I felt someone nudge me. At first, I groaned and pulled the blanket over my head, sleep overcoming me because I slept too late in the morning. Again. Another nudge. I groaned louder as I rolled on my side.
“Wake uuuuppp!!!!” David’s child voice whined as he shook me with all his might, “Xavier said...”
I immediately opened my eyes, threw the cover off from my head and bulleted up to sitting position. David was sitting on the place Xavier was supposed to be sleeping if he was still around. I scanned the room to see if he was still around. He had already left.
“He left already,” David said.
“You saw him?”
He nodded and answered, “He told me to wake you up or else you’ll be late for school.”
He was the one who drank his brains out and he still managed to wake up earlier than me.
“When did he come? I didn’t see him last night,” David asked me, confused.
“Uhhh... Forget about it. Is dad home?”
I breathed deeply, “Good. You won’t tell dad that Xavier was here, will you?”
Boy sleeping over in daughter’s room when dad isn’t around is obviously not something pleasant to hear. That is generally, all the dads’ biggest nightmare.
David frowned sweetly and thought for a while, focussing his eyes deliberately at his baseball bat which was lying on the floor. Seriously, he thought. Contemplated. Calculated. I stared at his face, puzzled.
What does he need to think about?
“On one condition,” he finally spoke, excited and mischievous.
“You have a condition?” I raised an eyebrow at him.
He nodded. Now a bit shy.
“Hmm.” I folded my arms across my chest and pursed my lips, wondering.
David was so becoming weird each day. He waited on me expectedly.
“What is it?”
Flashing a sheepish smile, he said, “You can’t tell dad that I was in a fight.”
“Aha! So that’s what you’ve been thinking, huh?” I laughed.
He’s so smart and dangerously sweet.
“Deal,” I said.
“Yes!!” He jumped on the bed throwing his arms around my neck, strangling me and pushing me back to bed as the full weight of his little body came down on me.
“You’re the best! You’re the best! You’re the best!!” he shouted happily.
I couldn’t help laughing.
“Alright, bad boy. We need to get ready for school.”
“And Alana...” he pulled back and said slyly.
“What? You have more condition?” I sat up.
“Umm. I need new glasses.”
“Oh right. But we can’t get one now. We’ll be late for school. Can you manage without glasses for just today?”
“Great!” He jumped down from my bed and headed towards the door to leave, dragging the baseball bat behind him.
I went for the bathroom.
I looked back. He was standing near the door.
“You’re buying me the glasses, right?”
“Umm... No. I don’t have money for that. I’ll tell dad to buy them for you.”
“Nooooo!!!” he threw his hands to his head, “Then he’ll know that I’d been in a fight!!”
I knew he was worried about that so I decided to tease him. I like teasing him. He was looking so cute. I tried not to laugh.
“You have to buy them!” he dragged his palms to his cheeks from his head, worriedly as if there was no more hope in this world, “Pleeeease.”
He pouted his lips making an excellent puppy-dog face, so cute that you’d want to trade your kidneys to get a chance to pinch his cheeks.
“But I don’t have anymore deals to exchange with your glasses.”
“Save it for the next time Xavier sleeps here again!”
“THERE IS NO NEXT TIME.”
I drove David to school.
“Don’t fight!” I shouted through the school gate from my car as he went inside.
He shrugged off my words-of-wisdom coolly without even looking back at me.
“Huh,” I huffed in disbelief and shook my head.
He was so becoming a minion Xavier.
It felt so weird driving my own car after a long, long time. The atmosphere inside as I drove to school was eerily quiet. I could almost touch the silence... Or smell it. When Xavier drive me to school, I don’t get a chance to stay shut. He kept me hanging on a never-ending string of squabbling or he kept me laughing continuously at his stupid jokes, more like his amusing way of speaking.
And people just wouldn’t stop staring no matter what. They stare when I come to school with Xavier. They stare when I come to school without Xavier. It was simply annoying. Kendra too. She came and raised an eyebrow at me before I even moved out of the car.
“You’re alone,” she stated.
“Yes. Alone and happy,” I returned blankly.
“How would I know.” I closed the car door shut, pushing it with greater force than necessary.
“Is everything alrig...”
“Perfect,” I answered way quick that she stopped to stare at me.
“You guys fought?”
“We always fight.”
“Hmm.” She nodded and walked beside me.
I thought of going through Shakespeare’s biography as I sat on my place beside Xavier’s and waited for Mr. Hart. Kendra was in a conversation with Brittany.
As I flipped through the pages, my phone buzzed. I slipped it out of my jean pocket and swiped the screen open.
Narcissist: Mongrel, where are you?
Ten minutes passed. I was still reading the boring stuff like the nerd I was. Suddenly, I felt his presence and instinctively looked towards the door. Our eyes met. My heart skipped a beat. He came and sat beside me, setting his backpack on the floor and running a hand through his hair. He smelt so good and fresh. He had changed into faded jeans and a brown coloured collar shirt, with its sleeves rolled up to the elbow revealing his perfectly veined arms.
“How bad did I screw up last night?” he asked, avoiding my gaze.
I shrugged, “Bad enough.”
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come drunk. I could’ve hurt you. Well, I shouldn’t have showed up at all but drunk makes it worst,” he said, “I won’t stop screwing up, would I?”
“Well, you’re good at it,” I replied coating it with little humor, “Besides, that makes us even now. I crashed at your place first.”
He looked at me and smiled, “Right. You owe me big time.”
I smiled back. It was weird. The more he screwed up, the easier it became for me to deal with him. I noticed his eyes fall on my lips. He also noticed me noticing it and, therefore, pulled his gaze away as fast as he could. I did too. I think my cheeks warmed up slightly as I remembered that he kissed me the day before... and I slapped him in return. And I also wanted to giggle as I remembered all that he rambled about before passing out on my bed.
“So...” he breathed, “I remember saying something about pink bed. What else did I say?”
I chuckled. “You said Jacob is gay.”
At this, he began to laugh, like really laugh. An elbow on the desk and his bruised hand covering his eyes, he kept chuckling lowly. I couldn’t look away. He was so handsome as he laughed. The sound of his low laughter was so good to listen to that I felt like I was floating in between musical notes. Seeing him laugh again that way simply made me happy too and so I smiled.
“Doesn’t your hand hurt?” I asked when his laughter receded. The bandage had been removed.
He looked at it and pushed his lips upward, “Used to it. I must have said other things about the puppet.”
“Yeah.” I took a deep breath and nodded. “You also said that you would beat him up first thing in the morning.”
He smirked, “No surprise. I’ve always wanted to beat him up, if possible kill him, ever since I saw you with him,” he said honestly.
“Will you really beat him?” I asked. He didn’t look likely but I knew that he can do anything. And he’s full of surprises.
“Why? Are you worried?” his eyes gleamed playfully yet serious.
“I am,” I replied, “I’ve seen you fight enough times. You’re quite dangerous.”
He laughed, “You’re smarter than I thought, Mushroom. He won’t survive if I lay my hands on him.”
“You can’t beat him, Xavier.”
Folding his hands behind his head, he rested his body back on the chair, the muscles of his biceps bunching up. I struggled not to ogle at his perfect abdomen.
He smirked, “It would be a privilege to fracture every bone in his body but I wouldn’t do that. It will only make you hate me more. Besides, I’m seventeen. I don’t play with puppets anymore.” He chuckled humorlessly.
I was quiet. I looked at him, saddened. He thought I hate him.
“Xavier,” I called, my voice coming out in a low whisper but he heard me. He looked at me.
“I don’t hate you,” I told him.
His expression was unreadable as his brown eyes stared at me.
I added, “You’re just annoying.”
A gorgeous smile broke upon his gorgeous face.
He dropped his hands from the back of his head and replied, “That’s good to hear.” His gaze went back to the desk.
“Thank you,” he added after a while, starit at the desk in front of him with a faint smile.
“There’s no need to say that,” I replied.
“Okay, then, what else did I speak about last night? Did I say anything about my, um... Family?” he suddenly looked serious with the mention of the word family.
“Uhhh. No! Nothing,” I answered right away.
As expected, he wasn’t buying it.
I smiled. More like tried to smile but the way he was staring at me was making me so nervous. I felt like I was in a police custody being interrogated. But yet I tried. Something told me that I should maybe just not tell him that he spoke about his family, his life, to me. I somehow sensed that what he told me last night, about his parents, wouldn’t really be something he would be so willing to talk about when he is sober. So I decided to just keep this a secret and save him some worry. But all-knowing Xavier is a genius. It was so hard to deceive him.
“Really? What did I say?” his voice was now demanding.
“O... o... only that you were... Uh, really angry and that you broke the mirror with your fist.”
Shit. He was too domineering that I couldn’t help stammering. It was funnily absurd but then, that was me and he was Xavier. So it’s nothing to be surprised about.
He studied my face for a while. I stared back blinking pathetically.
“Hmm.” He looked away, not buying it still but he dropped it anyway.
After a moment, his gaze returned to me again and said, “I’m sorry bout everything, Alana. Especially about the... the kiss.” He scratched the back of his head and fidgeted on his seat uneasily as he said it.
For a moment, I was silent.
Then I said, “It’s done. Forget it.” I quoted the same thing he said the day before after he fought with Jason. “But don’t do it again,” I added with a command.
“Yes, ma’am. Not if you don’t want it,” the corner of his lips tilted slightly.
What’s going on? It feels so good to be talking with him like real humans. I’m actually enjoying talking to him this morning!
He was about to say something more but dropped it and began laughing.
“What?” I raised my eyebrows at him.
He chuckled, “You play baseball at night in your room.”
I began to laugh too.
“You remember that?”
“Don’t worry. I’ll remember every single thing by lunch break. You see, I’m not as forgetful as you are. So you don’t really have to try lying to me,” he smirked.
Trying to keep my cool, I rolled my eyes.
Mr. Hart entered followed by Xavier’s pack and everybody shifted their postures on their chairs for class. Xavier and his pack did the bro fists bumps and slaps on backs as they passed him. They wished me hey(s) and hi(s) too. After that, Xavier and I sat quiet and I tried to concentrated on the lecture on Shakespeare. Occasionally, I stole quick glances his way. He was quiet but I knew that he wasn’t paying attention to the lecture. He was thinking about something else; probably about last night or yesterday as a whole.
Suddenly, he muttered, “Fuck,” under his breath but it was loud enough for everyone in the class to hear.
The room had been so quiet because the life story of Shakespeare wasn’t as interesting as Gossip Girls and so any sound would be as loud as blaring through a microphone.
Everyone, including me, stared at him. Mr. Hart lowered his head speculatively and then, declared, “Mr. Arquette, detention.”
Our friends, who were all behind us cackled like hyenas and duckling hybrids. Hunt’s was the loudest as always but Scott’s was the funniest. He has a very funny laugh. And I could picture Matt chuckling quietly on his seat, as always the relatively sweet one compared to the others. Xavier sighed and stood up. He collected his stuffs, picked his backpack from the floor and left sparing one last piercing glance towards me.
Oh. He totally remembers talking about his parents.
We weren’t angry at each other but Xavier didn’t drive me about anymore. We talked in class, in school but we spent less time together and at some point, it felt completely abnormal. Ever since I moved here, he’d never left my side and it had become a part of my everyday life but that changed from the moment I told him to never appear in front of my eyes again. I didn’t mean it. And he knew that. I think he was just giving me space of my own. One good thing was that, his cockiness wass still ever present. And he still hung around with David in the schoolyard.
Those two boys were as attached as paper to glue.
It was a pleasant evening. Jacob and I walked side by side on the pavement, in twilight, talking and laughing at his jokes. He was walking me back home from a walk to the park. He was as nice as he ever is but there was something weird about him that evening. More than once, I caught him staring at me as I laughed at his jokes. And I didn’t blush. I have no idea since when but I had already stopped blushing around him and the usual butterflies in my stomach erupt less often.
As we walked, the back of his hand lightly brushed against mine sending a small spark. But I succeeded in suppressing the tiny spark from exploding. I just kept on chattering but eventually I felt his hand beginning to wrap mine in his. I turned to look at him. Jacob looked back at me with a soft gleam in his amazingly blue eyes that guarantees nothing but warmth and comfort. I stared back, beginning to get lost in his captivating eyes until... a monstrous boom made me jump away from him with a hand on my heart, and a horrible scream of fright. Something exploded between me and Jacob! I looked about in frenzy, feeling my heart throb in my throat.
Xavier drove by us in a black, roaring motorbike of which model I didn’t even know. But from the look of it, it looked like a non-living serial killer.
He smirked and sneered at us, “Broilers.”
My jaw hung open as I watched him drive away smirking triumphantly like he had conquered half the world, drop dead sexy in the leather jacket and black combat boots he was wearing. He called us broilers! The chicken that mainly dies of high blood pressure.
It was him. He threw the cracker in between Jacob and me. My blood boiled in a mixture of anger, embarrassment and fright. But when I thought about why he did it and how he smirked into my eyes, I felt humour bubbling up from my stomach.
He was jealous.
“What’s his problem?” Jacob frowned.
I suppressed a giggle and said, “He like playing pranks on me.”
Jacob narrowed his eyes at me questioningly. I ignored it. When we reached my doorstep, it already was late dusk.
“Goodnight. Thanks for taking me out”, I bade him and reached out for the door knob.
“Wait, Alana”, he grabbed my hand stopping me from going in.
I looked at him a bit surprised.
He... He’s kinda weird.
He took both of my hands in his gently and closed the distance between us.
Oh my God.
A cold shiver travelled down my bones to the marrow. His gaze was soft as he sought into my eyes for approval. I didn’t utter a single word. How would I? All my life, he’d been my prince charming ever since I was a little girl in tiny frocks and skirts. My mind went astray like scattered pieces of an explosion and I lost consciousness of literally what was in front and around me. I wasn’t feeling butterflies, though.
Thas moment was strange. My heartbeat was beating as steady as ever. I just spaced out... Thinking not feeling.
The sense of Jacob’s face leaning in to kiss me brought me back to earth. But instead of seeing Jacob’s face, I hallucinated Xavier’s threatening face. And the familiar dominating voice threatened darkly inside my head, ‘MONGREL.’ I gasped loudly widening my eyes and took a step back... away from Jacob.
Jacob’s eyes shot open and looked at me, lost. Completely lost. So was I.
Gosh! This is so embarrassing!!
I didn’t know what happened. Xavier’s face just popped out of nowhere and spoiled the whole thing. Jacob was about to kiss me! But that Ugly Narcissist wouldn’t leave me alone even if he was literally blocks and streets away. He’d stolen my first kiss and now he wasn’t letting me kiss my Prince Charming.
“I’m... I’m sorry,” I stammered embarrassingly.
Jacob awkwardly took a step back and scratched the back of his head, “Uh... Well, I guess you’re not ready yet.”
“Yeah,” I nodded vigorously, “I guess so.”
I swallowed nervously. He smiled.
“Well, I had a great time. Thanks. Goodnight!!” I chirped, high pitched, with a wide smiled and scurried inside, too embarrassed to stay any second further with him.
I closed the door and face palmed myself as I turned towards the stair.
How could I be so stupid?
What made you see Ugly Narcissist all of a sudden like a psycho woman?!
Yeah, obviously there was no more kiss from Prince Charming but I wasn’t disappointed or sad. I was just too embarrassed.
How could I be so ridiculous?! Pathetic!
If Xavier had actually seen what happened, how I made a complete fool out of myself, he’ll die laughing... for real.