Act 1: Chapter 5, Part 2

Posted on July 02, 2017

In Which Evan is Furious

Megan. First Day of School. A Bit After School’s End.

Evan turned around as Megan approached him. She’d been walking across the campus with Beth from the administration building, where she’d been; they’d looped down around the south side of the tower and had seen the crowd around Chris, but it’d broken up when they were about halfway there, and Chris had just run off to the freshman locker hall. “Damn,” Megan said, looking past Evan after him.  “Just missed Chris, huh?”

“Isn’t he choice?!” Beth said, taking a couple of delicate quick steps forward to arrive at speaking distance with Evan just before Megan did. Megan realized she should have talked about this with Beth a little more before they ran into someone. They’d been talking about Chris, instead. Fuck.

Evan looked at Beth in silence for a beat too long, then he looked back at Megan and gave her a weird, too-wide smile, and replied, with too much enthusiasm, “You sure did! He’ll be back soon, though!”

“O-kay.” Megan said, as the smile slipped off her face. Was he mad?

Megan opened her mouth to say something, but before she could Beth leaned forward and said, “Man, I just missed his tale, huh? First you guys hog him at lunch, and then Megan here gets her phone taken away, and I go with her to get it back like a silly!” She ended the sentence smiling cheerfully at Evan.

Evan’s smile stayed exactly the same as he looked back at Beth while she was talking. He continued smiling silently for a moment after she stopped speaking and then, while Megan’s mind was still racing, before Megan could say anything, he said, “Hey Beth! You know, I’m not sure if you've realized this, but you haven’t spoken to me for close to three years!”

Beth, who had opened her mouth already in preparation to reply to whatever Evan’s reply was going to be, let it hang open for a second and then swiveled to face Megan. “I’m gonna go,” she said, suddenly brittle smile still plastered on her face, hurt in her eyes, before spinning on a heel and walking away.

“Beth! Wait!” Megan called after her, to the expected amount of avail. She looked after Beth for a moment to see if it looked like she would turn around, then glared at Evan. “Really, December?”

Any trace of a smile, forced or otherwise, disappeared from Evan. He regarded her, expression stony, for a moment, and then said, “Nope.” Then he also turned and walked south toward the edge of campus, which was not in the direction of the east quad where she’d gotten a text from Angie saying they were meeting.

“Evan wait!” Megan said. He was already ten feet away from her as she jolted into motion, and she had to trot to catch up with him. His legs were so long now! As she caught up with him she said, “Sorry, please, Evan!”

Not looking at her, still staring straight ahead, he said, “You haven’t earned the right to call me that again. Not yet. And certainly not as an admonishment, in defense of Beth.” He ducked between a small tree next to the walk and a clump of teens standing around talking, the path not large enough for them both to fit through at once, so she had to pause for a moment and then follow him. They caught some curious glances as they passed, too.

As soon as Megan caught up to him enough to say something again, but before she could, Evan snapped to a stop and spun toward her. “Beth isn’t the one who apologized to me this morning,” Evan said, glaring at her. “Don’t expect me to make nice with other people because you want to mend bridges! They have their own bridges! You didn’t cut us out alone. It was a group effort! So, I say again: Nope.”

And then he was moving again, leaving her behind, striding down the lane away from school. A group of kids that had been standing in a circle and chatting a few yards down the lane all turned their heads and watched him as he went, then most of them glanced over in her direction, before almost immediately turning back to each other on noticing her notice them.

Megan stood there at the edge of campus, watching Evan recede, quietly saying, “Fuck, fuuuuck, fuck?” She tried a different tone with each repetition, just to see what felt best. None of them felt great.

“Fuck?” Chris’s voice asked conversationally beside her.

She jumped. “Sweet Illuminator! Don’t scare me like that!” she said, putting a hand on his arm. It was quite muscular. She rested it there just a little too long before she realized it, and pulled it away quickly.

“Sorry,” he said, sincerely. “I’ll try and be noisier. It’s just long practice. So what’s up with Evan? Your friend Beth walked by looking upset as I was leaving the locker hall, and neither of you were at the tree, so I wandered this way and spotted you over here.”

“Um,” Megan said, in dismay. She hadn’t really filled him in on the back ground of their recent reconciliation, or lack thereof, as was becoming apparent. She doubted any of the others had either.

Her phone played a tinkling bell, and then another in rapid succession as she got two texts. Chris’s phone played a little musical sting she recognized as the treasure box opening melody from the Legend of Zelda.

On Megan’s phone, the first text was from Evan. I’m sorry, it said. I sometimes can’t keep everything even, and I blow up. Angie and Cali have been telling me I have to recognize when I can’t deal with anything more and I have to get away to ‘process’ things. Otherwise I’m not very fun to be around. I need to process everything that happened today. As she read, Chris chuckled at something.

The second was a group message from Angie, in reply to the one Chris had sent a few minutes before, and was probably what Chris was laughing at. Hey we’re at the beech. Where you all at? Chris was already responding.

A moment later a text arrived from Chris, which read Hey my dad wants me home for an extra weapons practice. It happens. I’ll maybe catch y’all AS tomorrow. Megan looked up at Chris, and he was smiling a little apologetically at her.

“Sorry,” he said. “It looks like maybe there’s some stuff going on under the surface with you guys, and I think maybe I need to stay out of it until it’s cooled down a little. You should go meet your friends. And see what you can do.”

Megan stared at him. Then, slowly, she nodded. “See what I can do.” She paused, nibbled at her lower lip, and said, “Okay. See you tomorrow?”

Chris pointed at her and said, “Of course! Don’t be ridiculous. Tomorrow we all get a hang on. We are talking music: bring your best shit, and tell the others.”

She stared at him, a smile spreading across her face. “Yeah. Okay. Of course.”

“And your actual best stuff, by which I mean your favorite stuff,” Chris went on, quite earnestly. “No guilt over liking something you think people will think is uncool, no trying to pick something you think other people think is cool. Bring your best stuff.”

Megan laughed, delighted. “You got it, boss.”

“Don’t call me boss, don’t call me chief, don’t call me late for dinner,” Chris said. “Tomorrow.” And he, in turn, was off, strolling down the lane toward the trolley.

Megan snorted, just a small one that she hoped he didn’t hear, as she watched him leave.