The Smith’s were my neighbours not that long ago, they were an elderly couple that moved away to live with their daughter when the woman got dementia. Her name was Winifred and her husbands name was Thomas. Thomas was paralysed from the waist down, and until Winifred started mentally decaying, they had lived quite happily on our street.
The house has been empty since my thirteenth birthday – that was when they moved away. I remember how Winifred used to bake cookies for the kids of the street and how Thomas would sit on his porch and tell us stories about the war, which we’d surprisingly found interesting. Thomas had the voice of a genuine story teller and could’ve made a fortune being one of those people who do the audio tapes of books.
It surprised me that the house stayed unoccupied for so long. I’d been inside, and it had the loveliest interior. But someone had moved in recently, a few days after my sixteenth birthday. I’d gotten a glimpse of the woman who lived there; she was one of the tallest women I’d ever seen, even if only from afar.
I threw my school bag over my shoulder and left the house. It was early morning, school didn’t actually start for another hour and a half but I’d promised my friend Evan that I’d go into town with him and check out the morning shops, the ones famous for opening early. He’d told me about this vintage kaleidoscope he wanted. Evan lived just around the corner and across a large field.
When I reached Evan’s house he was already there waiting for me on his wall, his lanky legs stretched out in front of him. He was wearing his usual kind smile and had styled his hair differently. It looked messier, but obviously that was intentional. I’d always loved the colour of Evan’s hair, so blonde.
“Gracias!” Evan yelled. He’d picked up this habit of greeting people in different languages, I was yet to tell him that gracias wasn’t a greeting, and actually meant thanks.
Something you should know. I was in love with Evan.
“Good morning to you too,” I smiled, rolling my eyes as I got closer to him. “If you’re ready why didn’t you come meet me half way?”
“That would require too much effort, and I’m still tired.” Evan explained, standing up and stretching. His jumper was too small for him and I saw a flash of pale muscled stomach – this weirded me out. I was quite the pervert in denial, I drooled over naked celebrities but when it came to Evan, I’d just look away. Any onlookers probably thought me a lesbian.
“Are we still hitting the morning shops?” I asked, kicking him lightly. He kicked me back, hard. “Ouch, you’re not supposed to kick girls. I didn’t even kick you hard!”
“You’re a girl?!” Evan shouted in mock shock, putting his hands on his cheeks, his jaw dropping theatrically.
“Yes, I’m a girl. I own a vagina.” I told him, punching his arm.
“Too much information, seriously,” Evan said, pulling a sick face. I glared at him.
“You’re so immature sometimes, it’s just a word and a fact of life,” I said shaking my head, “VAGINA!”
“And you call me immature!”
We walked into the city centre. When Evan and I were together, there was never silence – apart from when we were playing video games, that was. That’s why I loved him; I thought that we were the perfect match; I thought that we were already like a couple and not much would change if we were to become one. Of course, we never would become a couple.
It started to rain lightly and I moaned. I did not go over my hair with straighteners twenty times for this. Evan was laughing at me, but then he must’ve realised that his own hair that had probably took ages to style would also get messed up by the rain, so he grabbed my hand and dragged me towards the shelter of a closed café. My hand was warm even when he let go of it, my heart pounding out of rhythm.
“Did you dye your hair?” Evan asked suddenly, he was playing with a strand of it. I blushed.
“Yeah, it’s tinted purple.” I replied. Our faces were so close; I thought he’d kiss me.
He didn’t, of course. This always happened, he’d get close to me or touch me and I’d freak or think that there was a chance we’d kiss when there were actually no romantic intentions behind Evan’s actions. Evan was the type of guy who told a girl straight out if he liked them, I’d seen him do so before. He’d never confessed his love for me, so he probably didn’t love me how I loved him. I’d cried when I first realised that he’d never like me, but I guess I’d just accepted it after that.
Can people grow to love someone over time?
In our school, that usually never happens. You see it all the time, a girl and a guy who’re close. If they don’t date after a year, they never will, they’d always be just friends like Evan and I. I sympathize with anyone who has ever fallen in love with their best friend. It hurts like hell, but you can’t walk away from them.
I really have no hope with him. Oh well.
“The rain’s clearing up,” Evan pointed out. I’d been too busy staring at him to realise.
He probably knows I like him, I make it obvious. I wonder if he thinks about me when he’s alone. I wonder if he feels sorry for me and wishes I’d get over him. I wonder if I’m just a pest to him. One day I’ll find someone really great, I just know I will – but Evan will always be my first love, and nothing can take that away from me. Maybe I should tell him, and then, in ten years time when my wedding is approaching and he’s engaged he’ll say ‘Hey, Ana, remember when you loved me,’ and then we’ll laugh like maniacs and he’ll hug me.
“Oh,” I mumbled, realising that Evan was holding his hand out with an impatient smile etched on his soft-featured face. “Let’s go then.”
I didn’t take his hand, I pushed it away. Evan didn’t say anything and we walked to the city centre in silence. Our first silence since god knows when.
“Evan, I love you.” I suddenly declared, stopping dead in my tracks. I closed my eyes and clenched my fists, waiting for his reaction.
I walked home alone from the city centre. I’d tell mum I was ill when I got home. I couldn’t go to school like this, with tears rolling down my eyes and a broken heart. I couldn’t believe he’d brushed me off so lightly like that. I’d always imagined him being nice to me about it. How did he fool me into thinking he wasn’t a jerk? Why had I never seen the obvious arrogant side to him? I’d always overlooked it . . . stupid girl, I should’ve known.
“Seriously?” he’d laughed when saying this and had just walked off. No explanation. Not even a rejection.
I was almost home, just a few streets away. My tears were still pouring, but they were disguised by the rain drops that fell onto my face like cold beams of sunlight. I reached my street and was standing just next to the old Smith house, getting ready to cross, when I felt strangely compelled to suddenly greet my new neighbours . . . I’d been planning to do so for a while. . . which was weird for me, I never visited neighbours, even the ones that gave me money . . .