No Rest for the Loner


 I guess Claudia assumed that I hadn’t seen what was going
on in her seat, that I was too wrapped up with Samantha. That didn’t mean I
stole one glance in towards the back of the bus. Daniel looked like he was in a
pretty big argument with her, and wishing to not intervene I turned back
around. It would be best if he handled this himself.

 I hoped he was triggering some memories or something,
because I knew deep down that I wouldn’t be able to convince her if I tried.
Still, it was the end of the week, and I had promised Daniel I’d give it a go.
It wasn’t a promise I planned to break.

 He seemed to be growing more and more depressed over this
whole Claudia ordeal, and his antics weren’t getting him anywhere. I felt
incredibly villainous for arranging to go out with somebody right in front of
his eyes when he couldn’t get back with the girl he knew the best. No, I knew
her the best… but she neglected to understand that.

 Claudia hurried off the bus, and I noticed she looked
even more confused than earlier. She looked at me with a look of ‘talk later’,
and then departed. I glanced at Daniel, who was seemingly in a clump of
emotions; happy and confused, yet angry at the same time. I mouthed ‘Did it go
well?’ to him, but he either didn’t notice this or chose not to respond.

 Soon enough, he left as well. I asked him again how his
situation in the back seat played out, but again he said nothing. I was worried
instantly; it must’ve gone terribly wrong. What was I to say then? Saying
goodbye to Samantha, I followed Daniel off the bus even though my actual stop
was a few blocks down the road.

 He walked off at a hurried pace, but I was able to catch
up to him. I put my hand on his shoulder and turned him around.

 “Are you alright?” I asked him, though I knew that his
answer would most likely be no.

 However, he surprised me. “Odd” he said slowly, as though
he had to choose that word carefully.

 I wanted to assist him as much as I could, so I asked him
for more information. “Listen, whatever happened I need to know. I told you I’d
try something to trigger her memories, so I need to know what worked… or what

 It looked almost as though he seemed shocked for me to
offer him help. I had always been by his side, right? Was he doubting me?

 “I tried to make her remember the last game of tag we
played” he said shyly, something he did rarely.

 “How would she remember that out of all of the good times
we had?” I inquired. It was a curious strategy seeing as that day wasn’t
completely eventful.

 “I… we did…” Daniel grew silent. Something happened that
day that he neglected to tell me, and this marked the second time his mouth
shut when this subject came up.

 “You kissed or something” I hypothesized, which wasn’t a
very hard conclusion to reach. His cheeks blushed slightly, so I knew I had got

 I cursed in my head. It would play out that way, wouldn’t
it… Daniel getting the last word, last action. The third party character...
that was what he was. All the time... but yet, he was my friend. I met her
first, I shouted in my head. Why couldn’t I ever achieve her attention to that

 I tried my best not to show my anger over his revelation
of that fact, but I believed to have failed in that aspect. Continuing the
conversation, I asked him if his plan worked well.

 “It did… but didn’t? It’s hard to say…” he replied.

 “Did it succeed in some manner?” I asked for

 “She’s getting her memory back” Daniel said firmly, his
eyes giving off a new determined look. “I could tell that she was beginning to
remember me… slightly or more so. I kissed her to try and make her recall when
I did the first time… and she kissed me back”.

 Holding back my true thoughts on this statement, I nodded
and smiled. “Then you’re off to a good start”. I began to walk away when he
shot another question my way.

 “She knew you perfectly fine” Daniel said, approaching
me. “At the same time, she acted like she never met me before. How is that so?”

 I had already spoken enough I believed. Besides, how on
Earth could I explain to him why she knew me and not him? I hadn’t seen her
just as long as him… what a minute.

 I had been to her house plenty of times when we hung out
in elementary school. When Daniel tagged along, I could always tell that
somehow he… antagonized… her parents… I’m not sure how, but they liked me much
more now that I think about it. Was it possible they played a role in this?

 I shrugged to answer his question. “Honestly, I have no

 The look he gave me obviously showed that he didn’t buy
my response. “I think you do… we’ve had each other’s backs for a long time,
Lionel… and I don’t think you’re being honest”.

 I dropped my mouth wide open. “You think I set this up…
this whole thing. Why exactly would I do that? I don’t want to see you feel
pain at having to try and get her back on your side. I backed you up, I was
prepared to help you out!”

 “I find it hard to believe that she would know you and
not me… what happened while I was gone? What were you guys doing?” Daniel

 This particular comment burned right through my skin. “Don’t
even start with what we did, which was nothing! You were the one that
apparently had some fun with her at the playground, hmm!? You were the one who
took her away from me and backstabbed me! Don’t even… just don’t…”

 Daniel had taken a few steps back, and I think I did too.
I had just shouted… I never shouted… almost never. What was going on in my
head? Another aching pain was coming back, and I clutched my forehead tightly.

“Lionel…?” Daniel asked slowly, but I was hardly
listening. I was in a complete mess right now. In the one moment, I let my
emotions fly loose, and right in front of someone else… I needed to sleep. Lie
down… I obviously wasn’t feeling myself…

 “Are you feeling… hey!” Daniel called after me as I ran
away. I didn’t turn around or say anything in return, I just continued on my
way in some unknown direction. I just knew that wherever I was going, it was going
to be some peaceful place I could take a few deep breaths at.

 While rounding the corner to the park, I noticed someone
sitting down on a bench nearby; Claudia. I tried to avoid her attention, but
she picked me off instantly and asked me to come and sit by her. I was torn
with leaving or going by her side… and I chose the second option.

 Slowly, breathing heavily, I took a seat beside her. She
looked just as she did on the bus.

 “Hey Lionel” she greeted me politely. I only nodded and
waved in response.

 “I just… wanted to talk” she said rather shyly. I was
instantly alert, my inner-mind defenses springing up to block any questions she
fired off at me.

 “That whole thing earlier… Thursday morning… how is
Samantha… what happened with you two exactly?”

 It just figures that she’d launch the big one at me. This
was something I couldn’t make any excuses for.

 I took a long, drawn-out pause, and then delivered the
full story. “It was middle school… seventh onto eighth grade… I met a girl.
Beautiful, and nice… sort of reminds me of… never mind. She was with me for so
long… we were in… never mind! One day, she’s gone… for no reason…”

 Claudia was listening intently, and her facial expression
had changed to concern and sadness. It was hard for me to say so much, with my
talking disability… and not only that, but she never knew that I got into
relationships before in my life.

 “Now she came back… and I… gave in? No… she looked as
though she cared for me… like she used to look” I explained. “I… well… uh… uh…”
my speech began to falter.

 Claudia nudged closer to me and hugged me tightly, saving
me from starting to cry over my own pathetic, sad life story.

 She left the embrace and bowed her head. “I’m so sorry…
to hear that”. But then she brightened up, though it seemed as though she was,
dare I say… disappointed?

 “At least it looks like you guys are getting along…” she
said, her voice slightly trailing off at the end of her comment.

 She looked really happy now. “I was going down to the
movies today… I was wondering if you wanted to tag along?”

 Oh God… how could I tell you I couldn’t? The one time she
wanted to hang out with me, just me, alone… and I had to deny it. Doesn’t that
just sound familiar? I opened my mouth to speak, but the words refused to come.
I repeated this several times to no avail. Eventually, I stopped trying and
turned away from her.

 “I have plans with… sorry”.

 And with that, I leaped off of the bench and sprinted in
the direction of my house. I had had enough stress for all of ten minutes… and
my voice was about to crack from talking so much. And, as I told Claudia, I had
plans… Samantha and her friends were going bowling, and she asked me to come
with her. I couldn’t resist… I had fallen… hopelessly… in love with her… yet

 I felt incredibly sorry for Claudia… she was still my
friend… but I wasn’t prepared to tell Samantha no.

 I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on in Daniel’s
head. His methods were curious and seemed rather desperate… all while this went
on, he blamed me for his troubles? I promised to help him, yet he doubted it?
There was a reason I stared at him sometimes; I was worried about him. I didn’t
want him to get so worked up with a girl like I had used to be… keyword… used.

 Claudia as my girlfriend? That was a thing of the past.
Hopefully, I could still keep her and Daniel as my friends, though I wasn’t
sure how we would traverse in the school year if we couldn’t even admit that we
knew each other.

The End

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