Heart

Ryn is morbidly pessimistic, blaming the world for his problems. He would probably see past the anger if he could still... well, see.

Asher sees the good in everyone, probably best since she blocks out what everyone says about her. Not by choice, but she does it.

The pair are forced to form a bond after becoming partners in group therapy as a desperate attempt to bring some light into their lives, starting with writing letters to each other. No one expected a third letter to arrive.

// Cover by ireumeun.chloe

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6. Five ∞ Details

Ryn sits on a bench in the park opposite Heathmoore Community College. Beside him is Luke, a scrawny fifteen year old with a crooked grin and highlighter orange hair. Ryn has known the boy ever since his family moved into the house across the street three years earlier.

           

“She’ll be coming out any minute,” Luke says with a glance at his watch. “They always used to let her out a few minutes before the bell.”

           

The bell signalling the end of school rang at three o’clock, sending eight hundred students flooding through the narrow corridors, screeching and shoving each other into the walls or anyone who is a few years younger than them. Luke skipped the final lesson of the day to act as a lookout for his friend, providing all the physical details of the girl trapped in his mind.

           

“How do you know this?” Ryn asks, adjusting the way his sunglasses rest on his nose. He reminds himself to find a new pair, preferably some that aren’t too big for his head.

           

Luke’s smile stretches from one freckled ear to the other. “Are you serious, Ryn? Everyone knows about Asher Pierce.”

           

“What can you tell me about her?”

           

“Probably fifteen. Started our school sometime last year. Has a special tutor for all of her lessons. Hasn’t heard a thing since she was ten. Mum dates guys half her age and younger. Not sure about her dad.”

           

“What’s she look like?”

           

“No clue. She’s one of those people that you only know the name of it you want something or there’s gossip going around. Hardly any of us have seen her anyway.”

           

With a sigh, Ryn sinks deeper into the bench, leaving his friend to hang over the back for a better view of the front of the school building.

 

***

 

“Asher, I can understand your difficulties with schoolwork and homework, but your progress and general grades this year are falling below what you are predicted. This is unacceptable. You have the potential to do well but you’re just throwing it all away!”

           

Asher contemplates the politest way of telling the woman to kindly take a walk off the edge of the cliff. When she can’t summon the words, she clenches her jaw and tries to look at any object in the room where the woman and her hands – sloppily signing the words as she shouts them – won’t be in her eye line.

           

The girl sighs. Her breaths are deep and stable as she exhales slowly. Eventually, she screws her eyes shut and nods, the movement slow and forced. She knows her grades are falling, and she blames all of it on herself.  “Miss, I’ll try harder. I just need a little more time and I’ll do better.”

           

“You’ll be taking your exams in under a year. You don’t have much more time.”

           

And that is when Asher decides it is the perfect time for her to end the conversation, the door slamming shut behind her as she leaves to disguise the sound of her running out of the building.

 

***

 

“Hey, Ryn, I think I see her.”

           

“Really? What’s she doing?”

           

Luke drapes himself across the back of the bench for a clearer view, running a hand through his hair. Ryn adjusts his glasses again before taking out his earphones.

           

“She’s running.” There’s a brief pause and the sound of muttered profanities as Luke leans too fear over the back of the bench. “I think she’s coming over here.”

           

“Well, is she?”

           

The original response is a groan, muffled against the gravel and concrete within the boundaries of the park. The second response is much more legible for Ryn to understand.

           

“Ryn, I’m lying on the floor and I think my face is now bleeding because of you. Why don’t you take a look for yourself?”

           

“Slight problem there.”

 

Across the park, Asher is sat with her chin resting in one hand and her iPod in the other. An earphone is wrapped around her finger as she scrolls through the songs, aimlessly swiping up and down the screen as she tries to find a subtle way of starting at the two boys. One boy – the shorter one with fluorescent hair – lays on the asphalt with his eyes up at the clouds while the other stares at a spot on the ground by her feet. He looks familiar. To Asher, he is the human embodiment of winter.

           

After a few minutes, the heads of neither boy shifts in direction. Asher raises a hand tentatively, waving it slightly only to receive no response at all. She notices that the boy on the floor is talking but she isn’t close enough to read his lips. She wonders if they’re talking about her, or if they said anything when she ran in with tears streaming down her cheeks.

           

No, they wouldn’t have. Well, the one staring at her feet wouldn’t have, she realises as she eventually places what can be seen of his face to a memory from group therapy, only a few days earlier.

           

He’s the one who reminded her of herself.

           

She wedges her iPod into her pocket and stands.

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