Thatcher's Point of View
And the truth is,
I need you more than I've ever needed anyone...
"She won't even let me talk to her." I rasped, rubbing my eyes roughly and inhaling a shallow breath. "She won't listen...and I guess I don't really have a right to try to reason my way out of anything. I screwed up."
"Thatcher, you were only doing what you thought was right—hey, remember man, you've had a tough last few days too." Huey spoke up, leaning against the wall outside his bedroom window. We were both sitting out on his roof, staring out into his backyard and not looking at each other. We weren't looking at each other in honor of my male pride, since I was having a lot of trouble not looking like I was about to cry.
I rolled my eyes and glanced up into the afternoon sky, "Nicola certainly didn't make it easy for me to leave. She's using our son as a bargaining chip to get me back there."
"I can't see him, send a ticket for him to come over here, or anything. Not until I'm back in Italy and she's close to having a ring on her finger."
"You're going to marry her?"
"I...I c-can't." I sighed and shook my head, "That wouldn't be right, right? To marry someone that I don't love, just because it's the right thing to do?"
"Thatcher, it stopped being the right thing to do about twenty years ago. These days the right thing to do is pay child support, see your kid as often as possible, and keep it civil between you and his mother."
"God...I've been a horrible father."
"Matteo's almost three and I've never been a part of his life."
"Dude...you just learned about him a few days ago."
"Regardless. What if I suck at this?"
Huey was silent for a moment and then he cleared his throat and sat forward, "Thatcher, in the years that I've known you, I've never once seen you suck at anything. You came out of nowhere and stole the valediction rights from prissy Cassi Macmillan. You showed up in town and took over the bad boy status from Blade Dalston. You picked up a camera one day and became an ace at it—my cousin in Indiana really loves his photos by the way."
I shrugged, "Yeah...never met him Hue."
"You should, you both got the tortured soul thing going on—but, regardless of that fact, everything you try at, you conquer."
"Which is how I effectively ruined my chances with Nadine."
"Come on, if you could get her to listen to you, I bet you could win her back."
"Maybe I don't deserve to, she's right...I have been keeping a lot of things to myself."
"That's because you don't want her to freak out. Even the most understanding and loving of girlfriends would have no idea how to react to their boyfriend saying they were sexually assaulted. Or that his parents once accidentally forgot to take him along when they left the country. Or that it took his parents almost a year to realize that he left. And then it took another year for them to realize that he relocated once again, only this time in America. Now, I'll admit that you could have told her that your parents constantly try to buy your love, but I do understand keeping the other stuff to yourself."
"I told you though." I murmured.
"Well...you told me some on your own, some when you were drunk, you told me a lot more when you accidentally smoked that unfiltered cigarette—you do understand that that was a joint, don't you?, and your grandparents told me the rest."
I sighed, "I didn't want to have her have to deal with any of that. I know that she thinks that that's what couples in love do...but...my past is way more than anyone should have to deal with."
"I have to deal with it." I groaned and ran a hand through my hair roughly, "And it just keeps getting worse. Nothing comes easy—I should have known that I was too happy. I thought it was going to be my want to sleep with her that would ruin the relationship, I should've known my past would come back to bite me."
"That whole sex issue? Yeah...that would have resolved itself." Huey murmured in a guilty tone. I gave him a weird look and he sighed, "Um...she may have unloaded on me when we were driving back from the airport...and then practically every day since then. And she may have...mentioned the fact that she had been planning you a very...interesting graduation present."
I stared at him for another long moment and then dropped my face in my hands, "Of course she was, because she was the one that rocked at the relationship. I was the one that withdrew and kept secrets. I freaking screwed myself over."
"Thatcher, you can fix this, I know you can."
I shook my head, "No...no I can't. No matter what I do, I still have a son in Italy that I want to help raise or at least get to know and I have an evil ex that is never going to let me live my life. I'll always be the guy that never told her anything and the one that broke her heart for the first time. I broke her Huey...I b-broke her."
"Are you talking about the new hairstyle?"
"She holds herself differently now." I whispered, "When she looks at me there's a certain kind of distrust in her eyes that wasn't there before. I broke her and that...everything...it all hurts. She said she wanted to hurt me and...just knowing that she wants me in pain is killing me."
He was silent for a long time and then he took a deep breath, "Maybe...maybe you should give her some time."
I nodded, "Yeah...maybe I should."
Okay, breath deep... You have faced so much worse in your lifetime... I closed my eyes for a second, swallowed hard, and then walked up to the podium to stare out at my graduating class. I'll admit that Rose Water Creek is a small high school, but a small sea of faces is still a sea of faces. And I wouldn't say that I've ever been the shy type of person, but there is definitely something scary about delivering a valediction speech. Taking a deep breath, I unfolded my speech and laid it out on the podium and then just stared at it.
Over the last two months (actually, to be technically honest, one month and fifteen days), I've been trying my hardest to write the speech and not make is sound too cheesy—or too much like me. I've pretty much been using the speech as a way to work through my issues with Nadine...she still won't listen to me. And after she let her sister attack me with paint balls (which seriously hurts when you're not wearing any protection), I decided that I should probably just...let her be. There's nothing I can change about my situation...so what can I do?
Anyways, in all that time of writing this stupid speech, I never settled on a beginning that I liked. So...staring down at the thing, I realized that I had no idea how to actually start. I looked back out over the crowd and took another deep breath.
Might as well just jump in...
"I'm kind of surprised to be standing here today and I can think of about a dozen other people that are surprised." I murmured, my peers laughing and agreeing. They had no idea how true my statement was, all anyone knew was that I broke Nadine's heart and she went straight to my enemy.
Which stung, a little.
"I know that I'm not who anyone expected to see up here; I'm not a jock, I'm not on the student council, I'm not on the marching band—detention was pretty much the only school activity that I ever participated in. Every day after school, I was there, come rain or shine." More laughter for that one, which calmed me down a bit. "The only reason they even allowed me up here was because they couldn't deny my GPA, so I guess this is my last stand against Principal Barkley—it's been real man and I bet it sucks to see me up here." I turned and smiled at Principal Barkley, then laughed when I saw his angry, red face. "Dude, calm down—I'll be gone soon. We all will."
I turned back to the crowd and sighed, "When I was told that I was going to be delivering your speech, I got a long list of words that I wasn't allowed to use. So, I can't say; freaking, stupid, shut up, or sucks...hmm...already used that one." I shrugged, "I also am not to say for shizzle, which I don't even get. Why on earth would I have ever said that, Mrs. Johnson?" I turned to look at her, to find her looking embarrassed and a little angry. Which merited more laughter.
Sighing, I turned away from her and back to the crowd. "Because that's the thing, not matter what good I've done in high school, while I'm here I'm always going to be considered the kid that spent all his time in detention because he had a bit of an attitude problem. And a problem with authority figures... But here's the thing; when we leave this building today, we're giving up on all those stereotypes. We're moving on to something new, a new life and pretty much a new existence. And yeah, the world may hit us so hard we fall on our asses," I cut short when I saw Mrs. Johnson raise to her feet, "yes, Mrs. Johnson, I know I'm not supposed to say ass, but come on; you have whoopee on this list. Why on earth would I have ever said the word whoopee? Who uses that word in the middle of a speech?" She slowly sat back down and I turned back to my speech, kind of amazed at how often I was making my graduating class laugh. "Where was I? Oh yeah: the world may send us reeling, but that doesn't mean that we should ever roll over and die. Because that would be stupid." I grinned and my class laughed, some looking over my shoulder to stare at Mrs. Johnson and Principal Barkley's reactions.
"I know that I'm supposed to just stand up here and tell you how life is going to be hard, but that we can seize the day. That we are the class that can change the world and a whole bunch of crap like that. Being the motivational guy was never my forte, I'm sure some of us are going to do big things with our lives, but a lot of us aren't. That's just the truth. We won't become world renown surgeons or anything like that, but that doesn't mean that we should be embarrassed to come back for our twentieth high school reunion. Because we are all going out into the world to do something and whether or not we make a lot of money doing it, if we're happy...we're happy.
"Look, instead of looking into our future—which is kind of scary prospect—look back on what this high school has done for you. The lessons you've learned, the people you've known, the problems you've already faced, and the person you've become or are becoming. Everything about you is molded in your history, your past experiences.
"Two years ago, when I first came to this school, I was prepared to learn nothing. I just wanted to get my years over and done with, but...in spite of myself, I've learned a lot here. I've learned how far you can push someone before they give, I've learned that standing up for people is a lot better than being the one to bully them, and I've learned that...your actions have consequences." I wet my lips and took a deep breath, "Always..."
I closed my eyes and took another deep breath before continuing, "This place has shaped you for your next step in life, and whether you're going to college or not, you're going to be ready for what life brings you. You may not think you are, there may be times that you falter, hell—you may even give up sometimes, but at the end of the day...you're going to make it through.
"Well, that's enough of me as a motivational speaker—as I've said, I don't do that. Now, I could end this by reminiscing on some past memory associated with this high school, but I'm pretty sure no one wants to hear about the many hundreds of ways I earned myself detention. I could also end this speech saying some overused clichéd statement like carpe diem, but I won't. I'll just tell you this; if high school was the best years or your life, you're looking towards a really pathetic future. If high school pretty much sucked for you; congratulations—you're getting the hell out of high school and it can only getting better from here. Because seriously, one day you'll have one of the jackasses that made your life a living nightmare needing your help or approval for something in life. And you know what? Payback is a bitch." I took a step away from the podium and the crowd erupted in applause (though not a lot of it came from the social elite) and laughter. I grinned and headed over to my chair, waiting for the rest of the ceremony to commence. In just short of an hour, I found myself shaking hands with Principal Barkley—the only problem was that he didn't seem to want to let go of my hand and also seemed to be trying to break every bone in it.
"Barkley, you're going to need to let go of me." I said calmly, smiling at the throbbing vein on his forehead. "I need to go get my diploma."
"You're going to regret this, Mr. Woods."
"Am I really? You can't give me detention anymore, so I kind of highly doubt that. Now let go of my hand, I'm needed elsewhere." I replied and when he let go of my hand I walked past him to receive my diploma. The minute my hands were on it, I turned back to him, "Oh, and Principal? I win." His whole face contorted in rage after I said those words, and if looks could kill, I'm sure I would've dropped dead on the spot. Laughing, I walked down to where Huey was standing arguing with one of the teachers.
"Mr. Taverez, I'm going to have to ask you to sit down."
"You've said that three times already, you know. Now are you going to actually ask me to sit down or keep telling me that you're going to have to ask me to?"
"Fine, sit down Matthew."
"No thank you, Janice."
"That's 'Mrs. Yoder' to you."
"Than you have to call me 'Mr. Huey Taverez—Supreme God of Mount Olympus'."
I walked up next to Huey and stared at the teacher, "What's going on Hue?"
He turned and grinned, "Excellent speech, Thatch. I see that you went through with your goal of using practically every word that was on that list. I just wanted to get the chance to say goodbye before you head out to Italy."
"I'm going to have to ask you both to sit down." Mrs. Yoder droned from beside us.
"Yeah, we heard you." I replied and then frowned, "I would've made the effort to say goodbye Huey, I'm not leaving until later tonight anyways."
He shrugged, "Yeah...I know...I just...This sucks, you know. We were supposed to spend the summer together. And now I have to go to Rose Water Creek College without my best friend with me—the only person I really know at that college is Jasmine Whittaker, and she's forever trying to figure out if she hates me because I'm your friend or if she likes me because I'm Nadine's."
I glanced down quickly at the sound of her name and then cracked my knuckles, "I haven't exactly decided whether or not I'm going."
He rolled his eyes, blowing his black hair out of face (his mother had insisted that he have his regular hair color for his graduation pictures...the only sign of defiance his sisters showed for that request, was the fact that they streaked his hair red—but only the under layer of his hair. So it looked completely black unless you stood to close to him or he stood in the sunlight just right), "We both know you're going and that you're going to bond with the little dude and totally fall in love with him. What you don't know is that I've got a ticket to go to Italy and hang out for a few weeks in July."
I grinned, "Really?"
"Like I don't want to meet your boy, Thatcher." He grinned and then glanced away "And talk to that skank."
He shook his head, "Nope, you can't tell me that she's not. She's ruined your life and I am going to hate her in the way that you are apparently not allowing yourself to."
I smiled, "Thanks man."
"And I'm ready and willing to tell Nadine goodbye and sorry for you if you want me to."
"I'm not sure that she wants to hear that from me again."
"Which is why I'm offering to do it."
I stared down at the ground for a moment and then bit the inside of my cheek, "Do you think this will get easier?"
"Love or loving Nadine?"
I shrugged, "Either, both."
"Love hurts, there's even a song about it...actually, a million songs about it..."
I nodded, "Yeah...I guess so."
"For the love of God, sit down!"
We both turned to Mrs. Yoder and than Huey held up his hands, "Whoa, chill—this is a happy occasion." She glared at him and I laughed, ushering him towards his seat and letting the others that were standing behind us through. After sitting down, I stared around myself and smiled. I never thought I'd actually be happy to see my peers, but...I don't know, there was something so comforting about being in high school. Probably because I know the moment I leave here, I go straight to being an adult. Straight to being a dad, having to make some kind of living, and deciding what I'm going to do with the rest of my life. The only good thing about my future is Matteo and getting to know him, he is the bright point and that scares me, because...well, look at my track record for screwing things up.
When I think about him, I'm overcome with this feeling... I never knew it was possible to love someone so much. Sure, when I love someone, I love them with more intensity than I ever thought possibly, but... I don't know, it's this scary and overpowering feeling when I think about my son. I'm not even sure I can explain it... It's just...loving him comes so easily. It's the easiest thing I've ever had to do in my life. It took a lot to trust my grandparents and then loving them was scary at first. Loving Huey (as a friend) was full of me not trusting him and this weird paranoia that the only reason he wanted to hang out with me was to get ammunition to wreck me in the future. Even loving Nadine brought up a thousand trust issues and than total and absolute terror when I realized that that was how I felt about her. But loving Matteo was so easy...I just looked at him and was consumed with it. It's like breathing, living...and I just hope that I can be half the dad I want to be to him.
So yeah, high school is feeling a little like a security blanket.
One that I have to give up a little too soon.
I was so wrapped up in my thoughts that I zoned out the rest of the ceremony. I was only jolted back to the present when a flyaway cap beamed me on the head. Standing to my feet, I finished the march with my graduating class and walked out to the parking lot. I stared up at the building for a moment, ignoring the bustle of the people around me, and then smiled. "Goodbye." I whispered and then turned my back to the school and went in search of my grandparents.
Onto the next chapter of my life.
A/N: THE END. Man, I'm never going to break my habit of writing twenty-six chapter-ed stories, am I? Now, before you freak out, I'M WRITING A SEQUEL. You see, I realized that the drama that I was bringing into the story was too much for them to handle in one go, unless I wanted to write a story that had over forty chapters to it. And...I think I'd run out of ways to explain their inner turmoil if I didn't skip ahead. You guys think that I'm good at writing the pain? Thanks, I really appreciate that—I try. And I try to really live out what they are feeling at the moment, think about how it would make me feel, and than personalize that to their personalities.
Oh, and I'm a girl. I'm hoping the fact that people ask me that every once in awhile means that I'm good at writing from a guy's point of view... I hope. Personally I think guys swear more than I do/how I write them. Which reminds me: sorry if you were bothered with the amount of swear words Thatcher used, I know that I don't really write them. Even though I've actually become a person that uses them (unlike the fifteen year old that starting writing on this site and wouldn't let a single curse words cross her lips. Those days are over, they ended when I got my driver's license)... Anyways, he was just screwing with his teachers one last time before leaving them forever.
Oh, and personyoudon'tknow, I listened to that song—I'd never heard it before—after reading your review, and I can totally see where you were coming from.
And you guys have mixed feelings about Skylar, which is always fun to read. I'll be working through all of that in the next story and Thatcher will get his chance to say his piece. I've actually already started the sequel and the first chapter is becoming ridiculously fun to write. The sequel is titled: Nobody Said It Was Easy, and yes I know that it's the second story that I've titled that has a line from a Coldplay song. Actually, both stories (Let's Go Back to The Start and now Nobody Said It Was Easy) have lines from the exact same song (The Scientist). And in my editing of The Matchmaker's Best Friend practically every chapter title is from one Coldplay song or another... I think it's a little evident what one of my favorite bands is...
Now, I know that this was kind of a sad ending...or a non-ending, but always remember this when reading one of my stories: I hate sad endings to romance novels. I actually seriously don't believe in them—we read these stories to love the characters, understand them, laugh at their antics, emphasize with their pain, and just be thoroughly entertained. I don't think it's right to take people on an emotional ride like that without giving them a happy ending. Hence the sequel (and I'm also writing it because there are so many unresolved issues, like: what is Thatcher going to do about Nicola? Will he bond with his son? What is Skylar up to? Will Nadine ever get over Thatcher? Where on earth is Angie through most of this? Why does Huey hate Angie so much? And what will Huey's hair color be next?), which I hope you all enjoy.
Thank you all for reading and going through this all with me and the characters. I really appreciate it and I hope you all come back for the sequel (I did mention that I was going to write a story about the guy trying to get back the girl, right?) which will have a first chapter out pretty soon. THANK YOU, seriously. All of your reviews, all the emails, all the people on my IM friends list...it's been great and you're all helping me in my quest to actually get published one day. Know that I'm always grateful.
Soundtrack to this chapter: "Look After You" by The Fray, "The Scientist" by Coldplay, "Move Along" by All-American Rejects, "Born to Be Down" by Local H, "High" by James Blunt, "Follow Through" by Gavin DeGraw, and "Someday" by Nickelback.