She’d noticed how unhappy Hannah had been. Hannah had fought almost to the death against that stupid little blue motherfucker – what was his name? Hannah often mentioned someone called Pokey, and she told her to ‘shut the fuck up about a stupid dance, banana, and let’s get moving.’ Hannah had been unhappy. Ever since they’d had to leave Ethan to protect them and their dignity, she’d been unhappy. She was finally in an area where she had friends, where she was liked for being Hannah Foster and not because she was weird. She had finally settled into a place where she was loved by many.
She’d never get it. She’d never understand, not fully anyway. She had experienced the pain of being the weird kid at school. With her mother being an alcoholic and with her constantly having a social worker around, it wasn’t a surprise shit got spread about who she was and what her purpose in life meant. Nobody wanted to befriend the weird kid who came into school in the same two outfits every week, often dirtied or stained. Nobody wanted to befriend the weird kid who said that she didn’t need friends because she had all of her Webbys. Nobody wanted to befriend the weird kid, aside from one person, who shoved and pushed his way to break down her walls and get to know her. And once again, she was the asshole because she abandoned him in Hatchetfield, and she took Hannah. They got out alive. She didn’t know if he ever got to be so lucky.
But Hannah was approaching 16. The school Lex had attempted to enrol her in had kicked Hannah out just recently due to her stubborn nature and personality, and Lex’s job was falling through. She had to admit, putting Hannah back in the ring would boost Hannah’s personality because she would be able to get the joy of winning plus being around people her age with the same differences that she had. Lex would be able to get a job, most likely back with Frank. He’d take her anyway; she knew he would. She had been the only person who was desirable and fit well enough to work his criteria. She knew she’d be taken back.
That was why, in the same shitty van she stole to get Hannah out of Hatchetfield, she was driving back along the road. Early on in the evening last night, she had told Hannah that they were going somewhere for her birthday and that it’d be a surprise. Hannah, like she had done when they’d left for California last year, had fallen asleep early on into the drive so when they parked outside of a certain Tom Houston’s household, she managed to force a small smile on her face. She was shaking her sister awake gently at the shoulder when her old shop teacher opened up his door. Hannah, completely out of it, was rubbing his eyes.
“Sure are, Banana.” She said softly, smiling gently at her.
Hannah grumbled and looked around, getting to grips of the new location she was in. But, as she soon found out, it wasn’t a new location at all. It was enough to prompt her to being wide awake. She gasped when her eyes settled on the sight of Hatchetfield High far away in the distance. She turned to Lex. “We came back?”
“Sure did.” Lex unbuckled and unlocked the doors. “Until Lexi can find a place to stay, we’ll be staying with Mr Houston, alright?”
Hannah nodded. She didn’t mind where they’d be staying as long as it was Hatchetfield. California would have been so much cooler if Ethan would have been there with them. She missed him more than anything and regret how much of a teenager she’d been towards him last year. She thought about Ethan a lot, and if she had a phone number for him, she would have texted him on the daily. But, as she stepped inside, the only phone numbers she had were Lexi’s and Mr Houston’s, as well as Mr Houston’s girlfriend’s, Becky’s. Still. She missed Ethan. She missed Ethan like hell.
The next day, Hannah had decided to go around Hatchetfield on her own. She was nearly 16 and it wasn’t like the island had changed all that much with the agreement that she’d meet Lex at Starbucks in half an hour. She bought herself some new clothes, some new shoes and then headed to Starbucks early. She got a lot of gift cards off of Mr Houston, considering he remembered how much she liked Starbucks. She scrunched her nose up as she walked into the restaurant and immediately recognised one of the guys at the counter.
6’1, long black hair and a leather jacket only she’d be able to recognise. Ethan.
She’d missed him so much and it wasn’t like she was the reason Lex and Ethan broke up, but still. As she stood there, she felt awkward. He was ordering drinks, so she decided to wait for a moment before grabbing her own drink. She watched as he walked off to a table where a couple of other people were sitting. One of them had a rainbow tie dye shirt on and silver hair with a slit eyebrow. Another wore suspenders, a bow tie and glasses. Another had a red flannel on and long brunette hair, a beanie covering her head. Another had a girl in a pink cardigan, a white shirt and a black skirt and the other was wearing a green flannel, brown pants and a beanie.
Hannah approached the counter, ordered, grabbed her drink and sat down at a table near by the window. She always enjoyed sitting there because she liked to watch the cars pass and she liked to see who was passing and what was going on. She always needed to see what was going on.
From across the café, though, Steph Lauter nudged Ethan hard and looked over at the window seat, now occupied. “Am I goin’ crazy, or is that the girl who was in my shop class? What was her name…um…the freshman? 14-year-old. Cut her finger off?”
Ethan’s eyes opened wide as his head immediately lifted from the window seat. That was, in fact, Hannah Foster. “I’m gonna regret it if I at least don’t go and say hi, aren’t I? Before I go back to work.”
“Before Vinnie comes out the bathroom and we all follow you to your dad’s garage to get fuckin’ stoned, yeah.” Pete said with a firm nod, lacing his hand with Steph’s under the table.
“Then I’m either gonna make the second worst mistake of my life, or the second-best decision.” He said softly as he rose, glaring at Deb. “Don’t drink my fucking coffee.”
“I won’t, I won’t!” They said, throwing her hands up in surrender.
Ethan made a gesture to say I’m watching you as he got up from the table, walking over to Hannah. He gently tapped, watching as her eyes lifted up to see him. He smiled slightly, offering a gentle wave. What he didn’t expect was how she jumped out of her seat, throwing her arms around him. He smiled softly and hugged her back. “What are ya doin’ back in Hatchetfield, Banana? Thought you were never comin’ back!”
“Moved back here yesterday.” She said, burying her face in Ethan’s chest. “Missed you. Don’t know if I can see you, though.”
“Because of Lexi?” He asked and Hannah nodded. He sighed. “I get that.”
Hannah perked her head up, looking at him. “I got a phone, Ethan! You got a phone!”
“Oh, you want my phone number?”
Ethan smiled and took Hannah’s phone when she passed it to him. He punched in his number and ruffled her hair. “There ya go, banana. You got my number now. Then, whatever happens, we’ll stay in contact. Okay?”
He smiled and let her hug him again. “You’re nearly 16. I guess I’m gonna have to get you somethin’ for your birthday. You got plans?”
“Went to go see my friends. From the Rollerama?”
“And we’re gonna go swimming at the pool.”
“Ah! I called it!” He grinned and heard the door to the Starbucks bathroom open. “Right, banana. I gotta go back to work. Take care, okay?”
“You going to work now?”
“Yes I am.” He gestured behind him to Vinnie. “I’ll see ya soon.”
“Okay, Eth. Miss you.”
“Miss you too.” Ethan said gently, hugging her a final time before walking back over to his friends. He grabbed his coffee, waved goodbye to Hannah, and walked the short walk back to Tony Green’s Body Shop, where his father was emerging from the living room, a new can of oil in his hands.
“Good afternoon, Lord Green-“ Vinnie stated quickly, bowing but Tony beckoned him over. Vinnie rolled his eyes, walking over to his boss as Tony unscrewed the cap of the oil.
“Now ya see that?” He asked, flipping the oil can into the car perfectly. “That is how an oil flip should go. Not like that.” He gestured to another car in the garage. Ethan had spent most of the money on upgrading his dad’s business so they could get more cars in, and he and Vinnie wouldn’t have to wait for smaller projects to come in. On the floor, to where Tony was gesturing, was a very large oil spill. “And what don’t water and oil do?”
“Exactly.” Tony gently slapped him over the head, shaking his own as he emptied the oil can into the car. “Jesus Christ, kid.” He laughed and looked over at Ethan’s friends. “Evening, Ethan’s friends!”
“Hi, Mr Green!” They all chanted as they took their seats on the benches around the cars that Vinnie and Ethan were working on.
“Don’t mind us, Mr Green!” Ziggs told Tony, throwing their hands up in surrender. “We’re gonna get high, and we’re not gonna let it affect your kids’ work.”
“Hey!” Ethan turned sharply to them. “You think I’m related to him?!” He gestured to his best friend with the dark brown hair cut into a mullet, the grey eyes and the red sweater he was wearing. “Ziggy, that’s a new low for you, honestly.”
Ziggs smirked and saluted to Tony as he folded his arms. “Alright, kiddo.” He looked at Ethan. “Ethan, meds!”
“Shit!” Ethan jumped up and left his coffee on the table. “Don’t-“
“Let anybody get your coffee, we won’t!” Alice shouted to him through cupped hands, watching as Ethan rushed inside. Ziggy passed a newly lit blunt over to her, and she took a drag, passing it to Deb. “Mm. Finals week. The best time to get stoned.” She coughed slightly. “My dad’d kill me.”
“Fuck your dad.” Deb whispered, pressing a lazy kiss to Alice’s forehead.
“I’d rather not, Deb. That’d be incest, and I’m a lesbian.”
Vinnie appeared out from under the car. “I would happily fuck your dad, Alice.”
“Vincent!” Steph shouted over to him.
“You know Mr Woodward’s taken.” Pete said as he looked up, passing the blunt over to Steph, skipping his turn due to the fact he didn’t do weed. It fucked with his blood sugar too much. “You know Mr Woodward is dating Ted!”
“Yeah. Plot twists of 2021, ammiright?” Alice asked, nuzzling into Deb’s shoulder.
“Big agree.” She said as Ethan returned, taking a swig of coffee. “You alright there, Ethan?”
“Yep! Just forgot to take my antidepressants due to my crippling trauma.”
“Oh. Relatable.” Ziggs said, passing the blunt to Ethan, letting him take a drag.
“A-to the-men.” He said and Pete looked up.
“Oh my gosh. I just got flashbacks to Camp I Idontwannabang.”
“Fuck I Idontwannabang. I Idontwannabang clearly didn’t work.” Steph said as she wrapped her arm around Pete, pulling him in close.
“Ew. Everyone here is in love. It’s disgusting.” Vinnie ran their hand through their hair, rolling himself underneath the car until he reached the other side. “I’m putting on my playlist. Which one do we want, gals, gays and guy?”
“Guy?” Ziggs asked and Vinnie nodded.
“Yeah. Pete’s literally the only guy here. Little lad who likes berries and cream.”
“Fucking hell…” Pete readjusted his glasses as he looked to Vinnie. “I’m bi, you know that?”
“FUCK.” Vinnie kicked the wall.
“Vincent, put that playlist you made on when I was going through my gender crisis. You know the dumb bastard.” Ethan said as he finished his coffee, throwing the empty cup in the bin.
Vinnie nodded. “Oh, that is my favourite playlist of all time ya know?” He loaded up Spotify and connected his phone to the speaker. “Your Yearly Gender Crisis is what it’s called. Without any of the vowels, all lowercase, with a photo of some ginger and white cat with one eye with a nighthawk riding on it’s back, with the nighthawk smoking a blunt. And no, it’s not photoshopped.”
“Oh my god, I know that cat!” Ziggs said, sitting themself up straight. “Um, it has a name collar on. Blimmy, I think his name is?”
“All hail Blimmy the cat.” Alice said, cheering softly and the rest of the group followed suit in cheering very loudly “ALL HAIL BLIMMY THE CAT!”
Vinnie laughed and let the playlist play and immediately started dancing. Some of the others were singing along, some were dancing. Overall, Vinnie had one good fucking playlist. It came to the inevitable path where Ethan’s song came on. Vinnie got on the skateboard, slid back under the car and looked at Ethan. “Come on, bitch!”
“It’s a good day! Come on!”
Ethan rolled his eyes, dropped the spanner on the floor and got up, dramatically pulling Vinnie against his chest as if they were a couple, which they were not. But, Ethan let himself get lost with the melody and the music, allowing him to sing as loud as he wanted alongside his friends. It took a year, and he was on medication, but he was okay. Finally, he was okay. “Say you’re still her, the woman you were, and you haven’t turned into- sing it, Vinnie!”
“Someone who never could love me again!” Vinnie dramatically fell against Ethan’s chest, and he laughed.
“Cuz you never broke my heart. No, you fixed it and now it works! But only enough for just to suffer that hurt- together now!”
“Woah-oh-oh-oh!” The friend group sang as in tune as possible. Ethan grinned, spinning Vinnie away. Tony Green’s Body Shop was now Ethan Green’s stage, and he was killing it.
“What can I say to convince you to slip back into my arms again? I won’t do you no harm again, lemme tell you that I’m sorry and that I’m just a little bit-“
“Ethan!” a voice shouted down the streets.
Vinnie recognised the voice before Ethan did, and knowing Ethan wouldn’t want to miss singing his song, he skipped it. It came up with Roll With Me by The Orion Experience, which was not a bad song and turned the somewhat clean garage minus the oil spill into a nightclub.
Ethan turned around and noticed Hannah running back down the streets. Behind her, she could hear the faint voice of his ex-girlfriend, clearly chasing after her younger sister. But, he could be mature about it. She hurt him. She hurt him bad. He was getting better, but in that moment, he was stoned. So, when Hannah sat herself at the bench beside Stephanie Lauter again, allowing the teen to dote on her, Ethan just smiled, awaiting the presence of his ex, that was now inevitable.
Hannah looked up to Steph, ignoring how red her eyes were. “I could hear the music and I wanted to join in!”
“Well, I’m glad you’re back, Hannah.” She said, flinging her other arm around the young girl. “How’s your hands? Y’ain’t been chopping off anymore fingers, right?”
“Nuh-uh.” Hannah said, true joy in her eyes.
Ethan looked at Vinnie and smiled. “I am gonna go change out of this fuckin’ leather jacket and into something more party-ish, okay?”
“You’ll know!” Ethan called to him just as the song Night Eyes by The Orion Experience came on the playlist. Everybody was soon too swept up in the music for anybody to truly notice or appreciate Lex Foster’s out of breath appearance.
Vinnie laughed as he heard Ethan singing from his room upstairs. Vinnie stood up on the skateboard, a mistake on his behalf, and pointed to the people at the table. “This is for the girls and the gays! Come on, girls! Let’s party!” They turned to Ziggs. “Ziggs, respectfully, you also love the female chest area. You are considered our favourite gay.”
“Oh, fuck yeah.” Ziggs nodded, taking another hit off the blunt. “Hey, why don’t we let this kid take a hit-“ They said, almost passing the blunt to Hannah, cut off by a sharp squeak from Alice. Ziggs turned their hair, looking at a mostly dishevelled looking Lex. “Lex Foster.”
“Ziggs.” She said and looked at Hannah. “Come on, banana, you know why I don’t wanna be here!”
“Embarrassed because of a mistake you made or somethin’?” Vinnie shouted over his music just as Ethan’s song came back on. They sighed, poking their head around the door. “Mr Green, tell your son-“
“I’m here, I’m here!” He shouted, sliding down the banister.
“Great! Because so is Lex.”
Ethan scrunched his face up. “Oh well. I’m 22. I’m over it.”
“Are you, though?”
“Absolutely not.” He had thrown on some eyeliner, fixed his hair and changed out of his grease-stained shirt into another semi-smarter shirt. “Dad, I’m taking the day off! I fixed the car!”
“I’ll be the boss of that.” Tony chuckled, looking up from his book, petting the dog’s head. “Go have fun, kids. Both of ya. Take the rest of today off.”
“Ethan,” Vinnie said, looking at his friend. “Do I have permission to kiss your dad-“
“Absolutely not, goodbye, pops!” Ethan said, dragging Vinnie out just as the line hit where they had originally left off. “Hey, hey- Vinnie?”
“I’m just a little bit crazy ‘bout ya.”
“Jesus fucking Christ-“
“Just a little bit outta my mind! Just a little insane without you. Please come back and be just a little bit mine!” He twirled Vinnie around dramatically. “Sing it, bitch!”
“Just a little bit mine!” Vinnie sang as he pushed Ethan away from him, almost tripping over the skateboard, that he kicked under the car that belonged to his uncle.
Ethan smiled and gestured for everyone to clear the space on the table as he jumped up, spanner in hand. He span it around and began to sing into it as if it were a microphone, which had Hannah giggling. “I never thought, and if I did, I forgot while blacked out in love. That what’s only starting would come to an end.- Hannah go dance with Steph!”
“Yeah, come on, Hannah!” Steph encouraged. “Let’s go!”
“Okay!” She giggled again as she got up from the bench, dancing with Vinnie and Steph, finally comfortable.
“But now I’m hungover and hung out to dry, and I’m giving it time!” His eyes flicked over to Lex, who didn’t quite notice him, eyes more focused on the fact her younger sister was dancing with a very stoned teenager. “Does not knowing the truth turn my words into lies? Woah-woah-oh-oh! Vin-“
“What can I say to convince you or do to make you agree with me?” Vinnie sang, not once taking his eyes off of Lex. Nobody hurt his best friend like Lex had. And, for that, he sought revenge.
“I don’t need you to be with me, just try to remember what you’d see in me! I’m just a little bit crazy about you. Just a little bit outta my mind! Just a little insane without you. Please come back and be just a little bit mine. Just a little bit mine!” He sighed and got off the table, walking over to Vinnie, and more importantly, Hannah, letting her dance with him, allowing Steph to get another hit on the blunt. “Come on. Dance break, bitch. Dance with me!”
“I’m trying!” Hannah laughed loudly as Ethan spun her around, passing the spanner over to Vinnie, who caught it effortlessly by the power of muscle memory.
“If you say so, Banana!” Ethan said with a smile, looking at Hannah with a bright smile. “I’ll be here singing til our heartbeats might slip back into that rhythm again. Whether it is or-“
“It is the end!” Vinnie shouted over the original lyrics, knowing full well that Ethan found this song after Lex abandoned him and therefore, he was very attached to it for that reason. He also knew that Ethan would take Lex back if given the chance, but he had an anchor of a friend group to stop him from floating towards bad habits.
“Who cares.” Lex whispered softly to herself. “Hannah, come on, let’s go-“
“God knows that I could use a friend!” Hannah then started singing along with Ethan and his eyes widened, impressed.
“Come on banana, me and you- juST A LITTLE BIT CRAZY ABOUT YOU!”
“Just a little bit out of my mind!”
“Just a little insane without you, please come back and be just a little- I’m just a little bit crazy about you. Just a little bit outta my mind. Just a little insane without you. Please come back and be just a little bit mine.”
“Just a little bit mineeeeeee,” Vinnie sang as he tossed the spanner into the toolbox and sighed. “Right, so are we gonna address the elephant in the room?”
“Hannah.” Lex said, tone sharpening, and Ethan whistled.
“What’s the big deal? She wanted to see me. Lex, it’s Hatchetfield. You grew up here. You know how small it is. You chose to come back and in that, you basically signed the deal that you’d run into me one way or another. So, let me have time with her, okay?
“You hurt her, Ethan.”
“It was my decision to go fight, Lex.” Hannah said, clinging on to Ethan’s side. “Just because you don’t love him no more doesn’t mean I don’t wanna see him.”
Lex exhaled and stubbornly slid on to the bench on the other side. “Fine. Whatever. I will be taking you home for dinner soon, though.” She shot a final glance at Ethan before looking at her phone. That was all Ethan needed.
“Alright, banana, you wanna go see my dad?” He asked and, for the rest of the day and many days after, Ethan was able to find peace.