October 11, 2008
“Brandon!” I yelled, still laughing. “Get off!”

He had his hands on my left leg, tickling and squeezing it until its muscles started to spasm. I was flat against the wall of the bowling alley, trying to balance my bowling ball in one hand and ward off my “attacker” with the other. So far, it wasn’t working, because Brandon’s hands kept squeezing me.

A cough sounded from a few feet away. “Um, do you guys maybe want to stop flirting and start bowling?” It was Scylla, Brandon’s girlfriend. She looked pretty angry. Then again, she always looked angry whenever Brandon and I were together. When we ignored her, she zippered her white-and-maroon cheerleading jacket shut and huffed over to the bowling lane, offended.

Brandon snickered, trying not to laugh while Scylla could still see him. She was jealous, and trying to flirt with Harvey, my meathead boyfriend, who was clueless to everything. He was happy simply by throwing the bowling ball down the lane with a heavy thud. I almost expected him to start clapping his hands proudly every time the ball reached the bowling pins.

“We better get back to them…” I muttered, shrugging myself away from the wall. “Scylla will be pissed if you don’t help her win.”

He furrowed his brow, and then grinned. “Yeah, I guess.”

We walked over to the other two, who were engaged in an argument about whose car was nicer. Harvey’s Audi was nice, but Scylla had a brand-new silver Mercedes, a gift from her mother and aunt for her sixteenth birthday. The argument concluded with a snobby hair flip on Scylla’s part, signaling the outcome. She had won. Again.

Harvey approached me, taking his time. He put his muscular arm around me, as if I was his property. I was most certainly not his property, but it wasn’t like he’d ever get the hint. I tried to shrug out of his grasp, but he held me tight, and glared at me when I tried to get away. Meanwhile, Scylla was clinging to Brandon like plastic wrap, digging her long, pink nails into his shirt, silently threatening to pierce through it if he tried to escape. We were both trapped by those we did not love, and we both knew.

High school was like this for everyone. The shallow cliques, the relationships devoid of love, present only for satisfaction, couples hanging onto each other to try and salvage the feelings that they had during courtship, before things got serious and people’s real character emerged.

Later that night, I laid in bed, on the phone with Brandon – our late-night tradition that had started in middle school and extended all the way to present-day, eleventh grade. His voice was the only thing that helped me sleep, the only thing I looked forward to through the timeline of early wakeups, dreary classes, and tedious hours of homework. Although his voice had changed over the years – matured, gotten deeper – it still retained its soft, pleading value, the voice that had often pleaded with me not to get off the phone. It would never lose that edge.

“Do you think you’re gonna marry Scylla?” I asked, using my own pleading tone to try and persuade him to leave her, without actually saying the words.

He laughed. “Are you serious?”

I nodded, but he couldn’t see, so when I noticed, I mumbled, “Mhm.”

I heard him settle on his bed, the familiar squeak of his mattress could be heard even through the phone lines. I pictured his blue bed sheets, soft pillow, and dim night light. He still couldn’t sleep in the pitch dark.

He cleared his throat softly. “There is no way that I am ever going to marry Scylla. If you think I could deal with her everyday for the rest of my life, you’re sadly mistaken.”

I laughed. “But what about you and Harvey?” he asked abruptly.

“If you think I can deal with Harvey everyday for the rest of this school year, you’re very sadly mistaken.”

We shared a laugh over that, in agreement. Our significant others were anything but significant.

I heard my mom coming up the stairs. “I gotta go,” I whispered. “See you tomorrow.”

“Love you.”

“Love you too, Brandon. Bye.”

School the next day was just like any other day. I woke up at 6, got ready, and then Harvey picked me up in the white Audi, with Brandon and Scylla in the backseat. Scylla never wanted to drive us in her Mercedes; she claimed it was a waste of gas. My first few classes were torture, as usual, and then came fourth period, which always gave me a glimmer of hope for the rest of the day. That was when I passed Brandon in the hallway between periods, and we always stopped to talk for a few minutes.

“Hey,” he said, approaching me by a cluster of freshman lockers. “How’s the day been so far?” He always asked me that, because he really did care. It was cute.

“Same as it is everyday. How’s yours?”


We stood around smiling, basking in the silence. We were both so used to our boyfriend and girlfriend jabbering in our ears that the quiet was welcome.

The bell rang, signifying the end of our between-periods reprieve. I sighed. Another two periods to go until Lunch. At least me and Brandon were headed in the same direction; our fourth period classrooms were adjacent to each other.

He pointed down the hall, in the direction of our classrooms. “Come on,” he said, and grabbed my hand.

My eyes widened. “Brandon, you can’t just hold my hand…people will gossip, they’ll say we’re cheating on Harvey and Scylla…”

With a smile, he whispered, “So let’s start a rumor.”

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