I finally became scared the very last day of Spring Break. I had been able to leave England without too much mishap, and had gotten hope a day early, which meant I still had 2 days of my Spring Break. And yesterday, I had just been in bed, feeling sorry for myself. Now today I had to get up and get ready for tomorrow, the first day back at school. I wasn't looking forward to it. Explaining to my friends what happened, and seeing Otis in History, but we probably wouldn't talk. Well, of course we wouldn't talk. Otis didn't talk. And I was mad at him...and everything was messed up. I didn't really even know what was going on with us, I had no idea if Otis thought we were still together or if he thought we had broken up. But had we broken up? I didn't even know.
I hadn't seen his car drive into his driveway last night or this morning or whenever, but I knew he was home now. I hoped he had had a very good last day. He probably had been with Carolina all day, he probably had been with all his friends all day. I was sure that they had done something with him for every second before he came back here. After all, that was his home...this was just...a place he was until he could go back. It wasn't like he wanted to stay here. He wanted to go back with them. And so I had made that easier for him, so he wouldn't feel guilty when he left, he wouldn't be upset at all.
But this excuse was wearing thin. I was getting tired of thinking like that and I was getting tired of trying to be virtuous when it came to Otis. All I wanted to do was go over to his house and lay next to him and feel him next to me. And even the huge part of me that wanted his voice didn't want it right now. All I wanted was for everything to return to normal. And when I said normal, I meant that Otis and I were together. I meant that I could go over there and just be with him right now. But I couldn't because I had left. And I was starting to think that I had been very, very stupid. When I had walked away from him, I really hadn't thought of it through very well. Well, sure, okay, yeah I had, but I had only thought of the cons of staying with Otis. I should have also thought about the cons of leaving Otis. Right now, I felt even lonelier than I had when I been in England. Because even if I had been alone in England, I had had Otis by my side. Now I wasn't even sure if I had him. No, I didn't. I had told him to let me go, and that had meant more than just let me go in the literal sense. He had let me go home, let me go out of his life. Now I didn't know if I had been too hasty.
Besides, it kind of hurt, losing out to Carolina. Weren't the girls in those high school books, the shy, freaky girls, weren't they supposed to always triumph over the pretty girls? They were supposed to get the boy in the end, they were supposed to 'win'. But no, I had let Carolina win. I hadn't thought I was giving up at the time, but now I did. I had given up Otis so easily to her. But why shouldn't I have? They were perfect together, and even I, who loved Otis so much, could see that. There was no way that Otis and I looked the same way together. We were just...strange. Strange, even here in America. Because so many people just looked at us whenever we were together, wondering why that beautiful boy was with that plain looking girl?
It was okay, I could get used to this feeling that I never wanted to get up and get moving. And I could get used to this feeling of fear. Otis and I would still be in the same history class, so there really wasn't much I could do about that. There weren't any other seats. And at lunch, we didn't have to sit in the same area. I didn't have to kick Otis out, I could just sit at one end of the table, and he could sit at the other. But even better, he could sit with Aspen and her friends until school ended! That was really the best option for all. Aspen would like that, anyway. She was another one of those pretty girls that I was losing to. Maybe she and Otis could date until he left. I was sure she wouldn't get too attached to him. That was perfect, really. They were great for each other, and then Otis would leave and she'd move on and then he'd get Carolina. It was just a great plan.
Sure. If I wanted to die of sadness.
I finally got out of my bed the last day of Spring Break. I hadn't left it in 24 hours, and I was pretty sure both of my parents knew something was wrong. Besides the fact that I had gotten home alone and I hadn't even said anything to them when I had gotten home. Well, right now, I didn't want to talk. I just wanted to be sad. Because even though I kept telling myself that this was the right thing to do, and I was doing what was best for everything, I couldn't help but feel so completely heart broken over Otis. I felt stupid that I had let him go, and mad that he had let me go. I felt upset at myself that I had been so into wanting to hear his voice but angry at him for not even being able to speak, not at our most profound moment. At that moment, I had been leaving him. If he had just opened his mouth to talk, everything would be good.
I clunked down the stairs and went into the kitchen with a sigh. My mother was there, baking something.
"What are you doing?" I asked with squinted eyes and a permanent pout plastered on my face. My mother looked up and me and smiled.
"Well, you just seem so down in the dumps, I thought I'd make you a cake," she said and I forced a smile as I sat down at my kitchen counter and sighed again, putting my head down on the cool tile. "You want to tell me what's wrong? And why you came home a day early, alone?" asked my mom and I looked up at her.
"I'd love to...but I don't even really know. But I'm pretty sure that Otis and I broke up," I said and she grimaced and came over to me and put her hands on my shoulders.
"Oh honey, I'm so sorry. Do you want to tell me why?" she asked and I sighed again.
"I don't really know. I was just in England with Otis and all of his friends, and I just felt like I just didn't belong there, didn't belong with him, didn't belong in his life. And he has this really beautiful ex-girlfriend that I know still loves him and I just couldn't compete with her. And even when I was telling him I was going to leave, telling him that I didn't belong with his friends, he didn't try to make me see any differently, because he was still silent. He couldn't just tell me that it was all going to be all right. He couldn't counter what I was saying because he doesn't talk," I ended that by spitting the last word bitterly, feeling sorry for myself. My mother sighed.
"Iris, I know you don't have a lot of experience with boys, and Otis is your first boyfriend, but don't you think you were acting a little harshly on him?" she asked and I glared at her.
"Are you on my side or his?" I asked and put my head back on the tile. "I just need to think about this for myself for awhile. I don't really want your help," I told her and I heard her sigh and walk back to the cake.
"Well, I'm always here for you," she replied.
"Thanks," I mumbled onto the tile and closed my eyes. She wasn't right; I hadn't been harsh on him. If he had just talked I wouldn't have made that stupid decision and now we could be happy!
...But wait a minute. Wasn't that what Carolina had said to him? Wasn't that her reasoning for why they weren't together anymore? Carolina, his first love, first everything. She had broken up with him for the very same reason I had. And she had probably done it the very same way. Oh god, what was I doing? I had become just like her. I was the worst person, ever. Otis had told me that he loved me because I was different. He had said that I was different than Carolina. He had told me that she had broken up with him because he wouldn't talk. And I had just done that. Oh my god, I was just the worst.
I felt tears come to my eyes, but I tried not to let them go. I had been doing too much crying lately and I didn't want to cry anymore. But as much as I didn't want to, I couldn't stop. The tears leaked and soon I was crying hard. I had done the worst thing to Otis and now he'd never forgive me. This...sucked. I wanted to try and fix it, but I doubted that he'd even listen to my explanations. I had probably hurt him really bad. And it was all because I had to go and be so selfish! Why did I have to do that? Why did I have to go and ruin everything good between us! I should have just sucked it up and let him be. He had told me he loved me for that. He loved me because I had never pushed him into talking, like Carolina had. He loved me because I 'didn't care'. Sure, I had said I wanted to hear his voice, but he had thought I would still be with him even if he never talked! But I was planning to break up with him anyway, because he wasn't! And I had told myself that it wasn't for 'selfish' reasons, I had told myself it was what was best for Otis, but really, it was because it was hurting me too much, the fact that he didn't talk. I was such a bad person.
I wasn't even sure if I could fix it anymore...and now I didn't even know if I wanted to. Maybe it was better this way. Now he could go back to Carolina, or if he didn't want to, he could be with someone who wouldn't be exactly the way we had been...the way I had been. Maybe this was what really was best for everyone involved. Now Otis could lead a happy life, with someone who didn't care that he was mute. Someone who loved him for the way he was.
It sucked, realizing that I wasn't so perfect as I had thought I was. All my life, I was convinced that I was the girl who just was quiet and unobtrusive. Who never wanted anyone else hurt, who stood by her friends, always. I thought I was such a good, loyal person. And sure, I had been ghost-like within my school, at least back then I liked who I was. Now I knew I was not as good of a person as I previously was. Knowing this didn't make me feel good. It made me feel awful, really.
I sat in my kitchen and looked around me. Otis was gone. Otis was gone, not because he had never talked. That was never his fault.
Otis was gone because I had been so blind. So stupid. And there was nothing I could do about it.
I meekly got up from the kitchen and dressed myself, not even sure why. In my faded blue jeans and my grey sweatshirt, I exited my house and stood outside. It was April, but that didn't mean it was particularly warm. It was still chilly out, and sort of windy. The wind whipped my hair as I looked out in front of me. I walked down to the end of my driveway and looked out to the road, to the cars, to the houses around me. It was all too stifling and I felt trapped by everything around me. I felt bigger than myself, and I felt like exploding into a heap of glitter. Just, kaboom! And everywhere would be glitter, and it would get carried by the wind and it would stick in Otis's hair and he would look at it and know it was me and he would know how sorry I was for everything.
I just looked out beyond my yard and I had the strangest feeling, a feeling as if I knew suddenly that none of it mattered. This whole thing with Otis, it didn't matter. Because his silence and my stupidity would never change the way I felt about him. I was going to love him forever, no matter what anyone ever thought. Maybe it was the stupid view of first love, the stupid idea that I was going to get old with Otis and have his kids and live with him until I died, maybe it was silly. And I felt like I had ruined everything beyond repair, but it still made me feel better knowing that I really did love Otis unconditionally.
He could have seven heads and I still would have loved him. I didn't love him because of the stupid words he told me. Words could just tell lies. And through it all, words would disappear, words could be forgotten. But feelings never were forgotten. All the feelings I had for Otis would never, ever go away. And I felt like we'd never get back together, and we probably would never even talk to each other ever again, even if he ever talked, which I knew was impossible. Otis was going to be silent, and it was okay. Silence was okay.
I wished I could have known this before I had done this stupid, stupid thing. But maybe that was what Carolina thought. Maybe Carolina had this same epiphany. Maybe Carolina realized how Otis didn't need to talk for her to love him. Otis didn't need to talk for me to love him. The look in his eyes told me enough that he did. I should have just believed him. But it didn't matter anymore and it was okay. Because my love for Otis wasn't the selfish love anymore. I had thought that had been great love, true love, but I knew that it wasn't anymore.
This, right now, this was true love. And if I ever got a chance to tell Otis, I would.
But until then, it was okay.
I turned back to my house with a smile and wet eyes. But this time I wasn't crying for sadness. I was crying because suddenly, the world didn't look as bad as it had for so long. And I felt closer to Otis than ever before, because now I knew that I didn't need words.
With one final shuddering sigh, I opened the door to my house. I was almost going to step inside when I felt a hand close around my wrist. It stopped me from going inside and I turned around to see Otis there.
I couldn't help the soaring feeling of ecstasy that was ripping through me at this very moment. Because even though Otis was crying right now, I couldn't feel anything but glad that he had come. I smiled at him, and opened my mouth, but finding no words to convey how I felt right now. But it didn't matter. I had talked so much throughout our relationship; I didn't need to right now.
Instead, I just watched Otis cry on my step and I smiled, trying to show him that it was okay. And then he put his hands on my shoulders, blinked back the tears that had been in his blue eyes and opened his mouth.
"I love you so much, Iris. I'm so sorry. I love you."