Hurdles

Our relationship. It wasn't sonnet inspiring, the story of it won't make thousands want to listen. But it was complicated and it was special to us. It was certainly more than I bargained for from just seeing a boy with a football helmet across the room.

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17. Seventeen

So I go back to my old philosophy where I'm going to be mature and try and have a responsible, honest conversation with him but it's still easier said than done. I tell myself for the rest of that day that I'm going to call him when I get home but I don't. There's a game that night that I'm going to watch out of support for the rest of the guys and I tell myself I'll talk to him once I'm there but as soon as I see them all, I spot him and go and find a seat instead. It's not that I'm scared to have the conversation, I just feel too stubborn. I feel like if I talk to him, I'll be letting him get away with it when really, I'm too angry and have nothing to apologise for. He's the one who needs to say sorry so he's the one who should be talking to me first. I know that's not the mature, responsible way to do it but the perhaps the mature, responsible way isn't always the best.

I'm watching the game and trying to avoid looking at Harry for the most part but at one point he has the ball and he gets taken down by a guy from the other team which is just what happens but I feel a slight pang of nervousness every time it happens to one of them before getting over it, but this time, Harry doesn't get up. I wonder if he's just winded or something but then the game is stopping and all of the guys are crowding around him and then being told to back away while the doctor comes in. That's when I start to feel really scared and when a murmur suddenly begins all around the arena. 

I get up, going down to the field but I'm not allowed on. I just want to be over there to see if he's okay, to see anything I can't see from here that will prove he's going to be fine. My heart's racing. I feel sick every time I look at him, just lying there and not getting up. I've heard about football accidents like this, anything could have happened, he could be paralysed for all we know right now. I know I should be hoping for the best but I'm too scared to pray or wish or hope for anything. 

All the boys have gone off the field now so I run to the locker rooms to find them. I don't know why I was hoping that they'd be calm, of course they're as scared as I am. 

"What happened?" I ask and they all look up, looking just as terrified as I feel. 

"We don't know." Dan says, pacing around. "We think it was something to do with his head-"

"Oh my god." I sit down, putting my head in my hands. I look up at them again. "How did it happen, what went wrong?" 

"Probably something with his helmet." Jesse says, his voice shaky. "I feel sick, when are we going to know what's going on?"

"Yeah, where is he now?" I ask. 

"Just in the doctor's office getting checked out. He was kind of conscious so at least it can't be too serious." Dan says, sitting down. 

We wait for as long as we can but then we all have to leave and go home. I wait by the phone, waiting for any news from Brie and Daniel and it gets to midnight before we hear anything from them. My mum picks up the phone and I swear I hold my breath the entire time she talks and then she hangs up the phone, sighing. 

"Well?" I say and I can hear how tight my voice is. 

"He's fine." she says and I breathe out, relieved. "He had a concussion but he's going to be just fine. Brie says you can go around and see him if you like."

I'm not sure if he'll even want to see me, I'm sure he's still angry with me but I want to see him anyway, just to see he's okay. I get there and Denise opens the door, smiling at me. 

"Hey. Thank you for coming over. I'm sure he'll be happy to see a friend." she says, letting me in.

"Oh it's no issue. Is he alright?" 

"Yeah, he's going to be just fine." she smiles. "He's up in his room if you want to go up."

I feel awkward just walking into his room but that fades when I see him. He's just propped up in his bed with his earphones in and I am scared he's still going to be angry with me but he just looks a bit shocked, taking his earphones out. 

"Hey." he says, sounding surprised. 

"Hey." I say, just hovering by the door. "I just came to see if you were okay."

"Yeah yeah, I'm good." he says, still looking surprised and confused too. "That's nice of you, to come and see me."

"Well I was worried." I tell him and it's quiet for a moment before I clear my throat, feeling kind of awkward about our whole argument now. 

"Uh, you can come sit." he says, scooting sideways so there's space for me to sit next to him.

"Oh no, I'm good, you're the injured one." I laugh a little.

"Alice, come sit down." he says like I'm being silly so I do. I'm not looking at him but I can see him out the corner of my eye looking at me before he looks away again. 

"I want to talk to you about what happened with your birthday and everything." he says and I look at him, my heart beating a little faster.

"Oh, we can just forget about that for now-"

"No, I need to tell you what was going on." he says. "I didn't do it to get it out of my system or whatever, I was a real dick to say that. I did it because I like you."

"Oh." is all I manage. 

"I just got scared once I got home and realised what I'd done." he says. "I realised I'd started something with you and I wanted to, I just don't go into relationships easily. I had one serious girlfriend before and it got so serious and ended so badly. I'm so happy now and I've just been really protective of that for the past year and honestly I'm not ready to let go of that."

"Okay." I nod but my heart is sinking. At the start of this conversation I truly thought the outcome was going to be us being together. I thought that was just the way things always worked, you work past problems like that but I guess that's not the case in real life. In real life, I have to accept that he isn't ready and I'm happy to do that for him and I'm glad I have an explanation but I'm still kind of sad about the whole thing.

"And it's not that I don't trust you or like you because I do." he says, still looking at me but I can't look at him. "I just don't want to go into a relationship if I'm not one hundred percent, for your sake more than mine."

"I get that." I nod, still looking at my lap, not him. 

"I don't like that you look so sad." he says, ducking his head a little to try and look at me. 

"I'm not sad." I lie, smiling at him a little. "Promise."

"I'm sorry Alice." 

"You have nothing to be sorry about." I tell him. He pauses, nodding, and I don't know what else to say now. "Well it's really late already, I should let you rest."

"You don't have to go." he shakes his head. "I mean, if you're tired then feel free but you don't have to."

Usually I would just go then but when I consider that I feel like it'd leave things awkward so I smile at him, shaking my head. 

"No, I'll stay." I say and he smiles too. It is kind of weird sitting here with him, knowing he likes me, but it's a nice sort of weird, honest. 

"Alright, I think I've screwed you around so much, I'm going to give you the opportunity right now to ask me whatever you want." he chuckles.

I grin at him. "About anything?" 

"Anything." he nods, grinning back. 

I think of all the possibilities and then realise I've got nothing. I cannot think of one single thing to ask him. Actually, I can think of one. I want to know what happened with him and that girlfriend he told me about. I'm just curious about it, I just want to know him better and I feel like that's a big part of who he is. But I don't feel like I can ask him about that, it just feels too personal.

"Well?" he asks.

"I haven't got anything." I laugh. 

"Seriously?" he laughs too, rubbing his forehead. 

"I feel like you've told me everything!" I protest, meaning all the nights at the look out place. 

"So what you mean is you want to know about me and my last girlfriend?" he says and my eyes widen. 

"How did you-"

"Because of course you want to know." he chuckles.

"You don't have to tell me." I say. "It's your business."

"I kind of feel like I owe it to you to tell you." he shrugs. He looks at me and I give him a look that's sort of telling him it's up to him. He nods and breathes in and out slowly. "Well, I met her at a party, we were almost sixteen. We did everything properly you know? Like we waited to even date and then we waited to properly be together and I was in love with her, not even just where I really liked her and thought I was in love with her, I was really in love with her. I was convinced we were going to be together forever and she felt the same way. It was just common knowledge to everyone, you know? Harry and Michaela were together and were always going to be."

He pauses then and I don't want to pry too much but I'm curious now. I feel like this is a whole new side to him, a whole part of him and his world I had no clue about. 

"How did it go wrong?" I ask, almost whispering like it will make it less personal.

"Uh." he scratches the back of his head. "I don't know exactly. There was just a big change. Things just changed between us and it just stopped working for us. It just went wrong and that really hurt both of us, more than you could imagine. It is more painful than anything when you're still in love with them but you know you can't be together."

"I'm sorry." is all I can think to say and he finally smiles a little, shaking his head. 

"It's fine." he shrugs, smiling at me. "I'm over her. I just also don't want to be in that position again, you know?"

I nod. "I get it."

He sighs like there's a weight off his shoulder and then looks at me, raising his eyebrow with a little smirk on his face. "So tell me about this boy of yours back home in England."

I groan. "I thought we'd forgotten about this."

"Absolutely not! Who is he?"

"He doesn't exist." I admit and Harry grins. 

"I knew it!" he exclaims. "I knew you were talking about me when you were saying you were just friends with somebody."

"Alright, no need for this attitude!" I pretend to hit him and he laughs. 

"You can still actually hit me." he says, still laughing. "Just not my head, okay?" 

"Well I know exactly where I'm going to hit you then." I say, still trying to punch him and he blocks all of my shots as always. 

"Hey you guys." Daniel pokes his head around the door, smiling. I think he must have heard us and found it amusing by the look on his face. "It's getting kind of late."

"Yeah, I should go." I say, getting up. I smile at Harry. "See you."

"See you." he smiles back. 

I go home feeling oddly relieved considering how disappointed I was initially. Even though I was (and still kind of am) upset, I value us being friends and being so open with each other more than us being in a relationship. It's past me just having a thing for him now, I truly care for him and I value that a lot.

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