Freshmen boys get their schedule in the early morning, girls after one. The excitement of finally knowing high school is near is running through his veins.
A series of stations have to be viewed first, though, to get the schedule. At last he reached the photo ID post, which meant one more step. He put on a purple lanyard over his neck, a picture of him smiling clipped to the clasp. Then his schedule was in his hands.
Pre-AP biology, theater, geometry, and pre-AP English on a-days; Keyboarding, AP human geography, speech and Spanish one on b-days. A perfect agenda. Now if he can find some friends in those classes.
All his buddies arrived at the same time so they were able to compare. Most had something in common. He went home happily and waited for the girls to be done so he could ask Michelle.
On Facebook a few hours later, he saw her schedule on her latest status and was overjoyed they had theater together. He was about to comment when Mikayla beat him, saying “NOTHING!! :’( “ Michelle responded with a nonchalant “I’m surprised you didn’t get theater two.” He recalled how Mikayla was Ms. Green’s favorite student. But he can tell right now she’s going insane on the fact that they have nothing together. She’s her best friend, and it almost killed her last year that they only had one class and even then it tore them apart.
Instead of just commenting, he picked up the phone and called her.
“I’m sorry,” he said immediately, and she burst into tears.
“It’s so unfair! At least English and theater should have us. Everything else I’m too dumb to be in or I didn’t put it on my preferences. I hate how we keep getting separated. This is like the third year in a row,” She kept sobbing throughout all that. He wished he was with her to hold her and say it’s going to be alright.
“You’ll still see her before and after school, right? And maybe during passing period?” he implied.
“That’s the thing, I don’t know. She’s always talking about joining as many clubs as she can, and there’s nothing that’s interesting me right now beside debate and improv, and even then I won’t be good at it. I’m just worthless.”
“Hey, no you’re not! Don’t ever say that. You’re not worthless,” he scolded.
“But it’s true,” he heard her mumble. He let it slide for the sake of her feeling upset. No arguments are needed at the moment.
“I’m sure you’ll figure something out. You always do.”
“What if it’s like last year? Someone else might come between us, and I can’t handle that again.”
“I know. You’re just going to have to be strong and take whatever comes at you.”
“I’ve been strong! Always had, especially during the Mary thing.”
“No, you weren’t. You may say that, but you’re only fooling yourself. You still don’t like her. I should know, I’ve spent many nights hearing you say things. Especially when you sleep.” He remembered the evenings she’d go over to his house for a little while. They’d watch a movie and she’d fall asleep, probably from exhaustion of staying up so late worrying about her best friend. Quiet, angry words stumble out of her mouth, basically about Mary and what she did. It ruined her.
“And you’re still very vulnerable. Just hope you don’t have any classes with her, and then you’ll be fine,” he finished.
“Yes, I suppose so. I don’t hate her, but I strongly dislike her.” Again, he recalled little sentences of “I hate her” also being heard.
“On lighter news, I’m in theater with you,” he hesitated, hoping it might perk her up.
“Oh, good. I’m glad I’ve got someone I love. “A smile played on his lips.
“Please don’t get too upset over this. It’s going to get better, I promise.”
“Well, thanks, Alex. That’s really nice to know.”
“I wish I didn’t have to go,” he said after Amber yelled for him to get downstairs.
“Oh, go ahead. I’ve got dinner, anyway. I love you,” Her voice sounded so beautiful saying those last three words. He repeated back and put down the phone.
At least she’s a tad bit happy again, thanks to him.
I am just furious.
Why, why, why, do we have to split up again? This is so very frustrating. I’d scream, but somebody might call the police, which we do not want.
Alex’s phone call did help me feel a little better, though. It’s nice to know I’ll always have someone I can talk to. Someone who loves me back when I’m just seething at the stupid world. For once I’d like more than one class with her.
Sighing heavily, I waited for dinner to finish, and went to bed. Instead of actually closing my tired eyes, I was wide awake all night. Dawn wouldn’t hurry, and neither were my thoughts to run away. All my hatred for Mary returned, brighter and more infuriated than ever. Just thinking that she may have a class with Mikayla makes me want to… to… well, I’m a pacifist, but for some reason I just want to break someone’s head off. And I don’t get jealous easily.
Well. That’s an understatement.
But still. I don’t get mad all that often.
Finally, the morning light has greeted the dark, and I ripped the blankets off me. I’m sick of these thoughts; I just want to be happy again. You’d think I’d have a million things to recollect, but not right now. No, my attention is still focused on that backstabber. Ugh. I so hope I won’t have to see her every day.
There’s about a week left to school. Dread filled me when I looked at my schedule again and is powerfully reminded that I have nothing with my best friend. The worst thing that can happen is if we stop being friends this year. That means I won’t have anyone- beside Alex, and he doesn’t really count because he’s a boy - to share my four years with. We’d avoid each other at prom and dances and football games. I won’t be able to say my goodbye, which is most important.
Oh, please don’t let that happen.
Ben’s got an indoor soccer game at 6:30, and unfortunately I have to go. The constant screaming of the parents and the coaches is just not appealing to me right now. I’ve got an infection in my left ear that’s been painful for two weeks already.
Ugh, the smell of fake grass is so overwhelming in the building. How can people play?
Mom and I sat down on the cold bleachers while Ben went to the back to join his short-in-height-but-large-in-numbers team. I think there’s a girl here that I know, but I can’t tell. Maybe she dyed her hair over the summer.
I brought along my word search book because I get bored easily. Scanning the field of tiny little boys somehow distracted me from the puzzle. They’re going against a giant team. Literally, their opponents must be about five years older. Or maybe Ben’s generation is just slow on growing.
Looking up from the page, I glanced around, just to see if there were more people that I knew. Nope. I sighed in relief.
“Michelle?” Someone tapped my shoulder softly. My sigh ended sharply.
“Gray- Grayson?” My voice is completely in doubt. I have to be dreaming. I would’ve pinched myself, but he’s right there.
“Yeah, that’s my name.” He chuckled, clearly trying to make this easier on me.
“What are you doing here?” My tongue is plainly knotting itself into one big mess. By the end of the night, I know I’ll slip up.
“My girlfriend’s playing. See the one in the red? The only girl out there?” He pointed at her, who was running amongst the boys.
“Oh. She looked familiar. Huh.”
“Do you-” The crowd clapped and cheered as the other team scored, thankfully not on Ben. His wrist is magically “hurt”, so he’s not goalie tonight.
“What? It’s so loud in here,” I yelled.
“Let’s go outside.” As we neared the door, I mentioned, “What about your girlfriend?”
“I’ve seen her play plenty of times. It’s fine,” he assured.
On the way out I nearly tripped. Twice. My legs have gone positively numb.
There were some hay bales in the back. We climbed on them and watched the sun go down. This is definitely a dream, it has to be. Everything is absolutely perfect.
“Heard you got your permit. How’d that go?” Grayson started.
“I just missed three. Made a ninety-one. Not too bad for someone who doesn’t really study,” I laughed.
“I’ve always wondered your secret on that. I could use the help,” God, I miss his smile. And the twinkle in his mysterious brown eyes. I wonder what he’s thinking about.
“A photographic memory is what you need. Just stare at the question, memorize it, and you’ll be good to go.” By now my tongue is loosening up, quite luckily.
“I’ll remember that.” We looked at each other, not knowing what to say. All the magic is lost. “Uh, which one was your brother?”
“He had number two on his back. Wearing a wrist wrap thing. I know he doesn’t need it. He’s a wimp, ha. Always trying to act like he’s just got shot or something.”
“You must know him pretty well, then.”
“No, not really. I’m not exactly close with anyone in my family, except my mom. But even then I’m closer with my best friend. I’m not very well connected with them,” I admitted.
“Why not?” His eyes are wide with sincere concern.
“Maybe it’s my fault, I don’t know. I don’t really hang out with them and such. I keep mostly to myself. It’s not exactly a good thing, I guess.”
“Perhaps you should spend at least an hour with them every day, so you could open up more and learn to trust them,” he suggested.
“I’ll remember that.” Laughter from recalling what he said earlier. “I really missed you,” I whispered without thinking beforehand. Stupid!
“Listen, about that,” Uh oh. Something’s going to happen. Good or bad, something is going to happen. My heart is pounding so hard, loud enough to be heard by a mile, my legs have gone totally frozen, so if we have to walk I don’t think I can move, my mind frantically going crazy, if I have to say a single word it’ll come out all wrong. “I was a jerk for just leaving you like that. But I have my reasons for it. They may sound terrible, but believe me, it was for your own good.”
“I…” Say something! “I understand your reasons. You didn’t want to hurt me. And you were right. I was the one who hurt me. I thought you were the bad guy all along, but it was me. If I had known your reasons back in seventh grade, I would’ve stepped back and just forget the whole thing. But I cherish my friendships very much so, and when I finally figured out that we weren’t supposed to be friends anymore, that’s when I just about realized that my life was screwed.” I have to be more careful with my words. Say any more and he’ll realize I love him. But then again, he might already recognize that.
“I don’t like hurting people, trust me. I thought it was a subtle way to handle the situation, but apparently it wasn’t. I mean, you even thought of suicide! You got depressed over me. I should’ve told you straight up instead of avoiding you. I’m at fault here. And I promise I will never do this to you ever again.” He grabbed my hand and put it in his. I’m pretty sure my heart has completely renewed and flowered whole.
“Thank you. You have no idea how long I’ve waited for this.” My head tilted to rest on his shoulder, which is the perfect height for me.
“Waited for what?” he murmured.
“I haven’t felt this way since forever. All these years here, I spent it in misery. Right now, I finally see hope to being free from it. Just knowing that we can be okay makes me so happy. If only I actually had a heart all this time, I would’ve enjoyed being here, maybe. Honestly, the only time I felt a fraction of this was in Skills for Living. You can see why this is so important to me. Now I can go on knowing I will be alright. I’m glad I met you, Grayson. Even if there was a few months of silence, you helped me learn to just grow up and deal with life. Otherwise I would’ve found out the hard way.”
“Oh,” he said. “I know what you mean. I’m not exactly the same way as you, but I can imagine what it’s like to live in torture. I’m really sorry for everything. Friends?”
“Definitely.” I smiled so widely I forgot all the negativity in my body. This is what I’ve been waiting for.
The sky’s drawing to a close, which meant more than an hour has passed. We figured the game would be over by now.
Before we jumped off the hay, he kissed me on the forehead. Of course, I melted. I knew he wasn’t going to try anything; he’s got a girlfriend inside the building after all. But the gesture was really sweet.
The other team won. Ben’s side is not exactly elite. I said goodbye to Grayson and find my mom. I bet my face is still red from blushing furiously. Good thing she didn’t notice. Nothing could take away my euphoria. Nothing.