Sometimes it sucks when you’re right, even if you expect it. I guess I have a sixth sense about some things. I held onto that tiny sliver of hope, but it was pointless.
Kayla and I were sitting at our lunch table, eating and talking, when Mark pulled up with a tray, beside him was Katie, smiling from ear to ear. She was, I don’t know, glowing with happy radiance. Good for you. I’m really happy for ya’.
“Kayla. Daniel. This is Katie. Do you mind if we sit with you guys?”
“Sure” beamed Kayla.
“Whatevs” I blurted out, trying to show my complete lack of interest.
It didn’t go unnoticed by Kayla. She discretely stomped on my toes, with her heal, shooting daggers at my eyes.
While I winced, Mark looked at me quizzically, bordering on his ‘what the fuck dude?’ face.
I guess I had sounded like a total bitch, so I tried to recover, by saying “I mean, you know, sit wherever you want”, never pulling my eyes up from my food.
I did take occasional glances at Katie, discretely, from my hooded eyes. She looked like the poster child for Kidz Bop. So not the right type of girl for Mark. Just a carbon copy of millions of other uninteresting, cloned teenaged girls. So forgettable. I swear to god, if they keep sitting here, and one day, Mark shows up wearing an Abercrombie shirt, I will slit my wrists, and bleed out, right where I sit.
The three of them continued to talk, while I tried to make myself disappear completely. This was so painful, on so many levels, and I wasn’t helping the situation at all, with my anti-social, pouty disposition. She was so clingy, and so flirty, and Mark was eating it all up.
This routine continued for the rest of the week, until Friday, when things changed a bit. Mark showed up alone, and I felt a twinge of happiness, warming my insides.
Kayla asked, “where’s Katie?”
“Oh. She had to stop at the office.”
My good feelings slid back to my crappy, new normal. Five minutes later, Katie came skipping up, sat down next to Mark, and they kissed. It was nothing more than a little peck on the lips, but it was enough.
I’m not positive, but I think I whined out loud. The display, for me, was a symbolic confirmation. I honestly thought I was going to suffocate. I had to fight back the urge to cry, with everything I had. I had to get up. I had to leave. I needed air, and space.
Thinking quickly, I said “shit!”, as I stood up and said “I’ve got to run to the library.” I crumpled up my barely touched food, and turned to leave.
“Want company?” Kayla asked.
“Nah. It’s ok” I responded, as I was striding away, not giving Kayla a chance to react.
I walked right out the front door, to a quiet area, just off campus. I knew I was being weird, and I can’t imagine what they are all saying about me. Do they know why I’ve been like this? Am I obvious? Or are they confused by my actions? Do they even care enough to ask me? Probably, they all just think I’m some kind of freak. Probably I am. I bet Kayla can’t wait to get away from here. Away from me.
“What’s up with you these days?” Kayla asked, just as we sat down, for our long journey home.
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“I don’t know…you’ve been kind of quiet and moody. Is there a problem at home?”
“No…I’ve just been…I don’t know. Thinking a lot and not real happy.”
“Well it helps to talk about it. We’ve been through this, remember?”
“Yeah. I know, but I’m ok. No need for help on this one.”
We rode along in silence for a while, and I could tell Kayla was trying to figure out a way to ask me something else, on her mind.
“Sooo…what do you think of Katie?”
“Wow. Harsh. What’s that all about?”
“Nothing really. I just don’t like her.”
“She seems pretty nice to me.”
“She’s just…boring. Like all the other girls.”
“No. You’re different. You’re cool.”
“I don’t follow.”
“You’re unique. Different. You’re not a sheep.”
“Oookaayy…and how is Katie different than me.”
“Are you serious? Come on. She looks and acts like all the other girls in this school.”
“How do you know? Whenever she comes around you either sulk or quickly leave. It doesn’t make any sense.”
I couldn’t think of anything to say to that. She had me in the corner. I was trapped.
A minute passed, until Kayla came out with, “oh my god! You like her, don’t you?”
“What!? No way! What the Hell would you say that for?”
“Well, it kind of makes sense. You get weird around her, maybe you’re jealous.”
“Not in a million years.”
“Well then, maybe you’re jealous…of…”
“Can we please stop talking about this. Ok? Can we just drop it.”
The silence that fell over us then, was very, very uncomfortable. Basically, Kayla had figured it out. I didn’t let her finish, but we both knew what she was about to say. I, no doubt, would have denied it. Called her crazy. When I glanced over at her, I could almost see fright on her face. She was probably revisiting every conversation, every moment we spent together, intimate and otherwise. She probably already had questions about my reluctance to act on her sexual advances. I had to try and save this, before it was too far gone.
“Sorry I snapped on you. The truth is, you are right. I am jealous of Katie. You and Mark are all I’ve got, and when you leave, it’s only gonna be Mark. I’m scared that Katie is gonna take all his time, and I’ll be all alone again. It sucks. Being alone so much. Before I met you, I was, like, always alone. So yeah…I don’t like her, because I don’t want her to steal Mark from me.”
Kayla sat thoughtfully for a moment, a hint of sadness in her eyes. “Oh Daniel. I’m so sorry. I get it. I really do.”
She reached out to my hand and laced her fingers through mine. She rested her head on my shoulder. “I should have known. Sorry I asked so many questions.”
“It’s ok. I’m sorry too. I just have a hard time masking my emotions. I don’t pretend I like somebody, when I don’t. It seems too fake”
Kayla said only one more thing that ride home. “Daniel. I thought you said we weren’t going to be sad this last month.”
We unloaded the bus and stood on the sidewalk, looking at each other.
“You busy tonight?” I asked.
“You wanna hang out? Watch a movie or something?”
“I’d love to. You know, after you left today, at lunch, Katie and Mark talked about us doubling with them tonight. I don’t suppose you’d be interested in that, would you?”
“Ha! Are you serious?”
“Umm…let me see…how about, fuck no!”
“Haha, I kind of thought that’s what you’d say. Anyway, I’d prefer it just be us two.”
She moved in close to me, wrapped her arms around my waist, and kissed me. When she backed away, I moaned in protest, as she said “see you later, ok?”
“Yeah. Just come over whenever.”