Tiaya Hubbard – Hide & Seek

This is the story that I think I was destined to tell. Many lessons wrapped in one; one universal​ lesson. The universe was my teacher, and I was the distant traveler listening to the sweet noise. Little did I know, my world was going to turn upside down within a matter of months. It all started on the first day of junior year. Luckily, I saw my best friend, Mae.

We dreaded the idea, but we decided to go ahead and take gym at high school since we only need one credit. Since it was only the first day, we really did not do any physical work yet. I was telling her these mindless, mediocre jokes I found on this random website while sitting on the newly polished black benches. I thought they were clever and my presentation of them was flawless, if I do say so myself. As I was telling Mae these jokes, I saw this guy. Now, I already know what you are thinking, “Oh God, she is dramatically eyeing this Harry Styles look-alike and they are going to fall in love and we are gonna be riding identical twin horses off into the tangerine and rosé sunset then happily ever after.” Well, if you thought that, you were wrong. He had these dark brown eyes, but weirdly if you got up close to him, they were blue, with illuminating blonde hair. He was chuckling, trying not to laugh out loud. He was failing miserably. Me being very bold I motioned for him to come over. I asked for his name, Hunter.

Hunter ​was his name. Then, one thing led to another and then he was in our conversation.

The bell rang, we all got up, choked up over laughter. The first day jitters were gone; laughter was indeed the best medicine. Mae hopped down from the benches and went to go pick up her backpack by the gym doors. Hunter and I, however, stood right in front of each other awkwardly smiling. Mae stopped her tracks and turned around, seeing if I would follow her. I shushed her away, I was about to make my move. Mae smiled, she knew that he was my type. She picked up her backpack, waved, then walked out. I looked back at him and smiled, he laughed. He whipped out his phone and asked, “Got snapchat?” wiggling his eyebrows. Following along I said, “Yeah, I got snap.” He looked up my name then next thing you know he adds me on snapchat. Of course, I added him back. After that day, he always would find me walking me to and from our gym class everyday. Our relationship explained was like a scene out of a 90s high school movie. His arm would always be around my shoulder just dangling there. We would always be laughing and smiling, and everyone thought we were dating. The moment felt right, all the pieces were coming together. The sun was out, and the flowers bloomed. People were walking to class together, laughing and smiling, having a good time. Everything was just right with the world. But, reality then hit me. The pieces fell apart. The sun drew back up into the clouds shielding its happiness from the world. The flowers caved back into their pods. People walked to class, but there was no one laughing or smiling, their expressions were dead. I never knew how alone I felt in those long halls until we stopped walking together. Wait hold on, if I am going to tell this story then I need to tell it in chronological order. He would tell me his personal struggles, and then I would tell him mine. That was my first mistake, I never really felt the need to express my emotions until I met him. All my friends can tell you that I’m loud, bold, eccentric, always dancing, and seeing me be vulnerable is rare. He had the power to make me let my guard down. He made me feel like I was being seen. Not just a walking, living meme. Or a strong shoulder that all my friends use to cry on. He saw me and only me. Next thing I know he started flirting with me, and of course, I flirted back. My second mistake.

It was a Saturday afternoon, I just got through FaceTiming my friend (for four hours) and now I’m just browsing on SnapChat, I saw him with another girl. A very pretty girl, tall, blonde, skinny. She looks like one of those model girls you see on Tumblr. They were hugging, I tap the screen to skip ahead, he kissed her cheek. My heart dropped way below rock bottom. This is why now every time I open the app now my heart starts to beat rapidly. The anxiety feeling. I never had that before. Anxiety. My friend has it though, real bad. I remember one time I was texting her one morning, and she seemed fine. Then, when it was our lunch period, Mae was not there. She was always there. If she were sick, she would have texted me this morning. When I got home, I texted her and apparently, she had a panic attack during the third period due to her making a seventy on her test instead of an eighty. Typical. At that point, I could only imagine what that felt like. But now I do not have to. I’m living in it. Now, you are probably thinking, “Tiaya, why are you so emotional over this boy, he never confirmed you were his girlfriend, so why are you so emotionally invested in him?”

I do not have an answer. Even till this day, I still cannot tell you why I fell head over heels for this boy.

That is when I started debating whether or not I should text him or not. I open our messages on SnapChat. As I started to type his emoticon popped up on the screen, I asked him who that girl was. He left. Then I texted again. He then responded to my message with the red furious face emoji. Confusion, then took my body all at once. My world was spinning. At this point me and his emoticon were playing hide and seek.

Months had now passed, now the obvious tension has now turned into severely aggressive digital arguments. He called me his girlfriend finally, then told my secrets to his friends, then “broke up” with me. All in the same week. My emotions are drained. I have started seeing a therapist now. Yeah, it has got that bad. I really do not know how, one minute I was just upset, the next minute I was paralyzed and couldn’t breathe. They diagnosed me with generalized anxiety disorder and put me on medication. It helps with the physical symptoms. But the emotional wounds were too far gone.

I remember the first day of school. He was staring at me when I was telling Mae those jokes. He looked like he was happy, calm. Now when he stared at me, he looked disturbed and troubled. Dangerously scaring me. It is not fun playing hide and seek with no one looking for you. It is also not fun playing when they cheat and do not acknowledge when they found you. Hide and seek. That childhood game we all know and love. That was Hunter and I’s favorite game. We would play on SnapChat, gym class, lunch, and in the hallways. I would hide and he would seek, seek to find me and my insecurities. He would use them to his advantage. I would play with myself as well. I would hide from my real emotions and seek for another solution.

After school, I got a phone call.

It was the last day of school. I want him. I need him. Where is he? He was not at school. It is my turn to seek now. I want- no I need love. His love. Craving. I had tried listening to all my friends’ advice, but I could not. He makes me feel alive. I liked the feeling of being seeked for.

My friends have told me countless to let him go, he is no good. I tried to change him, but that did not work. I released all of my emotions into a text to him. Then, my iPhone told me he was typing on SnapChat. Hunter was typing for a good seven or eight minutes. Then, he was finished.

I still have not read that text. I refuse to, I was gonna let him go. For good.

“I still can’t find him.” I told Mae.

“Didn’t I call you last night?” she asks, “You haven’t heard what happened, have you?” she anxiously asks me with sincere concern.

“No,” I softly replied again.

“Tiaya, Hunter commited suicide last night.”

I am still looking for him. As I ran down the empty hallways, I heard his laugh. Dear God why did you give him such a beautiful laugh. I ignored Mae as she was running after me. Then, the intercom sounds. I stopped running. The principal starts speaking. “Obviously, everyone has heard the unfortunate news, Hunter Payne has unfortunately committed suicide last night.” Then, he held a moment of silence. Mae finally caught up to me, she put her hand on my shoulder, turned me around, then embraced me. I sobbed in her jacket. I was crumbling.

Still looking. It is my turn to seek. I have been hiding for so long. I have hid everywhere.

Everywhere. Now, it is his turn.

I found him. Right now. In his casket. I hear his mother behind me silently sobbing into her husband’s chest. I was numb. I do not know how to feel.

Days have now passed. My mother finally decided to let me have my phone back. She took it because she claims I was not emotionally stable to be able to handle social media. I see infinite notifications on my lock screen. I scroll all the way down. To the one. The one that I have been avoiding for the longest time. “From Hunter.” I opened it. It read:

“Tiaya, I’m sorry. I am sorry for how I mistreated you. I know you want answers. So here they are. I played with your emotions because I didn’t know how to handle my own. A lot has been going on. My father is still drinking, now more than ever. All the stress of getting a scholarship so my mother doesn’t have to worry over that. I don’t think I am even ready for college. I’m not even ready for life. This is our last goodbye as you said. It was nice getting to know your beautiful soul and personality. It was an honor, the highlight of my life. You are beautiful. Your beautiful dark brown skin. The way your dimples burst through your cheeks when you get excited. The natural brunette highlights in your hair. All of it, beautiful. I will miss you. I love you Tiaya.”

I reply.

“Thank you, for teaching me a lesson that I desperately needed to know, you taught me how to feel. When we would have our 3 A.M. talk sessions, I realized the importance of validating my own self-worth. I just didn’t know where to begin. Instead of hiding from my emotions, I am now seeking them. I want to feel every emotion there is. Happy, sad, furious and grief. I am definitely feeling that last one right now. You were a good sport. Thanks for playing with me. I love you too Hunter. All the love, Tiaya.”

Then, I saw his emoticon hiding in the corner of the screen. A soft smile appears on my face as tears continue to make their way down my face. Then, it goes away. For good.