The day ticked by irritatingly slow. I found myself lost in a blinding, dazzling blur of new students, gossip and new timetables. The first day back always consisted of these three things. We had two new kids in our class alone. A boy and a girl. Nothing interesting. I stayed out of their way.
When the bell finally rang at the end of the day, I took my time packing my bags, deliberating over whether I should do the right thing or not.
'Evie,' El appeared in front of me. 'You coming shopping after school?'
'Ah no,' I said without looking at her. I was still miffed for her telling Tyler about the water incident. I'd lost count of the amount of times that people had either glared or grinned at me. 'I think I'm just gonna go straight home.' Possible lie.
'Okay, see you later,' she walked off, oblivious to my bad mood.
On the way to my car, Tyler suddenly appeared beside me, his footsteps falling in sync with mine. When moments of silence passed, I spoke reluctantly.
'Can I help you?'
'You're mad at me.'
'No I'm not,' I said.
'Then why are you avoiding me?'
I finally looked at him, completely confused. 'Tyler we barely talk as it is. Why would I be ignoring you?'
'I dunno,' he looked away, shrugging his shoulders. 'Well. See ya.'
I stared after him, baffled. Strange guy.
Because I had taken so long coming out of school, the parking lot was virtually deserted by the time I got there. There were only three other cars parked here. I threw my bag into the passenger seat and started the engine. I had planned to go straight home, maybe do some homework, maybe watch a bit of telly. I certainly hadn't planned on heading down Fremont Avenue, passing the Starbucks I was at yesterday and scour the surroundings for the homeless kid. The place I had seen him at yesterday was empty with no traces of him ever having been there.
Of course he'd disappear.
I parked my car in a lay-by, not really thinking about what I was going to do. What could I do? Apologize, maybe. How mortifying.
My determination wavered slightly as I passed the bridge. What was I going to do, walk around until I found him? Oakwood was a pretty big place, there was no guarantee I was going to see him. I briefly wondered where the homeless people hung out, before scoffing inwardly. It wasn't a club for hobos, it was living rough on the streets. They could be anywhere.
The air had grown considerably cooler and I was debating whether or not I should just head back, when I saw him. Well, it could have been him. I could only see him from the back, but he seemed to be wearing the same clothes as yesterday. He was tall, with an athletic build and jet black hair.
I proceeded to follow him uncertainly. I was going to feel pretty stupid if it wasn't even him.
'Uh, excuse me?' I called out.
He turned round. Yep. It was him alright. He flinched slightly when he saw me, blue eyes darting left and right.
'I'm alone,' I told him.
'Um, okay,' he said in a quiet voice. 'What did you want?'
'Can I just take this time to say I'm sorry. I'm really, really sorry for what I did to you yesterday. It was a horrible, thoughtless thing to do.'
He looked completely surprised at my words, which only intensified the guilt.
'Well,' I started to turn round. 'I should go.'
'Thank you,' he murmured.
I pursed my lips. 'Are you hungry?'
* * * *
I would never have thought in all my life that I would be sitting on a park bench with a homeless kid having sandwiches and drinks. He had been hungry, it was quite obvious in the way he ate his food. I think he was trying to be polite, but I could tell he was starving. He gripped the bread between his fingers like it was the most important thing in the world, that it might disappear if he didn't hold on tight enough. I watched him eat, occasionally sipping from my Coke.
'Thanks for this,' he mumbled.
'That's quite alright. Just think of it as my way of saying sorry.'
The corner of his mouth tilted up in an attempted smile.
'I'm Evie by the way,' I suddenly remembered I hadn't introduced myself, sticking my hand out stupidly.
'Jamie,' he replied, laughing quietly as we shook hands. His skin was slightly rough against mine. 'So what made you apologize?'
I waited until he had taken another bite out of his sandwich before speaking. 'I don't know, guilt I guess. I don't know why I did what I did.'
'To impress your friends?' he suggested, looking at me nervously like he was scared he had offended me.
I was mildly surprised that he had picked up on that. 'Possible. Quite possible.'
He had been in the process of saying something, when we heard laughter. Our heads turned in unison to see three figures coming towards us. They obviously hadn't seen us, but if they got any closer they definitely would.
It was El, Lucie and Rachel. If they saw me...I didn't want to think about what would happen. I fought the urge to run away from Jamie, to dissociate myself from him. How rude would that look?
'It's okay, I understand,' Jamie spoke, making me jump. He got up, his sandwich tucked in his jacket, his can clutched in his hand. 'Thank you for the food.'
I stared at him, torn between telling him to stay or remaining silent as he left. Instead, I took ten pounds out of my purse and handed it over to him. He refused to take it though, shaking his head, so I was forced to shove it in his pocket.
'Buy yourself something nice. It was lovely meeting you Jamie,' I said. He smiled gratefully at me before heading off.