You and I
Author's note: Dedication J., I see your eyes everywhere I go, a pair of startling stars blinking... Show full author's note »
Friends“Everyone is having fun singing and dancing,” I said to Jamie. The boy glanced at me curiously, and continued to move his body back and forth.
“Why?” he asked, his voice soft and low, but definitely not very deep for someone his age. His eyes focused on the group ahead of us, their bodies moving and swaying like a twisting, twirling breeze.
“It’s fun, you’ll see. Come with me,” I said, my hand outstretched towards him, eager with anticipation.
When he didn’t move, I pulled my hand back uncomfortably. “Please,” I whispered. I don’t know why I cared so much, but I did. No one should ever be alone; trust me, I knew. I wasn’t one to burst into a crowd and make myself at home. I’d much rather blend in with the shadows, but this boy–Jamie–deserved to shine alongside the other students.
Jamie was suddenly on his feet. He was the same height as me with short black hair and a dusting of freckles across his face, like a handful of golden glitter. I watched with a smile as he stepped forward towards the others, until he suddenly turned back and said over his shoulder, “You coming?”
Caught off guard, I didn’t say anything immediately. It was several seconds before I walked up beside him and said, “Yeah, I’m here.”
He stepped up beside Kyle and stood there hitting his left fist into his right one awkwardly.
“Jamie, like this,” I told him as I clapped my hands together in time with the beat. He looked at me from under his long eyelashes and began to copy my movements, nodding his head in time alongside me.
I hadn’t realized that Travis had switched songs several times until he collapsed in his chair with a cry of contentment. “Give a bow, Travis,” Mrs. Graves shouted from among us. Travis bent forward professionally and stood back up straight to give a sheepish grin. The room immediately exploded into a chorus of applause, myself included.
“Songs are over. Over,” Jamie muttered, clearly upset, his arms folded across his narrow chest.
The bell sounded, nearly giving me a heart attack. “Yeah, and I have to go, buddy,” I admitted. I could hear the disappointment ringing in my voice. I could hardly believe the reality of time’s passing.
“I have class.”
“Come back?” he asked.
“Definitely.” I gave him a hopefully reassuring smile, and after saying my good-byes to the other students around me, I was almost out the door when Jasmine came practically hurtling down the hallway to wrap her arms around my waist. I nearly fell over; for such a little thing, she sure was strong!
“No, no!” she exclaimed, pulling me further back inside, her eyes wide with horror.
“Jasmine,” I whispered. “I’ll be back. Tomorrow, okay?” She shook her head frantically and buried her face against my skinny jeans. “Promise,” I added apologetically.
The girl looked up into my eyes, and nodding, stepped back to wave as I hurried out the door to make it to second period.
Next period happened to be English, which was okay with me, considering how much I enjoyed studying literature, but even so, I couldn’t help but find my mind wandering back to my first class of the day. Unfortunately, I didn’t know anyone really well in the English class, so there was no one to distract me from my thoughts. Mostly, I kept seeing Jamie’s face. I didn’t even know why. Was it because of the way he looked at me, or was I simply drawn to his pleasant and innocent manner? I knew one thing for sure: I was looking forward to seeing everyone again tomorrow.
At lunch, I met up with a few of my friends at the cafeteria. I caught sight of Cecilia right away, her bright red hair a flaming torch. Next to her was Mary, a short girl with straight white-blond hair.
“Hey, guys!” I exclaimed.
“Like my shades?” Cecilia beamed, looking up at me from under big, black sunglasses.
“Cool,” I responded, and before I could say more, Mary took them from Cecilia and slipped them up the bridge of her nose, striking a ridiculous pose.
“Yeah, baby!” Mary shouted. “I’m starving! Let’s go get some fries, girlies!” I trailed behind them as Cecilia and Mary fought for the spotlight, each talking over the other as I faded into the comfortable background. With those two, I was the third wheel, but hey, that was totally all right with me.
Once we all had our fries, I decided to mention my experiences from that morning. “So, guys, about the CLP class I took, it’s a real eye opener, you know?” I said between mouthfuls of fries.
“Aren’t they like retarded or something?” Mary whispered anxiously. I nearly choked on my fries, taken aback by her response.
“No, well, I mean technically some are called that, but they’re like us,” I concluded thoughtfully. “I hate labels,” I added, chewing my food loudly in irritation.
“Same diff,” Cecilia said dismissively, playing with her poutine. Mentally, I rolled my eyes at them both.
“They’re a lot smarter, I think, than people give them credit for. The one kid plays the piano like Beethoven.” I smiled at the memory. Yeah, I guess I could see where my friends were coming from– I might have thought the same if I hadn’t had the experience I’d had that morning; though, I did like to think I was better than that.
“Well, I bet that he can’t sing like me!” Mary said, suddenly breaking out into a country song. I felt like folding in on myself and crawling into a corner with embarrassment. Hell, she was good, but the world didn’t need to hear her in the middle of the cafeteria!
“Mary!” I whispered loudly.
“Seriously, take a chill pill, Casey!” she said, continuing her song in high soprano. She didn’t stop until she sang through the entire song. People were watching! To make matters worse, halfway through, Cecilia joined in with a harmony. I wanted to make a run for it, but yeah, I figured that might offend them. There went my chance of being popular junior year. It’s not like status really mattered to me, but everyone wants to fit in at one point, right?
I desperately wished that I was a turtle so I could crawl up inside my shell and not come back out until the spectacle was over. The bell for third period was a lifesaver. I nearly fell out of my chair with relief, muttering an apology as I sped down the halls to my locker as fast as my legs could carry me. I knew the girls would understand my hurried departure. According to them both, I was always- and-forever nerd. At least it worked as a cover pretty well. Whenever they wanted to hang out and I didn’t: “Studying, sorry!” No one questioned the response. I couldn’t argue any other reasons half as well. I didn’t even have a reason; well, not really–at least not an explanation that they could understand. Like, how I’d rather drone out their voices with a peaceful, lulling silence, and how I literally had to think up things to discuss before we all got together. These true reasons were simply too embarrassing.
It was different with Jess and Kylie, my childhood best friends. Our silences weren’t awkward, and I could just let all my feelings go rampant. Sometimes, I felt like the first bonds I made in life were the strongest ones. As someone once said, “If you have one true best friend, you can count yourself lucky.” I couldn’t disagree.