Fourteen hours. It had taken fourteen hours for Evan to lose all of the hope instilled in him by his mother. And frankly, he was surprised it lasted that long.
He took the day off school, instead opting to rid his life of the Murphys. There were a lot of memories of them, a couple of Zoe’s guitar picks tucked into his drawer, an oversized sweater that belonged to Connor, a broken in baseball glove under his mattress, countless recipes safely stored in his notebook.
Oh, these were his keep items. The ones that he wouldn’t get rid of. But the rest, he could definitely throw away. Like the pictures on his phone. But he didn’t have to do that now! He could start with… Zoe’s clothes. She’d left so many items at his house over the past few months. He could give them back... He could leave them in her locker. That was smart. He could start there, as soon as he stopped crying over the picture of her wearing his sawed off cast, thumb sticking up.
Evan couldn’t do this. It hurt too much to clean his room, clean his life of the Murphys. He was so upset that the frantic knocking that he’d have to answer was a welcome distraction. He would rather open the front door and have a conversation than clean his room.
Until he saw Zoe Murphy behind the door.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, eyes wide. She looked ragged, hair a matted mess and hands shaky.
“I can’t let you go. I’ve been trying, all night, and I can’t give you up. You’re a total fuck up, but you’re my fuck up. I need you. Let me need you, Evan. Let me feel something. I just wanna feel something...”
He stared at Zoe. She kept inching forward, eyes looking directly into his. He looked away. “Are you sure this is a good idea?”
“Just kiss me, and we can forget about all of it.” She stepped forward and met his lips roughly, scowling when he pulled away.
“Zoe, this isn’t-“
She shook her head violently, hands tugging at her hair. “Do you love me?”
Evan stared at her, before nodding. “Of course. I love you, and I want you, but… I don’t understand, I- We’re not-“
Zoe took in a shuddering breath, her bottom lip trembling. Evan hated when it did that. “Don’t say it. Please, don’t say it.”
Evan stared at the fragile girl before him, watching the turmoil she was putting herself through. She said she needed him, those were her words. He could help her. She needed his help, and if he could help her, then he should, no doubt. He owed her that much.
And there’s something… wrong about fucking her in his bed while her parents are probably cursing his existence. And there’s something painful about asking her what they are in the same spot that she confirmed their unending love. Because now, she can’t meet his eyes when she asks, “What do you mean?”
Evan rolled his eyes as she smoothed her dress down, fixing her hair in his mirror. She had a fresh little cut on her thigh that became visible when she raised her arms. “I mean, what are we? After last night-“
“I don’t want to talk about last night,” she said starkly, finally, running her hands through his sheets before finding her headband and tugging it back on. Zoe sighed, staring at Evan, and her voice was much softer when she spoke again. “We never officially broke up, right? So let’s just… say we didn’t. We’re fine. Exactly the way we were three days ago. Right?”
The way she said it left Evan with no choice but to agree. “Right.”
She stepped into his personal space, wrapping her arms around him and tucking her head underneath her chin. It didn’t feel the same as it had when they hugged a week before, or a day before. Zoe felt so shaky, so desperate. They stood like that for a long time, and Evan could see Zoe’s blank stare in the mirror. It scared him, and broke his heart at all once. This was all his fault.
She pulled away and left him there, standing silently in his room, wondering if he made the right choice when she didn’t return his “I love you.”
Zoe pulled into his driveway, honking once, and Evan stared at her, confused.
He guessed he shouldn’t have been surprised, if they were still dating. Zoe picked him up for school, and then they went to his house afterwards. Because that was what girlfriends did. Apparently, girlfriends also pushed their boyfriends into lockers and behind staircases to make out rather, uh, aggressively. And girlfriends asked their boyfriends to fuck them roughly in the middle of their homework session at his house. And then vomited while cleaning up after.
Evan patted her back gently, staring at the cuts on her thighs. They’d grown in number. He’d ask about it later.
“I need to get home,” Zoe ground out, putting her toothbrush back next to his and exiting the bathroom. Evan followed, grabbing a tee and her keys.
“Yeah, I’ll drive.”
“No, you won’t. I’ll go home alone, and you’ll stay here.”
They stared at each other, before Evan digressed, his mouth twitching as though he wanted to say something. And he did. It was just the wrong thing. It was a very bad thing to say to her.
“Your legs. Uh… What’s up with your thighs? Or, why do you have-”
She glared at him, before turning and walking towards his front door. “I’m leaving. Bye.”
He watched her unlock the door, and then his mouth started moving faster than his brain, “Zoe, wait. Stop. I need to know what’s going on with you, or we can’t… I can’t keep doing this. I can’t watch you destroy yourself, and not do anything. Fuck, Zoe, you’re gonna kill yourself-”
Zoe slammed her car door shut, and glared at her boyfriend. Evan wanted to die when he saw the look in her eyes, as if she would kill him for saying another word. He wouldn’t doubt it. She was pissed. And it was Evan’s fault.
“Can you really judge me for being this way? Honestly, are you in any position to say one fucking word to me about killing myself? After what you did? As if you were any better! As if you didn’t jump out of a fucking tree! Fuck you, Evan!”
They stood there, staring each other down, before Zoe shook her head and opened her door again. “Bye, Evan. Thanks a whole fucking lot. I’ll see you… I don’t know. I’ll see you.”
Evan watched her drive off, barely giving him another glance as she sped dangerously above the speed limit. He was almost expecting the call when it came. Just a simple call, from Zoe’s cousin.
“Evan? Zoe’s in the hospital.”