xii. goodbye

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Normality is a paved road - comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.

"What the hell were you thinking?" I almost yelled at him.
"Woah, Ava. Why are you getting so mad?"
"Why am I getting mad?" I scoffed. "You nearly killed Travis"
"You care about him? I punched him because he made fun of you. Don't tell me he didn't deserve it. Anyway, you're exaggerating. I didn't kill him. At least, not yet. " I could see him getting angry.
"Just a punch? You dislocated his jaw and he has three broken teeth Jason. And no. To answer your question - no I don't care about him. You just got suspended for a whole week. Do you actually think I can survive on my own without you?"

My voice cracked. I stopped walking and looked at my feet, as tears flooded my eyes and came rolling down my cheeks. That made him calm down again. He stopped in front of me.
"Okay look. I'm not gonna apologize for what I did to him. The bastard deserved it. But I'm sorry for the consequences. I really am." He placed his arms on my shoulders. A wave of comfort passed through me.
"A light punch would've been enough. Sometimes I think you don't know your own strength" I chuckled lightly. A sudden blue glow on the back of his neck caught my attention. This blue glow had been showcasing itself on his neck on and off for the past one year. When I asked him about it, he confessed that he had seen the same thing on my neck.
"Is it that again?" He asked. I nodded, blushing, as I realised that I was still staring at his neck.
"Well never mind that. I'm thinking of skipping school for a week."
"Ava. Don't. You're a strong girl. You've been through twice the shit anyone else in this school has been through. Don't let them get you down" he encouraged me, shoving his hands into his pocket. He always did that - whenever something worried him. It was almost as if he was trying to shove his troubles into his pockets so he needn't ever think about them again.

I nodded hesitantly and waved goodbye to him as we went our own ways.

He has always been there for me. Right by my side. The bullying and teasing had decreased phenomenally. The weird things still did happen - the voices mostly. I wondered whether Jason would still want to be friends with me if I told him exactly how crazy I was.

I pushed open the door and stopped short. A stranger sat on the couch opposite my mother; a cup of tea clutched in his hands. I felt acutely self-conscious as his sharp grey eyes focussed on me with a searching gaze. A smile tugged at his mouth.

"Hello Miss Hemsworth. Pleased to be meeting you at last." He offered his hand.
'Finally! Another one off the list' a voice in my head sounded.
"Ava, this is Mr. Wilson. He is here for you" mother explained.
"For me?" I asked, confused.
My mother opened her mouth to explain, when he interrupted
"My name is Charles Wilson. Professor Wilson. I am the headmaster of an Academy. An academy for special children. Special children like you. Would you be interested to join here?"

'An academy? Special?' I wondered what he was talking about. Special in what way? I couldn't stand going through another round of bullying and teasing. I couldn't leave Jason behind. My thought were interrupted by a harsh ringing. "I'll get it!" My mom said as she hurried out of the room. Before leaving, she handed me a business card. It said - 'Charles Wilson - Professor, Exemplar Academy'.

"Have you understood the voices in your head?" He asked me quietly.
My head snapped up.
"How do you know about that?" I whispered.
"That's what I said - special." He smiled, kindness twinkling in his eyes. 
"Where is this Academy?" I asked him.
"Norway? You came all the way from Norway for me? Am I that special?"
He nodded.
"Young lady you have no idea."

"So, what do you think dear?" Mother walked in. Happiness was visible in every line and curve on her face, which still couldn't mask her sadness. I didn't want to leave her, as much as I wanted a new beginning.
Jason. I wondered how he would feel. Betrayal? Or was he above that? Grief?
"Ava. I'm talking to you" mom snapped her fingers in front of my face.
"Uhm yeah. Sure. When am I leaving?" I had to say goodbye to him.
"It would be best if we left right now." The Professor said.
"Now?" I nearly screamed.
"No not right now. I have some business I need to attend to. You can pack now. There is one more child I need to see." He walked out, with hardly a backward glance.

"You knew I would be going now?" I turned to my mom.
She nodded.
"You knew this school was in Norway?" I asked her.
She nodded again.
Annoyed with her non committal responses, I yelled "and you have absolutely no qualms about letting me go?"
I shouldn't have.
She smiled softly, and the tears glistened in her eyes.
"I know you're special Ava. I have always known. I also know what you have to go through every day and I'm sorry I didn't do anything about it. Now this is my chance to make it up to you. You will have a good life at the Academy, Ava. And I am ready to sacrifice anything to give you that." She pulled me into a hug. I smiled into her dress. I would make her proud.

"I need to make a call" I broke away and reached for the telephone, punching in a number I knew all too well.
"Hello, this is Fred Jefferson Memorial Home." The voice at the other end announced.
"Hey Mrs. Ellis, can I speak to Jason?"
"I am so sorry Ava, he has a visitor at the moment"
"A visitor?"
"Yes. I saw him talk to the assistant director. I think he wants to take Jason home."
"Oh. Could you please tell him I said bye?"
"Sure Ava"
I placed the receiver down.

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