School had been going for a month, and after the Homecoming football game had gone and burned out, the band had traveled to a pizza house to have a late night snack. We were celebrating our win, to be exact, and if one had been in such a position before, they knew they had to grab a table inside and fast. No one wanted to eat outside. Anyone that was anything ate where everyone else was.
I chose to eat outside.
“Ripley, you don’t need to sit out here. Come on, I snagged a table!” Corey stood in the doorway with her boyfriend Mark, who leaned against the door with impatience.
I grinned and waved a hand at them as I pulled my notebook out of my bag. “I like it out here, it is quieter.”
“Are you sure?”
The two entered the pizza place together, Mark holding the door for her before entering closely behind. They were good people, the kind I did not mind hanging around, but sometimes one needs time to themselves. Today was a day I needed to myself, and it had been severely crapped upon by the game. I did not choose the day I needed, so when it suddenly pounced upon me I did not always have time to prepare.
Not to worry, I had the metal table and a hazy yellow light all to myself.
The door of the restaurant swung open, Corey emerging with a plate. She set it down before me and then ran her hand through my dark hair gently. She always took care of me, no matter what day it was.
As friends went, she was the best.
“Here, you can eat a slice of ours. If you have any awesome ideas, text them to me later.” Smiling, she left me there and returned to her impatient lover.
I wrote down what I was thinking, what I knew, what I had imagined. It was a combination of ideas, of colors, of voices, something I found precious. My notebook was my life between cheap, mass produced pages. I thought it was rather romantic, more interesting than half of the lives I had ever had the pleasure of knowing. No other life kept me more entertained than my own.
Except Corey’s I guess. I had known her since I was four years old, and she never bored me with her tales and stories of things she had imagined. Imagination was something we both thought was important, and no one could tell us different.
For some reason, I believed Mark was telling her that right now. As I gazed at them through the window, they seemed to be arguing about something, something precious. Her face was becoming sadder and more dejected than I had ever seen it. Maybe he was breaking up with her? Maybe he was degrading who she was?
Then his hand gestured towards me, his eyes meeting my position. She looked out the window at me as well, as if I was the source of their problem.
Well, that is what it meant, right?
She leaned over the table quickly, grasping onto his coat. Her knuckles were white with rage, her eyebrows arched in anger. He had said something about me, and it had given her an emotional response.
Well, Mark was a bastard.
I stood up, pushing my chair back calmly as I waited for her to come running out to me. This happened too often; her trying to find solace and understanding in my presents. Rarely did I even relate to what she was talking about, but she knew I would listen. Sometimes I wondered if she would be better off if she found someone else to confide in.
Oh, I was the best friend I could possibly be, I knew that, I tried to be that. I was that. But . . . Corey was a different person entirely, and maybe if she found someone who was better at dealing with her problems than I, she would be better off?
Her parents did not approve of me, but hardly ever did parents approve of me. I never did anything, in fact, I even bake cookies for these “friends” of mine on their birthdays, but for some reason, they never thought of me as suitable.
I didn’t think I was particularly suitable either. At least we both agreed on one thing.
Corey exited the place as Mark buried his head in his hands. She stormed towards me and grabbed my arm, pulling me towards her car. Apparently, we were leaving.
She left me at the passenger’s side as she rounded the front, jumping in with a huff. I gently opened the door and got in as well, shutting it behind me. She did not start the car immediately, only rested her head on the wheel and cried. I reached over and grasped onto her hand, though I knew it would be minimal in dealing with the problem. I was about as comforting as a fish.
“He . . . he said that you were creeping him out.” She said, looking up at me with tears in her brown eyes. She brushed a hand through her hair and then tried to control her emotions enough to speak clearly. “He said that anyone who was friends with you would have to be . . . a creep as well. I mean, he has known me for like, a year! Why did he do that, Ripley! Why did he say that about you?”
“He’s a bastard,” I replied, grinning a little. “I haven’t done anything to suggest me being a pervert so one must assume that he is in the wrong. And you are nothing like a creep, in fact, you are the opposite of one. It is the social norm for a person like you to become popular.”
“But why do they hate you? I don’t see it!” She turned the key in the ignition finally, the car beginning to hum.
“It is because you care about me, you are dedicated to me, and they want that kind of dedication. Envy, Corey, envy is their game.” I replied, rifling through my bag until I drew out my phone, pulling up the camera app. “I am going to take a picture of you, alright? It will capture your emotion and I will keep that in your notebook.”
“Go ahead, it isn’t like I care anymore.” She sniffed, her mascara running down her porcelain cheeks.
I snapped the picture and then put my phone back, my eyes resting on the speedometer. “Don’t you think you are going a little fast?”
“It calms me.” She said bitterly.
“Well, we don’t want you to crash or anything.” I took her hand again, looking out my window to see the trees and headlights whizzing by. “Take care of yourself when you get home.”
“Yeah, whatever.” She squeezed my hand tighter and turned her head towards me, which made me somewhat uncomfortable. “You know I care about you right? I am just going through some things at home and . . . frankly, I am so sorry.”
“Sorry for what?” I smiled, wondering why she seemed so remorseful. Maybe it had to do with drifting into the oncoming traffic lane, or the fact that she knew she was doing it on purpose.
But I think it had to do with getting right in the way of that semi truck, and laughing as it t-boned us into a tree.