This chapter is brought to you by:
Latch (Acoustic Version)- Sam Smith because this awesome part I wrote didn't save and I listened to the song as I rewrote it.
Again, you don't need to listen to the song while reading.
Four days. Yes, four days have passed since I started at Rocky's and I have to say they were good, but yesterday was better. Yesterday, I finally had the chance to watch a basement concert with Hailee. I still can't remember the band's name- Jaded something- but they were an alternative rock band with three guitarists and a drummer. They're the second act who closed, but the first act who opened was just about as good. I'm pretty sure the group called themselves Fallback Fridays. I'd never been to such an intimate concert before, so being that we were in the basement of Rocky's and there were about thirty other people cramped in one place listening to the performances was an amazing experience. Hailee said there's always a basement concert every two to three weeks and I'm looking forward to those days.
Fridays I have off for some reason with Saturdays, and Sundays I go back to work. I don't know why I have such a weird schedule, but I can live with it. Since today is Friday, I've been sitting in my apartment bored with nothing to do. I would've asked Hailee to hang out with me but I don't know any places in Arcade still, I don't have her number, and I remember her saying she's going somewhere with her friends yesterday when we left Rocky's. It's almost been a month since I've been living here already, approximately four weeks, so going out on my own is the best thing I can do. I ended up making the executive decision for myself and left my apartment. I kept thinking about how I am so stoked to wind up lost- that was pure sarcasm.
Surely, finding Emily downstairs with an unlit cigarette in her mouth isn't unusual. She wore a black t-shirt with the right side tucked into her charcoal-grey skinny jeans. Her all-black Vans didn't make her seem dark at all. Part of her face was covered with her hair as it hung down while she bent her head to type away at her phone. That's one thing I don't understand, who does she text if she's so reclusive? She doesn't seem to have friends because no one likes her and she doesn't like anyone. Before I could think up my own conclusions, she looked up at me.
"Of course, it's just you, blondie." Emily said with her cigarette in her hand.
"Blondie, you should know by now that I don't like people. I'm anti-people." She didn't look as upset as she sounded.
"I think you mean antisocial, which you're not. If you were anti-people, you wouldn't be down here and if you were antisocial, you-"
"I know what they both fucking mean. I'm not stupid or a dumb ass." Emily looked as angry as she sounded this time. I wasn't trying to make her seem stupid at all, but I felt guilty anyways.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you." I apologized. Her face softened for a couple of moments before she placed her cigarette between her lips and texted again. I watched her and found myself becoming more and more entranced for some reason by this intriguing girl.
"It's nice outside and a good time to smoke." I said out loud. I didn't get a reaction from her, so I walked outside.
Usually the door slams shut behind me, but it didn't. I turned around to see Emily walking past me and about a yard away from the doors of the building. The cigarette was already waiting in her mouth as she pulled out her lighter and lit the smoke. The negative words I've been told about Emily quickly left my mind knowing now that she has the courtesy to smoke away from other people. I walked the same steps she had taken until I stood next to her by the wall she was leaning against.
"I'm not giving my smoke to you again." I smiled because Emily was the one who brought it up.
"I'm just looking at you enjoying that smoke." She held the cigarette just outside her mouth and laughed.
"I wouldn't say I'm enjoying it. It's like medicine where it relieves the sickness and pain inside and out; it numbs you until you have to take another hit. The only difference is that medicine is temporary. Now, get the hell away from me." I took in what Emily said and walked away.
I don't know where I was going, but I just walked and looked at each passing building or landmark. It was nice to see the town and I would find myself comparing it back to Gaylord. Acrade has some nice restaurants, but Gaylord has my favorite Italian restaurtant that's not far from my fathers' house. I saw a really cool record store called, Underground Air; but Gaylord has a great record store called, Crash & Strain. I ended up walking to an elementary school, and though it seems as if I walked miles and miles, I had only walked three miles from my apartment.
There's a park right next to the school, so I took a seat on the grass under one of the few trees. The park was almost bare with a swingset, climbing bars, and a single slide in a sandbox. The grass was well-kept, but other than the sandbox, I wouldn't really call it a park. The trees were scrawny and sporadic, and it just didn't have the look of a park. But I wasn't at all hung up on criticizing the excuse of a park, I was too busy mesmorized by the little run-down school.
Hailee and Emily immediately came to mind while my eyes roamed the playground and classrooms. I kept wondering if this was the school where Hailee and Emily were once friends. I noticed the play-set and wondered if that was where Hailee would play with the other kids when Emily wasn't at school for a while. I saw a bench under a large tree at the far end of the school grounds and wondered if that was where Emily would always be when she came back to school to be by herself. I wondered if anyone else noticed Emily or tried to keep her company. I wondered if anyone even cared enough to play with her.
I quickly turned my head away from the school after realizing I was beginning to ask myself a dozen endless questions about Emily and what she used to be like as a kid growing up. My eyes scanned the park for any other people, but I didn't see another soul enjoying what little the park had to offer. Back in Gaylord at the park by my house, every time you passed by whether on weekdays or the weekend, you would always find children playing in the park. It could be pouring rain, but kids would play tag or some game they made up. Here in Arcade, the place seems so desolated and just deserted to put it plainly.
Finding myself losing interest, I sat up straight and stretched my arms before standing up. I left the park just as the sun was starting to set. Time had moved pretty fast or I don't have a sense of time at all today. I walked back to the apartment as best as my memory could lead me. There were streets that looked unfamiliar to me, but I let it go remembering the fact that places look different in the night. I passed by an old, tattered building that looked like a good place for a person to squat in. Warning bells went off as I walked by and I could imagine there being bright yellow caution tape surrounding the parameter. I heard noises, but maybe there are stray animals roaming the streets for all I know. I took notice when the street lamps came on as dusk fell over me.
"Hey, what the hell?" I heard a girl say as I entered the lobby of the apartment complex. I recognize that voice as Emily's. And not to my astonishment, Emily stood in front me within seconds after entering.
"What are you doing here so late?" She asked.
"I went for a walk, ended up at some park next to a school, and now I'm back home." I tried to sum up what happened after she told me to go away, but I'm pretty sure I rambled.
"Really, you were out late walking?" I only shrugged.
"You move out here out of some freaking free will, you've been here for a month, you have a damn truck, yet you come back here late? Does this make sense to you?" Emily wasn't yelling, but she was pissed off and annoyed with me. Still, I don't see the problem. Why does she care if she hates me?
"Hey, I didn't know I was really lost for a while and even then, I figured I would find my way back, which I did. You're seriously going to nag me about it? It's not like I purposely made myself come back late." Emily squinted her eyes at me before sighing. She closed them, and I wondered who was standing in front of me when she opened her eyes. This is a new side of her.
"Niall, have you made any friends? I'm not talking about meeting people."
"I, um, well," I fumbled, not sure if I want to admit something like this to her. Will she judge me for it? What do I even care? I care because I think I made a friend, but it's her ex-best friend.
"It's either a three-letter or two-letter word answer." Emily's impatient- very, very impatient.
"Is that supposed to mean yes?"
"What do you do all day?" Emily asked, but it sounded like a genuine question where she was actually interested. Wait, shouldn't I be asking her these questions? She's the one who is supposedly introverted, reclusive, solitary, or whatever.
"You really want to know?" She blinked, and I shoved my hands in my pockets feeling uncomfortable. It's getting close to dinner and I should be home already. As I stood still, Emily had walked closer to me.
"Honestly, I don't care either way. But you should really go back to your room now since it's late." I was hoping to get an answer like that from her, something to remind me that this really isn't weird.
"Why are you down here?"
"How long is it going to take you to leave?"
"Why do you care?"
"Nothing, I'm just thinking about what you said."
"You're trying to figure me out, aren't you? You don't know why I choose to keep to myself, have a short temper, am irritable, or don't care about anything or anyone."
"I find you to be an interesting person. I've never met someone or even a girl like you before. I find myself disagreeing with how everyone, including yourself, portray you to be."
"Look, I'm different, unique, weird, an outcast, whatever. I just want you to know that you can't change anyone. The only way or reason people evolve is when time progresses and society sets new standards. They have to conform to the ever-changing world, so people change. But a person, like you, can't change someone."
"You really believe that? You don't think that just maybe, a person can show someone-"
"It's people like you who the world should be worrying about. You're living in some make-belief, fairy-tale-like, imaginable world. You're not five anymore, so you should be living in reality and know how tangible it is. Life is full of contention."
"Why are you so defensive?" Emily glared at me, looking as if any second she will explode like some atomic bomb that destroys everything surrounding it.
"I have nothing more to say to you." Emily finally said. She turned and walked up those steps as she normally did to me.
I stood in the same place, probably with my jaw hanging open, trying to decipher if Emily was actually standing in front of me and talking with me. Wait, wasn't that her cue to explode and yell at me? She just walked away before she could- it doesn't make sense. I don't understand at all- I never have since I first saw her. She told me I can't change anyone and I know she was referring to herself. She can be changed and she just proved it to me. As I walked up the stairs to my apartment, I continued to think about Emily. I will understand her; I'll find a way.
So, I'm debating whether I will keep this on hold or not. I hope you enjoyed the chapter because we're finally getting into the story now...