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Jude

United States

Reader. Writer. Fangirl. Lover of fictional characters. A few other things.

Message to Readers

I need to cut this down significantly, as I always seem to, and it would be so nice if you shared ideas on how to do that. Thanks!

Losing It, Lost It

February 5, 2016

    My phone buzzes in the middle of my AP Psych quiz last period. So loud and strong I almost jump out of my seat. Why isn't it on silent, like it always is?
    I'm one of the first to finish the quiz and I hand it in to Mr. Li, who, judging by the stink eye he gives me, heard my phone vibrate in my pocket and isn't happy about it. I return to my seat feeling slightly ashamed—Mr. Li has that affect on you, making you feel ashamed for the smallest things—and pull out my phone. Even though I sit in the back of the classroom, far enough away from Mr. Li that he shouldn't notice I'm using it, I hide it under the table. Just in case.
    It's a text from Gabe.
    It reads: Want a ride home today? Cuz I'm offering.
    I don't think so. I'm totally okay with walking home. I've been okay walking home for the past month or so. But I watch my thumbs type out Ok and hit SEND as if they don't belong to me.
    He texts me back almost instantly. Cool, it says. You know where I'm parked.
    I do. In the junior parking lot. I asked him once why he always parked there. He cut the engine, turned to face me with a slight smile, and told me because, Alex, 1) it's way easier to find a parking space since almost no juniors actually drive, and 2) it's a shorter walk to the school building. I found it funny that he was a track star and yet he was lazy as lazy people come in just about every other facet of life.
    That was back in October. Before.
    And now I'm going home with Gabe. 
    I glance at the clock every two minutes. Time both drags and flies by, and I can't decide if I'm anxious or excited.
    The bell rings. 
    Try as I might to walk by Mr. Li without locking eyes, he won't let me, and I leave class feeling like there's an ambiguous aura of shame that'll float around me for a few days at least. Like a sign for everyone to stay away from the Vibrating Phone Girl, she'll only distract and disappoint. Beware.
    I reach the door that leads out to the junior lot. I linger. I spot Gabe's car, an old black Dodge truck his uncle had fixed up for his birthday a couple years ago, parked just outside. No sign of him in it. Is it too late to start walking home?
    People walk past me, and I feel pathetic just standing here, but I wait a few seconds. Maybe he forgot he texted. Maybe I can go by myself after all.
    Wait for a few more seconds, wanting to leave and wanting to stay. My phone buzzes.
    Gabe's message: Sorry if you're waiting. Be there soon.
    I release a breath. How soon? I text back.
    Soon like now. Behind you.
    I look up to see him coming down the hall, toward me. Smiling. I start losing the air in my lungs. Without returning the smile, I turn away, push my way out the door, to his car. Why does my lunch feel like it's trying to crawl up my stomach?
    This is going to be one absolutely fun ride home, isn't it?
    "You can come inside the car, you know," he says, hopping in himself, tossing his backpack into the backseat. I watch him reach over to open my door and I step back. "Unless, you know, there's this magical new way to transport people without them actually being in the transport vehicle." He smiles again. "Come on."
    I sigh. It takes me several seconds, but I do get in eventually.
    Neither of speak as he starts the engine and pulls out of the lot. I try to keep my attention on the road ahead of me, but my gaze wanders over to Gabe every now and then. Why did I agree to—
    He catches me looking. I start. He grins. "Hey there," he says.
     "Hi." I sink into the seat, cross my arms over my chest.
    More silence. More glances in his direction, though more discreet. 
    Why isn't there any music on? He always has music on in his car, whether it's time for music or not. 
    Mrs. Lane, my neighbor, a lady of about sixty-five, threatened to turn him in to the police for disturbing the peace or whatever over the summer. We'd had a thing to go to, and he'd been waiting for me to come out. He'd had his windows down, and there was this bass-heavy pop song—I think it was Nicki Minaj's Super Bass—that he'd loved and he was trying to get my attention with it.
    It would've been fine if it were daytime. Mrs. Lane went out with Jenny, her ten-year-old granddaughter, everyday and came back at around five. But it wasn't daytime. It was almost seven at night and Mrs. Lane had a strict bedtime. 
    When I heard the music cut abruptly, I ran outside to check if something had happened. I came out to find a red-faced Mrs. Lane yelling at my friend through the passenger side door and I couldn't contain my laughter. I was horrified, but I was much more entertained. I stood on my porch, leaning on the rail for support, until my phone buzzed in the back pocket of my shorts. 
    You think I can't see you laughing over there, don't you? the text said. Help me goddammit!!
    I snapped out of it then. Not immediately—I had to take a second to calm myself down a bit—but I did. I walked over to the car and tapped Mrs. Lane gently on the shoulder. 
    "Hi, Mrs. Lane," I said.
    She breathed and calmed down at the sight of me. "Hi, Alex," she said. "This idiot is your friend?"
    "Yes," I said. I saw Gabe shoot me a look from behind the lady. "He's my friend. And I'm sorry he did this. He was just trying to get my attention." I offered her my best apologetic smile. 
    "He could have just honked." She started walking away from the car then, back towards her house.
    "Yes, well," I sighed, shooting Gabe my own look, "I guess he didn't think about that. He is an idiot, after all. Again, I'm super sorry about this. It won't happen again." 
    "It better not," she said from her front door. 
    "I promise it won't. Tell Jenny I said hi." I waved at her. She gave me a dutiful nod, then she disappeared inside her house.
    I turned toward Gabe, leaned into the open window. "Hi, there," I said, grinning.
    "She threatened to have me arrested," he said, turning the key in the ignition, not looking at me. He turned the music back on—a lot lower this time—as I hopped into the truck. He started driving. He ran a hand through his hair. Shifted in his seat. 
    I couldn't help it. I started to laugh again. I didn't stop laughing until he'd stopped the car at Anna's house. The event was her going-away party.
    Now, there isn't any music at all. Just the silence. My hand inches toward the button that turns on the CD player, but I pull it back. Fold both hands in my lap.
    Silence. Silence. Silence. It's a whole damn soundtrack of silence.
    We arrive at my house. I reach for the door handle, but I don't open the door just yet.
    "Thanks for the ride," I say. I sound like a person politely thanking a stranger for going out of their way. That's not how I should sound. 
    "I—" he starts. Closes his mouth. Starts again. "You're welcome." He shouldn't sound like that either. 
    "Do you—My mom made lasagna last night. The one you said should be world-famous? There's some left over. Do you—I mean, if you want to, you can—" Dammit, why is this so hard? Why am I trying to do this in the first place? Oh, my God. Mom, who told me yesterday I needed to give him a chance, is getting to me. "Do you wanna come in and have some?"
    He smiles wide, eyes bright. "I'd love to, Alex." My heart leaps in my chest. "But I can't." And then my heart plummets into my stomach. His smile turns sad, almost rueful. "I, um, I have to get back to school. Practice is supposed to start a little earlier today."
    "Oh, well," I say, pushing the car door open now. Unbuckling my seatbelt. "Well." I slide myself out. I land solidly on my feet, but for some reason, my legs feel like jelly.  
    "I'll see you later, Alex. I'll text you."
    He'd said something similar the night we stopped talking. Although it'd been under very different, very explosive circumstances. Even after we'd calmed down a little, it was clear that we weren't going to deal with it then. He said he'd call me later, but he never did. 
    "Okay." I can barely hear my voice, it's so quiet. I shut the truck door and I step away. I watch him drive off until he disappears around a corner.

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1 Comment
  • Shut_Up_Becky

    I don't think that this needs to be cut down at all.


    about 2 years ago