Chapter 22

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I was in the library when I felt someone take a hold of my shoulder from behind. I moved away in shock, wondering who on earth it was until I was met face to face with Amanda when I turned.

"Hey," she said with a small smile as I tried to recover from the shock.

"What do you want?" My voice came off with a little spite, and it made me feel terrible. She's prevented me from getting into something I'm sure my heart couldn't have managed, but there was still an irrational part of me that wished she'd never done it so that I could have walked into a relationship with Felix blindly.

"I want to talk to you, can you meet me after school?" she asked, ignoring my bad attitude. I looked at her for a while, before I eventually nodded.

"Great, meet me at the school gate," she said, smiling at me a little before walking away. I watched her until she left through the main door. I turned back to face the shelve in front of me, letting out a low sad sigh when I remembered when Felix and I would look for a book and he would make lame jokes that made us both laugh and earn spiteful looks from the librarian. Now it was just awkward when we were in close proportion to each other.

I eventually found the book I was looking for. Taking it, I headed for my seat before using it to reference my work. When the period was over I headed for my other classes.

"This is a lot better," Mrs. Rivers had said when she'd received my new personal statement, nodding as she read through it. To be honest, I'd never thought of a polytechnic, and now I was looking them up in my free time.

When school was over I told the rest that I wasn't heading home with them, and walked out of the school building and towards the already crowded school gate. Thankfully, Amanda's blazing red hair made her stand out like a sore thumb in the crowd, making her easy to find. I walked over to her, spotting her thin glossed lips as they broke into a smile when her eyes spotted me.

"Come on, we're taking a walk about the block, then we'll come back to this spot," she said, adjusting the strap of her floral patterned sling bag as she started to make her way out of the small crowd gathered at the gate. I followed her, and soon I was walking through a street I hadn't known existed until now.

We walked in silence until Amanda spoke up.

"So Felix," she started, the sound of her converses threading against the gravel creating a background noise. "I know I told you to save yourself, but Felix is — I'm not sure how to put it into words — he's breaking down. Yeah, that's it," Amanda got between pauses, Turning briefly to me before turning away again.

"I didn't expect that. I think he actually genuinely likes you," she said. At the moment I had a frown on my face. So, what was I supposed to do? I wasn't sure why she was telling me this, or what she wanted me to do with the information.

"He's never acted like this before..." she trailed when I didn't say anything. "Has he said anything to you yet?"

I felt my face flush, not saying anything.

"He hasn't, has he?" she said, making me look towards her. Her freckled forehead was glittering with beads of sweat as her red hair bounced with her every movement.

"He's talked to me, well sort of. You told me he's indecisive so that doesn't mean much, and if it does mean something it doesn't hold much weight," I said, making her turn to me as she hummed before looking away.

"Has he told you anything deeply personal yet? Has he hinted at anything?" she asked, making me frown a bit.

"If you're referring to the big secret he keeps talking about but can't tell me because he's not sure himself and that I won't understand anyway, then yes, and no. I know about him having a secret, nothing more," I sighed in frustration as I ran a hand through my short curls.

"Ah, so he hasn't told you in detail," she said, nodding to herself. I turned to her with a frown, wondering what she was talking about. "I'll let him tell you in his own time, maybe you can fix him," she said, making me frown a bit.

Fix him? I wondered as she continued to walk without saying another word. We got to the school gate, and she waved me off before heading back into the school compound to get her car while I started walking back home.

Fix him? I wondered again as I walked, frowning a bit.

Why would she make such a statement? I asked myself as I walked through the silent street. The day was hot, and I could already feel my inner wear sticking to my skin halfway through the journey home.

I made it to the front door of my house eventually. My mother opened the door, and she didn't avoid my gaze this time.

Progress. I thought to myself as I walked into the living room. I greeted my father who was watching TV before heading up to my room. I hadn't been in it for thirty minutes when I heard a knock on my door.

"Come in," I said, expecting maybe Sam or Chloe coming in to borrow my PS4 to play a movie CD, what I didn't expect was my mother. She walked in, smiling at me slightly as she moved towards my bed. She helped herself by taking a seat at the edge, then tapping the space by her. I looked at the space warily before moving to sit down beside her.

"How are you?" she asked.

"Fine—"

"Don't lie to me Ben, you've been looking dead lately. Is it that boy?" she asked. I looked away from her, staring down at my grey jeans.

"And if it was?" I asked, not sure why I was testing my mum's patience.

"Ben, I'm just here to listen today. Just talk. I might even get ice cream. I don't like seeing you sad," she said, making me turn to her in surprise.

"You're okay with it?" I asked.

"I don't like seeing you sad," she repeated, making me let out a low laugh. Okay, maybe I'd pushed it a little, but a step towards the right direction was still a step either way.

"I'll take you up on your ice cream offer," I said, making her smile.

"You can go and search the freezer. Be smart about it, I don't want your sisters finding out then coming to me like I wronged them," she said, making me chuckle. I got up, heading out of my bedroom, and then down the stairs to the kitchen to get the bowl of vanilla flavored ice cream before heading back up again.

I talked to my mother as we ate ice cream directly out of the bowl with metal spoons. I tried to limit the amount of information I gave her, and although the conversation was strained, it was still a conversation, and it could possibly lead up to less strained ones.

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