Letting Go

After being brutally abused by her father and outcasted by her classmates, seventeen year old Keller Alvidas is glad and even relieved to spend her last year at Edge-of-The-World, the sleepy small town she grew up in. Everything changes when the Gabriels, a group of orphaned teenage boys arrives. They break all her rules about meeting new people but they too have secrets and when the truth comes out Keller has to decide wether to let go and save herself or to continue to be dragged through everything she wanted to run away from, all for one chance she might never get.

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27. When You're Six

Keller's P.O.V

The robin's egg blue of the sky is pasted out before me as I walk to school alone. I like walking alone sometimes, just like the good old days. I chuckle, 'good old days', what a joke. I kick a nearby pebble out of my way as someone runs up to me. Definitely not James, he tends to leave early these days.

"What's up?" the person asks. I turn around to meet them. Josh, ugh.

"What do you want now Josh?" I ask, "Do you want me to stay still while you attempt to tie me up again?"

"C'mon, we didn't tie you up that badly last time," he says.

"Yeah, I know. That's why I said 'attempt'. As in you tried but failed."

"Are you still hung up about that?"

"Yes. Don't you need to kiss up to Sonia or something?" I ask.

"No,she's a real handful lately. Always running off with errands," Josh shrugs with quotation marks around the word "errands".

"Well, you deserve it," I say. He laughs again and I wonder what I said that could possibly be funny.

"What? What is so hilarious?" I scowl.

"You, you're so honest about everything," he laughs.

"And by honest you mean realistic, right?" I ask.

"No. Most people would say that they're sorry about Sonia ditching me and stuff and how she doesn't deserve me," he says.

"She doesn't deserve you? Josh, you're a jerk," I say.

"Hey, I'm quoting other people. And yes, you made it pretty clear already that you think that I'm a jerk. Anyways, you're different, you're so open with everything-"

"Why're you here Josh?" I ask. He wants something, I can feel it. Just like when he ambushed me before, the only reason he bothers to talk to me is to get something out of me.

"Fine, you got me. I just wanted to know what you got on last week's test," he admits. That's it? Oh well, the sooner I can get him off my back the better.

"Perfect score," I mutter. I don't particulary like telling people my marks only because afterwards they'll whisper about what a showoff I am, which is ludicrous because they asked me, but will spark yet more rumours about me.

"Impressive," he remarks after wolf-whistling.

"Did you get a perfect score too?" I ask.

"Not in a million years Keller," he replies sadly. We walk in silence until finally the building of the school shows on the horizon.

"Is that it?" I ask after he continues walking with me.

"Nah, I'm kind of trying to apologise to you, about before. And I was also wondering if you would like to go to dinner with me," he says. I stand in silence with my mouth hanging open, this is a joke right? Doesn't he have a girlfreind?

"How did exactly think that this'll work out?" I ask out of sheer bewilderment.

"I don't know. I was just hoping," he shrugs. I stare at Josh, pure confidence and sureness of self and then I remember James, his blushing face and shy smile.

"Not in a million years Josh," I whisper and walk away.

---

The clicking of my sneakers invades the cool quiet of the rest of the school. The first bell hasn't rung yet and so I'm wandering around a bit. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the whole Josh asking-me-out thing. Did he really think that just because he 'apologises' that he would actually succeed in getting me go out with him? That had got to be a joke, I see it happen to all the freshmans. The popular guy asks out a nerdy naive girl, they go on a couple of dates, he ditches her, she's all heartbroken. I'm just glad I have James, he wouldn't do that.

A simple melody sings through the air as I walk by the music room. I freeze by the door unsure if I should go in and distupt whoever it is. I finally gather up my courage and sneak inside. The cracking tile floors creak under my weight and the person stops playing.

"James?" I ask in disbelief. He turns around sheepishly with a guitar in hand and sheet music in front of him.

"What's up?" He asks as if he wasn't just playing a beautiful song.

"You never told me you could play!" I gasp.

"Actually I did, remember when I said I can read sheet music?" he says. I think back to when he came into my room playing a trumpet and said he can read music.

"Yeah, I remember."

"This is what I meant," he shrugs. I grab a seat next to him and take the guitar in my hands.

"I didn't know you were this great," I whisper while plucking at the strings. I hand it back to him and he strings a series of notes together to spin together a wonderful song.

"So, what are you doing here so early?" he asks.

"I don't know, I was going to ask the same thing to you," I respond. He cases up the guitar and stashes it behind the pile of string instruments and brass instuments in the cupboard at the back of the music room.

"I like playing the guitar, this was probably the only place I could and not be disturbed," he answers. I suddenly feel stupid.

"Oh, I should,um, leave now I guess," I mumble and head out. James rushes to catch up with me and his face is adorably flushed again.

"Hey, it's fine. Maybe now I can play for you sometime," he laughs.

'Yeah, that'd be cool," I agree. We continue wandering through the halls until we make it to the staff room.

"Oh, you got to come in here and try something," James says dragging me by the hand and into the room. It's a small room, maybe three metres across and five metres long. Chairs line the wall and a table is in the centre. A fridge is  beside the table and James opens it and escapes inside. He grabs something out of it and plops it down on the table.

"Ta da, the best donuts in the world!" he says with bravado filling his voice. He grabs a bearclaw and stuffs it in his mouth."Well, grab one,"he urges. I take a Boston cream donut and place it in my mouth letting the creamy custard dance along my tastebuds. I groan as I lick my fingers clean, it was really good.

"How can you eat a Boston Cream?" James asks.

"What's wrong with it?" I ask confused.

"The cream, it reminds me of pus," he shudders. I wiggle my cream covered finger at him before wiping it off on a napkin.

"So you think the cream in a Boston Cream donut looks like pus and Ed thinks hot chocolate looks like crap. You guys are really weird," I comment with a laugh. He joins in and grabs my hand. We're suddenly very close and I start to feel conscious of my scar. I let hair fall alongside it and I glance up to meet his gaze.

"But that's what you like about us right?" he winks.

"Of course," I say with a smile. The sound of high heels perks my ears and panic sets in, a teacher is coming. I hold onto James' hand and we squeeze inside the small cupboard under the sink. We could get detention for coming into the staff room. I'm practically sitting on James' lap and I'm pretty sure my elbow is jabbing into his ribs.He adjusts his arms so their more around me and there's more wiggle room.

"Don't you think that this is a little forward?"asks James. I place my finger against my lips and silence him. Two teachers are here.

"Such a shame she's going to be leaving soon, in a couple of weeks actually," one of them sighs. I almost gasp, it's Mr. Pandler.

"I know, she's going to miss out on so many celebrations. Prom, graduation, homecoming," says the high-pitched voice of Mrs.Simnon.

"Well, you can't pass up an oppurtunity like this one. Scholarship to University of London! Wow," exclaims Mr. Pandler. Scholarship, University of London. That's me, they're talking about me. Gosh, how could I forget prom, graduation, and all the other dances and senior stuff.

"We better go now, class is about to start,' says Mrs. Simnons. They file out and I wait for the sound of high heels to die away before crawling out of the cupboard. I pull James out too and lean against the table, letting their words sink in.

"It's sad, that girl is going to miss out on so much," says James before wrapping his arms around me.

'I'm glad it's not you," he whispers before burying his head in my hair.

"Me too," I lie because it is me. He lifts his head and meets my eyes.

'What's wrong?" he asks, furrowing his brow.

"Nothing," I mutter. I don't want to leave Edge-of-the-World. Yet. I still want leave of course, just not yet, not while life is perfect, for once. The scholarship can wait, I'm sure it can.

"C'mon we better get to class," says James while pulling me to homeroom. During the entire english class I keep thinking about what Mr. Pandler said but I keep my resolve. I staying, that's it.

---

"Hey, what's wrong?" James asks after a while. We're sitting on the rooftop doing our homework. It's too hot downstairs and from up here the breeze runs over your skin in that pleasant way. I rub some gravel off my hand before answering James' question.

"Nothing," I sigh before returning to my work.

"Liar, you're not usually this quiet," says James as he sets down his textbook to peer at me.

"Shouldn't I be quiet? I mean I am the nerdy girl who sits at the back of the class. I think 'quiet' fits the description," I say.

"Now I know something's wrong," he says inching towards me. I look up into his eyes, I hate how he knows me sometimes.

"It's just, you know what Mr. Pandler and Mrs.Simnons was talking about before? About graduation and prom and it made me realize that everything is coming so fast. And I don't like it," I say bitterly. James' arm wraps around me and I lean against his shoulder. His grip tightens and it's times like these when I notice how I like this. This closeness and I wonder why I ever didn't trust him. I entwine our fingers while James continues to talk.

"Wether you like it or not it's bound to happen sometime. You know that," he says in my ear.

"I know but sometimes I wish I was six again, before mom was sick, before dad was an alcoholic. I wish we were back in kindergarden when the only thing you had to worry about was if that person was using the toy you wanted or not. Before you had to worry about graduation and all the other stuff," I say.

"I know how you feel, sometimes I wish I was six again too. When you take all the blankets and pillows you could find and make a fort," chuckles James. He  visibly brightens up.

"I have an idea, grab four chairs," he commands while helping me up.

"What are we doing now?" I ask dusting myself off.

"We are going to be six again."

---

It's still bright outside although it's almost  six o'clock, a real April day. I brought up four chairs, mainly from my room and the living room and set them up, backs facing each other, spread apart wide. James and I draped blakets on top to create a roof that billows in the wind. We threw all sorts of pillows underneath. From the outside it looks like a multi-coloured tent but from the inside it looks like paradise. We're inside now, laughing against the sheets. Music from some band blares in the background.

"So do you feel six yet?" he asks.

"Totally,' I smile. I turn around to bring the lantern up a liitle. I turn back and James is holding a poloroid camera and just snapped a picture of me. Dots swim before my eyes while he dries the pictures. I hate pictures, I always look ugly in them.

"James rip it up please," I say as I try to swipe it out of his hands.

"No, it's perfect. It shows the real you," he says handing me the picture. Yeah, it's me. Only it's me with my dark hair messed up and a way too big smile spread across my face. Most of all my scar is showing. Jagged, ghastly, ugly. I hate it, I look goofy and ugly but I resist the urge to rip it up.

"Goodness, do I always look like that?" I ask while handing the picture back to him.

"You mean beautiful? Then yes," answers James. I look at him weirdly, I can pass for cute on a good day, but definitely not beautiful.

"Sure," is all I say while rolling my eyes.

"Yes, you are. See, even the picture agrees," he says holding the picture up. Underneath the picture are the words, "You're beautiful" scrawled across. I give a slight smile and quickly peck James on the cheek.

"Thanks for the lie," I say. Regardless if look pretty or not he continues to snap several pictures of me.

"James, stop the pictures," I beg, "You're wasting ink."

"I can't help it Keller, the camera wants what the camera wants," he jokes.

"If you're going to take pictures at least take one with both of us," I say. He agrees and we sit together, my head on his shoulder, his head against mine and we take the picture. Before I even get to see it he takes it and jots down more words underneath it. He hands it back to me with 'I love you' is scribbled in pen and I smile. I give James another quick kiss on the cheek and write 'I love you too' beside the first message.

"That's it. One little kiss?" James complains with a pout. A small yelp escapes my mouth as James pulls me next to him.

"I love you and that deserves more than one little kiss," he whispers as thrills run through me. He closes the distance between us and I get lost again, just like in New York. I'm entwined with James, fingers through hair, arms wrapped around each other. The warm feeling invades me again, taking over my very being  just when the door to the rooftop opens. I ignore it and my mind returns to James. The curtain to our paradise is yanked open and we finally pull apart.

"The police is here James!" yells Will. "And they're asking for Keller."

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