FriendMature

The next morning before school, I stared down at Hayden’s number and my phone.
A big part of me wanted to text him and ask for the ride to school, but another part of me wanted to leave him be and just risk walking.
“Alvera, are you okay? You look so confused about something.” My mother said to me softly.
Blinking, I looked up at her and smiled. “I’m just debating on whether I should catch a ride to school or walk.” She looked outside and winced.
“Definitely take the ride to school; it looks like it’s going to rain.” I followed her gaze out the window and sighed. “I guess that makes my mind up” I muttered.
Entering Hayden’s number into my phone, I made a new text message. “Hi, Alvera here. Um, you said to text you for rides to school and that you could use the company.” I read over the awkward text but sent it anyway.
My mother laughed softly and smoothed her hand across my cheek. “Don’t look so worried Alvera” she said to me before leaving for work.
My phone buzzed in my pocket, signalling I had a text, with a sigh I pulled my phone out to read the text.
“I’ll see you in 15” the text read. Smiling, I pocketed my phone again and waited.

Fifteen minutes later, Hayden pulled up outside and waved to me. I hurried over to the car and got in with a shy smile toward Hayden.
“Thank you for picking me up” I whispered. Hayden smiled and pulled away from the curb.
“It’s alright, as I said, I could do with the company” he said. Nodding, I looked down at my fingers as silence descended inside of the car thickly.
“I was wondering, if you’re not doing anything, that we could have lunch together at school today? I totally understand if you don’t want to…” I winced and looked out the window to avoid looking at Hayden.
“Sure, I’d love to” he said into the silence. Turning my head to look at him, I smiled shyly and nodded. “Great” I whispered.
Within no time we arrived at school and both sighed at the same time.
I enjoyed the car ride to school, it was the only true peace, other than at home that I had in a while and I was saddened to see it over so soon.
Reluctantly getting out of the car, I faced Hayden awkwardly.
He gestured that we start walking, so I fell in step beside him and stared down at my feet. I could feel everybody’s eyes on me, making my cheeks heat and neck burn in awareness of all of their stares. Numerous names were called out to the both of us, more mocking laughter and scornful words.
I noticed Hayden walking stiffly but with his chin up, as if he was determined not to let them all get to him, with his shoulders and back ramrod straight, he looked defiant as he walked past everyone that seemed determined to knock him down.
Frowning, I lifted my head too and straightened my shoulders. If Hayden could walk in with his held high, then I could too.
Hayden noticed my change and gave me a small smile; I shot him a smile back and continued walking.
I stopped at my locker and looked at him. “I’ll see you at lunch?” I asked.
“Of course” he said to me and with a small wave, he continued walking down the hall, taking most of the mocking laughter and name calling with him.
I felt sadness and sympathy well up inside of me at the sight of it. Hayden seemed like such a gentle and genuine person that I couldn’t make sense as to why they targeted him so viciously.
I shook my head and got my books out of my locker then made my way toward class slowly, carefully avoiding everybody, sticking close to the wall as I normally do.

Class was a blur with the teacher droning on about our projects and assignments, students behind, beside and in front of me paid no attention to her, instead they passed notes, ate their food or whispered amongst each other.  
When the bell finally rang to go to lunch, I hurried out of class and down to the school cafeteria to look for Hayden.
Spotting him alone at a table with his head ducked low and numerous people pointing and laughing at him, I strode over to him and sat opposite him.
“Hey” I said as I folded my arms across the table. He slowly raised his head to peek up at me warily. “Hey” he muttered in return.
Feeling awkward again, I bit my lip and fought not to look around, knowing that again the both of us were the centre of all the wrong kind of attention.
“Well, well, well, look at what we have here boys” a males voice said from behind me.
I stiffened as Jared sat down next to me and slung his arm across my shoulders.
“Looks like the gay boy and loser have become friends” he drawled. His friends laughed and pounded fists with Jared.
Jared looked at me, “You’re wasting your time with this one Alvera, you don’t have the right equipment” Jared said cruelly.
Feeling my face heat up, I sunk lower into my seat and tried not to enjoy the feeling of Jared pressed against my side, even if he was being a heartless jerk.
“Maybe she does have the right equipment Jared, she does look like a boy from all angles” one of his friends quipped.
Jared laughed and hooked his finger in my top to looked inside.
“Nope, it’s a female” he said loudly.
Everybody near cracked up laughing and made loud wolf whistles. Feeling tears sting my eyes, I looked across at Hayden and locked eyes with him to see the sheen of tears in his eyes.
We stared at each other as the mocking continued, never breaking eye contact or concentration.
It was in that moment that I saw how much he and I had in common. It was the two of us against the world, to conquer every mountain shown, brave the forest and brave the stone. We’d brave the icy winds and fire, yet we were helpless to do anything about it.
Jared let go of me as the school bell rang, signally for everybody to move off to class.
Hayden and I were the last ones to leave, walking side by side toward our classes.
“Thank you for having lunch with me” I whispered to him, Hayden remained silent, only nodding in acknowledgment.
“I’ll see you after school?” I asked him quietly. He nodded again before finally looking at me. “Yeah, I’ll see you after school” he said with a tiny smile before walking into his classroom without looking back at me.
Walking to my class, a small slither of hope blossomed inside of me, finally after years; I had made a genuine friend. But I was only a matter of time before something came along to mess it all up, as it always does.
My life may still be a living nightmare, but at least I had someone on my side to help keep the darkness at bay…at least for now.

The End

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