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It’s not easy being Evan Hansen.
Oh what a great way to kick things off.
For one, this nail biting habit that god damn it, Evan, you need to get under control. He’s lost too much blood from chewing on his cuticles to the point they’ve almost completely vanished. Even then, though, he finds a way to chew. Sometimes he’ll resort to hang nails that are bugging him and end up bleeding even more and having a bandaid on 50 per cent of his fingers for the rest of the day.
But that’s just a general thing he needs to work on and is easily changed about himself.
One thing that isn’t easily changed is how lonely he is.
That came off sadder than intended, but it’s oh, so true. He’s tried to make friends that aren’t forced or his grandma through the years, but he always ends up scaring or pushing them away. Heidi used to say it’s because they’re not used to such in-detail facts about trees, but she eventually stopped making excuses for Evan’s lack of friends as Evan stopped believing those pile of garbage lies. It’s because of his trust issues, crippling anxiety, and absolute inability to act like everyone else.
He never meant to have any of those three things; they weren’t born with him. They sort of slowly developed around him and he began noticing little things that no one else noticed and jumping more at sounds and crying easier than anyone else in third grade. They sort of slowly developed around third grade, the first full school year Evan had without his dad.
Evan usually blames his anxiety on his dad, taking the strain away from his mom for even those few minutes she truly believes it. Maybe if he hadn’t left when Evan was so young he wouldn’t be so fucked up, or even if he had stayed somewhere closer. A road trip away, maybe. Not an entire 400 dollar plane ride into another country away. Evan doesn’t blame him, though. If he were Mark he would want to get as far away from Evan as possible, too.
But maybe Mark leaving was for the best. He remembers seeing how fake-happy he and Heidi were together, even if he was only a little kid at the time. They would whisper fight for hours into the night, thinking Evan couldn’t hear it and was sound asleep, and Heidi would come sleep with Evan in his room most nights because she wanted to comfort him and stay away from Mark.
He remembers seeing the absolute and unwavering joy upon Mark’s face during his wedding to Evan’s step mom when Evan was fourteen. That’s when it really hit him how unhappy he and Heidi were together and maybe him leaving was for the best. Besides, Sydney is a lawyer. Oh, was a lawyer.
Evan doesn’t know the whole story, but he remembers the old monthly email he would get from his dad saying that Sydney had mysteriously lost her job and is now cocktail waitressing at some ‘Boob Restaurant’ (as Jared put it). Heidi suspects Sydney lost her job because she was bad at it, because both of them know she’s not very good at arguing, as shown by the Skype calls Evan and Sydney would have when she and Mark began dating. Jared thinks she lost her job because she had an affair with her boss’ son. Evan’s not sure which one is more likely.
“So,” Heidi breaks the silence. She grips the steering wheel tightly but her shoulders are slack. She’s trying not to look too tense. The wrinkles in her forehead and bags under her eyes say a different story. “Anything new?”
“What?”
They lurch toward then fall back as Heidi begins driving again. They get stuck behind some elder in a car that looks like it could break down any moment. Evan’s anxiety of getting to school on time skyrockets.
“What’s going on in your life? I feel like I barely see you!”
“Oh. Yeah. Nothing, really. Um… yeah,” Evan fiddles with the inside hem of his slacks. He pulls at it a few times when he feels a string is loose and jerks his hand away, resorting to picking at his thumbnail.
“Really? Nothing. Do you have a secret girlfriend I don’t know about? That’s something lots of teens still do, right? I had a secret boyfriend for almost a year when I was your age, you know,”
God, he wishes. The amount of times he’s stared at Zoe Murphy from down the hall or across the room or on the bus. The amount of times he’s imagined her lips kissing his, her beautiful, pink, soft lips. The amount of times he’s imagined running his hands through her hair as they watch cheesy rom coms on his couch and slowly fall asleep, she listening to his heartbeat and he hugging her like she could leave any second now. The amount of times he’s wondered what her hands feel like in his, whether they’re warm but get cold easily like his, or always warm, or always cold, playing with each other’s fingers and giggling as they bend even the slightest bit.
“Yeah, no. Sorry,”
“What about school? You’ve been back for almost a month, there has to be something special going on,”
No, not really. It’s really mostly the same as past years, except this time everyone is younger than him and the teachers act like anyone in his class can do no wrong because they have the most experience and smarts of all the students, they must be the most logical. His grades are alright, a little above average, his lunches are spent alone in the library playing Angry Birds because he has no friends to talk to, school assemblies give him panic attacks so those are spent in the nurse's office eating mints and drinking plasticky water.
“Good. I guess,”
Heidi sighs.
“How’s Jared doing?”
He doesn’t know. They talk for about five minutes every week before class, Jared paying his iced coffee more attention than Evan. Other than that, it’s awkward looks in the halls and avoiding each other during classes they have together because Jared is truly embarrassed to be seen with Evan at all. Heidi knows about as much about Jared as Evan does, which is pretty much nothing other than what he acted like as a kid and pre-teen. Though all kids and pre-teen boys acted the same, so yeah. Neither of them know anything about Jared.
“Good,”
“That’s good,” Heidi taps her fingers lightly against the steering wheel. She purses her lips. “Why don’t you invite him over to dinner sometime this week. It’s been a while, you know. I miss him,”
That isn’t a good idea.
“Oh, yeah. Good—good idea,”
“I know right?” Heidi smiles and scrunches up her nose, a little too proud of herself. “I’m such a cool mom. I’m such a cool mom, right Evan? I’m so cool and hip and young,”
Maybe if she were able to get a reasonable amount of sleep she would be able to look like it. She’s so sleep deprived she looks about double her age, which really isn’t a good thing when people mistake her for Evan’s grandmother. “I’d rather be called your older sister than grandmother,” she said one day after leaving the mall and some kiosk vendor leaned over to Evan and whispered ‘why don’t you get something nice for your grandma over there.’ Evan was pulled away before he could say anything back.
“Yeah. So hip and cool, because kids these days still say that,” Evan says, a hint of genuine amusement in his voice. Heidi fist pumps and pulls into one of the parking slots in front of the school.
They say their goodbyes. Heidi reminds Evan to try to have a good day. He tells her he’ll try. She crosses her fingers and Evan waves half heartedly as she drives away.
He loves his mom, he really does. She just tries too hard sometimes. Shit, that’s not right. Maybe desperate is better. Whatever, that’s the closest he’ll get.
Just… rewind and try again.
He loves his mom, he really does. She’s just a little too desperate sometimes. She’s too desperate to connect with her son the way other moms somehow seamlessly do. She’s too desperate to act her age, like she is only in her late thirties. Like a young mom. Though, sometimes it feels like she forgets she’s in her late thirties and not mid twenties. She acts younger than she is, but looks older.
It’s basically every student in his school’s dream to be like Heidi when they’re older; act younger than they look and actually be a good balance between the two. Evan’s sort of given up dreaming of the future. At this rate, he won’t even make it through this school year without killing himself, so what’s the point of imagining his future when it’ll be spent dead, rotting away, in a wooden box under six feet of dirt and bugs and probably animal feces.
“Evan!”
Evan almost drops his binder onto his feet at someone almost screaming his name. They scream it in a faux excited way, their voice way too over the top and loud. A couple look around for an Evan, is there an Evan? I don’t think so. Is that Evan? No that’s George. Sorry, kid, the person you’re looking for isn’t here.
Of course, it’s the one and only Jared Kleinman who saunters up to Evan and throws an arm around him with immense difficulty. That’s the only thing Jared doesn’t bully Evan about; their heights. Jareds always been jealous of Evan’s height, so is probably pretty thankful for his bad posture and hunchback that makes him shorter and closer to Jareds height.
Jared slinks his arm off of Evan and his hand goes immediately to his pocket. “Still don’t have any signatures on that there arm of yours?”
“Oh, uh. No,”
“That’s sad,” and Jared slurps his iced coffee. It’s almost out of coffee, now just a pile of ice with some light brown liquid at the bottom.
“I mean, you can sign it? Every time you’ve pointed out there’s no names I say you can and—”
‘‘Don’t you get it off in, like, a week? It’d be pointless now. Besides, don’t only friends sign each other’s casts?”
“But—you are my friend?”
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we’re not friends. We’re family friends. The two don’t line up at all,” Jared finishes his coffee, though pretends he hasn’t. He waves the cup around and gestures to it a couple times as he speaks, as if the ice will add anything to the conversation. “Anyway, apparently theres a kid that tried to kill themself a couple weeks ago, and they’re coming back to school today. My dad won’t tell me who it is because apparently the kid wanted to remain anonymous. I don’t think it’ll do anything, really. I mean, they basically disappeared for, like, three weeks, people have noticed they’re gone,”
Evan knits his eyebrows together. “Who is it?”
“Dunno. Like I said, dad won’t tell me,” Jared says. “Gotta go. Remember: car insurance!”
And like that, Jared disappears into the swarm of incoming students. Evan watches him leave for as long as he possibly can until Jared has completely gone.
Evan tries to like Jared. He just makes it so difficult sometimes. Evan is pretty sure most people don’t say goodbye to each other by yelling ‘car insurance!’ down the hall. Now that he recalls it, Evan can’t remember the last time Jared actually said ‘goodbye’ to him. That’s… not how normal humans interact.
Evan may not know much about how normal humans interact, but how he and Jared interact definitely isn’t it.
Believe it or not, though, there was a time they acted like actual friends. Acted or actually were, that’s still a question Evan doesn’t know how to answer. They grew up together, so he’s not sure if it counts considering they were basically forced to be friends. Jared probably hated every second it it, even back then. He only pretended to like Evan to make his parents happy.
That’s the way it still is. Fortunately or unfortunately.
•••
Ouch.
Why do hangnails exist? Hey, God, or whatever is out there, why do hangnails exist? They’re so inconvenient and gross and they hurt and they’re perfect for chewing when you’ve run out of nail.
Evan swears under his breath, jerking his hand away from his mouth to look at it. The middle finger is bleeding around the nail and his thumb is just barely keeping blood from escaping, the rest of the tips bright red and irritated from Evan’s religious chewing.
The scraping of chairs lifts his gaze around the room.
All around him are classmates, walking across the room to friends or waiting for friends to join them or laughing loudly at some doodle on their desk. All around him are classmates being actual, functioning people. People that have friends.
Shit, why are they even going to their friends in the first place? Evan looks around the room, panicked, as he attempts to figure out what is going on. No one else is doing the same, so it turns out he’s the only person that was too invested in their hangnail to pay attention to class. Oh Jesus he’s going to fail. He’s going to fail this class and end up not graduating and being thrown out for being a disappointment by Heidi and be able to stay with the Kleinman's for a bit until they get annoyed with him and he’ll end up begging for loose change outside of 7/11 as he watches his classmates rise to the top of the business chain.
He begins stroking a crease in his cast, a comfort tool he’s developed the last few weeks. It’s coming off in a few days and soon he’ll just be stroking creases in his hoodie because the cast won’t be there and he’ll be known as that weird kid that knows too much about trees and nature and rubs his arm as he focuses too hard on the floor.
“—an! Evan!”
Evan blinks a few times. He looks up, shocked to hear anyone saying his name, let alone know it.
The shock goes away when he realises it’s Alana Beck that’s calling him. She knows everyone’s name, the street their grandfather lives on, their phone passwords, and probably even their social security numbers. Evan doesn’t want to get on her bad side, if she even has one.
“Come on!” Alana waves Evan over to a pair of desks huddled together in the back corner. It’s the furthest space away from the teacher’s, so it comes as no surprise that Connor Murphy is in the desk next to Alana, his head down and eyebrows arched in annoyance.
Evan is too aware of the way he walks to the pair. He feels as if all eyes are on him, especially Connor’s (though they’re closed).
It hits him.
People are pairing up because there’s a group project going on. Oh, mother fucking shit. This isn’t good, for a multitude of reasons that Evan doesn’t want to get into but apparently his brain wants to.
One, it’s a group project and Evan’s people skills are severely lacking; most people group or pair up with friends, but Evan doesn’t have any friends; he’s too scared to speak up and suggest things in group meetings, instead suggesting things (and very nearly talking) to himself; if they need to present it, Evan will end up having a panic attack in the nurse's office and not be able to do it no matter how many Xanax he takes and ultimately failing his entire group because they couldn’t present without him
“Come—sit down,” Alana gestures toward the chair across from her. Evan would have put the chair across from Connor, truthfully, because of Alana’s array of binders and folders and pencil cases spread about the desk. “So, what are we thinking?”
“He wasn’t listening,” Connor says without a beat, pointing with his eyes still closed towards Evan, “he was too busy fucking voring his fingers,” Connor then points to himself, “I wasn’t paying any attention either,”
Evan appreciates that, though the wording leaves something to be desired. It was nice and to the point. Nice isn’t a word Evan ever thought he’d be associating with Connor Murphy, of all people. And, yet, here he is. Calling Connor Murphy nice. And maybe possibly accidentally grouping up with him for an English assignment that he doesn’t know anything about.
These three must look like they’re on crack, sitting and grouping together. Evan Hansen, the weirdo no one knows the name to and has a weird obsession with trees; Connor Murphy, the kid that is definitely a hardcore stoner and probably planning on killing his entire family then himself; and Alana Beck, the overly-optimistic straight-A’s student that knows everything about everyone (somehow). Evan is suddenly all too aware of the fact that, though they’re in the back of the classroom, anyone can look their way and judge them in a heartbeat.
“Oh, well, that’s not good,” Alana frowns. She bites her lip slightly. “Um, okay, so we need to pick a book, any book really, as long as it has chapters, read it, then choose our favourite or the most important chapter and perform a skit of it in mid-November,”
Oh, Jesus Christ. This could not get any worse.
He’s going to be spending a month and a half with these people, in a group project, and have to perform it to 30 people at the end of this month and a half. This is it. This is Evan Hansen’s absolute worst nightmare come to reality. It actually happening. Killing himself suddenly sounds way too attractive to be healthy. This is not something he’ll be telling Dr Sherman any time soon, that’s for sure.
Evan looks around at the class. Most people already have their heads down, writing down books to read or have already been read so they have more time to work on their skits, or joking around and drawing penises on the margins. Another person in the opposite corner seems to be doing the same thing as Evan. They turn their head back to their group and soon three people are staring at him and whispering about something. Probably him. He smiles apologetically and turns back to Alana.
“Oh. Fun,” Connor says, sarcastic and deadpan. He’s turned his head to lay on the cold desk and stare as Alana writes something down in one of her folders.
“Thanks,” Alana mutters, just as deadpan and sarcastic as Connor and eyes not leaving her paper. “I was thinking we do a classic book. Pride and Prejudice, maybe?”
She looks up for reactions. Evan, once again, is ‘voring’ his thumb, drawing blood and grimacing as the metallic taste hits his tongue, meanwhile Connor pulls a considering, considering, declining look.
“Why?”
“The title makes it sound like a fucking gay tragedy, I don’t wanna get the class’ hopes up or some shit,”
“Oh. Well, it’s not a gay tragedy, it’s a genuinely good book that I’m pretty sure anyone can like. It’s—,”
“A waste of my time,”
Alana groans. She looks back down at her paper. “To Kill a Mockingbird?”
“No,”
Evan very nearly laughs at the immediate response from Connor. He manages to stifle it with the help of his thumb, not wanting to call attention to himself and the two making him weigh his opinion. That would not go down well. If he agrees with Alana on any of her suggestions, he’ll probably make Connor annoyed and Connor will, like, push him over or something. If he agrees with Connor, he’ll have to let down Alana, one of the only people probably on Earth that even knows his name, let alone treats him like an actual human being that exists. There’s really no winning either way.
“What’s wrong about it this time?”
“It’s such a fucking downer. Like, I don’t wanna read a book that makes me feel bad. Books are supposed to make you feel better, to, like… let you escape from the shittiness of the real world,” Connor shrugs and does a once-over of the room then focuses back on Alana’s pen as it considers crossing out To Kill a Mockingbird.
“So you’ve read it. We could do the chapter you hated least,”
“No. I’m not gonna do that,” Connor falls quiet, then adds, “I’d rather go to Hell,”
“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone? It’s iconic, you can’t say anything bad about it,”
Evan turns to look at Connor. Surely, he can’t say anything to turn down Harry Potter. Evan can’t think of a single thing not good about the series. He might be biased about that, considering it’s the series Heidi read to him after Mark left to comfort him.
“First of all, how dare you? It’s Philosopher’s Stone and you know that; second of all, too twelve year old girl going through her wizards and vampires phase,” Connor scrunches up his nose, as if in disgust, as he says it.
Evan very nearly laughs again. He’s not even sure why, to tell the truth. Connor is definitely wrong. Example one: Evan is a seventeen year old boy that is terrified of the concept of vampires and originally had the books read to him when he was seven, so Connor’s anti-Harry Potter argument is pretty weak.
“Oh my goodness, fine, um…” Alana turns around in her seat, staring at the tiny bookshelf the teacher has at the back of her class. She studies it for a moment, Connor watching her as she does so and Evan avoiding looking at anyone in case they think he was staring at them which is usually something people do when they have crushes on the other and the only two people in sight are Connor and Alana and he doesn’t like either of them and that would be weird and—
“The Diary of Anne Frank?” Alana suggests, spinning her head around. If it weren’t for Connor’s head being against his desk, her braids would have hit him right in the face.
“Great pick, ‘Lana, let’s do a skit about a teenage girl hiding during World War II,”
At least she isn’t going through her wizards and vampires phase. Oh, Jesus, that was mean, wasn’t it. He just made fun of two people at once. He can’t tell which one is worse to make fun of; the girl that is way dead and had to live during World War II, one of the worst events to ever go down in human history; or the resident school psychopath that can (or will) kill Evan in a heartbeat with no afterthought.
“Do you have a better idea?” Alana deflates. She presses excruciatingly hard on the paper as she crosses out Pride and Prejudice, To Kill a Mockingbird, Harry Potter, and writes The Diary of Anne Frank just to immediately cross it out.
“The Little Prince,” Connor suggests with no hesitation.
“It’s a good idea, but aren’t there only, like, two characters,”
Connor’s eyes flick to Evan for half a second. He lifts his head, cheek bright red from being pressed against the desk for so long. His hair is messy and slept on, and looks like it hasn’t been washed in weeks. Just like his three layers of clothing, which Evan can’t imagine how Connor isn’t sweating in. He’s sweating in just a t-shirt and khakis, a giant jacket, sweater, and button-up cannot be doing anything good for Connor.
Though, Evan might just be sweating because of anxiety. It’s most likely anxiety.
“Whatever. I don’t think Hansen here will be going up there any time soon,”
“He has to, though!”
Yeah, Connor. He has to go up there or else you guys fail the class and will have to retake it again after everyone else graduates and be the oldest seniors this school has ever seen.
“No, he really doesn’t. He can just, like, sit out or some shit. Make up some excuse,” Connor turns to Evan and stares at him pointedly, “pretend to fucking, I don’t know… lose your voice just long enough to get out of it, okay?”
“Um, okay?”
“No. Not good enough. Stop talking,”
Is Connor suddenly the physical manifestation of Evan’s conscience now? How did he say exactly what Evan tells himself every single day? It’s slightly impressive. There’s a little voice that tells him he shouldn’t be impressed, that it’s way too sad to be impressed by, that he needs to stop thinking that kind of stuff about himself.
Plus, why is he even thinking of Connor as his own conscience? That is weird and makes no sense. Connor is a real human being with actual thoughts and (maybe) feelings. He isn’t some sort of illusion that comes by and voices Evan’s thoughts for him. He needs to stop thinking that before he even does, before he begins turning to Connor for commentary on anything.
“Connor! That isn’t nice!” Alana smacks Connor’s arm, genuinely annoyed. Connor slouches in his chair, arms crossed and mock-pouting.
“Do you have anything to turn it down?”
“I don’t know!” Alana squares her shoulders and stares down at her folder.
Evan wipes his sweaty (uncasted) hand on his khakis. The fact that it doesn’t leave behind a dark brown mark comes as somewhat of a surprise, considering the amount of moisture currently exuding from the sweat glands of both his palms. And the award for grossest sentence ever goes to—! He grimaces at the fact that wiping his hand did nothing but spread the sweat to the base of his palm and upper wrist. He turns the palm over, staring at it with immense focus.
Palms are really weird. He can’t pin what exactly is weird about them, they’re just… strange. They’re covered in wrinkles and lines and sweat glands that make awkward encounters even more awkward. Why are handshakes such a common thing? Why are you just pressing your hand wrinkles and sweat against someone else’s hand wrinkles and sweat and calling it polite? Why is that a thing that humanity has developed to call nice?
He could say that about a multitude of things—smiling at strangers on the street; moving over for someone to sit next to you on the bus; nodding as if you’re listening and give a shit as someone tells a story.
“Fine,” Alana snaps, voice tense. It’s sort of unnatural in her throat. Evan never thought that Alana was able to sound tense or angry or annoyed in his entire lifetime, so it’s strange when he hears it. “Evan, what do you think?”
Oh, god. This is amazing. Just what he asked for.
He could say yes to The Little Prince and get on Connors good side and not be murdered in the near future but also annoy Alana even further for its lack of characters, or he could say no and absolutely obliterate any type of progress they would be able to get done this class. He knows that Connor is going to say no to anything Alana suggests, but there has to be some time Alana just gives up and chooses a book with no input from anyone else. There has to be.
“About what?”
“Is doing a skit on The Little Prince a good idea?” Alana asks, then adds, muttering, “despite its extreme lack of characters and sentences coherent enough for everyone to understand,”
Evan eyes Alana, then Connor, then Alana again, then nods unsurely. “Um. Yeah? I guess?”
Alana groans—“Oh, come on!”—meanwhile Connor fistpumps and thrusts his fist across the desk toward Evan. Evan flinches away quickly, afraid of a punch coming his way for some reason. Oh, Connor is probably angry that Evan was obviously not sure about his decision and wants to beat him up because who doesn’t like The Little Prince? He’s such an idiot. Why did he have to sound so unsure? He could’ve just said it confidently and no one would be punching him.
Except no one is punching him.
Someone, though, is holding their fist only a few feet away from him with wide expectant eyes and tight lips.
“What are you doing?” Connor asks, voice a little too high to be coming from Connor Murphy of all people now that it’s not completely deadpan or dripping with sarcasm.
“I—I don’t know,” Evan says truthfully.
“Here,” Connor reaches over the desk, grabs Evan’s uncasted hand, roughly tightens it into a fist, and bumps in lightly against his own fist, “Have you never fistbumped someone before?”
“I don’t know,”
That seems to be his default response now. This next month and a half will be fun.
•••
Evan leaves the school just fast enough to avoid the mass crowds of people vaping or listening to music way too loud so he can hear it. The latter always confuse him. Who is so confident in their music taste that they have it blaring at full volume? Evan can’t remember the last time he even talked about his favourite song without being scared someone would judge him for having such bad taste or teasing him over the fact that he isn’t up with the current trends; the last time he knew what was cool in the music world was 2012 when One Direction was the biggest thing.
So he doesn’t put on any music as he walks home. He just lowers his head and stares around, hoping no one is staring back and silently judging him. It feels like someone is following him for a good five minutes, though he doesn’t turn around to check in case someone actually is and they’ll think he’s weird. He just wobbles along, anxious and paranoid.
The world has a different feel to it when his house comes into view. It’s not a feeling Evan can describe. It’s like the air opens up and his posture straightens out and he’s determined to get inside and away from the judging eyes of the public. The determination melts away a little bit when his eyes hit the two old cars in his driveway. One belonging to him, the other Heidi.
The determination melts away.
It’s not like Heidi having the day off of work is a bad thing; she definitely deserves it, Evan just wants some alone time. After being at school for eight hours and walking home all paranoid that someone is watching, all he wants is to drop everything, get into pyjamas, and feel the weight of the world lift off his shoulders—even for 20 minutes.
He braces himself. The door is already unlocked—something Evan would never do himself, but Heidi isn’t him. She’s Heidi. A hardworking, desperate, mom that simply wants what’s best for her son. It doesn’t feel like that sometimes, though, and those are the days Evan wants to die the most.
“Oh! Sweetie, you’re home!” says Heidi. She’s genuinely surprised to see him. She probably forgot about him.
“Yeah,” Evan agrees.
“How was school?” Heidi pauses Chopped and stands, leaning against the doorway to the living room as if she’s actually interested in his life.
Why would she be interested in what’s going on? It’s not like anything new happens, and even when something new does happen, it’s only temporary. She smiles, the frown lines in her face disappearing for a second. They make a comeback soon enough.
“Uh, good. Do we have a copy of The Little Prince somewhere?” Evan asks, looking around the foyer with wide eyes as if he’s distracted by the photos he’s seen a million times or that one patch in the paint that’s lighter than the rest of the walls, but truthfully just avoiding eye contact with her.
With his own mother. Who is uncomfortable with eye contact with their own mom? Actually, that’s quite a bad question. Just… start from the beginning again. Who is uncomfortable with eye contact with their own mom if she hasn’t ever walked in on them showering, masturbating, or having sex? Evan is pretty much 100% safe with any of those three; he makes sure the bathroom door is locked whenever he’s in there; Heidi is out of the house most of the time, it’s pretty impossible for her to catch him masturbating; and no one can catch him having sex if he isn’t.
That isn’t something he wants Jared knowing. Jared would make fun of him for hours, maybe even make a congratulatory card when Evan does end up having sex.
This isn’t a good thing to think about right in from of his mother.
“I think so. Why?”
“I need it for a school project. Uh, we need to read it and write an essay. Pretty boring,”
That came way too easily. (Came? Really? After that whole monologue?) Dont get Heidi’s hopes up for Evan making friends and she won’t make a big deal out of it. It’s sort of sad, actually, the fact that he doesn’t want to tell her that he’s technically being forced to hang out with people for a month and a half. There’s one specific reason for not telling her that Evan knows perfectly well: he doesn’t want to be pressured into inviting Connor and Alana over for dinner some evening and Heidi assuming the three of them are the best of friends and she realising who Connor is and being scared to even send Evan to school because Connor is probably gonna shoot it up some day.
Shit. Evan can’t let his mind wander in that direction.
“Oh. I’m pretty sure it’s in some box in the attic,” Heidi lifts herself off the doorway and begins down the hall, “your grandfather gave me it for my tenth birthday, actually,”
“That’s, uh, that’s nice,” Evan mutters. He watches in awkward silence as she pulls down the ladder up to the attic.
The attic is sort of off-limits. Not for any particular reason other than both of them are scared. Due to how old the house is, everywhere is always creaking all the time, especially the attic. Both of them know very well it’s because of the houses age, but both of them still fear running into some supernatural entity up there. A ghost, mostly.
When Evan was younger, he remembers not being able to sleep because of the creaking, so he would walk out into the living room and watch the last however many minutes of whatever TV show or movie Heidi was watching with her. Once she was really sleep deprived and Evan ended up watching the last 20 minutes of a horror movie and didn’t sleep for nearly a week because of it.
Evan drops his bag near the wall and Heidi begins clambering up the ladder. He follows only when she’s completely out of sight and in the attic. It’s dark. Holy shit dark. Darker than when Evan would hide in the closet (both figuratively and literally) as a kid and pre-teen. He would hide in there when Heidi would leave for night shifts in fear someone would break into the house and find him and kill him. He thought maybe cowering under a giant stuffed teddy bear in the corner of his closet would slim his chances at all.
Heidi clicks on the rapidly dimming lightbulb, which barely illuminates the brown boxes and various holiday decorations. A menorah sits glimmering in the corner, light from the lightbulb bouncing off of it and shining directly in Evan’s face. He squints, looking around at the boxes. Heidi is already hunched over one in the same direction as a plastic rocking horse Evan used to play with as a toddler.
Evan pulls himself onto the exposed wood and begins shuffling through one of the nearest boxes. There are countless books in it, most of them looking as if they’ve been read hundreds of times over the course of thirty years. He assumes he’s in luck.
They work in silence, other than Heidi’s occasional ‘aww’ as she comes across an old photo of Evan or Evan clearing his throat. Not to speak clearly, no, simply to rid the air of an awkward silence that develops every few minutes.
“Oh my God, Evan,” Heidi gasps. She turns on her knees toward him, thrusting a small piece of paper at arms length. “Is that your second grade class?”
Evan takes the paper. Sure enough, grinning up at him are thirty little seven and eight year olds, all standing in three lines. Toward the end of the middle line is Evan.
“Look at you! You were so cute!” Heidi exclaims. She points enthusiastically at second grade Evan.
Little seven year old Evan who was the chubbiest kid in the class and everyone would bully because his lack of a dad. Who never understood why people bullied him because of it until the next year. Who looked happy and carefree, unknowing of the life waiting for him. The life of panic attacks and depression naps and suicidal thoughts and pills and sweaty hands and pretty girls and cute boys and looking in the bathroom mirror just wondering when he’s going to finally snap and kill himself. Second grade Evan was only ten years ago. Ten years of absolute torture. Evan holds the picture with his casted hand and runs a thumb along a crease in his cast subconsciously.
“Do you think you still know any of these kids? Oh, wow, that’s Angela’s daughter,” Heidi points out a short redhead girl kneeling in the front row, “and there’s Jared,” second grade Jared sits in the middle of the middle row, glasses too big for his face and hair messy and teeth jutting out as he grins, “wow. You guys have grown up so much,”
Evan nods in agreement and flips the paper over. In his messy second grade writing with an orange crayon are the names of all his classmates, written in order of how they sit. The Rs are backwards and he got lowercase Ds and Bs mixed up pretty much all the time, but he can still make out the names.
Jomy, isadel, henry, bamian, comor
Evan flips the page over, looking over a few of the kids. Jonny, with his bright blond hair and distracted face; Isabel, with her curly brown hair and eyelashes that even she would brag about; Henry, with his neat dirty blond hair and generic (almost as if computer-generated) little kid face; Damian, with his puffy cheeks and stupid red streak in his hair; Connor, with his messy ginger hair and freckles covering half his entire body.
Holy shit, that’s Connor. Connor Murphy. Even as a seven year old, he towers over everyone else and a scowl is apparent on his still smiling face. Evan can remember, quite clearly, actually, that the day right after they took class photos, was the day Connor realized how much he liked being line leader and threw a printer at Miss G. Evan remembers watching with wide eyes and holding back tears as that happened. He never thought much of it until Jared brought it up, probably too casually, during their fifth grade graduation that Connor actually did that. Connor, a little seven year old that looks like he can do no wrong at all, threw a printer at their teacher because he liked being in front of every body else.
How did a seven year old even lift a printer?