SOMETIMES in life you reach a point were the only thing that matters, is what you are against of. It is hard to explain why or how that is possible. But at eighteen years old most things are hard to explain.
Most teenagers crave to feel some emotion. It doesn't matter if it is love, hatred, sadness or envy. We have come to the stage were we need to physically feel our emotions with the simple aim of knowing that we are alive. That we are human. That somehow we haven't turned into an exact copy of our parents.
I gave up feeling when I was twelve years old.
It was a long process, something I didn't understand nor realize was happening. But it did and it has made my life easier. Not placing your emotions as a priority was somehow vital for me before. Now it has passed to be a habit that people tend to see as negative. If only they knew that waking up and going to bed is simplier without the feelings messing with your head.
I should have known it would happen. My parents should have known too, but my existence was indiferent to theirs.
My rejection of feeling has been the principal cause of my doom.
Who could have said, that the one thing that would break me apart was a human?
Who could have noticed, the sudden growth of sensation inside a hollow boy for a full girl?
Who could have known, that with just a smile, Rain Lambert could make me hate and love the universe with the same intensity... at the exact same second?
Certainly not me.
COMMUTING for school was a simple fact for Noah Fernandez. Since he had memories, he would live in the same old house, far away from the city. His parents had loved the great countryside. Hence, they had bought a big house down the road and to the left, so their little Noah could grow.
It took Noah exactly twenty-seven minutes to cycle from his house to school. It was good excercise, the only he ever got. And one he enjoyed, as he didn't have much to do but listen to music and cycle.
As every day, Noah stopped at the side of the parking lot and left his bike. There was no need to chain his bike, there were no thieves in Dolly Hills. But it was a habit.
Just as he was about to go inside the West building of the Dolly Hills High School, the rain started to pour. He had heard something on the television, about possible alarm for a hurricane. But he had paid no mind, those alerts were normal in Dolly and most times it was nothing.
Everyone else did not seem to agree with Noah's calm self. The halls were almost empty, he noticed. Just a few people he couldn't quite recognize were wandering around. It would be a calm day, and Noah would not bother.
When he went to his first class, the principal, Mr. Sully, announced that classes were off. It was allowed for students to stay, but teachers would not offer lectures due to the weather.
The rain was deadly now, and the wind had started to rise. It wasn't appealing at all to go out and cycle in that weather.
Instead of going home, Noah went to the library. He had homework to do, might as well get it done.
The librarian wasn't there, and it looked empty. Leaving Noah and the books some time alone. He loved the books, always had, so he didn't complain and sat on a small lounge area at the corner.
Half way into the essay, Noah noticed something. In the distance, just an echo cutting through the thunder outside, a tear. No, it wasn't just a tear. Someone was crying, sobbing even.
Noah contemplated the idea of going to investigate. But he never knew how to make someone feel better when they were crying. Perhaps the person didn't need to feel better. Maybe the person had fallen from the stairs and was now badly injured. He had to go and see.
Noah stepped in the hallway, leaving the comfort of books behind. The crying became louder. First a muffled cry, a whisper, a hiss, until it was clear where it was coming from. The girl's bathroom.
Noah wasn't sure why, but he pushed the red door and stepped in the increadibly white room. There, sitting like a child, face covered by knees, was Rain Lambert.
It would be a lie if Noah had said he wasn't surprised. Girls cried everyday. But not Rain Lambert. Rain smiled everyday.
What was he supposed to do now? He had already seen who it was and she wasn't bleeding to death. She would be okay, right?
Somehow it didn't seem right. It didn't seem okay to leave this sobbing girl on the floor. Noah hated his gut, but he followed it anyway.
"Are you o-okay?" Noah asked, unsure. She obviously wasn't okay. That had been a stupid question. Maybe he could just leave and —
It was too late. "Noah?" Rain Lambert's face was now visible, two black stains of her mascara covering her cheeks. She looked like a scared panda.
The confusion clouded Noah. "You know who I am?" He asked her. Noah had never been someone to call for attention. Actually, he did all he could so he wouldn't call anyone's attention.
Also, Rain was one of the most known girls in Dolly. Everyone knew her name, her family and all she did. Rain was like a celebrity.
It was Rain's turn to frown. She sat up straighter against the white tiles, laying her long legs before her. The black mascara circles had grown and she rubbed her eyes, making it worse. It was so weird to see her this way.
"Of course I know," she said, her voice quieter. "We have had the same classes since Kindergarden."
"Uh... Right." Noah struggled to find the words. He awkwardly coughed. "So..."
"What are you doing here?" Rain asked. She was doing one of those messy buns who managed to make everyone look great. Noah didn't understand why, but he had always preffered messy hair.
"I—Check. You. Okay?" Noah felt like an indian not using conjugated verbs. What if she started crying again? He cursed to himself, he was probably sounding like a dork.
"You came to the girl's bathroom to see if I was okay?" Her voice broke a little and the tears were threatening to come out again. Noah didn't understand if she was greatful or offended, nor how easily could girls break into crying.
"Yeah," he stood awkwardly there, in a place he had always seen as forbidden.
And the crying started again. Rain was crumbling, breaking. Noah has no idea what to do.
He sat beside her. Sure she would seek comfort? Noah tried to place a hand on her shoulder. Wouldn't she be offended?
She didn't even seem to notice when Noah placed his hand on her covered shoulder. Some tension left him, and he slowly started to strock her shoulder.
After a few minutes — that seemed like a decade — Rain stopped her tears. She whispered something and stood up. Noah was going to do the same, until he noticed what she was doing.
Rain was standing in front of the mirror, broken, her hand in a brown-leathered handbag Noah hadn't notice. She took a few napkins and started to clean her face.
Neither of them talked, there was no need to. When Rain was finished, she sat down beside Noah again. You could notice how beautiful she was now, even though her eyes still looked red from the tears.
"So, I bet that you have heard," she said. Rain's voice was quiet, as if she didn't want anyone else to actually listen to her.
Noah looked at her, confused. She was looking towards the door. "Heard what?" He hadn't heard anything, at least not something he could remember anyway.
Now Rain looked at him, frowning. "You haven't?" Noah didn't understand why she had been so surprised. He barely knew what was going on with anything else. It wasn't as he was a popular kid. The only person he could call 'friend' was Mavel, and she didn't hear much rumors either.
Noah simply shook his head and studied her face. Her eyes weren't blue, as Noah had always thought. Instead, they were a light shade of green with a ring of hazelnut in the middle. Beautiful.
Rain swallowed and turned her face away. She was hugging her knees too tight againt her chest. "Everyone thinks I cheated on Hunter with some college dude," she was shaking her head as she said it. As if that way, the memories of it all would simply go away. "It's all a lie. Hunter is the one who cheated, with Kat." The last part came as a whisper.
Noah knew who Hunter and Kat were. The captain of the Basketball team, the second head cheerleader. Rain's boyfriend and best friend.
What was Noah supposed to say? It'll be okay? Didn't seem like it. They had been the ones who had lied and were now blaming Rain.
"I just can't understand," she said, resting her head on the tiled-wall. Her eyes were closed, her lips barely open. The bridge of her nose... the freckles... Noah felt the urge to draw her.
"They were supposed to be my friends... They were supposed to be with me not against me."
"Sometimes the person you would take a bullet for, is the person behind the trigger."
Noah's statements had a lot of truth for a simple phrase. But it was enough for Rain to open her eyes and look at him, amused.
"Fair point," she said. It was kind of a smile, more of a smirk, but it was something.
Noah shifted in his place, his feet had become numb. The moment had grown into awkwardness. He wasn't shure why he had said that.
"Though I'm not sure if I would have taken a bullet for them..." she thought quietly, her eyes somewhere else. "Maybe I'm just too selfish to do something like that."
Noah answered without thinking, without looking at her either. His eyes had turned to something else, far away. "You aren't selfish, you are human." Noah himself wouldn't take a bullet for anyone either. He had never really loved someone so much to do so. Not even his parents.
"You are the first one to believe that," she said. It was Rain's turn to study Noah's face. The brigde of his nose, his lips, completely sealed. His eyes, deep and distant.
"Everyone else thinks I don't have feelings, that I'm some kind of doll," she confessed.
You certainly look the part, Noah thought but didn't say.
Noah didn't really have an answer for what she had said. What was he supposed to say?
He finally looked at her. A small smile was kissing her rosy lips.
In a sudden, Rain was up and offering a hand to Noah who hesitated. "Come on, I don't bite."
He finally took her hand and stood. Rain walked and left the bathroom and Noah followed her, unsure of what he should do.
Rain swiftly walked through the empty halls, her hand still holding Noah's.
Finally, they stopped in front of two wide doors which Noah aknowledged as the theatre's doors.
"Do you know what I like to do to feel better, Noah?" Rain asked. He had no idea. "Dance," she whispered and busted the doors open. Noah flinched and she ran inside, clearly excited. Her change of mood had left him startled.
While Noah walked down the corridors of seats that led towards the stage, Rain was already up there. She had put some music with her phone, not loud enough.
Noah found a seat in the first row and looked at Rain. She was on the middle of the stage, dancing.
At first it looked ridiculous to Noah. But every swift move, every precise turn, made sense. It was art, it was freedom and it was beautiful. He had thought to many things were beautiful concerning Rain Lambert. In the back of his head, it worried him. But he quickly forgot as he saw how she moved, how even though she was so heart broken, dancing had made her smile.
THAT night Noah couldn't help but dream with dancing. Not long after Rain's dancing solo, she forced Noah into dancing himself. It had been the most awkward thing he had experienced, but Rain hadn't thought the same.
Now, Noah was stuck. Stuck with the memory of a crying Rain Lambert and at the same time of a smiling girl. He was sure it would wear off with time.
The storm had quickly disappeared. Today was a new day, the sun was shining, a few puffy clouds and a cool breeze to set the fall weather. It had always been that way in Dolly Hills, a crazy weather and wide countrysides over the hills.
"So I heard about your little adventure," Mavel said.
The morning had flied away, and both of them were sitting at their usual lunchtable in the main yard.
Noah raised his eyebrows. He hadn't tell anyone, and judging by Rain he hadn't guess she would. But he didn't really know her, so who was him to judge? He hadn't even ask Rain what had happened, he simply danced with her. He knew why Rain was crying simply because she had opened up to him.
"I wouldn't call it an adventure," he said, dipping his fry on ketchup. There was something about that red tomato and completely chemical sauce that Noah loved.
"Anyways," Mavel continued and rolled her eyes, as she typically did. "What happened between you two?"
Noah now raised his eyebrows and finally gave Mavel his full attention. What happened? Nothing, nothing at all.
"Oh, please. She's a slut who cheated on the hottest guy in Dolly, she obviously tried one of her tricks on the antisocial guy."
On a normal situation, Noah wouldn't pay much attention to Mavel's bitchy remarks. He would let them pass on with a shrug. But the fact that Rain Lambert was standing with her tray of food, right behing Mavel, listening to every single word, changed things.
Noah saw how Rain's face crumbled, her heart dropping to the floor and breaking in a million pieces. But that was just for a second. A moment later you wouldn't even been able how heartbroken Rain had been.
Her face was red now, filled with anger. Before thinking it twice, Rain's greasy fries and barbacue sauce fell over Mavel.
The whole courtyard fell into a tense silence, swiftly filled by Mavel's high-pitched wail.
Everyone started laughing, everyone except Mavel, Rain and Noah. Mavel turned and her cheeks flushed red at the sight of Rain. But before she could say anything mean, Mavel noticed the laugher and it was her turn to break down. Without anything to say, Mavel ran off into the school building.
Only then did Noah noticed that this whole time, he had been staring at Rain. Her face was back to her broken self, threatening with tears. And when Rain's friend stood to congratulate her, she made up and excuse and quickly walked away.
It was too late when Noah realized he had followed her, they were already alone. Rain had sat down under a big tree, near the football field. Noah stood feets away, looking at her and not really knowing what he should do. He found himself in a déjà vu.
"She's right," Rain suddenly said. She wiped her face and looked far ahead. Noah hadn't realized she knew he was standing there.
"No, she's not," he said. Noah hadn't weighted the impact of his words until he heard them out loud. It was to late to change them now. "You shouldn't let anyone define who you are."
It had been something Noah had always known. Something he lived by.
Rain looked at him, not crying but looking as she might. The expression on her face suggested that she might not believe what she was looking at.
"You don't know me," Rain said. "You don't know how it is to be me. People define me, I'm what people think of me. A fake doll. All I want is to be happy again."
It was odd, that he had found the same girl crying two times this week. It was strange, that he had gone to the rescue. It was weird, that she had opened up to him so easily.
For some reason, Noah couldn't stand the fact of her saying those words. Even if it was true. Even if Mavel was right. There was something so horribly wrong about the whole situation that shook something inside Noah. Despite the fact that it scared him, he made the next move.
"You should get revange," he said. Noah recalled how he always used to feel better after getting revange from his cousin Patrick. The other boy would tease Noah none-stop. One day, Noah got tired and humiliated the kid in front of a group of girls. He was never bothered again.
Rain looked at something behing Noah, her eyes narrowing. "That's not a bad idea..."
"Ms. Lambert! To my office right now!" A loud voice hollered over the yard. Rain and Noah turned and saw Mr. Sully standing beside Mavel, stained by the sauce. Mr. Sully quickly left, clearly angry and Mavel followed.
When Noah turned to Rain he noticed she was already up, cleaning the grass from her white jeans. Standing up, Noah realized, she looked stronger.
"I better go..." she said and for long seconds there was just silence. "But I'll let you know of my revange plan." Rain walked away, smirking at Noah.
"There you are," Mavel said. "Had fun with that little show?"
Her hair was now clean but wet, making it look a deep shade of brown. Her face was also clean, but Noah couldn't miss the stain in her white shirt.
"Nice shirt," Noah joked. Mavel's simple comeback was an eye roll.
They started to head out to the parking lot, where Mavel's mother picks her up.
"I really felt bad, you know," Mavel said. "What I said was harsh, but its the truth, Noah. Don't forget that."
Before he could analyze or answer, Mavel was already inside her car, explaining to her mother what happened.
While Noah walked towards his bike, he couldn't get Mavel's words out of his head.
Rain was what people labeled her as. Mavel had said she was a slut. Rain had said she was right. Everyone, including Rain, believe those harsh words. But only Noah knew that she hadn't been the unfaithful one.