“Some things just aren’t worth losing yourself to.”
“Juliet? Honey, is that you?” My mom’s quiet voice came from the living room, where she would normally be lying down. The fact that she sounded even weaker than she had earlier was alarming. Why weren’t the drugs helping?
“Yeah, I’m home.” I called, setting my notebook down on the counter. We didn’t have any homework tonight so Ryan ended up taking all of my books home with him.
“How was your first day?”
When I entered the living room I saw that she was laying across the couch with a blanket pulled over her. I was somewhat grateful. It was painful to see her look so thin, the blanket hid some of that. I wanted her to be strong again. I wanted her to be healthy. It was scary to know that she was sick and there wasn’t a damn thing that I could do to help her. If I could, I’d give everything up just to make her healthy. Unfortunately that wasn’t how the world worked.
“Just like my first day of normal high school.” Lie. “Okay, so it was different.” I could never lie to my mother. “The people there are so...”
“Rich?” My mom laughed, sitting up. I had to fight the urge to lean over and help her. “Did anyone give you any trouble?”
“... The choir teacher wants me to join his class.”
“That would be a terrific idea!” My mother’s face lit up at the idea, “Are you going to?”
“No, but it was a nice offer.” I couldn’t even bring myself to admit to my mom just why I couldn’t sing anymore. I couldn’t put my heart in to it like I used to be able to.
“Are you afraid that you aren’t good enough?”
“Some things just aren’t worth losing yourself to.” Singing was something I could completely fall in to. The only problem with that was I had so much going on I couldn’t risk falling in to anything. I had to be here for my mom, for my dad... for myself.
“I don’t believe that for a second.” I guess I never inherited my mom’s carefree spirit.
“Ross!” I turned, startled at the familiar voice.
“Brendon, what are you doing here?” We hadn’t talked, without fighting, in what felt like forever.
“I figured I might find you here.” Brendon said, breathing a little hard.
“Well yeah, this is my house.” I was sitting outside, tuning my guitar. “Have you been running?”
“I jogged here.” That explained the heavy breathing.
“I’m trying to get in shape, I guess.” Yeah, right.
“Because you’re so out of shape.” I rolled my eyes, waiting for him to make whatever point he was meaning to make by being here.
“According to how fast my heart is going right now... and the fact that I can’t breathe... Yeah, I’m pretty out of shape.” Brendon’s face was red but I wasn’t sure if that was because he was babbling or because he had just ran for god knows how long. “But I was... Hey, so you’re playing the guitar?”
“Brendon, we used to be friends. You know that I play the guitar.” I set it down, losing my patience. “What did you want?”
“It’s about Juliet...”
“No.” I wasn’t going to help Brendon play Juliet. She was my friend; Brendon wasn’t anyone’s friend.
“Hear me out.” Brendon pleaded.
“Why should I?”
“Because otherwise how do you even know what you’re saying no to?” Brendon moved closer, sitting down next to me.
“You want me to help you get in to her pants.” Brendon was obvious. He wanted the same thing from every girl and when he was done, it was over.
Brendon pouted. “That’s not true!”
“Then what do you want?”
“I- I just wanted to ask about the kiss.” Brendon paused, “I mean, you kissed her... or did she kiss you?”
“We kissed each other.” Was Brendon simply confused over my sexuality? “It was mutual.”
“Oh.” Brendon bit his bottom lip, “So, are you two like together or something?”
“Are you... not gay anymore?”
“I’m whatever I want to be.” It was true. I liked guys mainly but girls worked as well. It depended all upon the person. There were some people that turned me on while others... not so much. “And Juliet may just be who I want to be with.”
Brendon breathed out before responding. “Just don’t use her, okay?”
The line caught me by surprise but guys like Brendon were A-list actors. They knew how to fake it. “There are a hundred or so other girls in this town that you can freak out over. Why don’t you worry about them?”
“They don’t mean shit to me.” That sounded a lot more like the Brendon I knew.
“And Juliet means something?”
“... not exactly, no. She just-“ he stopped mid-sentence.
“She what?” I urged him to continue, finding myself fascinated in his partial change of heart. I wasn’t entirely convinced that he wasn’t just a damned good actor though. He’d gotten in to god knows how many girls pants, so he was experienced in screwing girls over.
“She seems like someone that needs to be watched over.”
Bullshit. “Have you even held a conversation with her?” I snapped.
“Then you must not have been listening. That girl can take care of herself. Why don’t you just back off?” Juliet wasn’t some incapable idiot that needed Brendon’s ‘protection’ and I wasn’t going to let him play as if that’s how it was. It was just a game to him. I wasn’t going to be a part of his game. Neither was Juliet, if I could help it.
“We’ll see just how well she can take care of herself then.” Brendon stated, standing.
“What?” I stood as well. “What do you mean?”
“Chelsea’s out for blood.” Brendon responded. “And you know, I could help but... “
“Fuck.” I hated Brendon so much.
Slowly a smile spread across his face, “That’s the panic I love to hear.”
“So, what do you really want?” I knew he had an ulterior motive.
“Get Juliet to go out on a date with me.” Brendon’s smile was akin to the smile the Cheshire cat in Alice and Wonderland wore.
“What does that have to do with anything?’ Now I was officially lost. “She won’t sleep with you, if that’s what you’re attempting to get at.”
“I asked for a date, not the key to her virginity.”
“How do you even know she’s a virgin? She could be a hell of a lot more experienced than you, with a lot more diseases.” Well, okay I knew she wasn’t a slut. She probably was a virgin. The idea of Brendon going after her in a sexual manner just seemed wrong though. I felt as if I were locking a lamb in a cage with a lion.
“That’s besides the point. So, deal or no deal? Chelsea can be a pain.” Brendon stated.
“How the hell will you taking Juliet out on a date get her to back off?”
“I have my ways.” Brendon responded. “But I don’t have all night so decide already.”
Juliet was a sweet person. That was something I was able to tell immediately. She was on the fast track to being made a social outcast and I knew just how much that could hurt, especially long-term. It turned you in to a different person. She didn’t deserve to have to go through that. If I could protect her, even if just a little, I’d do it.
“I believe you know my number still.” Brendon started walking down the middle of my front yard. “Oh, and Juliet doesn’t need to know this is a set up. I was thinking a more flattering approach could work.”
Great. So now I would be lying to my new friend.
None of this made any sense. Why would Brendon want to take Juliet out on a date? She was just a girl. She wasn’t even rich. She was a scholarship student. This was out of his area of expertise.
Maybe that’s why he needed me.
Was I helping Juliet or making a giant mistake?
(Ryan’s POV/Next Day)
“So, what is with your sudden infatuation regarding all things Brendon?” Juliet sounded suspicious but I couldn’t blame her. I’d been talking about Brendon all day. I was actually starting to sicken myself.
“I just think he’s a great guy.” Liar, liar, pants on fire.
“That’s a pretty different opinion from the one you held yesterday.” Why did she have to be such a good friend and actually pay attention to the things I said?
“Am I not allowed to change my mind?”
“You’re free to do whatever you want but as for the whole date idea... I think I’ll pass. If you like him so much then you date him.” Juliet sighed, “Besides I’m not really his type.”
“What makes you think you aren’t his type?”
“Well, I’m not 6' with a movie star body and my head has something other than built up collagen in it.” Juliet wrinkled her nose. “Plus, isn’t he dating that one girl?”
“The one that constantly follows him around? No, that’s just Chelsea. She’s love struck. He’s not.” I stopped, causing Juliet to stop as well. “You’re beautiful and smart. I think that’s a universal type.”
“Why does this matter to you Ryan? You’ve been pushing this stupid date all day!” Juliet was beginning to lose her patience. I wasn’t sure what to do. “What’s the point of Brendon and I going on a date? I don’t even know him. I don’t really care to. I think I know enough.”
“J-“ I stuttered slightly but Juliet didn’t seem to notice. “Just trust me.”
She faltered, “Fine Ryan. This seems to be important to you. I don’t understand why but I’ll bite.”
I leaned forward, about to brush my lips against her cheek but... she pulled away. “But if this is just some giant trick to get me to sleep with him then I won’t forgive you. I don’t make friends easily and well, you’re the closest I’ve ever gotten to someone my age... and in record time.”
Oh god. I’m a major douche-bag. I’m going to douche-bag hell. I’ll be a douche- hall of famer. I forced a smile, “It’s not a ploy to get you to sleep with him. I just think you’ll enjoy yourself and- I want you to enjoy yourself.” You filthy liar.
Juliet smiled in return but I saw the hesitation. “Okay. I trust you.”
“A date?” My mom’s excited tone made tonight completely worth it. I wasn’t really excited and I was still doubting the entire thing. I mean, Brendon and me? As if. Ryan could be playing some weird prank on me. I was prepared to be let down.
But my mom was getting happy over this so... It was worth it to fake happiness for her sake. “Yeah, it’s at 6.”
“That’s only an hour away and you aren’t even ready! Do you have an outfit picked out?” I hadn’t seen her smile like this in over a year, since the cancer first came back.
“I- I was just going to go like this.”
“That just won’t do.” And then my mom stood up. I couldn’t understand why she was pushing all of her pain away for this small moment.
I would do anything to make this moment last for her.
“There! You look absolutely stunning!” We had taken the entire hour. I was slightly exhausted from the experience. “Is he picking you up or are you meeting him somewhere? When will you be home? Do I get to meet him?”
Sudden panic hit me. Brendon meet my mom? No. What if he judged her? I couldn’t bare the idea of someone hurting my mom. People like Brendon didn’t understand common courtesy. I didn’t trust him with her feelings. I didn’t really trust anyone around her. And if this was all just a huge joke? She didn’t need to know.
“He’s picking me up but...” I looked towards the door.
“Can I meet him?” I could never say no to her.
But this time I had to. For her sake; For my sake. “How about next time? I mean, I barely know him... I don’t know if tonight will be a disaster.” I nervously smiled, hoping I wasn’t hurting her feelings.
She simply smiled in return. “Just worry about having fun. If it’s meant to go somewhere then it will.”
(So, it was pretty darn cliche with the whole ‘set me up on a date with her’ part but I hope it was still enjoyable. It all plays out a lot better in my head than it does on WordPerfect. I’m still working on that part of writing.)