Forty Two

Forty two days. That was all the time I had left in this world. My sickness is getting stronger and consequently I am getting weaker.

So I promised myself I wouldn't start anything new, nothing I wouldn't be here for to finish. But then I met him.



3. Day Three // Truce

“The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.”

- Elie Wiesel


                  ‘So there’s some fruit in the fridge, stuff to make sandwiches so help yourself. Make sure to get there on time and don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in front of me.’

                  A cry emerged from upstairs as Mum pulled me in close and planted a kiss upon my cheek.

                  ‘Stay safe ok. Try and look out for Harry but if it all gets too much ring me straight away.’ She looked up the stairs, her features rearranging themselves to bring me to the realisation that she looked more tired than usual. She sighed. ‘I just fed Josie, just leave her, she’ll fall asleep eventually, the babysitter will be here any minute. I’ve gotta go Em, I’m gonna be late. Ok love you!’

                  And with that she was gone. I sighed deeply. Her stress could frazzle anyone with a two-metre radius of her. I turned around, but jumped in shock as Harry walked into the space into which I was just about to step.

                  His hair was tousled, eyes half shut, his recent getting out of bed was obvious. His eyes narrowed when he saw me. ‘Watch it Princess.’

                  ‘Bastard.’ I muttered. Following him into the kitchen I got bread out of the pantry and various fillings out of the fridge. I watched him sit on a bar stool, head drooping slightly from his weariness. Grabbing a butter knife from the drawer I started to butter a piece of bread.

                  I could feel eyes on me. I looked up, forcefully smacking down the knife onto the kitchen bench. ‘What is your issue? And don’t say that you weren’t looking, I’m not an idiot, I could practically feel your stares.’

                  He looked like he was about to object, before he thought the better of it. ‘What are you doing?’ 

                  ‘Making lunch dickhead.’ I resumed my sandwich making.

                  He cleared his throat. ‘Ouch.’

                  I looked up from my half buttered slice. His hair was sticking in absurd angles, and his white t-shirt had slipped down to reveal two swallows. Narrowing my eyes to try and get a closer look, I hadn’t realised the smirk that had appeared on his face.

                  ‘Well who’s staring now?’

                  I caught myself and dropped my gaze to the sandwich. Curiosity got the better of me as I spread butter upon the second slice. ‘Are the birds significant?’

                  His head snapped up, eyes narrowing. ‘Very forward aren’t you? And it really is none of your business. Why are you making lunch anyway?’

                  ‘Well we have school in twenty minutes genius.’

                  ‘Oh I’m not going.’

                  I raised my eyebrows. ‘Why not?’

                  Harry shrugged. ‘I’m tired. Plus I was never really good at the whole school thing.’

                  My eyes narrowed in confusion. ‘Aren’t you an exchange student? Wanting to study abroad because just the thought grips your heart in excitement?’

                  A laugh quickly escaped from his mouth, but stopped as soon as it started. It was a brilliant laugh, and made his eyes crinkle with amusement. ‘Nah, I just wanted to get away from school.’

                  I scoffed. ‘Oh c’mon it’s not that bad. I’m going and I’m…’

                  He raised his brows expectantly. ‘You’re what?’

                  I swallowed. ‘Nothing…I’m uh, failing my classes.’

                  He gave it a thought; I noticed his fingers casually twisting his phone as he considered my words. ‘Alright then, I’ll come.’

                  Smiling victoriously, I continued making the sandwich. A pair of hands reached for the bread, causing me to jump. I heard that laugh again. ‘Calm down Princess.’

                  I reached for the cheese the same time as him. Our hands stopped, as if hitting a magnetic field. We both hesitated, awkwardness clear in the air. I cleared my throat. ‘Uh, you go first.’

                  He didn’t look up as he continued making the sandwich. I cocked my head at him. ‘So, Harry. If you’re an exchange student where are you from?’

                  He looked up, amusement in his eyes. ‘Making small talk are we?’

                  My brows raised, sarcastic comments on the tip of my tongue, although I held them all, expectant for an answer.

                  ‘I’m from a small place in England called Holmes Chapel. It’s extremely far away from Australia which is why I am now extremely tired.’ The last bit he stated to me in a tone with which you would talk to a small child.

                  I shot him a look of anger, finished chopping my sandwich in half, and slipped it into a freezer bag. Stalking out of the room I heard his voice.

                  ‘So what is your name Princess? But just so you know, this isn’t me letting you know that I’m gonna start using it, I reckon Princess suits you just fine.’

                  My fists clenched in frustration. ‘Emilia.’ I said through clenched teeth.

                  He smiled, but it wasn’t warm, it was full of sarcasm, victory.

                  ‘The bus leaves in ten minutes so you better hope you’re ready.’


                  As soon as we had reached the school, Harry had gone off, clearly not wanting to be seen with me. But by lunch, I’d already spotted him sitting with the football jocks, that whole… crowd. Unbelievable.

                  ‘I can’t believe you’re back Em. The teachers wouldn’t let anything out, except that you were in hospital. Are you ok?

                  I could have told her, that was my chance; procrastination, I thought, was the key. ‘Yeah, it was just a minor thing, shouldn’t get any worse.’

                  Bee stared at me, and through the slightly narrowed look in her eyes, I could tell she thought something was up, but she decided to leave it. ‘So…guess what we’re studying in English Extension?’

                  My eyes widened in disbelief. ‘No way?!’

                  ‘Yep.’ She smiled proudly. ‘You are going to ace this test Em.’

                  I sat back in my chair; unable to believe the first bit of good news I had heard in a while. I could vaguely hear Bee’s voice in the background.

                  ‘So we’ve already started looking at most of Act One, but you’ll be able to catch up really quickly, the amount of times you’ve read that book is crazy!’

                  I laughed with her, her constant perkiness contagious.

                  Suddenly her laugh stopped and she choked, coughing and spluttering. My eyes widened and leaping off my seat I started hitting her on the back.

                  ‘Ok. Ok. Em I’m ok.’ Eyes slightly watering she leant back in her chair, using her hand as a fan to cool down her reddening face.

                  ‘Shit what happened Jensen?’ I asked bewildered.

                  ‘Who is that?’

My gaze followed her slightly shaking forefinger and my face immediately set in anger as I spotted him.

                  I cleared my throat. ‘Um, that’s Harry, yeah he’s new. Plus why are you goggling Bee you have a boyfriend.’ I tried to tap in to the happiness I had felt a minute ago but all I could find was anger.

                  ‘But holy fuck he doesn’t look like that. Damn.’ Suddenly she noticed my sour expression. ‘Em…? Have you got something against him or…?’

                  ‘He just… Looks like a dick that’s all.’

                  She raised her eyebrows. Mentally sighing I figured there was no point lying to her again. This wouldn’t majorly affect her.

                  I sighed. ‘Well…he’s kind of... staying with us. He’s an exchange student.’

                  Bee let out a strangled sound. Like a cat falling out of a tree, then getting trampled underfoot by the fireman. ‘Em…this is perfect. He is perfect, and you, if you lose the sarcasm and negativity, you are perfect. Look, the reason you have read Romeo and Juliet fifty times is because you want a relationship like that. This is your opportunity.’

                  All the while during her speech, her fist kept colliding and recolliding with the table as she tried to make her point, causing numerous heads to look our way.

                  ‘Bee. People are looking.’ I muttered through clenched teeth. I looked up to find him staring at me, a hint of a smirk hiding on the corner of his lips. ‘Bastard.’ I muttered.

                  Bee sighed dramatically as people started to turn away. ‘Em come on! I’m sure he’s not that bad. Your life right now is like a fairy-tale, an insane fairy-tale that you just know is going to contain a happy ending.’

                  But about that I was not so sure.


                  ‘So if you could all get your copies of Romeo and Juliet out, that would be greatly appreciated, and Julian get your phone out from behind your book.’

                  This was the one thing I missed during my stay at the hospital. He smiled down on me, happiness clear in his eyes. ‘Good to see you back Ms Ridger.’

                  I smiled back at my favourite teacher, the only who didn’t seem to stare, or whisper as I walked past them in the corridor. The girl with the leukaemia. ‘How are you Mr Wilson?’

                  ‘I’m very good thankyou Emilia. Good to see you. I assume Ms Jensen has told you all about this term’s assignment. We have indeed already started the course, but I believe you will be a capable of catching up.’ A warm smile grew upon his face. 

                  ‘Thankyou Sir.’

                  I sat in my usual chair, three rows away from the left wall, second row from the front. Bee on my right, and the empty chair on the left. I automatically pulled out my copy of Romeo and Juliet feeling its rough and worn pages underneath my fingers.

                  ‘Ah here we are, there’s an empty chair right over there next to Ms Ridger. Class we have a new student with us for the next… uh how long is it Mr Styles?’

                  My head snapped up, suddenly fully aware of the conversation happening up the front.

                  ‘About seven weeks Sir.’ His voice echoed around the classroom.

                  ‘Right. Good. So if you’ll just take your seat and grab that spare copy of Romeo and Juliet off my desk, we’ll begin.

                  He walked over to the desk; hair messed up impossibly high upon his head, eyes scanning the room. It looked as though he was analysing the faces, wondering who was worth his time.

                  ‘What are you doing here?’ I fiercely whispered, leaning my chair slightly over to the left. Mr Wilson had his back turned, writing something about the concept of love and fate.

                  ‘I signed up for this class, without the slightest realisation that you happened to be in it.’

                  ‘But you don’t even like books.’

                  ‘How would you know?’ He shot back. ‘We haven’t even had a decent conversation. And don’t go start blaming this on me you are the one with the crazy short temper who started our relationship off on the wrong foot.’

                  That got me quiet. ‘Well-‘

                  ‘Ms Ridger, Mr Styles, are we going to have a problem with you two sitting next to each other? You guys are in Year 12, not 7 so please, don’t make me treat you like one.’

                  ‘Yes Sir.’ I mumbled, my usual endless supply of sarcastic comments empty.


                  The day passed quickly enough. Harry ignored me for the rest of the class, which suited me just fine. The bus ride home was normal until Bee got off at her stop, six ones earlier than mine, and now suddenly, Harry’s. Because I lived in one of the furthest suburbs from the school, many of the kids had gotten off before us, leaving me, Harry and two other giggling Year 9’s at the back of the bus.

                  ‘Look at his hair, geez I just want to run my hands through it.’

                  ‘No his eyes Larissa, they’re so green!’

                  For some reason their infatuation was irritating me. I felt the need to turn around and furiously tell them to stop, but by doing so I would see Harry caught in the middle. My fists clenched inside my jumper and I bit down my tongue, staring resolutely out the front window.

                  As we reached our stop I had picked up my bag and was halfway out the door before Harry could catch up with me. Still raging from the Year 9’s I furiously made my way inside the house, and throwing my bag down caused a wave of tiredness to overcome me.


                  The rest of the night’s events passed uneventfully, with Harry once again missing dinner, and a few overly excited texts from Bee wondering how my night was going with ‘Harry.’

                  I said a quick goodnight to my mum, and made my way up the stairs, clenching the rail tightly, a sense of dizziness overcoming me again. I was about to walk into my room, but hearing muffled music coming from the room in which I normally heard a screaming baby, I paused.

                  Closing my eyes I prayed for me to keep my temper in control and slowly turned around. The music became louder as I walked towards the door. I blew a piece of my auburn hair off my forehead as I took a deep breath and entered the room.

                  He was lying on the small bed, headphones on and completely oblivious to my presence, at the time. I don’t think I had prepared myself, or seriously thought about the fact that this was my baby sister’s room. There he was, the exchange student that had annoyed the fucking shit out of me, dark skinny jeans and all, lying on a bed in a room with pink walls, with butterfly decorations and a baby mobile hanging in the corner.

                  And I couldn’t help it. I started laughing. Quite hard. His body jumped when he heard my raucous laugh and as he turned his head to see the source of the noise the speed in which he turned and the weight of his body propelled him off the bed.

                  This just added to my laughter, and I was soon holding the sides of my stomach, tears in my eyes.

                  ‘What the fuck? What are you doing?!’

                  ‘I was gonna—Oh my—Wait just give me a second—‘

                  I wiped the tears from my eyes and tried to catch my breath, hands still holding my stomach in pain. In a faraway place in my brain I registered that the doctor had told me not to overexert myself, and that Harry’s face had changed from one of shock, to complete annoyance.

                  ‘Ok...ok I’m sorry. I just came in here to say…’ I took a deep breath. ‘That I really am sorry for how I started our relationship and although you also fuelled it and I’m the one apologising, I kinda just want a fresh start.’

                  ‘So is that an apology?’ His arrogant smirk sparked annoyance in the pit of my stomach but I swallowed it down.

                  ‘Yes. Yes it was.’

                  He smiled. This smile wasn’t as sarcastic and degrading as the other ones and I found myself noting that I wanted him to smile more like that. ‘Well then, to fresh starts.’

                  He held out his hand, obviously waiting for me to shake it. I looked at it, eyebrows raised. ‘Seriously, a handshake? We’re seventeen not seventy.’

                  I took a few steps forward, ignoring his taken aback expression and punched his arm. It wasn’t an attack, it was supposed to be a friendly punch, but it was a little harder than I would’ve punched the average person.

                  The corner of his lips rose, forming a self satisfied smirk that I had come to realise was the most dominant expression that he had. ‘Is that what you would call a punch?’

                  ‘That was my lets try and be friends and may God help me try not to strangle you punch.’

                  ‘Well I’d like to see you seriously punch a guy Ridger.’

                  A tiny smile rose on my face. At least he had moved on from Princess. ‘Oh you will.’

                  He smirked. ‘I look forward to it. G’night Ridger.’ He turned around and lay back on the bed, putting his headphones back on. Obviously he took that comment as a dismissal, a hint for me to leave.

                  But I really couldn’t help but notice his profile. He was quite attractive. His lips were a rosy colour, and his lashes seemed to extend further than the average person. His hair was the probably his best factor though. Breaking hearts all over England.

                  His eyes flicked over to me and I realised I had probably stayed in the room a little too long. I quickly exited, closing the door behind me and racing back to my room.

                  I lay on my bed, eyes open, tracing the patterns in the old fashioned ceiling. We managed to get through a conversation without any shouting or physical abuse. I smiled slightly at the thought. I turned onto my side, pulling the covers over me.

                  Maybe it was my sickness that made me fall asleep quicker, or maybe I was just tired. But I fell asleep before I could even register the slightly quicker tempo of my heart.




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