A week goes by quickly and everyone’s getting back into the swing of things at school. Some of us are already stressing about midterms three weeks later and some of us are convincing ourselves we’ll be fine and are planning to wing it. Olivia has been sick for three days and begged me to have her over tonight. I’m just putting my childhood toy rabbit away in my wardrobe when I hear the final beeps of the driveway alarm. Not sure how I missed the first two, I turn off my lights and hurry downstairs. I hear dad answer the door, “Olivia!” he exclaims, “Where’ve you been? I thought maybe the two of you had fallen out.”
Olivia laughs; she knows my dad’s strange sense of humor by now. “Never!” she gasps, dramatically placing her hands across her heart.
I haven’t come into the room yet so Olivia tries to make small talk. She eyes the book my dad is holding in his left hand, which he had been reading on sofa before answering the door. “Is it good?” she asks him.
He sees where her line of vision lies, “It might as well be a book about anti-gravity, I just cannot seem to put it down.”
She laughs. “Hey, girlfriend,” she calls when I enter.
I go to give her a hug but have to make sure, “You sure you aren’t contagious?”
Her light slap on my arm answers my question, and I link mine through hers as we skip upstairs.
“I’ll be down here if you need anything,” my dad shouts after us.
“Okay dad, I shout back.
“Thanks Hunter Hill,” shouts Olivia.
I give her the look I give her every time she calls my dad that. She knew him as the famous actor and ‘most beautiful man in the world’ before she knew him as my dad. I even saw a poster of him in her room at one point and after that I decided if we were going to be friends without disturbing crushes she’d have to meet him as he really is. She’s met my mum before as well, and she thinks she now knows everything. She doesn’t. She doesn’t know that my mum is the ruler, the Queen really, of a Xyphalia, a small African island. She doesn’t know that Cam is my brother. She does, however, know about Jakob and Logan and the acting school they go to in California.
“How’s Harry?” she asks me the minute my bedroom door closes behind us.
I smile, something which I can’t stop doing when I think about him, “He’s good,” I sigh, falling back onto one of the embroidered elephant cushions on my dark navy velvet sofa. “How are the two of you?” she asks, setting herself up on the poufy white duvet on my bed, wrapping the blue blanket around her shoulders. I don’t get a chance to respond because she notices what’s missing and jumps up, the blanket now wrapped around her like a sausage, and hops into my wardrobe. “Got him!” she calls, my rabbit held under her neck as she hops back into the room. “Her!” I correct her, snatching the toy and setting it down beside me. “Anyways,” I give her a look, “we’ve talked a bit this week, texted a few times, but…” I trail off and Olivia gives me her advice, “You’ve been staring every other conversation, right?” she asks. “Yes,” I say rolling my eyes. Her big blue eyes light up, “Lemme see!”
“No!” I shout, before she grabs my phone from the charger on the floor by my desk, “I don’t text and tell.” She looks at me. “Okay, that sure sounded cooler in my head,” I laugh. “Fine,” she huffs jokingly, “but I hope you aren’t friend-zoning yourself, babe.”
She hops up from the bed, this time without the blanket, and goes into the bathroom. I have my phone in my hand so I scroll through some of the texts I’ve gotten from Harry this week.
Shakespeare proves my point. He once said, “Don’t trust the person who has broken faith once.”
I never knew before I got to know him just how smart and deep Harry was. Most guys who are good looking and know it tend not to know how much of a jerk they are; I don’t think anyone could be able to call him one. At first his texts made me think and I thought through each response, but then our conversations got faster and one night he just picked up the phone and called me as I was typing my next reply.
“Cook?” he asks me.
“Yeah, Eliza Cook. Ever heard of her?”
“No. Indulge me.”
“”Who would not rather trust and be deceived?””
The line is silent for a moment.
“Deception,” I repeat, almost a whisper, saying it more for myself than for him.
“Tell me, Xylia, are you going to deceive me?”
I’m smiling to myself and can almost feel the twinkle in my eye.
“”Trust me not at all, or all in all.””
“Tennyson,” he says.
“You know him?” I ask, surprised.
“Famous British poet. Nineteenth century. You can’t see me, Zie, but my hands are out in front of me as if I’m introducing him.”
My heart skips a beat and I don’t hear anything after ‘Zie’. My name. His voice.
I hear a voice in the background, and his response to whoever came into whatever room is something between a sigh and a shout.
“So sorry,” he apologizes, coming back onto the phone. My mom’s calling me down.”
“I should probably get going too,” I tell him.
“Thou must trust me,” he says, attempting a ridiculous British accent.
“Harry Silverstone. Twenty-first century. Bad, no, aspiring philosophical writer of some sort. Not a linguist, that’s for sure.”
I can hear him laughing down the phone, and at the same time I hear another shout.
“You already know me so well,” he says and he hangs up before I can say another word.
I switch off my phone and switch back to the moment, leaning back against the sofa cushions and I close my eyes, smiling.
“Someone’s thinking about a cute boy,” says Olivia, coming back into my room.
We spend the night watching TV, talking, dancing to music, and, of course, laughing. She has to leave early for tennis practice and later that afternoon Cam comes back home. We all have a late lunch together, one of the cooks grilled some fish, and we eat it with a green salad on the side. Cam had a late basketball game the night before and, being a boy, is eager to tell us about one of the boys’ injuries. He’s just finished his meal when he puts his plates in the dishwasher and tells us all, “Coach put me in as a rebounder, Harry too, and this big guy from the other team ploughs through the defense, completely ignores the three-second rule in the key, and goes to take a shot.“
I’m suddenly listening intently, “Did Harry get hurt?” I ask, unable to stop myself, and when Cam gives me a confused look, I add, “Well, umm, you clearly didn’t.”
He ignores me and continues, “So I’m like, dude, back off, and the ref blows his whistle but this guy is just so determined to at least shoot, and so Harry jumps in front of him, and the guy, clearly not a good shooter, throws the ball. It doesn’t go anywhere near the basket and instead hits harry right in the face.”
Dad and I both look at each other, “Oh my gosh!” we say at once.
“Yeah!” he agrees, “The guy was literally only a few inches from him and Harry went straight down on his… butt,” he finishes, looking at dad.
“Is he okay?” I ask.
“He didn’t hit his head but he lay on the floor for what felt like forever. The refs moved everyone away and their school’s nurse came down but Harry couldn’t remember anything. Didn’t know his name, the day, where he was, nothing.”
I hate the way he pauses when he’s speaking, “And what?” I insist.
“Well, he has a concussion, apparently they’re caused by shaking the brain, not just by hitting it. Oh, and he has a broken nose!”
My jaw drops at this. Just as I was getting to know him, he won’t be back at school next week. I go to send him a text but remember that he won’t be able to use technology until he’s cleared.