Authors: Wanitta Praks
Tags: #sliceoflife, #contemporaryromance, #teenromance, #teenfiction, #contemporaryfiction, #dramaromance, #romeojulietstoryline, #schoolromance, #starcrossedlovers, #teenfictioncontemporary, #tragedyromance
Time to liven things up.
I pull out my homework sheet buried at the
bottom of the pile. Wanting to get a reaction out of her sour face,
I decide to pretend to look a bit longer.
I mumble, “I put it in here somewhere.”
She still doesn’t reply. She just sits there
with a straight face and waits for me.
I’m disappointed. Why all this tension?
Losing the fun mood, I hand her the
worksheet and sit back down. Ivy starts marking my work.
I’m losing my motivation to speak. And I’m
Now that I realize I like her, I want to
talk to her. It can be about anything, from that purple cardigan
she’s wearing again today to the reason she covers her face with
I must admit I don’t like them. Yeah, sure,
it looks nice sometimes, but it blocks her eyes, and I like looking
at her chestnut eyes when I talk to her.
Just wait. When I get to be her boyfriend,
I’ll zap that fringe off myself.
I can almost hear myself doing the evil
laugh, except it’ll be a long way yet before I can be her
boyfriend. We’re not even in the friend zone yet, so how can I be
Ivy looks tense. She has a frown on her
forehead—the side that I can see, of course.
A little piece inside me shrivels, making me
sad. Maybe I should cheer her up.
“Ivy,” I say, nudging her shoulder.
Ivy shifts her seat a little farther away
and glares at me.
What? Am I contagious or something?
Of course I don’t ask her that. While she’s
busy glaring at me, I take my cue. I pull the homework sheet from
underneath her hand and quickly write something. Then I give it
back to her and grin.
She looks at me weirdly, then sees my
scrawling writing on the sheet. I smirk.
S + E = X
Ivy turns to me.
“Just trying to break the tension,” I say,
giving her my cheesiest smile ever.
Ivy doesn’t smile back, nor does she
acknowledge that I’m trying to cheer her up. She just goes back to
marking my work.
I make a grumbling sound. Kai always says it
resembles the sound of an ape going nuts for bananas. I wonder if
that’s what Ivy’s thinking when she gives me that stare again.
I’m quite disappointed that my plan didn’t
grab her attention, though.
Is she still mad with me from the other day
because I went to the library to annoy her? I mean, come on, she
didn’t turn up for her work. What was I supposed to do? She wigged.
Unless she’s still mad with me because I kept on ringing her phone
yesterday. Well, if asking her to be my tutor wasn’t working, I had
to go higher up.
Ivy’s head is still down, which means she
still ignoring me. Finally, on the last page of my homework, she
signs it and hands it to me.
“You did great. My job here is done. I’m
What? That’s it?
“Wait!” I stand up to grab her hand just as
she’s about to leave the chair. “Let’s have our tea and cake before
you leave.” I hastily hand her the cup of tea. “You didn’t even get
Cold tea spills all over my hand.
Is she really that mad with me?
Ivy glares at me, her breathing labored. I
glare at her, my breathing also labored. Then she snaps and bolts
to the door. I get to her first and catch her before she’s at the
“Ivy,” I yell. “What the hell?”
“Let me go, Zac,” she says, her voice
shaking, her eyes still not looking at me.
I don’t let her go. Instead, I pull her back
and she slams into my chest.
“Tell me. Did I do something wrong?”
She pushes me away from her and this time
gives me an intense stare, one that looks so painful it has me even
“I am here as your tutor, Zac.” Her voice
shakes when she speaks. “I’m not here as your chitchat friend. Now
my job is done. I’m leaving. So let me go.”
“Fine,” I yell.
I let her go.
Seriously, I’ve had enough of this shit.
“Just go. Do whatever you want. Did you
think I would grovel at your feet? Just because I requested you
that doesn’t mean you’re all that special as a tutor.”
Shit! Shit! Shit! This is so fucking
I’m starting to swear like Dillon, but I don’t really
care. All I do is slam my fist into the wall to relieve the
frustration welling in my chest. It hurts like fucking crazy.
I don’t want us to end like this. I need to
know the reason Ivy is behaving this way. So I hobble after her on
Whether she’s a slow runner or I’m just fast
on my crutches, I catch up to her. Just as she’s about to enter the
lift, I pull her by the shoulder and drag her to face me.
“You can’t leave me like that. No one walks
away from Zac Elliot.”
Ivy looks at me for a moment, staring,
undecided. I know she wants to leave, so I block her path.
I look into her eyes and there it is again,
that subtle hint of sadness, a little bit of pain, and a whole lot
of anger. Yet there’s something else in her eyes that I can’t
“What is it? What’s the problem, Ivy?” I
stress. I’m totally at my limit now.
“My name is Ivy Hamilton,” she finally
“Yes. Ivy Hamilton. I know.”
Why is she telling me her name? I already
She starts pulling up her purple sleeve to
reveal her forearm. Little by little, I can make out three deep
scars running from her wrist all the way to her inner forearm. Then
she parts her heavy fringe to the side to reveal her forehead.
There’s a scar along the hairline, and I’m not sure where it ends
because it’s hidden by her dark hair.
I look at her, still confused as ever. Why
is she showing me these scars? So what if there are scars on her
body? It doesn’t affect who Ivy is as a person. I like her and I
don’t care if she has scars. Unless she’s self-conscious of her
Shit! Now I feel bad. I get mad just because
she doesn’t talk to me, but it’s because she’s scared of me judging
“Ivy, it’s okay. They’re only scars.” I
“They are not just scars, Zac.” She lashes
out at me. Tears stream down her cheeks.
Oh shit! What did I do now?
“They are memories, painful memories of what
happened to me that night. Memories that I want to forget,” she
I get it. She must have experienced some
sort of trauma when she was young.
“Do you remember what happened five years
ago, Zac?” she asks again.
“Five years ago?” I ponder this question.
I’m not sure. What happened five years ago? Am I supposed to
Let’s see. I turned twelve. Mum and Dad got
divorced. And Dillon ended up doing community service because he
was in some sort of car accident.
“No, what happened five years ago?” I ask,
my mind coming up empty. Unless it’s one of those events I
mentioned above, which I think is highly unlikely, then I don’t
“Five years ago,” Ivy narrates, “there was
an accident. This accident took the lives of a girl’s parents and
Okay. I’m pretty smart, so I know right away
the girl Ivy’s talking about is actually her.
So what? Why is she telling me this?
“I don’t understand,” I tell her. “I’m sorry
you had the accident, but what has that—”
“Because your brother is the one who caused
Shit! This is not happening.
“Your brother crashed into my parents’ car.
He killed my parents. He killed my brother. And he almost killed
me,” she sobs.
Shit! This is seriously not happening.
Someone please wake me up. Someone please throw a bucket of cold
water and wake me up.
“Now do you understand why I don’t want to
teach you?” she whispers, her voice holding so much pain.
“Ivy, I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” I go to
grab her hand, but she thrashes away from me.
“Well, now you know, so let me go.”
“I… I don’t want us to end like this. Can’t
we talk about this?”
“No, we can’t.”
“But, Ivy, I’m not Dillon. We’re different
“It doesn’t matter. You’re brothers.”
“Stop making excuses for him. I hate you. I
don’t want to see you. Every time I see you, I see your brother.
And when I see your brother, I’m reminded of everything we
“But my brother and me, we’re not close. He
doesn’t even live with me. He lives in Queenstown.”
What is wrong with me? Why am I trying so
hard to find one small grain of reasoning so I can see her?
I know why. It’s because I like her. She
lights up my world. She makes me happy. I can think of a million
other reasons I need Ivy by my side. So I don’t want to give up on
her just because of our circumstances.
“I don’t care. You’re related.” She
continues to hold her ground.
“Ivy, why can’t you differentiate between
us? I’m not my brother. He’s not—”
“Stop it. Just stop it,” she cries, her body
shaking with so much pain.
I go to hold her again, but she only pushes
Finally, when she’s able to control herself,
she stands up and faces me. “Listen to me clearly, Zac. From now
on, I don’t want to talk to you or see you ever again. Even when
you’re well enough to attend school and see me walking down the
hallway, we will be nothing but strangers to each other. That’s how
I want it to be.”
“But I don’t want it to be like that. I want
She turns to me, a pained expression in her
eyes. “What do you want?”
“I want…” I want to tell her I want to be
her boyfriend. But my lips won’t move. Even when I see her going
into the elevator, I still don’t move. It’s only when the door
starts to close that I act. I hold the door to keep it open and
say, “Ivy, I want—”
“Let go of the door, Zac.”
I shake my head. I don’t let go of the
Ivy glares at me with her tear-filled eyes.
Slowly, she says, “Ask yourself this, Zac. Do you think you could
live and be friends with someone who inflicted so much pain on you?
If you can’t answer that, then let me go. Good-bye.”
It was only that one word from Ivy’s mouth,
but it somehow feels like my heart has been ripped open and I’m
bleeding slowly from inside. My grip finally loosens and the door
“Ivy,” I say sadly as I watch her exit my
It’s so exhausting. Why is it so exhausting?
I slide down the elevator door and huddle myself into a ball. I
don’t press the ground button but choose to stay suspended on the
I realize now this is all too taxing for me.
But I also realize one other thing. I like Zac. I like him a lot.
And it takes a lot of my energy to do this to him.
I know he’s right. I should differentiate
who is who. He’s not his brother. He’s himself. Zac, the goofy,
sometimes serious, and demanding Zac. But I can’t let this feeling
dominate me. I’m only seventeen. Feelings will change. This is just
a small crush. I have a big future ahead of me. To let him into my
heart, it will only cause me pain, not to mention Gigi and Clare.
What would they think if they knew who Zac is?
I shake my head. I’m not going down that
road again. The relationship between Zac and me is over. We are no
longer student and teacher; we are merely strangers.
When I get home that night, I go straight to
bed, feigning a headache. Moon comes into my room and tucks herself
“Can I sleep here for a bit, Vivi?” she
“Clare working tonight?” I ask, wondering
where Clare is.
“Mm-hmm.” She nods. “Mommy’s at work.”
I turn to her and hug her.
“How’s school today?” I ask, deciding to
change the subject instead. Drowning in my past will not get me
anywhere. I have to look toward the future.
“School is fun, Vivi,” she says, snuggling
closer to me.
The weather down south gets really cold at
night. Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury to buy electric
blankets. The only electric blanket we have is reserved for
She has rheumatoid arthritis, so when the
weather gets too cold, her joints get inflamed and cause her pain.
Unlucky for us, tonight, the blast of cold air blows in our
direction. Even with the curtains and windows shut, there is an icy
atmosphere inside the room. I snuggle closer to Moon for warmth.
Moon does the same to me.
We’re both silent, both too busy thinking
about the current events in our lives. After another quiet spell,
Moon speaks. “Vivi, I’m going to a sports day in May.”
May? Right now it’s April, still the autumn
season. In May, the season approaches winter, and in Dunedin,
because the city is situated near the coastline, the temperature
can get below ten degrees. I’m not looking forward to winter. Moon
will have to wear comfortable and warm clothing if she does want to
“What are you participating in?” I ask.
“We go running and relay.”
“Will you be all right?”
“Mm-hmm.” Moon nods again. “It’ll be fun.
I’m looking forward to it.”
“Can I come watch?” I ask, twirling her
silvery locks around my fingers. I love Moon’s hair. It is both
silver and gold, like the color of the moon on a clear night.
“It starts at nine o’clock,” she
“Nine o’clock.” I have classes then. “I
don’t think I can make it. But what time does it finish?”
“I still can’t. I have to work afterwards.
But maybe I can ask them to reschedule,” I murmur to myself.
“No. Don’t worry about it. Gigi will be
coming to watch. I told Gigi already. She’s coming to watch