Don't Need Anyone
Author's note: It's also humor or mystery, but it only allowed one tag:P
Enjoy. Don't let Renee get too crazy.
Enjoy. Don't let Renee get too crazy.
He had me backed up against the locker. The sharp metal ridges grated against my spine, but I couldn’t move. I cast my glance around for Lena, hoping against hope that, for once, she wouldn’t arrive half an hour late.
It was a futile hope.
“So,” Devon murmured. “Do you want to go out again tonight?”
I closed my eyes, just about ready to scream. Gee, what a great way to ask a girl on a date, corner her and trap her against a locker. ‘Cause that works so well. I might have actually considered it before, but now…
Devon stiffened. “Why?”
Why? I said no, does it really matter why? I shoved against his arm, but it wouldn’t budge. For my troubles, I got a twinging elbow. “It doesn’t matter,” I snapped, pain making me irritable. “Now let me out.”
He didn’t seem to have heard. “Is it your parents, Ren?” he demanded. “Did they tell you to stop going out with me?”
The question, and the name were the last straw. “No! It’s not my parents! Why is there always something wrong? I’m not a cripple, and my parents aren’t mental patients! So you need to stop treating me like a frickin’ baby! And don’t call me Ren!”
I breathed heavily after my mini-rant, already ashamed of myself. Sure, he was being annoying, but that didn’t give me the right to scream my lungs out at him. Not in this country.
Devon’s eyes were wide. “Ren—“ he cut himself off. “Renee. What—what’s the matter, then?
I lowered my head. At least he wasn’t too upset. “I just don’t want to, Devon. OK? Now can I please get to my locker?”
Without taking his eyes from me, he slowly backed away. I turned to my locker, but I still felt his eyes on my back minutes later.
Lena groaned and rocked back in her seat. “Why, Ren?” She was the only one who could call me that now. “He was certainly better than the rest of those clunk heads you’ve dated!
I made a face. “Don’t bother softening it for me, Lena. Don’t bother at all.” It was pointless even mentioning it. Lena said what she thought and she thought what she said.
Guessing my thought process, as always, she smirked. She was opening her mouth to speak when the teacher rapped the board angrily.
“Ladies!” she barked. “I would very much appreciate your full attention, thank you.” Lena and I sat up straighter and smiled politely. Meanwhile, with her free hand, Lena was digging out a pencil and piece of notebook paper.
A moment later a wad of paper landed on my lap. Glancing up to make sure our teacher was still completely and fully occupied with the mysteries of Algebra 3, I unfurled the note.
So who’s it going to be next?
My hands clenched guiltily. She knew me too well. I didn’t really want her to think any worse of me in that area than she already did, but I didn’t want to lie to her.
There’s a junior boy who sits next to me in French—he’s really cute.
When she opened my note, Lena frowned, but didn’t even pretend to act surprised. The next note sailed toward me, and I saw her turn away and take out her math book. Puzzled, I glanced down at the note.
Talk to me later. I don’t care if we’re late to class, we need to talk.
Uh oh. If I was late to three more classes, I would get a detention. I glanced over and saw the intense scowl on Lena’s face as she focused on her notes.
Better to get the detention than make her angry.
Outside of class, she caught my arm in a pincer-like grasp and steered me in the direction of our next class. Even if I’d wanted to escape, I couldn’t have.
“What is it you want to talk about?” I grumped.
Lena elbowed me. “You know what.” I couldn’t avoid her judgmental stare.
“Is it the fact that I can’t stay with a boy for more than two dates, because they won’t stop trying to take care of me and do everything for me and show how helpless I am and be the big, grand saviors?” The words poured out as they had earlier. I was having some serious diarrhea of the mouth.
She was still holding my arm—at least she knew not to grab the elbow. “Ever think there might be a …solution to this?” she asked delicately. Lena was clearly trying not to upset me anymore. I felt like a little bomb, ready to explode in any innocent person’s face. I hated feeling like that. If I was going to be a bomb, I could at least be a big bomb.
I shrugged, and her arm rippled along with mine. “Yeah. I think there’s a solution to everything. Doesn’t mean it’s better than the problem.” My attempt to sound mildly sophisticated failed. Badly.
Lena raised a brow. “Since when are you all philosophical?” I wasn’t going to answer, and she knew it. “Whatever. But this solution is really simple, Ren. Really simple.”
“Fine,” I sighed. “I’ll bite. What’s the solution?”
She grinned as happily as a dog with a new squeaky toy. “Easy—you take a break from dating. No, don’t look at me as if the world were going to end—“ That was indeed how I was looking at her. For all my complaints…stop dating? Dating was all I had to keep my mind off of…other things. Unaware of the direction my thoughts had taken, she continued, “—‘cause a break is really just what you need right now. You wouldn’t have anyone trying to help you, or coddle you, and you might find something you like even better.” While the smile had gone, her eyes were still crinkled in amusement. Well, glad she at least found this funny.
“But…” My voice emerged as a squeak. “But dating is what I do. It’s what distracts me from…stuff.” The humor drained from Lena’s face as she realized what I was talking about.
“Ren,” she murmured. “You can’t use that as an excuse to keep dating. Maybe having some extra time will help you cope.”
I couldn’t tell her how wrong she was. I couldn’t tell her that I didn’t want to cope, I just wanted it to be over. I wanted things to be normal again.
Like that was going to happen.
But…she had a point.
And those fingers hurt.
“Alright! I’ll take a little break.”
The grin returned to her face. “Not that little,” she cackled. “At least a month.”
I gaped at her, sure she was joking. “A month?”
I glared at Lena, but she twinkled back, unfazed. “Fine, I’ll take a break from dating for a month. Any longer and I’ll go insane.” Under my breath, I added, “Just you wait until I have one of these brilliant ideas.”
She snickered at me, having heard the last part. “Oh, but I don’t need your brilliant ideas, Ren. Because I, unlike you, have some common sense.”
We had arrived at our class. Checking my watch, I drooped. Late by five minutes. Just two more. Then Detention, here I come.
As we walked in, I whispered, “Since when do you have common sense?”
I slung my backpack over the door handle and plunked onto the bed, mindful, this time, of its lower height. The rest of the day had gone by far too slowly, with Lena shooting me smug looks every two seconds.
And Devon, when we were in the same class, shooting me glares every three.
At least that was one thing I wouldn’t have to deal with now. Not that her plan was a good one; there were just a few upsides.
Oh G-d, who was I kidding? This would be torture.
I filled the ice bags angrily, then stomped over to the bed, despite the fact that stomping was the last thing my knees needed. Damn Osgood-Schlotters. Damn running.
Head resting on a slightly under-stuffed pillow, I saw a picture begin to slide off my dresser. I reached out and snatched it from the air in a rare moment of hand-eye coordination. There was a reason I did running, not tennis.
I looked down at the picture and froze. Inside a small, creamy frame was a boy and girl. The boy was tall and lean, in his late teens, with a mop of dirty blonde hair and dark blue eyes. His arm was around a girl who barely qualified as a teenager, with tumbling red curls and beaming green eyes.
I hadn’t realized I still had this picture.
My thumb trailed gently across the boy’s smiling face, as a memory swept through me, covering my sight.
“It’s your birthday, Ren,” Jared laughed. “Don’t you want to see your present?”
I looked up at him, energy coursing through me like an outlet. “A present?” Sure, I was thirteen, but I was never too old for presents.
“Of course.” He bowed and gestured toward the door with a proper “Ladies first.”
I bounced out the door, and screeched to a halt. Sitting there, all nice and wrapped up, was the PC I’d been lusting after for months.
“Jared…”I began, hushed. “You—you spent your shop money, didn’t you?” He’d been working at an ice cream shop over the summer to save up money for college.
He shrugged, and that was enough confirmation for me. Before I could begin to protest, he covered my mouth, cutting me off. “It was money well-spent. And if you’re wondering why it’s out here, I was too lazy to lug it inside by myself. Wanna help?”
I rolled my eyes, the corner of my lips tugging upward. I could never argue with Jared. He was way too good at it.
“Fine, but if I drop it on myself, I’m suing for damages.”
Jared clasped his hands tragically. “Ah, but I spent all my money on this poor computer, so there would be none to give. Therefore I may drop it on you with good conscience.” I giggled, and we were bending down to pick up the rather large box when Mom yelled “Wait!”
We both turned towards her, exasperated.
“Just one picture?” she wheedled. Jared glanced at me. I nodded, and he turned back to Mom.
“Just one,” he allowed. He strode over to me, and slung his arm around my shoulder. I wrinkled my nose at the sharp scent of Axe that surrounded me. Seeing my face, his eyes danced wickedly. “Enjoying the fresh scent, sis?” Mom caught the picture just before I burst into laughter.
He laughed with me for a while, but a minute later, as we were catching our breath, he regarded me with a serious, proud look on an otherwise mischievous face.
“Happy Birthday, Ren,” Jared said quietly.
I snapped back to the present with a thump—the ice bag had fallen off my knee. I ignored it. My eyes were captured by the boy smiling out of the picture at me.
“I miss you, Jared,” I whispered. “Where did you go?”