Apart [1/4]

by Leo Gillard

He’d never dared think about something like hope. Hope was for fools, for those reaching out in the dark, expecting nothing but still seeing everything, somehow. He didn’t have the luxury to entertain something so trivial, so baseless, so-

Orion hoped for many things. He knew the hope was futile. He hated that he hoped in the way everyone else did, knowing more than anything that his hopes would come to nothing. His optimism had dried up so long ago, and hope was all that remained.

He hoped for salvation. Not for himself, because he knew so much better than to ask for something he didn’t even know he wanted, but for…for Kieran. He hoped that Kieran could– he didn’t even know.

It had been a year since they’d last spoken, properly, as the friends they were meant to be (the friends they used to be, but weren’t anymore, because hoping just wasn’t enough and he knew that now). He didn’t know how Kieran was doing, but he hoped against all hope that he was okay. 

Hope was for fools, and it was because of Kieran that Orion knew that. They’d both hoped that things would sort themselves out. That the gap between them wouldn’t grow any wider, that the cracks forming would heal without any real effort between them.

They’d both hoped beyond anything else that it would just…that things would change for the better between them. But it hadn’t. So hope was for fools, because hope couldn’t fix a single damn thing when it didn’t want to be fixed.

The cracks had formed. A shadow passed over Kieran’s face, for an instant, just a moment in which Orion wouldn’t even recognise the person in front of him, and then the moment passed. And neither of them said a single word.

And it happened again. And again. And again. Hope couldn’t make Orion say a single word when faced with what felt like watching his best friend die, slowly, in front of him.

Hoping that everything would be okay also couldn’t make his best friend reach out to him. There was no cry for help. Just silent moments when neither of them could even breathe or look at each other, but neither of them said a word. Hope couldn’t mend something like that.

Orion had clung to hope the whole time and at this point he’d given up. There was no helping someone who didn’t want to be helped, no effort he could go to that would help enough. At least, nothing that wouldn’t drive him into the ground himself.

He kept telling himself that he’d given up, anyway. But he went back, day after day. Day after day, he shared empty conversations with Kieran and hoped that today would be the day something would change. So he tried. Again and again.

And again. And again.

A greeting. The same tired smile, echoed on Kieran’s face. The shadow of something more alive momentarily tricked him into thinking recovery was just around the corner, and the inevitable pain in his chest when he realised it was the same smile as the day before and the day before that.

Empty words he never remembered. Idle small talk that meant nothing at all. Cold, emotionless motions disguised as the friendliness they used to share. Orion felt like it lost conviction every time, but he couldn’t bring himself to stop. He didn’t know who he was trying to fool; maybe himself.

He felt terrible about it all – he had been Kieran’s best friend for his whole life and yet, now there was something between them. Something he couldn’t work out, couldn’t overcome. The only thing he could do was hope, and hope could do nothing at a time like this.

But still… sometimes, it felt like the sun would break through the clouds. When the smiles they shared were somewhat genuine. When the words between them turned warm, even for just a moment. When Kieran chuckled and just for a second he sounded like he used to and Orion’s stomach would jump to his throat.

And equally, the longing glances. The silences. The moments where pain went unsaid but not entirely misunderstood. Moments like these were few and far between, but Orion lived for them. He craved them. If they didn’t happen…he would never have stuck around so long.

But there he stayed. Hoping like the absolute fool he was.

The Poor Print

The Oriel College Student Newspaper. Run by students, with contributions from the JCR, MCR, SCR, Staff. Current Executive Editors: Fanxi Liu, Samanwita Sen, Monim Wains and Martin Yip

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