Chapter 9: How It All Started (Part 3)
The rest of the week seemed to pass by a lot faster than I would’ve wished it too. We were having fun, but it seemed like we were only doing the things that I wanted to do. I’d constantly ask her what she would like, but all she’d say was that it didn’t matter. It was like she was growing distant. Like I was losing her without even having to do anything wrong. I had my own questions I wanted to ask her, but everyday with her answered them for me.
The rumors about her were absurd.
Although I tried to ignore them the best I could, they still had the tendency to linger there and today was no different. It didn’t help that Clarissa wouldn’t stop calling me, finally forcing me to just answer already.
“She’s not in love with me.” I sighed, repeating myself for the umpteenth time. I was really getting tired of this.
“Oh please Davie. Haven’t you noticed how she clings to you? I tried to warn you.” she snarled in her horrible voice like nails on a chalkboard. She was good for the occasional distraction, but now it was becoming too much and I was really getting tired of all the Maria bashing. It hadn’t worked for a year, but she still wouldn’t let up.
“Have you ever considered that maybe I cling to her?” I spat out, almost giving myself away.
“Yeah right!” she laughed. “Why would someone like you cling to a thing like that? Don’t be absurd.” I rolled my eyes praying that she would finally start to hear how annoyed I was getting. “I’m telling you Davie, just ask her. Pay attention to how she acts. She loves you and it’s better if you let her down now rather than letting it fester into something. You don’t want to hurt her do you?”
“Good-bye Clarissa.” I didn’t give her the chance to say anything else as I hung up. How dare she try to manipulate me? It was bad enough that she kept threatening me that she’d tell Maria about our activities, but this was just...ugh! There were no words for it. How low can one person stoop?
Still the possibility that she could be in love with me had my heart racing. What if it was true? I mean I knew I didn’t deserve her love, but was I worth it? Was it worth it to potentially ruin the friendship just to find out if she was? What if she wasn’t? Would the rejection allow me to stop seeing her like I had been? Would it knock me off of my high horse and make me remember how much of a monster I really was? Could I really beg for a chance knowing that I had, quite literally, been sleeping with the enemy?
My mind was running rampant. Clarrisa had definitely set off the minefield of possibilities and I couldn’t help but want the answers. I didn’t know if I wanted to turn right or left, and let’s be honest, even in denial, no one wants to turn left. Deciding to just get it over with, I picked up my phone and dialed her number. Her rejection was exactly what I needed. I needed to turn left and I needed her to help me too.
“Hey Maria, what are you doing?” I asked as soon as the ringing had stopped indicating that she’d picked up the phone. I had to calm down or she’d know I was up to something.
“Lying here depressed.” she whined as I laughed. I almost forgot what today was, but I needed to prolong why I really called for as long as possible. If today would be the day I lost her, I’d at least have a few pleasantries to remember of the day.
“Well, today is vet day. To make it worse it’s the one where they have to stay overnight and I’m going to be alone while I constantly worry about them. Want to keep me company until they get back?” Was she implying that I sleep over? Were we already at that stage in our friendship? Would sleeping so close to her be enough to stop me from sneaking one goodnight kiss? Was I really going to ruin it before I had the chance to find out?
“Sure, but why aren’t you going with them like always?” I already knew the answer, but I was desperately trying to talk myself out of what I was about to do.
“Mom says that I’m a crybaby and she’s tired of it. Plus I was banned after what happened last time.” I could hear the pout in her voice.
“You are a crybaby though Minnie, especially after what happened last time; but I guess that means you’re my crybaby.” My eyes widened as my heart fluttered from the thought of her being mine. There was no more delaying the inevitable. I needed her to reject me and I needed her to do it now. I couldn’t let this go on any further. I couldn’t let myself fall in love with someone who didn’t want me; someone I didn’t deserve to want me. “Hey Maria?” I asked, my voice breaking slightly as I said her name. Damn this was already hard.
“David?” her guard was up. Maybe calling her Maria was a bad idea and not the way to go. Still I knew what I was doing. I was warning her that she wasn’t going to like what I was about to say, hopefully ensuring her automatic rejection.
“You’re not starting to like… like me are you?” I stopped immediately regretting the words once they were out of my mouth. From the sharp intake of breath she’d taken I’d definitely irritated her with my assumption and I hated myself for it; but I needed her rejection to breathe. I was a horrible friend and boyfriend, but her rejection would help to clear my mind. It was one thing to know that I didn’t deserve to feel any way about her, but it was another to understand the possibility of more wasn’t even there.
Thunder shook the house as lightning brightened the room every now and then. It was pouring outside and because of that we were reading books by candlelight. She was dedicated to finishing Broken today and wasn’t going to let a little power outage stop her. It was kind of admirable how determined she was. It made me curious as to why she let the rumors go on for so long. Despite my curiosity I had to admit, she looked beautiful by candlelight.
It’s been several months since I first met her, and we’re well into our junior year, but the amount of beauty bestowed upon her still amazed me.
“Hey Dave?” she spoke, breaking me from my trance of staring at her. Her nose was still deep in the book and it was clear that whatever part she’d just read had bothered her to some extent. I waited for her to continue on, but she’d gone back to reading and completely ignored me.
“Maria, did you want to ask me something?” I mocked teasing as a small chuckle escaped me. I loved that she got so entirely captivated in her moment of whatever she was doing. All I could seem to do was just stare at her no matter what I was doing. She was what captivated me and that was a problem. I couldn’t afford for her to be so interesting to me.
“Oh yeah.” she laughed to herself. “I don’t want to argue, but since you so desperately want to be the advocate for Lance, although we don’t agree on him, I only have one question.” she paused. I knew she was trying to find the best way to phrase it. One that would stomp me for sure this time, but I doubt it. Lance wasn’t quite the bad guy everyone made him out to be.
“Try me.” I breathed confidently.
“If he loved Victoria so much, why did he leave? Why didn’t he stay and fight? Why was it so easy for him to walk away? Real love holds you there, you don’t just walk away from it.” Too many emotions hit me at once. I wasn’t able to fully grasp them all, but the one that stuck out was empathy. From her tone it was clear that the secret boyfriend had been real, but I doubt he was as controlling as the rumors implied. Well I had to admit it. She had stomped me with this one, but it wasn’t because of the book’s character. She was holding on to this guy and needed help to move on and let whatever happened go.
The second emotion that stood out was jealousy.
Clearly this guy had something I could never compare too. It made me wonder if she ever compared the two of us. I understood why she was so hesitant to be my friend at first and why she thought I was hitting on her. Whatever hold he had on her made it hard to get her to open up without shutting down. I had to choose my words carefully. I had to take my own opinion out of it and try to speak with compassion.
“Sometimes leaving is the easiest thing to do. It doesn’t matter how much you care and love someone if they only see you as a monster. As someone who’s incapable of loving them back. Who only lives to hurt them and make them cry. It’s hard to change an opinion that’s been formed. Sometimes it’s easier to put the blame fully on one person rather than admit you fucked up also. It didn’t matter what she did because she was only focused on what he did. He saw that it was hurting her more to have him around and he only wanted to make amends and make her happy, so he did what she wanted. He left. He had no fight left and it wasn’t an easy decision to come to. It broke him to do so. He even ran after her and tried to stop her from leaving him, but it was too late. Real love isn’t the easy things, real love is doing the things that will make your partner happy no matter how much it hurts you. Real love is sometimes keeping secrets because you don’t want to hurt your partner because seeing them sad, crying and hurt destroy you. Sometimes leaving is the only way you can apologize and you can only hope they understand.”
“Take it from me, leaving is the worst thing you can do. Say your apologies, talk it out. I don’t care if I’m screaming I hate you, come back. I’ll calm down eventually and I’d rather they be there. I don’t want to wonder if I’ll ever see them again. That only makes me sadder, crying the hardest I ever have and absolutely devastated. I don’t want to be left over something that could’ve been talked about and fixed.”
“What are you talking about Mickey? Of course I like you. We’re so close it’s like I’ve known you for years.” her words oozed with sarcasm and it was pissing me off. To make it worse she laughed. Was the possibility of wanting me as more than a friend so impossible for her to imagine that it was actually laughable?
“I’m not talking about a friendship kind of like Minerva, you know what I mean?” I snapped struggling hard to keep my temper in check. Her rejection was supposed to make this easier on me. Instead I was pissed because I felt like a fool for even getting my hopes up.
“David Micheal what the hell?!” she snapped back.
“Do you like me Minnie? Are you getting romantic feelings for me?” I spelled it out coming out more demanding than I wanted it too. Suddenly my intent had changed. I wanted her to say yes. I needed her too. If she felt for me like I was starting to feel for her then maybe pursuing these feelings wouldn’t be such a bad idea. I needed to know first. I needed her permission to go for it.
“Oh...um, sorry but no Mickey.” My heart fell into my lap. No. She had said no. “You’re cool and all, but you’re not really my type.” My eyes hurt and water was starting to build in them. Why was she still going? I didn’t want the answer anymore. “I don’t mean any offense, but why did you ask that? Why now and not back then?” I didn’t believe it was a possibility back then and now I know it’s not. “How long have you been thinking that I do?” I sighed. How was I to explain that I didn’t think she did without revealing everything? I no longer wanted to reveal my own and make a fool of myself. Right now a white lie would be best to tell. It would be easier.
“I don’t know Minnie. I mean I like you, I really do, but not in that kind of way.” Damn. It was easier to lie to her than I thought it would be. It just seemed to roll right off the tongue. “I guess I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page. You know so things won’t get awkward between us if one person did feel that way and the other didn’t. We don’t want to ruin things, right?” Why did I want her to confirm her rejection? What was wrong with me? Why was I hoping that her answer would change? Why did it have to be her that admitted feelings first? Why couldn’t I just say the words?
“Right.” she agreed, shattering me completely. I needed to get my mind off of this conversation and situation entirely. Sadly, the only person I wanted distracting me was the same person I needed a distraction from.