Once courage roars, it is impossible to get the ringing out of your ears.
My gusty self came and died yesterday.
I had it yesterday, and I woke up this morning without it. Simple as that.
And that's why, when I went to school, I walked. I didn't bother with the embarresing argument between Evelyn, who obviously didn't want to acknowledge that I existed, and her dad, who wanted us to be at least somewhat sisterly:
"Take Emily to school with you."
"You will do what I say."
"And if I don't?"
And then he leaves.
At lunch, I didn't even bother going near the cafeteria. Instead I walked to the library. Just me and thousands of paperback and hardback books all consisting of the same 26 different letters, all in different order; it calmed me. In there, it smelled like a small bookshop that was throwing its 100th birthday party. It smelled like the book isles in thrift shops. It smelled like my rusty, third-story bedroom where books were stacked against every wall and overflowed my desk. It smelled like my old bedroom, in that small farming town back when both of my parents were still alive, where books were stacked upon books in shelves that touched both the floor and ceiling; "home" wasn't a person or place, it was a smell, a memory.
I sat on the stairs of that place, looking up at the ceiling where skylights flooded the room with light, casting dancing shadows on the spines of every book it reached.
As soon as the bell rang to signal the end of lunch, it was like the sun was suddenly quenched. All those dancing patterns disappeared when that bell cut through the silent air, and I could literally hear my heartbeat picking up. I was going to have to face the world again.
The smell of old, loved books no longer comforted me. Instead, they reminded me of the loneliness up in that third-story room, not the happy memories inside of those books. Up there, I was all alone except for my music and the fictional characters in which I could get lost in and pretend that I lived with them in their worlds instead of my own mundane one. But then, something would interrupt that feeling and I wouldn't be welcome in the real world once more. It was a vicious cycle consisting of hurt, pain, and soul crushing hope. I guess in some ways, there's always a bell to take you away from happiness. This one just happens to sound like a buzzer.
Sitting at my lab table seemed like the most normal thing in the world, except for the fact that my normal, goofy-glasses, crooked nose, and pimply-faced partner wasn't sitting beside me. He was sitting two tables behind with another nerdy girl named Nikki. He seemed truly terrified; he's whispered to me about her since the beginning of the semester. She started talking his ear off the minute he sat down, and he's probably thankful for that because when under pressure, Trevor doesn't say the most appealing things. And, taking my old lab partner's place, was the one and only Luke Hemmings.
It all went down a little like this:
I was just taking a seat next to Trevor when a gravelly, accented voice spoke a greeting to my lab partner before I could.
"Hey, Trevor is it? Mate, do you mind switching partners? I don't understand anything that mine is saying, maybe Emily here could be of more entertainment for the less academically talented?"
I've noticed something about Luke Hemmings. He only uses his gravelly voice when he wants something, and even if he phrases something as a question and it sounds like a question, it isn't a question. You did what Luke Hemmings wanted when he used his gravelly voice. You just did.
"U-Um...yeah. Okay?" Trevor looked at me and shrugged. That was the only sorry he could give and the only one I needed. Luke had used his gravelly voice, and I wasn't the only one who had figured out when to do what Luke told you to and when to do what Luke told you in a split-second's notice without glancing back.
Then Luke sat down and settled himself on the uncomfortable stool that Trevor never minded sitting on, and I let my mind drift off to other places than my preference on who was sitting next to me.
And now, the teacher was standing at the front of the class explaining something that I wasn't listening to. I let my eyes stare off towards the whiteboard where his name, Mr. Thann, was still written in cursive at the top of the board, right where it had been since the beginning of the year.
Mr. Thann was a medium-height, black-haired, brown-eyed, Asian man who was around the age of 30. And by the time he was done giving his lecture, I realized that it was probably a bad idea that I hadn't been listening. He began passing out packets on the muscle system, and each time he took a step with his left foot, I cringed inwardly at the squeaking sound it made against the tile.
When he got to our table, he set two packets on the desk, not caring one bit that my lab partner wasn't my old one.
"Due tomorrow guys," he said, passing onto the next table and mumbling the same thing.
"Do you want to borrow my notes?" I jumped at the sound of his voice right in my ear. Turning my head, I looked from him, to his notes, and back.
"I just noticed that you weren't paying attention and thought that you'd want to use them." For some strange reason, when he was speaking, there was only one thought circulating in my mind. One question that I had never put into words and had never really questioned before now.
"How do you know my name?" He seemed quite caught off guard, his mouth freezing slightly open and alarm resting in his eyes.
I didn't know what to say. I couldn't very well tell her the truth.
Hey, I'm Luke, your tall stalker, and I know every thing from your name to your locker combination because I stole your file from the office and watch you whenever you're around.
Yeah, that would go down great.
But, she was still waiting for an answer, so I gave her one that was sure to keep her off the topic.
"Evelyn talks about you a lot." And once the words were out of my mouth, I wished that I could've taken them back because it was true the Evelyn takes about her a lot, but there were never any good things said on the topic. I was expecting sadness. I was expecting hatred, contempt, and malice. But I was met with nothing. She reacted in no way possible; just blinking and breathing. And after a few seconds of just blinking and breathing, I decided that it was safe to fill the silence.
"If you need help with the packet, you can come over to mine after school." She was looking over my shoulder, but her eyebrows furrowed. Her eyes glanced back to lock with mine.
"Evelyn would literally kill you for even thinking about that, so I'm not even going to consider accepting." Then green eyes looked away from blue ones, and the connection was lost.
"I guess that's probably a good idea," I agreed, a small chuckle rumbling in my chest. When she didn't look back up, I spoke again.
"So is that a yes then?" Green and blue met again.
"The notes." She paused. The look she gave me was like I had just woken her up at three in the morning to go jogging. Half confusion, half irritation.
"No," she said after another second's pause. "I'll write my own."
And with that, she turned back to her packet and didn't turn around again.