupils, instead there were tables with space for two in each of them. I picked an empty seat and waited to meet my partner. A guy came and took the seat the next to mine. He looked at me and smiled.
He had been one of the guys that was earlier with Dakota. He was reasonably tall, olive skin, short brown hair, dark eyes and a lean body. “Hi.” I said, turning my head to the front of the classroom, not really wanting to start a conversation.
“So, how you liking this place so far?”
“Good.” I replied curtly.
“Yeah, it’s a nice place. You used to live here right?”
I simply nodded, not even bothering to look at him. Awkward silence began to fill the air between us.
I could tell he felt stupid. I would have felt stupid had he been the one blowing me off, still, I did not do anything to comfort him, said something like it’s not your fault, it’s just that my dad and friends are dead. I mentally slapped myself. I had been wanting to tell everyone what had happened. I didn’t get it, it made no sense that I wanted to share something so private to me, that they probably already knew, just to make them uncomfortable. A test maybe, to see if they could give me some answers, if someone would say something that would enlighten me instead of just giving me their pity. But then I also wanted to keep it all to myself, because it wasn’t any of their business, and because, by knowing, they also wanted to ask questions, questions I was not willing to answer. The contradictory emotions made me want to hit someone, or hit myself. I wanted answers but not the questions. I wanted to take, take and take but never give, but in order to keep the balance, both had to be exchanged. Which is why, in that moment, I decided I would go with silence. No answers, no questions. No gain, no loss, only a small space in between created for myself where I could not move forward
The teacher made her entrance at that moment, making my task of ignoring him much easier. She started to tell us about what we would be learning through the semester and such, including the many project we will be doing in pairs, at which point she says
“Which means that the person at your side is now your permanent partner for this course, I hope you chose wisely.”
I tensed. Great, I had been a total bitch to my now permanent partner. I slowly turned to look at him. His body was turned towards me, his head leaning against the first of his right hand, which was placed over the table, a smirk on his face.
“Well, that arrangement’s going to make it a little bit hard for you to ignore me.” He said, there was no trace of resentment in his voice, in fact, it seemed like he was laughing at me.
“I wasn’t ignoring you.” I quickly denied.
“Sure you weren’t,”
“I just don’t know you and I don’t usually talk with people I don’t know.” I explained lamely.
“And how do you expect to know me if you don’t talk to me? I bet you don’t even remember my name.” he said all of this in that same mocking tone.
“Yes I do.” I lied.
“Really?”  his surprised was pissing me off.
“Well then, what’s my name?”
I thought about it for a moment, what did Dakota said his name was?
I thought again… ah! I remember! ”It’s Steven.” I finally said.
He sighed “It’s Dylan.” Dylan?
“Are you sure your name’s not Steven?”
“I’m pretty sure I know my own name, besides, Steven was the other guy.” He explained. Oh. Steven was had been the tall black boy standing beside Dylan, well, I was close.
“So what, I bet you don’t even know my name.” I lamely replied.
“Evangeline,” He quickly replied, “but everyone calls you Evan.”
“Fine, you have a good memory, I’ll grant you that.”
“It’s not so much of a good memory, more that I actually pay attention.” Before I could argue with him that I pay attention to everything the teacher began her lecture, leaving me feeling frustrated through the rest of the class.

* * *

Once morning classes were over we headed off to the cafeteria, by ‘we’ I mean Dakota and Liam/Ian. Our small journey there was filled with more greetings from my former peers, to which I kept giving the same tight smile and the same words, in fact, I had begun to get the hang of it. Mostly though, Dakota and Liam/Ian chatted animatedly while I followed close behind.
We grabbed lunch and found a table for us. Dakota and Liam/Ian on one side, still lost in conversation, and me on the opposite side. Alone.
“Are you two together?” I asked them. They both stopped talking and looked at me in confusion, their every brows furrowed, they then looked at each other. Once my question sank in and they understood, their eyes went wide.
 “God no!” Dakota said/yelled, “Well, yeah, I mean, he’s a really nice guy,” She turned her body quickly to Liam “you’re a really nice guy.” She told him, “But no.” she turned to me again “I do love him though, he’s my best friend” she quickly turned again to him “You’re my best friend.”
“I think she gets it,” Liam/Ian said “besides, I’m not the one you’re interested in.” he said, raising his eyebrows at Dakota, at this, she punched him in the arm.
“Sorry, I just thought you and Liam were a couple.” I said to Dakota
“Me and who?” she raised one eyebrow at me in confusion.
“Um, Ian.” I pointed at Liam/Ian.
She looked at him, then at me “Me and Dylan.”
Liam/Ian/Dylan, what was the difference? “Yeah, him.”
“There you are!” Said a voice from behind me, the owner of the voice soon came into view once she went around the table to sit next to Dakota. “I couldn’t find you, why did you sit in the back? Ugh, forget it, it’s all my fault, I really need a cellphone.” I knew this girl, she had really long wavy hair the color of dark chocolate, light green eyes and a deep voice. Her gaze rested on me for a moment, taking me in.
 “Evangeline?” she asked.
“Monica? I asked back.
“Yes!” She said excitedly, “I can’t believe you recognized me, my goodness, it’s been what? six, seven years? I can’t believe you knew who I was!” Her amazement was because she had twin sister named Melinda. Funny things is, even though they were identical, you could always easily tell who was who. There was just something in each of them that made it so easy to tell each apart from the other.
 “I never really had trouble differentiating you. How’s Melinda?” her smile dropped with my question.
“She’s ok, she’s a transferred student in England, she traded with Michel over there” She pointed at a guy 2 tables down with his back towards me, so I couldn’t really look at him. “She’s doing well though, enjoying the experience.” It’s clear that Monica misses her. I hadn’t really met that many twins before, but I had encountered a few others here and there, and they usually didn’t get along, which is why it always came as a surprise to see that Monica and Melinda genuinely got along with each other. They each were the half of a whole.
“That’s good to hear.”
“Yes but, hey, how have you been, how’s life treating you?” Such a simple question, such a complex reaction. I saw Dakota’s and Dylan’s eyes immediately turn to me, trying to guess my reaction. The air around us felt thicker, the whole atmosphere becoming darker. Monica began to stammer and try to offer variations of the same question, never actually getting out a clear sentence.
I didn’t answer. I wouldn’t have known how to answer nor would I have wanted too. Assure her that it was okay? That she shouldn’t worry? I couldn’t. Tell her and all of them the whole story? That was impossible, not only because I couldn’t say it, but because they all already knew it. It was too much of a small town for such complicated truths.
“Um, I heard we’ll be doing the documentary project this semester with Mrs. Greenblatt, I can’t wait for it.” Dakota interrupted quickly, forced enthusiasm in her voice. Dylan joined quickly the conversation, Monica looked uncomfortable but she slowly eased into the conversation. Eventually Dylan left to join his jock friends and Monica’s question was forgotten. She and Dakota continued simple conversation through the rest of lunch, not once did I joined them.
* * *
The day went on after that, until the moment I was back in my big hollow room, the curtains closed so that no light could pour in. I look around at the boxes and think I have to unpack. I go to the nearest box and open it, finding a bring pink photo frame with a picture of Clary, Em, Mel and me, all of us laughing. I remember that day, the memory was clear in my head, it had been the last time we were together.
“Evan! Hurry up it’s going to star raining!” Clary called at me.
“I’m coming!” I yelled back, I was standing outside Happiness, a dress store with the most beautiful dresses I had ever seen. I ran after Clary, Em and Mel “Did you see the white dress, it was gorgeous” I said to them.
“I know” Em said, nodding her head enthusiastically in approval, intertwining her arm with mine “Can you imagine when we go to prom, it will be amazing.”
“What makes you think we’ll be invited to prom?” Mel asked.
“Can you believe someone NOT wanting to invite us to prom? I mean seriously, take a look at us, who wouldn’t want to go with us?” she said in a fake diva tone that was hilarious, we all started laughing.
“Oh yeah, all the guys in school will have to fight with themselves in order to get a date with us.” Clary said, mockingly.
“But seriously guys,” Em said, “Imagine us, at prom with our dates, wearing those beautiful dresses and the leaving to New York. It’ll be like we always wanted, just what we imagined.”
“It’s perfect,” Mel said, “So perfect we need permanent evidence.” She took out her camera from her purse extending her arm so that it was placed in front of us. We all stopped walking and leaned forward, smiling at the camera. “Say prom!”
“PROM!” The four of us said, bursting into laughter as the picture was taken.
“You guys will be going to the lake, right?“ I asked
“Yup” Clary said “It will be the best trip in all of forever, and probably our last one before college”
“Great, I was afraid you’d ditch me like last year.” I said, not unkindly.
“Hey, that was for reasons beyond our control, we’d never leave you alone on purpose. Besides, we’re four here” Em said, pointing with her finger at the four of us. “We’ll all go together.”
“Besties forever,” Mel said.
“and ever.” Em assured. It started to rain then, and we all started running, laughing and even dancing, enjoying what we had, the rain, time. Us.
 Remembering that hurt, a pain hard to describe, no longer just emotional, it was physical. A pain so real it left me breathless. We had a future planned for the four of us, a future that had felt so real and so sure. I could almost taste it, feel it, reach out a hand and touch it, but now, every time I tried to reach out for it, it vanished, sliding through my fingers, no longer something I could grasp.
I left the picture and opened the curtains slightly, letting just a little bit of light in. The sun hid behind dark clouds, making it all look pale, giving my room a soft and faint glow, the light blue walls and white furniture blending in perfectly. I glanced around, noticing every empty space, and I began to fill them, step by step, box after box. Registered & Protected


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