Borders and Barriers

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"He made her into a crashlander who was seeing reality for the first time, and she was happy to plummet."
When someone hears the name Emelia Archer they think of the Instagram famous trendsetter, the daughter of Archer Enterprises, and the one who crashed herself into a scandal.
When someone hears the name Jackson Andrews they go...huh? Then they think of the art-loving boy, the one who stayed in the shadows for the fun of it.
Push those two opposites together and you've got a story, maybe not a love story, but a story nonetheless.

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4. Life is a tragedy.

 

Chapter Four

 

Life is a tragedy.

Except for the heroes,

Except for the lucky ones.

But you can change that.

Life can be reversed

If only one tries

And if only one has lovers to

Help it along the way.

Jackson

The notes continued. After Emelia’s reply to the first note, he had written back that she was a smart ass.

The cutting of her hair was frantic and dramatic and Jackson did not want to inquire what it really was about. But the notes kept coming, first appearing on scraps of paper and broken corners of newspapers and magazines, then onto post-it notes.

Emelia was around the cabin a lot more, and she only went out for a morning run, when the night hours hadn’t properly finished yet. It was still quiet though. They didn’t speak to each other when they were in the cabin together. Jackson still didn’t go outside.

His routine stayed the same; cook, clean, meditate, exercise around his room, draw, sleep. Rinse, lather and repeat.

Emelia remained in her room or on the sofa in the main room, her eyes glued to her phone or staring into space.

Their conversations were witty and the only form of communication that they knew. They discussed stupid things like observations and quips about their parents. Their conversations hadn’t developed further than that until Jackson screwed it all up for himself.

Why are you not going anywhere anymore? I thought you were a butterfly, not a turtle? - J

 He wrote one day, shoving the yellow post-it note under her door. Emelia had been in her room for a while now and even Jackson had taken to being in his room just to avoid the off chance of seeing her.

The reply was pressed just inside his room nearly an hour later.

I thought you didn’t want me going anywhere? It says that I can't be recognised in the contract remember? - E

The contract is law apparently - J

That doesn’t explain why you don’t go anywhere – E

Jackson didn’t answer that one, not in a long time and he didn’t sleep that night either. He noticed that Emelia crashed just after one in the morning and in the silent hours of the early morning he sat down at the kitchen table with his head in his hands and he thought.

He didn’t like going outside for the sheer amount of pointlessness he thought it was. Nature was nice yes, the world was nice, yes but people had corrupted it. All he remembered was his school years with the public screaming at him about his family's business and the paparazzi following him everywhere. He was stuck with the realisation that he was defined by his family and the technology they created.

Soon enough he found a cure; he wouldn’t be harassed if he didn’t face the people. Seeing the public meant going outside and so a recluse he had become. Soon enough the tabloids forgot about him and he could go to the supermarket if he needed to. Still, he found people annoying and exhausting, the people of his building being enough for human contact.

He didn’t know how Emelia dealt with it. Maybe she hadn’t and the drinking was her resolution to society’s greed.

It was around three in the morning, roughly two hours until Emelia would wake, that he sighed, plucked a sticky note from its stack and wrote his frustrations down.

I’ve been trying to fucking sleep for five hours now and nada. Nothing. I just can’t do it. Why did you fucking ask me that question? Why does everyone ask me that question when its people that caused me to be a turtle in the first place?

I don’t understand people? Why do they want to know the ins and outs of everything I do, everything I am? It’s maddening.

I’m a fucking turtle because I get my privacy. I deserve my privacy and so the public doesn’t deserve me.

I don’t know why I’m telling you this, writing this down, maybe because I’m that sleep deprived I’ve had a lapse in judgement. Why did I start this in the first fucking place?

Sometime between scrubbing a hand through his hair and tapping the pen against the note he fell asleep, the words half imprinted on a cheek.

 

Emelia

She woke with a stretch and a groan, bouncing on her toes as she dressed for her run. She had found that the five in the morning runs meant that nobody was around and then she would spend the rest of her day binge-watching whatever TV series she had found on Netflix until the darkness made her eyes itch. It was a simple life, a life spent in short bursts of motion and she wasn’t used to it.

She didn’t want to be recognised, afraid that the ridicule and press would follow her until her grave, but she needed company. She needed the outdoors and the natural beauty of Trinity seemed too good to waste indoors.

On her way to the kitchen she found Jackson slumped across the breakfast table, his face turned to the side and his hand stuck in his hair. A yellow post-it note was stuck on his cheek and Emelia chuckled as she removed it gently.

She read it with a frown.

Of course, she had known who Jackson Andrews was, she had to know but she had frankly not cared to know him.

Before she blocked the world out with music she wrote a reply and joined the confession note with a pink message.

You’re a turtle with a potty mouth that’s for sure - E

She ran until she couldn’t feel her lungs anymore until her limbs were connections of fizzing energy and warmth. When she made her way back to the cabin Jackson was nowhere to be seen, his door firmly shut and the notes were gone from the breakfast table.

I understand, honestly, I do. The paps are piranhas but there are ways around them - E

Still, Jackson didn’t emerge and she grew panicked. She had upset him, hadn’t she? She hated doing that. The look of disappointment on people’s faces was one thing that made her chase the world away and she couldn’t stand the feeling she got afterwards. She only wanted to please people and when she couldn’t do that with the Archer business she turned into the social media queen and the reputation was instilled from then on.

I’m sorry if I said anything offensive, in the fight before and just then – E

The day melted into the night and the horrible feeling gnawed at her stomach. She wasn’t going to admit defeat, she couldn’t, but for now, she went to her bedroom and tried not to think that Jackson was waiting until that very moment to emerge. Maybe she was the problem and not the outside world.

The next morning he didn’t come out either and it was after her morning run that she knocked on Jackson’s door. The feeling in her stomach had made her sick and the notes were not enough to convey that to the other boy.

It may have been just after six but she was desperate and her desperation conveyed into confidence. “Hey Jackson I saw someone who recognised me today!” she called and heard the thump as he fell out of bed, the stomp of feet as they made their way to the door.

Jackson stood in front of her with ink smudges on his bare collarbones, hair flat on one side and stuck up on the other, the lines of his pillow embedded into his left cheek. “You what?” He blinked at her, furrowing to make sure she was actually there and she had to suppress a grin.

“I saw a person that recognised me today, I ran away before the teenager could confirm it was me but she noticed.”

Then his hands were on his cheeks, slapping the sleepiness away before muttering how bad the situation had gotten.

“We need to do damage control, dammit Emelia,” he was stumbling back into his room, shoving a shirt over his chest and trying to fumble converse onto his feet. Emelia was grinning and the horrible feeling abated.

“If anyone can solve it our resident turtle can,” she smiled, “Is it worth noting that this was a couple of days ago before I cut my hair?”

In response, Jackson stilled and faltered in his position of tying his shoelaces. He unbalanced himself and only prevented himself from falling by catching his hand on a sketchbook. It upended, thin pens full of ink rolling down onto the floor and splattering fine drops of ink onto Jackson’s face. His eyes didn’t even register the offensive wetness.

This was the Jackson she wanted to see. 

“And you couldn’t have told me earlier?”

“It’s not really a problem since the tabloids haven’t blown up,” she shrugged, “I’ve been checking the media for the last couple of days. I only told you now because I wanted to actually see your face and you weren’t replying to the notes.”

He was kicking off his shoes and coming to the door, ready to slam it shut but she was shouldering her way into his room. Jackson’s room was chaotically beautiful in a way that the bed had been moved to face the window and pages decorated the walls, held up with masking tape. Emelia allowed herself to gaze at the pages, sketches of plants and hands, figurative people in various poses of natural life. Jackson may have hated people but he could draw them brilliantly and beautifully from memory.

His eyes narrowed, “You tricked me,” and his fingers finally went to sweep the fresh drops of ink away.

Her eyes softened, “I don’t like it when you go all stalemate on me.”

“Well I shouldn’t have written that note to you in the first place,” he muttered like a tempered child and she scoffed.

“I see nothing wrong with pouring out your feelings. People are exhausting, I understand what you –“

“If you say you understand what I’m going through I swear to god,” hissed words coming towards her and it reminded her of their drunken fight, where the insults rolled off of her tongue as lightly as lies. “How can you understand? You’re the Love Queen, you love people and drinking and partying!”

“That doesn’t mean I do it for the right reasons! I party because that’s the only thing I’m good at, I parade my successes on Instagram because it’s better than my defeats. People can be distracted, people can be misled.” She poked her fingers into his chest, missing the dried splatters and fight went out of her, her head drooping. “I don’t want to fight, I’m done fighting for this. Can we just sit on the sofa and discuss this like normal human beings?”

“We’ve been doing fine with the notes?” he muttered sheepishly and Emelia found the coloured stack on the kitchen bench.

Sometimes you’re incapable of writing so suck it up, turtle, and become a human being. Humans talk it out, at least sometimes – E

She slapped the orange square onto his chest and he sighed, the vibration rattling through the paper, then stalked off to the sofa expecting him to follow.

She waited exactly two seconds until she was joined by the hesitant boy. “Okay you got me here, now what do you want?”

“We can’t keep doing this, it’s damaging to the both of us,” Emelia began as an air of maturity rushed over her. “We’ve got three months of this and we can’t not talk to each other while occupying the same space.”

“I mean we can but–“ he interjected, crossing his arms in retribution.

“How about we write our own contract?” she proposed, ripping another post-it note off and writing Emelia’s and Jackson’s amendments to the blasted contract at the top.

Jackson made an odd sound with his mouth but didn’t protest. Instead, he came closer to her and leaned over as she wrote the first point.

Amendment A; although the post-it conversations may continue both parties must have a physical conversation once a day.

Jackson tugged the post-it note out of her way and with his own pen wrote his own addition.

 

Subsection of Amendment A; these conversations must be honest and may be subject to open questions.

“What?” he questioned and she looked at him strangely, “It will make it easier, I don’t have to like it but it will make it easier.”

“Well when you put it that way,” she muttered back and tugged the post-it note her way again.

Amendment B; Jackson Andrews must leave the cabin at some point during the three-month timespan of the original contract

He tutted and started to protest but she waved a hand at him, “Look it will make this a lot easier to deal with. We’ll begin small to start off with, running through the woods and if you’re too uncomfortable then we’ll leave it at that.”

It wasn’t healthy for him to be cooped up in the cabin for the whole three months and Emelia wanted to see more of him.

“As long as it doesn’t go further than that,” he griped and made another addition.

Amendment C; Emelia Archer cannot bring any person back to the cabin.

 

Subsection of C; Emelia must also keep her real identity a secret and this may extend to making up a cover story.

“That’s fair,” Emelia agreed, “But you can’t bring anyone back either,” she reminded and they both laughed over the fact that Jackson wouldn’t even dare to try. Even so, that became Amendment D. Before they could concoct the cover story the three post-it notes which featured the amendments were stuck together and then held to the fridge by a magnet.

They sat for the rest of the night on the sofa trying to come up with a suitable story. “Jackson they consider this cabin the Cute Boys Cabin, your identity will have to remain unaltered to keep up with the normal history of the place.”

“But that will make me stand out,” he almost whined, flopping back against cushions. Emelia waited for him to regain his composure. “Fine, I suppose they don’t really know me so we can work that in our advantage.”

“I suppose we spin it in the normal way, we’re friends and we’ve decided to have a vacation here, we’ll let them work the rest out. They won’t believe that we’re siblings since the Andrews are only males,” Emelia pointed out, frowning at the suggestions the populace of Trinity would make. It looked suspicious for them to be staying in the cabin by themselves.

“What about a name?” Jackson argued, coming out from his slumped position and moving his hands away from his face.

Emelia gave him the privilege and his smile widened, “Harper White, completely generic,” he grinned and she nodded.

From then on she was Harper White, a girl who met Jackson at an art class even though she only attended two of the lessons. She liked purple and binge-watching Netflix; a classic introvert like Jackson. She became a turtle and was a direct contrast to Emelia Archer, the loudmouth social media star.

As they went to bed that night she realised that it was the most she had heard Jackson physically say in the whole time she had known him. She watched as he shut his door as she moved to her room and her eyes could have been playing tricks on her when they noticed that the tension and nerves were less evident in his shoulders. 

 

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