"Just leave me alone, Warren…”
Archer sighed as he slid down to the floor. His winter break had been stressful to say the least. When his brother Warren had come home from Harvard for the holidays, it had been a constant cat and mouse game- with Archer trying to avoid his brother as much as possible and Warren trying to corner him at every turn. “Come on, Arch… I just want to talk.”
Warren’s muffled voice came from behind the door. A long silence filled the air, and the only sound was breathing coming from the two brothers on either side of the door. “You promised me on the phone…”
Warren finally broke the silence. “You said we would talk about what happened.”
A huge sigh escaped Archer as he covered his face with his hands. It would seem he was trapped. But he really didn’t want to do this with Warren. He didn’t want to relive his darkest moments where he had done something terrible- especially
with his brother, who had been one of the factors to him doing said terrible thing. He looked around his room to find something, anything, to get him out of this situation. His green eyes fell on the big oak tree outside of his window: a tree he had used many times when sneaking out with Marisol. "Okay, Warren… Just… Let me collect myself. Just wait downstairs. I’ll be down in like 5 minutes.”
He lied as he stood back up.“Sure, ok. I’ll wait in the kitchen. You want something to drink?”
Warren asked."No, I’m fine.”
Archer waited for Warren’s footsteps to disappear down the stairs before opening his window as wide as it would go. The oak tree's branches were still thick enough to support his weight, but getting out of the tree was still very hard for Archer. He kind of had to shimmy his way down the tree trunk before not so graciously jumping down to the ground.
Quickly, he got into his rusty SAAB, which thankfully was parked in the driveway. In a swift move, Archer backed out and drove off without any plan of where he was driving. Soon enough, he was parking his car outside the Surf Shack. A small walk later, the tall boy was sitting by the beach, blankly staring out at the crashing waves. Maybe he needed to talk to someone about this? But not with Warren. There was no way he could handle that right now.
Without really knowing why he was doing it, he had taken out his phone and composed a text message to his best friend:
"Hey Mari. What are you up to? Can you meet me at our spot behind the Surf Shack? I kind of need to talk."
When Marisol received the text message of Archer wanting to meet up, the alarm bells started ringing immediately. It wasn't the fact that he was requesting her presence that made her suspicious, but the . Normally, whenever . Frowning, she quickly typed up her response to his message, her thumbs flying across the screen of her phone. And as soon as she pressed "Send", she was grabbing her skateboard and heading out the door.
"Be there in 10"
Archer ignored his phone buzzing next to him as he lay on the blanket, running his fingers through the fine sand. His mind was swirling with thoughts as he listened to the crashing waves of the ocean. Was he ready to share his deepest secret? Only two people knew what he had done… Well three now, apparently. The young man snapped back to reality as his best friend plopped down next to him in record time.
Marisol took a moment to stare at the tall, lanky boy next to her. The lack of any sort of greeting only added to the growing state of alarm, as did the lack of acknowledgement of her presence. For whatever reason, Archer seemed to be distracted, lost in some unknown, faraway thoughts. When you've known someone since the age of five, it was easy to tell when things were off. And today, there was definitely something wrong with Archer."Is everything okay?"
the young woman asked him gently, concern dripping from her voice.
Archer turned his head slowly to look up at Marisol. “Yeah…”
he sat up, brushing his hands off on his pants. "I don’t know… Maybe not.”
He pulled up his knees so they sat under his chin and continued to stare out at the ocean. "Warren is home…”
he continued quietly. “And he is…”
Archer hesitated, still unsure if he was ready to talk about it- even if it was with Marisol, who always did what she thought was best for him. She was the one who he came out to first and she supported him through everything.
But how would she react to this? Would she be mad that he had kept his suicide attempt from her this long?"You know last summer before we went off to that crappy camp?”
he asked her, a slight tremor in his voice."Yeah…?"
she cautiously responded, frowning and scooting closer to him. For someone who was always so open and honest about everything, Archer's body language was extremely guarded, and the more he spoke, the more Mari's levels of worry increased.
His legs were shaking now and Archer was chewing on his lower lip, trying to figure out how he was going to go about this. "You know how I was very hard to get a hold of for some time?”
At the time he had made up some lie about being away to Harvard to help out with Warren’s move. He could feel the wet build up in the corners of his eyes, and his breathing became a little bit faster and heavier. “Mari… I did something really bad…”
he finally turned to his best friend, tears rolling down his cheeks.
Okay, Marisol was really
scared now. "Archer, honey, what's wrong? What happened? What did you do?"
she asked him in barely more than a whisper, placing her hands on his shoulders in an attempt to keep him stable and unknowingly holding her breath while she awaited his answer.
Under her hand Archer’s shoulders were shaking as he cried. “I- I. It was just…”
he started but stopped wiping his cheek with the sleeve of his shirt. He took a steadying breath before he looked Marisol in the eyes and just let go.
He told her everything. How he had had enough, how he felt alone and how he was so so tired of how his days looked like. How he made up his mind that it would just be for the best if he didn’t exist. He told her about he took the chance when his parents actually was helping Warren move. He told her that he emptied his mothers sleeping pills and took them with the vodka they had bought of that strange dude. He also confessed to her that it was his brother’s girlfriend that had found him and brought him back… saved him. He spoke fast and low. The whole time he felt guilt that it had taken this long for him to tell his very best friend about his darkest days. "... and then I made her promise to never tell anyone. But apparently she and Warren broke up. The idiot has found someone new… and I guess Katie was angry and told Warren and now…”
He stopped to look at his friend. “I’m sorry Mari…”
Meanwhile the wide-eyed Marisol listened to Archer's story in a shocked silence, feeling her heart sinking with his every word. As a clinically-diagnosed bipolar person, she definitely knew firsthand that mental illnesses had an evil way of twisting your insecurities around, and could see the possible reasons behind his thought process. But even with this in mind, the short girl was struggling to believe that even with the unwavering support of her and her family, Archer had thought things would be better without him.
And frankly? The fact that she’d been so terrifyingly close to losing one of the people she loved the most in her life was too much to bear.
Mere seconds after he’d finished speaking, Mari wrapped her arms around him as tightly as she could and started to sob uncontrollably on his shoulder.
Archer sunk into his small friends embrace burying his face in her silky hair. “I’m so sorry Mari…”
his muffled voice whispered. "I- just-"
she hiccuped each word in between sobs. "I- don't- want- to- lose- you! You’re- my- best- friend- and- I- love- you!"
Archer pulled away and planted a kiss on the top of her head. “I love you too... I mean, I’m obviously happy it turned out like it did… and I’m better now, thanks to you and Kavan.”
he wiped his eyes as he straightened up again. "But Warren won’t stop trying to talk about it back home. I’m just… not ready to talk to him about it. But what if he tells mom and dad?”
It took Marisol a moment to compose herself, allowing her sobs to slowly subside until she could finally make up coherent words. "It's not his place to do that…"
she croaked, grabbing a napkin from her backpack and loudly blowing her nose. "Would you like to stay a few days over at my house?"
He shook his head and let out a little chuckle "That has never stopped Warren before…"
he chucked a small stone out towards the ocean. He brushed his hands together to get rid of the sand as he turned to face Marisol again. "Do you think your parents would be ok with that?"
He asked more out of habit than anything. He always stayed over at the Castillo's but he always felt like he was being a nuisance anyway."Duuuuuh!"
Mari said, rolling her eyes and giving him a shaky smile, slowly returning to normal. "You're family at this point. Just bring over a bag of clothes and we'll set you up in the spare bedroom. It's definitely no big deal. You can spend the rest of the holidays with people who love and care about you."
A tearful Archer enveloped the smaller girl in a tight embrace. "Thank you for always having my back. I really do love you"
he whispered as he let go of her. He wiped his eyes one final time before standing up holding out his arm toward his best friend.“I love you more, Archie. Never forget that.”