A/N I am never one to write notes like such, unlike many other authors out there, but this felt necessary somehow. I have decided to either take this story down permanently or to leave it on the site and be on a permanent hiatus for the story. Tell me what you think. But if any inspiration does strike, or this chapter proves favourable, I might continue. All just does depend on how the inspiration flows along. Thank you all for following through this story, and I hope that you enjoyed it. Thank you.
The entire canteen was silent. All eyes were on me, hands that held food were brought half way to the mouth and frozen. I never liked the idea of too much attention, you know. I mean, there is attention, and then, there is attention. And seriously, this is bordering on freezing time itself. If someone had dropped a hot dog or something of that sort, surely everyone would hear it. Certainly I would. I never thought that there were so many people in the school, truly. For the first time in my life, I did not know what to do, nor did I like the attention that everyone was giving me. Used to the title of the Golden Boy of the school, I had received a fair amount of attention, and now... I was waiting for something to just save me. Like... maybe an earthquake could conveniently strike us right now, or the ground would just split and a hole would swallow me up. Something like that. I never asked for too much.
I was torn between sprinting out the door, and standing rooted to the ground like I was now. Not much of a choice though, since I seemed incapable of moving my legs even a millimeter to the right.
I'm tired of being what you want me to be, Feeling so faithless,
What the- My phone started vibrating madly in my pocket, alerting me for a call. Thank goodness. I glanced around the cafeteria. Took the phone out of my pocket gingerly and looked at the flashing sign that read 'unknown number'. Well, even if it was one of those advertisements that had somehow managed to get hold of my number, I would buy a hundred of whatever product they were selling.
"Hello?" I asked, flipping my phone open.
There was a slight crackling on the other end and the ignition of an engine. "Hey, Shrimp. Hospital called. Ophelia - she's awake." A deep voice said in a rushed jumbled sentence that did not make much sense.
Guess I had gotten accustomed to listening to his soft muttering, for my heart just stopped there for a moment. I almost forgot where I was until Karl tugged on my hand and pried the fist open, dropping something onto it. Something cold touched my hand and when I looked down, there were the keys to his car. He nodded to me, not smiling, but accepting what I had done. That was the best he could do, I guess. I was, after all, the guy who was dating his crush and is now forgetting about her slowly. Amazing how only a few months ago, I was plotting Ophelia's death in my head.
"Uh, yeah. Yeah. Coming. What room was it again?" I was pretty sure he had said it before, but I was too nervous to remember.
"Room 509. See you there."
A crack and he was gone. I didn't even bother looking at the expressions of others as I ran out the cafeteria. I knew, just knew, that if I did, all the adrenaline I felt during this moment would dissipate in mere seconds. Then what was I to do? I arrived at the student car park slightly out of breath. Okay, to make myself feel better, the car park was all the way across from where the cafeteria was. Possibly a cunning act by the principal to avoid having students leave school during lunch and intervals. Spotting the gleaming black sports car that Karl absolutely adored, I climbed in and took a minute to marvel at the softness of the leather and at the general awesome-ness of the car itself. Another car that I can only admire from afar.
I rushed down the hallway and almost ran past the room 509. Halting before I ran into the old woman in front of me, I retraced my steps back to the room. Inside were Ophelia and Jared. I noted that she looked pale, with several bandages around her arms, but she looked better than I had thought. Guess that meant that Bullhead had gotten all the damage. Even though I wasn't particularly friends with him - who could be friends with mafia unless they were themselves? - I did feel a certain twinge of worry shoot through me.
"- How are you?" He asked.
I could only catch snippets of their conversation through the thick door. When I looked through the small window on the door - Yes, so I like to eavesdrop, so what? - I saw that he held her hand in a tender grip as he assessed the damage on her body.
"Have been better, but okay." She was staring at their interlocked hands as she spoke, even from here, I could see the slight look of surprise on her face.
He seemed relieved and oblivious to her shock, and gently stroked her cheek, pushing the wayward strands of hair from her face. "That's good. The doctors said that you could be discharged after your arms heal. Uh... Ophelia, could I ask you something?"
She nodded cautiously, finally looking at him. "Is... Did... Did my brother protect you during the crash?"
It was like watching a movie and then the DVD player suddenly freezes at the perfect scene that led up to the climax. Even I was listening intently to their conversation now, despite drawing glances from passer-bys at my busybody attitude.
"Uh... Sorry, but who is your brother?" She asked.
Another pause in the movie, though this time, it was Jared's eyebrows that shot up.
"I asked, who was your brother?"
"O-Ophelia, you must be-"
"I am not joking, and how do you know my name?"
"I am not asking you to repeat yourself," He ran a hand through his hair then focused back on her. "You mean... you don't know... who I am?" He said the last part in a mere whisper. I was merely filling in the gaps as I saw his mouth move to form words.
"This isn't funny, you know."
"I know it isn't. Having a stranger latch onto your hand once you awaken isn't funny either."
"I am not a stran-" He paused, bit his lip and then looked around the room almost desperately.
It was so uncharacteristic like that I almost felt sorry for the jerk. When he looked back at her, he mumbled something, to which she shook her head to.
"-Not like our childhood. There's no need to pretend that you have amnesia to get out of paying bills." He said.
"I am not! Who are you to tell me that I would do that?"
He paused again. Looked around, then back at her. Bit his lip. Repeat afore mentioned actions.
"You... Don't remember me, truly?" He asked slowly, dragging every word out for her.
It was then that it felt like I was watching him age. Not really age, age. But... It was like he had suddenly gotten older. Defeated. I know he was still only eighteen - he mocked me several times that he was older than me - but at that moment, it was like watching a seven year old him and a twenty year old him watching her. Both of them at the same time. You know what I mean? He looked the epitome of defeated and tired. Then he nodded. And he reverted back to his own eighteen year old self with that simple action.
Looked around. Then looked back at her. He nodded again, though she wasn't speaking. He said something to her, to which this time, she smiled at. He took the bouquet of lilies from her bedside table and stood up. Said something else and then walked towards the door, and me. His eyes were looking at me, and yet at the same time, through me.
"You should go in." He said when he came through the door, cutting me off whatever I was going to say.
What was there to say anyway? Your fiancee and childhood best friend suddenly forgets you after someone tries to murder her and your brother. That was bad enough. I closed my mouth and opened it again, effectively looking like a goldfish in those movements. Truth to be told, the more pressing thing on my mind wasn't that she had forgotten him, but that she would forget me. That the amnesia had affected her memories of me. Then what was I to do? I had told everyone the truth for once, and I turn around and get a patient who doesn't remember me. I hated myself for being so selfish. But if the world wasn't going to take care of me, I shall do it myself.
He took another glance through the window where she was now staring at the wall, looking bored. Then he looked back at me. Placed a hand on my shoulder and shook me gently. I felt like I was a younger person than I was and he, the adult that was boring holes into my head. I should be the one comforting him, not the other way round.
"She will remember you. Believe me."
Then he smiled. Was it that bad that the first time he smiled genuinely at me, was when his fiancee couldn't remember a thing about him, and his brother was declared a vegetable and struggling to keep alive? He dropped his head slightly and turned, walking away slowly as I stared at his back.
What does one say to another when such a thing happens?
I forced my eyes to turn back to the door when he turned around the corner and I lost sight of him. Steadying myself, I opened the door and heard the click and grunt as it opened. Ophelia was, of course, staring at the door with a bemused smile.
"Theo," She greeted.
She remembered. Was I the only one she remembered or was he the only one she forgot? I would be lying if I told you I didn't feel slightly relieved and overjoyed that she remembered me and not him. I cursed myself for thinking this way as I walked to the side of her bed.
"I was wondering if you were ever going to come in, you were just standing out there-"
"You really don't remember him?"
She blinked as she looked at me. "That person before? No. He was acting strange. Held my hand and spoke to me like someone really close to me. Like he knew me well." She said the last bit with a frown.
But he did know her well. He had told me a lot about her, a lot more than I could have told about her. That guy could write a freaking biography about her and she would still not remember him. She was still staring at me.
"Sit down, Theo. You make it look so awkward." She gestured to the chair in the corner. The chair that Jared was sitting in before.
I dragged it over and started to make conversation, carefully avoiding the topic of Jared and school.
When I got home, I fully expected the TV to be on and a commentator's voice to be blasting through the lounge as Jared watched his games. But there was only a dripping tap to greet me as I entered the large house. Silence. Like before everything had happened. No Ophelia, Bullhead, Shotgun, Jared. Only me. Did that mean that he had left?
I hurried up the stairs to his room, pausing when I saw that his door was ajar. I knocked briefly and opened it. On the bed, was a bag that was open and filled with Jared's things. The said person was on the floor picking up marbles that had been spilled out of the jar he was placing them into. I walked to him and got on my knees to help him pick them up.
"Thanks." He muttered when I picked up the last marble, a shiny blue that turned indigo in the light.
He placed the jar into the bag and then packed the clothing on his bed into the bag as well.
"Are you leaving?"
"No, I suddenly have an urge to start packing." He replied sarcastically.
I sat down on his bed and looked at him with his hair falling all over his face.
He paused in the act of stuffing a white shirt into the bag and looked at me. Then resumed as he spoke, "Don't see the need in me staying any longer. Don't want to impose any longer."
"Oh, so now your sense of etiquette comes in? After being a free-loader for two weeks?"
He frowned, then took out his wallet from his back pocket and handed me some bills.
"This should cover the cost of my expenses." He said.
There was easily three hundred bucks in there. I shook my head at him, incredulous that he thought I wanted money.
"No, no! I wasn't meaning that! Geez. Keep your money."
He stared at me before stuffing it back into the wallet.
"Uh, you really don't have to go. Sorry if I was being a terrible house mate."
"Not your problem. But I accept the apology."
Good to know that he had a sense of humour left. That meant that we were on the right track, right?
"Ophelia... She... Probably is just a temporary thing, you know? If you leave now, she might not see you again."
He was still stuffing clothes in without a change of expression.
"And then... You would regret it. Uh... I should have thought this through, huh? I am no good at persuading people. Uh... Come on, Jared. You could stay back and try and help her-"
"You know, my dream was to become a doctor." He blurted out abruptly.
His movements continued despite it all.
"I did. A surgeon, actually. Neurosurgeon. My mother... She died of a brain tumor. Left if for too long, and it was malign. I swore that I would become a neurosurgeon so that I could save people before anyone else died."
I could actually picture a young kid standing on top of a hill with an epic sunset as the background as he spoke his thoughts in a melancholic voice.
"Then... Ophelia's father, Mattheo, he became a leader. And I wanted to prove to him that I could protect his daughter, so I joined the mafia. Became one of the best too. You know what he said to me before he died?" I had a feeling that he would tell me anyway, "He told me that I needn't have joined his group just to prove my chivalry to him. Said that despite it all, he thought that his daughter was not right for him, that I deserved better."
He was now stuffing his belongings into the bag with enough strength to break it in half.
"So now... I guess he was right. We aren't right, are we? Just little kids stuck in a world of the past where we played make believe every day." He said.
Zipping his bag up, he set it on the floor so that he could sit next to me on the bed. Two hands placed themselves on my shoulders and shook me gently like they did in the hospital not three hours ago.
"So, Theo. I have only been here for two weeks, and I know it wasn't the best time of your life. And it wasn't for me either. Though it was fun and all teasing you. But, I have gathered some information so far. You and Ophelia. The two of you are a better pair than her and me could ever be."
What... was he telling me to do? Was this all just talk because he was upset that she couldn't remember him at all?
"So. Do not remind her of me, and Shrimp," Here he paused and stared at me with extra intensity so that I could almost imagine that there was a conflagration behind those eyes of his, "Tell her how you truly feel. It is like watching a puppy run after its owner everyday without the owner ever caring. That is what it feels like when I see you and her. Though I know that I haven't seen you with her when she was conscious. It's the general feeling, you know? So, tell her. Yeah?"
Was I that obvious? But what was with the analogy of the puppy and its master? Was I the puppy? Or the master? Or were we just riding round and round on the carousel? Forever stuck on it. How the heck did he know how I felt before I knew myself? Was he a psychic? No, he was training to be a doctor. Or maybe all doctors were psychics. Oh. I nodded back to him.
"Good." He smiled, another genuine smile that was etched with sorrow."Now. Last thing, Shrimp. I want you to give this to her."
He reached into the depths of the bag and brought out a letter that was slightly crumpled.
"I was thinking of going to the hospital and giving it to her personally, but I thought you would be the perfect messenger anyway. So. Here." He passed the letter to me.
To Ophelia, it read, on the front of the envelope.
"Do I just give this to her tomorrow?" I asked, still eyeing the letter and resisting all urges to rip open the letter and read it.
"No. Give it to her when you feel it's right." He said.
"When it's right? Geez, man, that sounded so cheesy." I said, looking at him this time.
He shrugged, "That is the only thing I could think of."
"When is the... right time?"
"When the time comes, you shall know. Even a buffoon can tell, so an idiot must." He smirked with his words.
Great way to persuade someone to hand a letter to someone. The way to success, you know?
"Anyway..." He drew out the word, "I just want to say. Thanks."
He stood up, bringing the bag onto his shoulder and looked down at me.
"Thanks for everything. So..."
There was a pause where I could faintly hear the dripping faucet. Which was weird, since it was all the way down at the kitchen. Maybe I should call in a plumber soon.
"Goodbye, Theo." He said.
Flashing me another smile, he turned and walked out of the room that was his. Down the stairs, where I could hear each creak of the step and finally, the lock on the front door click shut.
That was it. He was gone. And I had a mission to do. A confession to make.
Ehhh... I'll do it tomorrow. That's what tomorrow-s are for, aren't they?