"I've discovered that guardians never appear when you need them most" Story of falling in love only to have it shattered with a newfound realization that changed her life all over again.
-- Hey, how are you? You haven't replied to my last message in a while now. Are things okay? I got the new job I wanted on campus the other day and I'm really excited about it. Did Matt tell you about it? Anyway, I really miss you. Please call me when you have the chance because I love you and I want to talk to you.
"I'll probably be staying with my mom for the summer this year. But just give me a call and we'll hang out. I've been dying to swim in your pool again. That was so much fun!" A perky short blonde stood facing me with a wide grin on her face. That day was the last day of my freshmen year at Lakeville High School. I was busy saying my goodbyes to my friends before scurrying off to the bus and heading home to begin a fun-filled relaxing summer break poolside - like always. The girly blonde embraced me in a hug. Her name is Molly and she was my best friend all through freshmen year.
Did you ever have that one good short-term friend that you now look back at and wonder 'Why in the world did I put up with that?'. Molly was my short-term friend of freshman year. Underneath that fuzzy exterior lies a bloodthirsty boyfriend stealer that constantly craves the spotlight. She made my freshmen and sophomore year a living hell.
Pulling back from her, I smiled and told her that she was welcome to swim at my house anytime. Beside her stood rather nerdy looking boy with bowl-cut bleach blonde hair and glasses. He stared at Molly with such awe and pride you could actually believe that they were dating. But, of course, he knew he was definitely out of his league.
Most people knew of his crush on Molly. It wasn't too hard to notice. But it seemed like everyone kept forgetting to tell him that she would never respond to his kind gestures. He walked her to classes, helped her with homework, carried her books and walked her to the bus when class was done.
"And you too, Derek. Have a great summer" I told him and leaned forward to give him a friendly, pity hug. He simply nodded and wrapped his arms timidly and around me. He said nothing more. He was often quiet in this way. Our class came to accept him as such.
How could I have known then? Why didn't God give me any sign of my future at that exact moment? That simple gesture, that simple statement probably meant nothing to either of us then. But it started a long spiral downwards that would affect me for years to come.
I just wasn't able to see it.
My summer went off without a hitch. Molly and me spent days upon days at the pool or watching movies. She would insist on telling me about her new millionaire boyfriend that lived in Alaska and was only able to see her a few times a year. Over the years, I believed, Molly had thread her entire life into a lie. The things she had come to say were so farfetched that no one bothered to hear her anymore. Just last summer, she worked everyone into a frenzy by telling our class that she had been raped in Paris. Only later, we discovered, that she was lying yet again. The only harm that Paris had brought upon poor Molly was a small bruise she had received from running into the same door three times.
I've decided that the best thing for me to do is simply float around in my inner tube, pretending to listen to the oh-so-important details. But why did I put up with her you ask? I have had a tendency to always be the 'sidekick' best friend. Ever since kindergarten, I have learned to be the silent listener. I don't voice my opinion until after they have left. I usually always complain to my mother about Molly and we chat about all of the stupid things she had said today. It might sound a little cruel to some. But it's the one time of the day that my voice escapes and usually, then, I have tons to say.
My mother is such a great listener and she's really bright too. She comes to conclusions that I would have never thought of. My father, whom I probably won't speak too terribly much about, works a lot and travels even more. When he is home, I'm the happiest I've ever been. He's such a great problem solver that I never have a reason to worry about issues at school. Finally, I have my younger sister, Mel. She has always believed that she is the smartest, most mature person in our family. But, we know that this is far from the truth. She is stubborn and spoiled and takes many days off from school to sleep.
"Why do I even go to school anymore? I'm never going to use it." My sister insists on quitting high school to pursue her career in freelance drawing and photography. My parents are forced to support her. But I think otherwise. With her lack of determination and goal-setting, she has a very small chance of success. But maybe I'm just jealous. She obviously has a talent that I've only dreamed of. Her pictures and paintings are flawless. I only wish I could do things like that.
Like any set of sisters, we crave each other's approval. But, since we are such opposites, this can become quite difficult. She only approves of things artsy and originally odd. While I prefer mainstream mini-skirts and the hottest new accessories in the magazines. Maybe it's just because I want to be noticed. Maybe it's just because this is all I'm ever known. Maybe this is all because of Molly's dastardly influence of lies and fakest of fake personality.
I guess it doesn't much anymore know. Things have changed a lot since then. When sophomore year started, so did the most devastating crush I had ever had.
-- Do you know why we're best friends? Because we love and support each other, that's why. Wow that sounded kinda corny, right? Work is great today even though it's a little boring. How's your day?
Summer came and went pretty quickly, like always. But the school year began on a high note. I had met a transfer student who had just moved here from Colorado. His locker was beside mine so we saw each other a lot during the day. We met the first day back and he told me his name was Lathan. I felt my mouth freeze mid-sentence and forgot how I would respond. 'How do you respond to that?', I thought, 'a hello? A smile maybe?'. My breath caught in my throat and I had no idea what to do or say, to act or feel. How juvenile and pathetic I must have looked to him that day.
Things, however, definitely got better from that day on. Day in and day out, we would walk each other to class and talk about meaningless topics like the weather or some terrible assignment he had the last night. It didn't seem to matter because both of us would laugh through it anyway. Before this, I had never had anything close to a boyfriend. The time spent with Lathan made me smile all day and I could never stop thinking about him.
Likewise, Molly made friends with Lathan's friend, Cameron. All four of us would hang out at different football games and spent time at the local Dairy Queen. Girls in our class swore they thought we were dating. Even I was convinced that it was a possibility. Lathan was so incredibly gorgeous. His face and his smile were simply contagious that I was surprised that Molly wasn't butting me out of the limelight to take him as a boyfriend instead. Being an adamant hockey player, he was definitely fit. Not too muscular, but just the right amount to make you stare that extra couple seconds. His hair was light brown and a bit long. Bangs cascaded past his bright brown eyes. His smile was wide and his teeth were surprisingly perfectly aligned despite his long time hockey record.
I remember one night at a football game very vividly. It happened during halftime when we were heading to the parking lot. When we made it to the car, we both took a seat on top of the trunk. Once again, we talked about meaningless topics. Conversation wasn't a problem with us (even if he did most of it). But, a silence broke between us and it lasted for a few minutes. How odd. I don't remember ever having a pause that was actually this awkward.
A minute later, he spoke up. "You're pretty tonight, you know. And I don't mean just the average pretty. I mean, you know, the nice pretty." I turned to him and noticed then, that he had been staring at me throughout this awkward stint. I couldn't believe that he had something like that. Not necessarily the compliment part of it, but the awkward repeat of the compliment. I had to smile and breathe a laugh. He then smiled as well.
Looking back at that, I realize what an optimal time it would have been to kiss him. I would have been that one lucky girl that got to the adorable transfer student first. But I didn't. I turned my face the other way, thereby losing the one chance I had. I said nothing to his compliment and simply laughed it off. We returned to the game and the night ended normally.
That was it. That was all. Before I knew it, it was the end of fall. We were friends but nothing more. No questions were asked, no more deep conversations. We still talked and walked every day. With each passing conversation, we seemed to be getting more and more close with one another - slowly but surely. After fall, it became winter, of course. Leaves fell as did I fall more and more in love with this young boy from Colorado.
Hockey season started, however, and Lathan had to spend more and more days after school. I was fine with it, even if I had to walk to the bus by myself most days. I still saw him in the mornings and between classes. Soon, however, the number of mornings spent with him began to lessen as well. I began heading to classes by myself because he never showed to walk with me. I know I shouldn't have worried so much. But I was swept with an uncontrollable feeling that something bad had happened; that I was about lose something that I would miss. My swollen heart began to ache when I saw him only briefly in the hallway and we barely made conversation.
One morning, his friend, Cameron, came up to me and asked why I was looking sad today. Of course, I was reluctant to tell him about Lathan. So I don't know how he could read me so well. But, he seemed to already have known what the problem was.
"You should talk to him. He'll listen if you just tell him" Tell him what? What did he mean? Tell him how much I cared for him? Tell him how much I miss seeing him or how much I want to be with him? I was confused but I nodded anyway to get the topic out of my face.
Just talk to him, I repeated in my mind, he'll listen to you. So, that's what I did. One day after the last class finished, I waited at our lockers. He appeared around the corner at the same time as usual. He smiled simply and politely greeted me before reaching for his locker. Something was weird, however, he was the same as he'd always been. He began to strike up conversation just like usual. I can't remember what he was talking about exactly. But I froze with such excitement to hear his voice that I forgot what I was going to talk to him about and simply turned away from him to my locker.
He's talking to me. Everythings fine. Why was I worried? I smiled on the inside a bit thinking about how stupid I must have seemed to doubt his care for me. That afternoon he walked me to the bus like usual with a smile on his face. I got to my seat and turned in my chair to look out the back corner of the empty bus to see him already walking away down the sidewalk back to school for hockey practice.
-- I caught my mom crying today. She's still in love with my dad. I guess she just found out he has a new girlfriend
The next day was January 23, 2004. This day is one of those days that you never forget for the rest of your life. It's the moment in time that always returns fresh in your memory when you least expect and when you least want to think about it.
"Good morning, Cameron" I waved to Cameron one morning who passed me with a smile, a wave, and a cordial reply. I was feeling happy and content today and nothing was going to break my spirits. Nothing at all. I get my books from my locker and turn sharply to see Lathan reaching for his locker beside me. I smile.
"Morning, Lathan" I greeted cheerily and continued on my way. I saw him simply nod and nothing more. I thought nothing of it and continued to my class. That day proceeded on normally. At the end of my English class everyone floods out of the room and takes a right down the hallway. I take a left like usual. I take the lower hallway to my locker because I knew I would pass Lathan along the way. Halfway to my locker, I see him and look up to greet him. I smile and say hello.
But something different happened. He didn't look at me, he didn't turn to meet me, he didn't mutter a word. He just continued on. Did he not see me? He must have not seen me? I didn't let it bother me. It was time for the next class. I finished and proceeded down towards my locker. Yet again, I meet Lathan going in the opposite direction. I smile and greet him again. This time, he makes eye contact with me for a split second. I freeze in happiness knowing that I finally caught his gaze. I expect him to stop. I expect him to speak. He does neither and continues on with the blank expression as if I were merely a stranger. I feel my breath catch in my throat for a moment.
I saw him. He saw me. He should have said something. Anything. Why? Did he not notice me? He must have noticed. I caught his gaze for merely a moment. That day ended and went. I spoke nothing to him and him to me. We walked outside alone and separate with not so much as a glance at each other. I couldn't bare having him look away like that again. I wouldn't let him brush me off as if I were no one.
I made it to the bus and held everything in until it felt as if my eyes were going to explode from the heat inside them.
The many days after this one were horrid. My life seemed to become the newest gossip and also the prime teasing object as well. Girls from my class began to pester me with questions.
"Did you break up with Lathan? What happened? Did he do something to you?" Molly was especially interested, but I couldn't even begin to tell my best friend the humiliation that he had put me through.
"Please tell me. You know you can tell me, right?" There is no way I would tell Molly anything like this. Knowing her, she would gossip to the whole school about this one. Even better, she would probably add a couple of her extra features in to her story as well. My life was spinning slowly into a dead drop. I felt depressed and afraid of everything and everyone. I barely went to my locker at all in hopes I would never have to look at him. When I passed him in the hall now, we both looked the other direction so that we would never have to speak.
Why did he do this? Wasn't he happy with me? I hit an all time low when his friends began to pester and tease me. Rob, a big hockey goalie found it especially pleasing to lie to me about Lathan's true feelings. Rob sat behind me during religion class and would constantly whisper to me about Lathan.
"Hey. Hey. Lathan likes you, you know" He would laugh along with his other friends nearby. "I mean, he really likes you. He tells me every day about how much he wants to be with you." Rob and his friends would also pass me annoying notes that only added to the persistent teasing. I never spoke to them and never told a soul about the teasing.
They even went so far as to push me into Lathan during passing time just to see him squirm and look away as if nothing had even happened. Such actions tormented me and made my aching heart throb in pain knowing that I would never get a second chance. I would never get a chance to turn into him instead of away from him when he tells me how pretty I look.
The realization destroyed me for the rest of the trimester. I finally got a break when third semester rolled around and I had no classes with anyone from the hockey team, including Lathan. I was finally able to rest from worry. I was finally given freedom from depression, even if it would only be for a short while.
First day of the new trimester rolled around and I loved my new classes. My math class was pretty intense, but I enjoyed the busy workload. There were even people in my Spanish class that made me laugh sometimes, often daily. Not to mention, my English class came with a warm surprise. First day in class, I find a semi-familiar face. His hair was buzz cut short and his blue eyes were barren without glasses blocking the view. I remember he wore a simple white shirt and a pair of baggy pants with big brown sandals that I will never forget even after all these years.
He came into class and saw me. Smiling politely, he took a seat beside me and greeted me with a simple hello.
"Hey," I started, excited to see a familiar friendly face, "Derek, I haven't seen you in almost a year now. You cut your hair? It looks great". A friend. He was a true friend that I was thirsting for all the while. None of this fake attitude that I was being forced to befriend.
He sat beside me every day in English. Also, he was transferred into my Raquet Sports class. I saw him even more than I saw Molly, which surprised me. He made me laugh every day and I never once had a dull moment with him. But I never saw him as anything more than a friend. He was so fun to hang out with and that was all. We were able to talk about a lot but I never brought up anything concerning Lathan. I didn't want to bring on any kind of questions from him too.
We began to hang out after school and we would drive in his uncomfortably small red pick up truck. It was so incredibly ugly. But it also had a bit of innocent charm as well. That's what made me love it so much. It felt as though he trusted me right away because we didn't bother much with useless conversations. I guess I can never really know now, but I wonder if he just wanted someone to talk to too. We would talk about everything, even deep uncomfortable topics. But nothing seemed forced or awkward. Our conversation flowed so smoothly that it felt as though he was my family instead of just my friend.
During the school year, he would drive with me to pick up my sister from her school across town. I thanked him profusely but he said it was never a problem. He said that he enjoyed doing it. It might have been because he loved driving.
I remember once he had said that all he ever really wanted to do was drive. He loved the feeling he got by pressing down the gas with the grip of the driving wheel beneath his fingers.
"I feel so comfortable out on the road. Sometimes I don't even want to make it to where I'm going. So, instead, I drive around the block a couple extra times" I didn't think much of it now. It was still only conversation. But now I look back and realize how much drive and determination he had. I realize he could have done anything with his life - anything he ever wanted.
My family, at first, was conspicuous about having me be so close with a boy but not having him be my boyfriend. My sister flat out said that she didn't like him. My mom said that she didn't trust him. My dad hadn't met him yet and wouldn't meet him for a while longer.
Our many hang out sessions culminated into a trip to a carnival with a group of people we vaguely hung out with. It was a big deal because we were finally done with class and our sophomore year. Everyone was excited for the summer as was I. I hadn't seen Molly for a couple weeks and it actually made me feel better.
The day began when Derek came to pick me up in his tiny red truck. My reluctant mother waited with him at the door as I searched for my wallet. From the kitchen, I faintly heard the sounds of a conversation and smiled inside wondering how awkward it must have been for both of them. Finally, in the truck we began the trek to the carnival. Midway, we heard a song on the radio that we both recognized.
"Oh, I love this song. Don't you?" Derek said eagerly, turning the knob on the radio. I instantly recognized it and agreed. I still remember it to this day, "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" by Jet. It must have been the most random song that we found, but it stuck. As we shouted the lyrics at the top of our lungs, he decided, "This is it! This is going to be our song."
Ever since then, my face reddens every time I hear thinking about how childish we were back then. How something simple like that would be something I can never forget.
When we arrived at the carnival parking grounds, we instantly spotted our friend McKenzie. McKenzie is one of those girls that obviously 'developed' young. With her long brown hair and bangs and her milky white complexion, she easily could have done some modeling in her day.
"Hey guys! I just got here too," she yelled on her way towards us, "Daisy just called, looks like they're already inside"
Derek parked the car and we both got out. The lot was packed with children and parents, young couples and elderly couples. Everyone was here for this event. It was always incredibly popular. Derek turned to me as I got out of the car and shut the door.
"You sure you got everything? Wallet, Purse, Jacket?" I returned his question with a furrowed brow and pursed lips.
"You're acting like my mother on purpose, aren't you?" I sigh, changing to an over-exaggerated frown. "And yes, I have everything"
He smirked with a raised brow and locked the door behind me. "I'm not acting like your mom. I just don't want to be running back here when you get cold"
When we finally entered the carnival gates, we came across the impossible task of finding Daisy and the rest of the group. It was a sea of moving faces. Instinctively, I felt for something to cling onto and mid grab, I found a hand looking for mine. Derek interlaced his fingers with mine and began to pull me along through the crowd. It felt like everyone was going in the opposite direction except for us. But Derek stayed ahead of me, dividing a path for us.
I think it was then that it happened. It wasn't anything big or noticeable, but something did snap. I felt a tinge of protection being behind him as he trudged through. Honestly, he was just a friend, At school, he was just like McKenzie or Daisy. But right then, at that moment, I saw him as something more. He reminded me of a guardian or a protector of some kind. My heart began to warm and it spread up by neck, barely leaking across my face. The way he held my hand reassured me that he wasn't going to drop it and finally when the crowd cleared, his hand didn't falter from mine. He turned to me over his shoulder and said.
"Wow," he smirked, "What a crowd", and for the first time in our friendship, my breath caught in my throat and I was silent.
And that's Chapter 1 :) I'll have the second chapter up in a few days. Any comments or ratings would be greatly appreciated!