Author's note: I was inspired to write this piece after I fell for a Mason myself- at least, a Mason in the way... Show full author's note »
Chapter OneI’m in my favorite bedtime outfit of a long purple t-shirt and boxer briefs, just snacking on some ice cream, when I get the message. This, immediately, irks me. I mean, does Shawn really have to ruin my favorite outfit/food combo? I’m having such a nice time, until he has to come along and ruin it. The message reads: Hey baby, had such a nice time tonight, call me in 10? ☺
Okay, it isn’t the message itself that is bothering me. The message is actually kind of cute. The message is only frustrating because of the context. My night has actually been pretty awful. I’d met up with Shawn after dinner and we’d been trying to decide what movie to go see when his friend Matthew calls. Matthew, my favorite person in the WORLD (note the sarcasm), is in town. So, of course, Shawn has to ditch our movie plans to bring me along to see Matthew, who is in college but somehow manages to come home almost every weekend, like some creepy townie. Next thing I know, the three of us are having the most adorable three-way date at Sonic, and guess who’s in the backseat of Shawn’s car, being exiled into total silence? Me.
I respond with a quick, too tired, I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Xx., before turning off my phone. As I get into bed I feel guilty and turn my phone back on, then off again. Finally, I turn it on but flip it over so it’s face down on the pillow on silent. I wait about fifteen minutes before flipping it over.
Didn’t you have fun? ☹ Shawn’s message reads. Ugh. I love Shawn, I do, but I hate when he sends me texts with the obvious implication of needing reassurance. In this respect, he’s such a girl. Always needing compliments and nice messages telling him that yes, indeed, I had the best night ever.
I debate telling him the truth, that I honestly hate his friend Matthew and Matthew’s lame jokes and gross, vulgar comments about girls, but I refrain. Shawn and I have just started dating. Next Sunday will be our first month anniversary. I can’t exactly ask him to separate me from his friends yet, can I?
In frustration I burry my head under my pillow, breathing heavily. My thumbs feel around in the air for the correct keys on my phone, and only two button presses, the asterisk and the 2, gets me Mason’s voice.
“Noodles, what’s happenin’?” I smile at his voice, so calm and melodious and reassuring in its simplicity. Mason started calling me Noodles freshman year, after he jokingly told me that my long legs and arms would help me athletically if I didn’t swing them around like overcooked noodles so often. Apparently, I have no coordination or athletic ability, despite my height. This always has always frustrated Mason, who’s about as athletic as they come.
Mason and I have been friends since freshman year. He’s so different from me that it’s hard to believe that we actually get along. I’m tall and blonde and a bit of a control freak. My grades are never far from top-3%-of-the-class-standards, I keep my room organized with the help of a label maker I got for my eighth birthday, and I’m an avid reader, although Mason claims this ruins any hotness potential I may have. Mason, on the other hand, is a bit of an asshole. He swears and wears gym shorts and mid-calf socks like it’s his uniform. He’s always chewing gum, and he’s a complete slob. And I think the last time he read a book, it had pictures in it. Why he’s such good friends with me, I’ll never know. He says it’s a fluke.
I can’t say I’ve never been interested in Mason like that, although whenever Shawn asks, I’ll swear to my grave that it’s never crossed my mind. Luckily, I’m not superstitious, or I’d probably have to fear for my life at this point. I don’t feel guilty for lying to Shawn though, because I know nothing could ever happen between me and Mason. Mason isn’t like that. He’s a player, and the only reason I’m still in his life is because we haven’t ever gone there. If we did, I know I would end up hating him. He’d have power over me and I’d have to admit that I needed him, and giving him that control to hurt me would be the worst decision of my life.
“Mase, is it too soon to tell Shawn that I hate his best friend Matthew?” I hear Mason chuckle on the other end of the line, followed by a ‘dude, turn it down.’ I’m left to assume that Mason’s with his guy friends. He’s almost always with them, when he isn’t with me. Rarely, but occasionally, he’s with a girl.
“Depends. How much does it matter to you, Noods?” I sit up in bed, thinking hard.
“What do you mean, how much?” I ask for clarification.
“Like, is it worth risking your relationship? Because I’m afraid to say that’s what you’ll be doing. A dude has an obligation to choose bros over ho’s every time… not just for his friends, but for his own dignity.”
I sigh, knowing Mason is unfortunately right again. I hear Mason and his friends suddenly shouting at something, and for a moment the phone becomes muzzled because Mason’s placed his hand over the phone like he does whenever he gets distracted. For him, a hand over the phone is the same as actually telling the person that he’s walking away for a second. Obviously, he lacks consideration for other people, but I’m used to it.
“Hey, I’m back.” He says after a couple minutes. I laugh. At this point, I’m flipping through a magazine, the phone pressed to my ear. Typical Mason behavior. He’s lucky it no longer fazes me.
“What, did someone score a basket or touchdown or something?” I say casually. On the other line, I hear Mason sigh in frustration.
“It’s springtime, Caitlin. Baseball season. Red Sox scored a run. Please, at least try to keep track of the seasons.” He says this with such frustration and disappointment that I can’t help but laugh. The way he talks to me about sports is the way I talk to him about all the classes he’s failing.
“I’m sorry… I’ll try to keep up next time. Speaking of, how was your English paper? You passed it in, right?”
As expected, there’s a long pause, followed by a very quiet, “F***.”
“You forgot to do it, didn’t you?” I roll my eyes. So typical. Mason and I brainstormed essay topics for half an hour on Tuesday night, and I knew even then that it was never getting done.
“The thing is,” Mason begins, in his typical I’m-so-good-at-bull-s*** opener, “I was all set to do it, really. I had all the notes written down and everything we’d discussed still fresh in my mind.” At this point, he stops, and I know he’s pausing for dramatic emphasis.
“…But the thing is, the game was on...” He concludes in a rush, like I’m supposed to breathe a sigh of relief and say ‘Oh, well never mind then, that’s understandable.’
“…And it was a really important one. Red Sox were behind by four in the sixth inning…”
“Mason,” I cut him off, “I don’t really care about the game. What I care about is your F in English class that isn’t going to change into a D if you don’t pull your weight. Mrs. Winston is nice, but she’s not going to hand you an A just because you’re Mason freakin’ Davis.”
There’s a pause, and I know Mason is thinking of some smart reply to my truthful response. He can’t ever take anything seriously, really. It’s something I love and hate about him simultaneously, if that’s possible.
“I know what I’ll do,” he says confidently after a few more seconds, like he has it all figured out. I wait. “I’ll start hitting on Mrs. Winston, you know, pulling the whole ‘you look very nice today, wink, wink’…”
“Mason!” I sigh in exasperation, already laughing.
“And then I’ll lay it on real heavy. I’ll start staying after class and spending time with her, even lunch time. And one of these days, my hand will ever-so-accidentally slip into those hot librarian skirt’s she always wears. She’s not bad looking, ya know, Caitlin. She’s actually kind of hot, if you ignore the neck up.”
At this point I’m really laughing and he knows, as well as I do, that he’s got me. He’s lucky that way, always stopping a full-on Caitlin lecture right in its tracts. I never want to allow his bullshit to fly with me, but it’s just so hard to stop him once he’s started.
“Okay, Mason, this conversation has been really helpful. Thank you, as always,” I say, wrapping it up as the clock on my nightstand blinks 1:30 and I feel guilty that I’ve spent this time talking to Mason but not Shawn.
“Anytime, Noodles. Remember: don’t say anything negative about Matthew… at least not until after you’ve given Shawn something.”
I pause. Hesitantly, already a little afraid of what he’s going to say, I say “what would I give Shawn?”
“You know,” Matthew says empathetically, his frustration almost tangible. Finally, he says it. “You’re virginity.”
“Oh!” I feel stupid for not having been able to read Mason’s mind better. I normally know when he’s about to mention my lack of experience, but this time, I guess I was distracted. “Oh,” I say again, “yuck.”
He laughs. “Noodles, you have to get over that idea that sexual experience is gross. We’re not in fifth grade anymore. You have to start exploring why people fall in love. There’s a reason, you know.”
I roll my eyes at this, annoyed. “The reason people fall in love isn’t to have sex, Mason.”
“No?” He replies, already so confident in his knowledge of the subject. “I beg to differ. Don’t you have an A in science, Noodles? You’d think you’d have a clue about biology and the reproductive system. ‘Love is actually only a chemical reaction in the brain that tells the body…it is indeed time to have sex.’” The way he states this, at first so matter-of-factly but, by the end, a bit offhandedly, tells me that he typed it into Google and added the last part.
I laugh. “No wonder girls like you. You’re so romantic. And so full of bullshit.”
“Hey, come on now!” Mason says, riled up. “Girls like me because of my gorgeous looks, insane sense of style, great sense of humor, and sensitivity towards their feminine issues. There’s more, but I think you already know the rest.”
“Sensitivity towards their feminine issues? Jesus, Mason, they’re still people. They don’t have separate, more foreign issues than you do, you know.”
He laughs. “I don’t know about that. You might be unique, Noodles, but let me just tell you, most girls do not have it all figured out like you do. They can be needy, and controlling, and downright creepy, and dramatic… Seriously, yuck.”
I slide under the covers, turning off my light and speaking more quietly now, drinking his words in. This type of conversation, mostly light and silly but also not, is exactly the type that can keep me awake for hours. It amazes me that Mason and I so easily stray into these subjects, never boring each other or feeling like we could be doing something else, something better. At least, that’s how it is for me. I’d like to pretend it’s the same with him, but I sort of know better.
“Yuck is right. I hate boys, Mason. And girls. I think I’ve crossed off an entire species. Is that bad?”
“Nah, Noodles, it’s fine. As long as you’re okay with having cats for the rest of your life. Which, I know for a fact, you’d be totally fine with.” I can feel his side of the phone quieting down now, and I wonder if his friends left or if their just doing something else. Times like these, when he doesn’t rush to get off the phone, make me question why he sticks around. Is it just because he’s bored and enjoys my company? Why isn’t he with his friends right now? What’s so great about me?
“You’re right, that sounds pretty good to me right now. Will you join me with your six wives?” I say this lightly but there’s a pause, and finally, a low, forced laugh.
“I’m never getting married, Caitlin, you can trust me on that. I’ll have plenty of women; don’t doubt that… but no way in hell am I ever going to tie myself down to any of them. That’s just asking for trouble.” His words sadden me. Mason barely ever mentions it, but I know his parent’s divorce, which happened when he was 10, is part of the reason he’s so afraid of committing to one girl. It’s part, or maybe even whole, of the reason he’s such a player. Not because he can’t be satisfied by one girl, but because he is too afraid of that very possibility. That he’ll be satisfied by a girl who ends up leaving him, anyway.
“Oh, right, of course.” I murmur quietly, feeling myself falling under. This happens so often that now I feel no need to apologize in the morning for falling asleep on him. Mason’s voice is my all time favorite thing to fall asleep to.
“I’m losing you, aren’t I?” Mason’s voice is also quiet on the other end. I hate the thought of this, hate being pulled under by sleep, because in the dead of night, Mason and I are great together. It’s the daytime that makes things different, more strained and forced. When I see him in the hall and he gives me a quick wink before turning back to a circle of girls, and I wonder if they would even believe me if I told them we talked almost every night on the phone for hours. They probably wouldn’t. School Mason and School Caitlin don’t hang with the same crowd.
“Never,” I reply quickly, easily, hoping my reply will somehow seem convincing.
He laughs. “I know. I’ll never lose you, will I, Noodles? We’ve been friends for so many years. How the hell haven’t I gotten sick of you yet?” He tsks to himself. “All talk, and no action. Man, I must be really losing my edge.”
I laugh but it comes out strangled, mostly because I’m so close to losing consciousness. I close my eyes and manage to mumble, “You have a weak spot for me, admit it. You love me,” before dropping my phone, falling asleep and never allowing myself to hear the response, or inevitable lack thereof, that always accompanies the other line.