Status: complete;;

Right Now

All is Good and Nothingness is Dead

Waking up to pale green walls and weak sunlight has quickly become normal, comforting. I roll over in bed and stretch my arms and legs out, groaning happily when my back pops. My phone vibrates on the nightstand, and I stare at it for a moment then scoop it up and unlock it.

From: bananna Hope you're excited for today!
From: bananna If you don't send pictures, I'll kick your rear the next time I see you!

I laugh and send back a thumbs up emoji. Her text reminds me of the plans for today, and a sinking sensation fills my gut. Brianna had waited until I was half-asleep last night to spring the idea on me, knowing I wouldn't be thinking clearly due to fatigue. I'd agreed just to get her to shut up and let me go to bed; it had registered in my brain after an hour, and I had gone to her door and knocked obnoxiously until she answered, angry and naked under the sheet she had wrapped around herself.

“We’re going hiking?”

“Yes. Now go, or there will be dire consequences. ‘Kay? Thanks. Bye.”

To say I'm displeased with the thought of walking around in nature all day is an understatement. If I wanted to see trees and birds, I would have stayed back in Tennessee. I grumble even as I push the blankets back and force myself out of my nice, warm bed. After I use the bathroom and wash my hands, I make my way down the stairs to the kitchen. The room is empty, but I know it's a matter of time before the others will wake up. I'm proven right by the thundering footsteps coming down the stairs twenty minutes later. I look up from my scrambled eggs to see Niall round the corner. He grins tiredly and makes a beeline for the cabinet with the cereal. Shortly after he sits down, the rest of the group files one by one into the kitchen; a yawning Harry rubs at his eyes as he shuffles toward the table. I yelp and swat at his back when he tries to sit on me.

“Not a chair, Haz! Not a chair!”

His green eyes narrow in confusion. “When did you get there?”

“I've been here, thank you very much. Here, you obviously need the seat more than I do.”

I press a kiss to his curls once he's sat, and I see the flash of his sleepy grin before his forehead thunks against the tabletop. Moving around the guys is almost choreographed, a well-known dance that I've come to expect over the last month or so. Bri growls at me as I pass her, and I bare my teeth in response and duck out of the kitchen, hurrying up the stairs to get dressed for the day. Changing my pyjamas for a pair of floral-print denim shorts and a plain white tank-top, I head to the bathroom to bush my teeth and wet my hair down so I can braid it. Zayn barges in just as I've finished tying off the plait. I mutter under my breath as I step into the hallway, jump when the door slams shut behind me.

“Cranky prick,” I mumble and make my way down the stairs.

It's at least another hour before anyone else is ready to go. I spend the time flipping mindlessly through the channels on the television, nothing catching my attention. Eventually, though, all seven of us have our shoes on and small backpacks filled with snacks and bottles of water on our backs, and we gather by the front door. Brianna checks that we all have our phones (“Just in case. I don't wanna deal with any of you idiots getting lost because you don't know how to stay as a group.”) then claps her hands in excitement.

“Yay, rah, let's go,” I deadpan, pumping my fist into the air with little emotion.

She crosses her eyes at me but doesn't say anything, just shoos us out the door. There's a slight bite to the air, and I turn my face toward the sun above for a moment before letting Bri shove me toward the car. I turn to buckle my seatbelt and immediately get an ass in my face; I roll my eyes, smack at Niall’s butt, and giggle as he yelps. Once he’s seated in the third row, he leans over the back of my seat and glares at me without any heat. His face suddenly splits with his grin, and he flicks my forehead with his index finger before sitting back in his seat. I gape at him over my shoulder, but he doesn’t look away from where he’s buckling up. A snort to my right causes me to turn to face the front, and Bri winks at me from the passenger seat then barks out an order for Zayn to “obey the safety rules of the vehicular, Malik!”

I stare out the window as Louis drives us to wherever we’re going. I don’t even really want to go hiking, but at least it might keep me out of my head for a while. Memories have started to resurface again, and while I’ve kept them tucked away, safe from examination, they have grown more persistent in their determination to escape. I’m just glad that I haven’t woken up the others because of the nightmares. It has been incredibly difficult, and I know I shouldn’t shy away from confronting everything. I just… I can’t handle it right now. Harry helps me out of the car, and I turn to pull my bag out of the footwell as Niall rolls over the seat-back. I blink owlishly at the blond before shaking my head. It isn’t worth questioning right now.

Brianna leads the group toward the trail, and I stare out at the stretch of green surrounding us. I have to admit - the scenery is peaceful, nothing but us in the expanse of blue and emerald. I nudge my shoulder against Harry’s, and he grins and pushes back. Birds call out to each other in the trees; I draw in a deep breath, relish the scent of fresh air and damp earth. We get fifteen minutes into the walk before both Niall and Louis can no longer remain mature adults: Louis flings leaves and clumps of grass into Harry's face, while Niall ruffles with his curly hair. Harry hurriedly passes his bag over to me and takes off, chasing our two friends, their screams and threats echoing over the land. I roll my eyes but don't make any move to walk faster. My body doesn't need to be pushed to the limit like that, not this soon into the hike. When I look up from my feet again, it's to see Liam walking by my side; I frown to myself, knowing he was up with Brianna and Zayn not even thirty seconds ago. He smiles at me, and my heart catches in my throat.

“Is… is there a problem between us?” I ask after what feels like forever but is probably more like thirty minutes.

“Of course not,” he responds immediately; he sighs, hefts his backpack further onto his shoulders. “Not one you need to worry about, anyway. It's my issue, so…”

I stare at him for a moment then nod succinctly. What can I possibly say to that? We fall silent again, both of us lost in our own thoughts. My head snaps up when someone screeches loudly, and a laugh is ripped from me at the sight of Brianna covered in mud. She glares at me, and even from this distance, I fear the retribution. Unfortunately, she has no compunction about revenge, and I shove Harry's bag into Liam’s arms before launching into a run. I can hear her footsteps pounding against the dirt behind me. Even more problematic for me is the fact that Louis doesn’t hesitate to team up with his girlfriend against me, and I can’t outrun them both. That doesn’t mean I don’t try, though, weaving through the rest of our friends and spinning around Bri or Lou when they get close enough. It doesn’t take long for the three of us to collapse into a pile on the trail, filthy and sweaty; I’m laughing hard enough that my eyes water, my lungs burn. As I lie there on the ground, panting heavily, I stare at the sky above and realise something important: I feel alive.
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title credit one headlight the wallflowers