Autumn- Chapter 8

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The first day of my last week at the cabin starts off pretty well. Paul and I have a good session. After a really effective session where I share a lot, I'm always kind of exhausted afterwards. I nap until Sophie shows up for lunch and to do yoga with me.

I'm definitely getting better. I've mastered some of the most basic poses. I still fuck up a lot which makes our yoga sessions full of laughter. Sophie tells me this is kind of a yoga faux pas, but I don't care. It feels good to laugh and even better to laugh with someone.

Before yoga each day, we have lunch. As we eat, I'm bummed to think that my time with her is coming to an end. I've become really close to her over the last few weeks.

Sophie takes me into town to do some shopping. I want to pick up some locally made gifts for my family. We go to several shops where she helps me pick some things out.

When we get back to the main house, I go inside and call my parents to confirm when they are picking me up. My mom tells me that her radiation treatment has been going pretty well. When the lump has shrunken significantly, she'll have surgery to remove it. I'm really glad I will be back in Toronto for that stage of treatment.

Sophie drives me up to my cabin. Before I get out, I ask her a question.

"On Friday night, instead of having dinner at the cabin, could I take you out?"

She smiles shyly. "If I didn't know better, I'd think you were asking me out on a date."

I look into her eyes. "What if I was?"

She gulps. "I thought we'd decided that we were staying within certain boundaries."

"I leave on Saturday, Sophie. Can't we bend the rules?"

A troubled look passed over her beautiful face. "Like you said, you leave Saturday. I don't really want to do anything that might make me more attached to you than I already am."

My stomach is suddenly filled with butterflies. She's attached to me? And she's afraid to get more attached?

"We can still be in contact after I leave. I'll give you my number. We can text. And you might come to Toronto, remember?"

"I know, and I want to stay in touch. But the bottom line is, I'm still going to be here leading my simple life and you will go back to being Shawn Mendes."

"I've always been Shawn Mendes," I say.

"I guess you have. In my mind, since you've been here, you've just been Shawn."

"A crazy guy who needed to get away and get therapy?" I joke.

"I've never seen you as crazy. At all. You are just a person who had too much and snapped. We all have a breaking point."

"So, Friday night?" I ask again.

"Can I think about it? I'll let you know by Thursday."

By the time Thursday morning rolls around, I'm assuming she is going to say no. I see it as one chance to have a normal night out with a girl I've grown extremely fond of. I don't think she sees it that way at all.

I have my second to last session with Paul. I decide to talk to him about the situation with Sophie.

"I'm impressed your relationship has remained completely platonic this whole time," he says after I've told him. "Given that you are both attractive young people who seem to have connected, I would have thought something might happen."

"You told me not to get romantically involved," I say.

"I know. And I'm glad you listened because it could have complicated things. If you truly have feelings for her, though, it's okay if you tell her before you leave."

I'm not really sure how I'd tell Sophie how I feel, but if we do go to dinner, that might be my chance. I like her more than I've liked any other girl. I think the fact that we had to just be friends made me appreciate her as a person. All too often, my past relationships had become sexual immediately. I mean, that was fine for what they were, but this is different. I definitely feel sexual attraction towards Sophie, but I feel affection for her first and foremost. I enjoy spending time with her. She's smart and funny and one of my best friends.

Fuck. I've fallen hard for her.

Over lunch that day, she tells me that we can go to dinner. I try to contain my happiness, but I think she can tell how pleased I am.

On Friday I wake up and sit on the deck, despite the frigid temperature, and take more pictures. As I take them, I realize I never took any of Sophie. I wonder if she'd let me take some.

I have my very last session with Paul. He tells me that if I'm ever starting to feel like I did before, just prior to my breakdown, I need to utilize every tactic he's given me. If his tricks and the relaxation methods don't work, I need to seek help. I can't wait until after things reach the boiling point. He says he is confident that I can go forward with my life better prepared for whatever is thrown at me. And he emphasizes that I need to be easy on myself if I do have setbacks. I get emotional as we say our goodbyes. He's really helped me.

Paul leaves. I have a really nice lunch with Sophie, though she seems a bit preoccupied today.

When we're done eating, I ask her about it. "Is everything okay? You're really quiet."

She hesitates to answer.

"Have I done something to upset you? If this is about the date, it's totally fine to just call it off. I don't want to do something you are uncomfortable with."

"Oh god no, Shawn! It's not about you. It's me."

I reach out and put my hand on hers. "You can tell me anything. It's not like I haven't told you way more than I should."

She sighs. "I've applied to the University of Toronto. I submitted the application this morning. If I get in, I'd transfer in as a junior next year."

"Are you kidding me? That's awesome!" I say enthusiastically.

"I'm not going to be able to afford it unless I get a huge scholarship," she says. "I'm not getting my hopes up."

She looks so defeated. It really affects me to see her so down.

"Sophie, I can help with your tuition."

She gives me a shocked look. It then changes to one of irritation.

"I'm not a charity case. I don't need you swooping in and saving the day!" she says.

"That's not what I'm trying to do! You've been a good friend to me when I really needed one. It's the least I can do to repay you."

"I'm not your friend because I want something in return. I'm your friend because I like you. I needed a friend, too, so we're already even. Offering to pay me for my friendship is crass and a little insulting!"

"I didn't mean to insult you. I just want to do something kind for you. If it insults you, then consider the offer withdrawn. Jesus, I was just trying to be nice."

She stands up. "I think I've changed my mind about dinner." She then grabs the basket and walks out.

Before I can get too upset about what's just happened, I calm myself down. I take a seat and allow the feelings to flow through me. Then I focus on what happened and what I can do to fix it.

That night, Brett brings my dinner. I'm upset by this, but I handle it well. Other people's actions are out of my control. I can't get upset if she didn't want to see me. I'd made a mistake regarding the tuition offer. We all make mistakes.

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