The last bell rang for the day, and I made sure to be the first one outside before anyone else.
I had to find him.
My eyes searched and searched, until finally his dark brown hair and chocolate eyes showed themselves.
He was walking with a group of friends when I decided to put my brave panties on and walk over to him. I didn’t want to embarrass myself, so I made sure that I didn’t trip over my feet or say the wrong thing. He was laughing with his friends about something, and I couldn’t help but fall in love at the sound of his laugh booming through the schoolyard. I smiled to myself and kept up my pace as I made my way over to him.
“Hey Eric.” I smiled.
He looked up at me, and then looked back at his friends. He let out a grin, and then brought his attention back to me.
“Hey, Layla’s friend right?” He asked, as if he had no idea who I was.
Why is he acting like he doesn’t know me?
“Yeah, moron. We only rode to school together this morning.” I didn’t know why I said all of that out loud in front of his friends. His face turned a weird color and all of his friends starting tapping his arm and making jokes.
“Oh Eric, quality time with the baby sis and her friend huh? That’s so cute!” One of the guys teased.
“Shut up, man.” He snapped back. He looked at me again and I didn’t know why he was making such a big deal out of this.
“Are you okay?” I asked, keeping my eyes directly on his.
“Yes, I’m fine. Jesus, can you please go somewhere? Go find Layla or something, I’m sure she’s more interested in what you have to say.” He said in a nasty tone. All of his friends began laughing and Eric’s grin returned.
“Okay... you let me know when you wanna stop being an ass.” I replied before starting to walk away.
“Whatever freak!” He yelled after me.
It hurt. Everything he said and how he acted hurt. Is this who he really was?
I don’t know what possessed me to do this, but I turned around just in time for all of them to still hear me as I yelled, “By the way, don’t ever talk to me again!”
His face frowned as all of his friends began laughing again.
“Aw, Eric has a little crush!” They teased.
“Shut up, no I don’t!” He yelled back, “She’s nobody.”
I heard everything.
I heard him tell his friends that we had nothing together. That I was nothing. I heard him make fun of Layla and I. He totally blew me off as if I were some lost puppy, following him around. I felt disgusted. Why did he act that way? Was he just trying to look cool in front of his stupid friends?
None of that matters now. Whatever Eric and I shared was over in that one moment. I’m not going to be made to look like a fool. He had his chance, and he blew it. Despite the enormous amount of anger I felt, I couldn’t help but also feel sad. Did I read the signs wrong? Was everything that happened between us at the tracks and at his house all a dream?
Maybe I was just overreacting. It’s not like we were a couple or anything.
I needed to find Layla to get a girls perspective, even if she is his step-sister.
I searched around and saw her walking towards the sidewalk. I ran for her and finally caught up to her, trying to catch my breath.
“Oh, hey girl!” She embraced me with a hug and I let it linger, trying my best to breathe.
“Are you okay, Cecil? What’s wrong?” She pulled away from the hug and started to scan my face for answers.
“I... I’m fine.” My breathing was getting heavier and I could feel the pressure start to build in my chest. I knew I needed to take a pill, but I didn’t want Layla to see.
My head started to feel fuzzy, so I had no choice. I quickly grabbed the water bottle out of my backpack and then reached for the little pocket unzipping it. I took the small bottle of medication out and opened it. Layla looked at the small bottle and then back at me. Her eyes were filled with worry and I quickly tossed back my head and took a sip of water, letting the pill slide down. I took one more drink and then put the water bottle back inside my backpack.
I waited a few seconds before starting to walk again and I could feel Layla’s eyes. I knew she wasn’t going to talk to me much after that, so I began walking without her. She quickly ran for me and pulled me back by my arm.
“Wait a second, damn! What was that all about?” She demanded answers and I had no choice but to give them to her.
I told her everything.
Right there on the sidewalk next to the school, I poured my heart out and started with my dad leaving. I told her how he abandoned me and my little brother and I told her about my anxiety. I told her all about having to take one of these pills anytime I feel like I can’t control myself anymore. I told her about liking her step-brother and how I went to tell him only to be crushed when he rejected me in front of his friends. I could feel the tears building up in my eyes and Layla did the only thing she could do.
She embraced me with a very tight hug and I clung to her. I let the tears fall and I told her how stupid I felt.
After a long hug and a bunch of silence, she finally pulled away to speak.
“Cecil, everyone has their bad days. This is just a bad day, that’s all. I lost my dad too. In fact, we were the same age when we lost our dads. Granted, you lost yours because he is a complete douche-bag who didn’t want to take care of his responsibilities and I lost mine due to a car accident, but we aren’t so different. My brother is an asshole and I will be talking to him tonight. Don’t worry. I’ll get to the bottom of his ridiculous behavior, because I know that he likes you. He’s just too afraid of what his friends will say, which is weak. You are not a freak. I’m your friend Cecil, I will help you through this. I promise.”
Her words were so comforting. I loved having her as my friend. She knew exactly what to say all the time and I let the tears subside as I wiped my eyes with my sleeve.
“Thank you. That means a lot.”
“Of course! Oh, and Cecil?”
“Don’t hide stuff from me anymore, please? You should have told me about your anxiety medication. I could’ve helped you earlier instead of just standing there not knowing what to do.”
“I know I’m sorry. I promise, no more secrets.” We hugged one last time and began our walk home.
Layla had become my best friend in such a short amount of time and I knew that even if I didn’t have Eric, I would always have Layla by my side which is more than enough.
After we made it to Layla’s house, I hugged her goodbye and began walking again. I put my earbuds in and started playing Coldplay. I needed to clear my head. Luckily, it was Friday. I had two days to sit in my room alone and sulk. I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone. I didn’t even want to go to the tracks.
I wanted to do nothing.