The Gentiles

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“I could go to my class alone, Harry,” Callie told me for the third time, sounding exasperated. I suppressed a laugh. She gave up on tugging her backpack from my shoulder as I walked her to her first period. “I’m not disabled and feel fine. Besides, aren’t you supposed to be with Hannah?”

I hadn’t spoken to Hannah since last week, when I told her I’d call her for updates about Callie’s condition.

Since then, I’d only messaged her, making up excuse after excuse why I couldn’t meet up with her. She must have already known what was up and that I was avoiding her but I didn’t wanna just ghost her heartlessly. I had to talk to her soon, and by soon I meant today.

I only had one focus and that was Callie. I couldn’t keep up the charade anymore and if Hannah still wanted to be my friend, then I’d treat her as well as I did before. I can still walk her to class from time to time, it wasn’t like I didn’t enjoy her silent company. I liked how she was mostly quiet and kept to herself, and how her voice sounded.

Maybe that was what drew her to me in the first place.

She reminded me of Callie’s singing voice.

No one could compare to Callie but Hannah came close and she wasn’t even in the glee club as Callie was. I asked her about it one day and her excuse was that she had a stage fright. Yeah, I believed that. The girl was extremely shy. It took a while before she felt okay with being seen with me. I could only imagine her trying to contain her previous meal in an attempt not to vomit when faced with a huge audience.

Everyone just assumed that we were dating but I never confirmed it. Neither did I deny the presumption and it wasn’t like I was misleading anyone because nobody really thought of asking. Callie was among them.

I couldn’t blame her, though, I had become notorious for going out with different girls in short intervals. But even as I was the reason why, it still pained me to know that she thought of me that way.

The look on my face must have indicated my worries because Callie stopped me with a hand on my chest.

“What’s the matter?”

Her perfect arched brows were drawn together, creating a crease on her forehead. I smoothed it out with my thumb.

“Nothing to worry your pretty little head with, sweetheart.”

Callie was having none of my shit. “You’re lying.”

Her frown reappeared, making me frown in return. Her eyes held a speculation, the gears in her beautiful mind were working. I should come clean and tell her Hannah and I were never truly involved in a romantic relationship but I got lost in her eyes like I always do, falling deep into her soul where they lead to.

“You’ve broken up,” she said in a whisper.

Again, I felt the need to tell her the truth but before I could, someone slid smoothly between us, his back to me and one arm stretched out resting on the wall where Callie was leaning.

“Hey, Calliope,” the asshole said in a low voice. I cringed because of two things. First, because of his attempt to sound suave only, it came out nasally and out of pitch. The other reason was because he just sabotaged Callie’s name.

He was appealing to a sort of familiarity that hadn’t even been established between them by calling her in her full name, oblivious to the fact that nobody ever called Callie that way - nobody in our family, not even her close friends - well, except the few times her mom did right before she delivered a hefty amount of nagging.

I had to give it to him for his effort, no matter how it failed in so many ways than one.

Who is this guy?

“Hey… Randall.” I’ve known her well enough to be certain what face went with that uncomfortable reply. I noticed her push away from the wall, creating a distance between her and Johnny Bravo over here.

Seriously, had he ever heard of leg day? If he did, he must have skipped it plenty of times if not altogether. It was a wonder how the dude’s chicken legs could support his muscled upper body.

“How are you doing? I heard about what happened with…” He pointed with a shaky finger on his forehead.

Oh, here we go.

I moved to the side just in time to catch Callie’s panicked look.

“Do you - Can I walk you to class?”

Callie’s eyes bulged from their sockets.

That’s it.

I stepped in and pulled Callie to my side and saw Johnny’s face for the first time. I don’t recognize the guy but Callie knew him so I might have seen him once or twice but he was just not memorable.

He looked at me with surprise like he didn’t expect me to be there. “Harry. What’s up, man?”

So he knew me. Then again, it comes with being the student council president and an athlete. I nodded my head at him and looked down at Callie. My girl looked so small in my arm. I wish I could keep her there and shield her from everyone else.

“We have to go or you’ll be late,” I said as calmly as I could. I was trying so hard not to bark at the stranger in front of us. He wasn’t really doing anything bad but I had to interrupt his sentiments as it was making Callie uneasy.

She nodded at me, relief passing in a breath. She turned to Johnny, lost as to what to say. Once again, I rescued my damsel in distress.

“Listen, buddy. We’re gonna keep going. Thanks for your concern.” I even flashed him the warmest smile I could muster. Hope it doesn’t look as fake as it felt.

The dunce gaped at us for a few seconds before shaking his head erratically. Weirdo.

“Yeah - Yeah, yeah of course. Sure, bro. I mean, I’m sorry,” he stuttered. He looked back at Callie. “I guess I’ll see you later.”

What now?

I spun Callie around, striding us off before Johnny could say something else I wouldn’t like.

“’See you later’?” My hand squeezed Callie’s shoulder tighter.

“He’s in the club,” she explained meekly.

Perfect. It was a mistake on my part that guys in glee club wouldn’t take interest in my girl. What did I expect? That guys wouldn’t look past the thick glasses that were hiding her soul sucking blue eyes? That they wouldn’t be aware of her maturing figure that was becoming more and more noticeable beneath her uniform that fit her like a glove? How can anyone be oblivious of her dorky attitude, or how she was both kind and gentle but could be strong and fiery when the situation demands it?

I must be delusional into believing that Callie hasn’t already attracted some people. Her voice alone was a beacon lulling helpless sailors to their deaths they’d be more than happy to succumb to. I know they do. Because I’m the same.

Crazy about the girl who I could never have. The one girl in this whole cruel world I am not allowed to have.

Just because I wasn’t supposed to doesn’t mean I won’t.

I’ve spread the word around not to mess with Callie before she even first stepped in the school grounds on her freshman year. It was a silent threat and people respected me enough to abide by my request.

Guys still swarm around her but thank the heavens, I was always one step ahead and foil any plans involving her even before they started. They gave her the same respect they’d given me and I’d never been happier with how my reputation had been solidified in the school.

Kim didn’t show any signs of animosity towards Callie but when I started seeing her, only then she showed her true colors. I guess she thought that because I was with her, that she could do whatever the fuck she wanted. That she was invincible.

I was turned off day after day of being with her that was why what mediocre thing we had didn’t even last a month.

We reached the English classroom and I handed Callie her bag.

“I’ll meet you when the bell rang,” I reminded her, pressing my lips on the top of her head. Her smell intoxicated me, making it hard to let her go.

She gave me a small smile and clasped the one strap in her fist but made no move to go. She lingered in the doorway for a while, a few students ducking their heads as they passed between us.

I waited with one eyebrow raised. She had something to say.

Callie sighed. “I’m sorry,” she murmured. “I mean, about you and Hannah.”

God, I want to kiss her right now. She didn’t know it’s her who was important to me. I couldn’t care less about anyone else. Bless her for being so concerned about me though there was really no need to be.

“Enjoy your class,” I tell her. And, because I couldn’t help myself, I gave her another kiss, on the cheek this time.

On my way to my own class, I happened upon Abe. I didn’t question how I hadn’t seen him since his first day at school. Ane, I’ve spoken to and she even visited Callie a few times back home, but even I didn’t inquire his whereabouts when I did. We were both familiar with Abe’s disappearances and I could never be more certain that that was the reason why he had to repeat one year.

It was regretful how Abe and I used to be close and he was the closest thing I’d had to a brother. He used to be a boisterous little boy, teasing the young Callie just to get a rise out of her.

One day, he just changed. He slowly pushed us out of his life and maintained a secretive world only he knew of.

I don’t even want to begin thinking about the news circulating around that he was involved in a gang. He’s family and I care about the guy. I hope to god he wasn’t doing anything dangerous or stupid.

Despite the dead look he was sending my way, I gave him a wide smile as I pat his shoulder. I really hope he wasn’t.

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