The sky is clouded with darkness, and rain splatters onto my cheeks. Cold winds whip my face and swirl my hair around my head, as I plod further on to school. It's a massive, looming steely grey structure that towers above everything else in my little town, the grey glowering at all the tiny brown and red brick buildings I'm strolling between. My bag is heavy on my back; I can feel it pulling me down towards the ground like a ton of bricks.
The music from my phone blares in my ears, some song by some band that my parents would ground me for if they knew what I was listening to. The pink wires are dangling from the phone like strings tightening themselves around my body, squeezing me until I break in their embrace. No, I think. That's a stupid thought.
I shake it out of my head and take a shaky breath as I my head back up to the school. It's closer now, and every one of my footsteps grows louder and louder, echoing in my head until everything becomes just a blur of pounding noise. Cars stop as I dash across the road, untangling my earphones to stuff in my bag, when out of the corner of my eye, I see him.
Oh god, oh god, oh god.
I lower my gaze, hoping that maybe he won't come over, that we won't once again feel the noose of silence tied around our necks. But my heart falters as I feel him closer to me, and I turn to him, plastering a smile onto my face, painting it with the colours of deceit.
"Hey," he says, grinning at me in that way he always does. Cocky, but not arrogant. Sweet, but not fake.
Despite myself, I grin back almost instinctively. "Hi!" I laugh. Jesus Christ, why am I laughing? It's not even funny, for God's sake! "How's you?"
I don't tell him that I'm absolutely exhausted of the way that we're acting around each other nowadays, that I feel like he hates me whenever I catch him not looking, and like my heart is going to burst with excitement every time that he looks my way. I don't tell him that I'm fed up with all the stresses of school and of home and everything between, or that I miss t easy way we use to chat.
Instead, we both fall into a painful silence like a blackness dancing between us, pushing us further and further apart even though we are walking side by side. "Hey!" one of the girls in our Maths class shouts to him, calling him over. He goes over to her, perhaps grateful for the escape, and I walk into the school by myself, just like always.
It's not that I'm a loner, or I don't have any friends. I have close friends and I'm on good terms with most people in my year. I'm involved with school and I'm on teams and in shows, but there's just this one thing; no one is near me. In a way, I am a loner. Nobody my age lives around where I live, in fact the people in my tiny little 'estate' consist of someone's grandparents and their dogs which we hear but never see, a girl who is around my age but doesn't go to my school and hates me anyway, and my Chemistry teacher who is well past his life expectancy and taught about half of my family before I was even born.
He's there - not the chemistry teacher, my friend, if you'd call him that nowadays - walking with the girl who called him over earlier, and who keeps glaring at me whenever I look at them. They're talking so easily, so happily, just like the two of us used to, before everything changed.
And by everything, I don't mean one thing that changed our whole lives like you read in storybooks. There was no traumatic life event, no big fight, no nothing. It was just... Something. Something that no one can really find the word to name. And suddenly he was ignoring me, and I in turn was ignoring him for fear of overstepping an invisible line drawn between us, and though we sometimes try, sometimes make some half hearted kind of attempt at conversation, it never works. Not like it used to.
God, I miss him. Not in the literal sense of friends and families with bonds stretched across oceans and borders and life and death. He's right there; he's real.
But we aren't.