Undeniable Love

At first, love is unknown.
It’s like a hurricane creeping up on you before it whisks you away into another world.
But April doesn’t know that yet. She’s yet to find out.
When April meets Cain, it just seems like any other ordinary day - just a small conversation between two students on a bus. It doesn’t matter that one of them is dreading the bell for home time, whilst the other is struggling through every day. Or does it? So one day, when something is revealed before Cain’s eyes, what is he meant to do? This girl before him is just like any other girl he’s ever met, yet he feels the need to help her, to protect her.
April isn’t looking for a saviour, someone to rescue her from all this hatred, but she doesn’t have a choice. When Cain comes crashing into her world, life gets better. Somehow, no matter how much she wants him gone, she equally wants him by her side.
Perhaps a lover isn’t what April wants right now, but maybe he can save her. Maybe, after all, there is a way out.

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11. Cain

 

I’m just walking along the corridor, in a better mood than I was this morning, when I feel like a sudden crowd of whisperers are around me. Everyone seeming to walk past has their heads down, muttering amongst one another, murmuring amongst one another. And then there’s me.
Ignoring the weird scene, I head into the canteen to find Katie and the rest. They’re sitting on their usual table, but their voices seem to be low. To be honest, it’s pretty quiet in here, but I stalk over to them like normal, slipping in beside them.
“Hey,” I say, taking out my sandwich, “Why is it so quiet in here?”
Katie looks up at me. “You don’t know?”
“Know what?”
They look amongst themselves, exchanging glances. What the hell is going on?
“Nothing.” Scott says after a while, nibbling at his crisps. I know they’re trying to hide something, but it would be great if I could know what it is.
We finish off lunch and then Alyssa and I head off to biology together whilst the rest go to Pe in the pouring rain. At first, the conversation is just simple, but then I decide that maybe Alyssa is the best person to ask about what happened in the canteen.
“Um, I’m not sure if I should say,” she says, “I don’t think you need to know.”
“If it’s about me, I do,” I say immediately, and she looks me in the eye nervously, “Please?”
She sighs, pulling me into a corner. “Don’t tell the rest I told you, okay?”
“Promise.”
She folds her arms, pressing her finger to her temple. “Well, there’s kind of something going around school. It’s about you and…um…April.”
“April?” I blurt out, only because it’s a bit of a shock.
“Yeah,” she says slowly, letting me take this in, “Are you two friends?”
“I guess,” I say, though to be honest I’m not sure if she feels the same way.
I look to Alyssa and she’s staring outside, past the door and past the rain, in a world of her own. I wonder what she’s thinking. I wonder if she even cares.
Then, she turns to me and lowers her voice, whispering, “Apparently April threatened you to be her friend.”
I blink. “What?”
“You heard it.” She takes my arm and leads me down the hall. She drops it when she knows I’m following her lead.
Just as we reach the lab, and it’s sunk in, I feel kind of empty. Like nothing’s left. What does she mean they think I was threatened to become her friend? Who would do that? April certainly wouldn’t.
“Hey, that’s not true.” I say, just as we’re about to part our ways to our seats. “She never did anything like that.”
“You sure?” She asks.
“Are you doubting me?” I question, my heart rate quickening. “I’m not the kind of guy who would let that sort of thing slide.”
“Well I don’t know,” she replies, dropping her bag on the desk, “Maybe you are.”
For the rest of science, I can’t get what Alyssa said out of my head. Clearly, she thinks it’s true, but why would someone believe such a stupid rumour? I mope around the table, watching as my partner does all the work for the experiment for me. That’s the plus side of being put with a genius.
“Can you hold the timer whilst I stir the liquid?”
“Sure.” I say, taking it and staring down whilst it counts, on and on and on.
I imagine if everyone had a timer. Like, as years passed and seconds ticked away, a timer would stand by them. What if life could be paused? What if, for one minute, you could just stop the timer, stop everything and everyone around you just to think? Just to sit there and take in all that’s happened.
I want to do that now.
 I want to have the freedom to just pause life when I need time to reflect, to contemplate, to consider.
“Stop!” I jerk back into life as my lab partner is shouting in my ear. “Stop the timer!”
I click the switch at the top, a bit overwhelmed. He’s staring at me, eyebrows furrowing.
“You could have clicked it when I said it the first time.” He mentions, walking off to put away the equipment. I take the clock watch and put that back, seeing as he left it behind as if it was my job. I guess it is; I haven’t exactly done anything so far except mess up the timing.
~ ~ ~
At lunch, I’m dreading going to the hall. For one, it’s not going to be much better than break and two; I think Alyssa officially hates me, as well as the rest. I psych myself up though, and attempt to make a discrete entrance.
As soon as I walk in, eyes flick from the other side of the hall to me. Sure enough, on the other side April stands, clutching a carton of apple juice. I stare at everyone, a hot flush starting to rise over my face. Why can’t they just eat their lunch and stop believing the rumours?
Annoyed, I wind through the tables to find Katie and the gang. Millions of pairs of eyes watch my every move. As I sit myself at the table. As I take out the rest of my sandwich. As I turn to my friends to say hi.
The hall stays so silent; my tiny whisper is as loud as thunder.
“You don’t have to sit here with us, y’know,” Alyssa hisses at me, her sweet tone turned into complete poison.
“I want to.”
“Have you ever thought about us?” My heart thumps hard inside my chest, so much that it hurts.
It’s as if I’ve just been shot. There’s a shock, the electric firing through my body, warning me to bolt from the situation. But I can’t. For once, I can’t act like a fool and give in to these idiots.
A cackling laugh slips into my ears as I notice someone standing by my side. “They don’t want you here, so back off.”
I step back, just enough to see the mess of dirty blonde hair and the evil, jealous, green eyes. I don’t want to know who this guy is – I just want to put a fist to his jaw.
But I can’t.
I know I can’t.
I’m weak.
I’ve known it ever since my Dad laid eyes on me.
I look over to April, hoping she has an idea to escape. I watch as her fingers curl around the sides of the juice carton, squeezing so hard that it eventually pops, juice squirting everywhere. As soon as it happens, girls jump out the way squealing and boys get up in defense, chucking various other drinks onto her.
Suddenly, the canteen is alive in anger.
Suddenly, I realise this is my chance.
I run like the wind, dodging through the various students and focusing on my target: April. When I reach her I grab her hand, yanking her away from the fighting crowd and into the quiet corridor, starting to fill up with teachers who are rushing to the occasion.
“Are you okay?” I ask once we’re out.
“What do you think?” She’s so serious at first, but when the anger drains from her voice, she smiles.
“Urgh well this sucks.” She mentions, and I laugh.
“Total understatement.”
“Hey, you don’t need to hold me; I’m fine.” She says, all of a sudden. I realise I’m still gripping to her hand, holding on tightly so she can’t just…drift away.
“Sorry.” I let it go, dunking my hands in my pockets. But am I sorry? Maybe I just want to protect her from this storm.
As a flow of students bolt out the doors to the hall I say to April, “Follow me.”
I start to jog down the corridor, waiting for her to catch up. Once she does, we sprint, side by side, to the door. I don’t care that her hair is soaked, flying out behind her, or that make up runs down her face from the juice; she’s just April and I don’t think anyone could change that.
Once we’re outside, we sit beneath a tree on the far side of the field. It’s pretty quiet here, as people tend to sit by the benches near the school entrance or dotted about in the middle of the field. From here, I can just about see the specks of students running outside to join the rest. I guess now that we’ve left the canteen, there’s no point in them being there.
“You alright?” April asks me all of a sudden, her hand softly touching my arm.
I turn to her. “Yeah. Absolutely fine.”
“You’re not.” She tilts her head to the side and stares hard into my eyes. I blink a few times rapidly.
“And yet you hardly know me. Is it that obvious?” I murmur.
“What’s wrong?” she questions, ignoring my comment.
I look to the floor. I’m trying to stay strong but inside, I’m breaking. I haven’t been the same since what happened with my Dad Friday night.
He finally let me back inside after a few minutes of me shivering in the cold, but that wasn’t out of guilt; Nancy would have noticed me outside and questioned it. It’s always about Nancy and how she can’t find out. Sometimes I wish I could just tell her the truth so she doesn’t get her heart broken when she realises my Dad is a criminal. But I can’t. Not because he’s my Dad and I love him, but because he’ll kill me. Literally. He’ll punch out all the air from inside me until I lay flat on the carpet. He’ll cry? Yes. But he won’t regret it.
“It’s a long story.”
She rolls her eyes. “That’s what they all say.”
I think back to the weekend. I didn’t speak to Dad at all, unless Nancy was around and I had to act cool. I guess it wasn’t too bad as we kept our distance, and if anyone is going to know my past, it has to be April. After all, I know her secret.
“Well, it is. I just…” I can’t find the words to explain no matter how hard I try. Maybe even if they do come out, she’ll misinterpret it or she’ll think I’m stupid for finding it bad when her problems are much worse.
“It’s not that bad.” I say, eventually, “You don’t need to worry.”
To stop her questioning, I add on, “And anyway, I don’t need help – you do. Like I said this morning, I’m going to help you.”
“I don’t understand what you mean by that.” She explains, “You’re not going to tell a teacher or something, are you?”
“No. I can help you myself.” The words sting as I realise how protective I sound. This girl is hardly a friend and yet I’m telling her I’m going to stay by her side and guide her through this. I need to stop sounding desperate right now. I have no friends after the rumours and my Dad is barely a Father anymore. Even Cain is falling from my grip; we haven’t spoken since the call.
“Cain, I don’t need help.” Her voice is restrained, just about.
“Yes, April, you do.” I urge, “Look at what you’ve done to yourself.”
She slides her hand beneath her sleeve. As she moves her fingertips over the broken skin, I can almost see memories flash across her eyes, darting back and forth, catching at her heart. She looks up at me, eyes filling with tears. Then she just looks away, staring into space.
“April,” I whisper, ever so softly, “Give me a chance to save you…”
“I don’t need saving!” She almost yells. A quick twist of the head and she’s glaring right at me.
“Gosh,” she mumbles, rubbing her face with her hands, “Cain you know I didn’t want anyone knowing.”
“But it’s better now that I know because you can be helped so you don’t continue.”
“What if I don’t want to stop, huh?”
She folds her arms across her chest. “What if I don’t want to stop because cutting is the only thing right now that keeps me feeling good and alive?”
“You can feel better than this if you stop and leave everything behind you.” I suggest.
“But I can’t!” She leaps up, a tear sliding down her cheek but anger stained in her eyes. “I can’t just forget about it like it never happened, okay?”
I immediately stand up beside her, biting my lip. It sounds like something familiar I’ve said myself - so familiar that I can’t deny it when she says it. So instead, I agree, thinking it’ll solve this problem.
“I know.”
“You don’t! Stop trying to pretend you have any idea!” Her voice is toned down, but poison still spews from her mouth.
“I’m not pretending. I wish I was.” I stare down at my shoes, eyes tearing up myself. How can she say something like that when she has no idea what my life is like?
“Look April,” I suddenly hear myself hissing at her, “If you don’t want me here? Fine. I’ll go. But just remember that you’re not the only one here wishing away problems from your past. Just because I don’t cut, doesn’t mean I’m fine. I just have the courage to back down.”
And with that, I pick up my rucksack and walk off. I don’t know where I’m heading but I’m heading somewhere. As I walk I feel like sickness is itching at my throat and my heart is a drone of long painful beats, but somehow, I feel strong. My head is pounding but I stand tall.
Then, I decide to turn around. Bad mistake. April stands in the exact same spot, arms by her side, tears spilling from those big, round eyes of hers which now seem so tiny. But it’s not her posture that gets me, or the way she stands so small; it’s the way her eyes stare right at me, taking in all that I’ve said. Gradually guilt builds up inside my stomach and suddenly, all my strength is lost.
She’s just a little, innocent girl really.
So what does that make me?
 

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