Chapter 28: The Hope of ConfidenceMature

Narrator: Junior Archvale


I looked at the scars the “raccoons” left in the mirror of Joshua’s bathroom. The bleeding of the deep scratches had stopped, although it stung slightly when I touched them. I didn’t notice how deep Crystal’s nails dug in until then.

I opened my bag of extra clothing, plastic bags, deodorant and whatnot. I took off my swimming trunks with a little difficulty; it was well stuck to my thighs and felt refreshing as the air finally hit my skin. I dried my legs and put the wet shorts into a CVS bag.

I don’t think I ever wanted to see those swimmers again. No matter how hard I could scrub at them or how much soap I flooded it with, the fact that I had an erection in them and that Crystal had opened the velcro of them – that would never go away. I had to throw them out on the way back home; they weren’t quite so clean anymore. That isn’t to say Crystal doesn’t mean anything to me; it just means I don’t want her to mean something like that to me – just another one of those girls.

It felt refreshing, as I stood there in my blue GAP shirt and beige shorts. I only wished I could blow dry my hair, or at least wash the chlorine out of it. I folded the red towel and placed it in my bag and sprayed some deodorant. There was a part of me, I could tell, that wanted to get rid of any trace of what had gone on in that “raccoon-infested” hot tub.

With my bag on my shoulder, I walked out the door cautiously, hoping not to see Crystal. I appreciated the time in which to sort out my thoughts, and there were many of them – so the longer I got, the better.

I sat on Josh’s bed and put on my shoes. It was interesting to see how much bedrooms said about who the occupants of them really are.  There are the simple things, such as he/she’s schedule (the calendar, the day planner), or the family photos (how many siblings).

Then there’s those little things, like the abandoned book with a marker at the fifty-sixth page, shoved under the magazines, CDs and computer games. In Josh’s case, the book happens to be ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ which he told me he had finished. I laughed at the thought.

If someone was to walk into my room – a total stranger who knew nothing of me, and of whom I knew nothing of – I wondered what they could deduce about me and if they’d get it right. Would they look at the taped postcards from Aunt Libby on my bookshelf, and think I adored her? Or would they know, perhaps by the careless taping or the crookedness of it, that I’d put them there because my mother thought it was a nice thing to do?

I wish I could be the stranger to walk into Crystal’s room… Then maybe I would have some answers to how exactly this was all going to end, or perhaps even continue.

Someone knocked on the door, and I expected it was Crystal. It wasn’t; Ashley Foreman, her (former?) best friend was standing at the door.

“Hey Junior. You mind?” She asked me with a falsely bright smile on her face.

“No, it’s fine. It’s Joshua’s room anyway.”

Normally, I wouldn’t have wanted to be left alone with the best friend of a girl I’d just been with. But Ashley was—well we wouldn’t ever do anything; neither of us would allow it.

If, let’s say, I woke up one morning next to her, the both of us naked, she would remind me of the mistake my sister made and I would remind her of the mistake hers made. The words ‘knocked up’ would be floating around our minds every time we slept together, or possibly even kissed each other. We didn’t and wouldn’t dare to confirm the theory.

“Don’t worry, Crystal’s downstairs searching for her phone. She’s misplaced it,” I nodded in response and she added, with a tinge of confidence, “As she does with a lot of things. Including her heart.”

I knew the two of them were best friends, but I’d always thought their friendship was rather… common. That’s to say that I didn’t think they were really, truly best friends. They told each other about their crushes, and complaints about their boyfriends (if applicable, that is) or how their mom was taking control of their life – the usual stuff. The type of conversations you see in those second-rate chick flicks. Obviously not. There must have been something special between the pair; enough for Ashley to observe how Crystal often misplaces her heart. I couldn’t have said it better.

“Crystal’s been a bitch to me lately, and it seems she’s been a bit of a bitch to everyone else as well. You especially.” She gave me a how-stupid-and-blind-are-you glance. I knew very well that Crystal was only using me as a Greg replacement, but the truth was, I didn’t mind so much.

“Well no, not necessarily. I went with it, even though I had the choice of stopping it. And you can’t quite blame her; she’s been through some deep shit.” That was true and I didn’t say it because I got angry at Ashley for calling her a bitch. It seemed to me that she was trying to set Crystal right and coming to me was the most logical thing to do – who else would she talk to? The gay-turned Greg?

“You could say that. But Crystal’s got a tendency to jump from one guy to the next, just to get over the previous one. And you… don’t seem right.” Her eyes were scanning the bedroom aimlessly. Now I wasn’t sure what the point of her conversation was going to be.

“What do you mean, not right?”

“You’re definitely not the usual rebound guy; you’re shy and you don’t do soccer or tennis, and whatever else. You’re not particularly… hot or anything." She looked at me warily and I gave her comical smile. 

"All I’m saying is, this Greg thing must have hit her really hard. A lot worse than I’d expected. And I think this time, she might… not bound off the rebound guy as quickly; she might cling to you. She might convince herself you’re the one, or some bullshit like that.” I nodded in acknowledgement, as well as agreement of what she was saying.

She went on, “And it’s easier because you’re Cameron Archvale! You’re the compassionate, caring, and non-judgmental guy.” I didn’t know whether to smile at these adjectives she used to describe me, or be disgusted at the fact that those traits of mine were making her life, mine and possibly Ashley’s a lot harder.

“So what exactly do you want me to do?” I looked at her questioningly, although I think the idea was that I should gently let her go.

“I was hoping before anything like what happened to your sister, you would… break it off… Crystal’s prone to make a mistake like that, and I don’t think I want to go through that again with my best friend and I’m sure you don’t again, either.” No, I most definitely don’t.

“Of course not, Ashley. I’m just not sure today’s the right time. I don’t think she needs two guys to leave her stranded in one night. Anyway, I’ve taken care of the having-sex part for now, so I’m guessing we can stick it out safely for a little longer.” I was hoping that would be the case. I was hoping I’d taken care of it.

“You seem to really have an effect on Crystal, CJ. I’m rather… surprised. I never thought you’d be able to handle someone like her so well. But please, don’t get overconfident about it and push the limits of the relationship. Please Cameron. Crystal’s…” Her voice trailed off, and it wasn’t a statement that needed an ending – I got the point.

“Am I ever overconfident, Ash? And I only did so well, considering her delicate state at the moment. Listen, it’ll be fine.” Yes, CJ, it’ll be fine. 

The End

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