All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
Just One Day
'Star Trek,' I thought. 'He likes Star Trek. He would be impressed by the Enterprise shirt, right? I'll wear it for him. What about pants? Blue or black? He wears blue. It's warm out; I don't need a coat. Alright. Cell phone, keys, wallet, chap stick, glasses, all check.'
'Mom! I'm going now!' I shouted, heading down the stairs.
'Where did you say you were going again?' she asked, peering out of the kitchen.
'The centre, then to Cory's house.' I mumbled in response.
'Cory? Which one was that? The blonde one or the gay one?' she asked.
'He's not gay,' I stressed. 'The brown-haired one at my birthday party.'
'Alright. Call when you need a ride, dear.'
'Yeah,' I said. I sailed out the door and took a long draw of the early autumn air and set out. I kept up a brisk pace until I got to the end of my street, and thought about calling ahead; to make sure I got the date rightly and maybe just to hear his voice. I had my phone in my hand, open, when a voice told me not to. 'Cool it,' I said aloud. 'It's not even a date.' Even still, I could feel my hands shaking. Shamus, the blonde kid, had told me that he had only been to Cory's house once in the last two years, and they were best friends. I felt pretty special for being allowed over, although he had given me two rules: don't swear and don't touch the white cat. I could deal with those. I quickened my pace, even though I was already out of breath. The last thing in the world I was going to do was be late. The ten minutes it took me to get to the centre were incredibly tiring. I must have been flying, because my feet had never hit the ground. When I got to the grassy square, I sat down on a bench, and glanced about. Something about the public area made me stop shaking, and I found I could breathe again.
I saw Richard on his bike across the square, and thought about talking to him. However, it occurred to me that Cory and Richard were polar opposites, and that if Cory saw Richard with me he may just leave. I have never told Cory I even know Richard. Once, Cory and Shamus were talking about Richard near me and they both expressed total contempt for him. Earlier in the summer, Shamus, Cory, and I all went to Harvard Square for a day. By pure coincidence, Richard was in Harvard square at the same time. I almost greeted him, but saw the looks of hatred on both Shamus and Cory's faces. In the centre that day, however, Cory was not present, at least not yet. I knew that being with Richard when Cory arrived, if he had not done so already, could spell doom to my day before it even began. I chose not to greet Richard, however, he spotted me. As he rode over, I glanced about surreptitiously for Cory; however, he was nowhere in sight.
'Hey, Galina,' Richard greeted me.
'Hi, Richard,' I replied quietly.
'What's up?' he asked. 'Doing anything now?'
'Not right now, but in about ten minutes I'm meeting up with someone,' I said, hoping he would not ask who this someone was.
'Oh?' he said. 'That's too bad. I was going to have lunch and was looking for someone to go with.'
'Next time,' I said hastily. Too hastily, I think, because he rode off without another word. I started to put my arm down on the bench arm, but stopped when I saw someone had kindly left a wad of blue chewing gum on the arm. Disgusting as it was, it reminded me of before I got the damned braces on my teeth, when I could just as easily be the moron who left my expired piece of gum on the bench. I'm not saying I would actually litter, but it bothers me that I don't even have the option. Well, that and I hate my braces.
After tiring of staring at the used gum, I perked up and saw Cory. My heart skipped a beat. His eyebrows were furrowed and he wore a frown. Then I realized he wasn't looking at me, he was looking around for me and hadn't spotted me yet. His eyes were darting everywhere, and he almost turned and walked away when I waved at him and caught his eye. He grinned, and I grinned back. I stood and wobbled, but managed to straighten out without falling. As the blood began to flow properly out of my head again, I walked casually up to him.
'Hi,' he said.
'Hi,' I managed. I stared at my shoes, which were dirty. Gross. For the entire summer he had disappeared from my life. He had gone abroad for a while to study French, and when he came back I had gone away myself. We had made plans to see each other in between, but they never came to pass except for the day in Harvard, and Shamus was interfering then. But now I saw him once again, and I only wanted to touch him, once. 'Hug?' I offered, opening my arms wide.
'No,' he said sadly, as if he regretted it. I stood awkwardly, and pretended to stretch and then scratch my head. He never let anyone touch him, ever. 'How are you?' he asked, as if the hug incident had never happened. I steeled myself, not wanting to let on to my disappointment.
'Oh, you know. Fine,' I replied half-heartedly. He didn't seem to pick up on the tone. Suddenly, I had what I thought was a stroke of pure brilliance. I grabbed him by the elbow, not thinking. 'Let's see a movie!' I shouted at him as I dragged him to the local theatre. Luckily, he didn't throw me off or anything; I think he was too surprised to react properly. We got to the theatre, but I didn't let go of him just yet. His skin was dry, but still quite soft. I wonder if he was examining my hand. The next showing of Indiana Jones was in ten minutes; we were in luck. 'We are doing this!' I told him, not giving him a choice.
'Alright,' he said in his soft-spoken way. 'Which movie are we seeing?'
'Indiana Jones. Have you seen it?'
'No; I've been in France, remember? I haven't seen anything in theatres. Well, anything in English. A few too many French movies for my own good though.'
'Right,' I said, laughing and going inside. Why am I so awkward? Why can't I relax? 'Breathe,' I told myself. 'Just breathe. It's a movie, and he's going to be quiet and maybe laugh a little and sometimes make side comments. Just relax.'
'Oh, wow,' Cory exclaimed upon entering the theatre with me in tail and finding it empty. 'Quick, this way!' he said, grabbing me by the elbow and taking me to the centre seats of the house. He sometimes did these very simple, very sudden motions that could be viewed in so many ways. Grabbing my arm for instance; did he mean to just quicken the pace of events or did he want to touch me just much as I wanted to touch him? He had a loose grip; I could have escaped if I had wanted. Was he aware that I might be uncomfortable with him touching me? I wasn't, but it was nice of him to be considerate. If that's what he was doing.
We got to our seats, he let go and we settled in. The previews were still rolling, but he didn't seem to mind. Cory stared up at the screen and played the trivia. I tried the trivia but I don't watch enough movies, so I applauded Cory's correct answers. When the theatre went dark, we were still the only ones there. I glanced around just to check to see if we were really the only ones. Indeed, we were all alone. I took a long breath to calm myself; this was more pressure than I needed. I felt like a giant weight was crushing down on my shoulders. I sank down in my chair and almost fell down when I caught myself. Cory glanced over and gave me a look of concern and confusion, eyebrows raised. Sitting up was an effort but I regained my composure, grinned awkwardly at him, and put my feet on the chair in front of me, with my knees almost touching my neck. Cory cocked his head and looked confused, but then, without a word, put his feet on the seat in front of him and got in the same strange position I was in. He grinned back, and then turned to the screen.
The movie was good, and we shared some good laughs. At one point, he yawned and stretched his arms behind the seats on his sides. I treasured his nearness; if only he could have left his arm along my chair I would have been satisfied, but he did not. His hands returned to his lap, and he was almost comatose for the remainder of the movie. At one point, though, I thought I saw his eyes drift to me. I can't be sure of what I saw, but I thought his focus was squarely on me. Was it? Out of the corner of my eye, it certainly looked like he was looking at me. I almost turned to see, but I decided against it.
After the movie ended, we decided to grab some ice cream. When we got to the ice cream shop, it was mostly empty; Cory knew the guy behind the counter and chatted for a minute, but he was aware of me too, and kept it brief. We both got coffee ice cream, his treat. He had a gift certificate from years before he claimed he wanted to use before it expired. I thanked him profusely, and couldn't help wondering if he was being extra nice to me or if his only reason was that he had a use-it-or-lose-it gift. I hoped that he was trying to convey some sentiment to me. We sat at the window, and I watched his reflection in the glass, unable to look him in the eye. Once, however, he looked at my reflection and we made indirect eye contact. He made a silly face and I looked down. It was a relief to not be discussing anything heavy.
'Why don't we go to your house soon?' I asked him after we left the ice cream parlor. I was getting cold, and even a little hungry, despite the food we had just eaten.
'Yeah, ok. Why not?' he replied. We set off for his house, which was fortunately not too far away. It was late, I suppose, but the sun was still a good ways off from setting. Cory must have been cold too, but he wasn't showing it. He was keeping up a brisk pace, though. We reached his house in good time, and he turned to me in his front yard.
'We should go in the back door, so we don't scare the cats,' he suggested. 'Sebastian is afraid of everything that comes in the front door; he doesn't have the same fear of the back door. That way you can visit with him, alright?'
'Alright.' I said, overjoyed. I love cats. My favorite picture of Cory is his Facebook picture where he is holding his cat. Sebastian is adorable. He's orange and has a pretty big head for a cat. He has big eyes too.
We went around back and Cory unlocked the door. We went inside and he told me to hold still for a minute. He dashed off and returned a minute later with Sebastian, who was clearly not happy with being carried.
'I found him sleeping,' Cory informed me. 'He doesn't like strangers but you can pet him anyway.'
'Kitty!' I exclaimed, rushing over and patting the cat's head. 'Kitty, kitty, kitty!' Cory raised an eyebrow but didn't comment. Sebastian seemed to enjoy the attention, though. When I began to sneeze, however, I took a step back. My body has cursed me not to be able to do the things I most want to do. Cory dropped Sebastian, who darted off. I missed the cat, even though he made me sneeze.
'Can we say hi to my dad?' Cory asked, seeming to be nervous about the prospect.
'Alright,' I replied. Cory indicated a staircase nearly, and we descended. His father was doing laundry in a small, cold room attached to the basement. We were introduced and I managed not to say anything stupid, even though millions of dumb answers came to mind. I made it out unscathed, and his father left with arms full of clean clothes. The other cat wandered in to the basement, the white one. Cory says that he is vicious and bites, so I didn't go near the cat. Cory kept his distance too. He indicated the stairs, so I went up and he followed. Apparently it was dinner time; it seemed early to me but I didn't object. We had pizza; his family asked polite questions about school and the summer. Cory wouldn't look at me; although I am pretty sure I caught him rolling his eyes at a few of the questions. His disgust with his parents was cute, in a way. He wouldn't just come out and say it but he wanted me to know that he was as bored as I was with the line of questioning.
After dinner, we went into his room. Immediately, I freaked out and pretended to have to go to the bathroom, and when I returned, I left the door mostly open. He seemed much more comfortable in his room than at the dinner table, and he curled up in a ball and sat on his bed. I sat on the other end of the bed, leaning against his room wall.
'See that box?' he said, indicating a little cardboard box on the other side of the room.
'Yeah,' I said.
'It's for you. There's a gift I got you in France, that book you asked me for, and some candy I thought you would like.'
'Really? For me? Thanks!' I said, enthused. 'You really didn't have to get me anything, really!' I stood and retrieved the box, sitting down with it on the bed. I picked up the gift, and immediately knew it was a mug. When I opened it, I discovered it was emblazoned with the letter G and the Eiffel Tower. It was personalized for me! 'Wow. This is fantastic.'
'Yeah,' he replied. 'I knew you liked coffee and figured you could drink it from this'or something.' The realization he was just as awkward as I was dawned on me. I had never really thought about that. We just sat there, quietly. I was facing the opposite wall and he faced me. I don't remember how long I stared at his wall, with his bookshelf staring back, and how long he sat and stared at me. It probably wasn't all that long but it felt like several epochs. It was a good way into the evening when I decided that I had to say something.
'Can you help me with a problem I've got in my mind?' I asked him.
'Depends on the problem, really,' he replied.
'So, I've been trying to decide whether or not I want to do this thing. I really want to do it but I'm not sure I should.'
'Well, that's a vague problem so you get a vague answer. If you choose to do it, you upset the status quo. It's taking a risk, but the reward might prove to be worth it. If you don't do it, you'll be safe. If you like where things are now, then don't do it. However, you will never know what you might be missing.'
I started. He was dead on. Could he know exactly what I was talking about? How could he? 'If you had to choose, would you do it or not?' I asked him.
'I'm not sure how good my advice is,' he began, 'but if it's worth anything, I'd say go for it. Granted, I have no idea what you are talking about.'
'Ok. I'll do it,' I said.
'Good for you,' he replied.
It was late; I called my mother and Cory gave her the address and directions. I decided that I would ask my burning question later. I had to ask but the time right. However, I could only hope that he would be correct, that the risk may be worth it. As I left in the car, I looked back at the door and saw him standing there; head cocked to one side, with what I think was a grin.