I looked up and Christian and I locked eyes. “What are you doing out this early, Christian?” I ask him. I mean, it wasn’t even 6am! If I hadn’t had that stupid dream, I wouldn’t be here, so, why is he?
“I could ask you the same thing, Erica”, he replies, laughing. I couldn’t help but laugh along with him.
Gasping for a breath, I answered his question, “I couldn’t sleep. Now, why are you here this early?” He seems to wonder whether to tell me or not but, eventually, he replies, “I couldn’t sleep either. Wanna go for a walk?” He takes my hand after I nod a reply to his invitation to join him. We turn and walk towards nowhere in particular in a comfortable silence, until he said, “How’s Justin doing? I heard about Ryan beating him up and it worried me. When I went to see him to see if he was okay, he wasn’t at home. Do you know if he’s okay?”
“He’s fine, just got dark bruises on his face, that’s all. And he’s staying at mine until he’s better: family reasons, but, I don’t know whether I should tell you or not; it’s kinda private normally.” I reply. By this time, we’d found ourselves at the park and we’d sat down on the bench by the oak trees.
“Oh, right,” he said. “I totally get it; trust me, I do. Y’see, I’m glad my dad’s outta my life but, well … Mum wasn’t: she went back to him but, since I turned 16 two months ago, I said I was staying at the flat instead of going back. I like to call it … self-emancipation.” He finishes with a hint of a grin on his face. “I bet you do” I said, laughing at the way I seemed to pull him out of a daydream. My phone buzzed in my pocket; a new message from Justin.
Justin: Where are you babe?
Erica: I went for a walk, that’s all. I’m now on my way back
As I put my phone back in my pocket, I sighed and stood up. “What is it, Erica?” Christian asked me, worried about my reaction.
“Justin wanted to know where I was and I said I was on my way back. I’d better get going” I said, a little sad about leaving. It was the first time in a while I’d sat and spoke to someone other than Justin, and it’d felt great.
“Okay, I’ll see ya at school tomorrow, Erica.” Christian said, standing up from the bench. He put a hand on my shoulder sympathetically before walking away in the other direction.