Chapter 1: Resisting Urges and Curious Concerns
Evelyn had immersed herself in writing the assignment that was to be submitted by the next to the next week. Though the due date was far, Evelyn Taylor preferred getting the stuff done the earliest she could irrespective of the available time for the same.
She never did well in hurry. She panicked, if she were to work under pressure of the last minute left. She raised her head from her books on hearing a call for her.
"We are making a movie plan. You up for it?" Caleb stood in front of her, drumming his fingers on her desk.
It took her some moments to realize that he, Caleb was actually proposing the offer of joining him - scratch that - them for a movie.
Caleb was a part of Precious Four and Precious Four - the famous, leading music ensemble - were Precious Four for a reason. They didn't involve anyone in their group. She thought.
She had barely interacted with them. It was obvious on her side to wonder what made her an exception. She was quick enough to conceal the surprise that she hoped he did not notice and gave him a small smile.
"That's really sweet of you to ask me, Caleb, but I don't think I would be able to make it. I have an assignment to finish." She politely declined, mumbling a quick apology following it.
Caleb shook his head with a disapproving nod. "We aren't supposed to submit it tomorrow, are we?" He scratched the back of his head, in sheer irritation. He would have remembered if only he had paid atleast a bit of attention in the class.
She let out a small laugh. "No, we aren't but I have to write it today. I wish I could come but I cannot."
She didn't wish that.
She could have postponed doing assignment till the evening or the night or even the next day. She wasn't sure of the movie plan with Precious Four. She was still in process of understanding why Caleb was insisting in the first place.
"As if I didn't know it," Caleb muttered to himself.
"Are you high on drugs, Caleb?" Kelly, another member of Precious Four, grabbed Caleb's arm, pulling him towards her. "What made you ask her to join us?"
Evelyn shifted her gaze uncomfortably from the duo to her books in response to Kelly's weird glance at her.
Where was she stuck? Neither did she wish to become a part of Precious Four nor did she want to witness the argument of Caleb and Kelly.
She began pushing her stuff in her bag slow enough not to catch their attention as she planned to silently disappear and she would have succeeded had Evan Parker, the lead guitarist and vocalist of Precious Four, not decided to show up and startle her with his presence.
She involuntarily slumped back, quickly transferring the focus of her eyes from him to outside of the window.
"Evan, I was about to call you. A movie plan it is." Taking the advantage of Evan's arrival, Caleb thought he would get away from Kelly's questions but Kelly being Kelly, wasn't going to let it go.
"And he asked... he asked... Evelyn to come with us. I mean, can you believe it?"
Had Evelyn not been secretly stealing glances at Evan, she would have missed the way his head instantly tilted at first Caleb and then at her. She caught the shock registering on his face before he could hide it. He clearly didn't seem visibly cool with the information.
He was known for his anger, and she, unwilling to fall prey to it, mastered courage and assured Kelly that she wouldn't be jumping in, becoming a threat to their privacy and their time. Catching the hold of her bag, she excused herself from there.
Once she was out of the classroom, Kelly nudged Caleb again, still not over the scenario she had just witnessed.
"Kelly, if you'll give me a chance to speak then I will be able to explain, no? What are you eating these days for lunch by the way? Sherlock Holmes?"
Kelly's glare at him made him add, "No, I just meant, you are behaving like a detective you know. I knew she will never agree to come with us, I was just having some fun." He winked at her.
"Guys, you carry on. I need to have a conversation with Valencia." Evan conveniently avoided meeting Caleb's gaze. His facial expression did not acquire a slightest alteration that would let anyone make out that he was troubled.
"Is everything alright, Evan?" Kelly was the first one to react on Valencia's mention. Being aware of the kind of the relationship they shared, it was a cause of concern.
Valencia wasn't a mother, Evan wished for.
Evan shrugged it off, verbalizing it was nothing serious. Though Kelly felt that they should scrap the plan of the movie as Evan wasn't available but he convinced her not to do it.
The last two weeks had brought nothing good to them but had just lowered the spirit of Precious Four after they lost the music album they had been preparing from months for and later to it, even if they tried not to let it be visible to each other, each was aware of it. It just couldn't stay masked.
They knew each other too well for it. The movie plan seemed perfect to refresh their mood. Evan insisted to keep the plan as it was.
Evan gave a brief look to Caleb, and he, as if understood, took the charge from him, agreeing and announcing that they would go.
"Kelly, you call Celine and meet me at the college entrance in ten minutes. Now go, go quickly." Caleb put up, almost pushing Kelly.
Her eyes narrowed at his attempt. He was being weird but then, Caleb was one unpredictable guy. Shaking her head, she moved out blabbering out of annoyance.
Caleb gestured Evan to settle down on the chair beside him.
"Elaborate." Evan crossed his arms to his chest.
Caleb raised his brows, innocently pretending to be clueless about where Evan was hinting at.
Evan squeezed his eyes shut, pressing his lips together before he voiced out. "Evelyn. Why?"
"You don't know why?" Caleb left the spot he was standing at, inching towards him. His heart went for him when he watched Evan drawing a sharp breath. "Evan, you are okay right?" Nothing was concealed from Caleb. He knew Evan, a little more than the rest of their two friends.
"I am good," Evan uttered but as expected by him, Caleb opened his mouth to ask him to stop with his pretence. Evan lifted his hand in air, turning his palm towards Caleb. "Caleb, I don't want to talk about it. Let it be for now." His voice, steady and firm, confirmed his unwillingness in touching the subject that Caleb was trying for.
Caleb did not repeat his question. Silence engulfed the room before Caleb made his way out, not before reminding Evan that he was just a call or message away.
'Wish Evelyn had said yes.' Caleb sighed in disappointment, as thoughts about Evan continued worrying him.
If the past two weeks had been hard on Precious Four, they have been harder on Evan. Maybe harder wouldn't do justice to it. Horrible might.
Caleb wasn't unaware of the fact that Evan was blaming himself for losing the album. Once, twice, thrice, Caleb had tried getting Evan talk on it but he hadn't given in and there was no way, Caleb could force Evan for he knew, everyone has a part of themselves they can't share with everyone.
Evan needed time, and Caleb was willing to give him as long as he wished but it was getting out of Evan's ability to handle. Caleb had come to know it two days ago when he had landed at Evan's place, uninformed and had found him almost unconscious on the floor, with the excess intake of alcohol.
Hearing an intricate melody brought Evelyn's feet to a halt in front of the music room.
She rose on her toes, to see inside and was left surprised on catching a glimpse of Evan who was sitting on the chair with his guitar in his hand. She turned her wrist, and her eyes narrowed at the time in her watch. It had been about an hour since she last saw him in the classroom.
Wasn't he supposed to go for the movie? She wondered and decided to leave before he could spot her there and she would have left, had her gaze not caught his eyes and as if she could read them, her heart felt that his heart wasn't at peace.
She startled as he put his guitar on the floor, lifted his chair and threw it towards the wall beside. His brows knit together, and he swam his hands through his hair, least caring about the way he messed them.
Her grip on the knob tightened as she saw him raising his hands from his chin to his ears and he glued them there, shutting his eyes and the next moment, she found herself walking inside the music room. Her footsteps were light as she closed the door behind her, slowly.
"Are you okay?"
His eyes snapped open at the familiar voice that fell in his ears. Instantly pulling down his hands from his ears, he blinked his eyes looking sideways. "Ye... yeah." He couldn't hate his cracked voice more seeing it betraying his words but nonetheless, he let his stern face do the job.
Advancing a step towards him, she held her bottle in front of him, offering him water. "Evan, you look stressed."
"What rubbish-" He swallowed his words when he shifted his gaze from the wall to her. He would be lying if he said he wasn't taken aback by her gesture.
She was concerned. For him? He did not remember when he heard her call his name last.
They hardly spoke, which meant it wasn't obvious for her to worry about him yet she was and the genuine compassion in her eyes did not let him shout at her that he was planning to do to make her leave.
She was still holding her bottle for him. He looked down for a moment from her before he wordlessly curled his fingers around her bottle and she swiftly withdrew her grip over it.
Her lips twitched into a small smile and her eyes lit up in a tender satisfaction when he gulped down almost the whole water and she could see him a little relaxed as he backed himself against the wall.
She forwarded her hand to take back the bottle from his stretched out hand. She stayed there for a couple of moments after thrusting her bottle in the bag, looking around before she commanded her feet to take her out.
She had barely walked two steps away from her former place, when she turned back to him.
He had been staring at her back but the moment she looked at him, he tore his gaze away from her.
"Evan, find yourself a way to let out everything that has been bothering you. If you allow it to stay inside you for a long time, it'll affect your mind and health, both."
She wished, she could lend an ear to him but she wasn't a great friend of him. She wasn't even exactly a friend. Why would he share his troubles with her?
She couldn't just walk up to him, make him sit, listen to every single thing that had snatched his genuine smile, and get him out of it even though, in that moment, that was the only thing she wanted to do.
What would he think if she went ahead and ask him?
She resisted the urge to let him know that he could talk and she could listen.
She resisted the urge to let him know that she was willing to help him in all the ways that she could.
She resisted the urge to let him know that she would be there for him in his time of need.
She resisted and did what she was good at - smile at him and then, dragged her heels from the music room.
'Evan, find yourself a way to let out everything that has been bothering you. If you allow it to stay inside you for a long time, it'll affect your mind and health, both.'
Ever since she spoke those words to him, his eyes hadn't left her sight. Even after she left, he had been staring at the void where she had stood.
'Everything that has been bothering you.'
She said, 'everything that has been.'
Why did she say that?
Did that mean that she knew?
But how could she? He shook his head, discarding the possibility of her having a slightest idea about it. No way on the earth.
But then, why would she say that?
Did it mean that Evelyn Taylor had been observing him? He needed to find out.