I wake up without Michael's presence beside me. When I prop myself up on my elbows to look around, I see him with his back towards me at the side of the stream.
"Morning." I say, and he turns around. His eyes are red and puffy, as if he had been crying.
He tries his best to sound normal. "Morning." I hug him tightly, with one hand on his back and the other resting on the back of his head. He sniffles, and lets me hug him. When I try to let go, he finally pulls me to his chest, and breathes deeply. I have never seen him cry. He didn't seem like the type of person to cry. He was too strong for that.
When his arms loosen, I move back to look him in the eyes. When he turns his face to his knees, I put my hand under his chin and make him look at me.
"Michael. What's wrong?" I ask, but he silently bites his lip and shakes his head. I sigh, then push on his chest until his back is on the ground. He covers his face with his hands, and I lay down next to him, with a hand on his chest, feeling his quick heartbeat.
For the next half hour or so, I just stay in that spot and snuggle my head underneath his arm, until he turns onto his side and hugs me again.
"I can't." He whispers back, voice hoarse. I move my face so that our noses almost touch.
"Please." I rub circles into his shoulder blade. He shakes his head again and stuffs his face into my neck.
"Okay." I finally give in, just for him to start playing with my hair. I go as comfortably limp as I can, and just let him do anything to slow his heartbeat.
It takes him another half hour before he is breathing normally. By then, he is sitting up and splashing water on his face. I would do the same, but my eyeliner is messed up as it is.
Michael tries to change what's on my mind.
"What will your parents say about your hair?" He asks, playing with a strand. I freeze. Shit.
"Not something good." I groan. I really shouldn't have dyed it. My mum will ground me for months. She'll probably even pick me up at school just so I can't hang out with Michael. She never felt too happy that I am friends with him, and I don't think she ever will. She thinks his skinny jeans and bright hair make him trouble.
Michael chuckles under his breath. "That's too bad. She won't let us hang out anymore." He says casually.
"You're okay with that?!" I gasp. I don't know what to think anymore.
"Of course. You really think I can't sneak into your window or make up some kind of excuse?" He grins mischievously at me, then stands up. "Come on, you need to get changed into normal clothes. Not that those ones don't look great on you." Michael grabs my arm and pulls me through the struggling trees to his motorbike. I always felt badass when we rode on it. Who wouldn't though, it's a damn motorcycle.
We stop in front of my house. My parents are already home, which is very unusual. Unless...something is wrong. Michael follows me to the door and I slowly open it. "Hello?" I call into the house, and my reply is a choked sob. I look at Michael, who grabs my hand to comfort me. We walk to my mum's room with my back pressed against his chest.
When I stand in her doorway, I see her sitting in the edge of her bed with her head in her hands, shoulders heaving. Speechless, I squeeze Michael's hand as hard as I can. My mum looks up and stands. Before I know it, she runs to me and is engulfing me with her arms and kissing my forehead. She moves her head back to look at me, then looks at Michael. Her expression turns from distressed to complete anger.
"Stay away from my daughter!" She screams at him. He doesn't move away from me. He just stares at my mum and then looks at me.
"Mrs. Joan, what happened?" He asks, ignoring her demand. My mum starts screaming again.
"Stay away from her or get out of my house!" She yells again. I grab Michael's hand and walk out, with a short glance behind my shoulder. My mum is back to crying in a ball on her bed.
I feel like the roles have switched. The people I look up to most are the ones that need me to comfort them. Worst of all, I'm always the one who is crying, so I have no idea how to make them feel better.
"I think something happened to your dad." Michael says on the way to his house. I shake my head.
"No. Dad usually comes home later than Mum." I say, thinking he said that because my dad wasn't home.
"Let's just fucking hope." He says, and leans into me at a stop sign. Despite being non-religious, I pray.
We make it to his house before 7. Before I can reach for the doorknob, the door swings open, and Karen makes us hurry inside. She tells me to look at the TV. She stays by the door even when me and Michael are already in the living room. I freeze as soon as I see what the TV is showing.
3 killed and many injured. Hidden Bomb in airport.
It shows the three dead people. Two middle-aged women, and a man. A picture of my dad, labelled "Andrew Joan".
My breathing quickens, and Michael embraces me. He was right. I can't move, and I feel numb. Michael carries me upstairs to the bed, and when we a are both under the covers, I snuggle up to him in a ball, with his arms wrapped protectively around me. He falls asleep breathing in my hair, but I take several hours more before my brains shuts down from exhaustion. This can't be real.