Back To Square One

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Chapter 5

A few days later I was walking down the hallways of school on my way to my next class when Kimberly suddenly appeared in front of me. “If you tell anyone you saw me at that office the other day I will make your life a living hell and you will wish you had never come to this school. I will make sure you go back to wherever it is you came from!”

It was clear to me she still hadn’t figured out who I was. So it also meant that Brandon still hadn’t told anybody that he had worked it out, either. It was kind of funny, though. Here I was thinking I would never be in the same league as Kimberly and her entourage, only to find out she is actually in MY league.

“Kimberly, I will not tell anyone I saw you because then everyone will know I also go there. And it is really not something I would like to advertise. Plus, I have enough of my own issues, so I don’t need to be part of yours as well. And just between the two of us, I was born in South Africa, raised in this town and have lived here my entire life. Yes, I did move away for a while but I’m here to stay now, so I think it’s time we started getting along, don’t you?” I said, the fake sweetness dripping from my lips.

Anger flared in her eyes at the mere mention of the word issues. “I do not have issues, okay, I just need a little pick me up now and then, and the only way I can get itis if I go to see that quack! Danny Jnr. can be a handful at times. We will never get along because you and me are worlds apart and don’t ever forget that!”

Keeping my laughter and confusion at bay I only nodded at her and continued down the hallway.“Thanks for the chat, Kimberly, I’m late for my class otherwise. . . See you around,” I said as I continued down the hallway.

Danny Jnr?

Kimberly, clearly not happy with how this exchange went, was grumbling and cursing me as I walked away. I burst out laughing, not able to keep it in anymore. So glad I’m not the only one in this school that has issuesI kept thinking to myself as I walked into my last class for the day.

Who is Danny Jnr?

It was time for the tutoring lesson again. I hadn’t really spoken to Brandon since I ran out of his house last week and he kind of cancelled our Thursday session, so I was really looking forward to having a conversation with him, and, I’m ashamed to admit, also to stare at him again. He was just so beautiful that you can’t help but look at him.

I parked my car in their driveway and walked to the front door. I had just lifted my hand to knock when the door opened. I nearly struck Mrs. Gillen with my fist, but stopped myself just in time. Startled, I just stood there and stared at her like she had grown an extra head. “Uh, hi Mrs. Gillen, I’m here for the tutoring session with Brandon.”

“Oh, Samantha, I didn’t know you were coming today. I was just on my way out. Brandon isn’t home yet but he said he is on his way.”

Not home yet? He was the one telling me I needed to be here and now he isn’t home yet. “Oh, okay. That’s not a problem, I’ll wait for him in my car till he comes.”

I turned to goback to my car, debating whether I should wait or just leave.

“No need to wait in the car. You can wait for him in the house. He said he would be here in about ten minutes. I really do have to leave though, so make yourself comfortable and I’ll see you later.”

Not wanting to be rude again I said thank you and went inside the house as she went to her car. I set my things down in the dining room where we worked the last time and decided to wander around a bit. I started in the living room again, taking a closer look at the pictures all around the room. Mrs. Gillen really liked her family pictures.

On a wall that you couldn’t see from the entrance was a sort of timeline of the Gillen family, starting with Mr. and Mrs. Gillen. If I were to take a guess, it started from when they were dating, moving on to the engagement, then the wedding, then the pregnancy and then, there was Brandon joining the small family. Each important moment in their lives was spread out on that one wall. Brandon’s birthdays, when he went to school; all those pictures joined the wall, as well as the first rugby game he ever played.

He was a very cute kid. Always has been handsome, I saw from the pictures. He got his looks from his dad if you looked at the younger versions of his father. As he grew up he just got more and more good-looking. Then came the Valentine’s Ball, which he attended with Kimberly. They looked like the perfect couple.

There was a bunch of pictures of both of them taken over the time they dated. School functions and private family functions. At someone’s wedding and a few family birthdays. I wonder what went wrong there? When I left those two were inseparable. And judging by the picture on the fireplace they were together right up until sometime last year. Now he can’t stand her and she all but throws herself on him every chance she gets.

“She cheated on me!” came the voice from the doorway.

“Sorry?” I said, startled out of my thinking. Brandon walked over to where I was standing and looked at the picture I was staring at.

“You asked what happened between us. Well, she cheated on me with one of the guys on my team. When she found out she was pregnant she tried to tell me the kid was mine. My parents nearly killed me but told me I had to take responsibility for my actions – and she just wanted to get married.

“She was about halfway through the pregnancy when we were at one of her doctor’s appointments together. The doctor mentioned something about how far along she was and it hit me then that she was much further along than she had told me. I did the math and figured out there was no way the baby could be mine as I was away with my parents at the time she would have been knocked up. I confronted her, she came clean about the other guy and that was that. I broke up with her. No girlfriend, no kid and no best friend.”

Totally not expecting to hear this, I stood there staring at him incredulously. It all started to make sense now. The extra weight she had put on, the visits to Dr. Trammel’s office, and the fact that Brandon couldn’t stand being around her and Danny Jnr, which I assumed was the kid’s name.

Finally able to find my voice, I said, “Brandon, I’m so sorry. I know you guys have been together for a long time. It couldn’t have been easy to walk away but I totally understand why you did. If there is one thing I would not be able to do, it’s stay with someone who cheated on me. Especially if it was with my best friend.”

Before I could stop myself, I threw my arms around him and gave him a tight hug, holding him like he might break at any moment.

Hugging me back he said, “Thank you, but what are you doing in my house?”
Pulling away, I gave him a confused look. “We have a tutoring session today, don’t you remember. You still phoned me last night to confirm it!”

Recognition dawned on him. “I’m so sorry, I totally spaced out. Um, did you set up in the dining room again?”

Nodding, I walked past him to the dining room. He clearly didn’t want to talk about Kimberly anymore. And even though I really wanted to ask a million questions, I kept them to myself and started with the lesson.

We had been busy for about half an hour when I stopped and gave up. He wasn’t concentrating at all today and everything I said went over his head. After he started one of the maths problems and had done nothing with it for about ten minutes, I poked him in the ribs. He turned to face me.

I nearly burst into tears when I saw the look on his face. He looked sad and defeated, like he didn’t know what to do. Not saying a word, I wrapped my arms around him again and gave him an awkward hug, just holding him and not wanting to let go. After I lowered my arms, I hesitantly asked him the question I had wanted to ask ever since I bumped into Kimberly in the hallway.

“Why didn’t you tell anyone at school who I am?”

He looked at me a long time before he finally answered me.

“I wanted to keep you to myself a bit longer,” he said slowly.

I nearly fell off my chair at those words. He saw the expression on my face and quickly tried to change his answer.

“I . . . I mean, it was really none of their business.” He stammered over the words.

We didn’t do any work after that and I didn’t mention my question again either. We just sat at the dining room table and talked about everything but the stuff that hurt. He didn’t ask about my parents, I didn’t ask about Kimberly. He did let slip though, that his best friend – or more like his ex-best friend – is on the team with him, and it’s really hard for him to see Danny and Danny Jnr. when Kimberly brings him along to the games.

He didn’t want to have kids yet, but in those few months that he went along to the appointments and saw the baby growing he grew attached, and soit hurt even more. More than that I couldn’t get out of him. He tried asking about my parents but I shut him down quickly by changing the subject.

Nevertheless, when his mom got home that evening we were all a little surprised that I was still there after the last time when I ran out of the house. In the end they invited me to dinner, and not wanting to be alone that evening or to cook for myself, I agreed to stay. Surprisingly, we had a great evening full of laughter and jokes and his dad turned out to be a really nice guy. I could see where Brandon got his personality. He was his dad’s twin in every respect. If there weren’t pictures on the wall to confirm that his mom was pregnant with him, you wouldn’t have known she was his mother.

Around ten o’ clock that evening I said my goodnights and headed home. All the way home the smile stayed on my face, not fading once. Even as I got ready for bed, took my meds and switched off the light, my mind kept going over the amazing afternoon and evening with Brandon, and reflecting on what a great guy he was. Closing my eyes, I couldn’t wait for morning to come when I would see him again.

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