I was always too shy for my own good, and just blended into the walls like an unwanted ghost.
I was walking to school again; I decided that I’d much rather walk to school and back from now on. It was cold as usual that morning, and there was a fine mist in the air that stuck to my eyelashes and dampened my hair. I reached the school and walked up the stairs past students to my locker. I exchanged my books and binders, placing them in my backpack, and closed the locker shut.
I walked to Government, and found Bob sitting in the same seat as yesterday. He looked up the moment I walked in, and shot me a smile. I smiled back and sat down next to him.
“Hey!” He greeted, and I gave him a small wave.
Class started and we handed in our homework. Like yesterday, Bob and I passed notes again while Mr. Bell gave us another lecture on how the Constitution was established. After class had ended, Bob said goodbye to me, and punched me playfully in the arm and walked off to his next class as I walked off to Creative Writing.
Walking in, Ms. Ross greeted me with a smile and gave me tonight’s homework assignment. I walked over to my usual seat by the window and looked over it the assignment. I felt someone tapping my shoulder, and looked up to see Gerard standing beside my desk with his half-smile.
“Morning!” He said, and sat down in the desk next to me.
I smiled and pulled out my composition notebook from my backpack.
“How are you today?” Gerard asked.
I gave him a thumbs up and he grinned. “That’s good.”
I looked away from him and smiled to myself. Always so kind, always asking how I was; I couldn’t help but have an involuntarily smile every time he asked. Ms. Ross started our lesson on the effect of nouns in writing. I could feel eyes on me, and when I turned to my right I caught Gerard’s eye as he quickly turned back to the front. His eyes fell into his eyes, and I looked back at my notebook. All the while, I’d steal glances at him, and once did we both catch each other’s gaze. Gerard looked back down, a hint of a smile tugging at his lips, and I couldn’t help but do the same.
What on earth was I doing? Why…why do I keep looking at him? I kicked myself mentally.
Normal behavior, Willow, I thought to myself, Normal behavior!
The bell rang at the end of class and I got up and slung my backpack over my shoulder. I walked out and Gerard was behind me.
“So where are you goin’ next?” He asked.
I wrote quickly on the notebook I was carrying, Study Hall.
“Oh, my brother and friend have that class,” He said, and I remembered that Ray had said something about that. “I’ll walk with you. My Geography class is a few doors down; I can pick you up for lunch.” He flashed me a smile and I smiled back and nodded.
Gerard walked me down the hall, a little close so that his arm would brush against mine. In the pit of my stomach, I got that strange feeling again, the very same from yesterday. Odd; I couldn’t tell what it was, but it always showed up, especially when Gerard was there.
I stopped by the door of my class, silence hanging in the air between the two of us.
“So, I guess I’ll see you at lunch then?” He said, and I nodded. He grinned. “Cool, I’ll see you later!”
He inched towards me, and I stiffened. His arms were a little outstretched, and I didn’t know what he was going to do. I guessed that he might try and hug me, and his arms were hanging there awkwardly. He dropped them and patted my shoulder instead, giving me one last smile and walking down the hall to his class.
I walked inside where some students were walking on their homework, and others were reading or just talking to each other. Mrs. Regis, an ancient woman who was stick thin, sat at her desk reading a knitting magazine, not even attempting to bring any order to the class room. I sat in my usual seat in the back of the class room, and pulled out my sketchbook and started drawing to pass the time since all my work was completed.
“Dammit, Mikey!” I heard someone whisper harshly, and a pencil hit the ground with much force. "You always cheat on tic-tac-toe!"
“Well, I won, okay?” The other person said, and I heard the crunching of paper. “Frank…what’re you doing with that?”
Out of nowhere, a crumpled paper ball hit me in the side of the head, and I flinched. I picked it up and looked over from where it came from to see two boys, one with a fohawk and one with glasses, gaping.
“Sorry!” The boy with glasses apologized, and slapped the other boy on the side of his head.
“Ow! Why do you guys always gotta hit me, man?!” He groaned, and rubbed the back of his head. He looked at me and suddenly started grinning. “Hey, aren’t you Willow?”
I shot him a strange look, and nodded slowly. The boy with the glasses smiled and said, “Oh, yeah! Gerard talks about you all the time!”
I blushed slightly. Gerard talks about me? I hoped that it wasn’t anything bad. The two got up from where they were sitting and went to the two desks beside me. The boy with the glasses sat on my right while the other one sat in front of me, sitting on it so that his front faced me and leaned against the back-rest.
“I’m Frank,” He said, flashing me a grin, and pointing a finger at the boy with glasses. “And this here’s Mikey, also known as unicorn boy.”
Mikey glared at him, and threw his pencil at him. He turned to me and said, “I’m already guessing you met Gerard; I’m his brother.”
So this is Gerard’s brother, I thought to myself.
On my sketchbook I wrote, Nice to meet you :3
“Does your throat hurt or something?” Frank asked.
I gave him a confused look and wrote, What?
“You’re not talking so…”
I don’t exactly talk…
“So, like, is this a vow of silence or what?” Frank said.
“Frank!” Mikey hissed, glaring at him.
“What?” He shrugged.
I smiled, and wrote, No, it’s fine. I just don’t like talking any more.
Mikey gave me a small smile while Frank gave the same smirk that was planted on his face.
“So…I heard Gerard went to your house,” Frank said abruptly.
I blushed and wrote, Yeah?
“Ah, so it is true,” He chuckled. “What’d you guys do?”
Uh, yeah, I guess.
“That’s lame,” He sighed.
Mikey rolled his eyes and flicked him on the forehead, then turned to me and said, “Sorry about him; he has the world’s shortest attention span and not the brightest of minds.”
“Hurtful…” Frank mumbled under is breath.
I giggled lightly at the two of them. For the rest of class they were bickering at each other and talking. I listened intently, laughing quietly every now and then or writing something down to share with them. I liked these two boys; they certainly were something. Again like yesterday when I had my first conversation with Bob, I felt pride. It made me feel somewhat accomplished to actually be able to talk to someone without panicking inside. It was almost like… the old me. Except now I was talking to people.
Class ended, and Frank and Mikey led me outside. Gerard was waiting by the door, a small grin planted on his face.
“Hey,” He said, and I greeted him with a smile. “So I see you met the Mikester and Captain Dumbass?”
I laughed softly and nodded while Frank scowled. “I never agreed to that name!”
“So, you gonna come with us for lunch?” Mikey asked, and I nodded shyly. “Awesome!”
I smiled to myself as I followed Gerard, Mikey, and Frank. We passed through the cafeteria, and for some reason I could feel eyes on me. I looked up and saw Brandon and his group all staring me down with glares. The blondes and brunettes looked at me and giggled evilly at each other and whispered. I tensed up and felt a little sick, and looked down at my shoes as I walked. Gerard looked back at me, noticing my slowing pace, and stopped walking.
“EMO FREAKS!” Brandon shouted, and his table started howling with laughter.
I tensed up at the words, the venom of them starting to reach me. Mikey and Frank rolled their eyes and kept walking. But me? I froze there, my eyes burning a little. Gerard came up to me, and I felt him slip his hand in mine, and my heart skipped a beat from it.
“It’s okay, let’s go,” He said softly, and led me out of the cafeteria with me trudging along sluggishly.
We went outside to the courtyard, and a light misty breeze greeted us. Frank and Mikey ran ahead where I spotted Ray and Bob under a dead tree. Frank tackled Ray to the ground, while he groaned and pushed him off.
I stopped abruptly, as did Gerard who looked back at me with concern.
Do you really want to do this? A part of me asked myself.
I don’t know, I answered back.
They could be just like Brandon and his group, it said.
The minute my conscious said that, I panicked inside. Maybe I shouldn’t go through with this. I was always too shy for my own good, and just blended in with the walls like an unwanted ghost. Gerard came closer to me.
“Are you okay?” He asked quietly, and I shrugged. He paused for a minute, his brow furrowed as he looked at me, and then his eyes softened and he murmured, “You… you never actually ate with other people… have you?”
I sighed, feeling embarrassment and a blush rising in my cheeks. I nodded slowly and looked away from him and sniffed pitifully.
“Hey, it’s okay,” He said, bringing me up to look at him, and squeezed my hand gently. “I’ll be with you the whole step of the way, okay?”
I bit my lip and nodded. He gave me another smile, and led me by the hand over to his friends. My heart thumped quickly with his hand fitting perfectly in mine; it comforted me despite my anxiety. His friends looked up at me with big smiles. It was easy talking to them individually, but with them as a big group, I didn’t know if I could handle. Gerard gave my hand a squeeze as if he could feel my emotions.
“Hey, Willow,” Bob chirped, pulling me down to sit by him while Gerard say beside me.
I waved shyly, while they all said hello to me. Ray offered me some chips to which I declined; he shrugged while the others mooched off his food and they did the same.
“You not gonna eat?” Frank said with a mouthful of M&Ms. I shook my head and instead got a water bottle from my backpack and took a sip.
“So, how you like it at Belleville High?” Mikey asked.
I sighed and shrugged. Ray and Bob gave me sad, sympathetic looks, and I returned their looks with a small smile. Frank noticed and furrowed his eyebrows.
“Why you guys lookin’ at her like that?” He asked.
“Um, well, Brandon was being this big dick to her,” Ray said, and I cast my gaze down. “Saying shit and took her notebook.”
They were all quiet and I felt a sickening feeling at the pit of my stomach as I remembered.
“Well, if you stick with us,” Frank said, breaking the silence, “Then we’ll make sure that Brandon, his Kens, and Barbies won’t fuck with you.”
The guys nodded in agreement, and I felt my lips pull into a smile. I mouthed a, “Thank you” to them. They continued to steal each other’s food and talking while I sat there listening quietly, and smiling every time they said something funny. Only after a while did I realize that Gerard never let go of my hand. I looked down at our hands, and smiled softly, liking the feeling of my hand in his.
I actually seemed to like this, being with Gerard and his friends. The bell rang again, and the guys stood up and brushed the dead wet leaves and dirt from the pants and I did the same.
“Hey, Willow, wanna walk with me to Trig?” Mikey asked.
I nodded and flashed him a smile, and went up to him, only to be pulled back. I looked up to meet Gerard’s face, his usual smile replaced with a grim line and serious expression.
“I really do think you should hang out with us,” He whispered in my ear. “If Brandon hurts you or anything, I wanna know, okay? He’s not safe, and when he wants something, he gets it.”
I bit my lip with hesitation, and nodded. He smiled again, and pulled me into a hug. My breathing stopped all together as I was met with the warmth of his body and smell of cologne. I didn’t know what to do, and so I raised my arms to put them around him.
He pulled away, and said, “Good. Tell any one of us, okay? We’re your friends now, and we need to look out for each other. I’ll see you in Art, later.”
I blushed lightly, and nodded. He waved goodbye and walked off. I sighed, and walked with Mikey who was patiently waiting while Gerard talked to me. He had a smile on his face, and I gave him a questioning look. He only shook his head and we continued down the hall to Trig, and Mikey let me sit beside him.
All throughout class, I kept thinking about what Gerard told me about Brandon. It scared me a little, knowing that our incident earlier in the week may mean nothing as of what he could do next. It scared me knowing that’d he could hurt me. But after my time with the boys today, I finally felt something that I hadn’t felt in such a long time. I felt safe. I felt safe with Bob and Ray knowing that they’d pummel anyone, I felt safe with Mikey and Frank as they made me smile and life, and most of all, I felt safe with Gerard. He made me feel like he’d protect me from anything, that he’d appear when I need him.
As he had me in his arms, I never felt so safe. I felt happy, another thing I hadn’t felt in a long time. He was my friend now, just like he said, and he proved it. All of them, Bob, Ray, Mikey, Frank… they were all my friends now, the first group of friends I’ve ever had, something I thought was fiction and in stories. But they were real.
We’re your friends now…
They’re my friends, and they were going to look out for me. I never felt so safe.