“No, wait! Come back!” he called behind me, frustration tainting his accented words.
I didn’t turn around, didn’t slow down. All I did was walk away, one foot after the other, too eager to put a great distance between a certain red head and me.
I wasn’t far enough that I heard him curse under his breath. I heard the rustle of clothes as he lifted his arms to rub his freckled face with his hands and run his fingers through wild curls, like I know he does when he’s irked. “Please,” he begged, “I can explain.”
Fists clenched, my footsteps faltered, almost causing me to trip over. A shot of anger pierced straight through me, I could feel the red rage starting to rush through my bloodstream. I felt my eyebrow twitch and it was all I could do to stop myself from turning around. I failed. I guess I didn’t have enough self-restraint than I thought I would’ve.
I whirled around, “Then explain.” I snapped through clenched teeth. I wanted to yell at him, to scream how stupid he sounded just now and how idiotic it was for him to think that an explanation could justify everything he’s done.
He looked at me, with those deep-set, tired green eyes—eyes that pleaded with me to listen, to hear him out. To forgive him. And again, it was all I could do not to melt under his gaze.
Or slap him across his face.
“I didn’t mean to do what I did,” He started out lamely, “It just happened.”
“Oh my God,” I nearly yelled, one step away from calling him out on his bullshit. Did he really think that that was the way to start an explanation? Not to mention, it was the most vague thing to say.
“It’s not my fault!” He protested, ultimately knowing it was the dumbest reasoning.
“Oh, it’s not?” I barked out harshly, crossing my arms tightly over my chest. “If I recall, for most of it, you were responsible.”
“No, you look, Philby.” I interrupt, too furious with him to even hear him out anymore. My mind raced a thousand words per second, and I couldn’t think over my own shouting. “Your selfishness and coldness almost caused us a life.”
Philby’s mouth opened, ready with another explanation. But the words on his lips were short lived. In his eyes, I could see the realisation of almost being responsible for someone’s death hit him; the idea that he would’ve been a murderer placed a heavy burden on that sea of green. His lips pressed into a tight line.
“Yeah,” I said softly, “I bet that never crossed your mind.”
“No.” He said finally. “It didn’t.”
“You knew what you were getting yourself into with them, Philby.” I continue, “You were a Keeper… or at least, that’s what we thought. You almost killed your friend. You betrayed us.”
I looked at him, my anger slowly fading away. Only, this time, what replaced it was so much worse. Because this time I was a target for an arrow of pain and sorrow, and the one pulling the bow was none other than the boy standing in front of me. And as much as I wished he had a horrible aim, the arrow struck through straight and clear.
And it was all that I felt.
I stepped closer, disregarding all the space I hoped to put between us. And yet, when our faces were right within our reaches, he couldn’t feel farther away. Our worlds have never been more distant than at this moment.
“This game of deception…” I whisper. Then shrug, “Philby, you’re a master of it.”
“I never meant…” He trailed off, already knowing that he’s tried this excuse. He knows I’ve heard this argument too many times before. He sighed in defeat, “I just want you to know…this was a game I never wanted to play.”
I shook my head. I didn’t have the courage to meet his eyes, too afraid that whatever I saw there, would break me some more until I could no longer be put together again. “You played it anyway.” I laughed, but it was empty, “You played us all.”
He was silent. And I couldn’t take it. I had too much to say. I wanted a fight. I just someone to take away the hurt inside of me now. Even if it meant asking the one person who let the hurt bloom in the first place, to do it.
“You haven’t even apologised for what you did.” I mutter, mentally kicking myself for sounding like a child.
“I have,” he whispered, “But you never heard me. If I apologised again, to you, I know you wouldn’t think I was sorry.”
“How can I?” I said, hating the quaver of my voice.
“Exactly, how could you?” He murmured before slipping back into silence.
I still couldn’t handle the quiet.
“How can you be so calm about this?” I said. The accusation in my voice was too obvious for anyone to miss it.
I imagined him cringing, I imagined that I’d hurt him and then imagined that I hurt him some more. So at least, he’ll know half of what I felt.
“How can you feel nothing? After all you’ve done.” I almost yell, desperate to get anything out of him and at the same time, I was too anxious to turn on my heel and walk away again. But somewhere in the back of my mind, something told me to settle this for good. So I didn’t have to see him ever again, no matter how loud my heart screamed.
I was about to yell at him again when he cut me off, “How can you say I don’t feel anything?” He whispers, his voice lashed out sharply, “Try to imagine what I feel, knowing that I’m not worthy of anyone’s trust, knowing that I can never see my friends’ faces again because they hate the very existence of me, and they wish to see me dead. Imagine what I feel when I think of how the one person I loved, was the one I hurt the most.”
I didn’t have anything to say. I didn’t know what to say. The fact that he was aware of what he’s done and sorry for it…could have been my sole comfort. But no, he’d only made the sting of pain inside of me throb even harder.
I shook my head, a question in my mind I wasn’t sure I wanted an honest answer for. “Philby…was anything real to you?” I whispered.
I just needed to know, even if he played us all and if everything he did was all a well-presented lie…if whatever the hell was between meant anything. Because my sleepless and tear-filled nights couldn’t have been for something that was never really there. I needed it to have been for something. If it wasn’t…
‘No!’ My mind screamed.
It was almost all of a sudden, that the idea of learning the truth was too much bear. And like my body had a mind of it’s own, my feet turned me around and walked away. But a cold, firm hand shot out and gripped my arm, halting my hurried steps.
I looked at his hand, wrapped just below my elbow, and the memory of his hands around mine, lips brushing against my own, and arms around me, jolted through my body and washed away all the happiness I could ever and will ever have felt. Leaving me with only the darkness of sorrow.
Somehow, my eyes found his and I wanted to break for it. Those very emerald eyes, that had mesmerised me and fooled everyone, now gazed at me with a shattering agony that said that whatever I felt, he felt it ten times worse. But here I am, still unable to find it within me to feel a bit of sympathy for him.
“Yes.” He whispered, his voice breaking and his cheeks shimmered as tears ran down and stained his face. And then he said my name, “Willa…"
Whatever wall protected me from bursting was ruined. I became undone. A sob escaped from my throat and I felt his hands loosen its grip on my arm.
Then he let me go. And I bolted.