Chapter 18

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Luke's POV

After we visit my mom, Calum drives us home. My old home? My home home? I don't even know what to call it. Australia is my home, but Maine is too now.

My grandparents are talking like I've been gone for years, but it's really only been about five months. Some of the things they're telling me I was actually here for, but I pretend I wasn't and act like their stories are totally new to me. 

Before we go home, we all decide to go get some lunch since we're all starving. We stop at a pizza place, the same place Calum brought me before I left for Maine.

"Remember the last time we were here?" I ask Calum as we walk in.

He raises his eyebrows.

"It was before I left," I tell him.

"Oh, right! You were in a bad mood that day. Worse than usual."

I laugh.

"This place is still here?" my dad says. "I thought for sure it wouldn't."

"Dad, it's only been, like, three years. It's hasn't been that long," I say, laughing.

He smiles and shakes his head.

When we walk in, I immediately recognize some people I went to school with. I haven't talked to them in forever, I doubt they even recognize me. I try to avoid them so I don't have to deal with any awkwardness.

My grandparents and dad find us all a table while Calum and I order. We just get one large pizza for all of us.

As we're waiting for the pizza, Calum and I lean against the counter and just talk. One of the people I recognized from school start walking over to us. I really hope she's just grabbing some extra napkins and not coming to talk to us. Her name is Alice and I've only spoken to her a few times.

"Luke?" Alice asks. She puts her hand on my arm, like we're friends or something, and looks at me with wide eyes.

"Hey..." I say awkwardly.

"You're talking! I can't believe it!" she exclaims, smiling widely.

Oh, right. People here only remember me as the guy who didn't speak. I kinda forgot about that since I'm so used to talking again.

"Yeah," I say, awkwardly laughing and rubbing my neck.

"How have you been? When did you come back?" she asks.

"Uh, I'm good, I guess. I just got back, like, two hours ago."

"Where even did you go? I heard you've been in an institution or something."

I cough and look at Calum with wide eyes. I wonder where that rumor came from and how many more false things people have said about me.

"No one calls them institutions anymore," I tell her. "But no, I was in America with my dad for a few months."

"Oh. What made you go to America?"

I'm not really sure how to respond to that. 

I had really bad depression and anxiety if you didn't know

"Just, ya know, reasons," I tell her.

She nods. "Oh, cool! Well, it was nice seeing you! Bye guys!"

I wave awkwardly as she leaves. Alice turns around quickly and heads back to her friends. They all start talking and turn to stare at me, so obviously they're talking about me.

"That was strange," Calum says.

I nod. "Really strange. It'll probably be happening a lot. I didn't think anyone even realized I was gone."

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