It wasn’t easy to avoid your ex when she’s your schoolmate and team captain. Well, I’m not really avoiding her. But she’s everywhere I look.
I was getting things from my locker when I smelled a faint scent of strawberries. Another second later and a tall figure loomed over me. “Thank you for bringing me home the other night.” She tucked a stray hair behind her ear as she said the words. She was wearing light skinny jeans and a pink sweater.
“Sure, it’s not a big deal. Just be careful next time. Not everyone has good intentions.” I closed my locker and started walking. She fell in stride next to me. People were glancing in our direction. I ignored them the same way I ignored the way our hands lightly grazed with every step.
We continued walking until we passed by my classroom. Diane stopped and turned to me asking, “Isn’t that your room?”
“Yep, but I’ll walk you first,” I said and smiled at her.
A hint of a smile played on her lips. “You never change, do you?”
I shrugged and gave her a smirk. By the time I got to my own room, the second bell was already ringing. The moment I took a seat, the sweet scent of green apple filled my senses. “Morning, Gray.” I beamed a smile at my seatmate like I had done for the past week. And like she had also done for the past week, she ignored me.
Her eyes were focused on the pocketbook that she was reading. This was our morning routine. The only thing that varies is what she’s doing while ignoring me. Sometimes she’s writing, but most of the time she’s reading. And I’ve never seen her read our textbooks, which is surprising considering she’s the top of our class. One would expect her to study in her free time.
Mr. Castor entered the room carrying a bunch of papers. He cleared his throat and announced, “I’ll be giving you your first activity today. I want you to go a cafe or a restaurant with your partner. Then write a review about the place. The food, ambiance, everything.” He beamed at us. “One review per pair and it will be graded. Questions?” The room was silent. “None? Good. Deadline is on Friday. Have fun kids.” He waved us goodbye before anyone has even had a chance to react.
There’s no arguing with him. He always comes up with crazy ideas. Better to just follow them. I realized I have to go with my partner. I turned to her, smiling. She didn’t look pleased. “So,” I started. “May I take you out on a date?” I asked with a smirk.
“No.” She answered without batting an eyelash.
I cringed. “Ouch. Now I’m on the list of people who got rejected by Alexis Gray.” I put a hand over my heart to add to the dramatic effect. She just stared at me, her gray eyes doing nothing to portray her emotions.
“It’s an activity. Not a date.” She emphasized.
I leaned back in my chair and ignored her remark. “When are you free?”
“Tomorrow after school.”
“Ayt, I’ll pick you up at 7.”
“No thanks. I’ll go there by myself.” She responded in a clipped tone.
“Go where, exactly?” I smirked. She paused and raised an eyebrow at me. “I know a good place, okay? Leave this to me.” I assured her.
“Then why don’t you do the report alone? You already know the place.” She scoffed.
“I can’t, we have to go together. I need your opinion.” She was about to argue more but I cut her off. “And honestly, I’m no good at those things. I suck. So unless you want a D on your first activity, you have to come with me.”
She seemed reluctant at first but I eventually got her to agree. I took my phone from my pocket and handed it to her. “Your number, please.” She rolled her eyes before punching in her number. I called her and dropped the call on the first ring so she could have mine as well.
She narrowed her eyes at me. “I’ll text you the address later. This better be good, Alvarrez.”
I gave her a toothy grin. “You bet.”
I went to my friends’ table at lunch. The ones sitting are the people on the team I’m close with. Leah, from the party. Alyssa, our center who is a flat 6 footer. Both her and Leah have the same baby blue eyes. And Mikaela, our shooting guard. Diane’s also a part of this table but she’s not here right now. So basically, we make up the first five of the team.
“So what happened the other night?” Leah asked me as I bit down on my burger.
“I escorted her home.” I shrugged.
“Are you guys back together again?” Mikaela asked and I almost choked on my burger. All three of them were looking at me with curious faces.
I took a sip of my lemonade before replying, “No.”
She nodded slowly. “You sound disappointed.” She smirked.
“But wait, why were you the one who took her home? Was David drunk too?” Alyssa interjected.
“Uh, yeah about that..” I put my burger down and rubbed the back of my neck. “She told me she broke up with him.”
“What?!” All three of them shouted in unison.
People in the cafeteria were now looking in our direction. “Sshh geez keep it down man.” I hissed at them.
“Aw, seems like you beat me to it.” Someone suddenly spoke behind me.
It was Diane with a vegetable salad on her tray. She sat down on her spot next to me.
“Explain,” Mikaela demanded.
Diane shrugged. “There’s really nothing to explain. I broke up with him. That’s it.”
Mikaela put a hand to her face, “Unbelievable.”
She looked at me intently. “I realized I’m still in love with Alex after all.” Her light brown eyes were full of conflicting emotions.
Everyone at our table was speechless. Then she snorted. She started laughing out loud. “God,” she said in between laughs, “You should’ve seen your faces.”
But I knew better. She wasn’t joking. I felt the sincerity in her words, the meaning in her eyes. I couldn’t say the same for our friends though.
Alyssa shot Diane a look. “That’s insensitive of you.”
Diane raised her hands up. “Whoa easy tiger. You look more affected than Alex.” She turned to me. “We’re good, right?”
To prevent the issue from escalating, I just agreed. “Yep, we’re good.” I nodded.
I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. It was Gray, she texted me her address. My lips tugged up into a smile.
“Who’s that?” Diane beside me asked. She was trying to peek into my phone.
“Why?” I asked her as I slid my phone back into my pocket.
She seemed surprised by my reply. “Nothing, nevermind.” She went back to eating her salad.
I’m having a hard time being around Diane. She keeps on giving me mixed signals. One moment she’s making out with her boyfriend. Then she says she misses me and the next thing I know she already broke up with him. And now this? It makes my head hurt.
As soon as I finished my meal I stood up and headed for the classroom.
“Where are you going?” Diane shouted from behind me.
“Back to my room.” I tried my best to act normal and smile. “See you later.”
Literally later because we have training every MWF. I let out a loud groan before entering the classroom. To my surprise, my seatmate was inside, reading a book.
“What are you doing here alone?” I asked as I took a seat beside her.
“Reading.” She answered without looking up from her book.
“I can see that.” I raised my eyebrow at her.
“Then why did you ask?”
I opened my mouth to reply, then closed it. Opened it again. “Just, gaaaah.” I ran my hands through my hair. “Nevermind.”
I rested my chin on my palm and stared openly at Gray. Her jet black hair is swept neatly into one side. Her gray eyes were topped with long and thick dark lashes. She is so damn beautiful. “You’re so pretty.” I blurted out.
“You sound like a kid,” was her reply.
“I am. You can call me baby.” I was trying to sound cute but it all came out wrong.
She finally looked up from her book and looked at me. “You’re distracting me. Go bother someone else.” She said in an irritated voice.
A frown made its way into my face. “But you’re the only one around here.” I looked around the room to prove my point, we were the only ones inside.
“Okay then.” she stood up from her seat and grabbed her things.
I grabbed her hand instinctively. “Wait, I was kidding. Don’t leave me alone.” She looked at our joined hands. Her hands were soft, unlike mine. My hands are rough like a guy’s. I quickly let go and she sat back down in her seat.
I grinned at her, “Thanks.”
“Let me read in peace, Alvarrez.”
I nodded and put my lips together, making a zipping motion with my fingers.
I decided to play on my phone to pass time, glancing occasionally at Gray. I didn’t notice that the room was filling with students until Kris came in and raised an eyebrow at me. She tilted her head to Gray and gave me two thumbs up, laughing on her way to her seat. I gave her the finger.
I was changing in the locker room when I heard someone arguing in the gym. I hurriedly put on my jersey and checked the source. It was Diane and David. I could barely understand what they were saying but it looks like David wants to get back together with Diane.
“I already told you, I don’t love you. I never did!” Diane fumed.
David looked taken aback by her statement. “You’re kidding, right?” his voice was filled with disbelief.
“I love Alex,” Diane said clearly. “It has always been her,” she added softly.
David’s expression changed from disbelief to anger in an instant. “That fucking dyke?” he spat the last word like it was venom.
And before I knew it Diane’s hand came flying to David’s face. The sound of her slap echoed in the gym. “Go fuck yourself,” were the words she left before leaving David dumbfounded.
I made myself scarce before she managed to get a glimpse of me. What was that all about? She said she loves me. Out loud. In front of the guy he left me for. That was all kinds of fucked up. And now I’m also in all kinds of fucked up. I can’t bear to see her right now. There are a million thoughts in my mind and I need some time to think. I ran to the locker room to pick my things up. I have to get out of here before the other players arrive.
I brought out my phone and texted Diane. “Can’t attend training today. I feel sick. Sorry.” Then I hit send. After a few seconds, my phone vibrated. She’s calling.
I answered after a few seconds. “Hey, you okay?” was her greeting.
“Yeah, it’s just a headache,” I responded, which is partly true.
I heard her sigh on the other end. “Okay, rest well. Take care.” Then she hung up.
I headed straight home. My mom greeted me when I stepped in. I gave her a peck on the cheek.
“You’re home early. Don’t you have training?” she asked, drying her hands with a towel.
I sat in one of the bar stools and fixed myself a sandwich. “I skipped, I wasn’t in the mood,” I confessed.
She sat next to me. “What’s wrong, anak? It’s not like you to skip training.” her brown eyes were full of kindness.
People always told me that I look more like my father than my mother. With my light brown hair and sea green eyes, they tell me I look like a female version of Pops. But he always told me that I got my personality from mom. Kind, soft-hearted, and very charming. I doubted it.
“Is it Diane?” she asked when I didn’t say anything. I flinched at the sound of her name. “That reaction tells me I’m right. What happened?” she asked softly.
I’m pretty open to my family. They know I like girls. And girls like me too.
Because why wouldn’t they?
When I first told my mom that Diane and I were dating, she didn’t seem surprised at all. Her reaction was more like ‘I was wondering when you were gonna tell me’. When I talked to her afterward, she told me not to underestimate a mother’s intuition or something like that. It seems she’s already known for a while. She said that if that was what makes me happy, I should just go for it, as long as I’m not stepping down on other people.
I let out a sigh. “It’s complicated.”
She rested a hand on my back, “I’m here if you need someone to talk to, okay?”
“Thanks Ma," I hugged her before heading up to my room.
My room is my safe haven. It’s the place where I’m most comfortable in. Here I can do whatever I want. I can chill, play games, workout, read, sleep. Whatever fits my mood.
And as much as I just wanna lie down on the bed and rest my pounding head, I have better things to do. Quickly changing into a sando and boxers, I opened my laptop and logged into my chess account.
There have been a lot of new challenges since I played this morning. I scrolled through them until I found a worthy challenger. With 5,546 wins and 99 losses, he might prove to be a decent opponent. Before the game started, I sent him a message, “Hey, you ready play your hundredth loss?” with a smirk on my face.
This is gonna be fun.