I sat apart from Abbie and Max, hugging my knees. Abbie was in her tent, she'd been there for the past ten minutes. I didn't know what Max was doing.
The argument had gotten quite heated, and I knew we were all regretting it.
I thought it was my fault because I was the one who had started shouting.
Abbie thought it was her fault because she should have just let us talk about Ben.
Max thought it was his fault because he didn't just let it drop.
It was my fault really. It was all my fault.
Abbie had run into her tent after Max had exploded and shouted "Ben isn't here!" when she'd yelled "Ben wouldn't want us to be arguing!"
I'd screamed "Oh, well done! That probably ruined her day!" pushing him away from me. And Max had pushed me harder, roughly to the ground, spitting "You started this!" at me. I'd been silenced in shock, and then I'd swallowed the lump in my throat and ran into the trees.
And now I sat, with the little warm-ice heart in my palm. It was smaller, now, but still warm. But then, it wasn't coming back either. I sighed.
All my fault.
All my fault.
All my fault.
The only voice I had now for comfort, was the one in my head. And I couldn't even talk to that one. It talked to me, though, and it was as if it knew what had happened.
Merry Christmas, honey... it said.
I sighed again. Yeah, Merry Christmas.
It'll all be OK the voice told me He's just not feeling himself right now, because... well, you know...
I did know. I did. Max had trouble staying focused, and I was hardly helping.
And... The name fuzzed out, but I guessed it meant Abbie She's just upset. She thinks it's her fault...
And didn't I know it? Abbie was so self-depreciating it was almost unreal. She was more self-depreciative than me, and that was really saying something.
But, honey, it'll all be OK. Just you wait and see... Look, here... The name fuzzed out again ...comes now...
"What?" I asked aloud. "Who?"
"Sara?" a quiet voice came from behind me. "Who are you talking to?"
"Abbie" I said just as quietly as her. "Um... no-one. Myself"
"Look," she started. "I'm really sorry. I've just gone and ruined the whole day"
"No... it's fine. Honestly. Don't be so-"
"Sara? I did come to apologise, but I mainly came because, well, I think you should talk to Max. He's in tears and he's practically tearing his hair out. I've never seen him so upset in all the time I've known him..."
"What?" I exclaimed. Abbie just nodded slowly. Suddenly, I was consumed with worry. It was my fault. Max was crying because of me.
When I got to our makeshift campsite, I saw exactly what Abbie meant. Max knelt by our tent, his head in his hands and his hands gripping his hear so tightly I was worried he might actually be ripping his hair from his scalp. And he was shaking. A lot.
"He wasn't this bad when I left him here" Abbie muttered to me as she ducked into her tent. All I could hear was my heart thudding in my chest. I ran up to him and knelt down in front of him. Easing his hands out of his hair, I held them in mine, working to control my own shaking before I started to talk to him.
"Max? It's me. I'm really sorry. I am. This is all my fault, I shouldn't have lost my temper like that. I- I just, I don't know! I was just so damn annoyed. And I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to make you cry. And you told me to talk to you but I don't know what else to say 'cause I ruined the whole day and I want to make it better again but I don't know what I can do!"
"You can stop effing crying" he told me. But it was way too quiet. And he didn't say 'eff', either, which I couldn't help but frown at. He laughed softly. "I mean it" he said, clearly and at a normal voice volume. And he sighs. And the shaking eases. And he relaxes.
"Sorry" I said, wiping my eyes. "Max? Look at me?"
"'Cause you'll start crying again" he whispers.
"I don't care" I said stubbornly. So Max looked up at me. And I had to bite my lip to stop myself from crying again. His face is tear stained and his eyes are red and sore, and he's still crying. He's still crying. I didn't trust myself to speak.
Max sighed. "I'm sorry" he muttered. "I didn't mean to push you. I didn't mean to upset you, and I didn't mean to shout so much. I just... Ugh, I've gone and ruined everything. You didn't deserve that."
"You didn't deserve to be shouted at by me"
"I did" he said. I opened my mouth to contradict him, but he stopped me and opened his hand. "I deserved it, because this works"
I look down to see the warm-ice heart in his palm. And it's smaller. And it's not coming back.
"No" I shake my head desperately. "You must have made a mistake with it"
"I didn't" he said. "I still love you, Sara" he swallowed. "But, for some reason, not as much"
And that hurt me. More than it should have. And there, right there, was my day. Ruined.