As I walked over to Sebastian's house I couldn't help but be happy and feel like I was shining. I walked up the stairs to his house and I was completely confident as he opened his front door. I wrapped my arm around his out of instinct and he didn't pull away. Finally we were getting somewhere. He may never remember me but at least were making a new start together hopefully a better one.
His house was filled with boxes and some weren't even open. I've haven't seen the inside of this house since before when Sebastian first came here. It has changed a lot and seems more distant and cold. We walked in silence to the kitchen and I release his arm when we get there.
"Hey pop," Sebastian said, "We have a visitor."
Sebastian's dad was a light blond with the same crystal eyes as him. He had dark rings around his eyes that made me think he had the flu. I remembered him from when I was little and it seemed like age was getting the best of him. He was wearing worn out clothes and had stubble on his face. Back then he was a distant man, never talking, and always telling us to be quite; I wondered if he still was.
"Oh really," he said, "how wonderful of you to come over," he reached out his hand for me to shake it. His expression was not one I expected.
"I'm Emilia," I said politely taking his hand that was weak and feeble. "Emilia Bennet."
"It's really a pleasure," he said astonished eye-balling me. "Sebastian said we had a pretty neighbor but he obviously under exaggerated. You look familiar Emilia, have we met?" He smiled and for the first time I could see the light in his eyes.
I blushed again but got cut off before I could say anything.
"Pop!" Sebastian yelled and his face was a little flushed as well. "She lives across the street you've probably just seen her around."
"What it's true," he chuckled which looked like it took some effort. "Emilia you may call me Phil, Philip, or pop whichever suits you."
Before I could chime in Sebastian said, "Common Em, let me show you the house," he said calmly giving his dad the stink eye. Phil beamed lively at that. Their relationship had improved since the last time I was with them and I had wondered why.
"Thanks Phil." I smiled brightly at him as we walked away.
"He's deranged," Sebastian said as we shuffle through his house. "Completely bonkers if you ask me," he added running his fingers through his hair nervously.
"And here I thought I couldn't get enough of you. Ha if only," I gave him my best 'yeah-what-now-face,' "why did you move back?" I asked, "I'm curious."
"What do you mean move back? You remember me visiting before?" He asks genuinely surprised.
"Yeah, once upon a time. Now I answered all your questions, answer mine."
"Feisty." he chuckled and waited a few seconds, then continued with a startling grave expression, "about a year ago my pop calls me and my ma' down in UK, London which may I add is very different from the US indeed. I answer the phone and he immediately says he needs to speak to my ma' I don't mind, me and my pop never did get along well anyways. I hand the phone to her and rummage around in the kitchen pretending not to listen but I can tell from the expression on my ma's face it wasn't good news. She hangs up the phone with a 'yes, of course Philip. Yes I'll tell him.' If you knew my parents at all, you would know getting along wasn't in their vocabulary."
He gazes over at me and half-laughs. I must have a weird face, this is just the most we've ever talked about his family, and I'm intrigued.
"So yeah," he went on, "ma' told me to sit down. That we need to speak about something important," his face went cold and I regretted asking such a personal question.
"I'm sorry. We don't have to talk about it," ugh stupid me I shouldn't have asked. I ruin everything!
"No its fine," he smiled reassuring me, "she told me that my pop called to tell us that the doctors found a tumor in his head. That it wasn't anything to worry about unless it stayed in there. My pop agreed to let them remove it and a few weeks later he was fine. So why was he calling now? I asked my ma' and she told me there's more. After his surgery pop started feeling dizzy, weak, and always short of breath, by this time I'm thinking great the doc's messed something up during surgery but it was even worse than I imagined."
"Ma' knew what was wrong with pop but they felt it was his responsibility to tell me. The next thing I knew I'm on a plane out of London and heading to my pop. Ma' never did tell me anything only that I would be living with my father this year. She didn't like it any more than I did but I knew something serious must be holding her back."
"When I arrived here NC, Ashville of all places, I was not at all pleased. My pop and I never really got along well. I thought this whole situation was because of me, my grades, my attitude, or all the above. I thought this was some excuse to get to know the man I've rejected my whole life but when I arrived here and he sat me down to tell me the truth I was forever changed."
"Emilia, my father was diagnosed with acute leukemia."
My heart drops and it feels like my whole world has been turned upside down. How could poor, tired, sad Phil have cancer? It wasn't right! He was barely in his mid-forties with a whole life ahead of him. I wanted to scream and curse whoever was responsible but I knew that was foolish. I knew there was nothing I could do. Just like with my dad, brother, and whole family falling apart.
I was so lost in my own problems I forgot everyone else had a deep dark secret to. One that can eat them alive just like it does you. I felt remorse and a suffocating sadness wash over me and still Sebastian continued on.
"There is a forty percent survival rate and that's only if he can make it through all the treatments. He has to go through surgery again, chemotherapy, and radiation. Cancer is still curable but it's going to take a miracle, that's why I go to church, to pray for a miracle."
"I'm- I'm deeply sorry Sebastian, that is-" I shuddered and knew that was all I was going to get out of that story but glad with it. I didn't need to hear anymore to know what he was going through. "The worst thing I have ever heard." Even worse than my family dying, I had no idea they would pass away but Sebastian had to idly sit by and wait for it to happen, everyday growing more and more hopeless. It's a torture I wouldn't even wish upon my worst enemies but I admired his bravery. Makes me want to brave too.
We walked threw his house and up the stairs. The silence of our conversation grows louder and harder to handle. The walls were light blue that felt like it would push in on us and in the hall hung family pictures. I examined them, more questions coming to mind. I wouldn't dare ask them though, maybe another time.
"I've never told anyone that before." We got to the top of the stairs before I answered and he turned to me. Eye's wide and scared with what? Desperation, acceptance, faith?
"I'm glad you did. I'm here for you if ever you need me Sebastian."
"Maybe you could come with us one of these days, to the hospital I mean. He goes in everyday for chemo."
"I would love that." I feel the bond between us growing and can't help but tear up.
His previous moods vanished as stared at me with a cheerful-goofy look spread on his face. I chuckled on accident at his expression, tears subsiding. I know we were having a moment but it felt good to laugh after another horrible day. Sebastian seemed to make my worries go away even with everything going on.
"It's good to hear your laugh, brings back something long forgotten, like deja-vu."
"I wonder what?" I stepped closer invading his bubble, willing him to remember, and his eyes grew wide with playfulness.
"Now I want to show you my room," really emphasized on the way he said 'my room' and I couldn't help but giggle.
"Okay lead the way," I said biting my lip trying not to laugh again despite the previous conversation I like the direction this one was heading.
Sebastian's room was a shade of darker blue, compared to the rest of his house. His walls were bare and there were boxes everywhere and that same piano from when we were kids in the corner. The only thing that looked unpacked was his blankets that were on his bed.
"Nice room," I said and continued, "Very blue."
"Yeah my ma' likes the blue, reminds me of her. We're going to repaint the house too, when she comes down to visit. A little surprise for pop."
"That's really nice but let me guess blue?" I laugh.
"Duh. I personally like green better, but oh well her house, her call," he nudged my arm in a playful way, one that reminded me of Kris. Wait, this was his mom's house? That was strange.
"I personally like green to," I nudged back and he chuckled. "Do you need help?" I asked.
"With what?" he asked raising one eyebrow. I wondered what else he thought I could help him with. Never mind that I probably didn't want to know.
"Unpacking of course. What else would you need help with?" Maybe I shouldn't have asked I thought to myself.
"Well there's many things I want help with but let's save those things for another day," he said that in a cocky voice and winked. If I didn't know any better I would have thought he was flirting...Well I didn't so that was good.
"Let's start with these boxes," He pointed to the far corner of the room by the closet. "I want to get my clothes hung up first," he said smiling.
"Okay, but first tell me. Do you play piano?" I asked with a hint of amusement in my voice, I already knew of course but I want him to remember me desperately.
"Yeah, why, do you?"
"No but I accompany anyone who does."
"What does that mean?"
"Let's see," I go to his piano and sit down, shuffling through his sheet music I find the perfect song. "Here start playing this one."
He glances at me then back at his piano and I think I see the gears turning in his head. He smirks and sits next to me and then with his long skillful fingers begins to play "Your Song" by Elton John. I sit next to him and sway back in forth to the beat.
It's a little bit funny this feeling inside
I'm not one of those who can easily hide
I don't have much money but boy if I did
I'd buy a big house where we both could live
(Sebastian's eyes grew with recognition. It seemed as if he had an epiphany.)
If I was a sculptor ha, but then again, no
Or a girl who makes potions in a travelling show
I know it's not much but it's the best I can do
My gift is my song and this one's for you
(I decided to mix up the verses which made him beam brightly and nod his head going with the flow.)
ooh, ooh, ooh
Well the sun's been quite kind while I wrote this song
It's for people like you that keep it turned on
So excuse me forgetting but these things I do
You see I've forgotten if they're green or they're blue
(I point to me when I sing green then to him when I say blue.)
Anyway the thing is what I really mean
Yours are the sweetest eyes I've ever seen
(Then I decided to wrap up the song just as Sebastian played the last of it.)
And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but now that it's done
I hope you don't mind
I hope you don't mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is now you're in the world
I smile and look down at my hands. I loved singing especially with Sebastian but it wasn't the same bliss I got from singing with Kris. I don't know how to explain it; all I can say is this felt normal like breathing. You don't really notice you're doing it because it just comes naturally. With Kris I felt as if it was sacred and holy. My whole body was on fire when I sang with him like I was on the right path and doing something important.
Even so, Sebastian finally realized I'm not Emily, not some random girl from school; no I was his childhood companion. I searched his eyes as the sparkled with realization. "Remember me."
"I do, I truly do. Emilia…" He drifted examining me as if he hardly believed it. "I'm so sorry. It was so long ago, I don't even- No that's no excuse. I'm such a jerk and you have to believe me when I feel like a complete ass." He rubs his hand over his face. I didn't want him feeling bad about it not with everything he's going through.
I pull them down and force him to look at me, "Sebastian. I forgive you, it was seven years ago. Plus you made up for it by once again playing with. I feel…" it was my turn to search for the right words. "Reunited, at long last." I giggle because it sounds so corny and leaves a foul taste in the back of my mouth which makes him do the same.
"Man," he runs his hand through his hair, "I know this probably doesn't make you feel any better but WOW have you changed! I mean look at you, you're gorgeous."
This makes me blush but I still have enough wits to say a snappy comment, "hey now, are you saying I used to be ugly?"
"I'm saying you used to have a gap between your two front teeth, you were always bruised from 'adventures,' plus your hair was chopped short and quite frankly cricked." He smiled apologetically and I laughed. It was cut wrong because my drunken mother did it herself.
"They were from adventures, back then Kattie used to be my best friend."
"Kattie as in Kat, your arch nemesis?" His mouth drops not believing it at first but then slowly I can tell he starts to connect the dots.
"Yeah, that summer I was supposed to go on vacation with her but I was in a difficult situation at home. I got upset and fell off my bike. That's when I met you. I didn't want her family to see me like that and think…." I trailed off not wanting to finish what was true.
"Emilia, this conflict with your mother has been going on for seven years? I don't believe it's any of Kats business but if what you say is true and you were best pals, she deserves to know. Maybe that's why she hasn't talked to you since."
I consider it as he continues on "maybe if she knew-"
I interrupt, "puff, please 'maybe if she knew' we could what? Be friends? I would never forgive her for abandoning me when I needed her most, especially when she never even gave me an explanation."
"Did you ever give her yours? An explanation I mean. Look at it from her point of view; you ditched her first by not going on that trip with her. She must have been hurt when she came back and saw that you were spending all your time with me."
"I would have spent time with her to! She didn't give me a chance to explain. She saw what she wanted to see and apparently it was better than trying to fight for our friendship."
"Hey, I'm not trying to defend her. Just think about it is all I'm saying."
I frowned but didn't object. Maybe Sebastian had a point. I would talk to Kattie and when she still rejects me after hearing the truth I will rub that in his face.
For an hour or so we unpacked his clothes which all looked the same too me, plain shirts, faded pants and a lot of shorts. Then we moved on to his books. Man did he have a good book collection with books like Pride and Prejudice, The Scarlet Letter, Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, The Odyssey, Gone with the Wind, and To Kill a Mockingbird. It got me thinking, what kind of ordinary teenager would want to read this sort of literacy. One from London probably.
Sebastian seemed to hold the same wisdom, kindness, and mystery he used to when we were little but the more I spend time with him the more I feel like I know him. I feel like I've learn so much about him already just by his books. I just couldn't get enough I wanted to know more.
After the books we moved on to the movies. Out of all of them the only one that made me laugh was The Godfather, Kris and I always used to impersonate Don Corleone "I understand. You found paradise in America, you had a good trade, you made a good living. The police protected you and there were courts of law. You didn't need a friend like me. But, now you come to me, and you say: 'Don Corleone, give me justice.' But you don't ask with respect. You don't offer friendship. You don't even think to call me Godfather. Instead, you come into my house on the day my daughter is to be married, and you ask me to do murder for money." Greatest line ever!
As I put the one of the last books on his shelf, I turned around to realize he was on the bed staring at me. I felt blood rush to my cheeks.
"What?" I mused. 'Why was he staring at me like that?' thought to myself.
"Oh nothing. Thanks for helping," He said patting the bed next to him, for me to come sit by him.
I walked over to the bed and sat down a little uncomfortable by our proximity.
"No problem, you want to keep going?" I wondered why we stopped.
"No I want to talk," He said with a sly smile on his lips. "You know that's what people do when they want to get to know each other. Although it seems like I already know you pretty well," with that he laid down on his side, propping his head up with his elbow.
So I decided to join him lying on my stomach next to him. "Okay what would you like to know that you don't already?" I said smiling showing my teeth.
We sat for nearly three hours talking about are worst and best experiences. I told him what's changed over the years and what has stayed the same and he amused me with some personal stories how one time in the seventh grade his friends dared him to go inside a haunted house. He said he got so scared he pissed himself. This made me laugh for almost ten minutes and almost piss myself. I told him my favorite foods and favorite movies. He also admitted he loved romantic movies this made me laugh out loud too.
"You have a beautiful laugh." He said so intensely. So I've been told, especially lately.
I just smiled and stared at him in uncertainty. I don't know what I'm feeling but when I'm around him my body feels as if I'm suffocation in warm pool, I feel dizzy, and light-headed. If I'm being honest I just wanted to close the distance between us and feel how it feels to actually be with somebody.
Sitting there talking to Sebastian made me feel like I've known him my whole life but I barely just met up him again that's what was weird about it. I felt the connection again, the one that made me feel like I could feel him inside me, feel his soul pouring its self into mine, like he never really left and was here all along. If you really think about it he was here all along. Everything I did and aspired to be was because of him. I could see through his mask and I felt as if he could certainly see through mine.
My heart pounded faster, surely he could hear it. His eye's whispered something long forgotten just like he said. Kris flashed through my head and I flushed sitting up. That's right, I'm supposed to be a tease and going out with Kris. If I give in now this whole act will be for nothing. I need to make him NEED me, not just want me. I have to get out of here before I lose control of my raging hormones and jump him.
"I have to go," I said getting up off the bed awkwardly. At that moment I was really thankful I wasn't a guy, all I needed now was a cold shower. "I have tons of homework," I reassured him.
"Oh, okay Em," He smiled his warm smile, "thanks for helping."
The fact that his father hadn't bother us once wasn't any help. I was moving toward him unconsciously and gratefully all I did was bend down to give him a hug goodbye. The single act was pure instinct, like I've done it before which obviously I have, just not in long time. My body was in control and before it got any worse I had to move and move fast.
"Bye," I whispered next to his ear and walked out of his room. I walked past his dad in the kitchen, cooking what smelled like pot roast and waved goodbye. The ping of sadness creeps back into me a little but I didn't let it more than that. I would not pity Phil or Sebastian, I would respect him, be here for him, and hopefully one day love him.