Maybe if I could just talk to her, maybe...Maybe nothing would be different. Let's face it; if I disappeared tomorrow, would anyone notice?
It's a kind of mantra that he cannot break no matter how hard he tries. It's the kind of mantra that he can't block out, or yell over, or turn down.
Evan is stuck this way. Like a broken record. Wondering.
If I just left...if I just ran...if I just died-
No. Never that last one.
It may be an option, but it's not one he can take.
Evan imagines that a funeral would be more expensive than his education.
He can't take that chance, can't give his mom that kind of grief, that loss. Not again.
God, would anyone notice?
Would Jared walk down the hallway on the first day of school and find that there was no one to taunt?
Would Alana Beck find one less person to boast to?
Would Zoe Murphy, guitar in jazz band, rich and perfect, notice a gap in the wall?
Evan doesn't know. Doesn't know if he wants to know.
Evan's brain is blurry, along with his vision. His throat is sour and raw, and his nose tastes like tears.
He's climbing a tree.
One foot. Next foot. Grab that branch and hoist up.
Evan can't ever imagine what the outcome of this could be. He doesn't know why he's climbing, doesn't know how he plans to get down.
Evan pulls himself up, over a thick branch, straddles it, and sits with his back against the trunk. He breathes in through his nose.
It doesn't matter.
If he dropped out of the tree, right now-
He grips the branch, the pads of his fingers too fragile against the roughness of the bark. Evan presses his back hard against the trunk.
He can't do this.
He doesn't want to climb down.
He can climb no higher.
He can't stay there.
He can't leave.
Evan lets the tears drip down his face, off his chin, staining the collar off his shirt with his tears.
It would be so easy - no - almost too easy - please - to just let go, to just tip to the side, to just slump off the branch.
Evan clenches his fists and presses them to his eyes, because this can't be him, not now, this cannot be what he's come to, he can't be fantasising what it would be like to crash against the branches on a journey to the ground that would surely end his life, he can't be wishing for some great answer to this horrible dilemma he's climbed up into.
Evan just wants the great empty in him to end, just wants an answer, just wants an end.
He doesn't care how it comes to him.
He just needs it, before he can make a mistake he'll regret, before he makes the mistake that will ruin his mother, or ruin himself.
Evan needs something, but there is nothing this far up.
Nothing but him and the trees, and the thunder that's beginning to rumble in the sky.
Evan wants to go home.
He never wants to step foot in that dark, empty, broken home ever again.
He needs to finish this.
He'll stay here, forever if he needs to, until he makes up his mind.
"Um." The voice is sudden and loud in the relative quiet that Evan's used to, at this point, so when he hears it, he very nearly falls in fright. He sniffs, and wipes his eyes, and there's someone sitting in front of him, far up the branch, right where it's much too thin to support even a child's weight.
This figure looks to be about Evan's age, dressed in black, straddling the branch like Evan is, and looking up at him through strands of long, dark hair, with big blue eyes.
It takes Evan a minute to fully recognise him, but when he does, he very nearly falls from the tree, again.
"Connor?" He stutters, and clears his throat. His throat is raw and scratchy from the crying.
"Sorry, if I'm interrupting, but you've been sitting up here for ages, and I was wondering when you were gonna come down." Connor says, pushing his hair behind his ears, and giving Evan a surveying look. "Unless, this is, like, a crying tree, or whatever."
Evan shakes his head, confused and sad. "How are you sitting there?"
"What?" Connor furrows his eyebrows.
"It's so thin on that branch." Evan clarifies, gesturing to where Connor's perched. Connor looks down and seeks to register what little support is keeping from crashing to earth, just as Evan had been imagining earlier. "It should have snapped ages ago."
Connor seems to consider this, and shuffles up the branch, a little. He shrugs at Evan, moving to swing both legs over the same side of the branch, like an odd version of side-saddle. "A lot of things should have happened." He informs Evan, stretching in a way that looks perilous, as he's only barely balanced enough to stay sitting upright on the branch as he is.
"What does that mean?" Evan demands.
Connor ignores the question, pushing his sleeves up his arms to a point. "What are you doing up here?" Is his response. "It's starting to rain. What are you doing in a tree, in the middle of the day, crying?"
"Is it any of your business?" Evan retaliates.
"Probably not?" He shrugs again, and inclines his head in Evan's direction. Rain begins to drop, steadily from the sky, hitting stray leaves in the tree. "I just want to help, if I can."
"I don't think anyone can help me." Comes Evan's stiff reply.
"Why's that?" And the question is genuine.
"I'm a hopeless case." Evan practically laughs.
"Oh yeah?" And the way Connor says it, makes it sound like they could be two boys, discussing just anything. But, instead, they're two boys, sitting in a tree, discussing how Evan actually wants to die.
"Why are you here?" Evan asks him.
"What does it matter to you?" It looks as though the thought that Evan might ask him this had never occurred to Connor, and so he had no answer ready, except that which was defensive.
"I don't want to talk about me; what are you doing here?" Evan says.
Connor puffs put his cheeks, seemingly considering and weighing his answer, carefully. "Wanna hear a secret?" He settles on.
"Sure." Evan shrugs, wiping at his face with his wrists and the heels of his palms.
"Tough." Evan nearly laughs in shock at the bluntness of the word. "Why are you a hopeless case?"
"How about we trade?" Evan suggests, instead of answering.
"Sure, you go first." Connor gestures for him to go.
"Nope." Evan refuses, as the rain begins to get harder, and actually hit him.
"Yes." Connor counters, swinging his legs.
"Fine." Evan huffs, like a petulant child. "I'm a burden, I'm better off dead in this world than living here."
"Why do you think that?" There's no shock in Connor's tone. Just understanding and curiosity.
"That's not what we agreed on." Evan knows he's being stubborn.
"Tell me, anyway." Connor replies, shaking his head, even as his hair begins to paste to his head with the rain.
"No one would miss me if I disappeared." Evan finds himself saying, almost as though he had no choice in saying it. "No one would even notice. It's not going to be a good day. It'll never be a good day. It'll never get better, because there's too much broken, too much to fix, too much left behind."
"You came up here to fall?" This time - this time - Connor actually looks shocked. Of what, exactly, Evan's not sure.
"What?" Evan responds, oh-so-eloquently.
"Or...let go?" Connor mutters.
"What are you talking about?" Evan doesn't mean for it to come out sounding so angry, but he can't help it. He wants to be angry, wants to cry and scream, and find something, an answer, God, he needs an answer.
"You said you were a burden, that you were better off dead." Connor says, earnest to the end. "I assumed you were up here to drop out. To fall, to die."
"That's..." Evan trails off, looking down to where his hands are cupping the branch.
"Am I right?" Connor scoots closer, again, and Evan's honestly surprised that Connor hasn't lost his balance and fallen out of the tree, yet.
"...I don't know." He whispers.
"I'm sorry." Connor whispers back.
"I don't know how to do anything." It's the kind of admittance that he's not sure he wants to admit at all.
"Let me help you." Evan looks up sharply, surprised.
"How?" He inquires.
"I want to help you." Connor repeats. "Whatever you decide, I want you to be sure, and I want to help."
"...what if I tell you that I want you to leave me alone?" Evan questions. "What if I tell you that I want to slip off this branch, and die?"
Connor pauses, looking out in front of him, almost drenched at this point. The lightning in the sky that's visible through the trees, crashes across the sky and reflects in Connor's blue eyes. "...I'll do as you wish." He says, slowly.
"Seriously?" Evan's incredulous. Is it possible that Connor would just leave? That he'd never mention that he'd seen Evan right before-?
"Seriously." Connor echoes, voice as honest as Evan's ever heard it.
"And if I tell you that, now?" He asks, eyes wide.
Connor turns, and looks straight into Evan's eyes. "I'll leave."
"Connor..." He doesn't know what to do.
"Evan Hansen." He shivers at the rain dripping down his back, at the breeze. "What do you want?"
"I want an answer." It's too honest. It's what he says. "I want something solid, something sure. I don't care if it's the ground, I don't care, at all. I just need some ending, or some beginning. That's what I want. That's what I wish."
"Done." The tone is final, like Evan's made a deal.
Evan closes his eyes, and when he opens them, again, vision swimming with tears, Connor is gone.
As if he were never there.
What if it was just a wild hallucination, what if Connor had never been there, what if Evan had been trying to convince himself to back down?
He doesn't want to think anymore.
Sincerely, your best and most dearest friend,
Evan lies on the ground for ten whole minutes before he even dared to move.
He wants to be dead.
Death would hurt less than this.
He hates this.
His cheek is squashed against the grass, one arm splayed out to his side, the other trapped under his chest, twisted at an odd angle, hurting like hell.
Evan closes his eyes, and wishes for it to just end.
Any minute, someone will find me, he thinks.
For ten minutes, he lies under the tree, snapped branches lying like autumn leaves around him, waiting for something, anything, someone to find him, to just die, for the pain to retreat, for it to grow.
No one comes.
The breeze blows, the rain falls, and Evan forces himself, slowly, onto his knees.
There is no one there, but himself.
He gets shakily to his feet, gripping his left arm to his chest, the pain almost to great.
He walks back the way he came, speckled with raindrops, face smeared with tears, pain in each breath, across the grass and to the path, away from the tree.
Evan doesn't see the figure in black, the one who goes to stand where Evan had lay, and looks up at the tree, and puts their hand against the trunk, almost fondly.
Doesn't see Connor Murphy watch him leave, frowning, confused.
It had been so long since someone had sat in that tree and wished for an answer, and Connor had been able to answer them.
It had been so long since Connor had been anything but Connor Murphy, so long since Connor could grant someone's wish, because no one had voiced their wish to him in years, decades, centuries.
That's what he's here for, after all. Here to grant people's wishes.
(Which is what's so unfortunate, when Zoe Murphy, who never noticed that her older brother had been seventeen for her whole life, tells him that she wishes she never saw him again, that she wishes he'd disappear forever.)