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Story of a Lonely Guy
She got on the bus, her face passive. I watched her as she came down the aisle. She pointedly ignored me, as if I wasn’t there. Right before she sat down, she turned her eyes to glare at me. Then she sat, put in her ear buds, and turned to stare out the window, the music loud enough for me to hear. She sat one seat behind me on the opposite side of the bus.
Damn. She was still pissed off. It wasn’t like it was my fault people had overheard our conversation. She’d just been screaming at me at the top of her lungs in the middle of the hallway at school! (Lots of “at”s.) And the reason that whole argument had been started was because I was in ISS because I’d been caught cheating on a test. Semester exam. Same difference. Except more important and more punishment.
I’ll admit that was my fault. I had an excuse, but it was still mu fault. (I’d stayed up the night before playing Call of Duty with my friend, instead of studying.) But what other choice did I have? It wasn’t like I could just wing it and hope I made a passing grade. Whether I passed the semester was riding on this. True, I’d kinda ruined my chances by failing the test, but I managed to squeeze in enough last-minute extra-credit to pass with a 60%. Go me.
But back to now. I stared at her, psychically willing her to look my way. But instead she pulled her hair out of her ponytail and let it fall across her face (lots of “her”s) so that I couldn’t see her expression. “Damn,” I muttered.
“Wh-what is it?” The idiot, smelly nerd on the bus, Billy, popped his head up over the seat. He was in front of me, his stinky a** polluting my breathing air. “You said a bad–a bad word, so there must be so-something wr-wrong.”
“Not now, Billy. I’m thinking, and your annoying stuttering is corrupting my brainwaves.”
“I thought—I thought—I thought I smelled something burning,” was his lame comeback.
“Please, Billy. Just please. I have much more important things to do than argue pointlessly with you. My life is on the line here. Well, my love life is. Whatever. But it is much, much more important to me personally to concentrate on this and totally ignore you.” I turned my back to him and bore down on Savannah. She glanced at me, then quickly turned her gaze back to the window, her eyes wide and cheeks flushed.
“See? I totally know what I’m doing,” I said mostly to myself as I settled back into my seat.
“Um, she looks a bit–a bit more freaked out by your weirdness than im-impressed by i-it.”
“As if you’d know. you’ve never even had a girl talk to you willingly. How would you know?”
I stilled stared at Savannah. She glanced at me again, and this time she gave me her trademark “weirdo” look. It’s kind of a cross between looking at a homeless dog and a pile of its poo.
My jaw dropped, and the window regained her attention. “T-told you,” Billy said.
“Shut up, Billy,” I muttered. But my thoughts were in a different place. So I’d just freaked her out even more. That couldn’t be good.
“Son of a b****,” I said.
“What about who?” Jimmy asked as he got on the bus.
I groaned. “Savannah’s still pissed at me. And I think I just made it worse.”
“Ooh. Girlfriend troubles. Definitely not about to get pulled into that.” He settled into his seat behind Savvy.
“Come on, man. I need some help.”
“Help with what?” Amanda, the resident w**** and the next person to get on, sat behind me. “Grow a brain?”
She was also known for her never-ending sarcasm.
“I need as much help growing a brain as you need help growing a vagina. Oh wait, you already have one.”
“I wonder why you’re thinking about my vagina. Maybe it’s because she’s not giving you any—” she gestured toward Savannah, just now noticing that she wasn’t sitting with me—“and even more so since she’s apparently pissed at you. Still. Is it still that cheating thing? God, I hate goody two-shoes.”
Not waiting for my answer to her question, she was about to launch into “why I do bad in school” speech.
“I think there’s more to it than that,” I interrupted.
Jimmy and Amanda both had their eyes on me.
“What else could it be?” they asked together. Then they laughed and talked about how they’d spoken together.
Yes, it was totally as lame as it sounds.
“Anyway, what do you think it could be?” she asked.
“I don’t know! PMS?”
We all got a good laugh out of that.
“Why don’t you just ask her?” Amanda suggested casually.
Jimmy and I both stared at her.
We looked at each other, and then said, “You never ask a girl ‘what’s wrong’.”
“It goes against all unwritten law,” said Jimmy.
“What are you talking about? I don’t care when guys ask me if I’m okay.”
“Yeah, cuz none of ’em have to worry about popping something that should still be there. And you’re just pissed most of the time. And you’re hardly a girl. But every guy knows,” I hurried on, not giving Amanda a chance to retaliate, “you never, ever ask your girlfriend what’s wrong. She just expects you to know, if it’s about the two of you, at least.”
“That’s stupid! How is that any way to be in a relationship? That’s pointless!”
“Hey, don’t rant and rave at me. It’s her, not me.” Suddenly the bus got quiet. “So I was standing there, thinking, ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing?’”
Jimmy and Amanda stared at me.
The bus became noisy again. “Okay, sorry ’bout the subject change. Her song changed, and I didn’t want her to hear.”
“How’d you know her song changed?” Jimmy asked idiotically.
“Uh, because it got quiet,” Amanda and I said together. We laughed about that too. It was still lame.
“Duh,” I said.
“Whatever,” Jimmy said, leaning back in his seat. “You just lost your guy help.”
“Whoa!” Amanda said, her sleaziness shining through.
“Not like that, you dumba**!”
“Well, he said it!”
We were yelling now. The bus driver yelled back for us to shut our mouths.
“Why you got a stick up your butt, Jack? We’re just messing around.”
“Maybe I should put a stick up your butt, Justin.”
While very nice and a good bus driver, it was rumored that Jack was gay.
Jimmy and Amanda burst out laughing. I sunk down in my seat. “Oh my God,” I whispered, terrified. “I’m gonna be sodomized.”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s probably something you’ve done millions of times.” I sat up. “Now back to the other issue at hand. What should I do?”
“Ignore her until she talks to you first.” Amanda looked assured with what she was saying. “If she’s gonna give you the cold shoulder, give it right back.”
“Um, for a girl, you’re really bad at giving advice. Seriously. Every guy—every smart guy—knows that you’re supposed to talk to her first. She expects you to, if you really care.” Jimmy looked at me. “You do really care, don’t you?”
I gazed at Savannah. “I don’t know. It’s like she’s super-hot or nice or anything.” Truth was, I was joking. Savannah was really hot. Layered, shoulder-length blond-brown hair and sparkly blue-green eyes. Tan skin. Nice body. Yes, she was hott. And although most guys never got to understand her enough to know it, she had a great personality too. Very nice, helping others always before helping herself. Tree-hugger, as our history teacher calls her, recycling and reducing and reusing and whatever.
“Oh my God, you love her, don’t you?” Amanda cried out.
“No, no, no.” I put my hands out, trying to block her words from my mind. “I like her a lot, but I’m not about to call it ‘love’. No. it’s not love. But she is important.”
I was still staring at Savannah. I think she must’ve felt the “love” vibes coming off me because she turned to look at me again. I freaked out and turned the opposite way.
“That was a good way to make her think you still want her,” Amanda mused.
“Shut up!” I muttered. “Is she still looking at me?”
“No,” Jimmy said.
“Yes,” Amanda said.
I turned around. The outside world was in control of her thoughts again.
“Bwah. What do I do???”
“Obviously you like her a lot, and don’t seem to trust any of my advice, for whatever reason that is. So why doesn’t the girl-expert give you some of his wonderful words.” Amanda rolled her eyes.
“Well…” Jimmy actually looked thoughtful. “You were supposed to give her some space while she wasd pissed. How long has it been? A few days?”
“A week since she stopped talking to me,” I replied miserably.
“Good. Now she’s just waiting for you to talk to her. She was you to put your dignity on the line for her.”
“That’s stupid,” Amanda said. “I—”
“To normal girls, it tells them you care,” Jimmy interrupted. “Duh. Justin, you need to do something nice for her. Buy her candy or jewelry or something. Something that says, ‘I care about you, even if you’re still pied at me.’ She’ll eat it up. Especially if it’s food.”
Stupid joke on his part.
“How are you such an expert on this?” Amanda asked, trying to find a flaw in his theory.
“I have two older twin sisters. Watching them lets you in on a lot of girl secrets.”
“Then why don’t you have a wonderful girlfriend who you cater to all the time?” She stood, pointing her finger at her. She believed she had her edge.
“Cuz I don’t feel like it,” he answered.
“Don’t feel like it? I bet it’s cuz you can’t get a girl. You’re so—”
“Well, seems like she’ll be at it for a while,” I said to Jimmy as Amanda continued raving. “Are you sure this is gonna work?”
It shouldn’t have mattered. Savannah was just a girl. It wasn’t like we’d be together forever or anything dumb like that. (Like a Twilight ending or something. That’s just kinda creepy.) But she was special to me.
I wanted to make things right.
“I promise. It always worked with my sisters, at least. I think.” Now Jimmy looked thoughtful.
“Oh great. Now you’re not even sure.” I rolled my eyes, but the wheels were turning in my head.
“You never know. Not all girls are the same. As is obvious…” We both looked at Amanda, who had continued her rage, the junior high kids looking at her with fear. “Who knows. Maybe if you do this, she’ll finally sleep with you. That’s a bonus.”
“Yeah,” I replied, raising my eyebrows, a smile raising my lips. “That’d be cool.” I turned to normal sitting position and pulled out my cell phone. The number was still in there from Christmas.
“Hi. I’d like to place an order…” I told them my name and what I wanted. “Also, could you throw in a little something extra? It’s for my girlfriend who’s pis—mad at me.”
“I know just the thing,” the clerk at the other end replied with a slight Boston accent. “What’s you like your card to say?”
“Um…” Hm. What to say… “Oh! How ’bout this?”
I told her, and she laughed. “Excellent choice. Where’ll this be delivered to?”
“The high school, lunch room, noon sharp. Can that be done?”
“It’s done,” she answered. She clacked the keyboard. “Midland High School, in the lunchroom, at noon. It’ll be there. Thank you so much for your order.”
“No, thank you.” I hung up, leaning back and sighing happily. Everything would be fine soon; and after it was fine, it would be awesome.
“Oh yes,” I said to myself.
My plan was perfect. Bwahahahahaha!
At lunch I hid behind a little potted tree, trying to spy on Savannah. She always came to lunch right at noon, and I wanted to see her expression.
“Dude, what are you doing? You look like a creepy stalker guy.”
“Jimmy! Shut up! I’m on a super-secret spy mission! As in, trying not to be noticed!”
“Justin. Standing behind a tiny tree and staring weirdly at the lunchroom is not winning you any normalcy points.”
“I’m waiting for Savannah,” I told him, avoiding his comment.
“Why? So you can rape her?”
I glared at him.
“What? That’s what you look like! I’m just speakin’ the truth!”
“Just go away. You’re drawing attention to me. I’m trying to stay hidden. Leave! Now!” I shoved Jimmy away.
“Okay, okay! Dude, chill! I’m leaving! God. You’d think you had some evil plan going on or something.” He walked away. “Do you want me to get you a lunch or something? Will you be taking that long?”
“You’ll know when it’s over.” I began laughing evilly again. “Bwahaha—oh there’s Savannah.” I ducked behind the tree again.
Jimmy laughed. “You are ****ed up, man.” He walked away for good this time.
The delivery guy walked in the front door. Gah! He was here already! But Savannah wasn’t here yet! I ran over to the guy, digging my wallet out of my back pocket.
He was looking around, as if looking for someone. “Hey. You’re from Still Life, right?”
“Yeah,” the guy said, unsure.
“I’m Justin. The one who ordered?”
“Oh, okay.” He looked relieved. He was maybe, like, 21 or so.
“This should be enough to cover all of it.” I handed him a $100 bill. His eyes grew big and round as he contemplated making change. “Keep the change,” I told him. I had no idea what the total was, or what kind of tip he should get for this, but I was out of time. Savannah’d be there any second. I shipped out my picture of her.
“This is the girl.” I handed it to him.
He raised his eyebrows and looked at me.
“Hey, back off, she’s mine.”
He put his one free hand up in a backing-down way. “You’re a lucky guy.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. Okay. She’s about to come in. she’ll be coming from over there.” I pointed to one corner of the room. “Her name’s Savannah.”
“Okay.” The guy ambled over there and stood awkwardly, searching the crowd for her. I went and got in line. I didn’t want to be around to be seen with him. People were staring at him, most of the girls looking like they hoped he was there for them. He kept glancing at the photo and then around at the people.
There! There she was! She was—WALKING RIGHT PAST HIM!! And he didn’t see her!!!!!!
Panic filled my heart. Oh God, it wasn’t gonna work! My plan, ruined! She’d hate me for the rest of forever—
“S-Savannah?” The delivery guy realized that she’d already passed him and hesitantly called out her name.
She turned curiously.
He forced the gifts into her arms. “He says he’s sorry.”
With that, he rushed away, not looking at anyone else.
I watched Savannah as she sat down, staring at the flowers. She touched one and looked surprised at them. She opened the envelope and pulled out the card. I could practically hear her reading it in her head.
“I care about you, even if you’re still pissed at me. I’ll stop caring only when the last of these dies.” My name was at the bottom.
Her head popped up and she looked around, searching for me. When her eyes met mine, I smiled. She smiled back, blushing, and ducked her head.
At the end of the day, I just so happened to be ambling by Savannah’s locker on my way out of the school. Very slowly. And singing loudly. “You Are My Sunshine.” (As if I actually listen to that kind of music.”
“Hm?” I stopped singing, turning, acting as though I’d had no idea that she was there. “Oh, hey, Savannah.”
“Nice show you put on.” She grinned. “Acting like you didn’t know I was here as you’re yelling for attention.”
She could always see right through me.
“I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Okay, sure. Anyway…” She blushed and looked at the floor. “Thanks for the flowers. And the stuffed animal. I love tigers.”
“Hey.” I put a hand on her shoulder. “I’d do anything for you. Even pay for some guy to deliver you wooden roses.”
“Yeah, I liked that too,” she said, shouldering her backpack. “How they weren’t real, so I can keep them. Won’t have to throw them away.”
“I figured you’d like that.”
We walked out of the school, side by side. Her backpack looked heavy. “Here, let me take that.”
“No, I’m fine,” she answered as I slipped it off her shoulder. “You know, you’re not as bad as I thought you were.”
“You do know that most people make mistakes, right? Just because you never do…”
She shoved me but also grinned. “Whatever. You just mess up more than normal people.”
I rolled my eyes. “Sure.”
I put my arm around her, and we got on the bus together.