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Your Life Is a Map With No Compass

Chapter Eight

By now, even Alex is worried, staring at Zack with concerned eyes as he plays with the fan made string bracelets that are surrounding his wrists. Rian is sitting next to Zack, talking to him in a quiet voice even though he knows that Zack can’t hear or say anything back. Matt is on the phone with Zack’s mom in the back lounge, and Colussey is on the phone with some autistic helpline that Zack’s mom said to call. The rest of the crew is talking to the other bands, telling them that we might not be able to play tonight and that they all will need to lengthen their sets to make up for the time that we aren’t playing.
I’m leaning against the counter of the small kitchenette, peeling the label off of a plastic water bottle and staring into Zack’s expressionless eyes. I’m scared, more so than I’ve ever been in my life. This is Zack that we’re dealing with, not some random friend of mine that I haven’t seen in six months. Zack is my everything, and if he doesn’t come back, and we have to take him to the hospital and he gets admitted to the psych ward, I don’t know what I do. It was different in high school. Back then, I wasn’t as dependent on him, and he wasn’t as dependent on me. I don’t know what I’m going to do if the doctors say that he needs to stay there for a while.
Matt comes back into the front lounge and hands my phone back to me, borrowing it because he didn’t have Zack’s mom’s number on his. “She said that if he doesn’t come around in the next half hour we should take him to the hospital, and that she’s looking at flights to come out here and be with him if he gets admitted to the psych ward.” Matt sits down next to Zack and gently wraps an arm around his shoulders. “Come on, Bud. We really need you to come back, okay?” Matt looks down at his feet for a second before looking back at Zack. “I’m so sorry about what happened this morning. I know that it really hurt you and I can’t believe that I actually did that. I swear to god I won’t do it again.” Matt looks so guilty. He thinks that this is all his fault, and if I’m being completely honest, he’s right. If he hadn’t caused that meltdown this morning, none of this would be happening.
“Guys, the person says to give him space, okay?” Colussey peeks his head out form behind the curtain that separates the front lounge from the bunk area, one hand covering the receiver of his cell phone. “Give him some space and don’t touch him.” Matt and Rian immediately move off the couch and come to stand next to me. “The lady says that-“
“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” The dam inside me breaks as I hear Zack utter those words, a quote from the movie Casablanca. We all just stare at Zack, praying that he actually is back, that those words signal that he’s returned to us, that he’s not still in subspace. But a minute passes, and then another, and I can feel my shoulders slump. He’s not back. Not yet, at least.
But then-“There’s no place like home” The Wizard of Oz. Another one of Zack’s favorite movies. I stare at him, waiting for him to move. And he does. His fists clench and his eyes flick up at me. “Jack, I need to go skateboarding.”
All of us let out a collective sigh of relief, and it takes me a second to realize that I’m crying. I laugh the slightest bit, then kneel down and put my hands on Zack’s legs. “Alright, we can go skateboarding, Zack. We can do that.” Zack smiles a twitchy smile, then looks around at all of us, staring at him with smiles on our faces.
“I’m sorry I left.” Zack says, locking eyes with Matt. “I didn’t mean to.” Zack twists his fingers into his hair. “I probably fucked everything up, didn’t I?”
“No, Zack, you didn’t.” I gently pull Zack’s hands from his hair and clasp them in mine. “It’s okay, I promise. We all know that it’s not your fault, okay? Nobody’s mad at you.” I sit down next to him and pull him down so that he’s leaning against me and his head is resting against my chest.
“Okay,” he says absently, playing with the string if his hoodie. He’s shaking the slightest bit, and I know that he’s still fragile, could still leave again at any second. Even though he’s back, I know that he still won’t be playing tonight, none of us will. “E.T, call home.” E.T. Another movie quote.
“You want to call your mom, Zack?” By now, I can translate almost all of Zack’s movie quotes; can tell what he wants to say. Like most autistic people, he tends to borrow other people’s words when, for whatever reason, he can’t use his own.
He nods, and I pull my phone out of my pocket and dial her number, one that I know by heart. I hand it to him, and he holds it up to his ear. By now, Alex has wandered off to his bunk and Matt and Colussey have gone to round up the rest of the crew. Rian is sitting at the table, checking his phone.
“Mom? Yeah, I’m okay. I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry. Yeah. Yeah, I will. Okay, love you too. Bye.” Zack ends the call, then hands my phone back to me. He looks really tired.
I brush his hair out of his face. “You okay?”
“Yeah. I’m sorry I made you cry.” Zack touches my cheek with a finger and then pulls it away and holds it in front of my face, showing me one of my tears. “I don’t like it when you cry.”
“I don’t like it when you cry, either.” I press my lips to Zack’s hair, and feel him tense up the slightest bit.
“I, um, I have to, um, go skateboard now.” Zack looks alarmed all of a sudden, and moves to get away from me. His hands go to his hair and he pulls the slightest bit. “Um, I’ll be outside.” His eyes are wide, and he looks a little afraid of me.
“I’ll go with you-“
“No! I can go by myself!” Rian looks up from his phone and locks eyes with me. He nods at Zack the slightest bit.
“Hey Zack, can I come with you? You promised you’d teach me how to do an ollie, remember?” Rian stands up and slips his phone into his pocket, then loops his arm through Zack’s. “Come on.”
Zack nods and pulls his hands from his hair, then, without giving me a second glance, runs off the bus, pulling Rian behind him. He looks scared.
Why is he afraid of me?
Zack’s P.O.V.
Jack kissed me. He can’t kiss me. It’s against the rules. It will make me like him, and I can’t like him.
Why won’t the rules let me like him?
♠ ♠ ♠
I updated again, Yay! So um, I broke my ankle (probably. I just got an MRI on it and I'm going back to the doctor on tuesday) so I'll be spending a lot of time on the couch, which means I'll be spending a lot of time on the computer. Which means more updates! Thanks to everyone who reads, subscribes, comments, and recs! You're all amazing.
Special thanks to:
Stupidly Naive
poopbutts (again!)
early graves