“And now for the ultimate deciding round: movie titles,” Blake declared. “I will give each pair a movie title, and you will have twenty five seconds to guess the movie without speaking or making a sound.”
Blake went to Jordan and whispered the movie in his ear, making sure that Xavier couldn’t hear. He then beckoned me over, and whispered the name of our movie into my ear.
"Jaws," he whispered.
“Are you joking?” I questioned, raising an eyebrow. “Fine.”
“Stef will go first,” Blake said, setting the timer. “Go!”
I tried as hard as I could to pretend like I was swimming, but in reality I was waving my arms crazily. Ethan started guessing random movies, trying to get one right. I faked a really scared look, and mimicked getting eaten alive while holding a hand behind my back, like a shark fin.
“Jaws!” he guessed finally, with nine seconds left on the clock. I high fives him and sat back down. Xavier scoffed.
“This will be easy,” he bragged. He got into an unusual position, and Blake beckoned for him to start. He started waving one of his hands in a peculiar pattern.
Jordan wasn’t even guessing, he just sat there confused as he tried to decipher Xavier’s actions. Xavier tried to desperately wave his hand in some type of circular pattern, but the timer was up before he could try anything else.
“Stef and Ethan are the winners!” Blake declared, clapping.
“What was the movie?” Jordan questioned, hitting Xavier on the back of the head.
Xavier rubbed his head. “Quit it. It was Harry Potter.”
Everyone went ‘oh’ at the same time, Xavier’s weird hand motions suddenly making a lot more sense.
“Do we get a prize?” I asked.
“No,” Blake replied.
I huffed. “But we won,” I pouted jokingly.
“Can we watch a movie or something?” Xavier said, plopping down onto a mattress. “That was too much exercise for me.”
“Sure,” Blake shrugged. “You have to get more snacks though.”
“Fine.” Xavier groaned, getting up and walking into the kitchen. I heard rain start to fall outside, it quickly getting heavier until it was a full storm.
“Creepy,” Ethan grinned. “Horror movie? Or is Blake too much of a pussy?”
Blake attempted to punch him, but missed. “Fuck you, I am not!”
Ethan raised his hands in surrender, although he had a smug look on his face. “Whatever you say.”
“Cut it out,” I said, randomly playing some game on my phone.
Xavier came back with the snacks, chips and even more sugar, and sat them down on the table. I noticed he looked slightly sweaty and on edge, but I decided not to say anything. I notice Jordan glance at him as well, but he also didn’t say anything.
Xavier put on a Marvel film, which I knew I would enjoy. The storm picked up, and so did the wind. The large house howled in the wind, the wooden floorboards cracking in the hallways. We had dimmed the lights, and it made for a spooky scene.
Ethan, Jordan and Blake’s eyes were all trained on the screen. I, however, was watching Xavier as his eyes darted around everywhere but the screen. He clutched a pillow in his lap, perhaps a little too tightly, and seemed more on edge than before, almost panicked. Obviously, something was wrong. I didn’t want to embarrass him, so I didn’t know what I could do.
The three boys had eaten all the snacks. Then I had an idea. “Xavier, wanna come with me to get more snacks? They inhaled all of them.”
He nodded quickly, seeming uncomfortable. “Sure.”
We both got up and left the room, walking into the kitchen. I casually shut the door behind me, almost blocking the sounds from the movie out.
Xavier started to grab the bags of chips and refill the bowls. “Something is bugging you,” I said. “What’s up?”
“It’s nothing... I...” he trailed off, continuing to refill the junk food.
“You know you can tell me,” I said. “You’re obviously distressed about something. Did we do something wrong?”
“No, it wasn’t you,” he replied. “It’s stupid. You’ll laugh. It’s predictable. And weak.”
“I won’t laugh,” I replied, lightly nudging him on the arm. “Explain.”
“This is so stupid but, I’m afraid of..” he said. “I’m afraid of storms, alright?”
“That’s nothing to call stupid,” I replied, his behaviour suddenly making sense. “Perfectly rational fear.”
He rolled his eyes. “Yeah, for big tough guys like me, it’s completely normal.”
“Don’t be like that,” I answered. “Is it the thunder? Lightning?”
“All of it,” he said quietly. “Even the rain. God, I’m such a-”
“Hey,” I interrupted. “You aren’t. It’s fine. I don’t care, doesn’t make you a different person.”
He laughed, but there wasn’t much humour. “Well, we should go back in.” He finished up with the rest of the food, before we approached the door.
“If you get scared.. uh...” I stumbled on my words. “We can talk it out if you want. Argh, that sentence. You get what I mean, right?”
He chuckled this time. “Yeah, I do. Thanks Stef,” he said, quickly putting his arm on my shoulder and giving me a quick side hug.
We went back in and watched the rest of the film. Ethan challenged Blake to a horror film festival, which Blake gave in to. This resulted in us picking multiple horror movies to watch before the night was over.
We laid down on the single mattresses, Xavier on my left while Ethan was on my right. Blake was sitting up straight, his eyes intently focusing on the movie.
A jumpscare popped up, and I jumped. I usually didn’t get caught by them, but once in a while one would get me. I mentally cursed myself for flinching.
Ethan laughed at me, to which I gave him a nice wave with my middle finger. I changed my position, now lying on my stomach with my chin resting on my hands.
The storm was still roaring as loud as ever, causing us to have to heighten the volume to be able to hear it. After forty minutes of a boring film with somewhat surprising jumpscares, we switched out the movie for something more ‘gorey’, according to Jordan.
I changed positions again, not wanting to be close and personal with something that resembles my own insides. I subtly glanced at Xavier, who still looked a bit panicked. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, so I simply grabbed his hand and gave him a reassuring squeeze, which he returned with a small smile. I even saw his shoulders relax slightly from their tense position.
Eventually, we fell asleep after Blake almost pissed himself after watching some movie at three in the morning. While it was funny, our eyes burned and our necks were sore. I laid down on my mattress, and was out like a light.
I didn’t feel so well when I woke up in the morning. While I could make an educated guess why, I assumed that the huge amounts of junk food that I consumed probably made a large contribution.
Blake, Xavier and Jordan were still asleep. Ethan wasn’t lying on his mattress, and he wasn’t in the room either. I heard the toilet flush somewhere outside the room, answering my question and making me instantly realise that I had to go as well.
I got up and left the room, navigating my way to the toilet. Ethan walked out, giving me a wink as his biceps brushed against my shoulder. I stuck my tongue out at him before I rushed into the bathroom.
When I returned to the living room, everyone was awake. Jordan looked pissed off, while Xavier was slightly grinning.
Before I could even ask what happened, Jordan answered my question. “Xavier stood on me.”
My head started to ache, and I started to get dizzy. The attention wasn’t on me, so I sat down and closed me eyes. Guilt suddenly wracked my heart. These boys, my best friends, didn’t know. They didn’t know that I had a chance of dying soon.
I flicked those thoughts out of my head, waiting for the headache and dizziness to dissipate.
“Tired?” Ethan questioned, watching me with inquisitive eyes.
“Yeah,” I lied. “I’m really tired.” I looked away.
A few weeks later...
I had just paid off more of Ethan’s mother’s hospital bill. I hadn’t actually met her, but I couldn’t just go barging in claiming to be the anonymous person who was funding her treatment.
I had received an email from the cafe I had applied to for a job, luckily accepting me. I had begun to work a shift every second day on break, but now school has started again for the second semester, so I didn’t have as many shifts.
The one regret I did have was not being able to play soccer anymore. I had wanted to play so bad, and now I literally couldn’t. Amber always gave me sympathetic looks when we crossed paths in the hallway. I didn’t mind, she was only trying to be kind.
I was walking in the school hallways alone, no one around. I had to go to my locker to grab a book I forgot.
I heard Ethan’s voice behind me as I rummaged through my locker. “Planning to pull out a ladder?”
“Actually, for my next trick, it was going to be an elephant.”
“I would have paid to see it.”
“Honestly, me too.”
He chuckled, leaning against the locker next to me.
“Are you ditching?” I raised an unapproving eyebrow, although I had a smile on my face.
He shrugged. “Maybe. Maybe not.”
I scoffed. “Have fun failing.”
“Oh I will.”
I shut my locker. “I have to get back to class.” I walked forward but he blocked me.
“Don’t you love my presence though?” he said smugly, with a devilish smirk on his face.
“Absolutely,” I sarcastically replied.
He moved closer to me, his face almost inches away from mine. My breath caught in my throat, and my heart accelerated one hundred times faster.
“Oh really?” he said. It annoyed me how good looking he was. And he knew it too.
However, I couldn’t form a coherent reply as his lips were literally centimetres away from mine.
He pulled away. “See you in class,” he yelled back, walking away and leaving me utterly confused.
That teasing fucker.