Monday, July 28, 2014
"So, this is Cameron."
Mia and Olivia, sitting on the curb, looked up at Kenton and the new kid that's with him.
"Hi." Cameron said as he awkwardly lifted his hand up.
"Hello." Olivia politely said as Mia said absolutely nothing.
"Are you kidding me?" Mia finally got the nerve to say.
"What's wrong, Mia?"
"What's wrong? WHAT'S WRONG?" Mia yelled as she got up from the curb, turned to Olivia, and pointed towards Cameron.
"Kenton… thinks… that people… are like toys. They don't work for him anymore, so he has to find A REPLACEMENT."
Cameron gave her a puzzled look as Kenton realized where this conversation was going and planted his face into his palm.
"Mia, what do you mean?"
"Elias is dead… so this is his replacement, right?"
Cameron's face turned to that of shock. Kenton quickly said "No, no, NO! It's not like that!"
"Mia… please." Olivia said as she wanted to curb her friend's, well, excited vocabulary.
"Mia… just hear me out… please!" Kenton said as he could see the tears coming out of Mia's eyes.
"SHUT UP!" Mia yelled out as Olivia tried to get up from the curb with enough time to hold her back. It was too late: Mia managed to open her palm and run it across Kenton's face before running off.
"Mia!" Olivia said as she glanced at Kenton before running off behind her.
"Well, I don't think that went over well…" Cameron said as Kenton rubbed the spot on his cheek where Mia slapped him.
"It's okay. I guess I can see why she wasn't thrilled to meet you. Don't take it personally." Kenton said as he shook off the impact of the slap.
"Oh, I understand. It happens. I know that feeling all too well."
Kenton stopped and looked at the younger boy. What did he mean by that statement? Was he that much of an obnoxious jerk to call for this kind of treatment from girls? As Olivia rounded the corner after Mia, Kenton could only notice that Cameron was watching them run while curiously scratching his chin.
"So, after that, do you have anyone else to introduce me to?" Cameron asked after shaking his head. Kenton repeated the gesture by shaking his head.
"Well, that's good, I guess. She must have been attached to that Elias fellow if she reacted like that…"
"She was his girlfriend."
"Oh. Wow. So, was she the one who wore purple or the one who did the accounting?"
"Never mind." Cameron finished with a sigh as Olivia came back around that same corner and stopped to catch her breath.
"Is she going to be okay?" Kenton asked as Olivia tried to shrug between pants.
"I… I really hope so. I've never seen her like this." Olivia replied.
"Well, try losing your boyfriend and seeing how that feels."
Both Kenton and Olivia looked up at Cameron in a bit of surprise at how blunt he was. Olivia shrugged. The silence was broken as Cameron heard a chime from his phone. After pulling it out of his pocket and swiping it to unlock, he sighed as he read the message.
"Yeah… I'm needed elsewhere. Catch ya' later. Nice meeting you, babe!" Cameron said as he waved to Olivia as he walked off. Olivia took yet another deep breath and turned to Kenton and said "That works. I really need to talk to you."
"Not here. Let's go somewhere else."
Silence prevailed between the two as they walked down the street and around the corner to Olivia's house. She opened the gate to the side of the house, and they walked into the backyard. While it wasn't like the mansions on the outer edge of the town, it was beautifully kept with flowers and shrubbery creating a nice little secluded area with a porch swing, two lounge chairs, and a small wire table.
"Oh, we're going to the garden. This must really be important." Kenton joked as Olivia plopped down on the porch swing and patted the spot next to her.
"Wow… this is new…" Kenton said as he had genuinely never been on one of these before. After taking a few seconds to get used to his, he asked "What's on your mind, Olivia?"
"It's Mia… she's really gone off the deep end."
"Yeah, I kinda figured that out after this." Kenton said as he pointed to the spot on his face where she had slapped him a half-hour ago.
"No, I mean really off. You don't know how bad it is…"
"Yeah, I know. Is she… going to be okay? She isn't planning on joining him somehow, is she?"
Olivia couldn't respond to that question right away, instead opting to look down quietly. Kenton's eyes widened a bit.
"What do you want me to do? Lie to you?" Olivia replied as she took a deep breath to try to stifle a small sob coming through. Kenton looked down and shook his head, unsure if Olivia could even see him.
"She was. The only way I got that thought out of her head was by telling her that Elias saved you and by doing a good deed he's almost certainly going to Heaven…"
"And people who ‘jump to conclusions’ go to Hell…"
"Yeah. That's exactly what I told her. It's seemed to stop her. At least for now."
"Well, that's a relief. I just hope that she finds some form of comfort before she starts getting thoughts again…"
"Olivia… do you think that Mia blames me for what happened?"
"Kenton, why would you think that?"
"I just have this feeling… this sinking feeling that I was the one who killed him."
"He was shocked and died from trauma to the head. Nothing you could've done to prevent it."
"I could have saved him from his parents. He could have stayed with Mom and me… he didn't have to live in that situation." Kenton said as he felt himself starting to have another cry session.
"Kenton… please… stop blaming yourself for this. If you must put blame on someone, put it on me. Or Mia. Or the school. But don't think that his death was solely on you."
Kenton couldn't respond as he rested his elbows on his knees and his forehead on his palms. After about a minute of this, he felt something warm embrace him.
"I would give anything to bring him back. For Mia's sake." Olivia said as she rested her head on his shoulder.
"Me too… for all of our sakes."
"You know what's hurting her the most. She never, ever, told him that she loved him. Nor did he ever say it to her."
"She told me that they agreed to never say 'mushy' stuff like that. She's upset because she doesn't know for sure if he knew that she loved him… or if he even really cared for her."
Kenton sighed. That was indeed quite the punishment for Mia.
"So…" Olivia said as she sat back up.
"Kenton… I'm sorry for putting you through everything between us."
For Kenton, everything froze as if time stopped completely.
"Olivia… what do you mean…"
"I don't want that to happen to us."
Kenton blinked. Wasn't this what he was wanting all the way back in February when he stuffed that horrid mess of glitter and makeup into her locker?
"But we’re… what… are you getting at?"
"Kenton, I know what you're going to ask. I hate that you must ask, but I don't blame you one bit. If you're still up to it, I'll be your girlfriend. I wanted to say this sooner, but I didn't because I wanted to see how you were going to be."
"Would just a friend go clothes shopping with you? Would just a friend follow you to hell if they had to and cry with you on the worst days of your life?"
"You know what I mean. I'm sorry that I, well, played you along… but… I felt that it was the right thing to do…"
"And when Elias died and left Mia behind, I knew that nobody was invincible and that if that would've been you…"
"…then you wouldn't have had your chance to say how you feel, and you would have been in the same boat as Mia."
"You got it."
"So, no more games. If you're for this, I'm for this."
Kenton, for the first time in a while, managed to give a slight smile and nod. Olivia hugged him tight, delighted that this weight was off her shoulders.
"Thank you, Kenton."
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Mia's run had degraded into more of an angry walk.
"IDIOT!" she growled as she kicked a mailbox.
"Hey, what did that thing ever do to you?"
Mia looked up to see Cameron walking on the sidewalk in the opposite direction.
"You. You can go fu-"
"Whoa! Slow down there! You kiss your mother with that mouth?"
"What I kiss is none of your business!"
"Yeah, I know. I also know you're mad about what you're not kissing."
That’s probably not the best thing to say to someone who just lost the love of their life. Mia looked into the younger boy's eyes and growled.
"That's it. Let it out. It's good to exhaust yourself before you do something you're going to regret."
"Oh, don't worry, I intend to. It's just a twist of fate that I happened to come down this road. Tell you what…" Cameron reached into his pocket and grabbed a receipt for candy and other garbage that he purchased at the local gas station.
"Here's how you can reach me. Give me a text sometime. It’s not good to keep things bottled up.”
Cameron scribbled down some digits and gently placed the paper into Mia's hand before walking off with a wave. At this point, Mia was done with the growling and instead could only look down to give the piece of paper a puzzled look. Not wanting to litter, she placed the slip of paper into her pocket and continued.
About halfway down the block, she realized that her angry walk had further degraded into a normal gait.
Back at Olivia's, the two of them sat there in silence as they watched a few clouds pass over the sky.
"So… do you think…? Nah, I shouldn't say it…"
"Say what, Kenton?"
"Do you think that it's going to be like the movies? Do you think that Elias is going to watch over us and be our guardian angel?"
"…Well, I don’t know. I would guess that he's going to watch over Mia. That's a given."
"Well, I know that if someone happened to me, I would watch over you."
"I would do the same."
Olivia looked over at Kenton.
In yet another part of town, a car pulled up to a house that could be considered on the better end of the middle-class spectrum. A man got out of the driver's side of the car and walked over to the passenger side to open the door.
"We're home, son."
The young man in the front seat got out of the car and took a second to let the breeze pass through his hair. With a breath, he slowly turned his head (almost as-if in pain) and said "Thanks, pops."
"Anything for you, William."
As he looked to the sky, William glared at one of the clouds passing overhead as the man wondered what exactly was going through his head. William didn't say a word out loud, but the voice inside of his head said this:
"You might have escaped me, Elias. But you left the people you love the most behind. They will pay for what you did.”