Matt dumped his bag on the floor and fell back on his bed. He had barely closed his eyes when his phone started blaring up. Even without picking up he knew it was his best friend, Dan. No one else ever called him, apart from his tutor, or the daycare where he left his sister.
“Dan, we just talked fifteen minutes ago. At school.”, Matt heard some shuffling and then Dan’s slow and shallow breathing. Matt suddenly tensed and sat up on his bed, “Dan? Are you there? Are you okay?” Dan sighed loudly before finally speaking, barely above a whisper, “I’m here. I’m not fine.” The words had barely left Dan’s lips, and Matt was already racing back down the stairs with his bag.
“What’s up, buddy? Talk to me. I’m always here, you know that.”, Matt spoke as he climbed onto his bike and started cycling towards Dan’s foster home. Matt waited patiently as he again heard Dan sighing followed by low sniffling. Matt’s heart broke when he heard his best friend breaking down. True, Matt had only met Dan six months ago, and for most of those six months Dan had been quite and reserved and Matt had practically forced his friendship upon the boy – but Dan meant more to Matt than any other friend had ever. Counting his father and sister out, Dan was the only other human being Matt cared about. Matt and Dan had a weird friendship. Almost when Matt had given up on trying to get Dan to step out of his comfort zone, Dan had taken a plunge out of it and opened up to Matt in a way Matt had never expected him to.
Matt still remembered the first time they had gone swimming together. Dan had complained all throughout the ride to the lake about being a terrible swimmer and when Matt decided they would race from the shore to the depth limit, Dan had beaten him by more than a minute! Fair and Square! Matt was so shocked and so excited that day, so much so that when Dan was changing into fresh clothes Matt had jumped him from behind all to the shock of poor Dan who tried very hard to cover up his arms before Matt could see anything. But Matt had seen it. Matt had seen everything. The scars on his wrist and the blue bruises extending all the way up to his shoulders. Before Matt could have said anything, Dan had angrily pulled his sweatshirt over him and stormed away. It took Matt two whole weeks, a million text messages, innumerable calls and uncountable visits to Dan’s house to get him to finally start talking to Matt again. And when Dan did start talking again, it took all of only five minutes of spending time with Matt for him to start crying and telling him everything.
“Daniel. Dan, you’re still there, aren’t you?”, Matt was trying his best to hide the panic laced under those words as he cycled with all his might to reach Dan. After the line being completely silent for two minutes, Dan suddenly spoke up and Matt almost burst into tears on hearing his voice, “I, I can’t do this anymore.” Matt took deep breaths before replying, “Talk to me, Dan. What are you doing? What’s going through your head right now?” Matt patiently waited for an answer, and his heart almost failed when he heard Dan’s answer.
“My foster father takes sleeping pills, one per night. If I took maybe twenty one might, I wouldn’t have to do this anymore.”
Matt’s head was going into overdrive. He put all his life into peddling as fast as he could. “Dan, listen to me. Remember that day, at the movies? We heard that song that both of us actually liked! We heard it, and we both liked it instantly! C’mon, I know you remember.” “Yeah, that symphony song.”, Dan muttered, almost inaudible.
“Yeah! Symphony song. Remember what I said to you about the symphony song, Dan?”
“You told me to listen to it whenever I felt bad.” “And, what else? I said something else too, I clearly remember.” Dan was completely crying now. Matt could hear it across the receiver and it took everything in him to not break down as well. Matt was mere seconds away from Dan’s house now. But with every second of Dan not replying, Matt was coming closer to a panic attack. Matt threw his bike on the curb, barged into the house and raced up the stairs to Dan’s room, praying with everything that the room was unlocked.
“You said, you said to wait for you. Because you’d always come.”
Tears raced down Matt’s face as he ran over to Dan curled up on the floor with the bottle of pills spread out on the bed above. Matt wrapped his arms around Dan’s body tightly and kept lightly rocking him till Dan moved his own arms to hug Matt back. Matt took a huge sigh of relief as his heart started beating back to normal. “Thank you for always coming.”, Dan whispered as Matt hugged him tighter.