I Can't Be This Way [part 3]
I Can't Be This Way
I didn’t see Alex until lunch. The girls and I were sitting at our table and I saw Alex go and sit by himself.
“I’ll be back in a second.” I said and quickly went over to Alex. I couldn’t ignore him this time.
Alex sat still, staring at the pavement. I sat opposite him and he looked up at me through his fringe. “What?” he asked. I could see he was still angry and upset. He looked at the ground again.
“Are you okay?” I asked shyly.
He looked at me properly this time. “What do you think?” He said.
“Well...” my cheeks were feeling hot even though it was freezing cold outside. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” Alex snapped.
“Aw come on, you can tell me.” I said.
“I can’t trust you anymore. It’s none of your business anyway.” He said quietly.
There was a heavy silence.
“Well, where did you go during class?” I asked.
“School counsellor.” Alex said in a cold voice.
“Just leave me alone. Please. I’ve had enough of people’s stupid questions.”
I was out of words anyway. Alex’s eyes flickered around beneath his curtain of hair, greener and wilder than ever.
Alex wasn’t at school for two days in a row. I was looking for him before school on Friday. When I saw him I was so relieved. As stupid as it sounds, I was afraid he had run away. I approached him and pretended nothing was going on.
“Hi Alex.” I said.
No reply. Not even a glance up at me this time.
“Where were you-“ I began saying.
“Didn’t I tell you to leave me alone? Isn’t that what you want anyway?”
I blinked. His stare fixed me to the spot. “Can’t I even say ‘hi’ to you anymore?”
“You can’t see it, can you?” his voice nearly caught in his throat.
“This is torture.” Alex said and walked away from me.
A few more days passed in a flash. Every next day seemed to be like the previous one. I was beginning to feel frustrated with myself for some reason.
I got to school on time. No Alex that day it seemed. My half smile faded. I missed seeing his dark hair flopping around his green eyes.
But I stuck with the girls for the first half of the day.
Just before lunch I was called over to the office to talk to the deputy principal. As I walked slowly over I wondered what I could possibly be in trouble for. Maybe someone dobbed us in for the smoking thing. No, then they would get Phoebe, Tasha, Shelbi and Sarah too.
I knocked on the door of the deputy principal’s office. “Yes?” I heard her voice through the door. I took a deep breath and opened the door.
Mrs Fleming looked up from behind her glasses. “Audra, thank you for coming over.” She motioned to the seat on the opposite side of her desk. “Take a seat.”
I sat down. She looked at me for a moment. “I guess you’re probably wondering why you’re in here. Am I right?” She asked.
I just nodded.
“Don’t worry you’re not in trouble.” She added with a smile but it quickly disappeared. She looked down at her joined hands on the desk.
“To our knowledge last night Alex…” She paused and looked from her hands to me for a second. My stomach lurched. I could see this wasn’t good news. “Alex tried to kill himself.”
The breath was squeezed out of me like there was something in my throat stopping me from inhaling. My mouth felt dry. I looked down at my shoes, trying to avoid Mrs Fleming’s eyes.
“I’m sorry you had to hear it from me, but we decided it was better to let you know now rather than later.”
The night before, while I was lying comfortably on my bed listening to music or finishing off a bit of homework, Alex would have been pressing a blade to his flesh, or something to that effect. My mind buzzed with horrible thoughts. I couldn’t keep the image of blood dripping down his arm and onto his cream coloured carpet out of my head. I felt like screaming out loud. But it was too late for any of that…
Oh my god. Alex could have killed himself.
The previous week ran over through my head. All the loneliness, the pain, the sadness I had seen in him… that I had ignored!
I recalled a particular sentence that Alex had said to me himself; “You can’t see it, can you?” That was only three days ago.
“Audra?” Mrs Flemings said softly. I looked up at her slightly strained face. “Alex’s mother asked me to talk to you, find out what might have made him do such a thing to himself.”
It was you, Audra .It’s all your fault… said a voice in my head.
I swallowed. “Umm I think it was me miss.”
Mrs Flemings eyebrows furrowed. “What do you mean?”
I explained, slowly and painfully, about Alex and I and what had been going on between us for the past few weeks.
“Don’t worry about this, Audra, it wasn’t your fault.” Mrs Fleming tried to reassure me.
The voice in my head kept going, You idiot, wasn’t he your friend?
I was allowed to go home early that day. After a night of hardly any sleep I went back to school.
I wasn’t expecting to see Alex there, and didn’t. So, instead of hanging out with the girls I sat alone and thought about what I had done.
This was never meant to go this far. No. I was only meant to do this for a few days, until they believed I wasn’t with him. How stupid is that anyway? And I got carried away in all their shit. I forgot about how I actually felt.
I pressed my head back against the wall and shut my eyes, imagining everything was okay.
I only opened my eyes again when the bell rang.
I raced home after school.
Not long after I got home, Alex’s mum rang and asked if I wanted to see him. She explained how he wouldn’t talk to her or even his father and barely came out of his room. She wanted someone to talk to him. Her voice was a little uneasy.
I thought about it. But what if he didn’t even want to see me? What if I just made it even worse?
“Did Alex ask you to call me over?” I asked.
There was a pause. “no, but it seems that he’s really missing you.” His mother said. I bit my lip.
“As soon as he got home from the hospital yesterday evening he went into his room and pulled out that old scrapbook that you two made together.”
“What, did he burn it or something?” I tried not to scoff at the thought because I could see him doing something like that.
“Of course not! He got all emotional and… she trailed off.
“What do you say, Audra?” The phone crackled.
“Well, I guess I could come over for a bit.” I said.
“Great. I’m sure Alex will be happier if you do.”
“Okay, I’ll be over in about… 20 mins?”
“That’s fine see you then.” She hung up.
[read part 4 here]