After I got back, my feelings for Shreyas had changed. I no longer liked him, but I didn't dislike him either. He rarely talked to me, and I rarely talked to him. It was almost as if we had signed a mental peace treaty of sorts. I got the library, he got the gym; I got the cafeteria, he got the quad; I got the left side of the hallway, he got the right. It was comforting to know we had some kind of order in the wild ride that is our relationship, if that's even what you could call it anymore. But still somewhere in the depths of my brain I knew that when I came down to it, I would rather he tortured me every single day, then pretend I didn't exist. With that I could at least know he felt something towards me.
For a while his name made my toes curl, and not in a good way. He had strung me along for years, led me on for his own enjoyment since the sixth grade. I mean, he threw a basketball at my face. I had the right to be angry with him, at least for a while.
I thought I would never say it, but Amanda was right. He had been toying with me, all for shits and giggles. Nothing had ever been real with him, not the dating, not the flirting, nothing, and it hurt. The hurt was nothing new, but instead of it being because of his ignorance, it was because of mine. I had been so enchanted by the sheer thought of what we could be, that I took no time to at what we are, who heis.
Unfortunately, my feelings for Shreyas weren't the only things that changed after I got back from my short excursion at the hospital. Jason and I had a fight, and it's not like the ones you have with your best friend over crunchy or smooth peanut butter. No. This shit was legit and it got real, real fast.
Jason hadn't spoken to me for two weeks now, and I still hadn't built up the courage to speak to him, which seemed to be a theme with serious conversations that I knew I needed to initiate. The last few weeks kept going through my mind like it was on a film reel. I picked apart every single action, word, expression since the basketball incident. It must've been me, I must've done something wrong. I just needed to find out what it was.
Finally after another day of agony, I was fed up with the stares that went right through me, and the aggressive shoulders in the hallway.
It was a Friday. I knew he was going to be at basketball practice, so I marched straight into the boy's locker room, where I knew he wouldn't be able to escape from my rage.
I saw a lot of half-naked boys, and got a lot of weird stares but at that point I didn't care. I had made it this far, there was no point in turning back now.
"Jason." He was standing in front of his locker, pulling on a warm-up jersey. A look of surprise flashed on his before he tried to ignore me. I wouldn't let it happen, not this time. I already had a strong feeling of déjà vu as I marched up to him. I could almost imagine me in the hallway marching up to Shreyas with a very similar look of determination.
"Jason, you can't keep ignoring me forever." He slammed his locker and started to push his way past me. I grabbed his arm before he could get more than a few feet. I knew if he wanted to he could have kept going, God knows he had the muscle to do it, but I could tell the words were this close to tumbling out. "Why are you so mad? Where did we go wrong?"
He cringed as I said the word we.
"Jason, please just tell me. I can't go on like this. I need to know. If you tell me we don't ever have to speak again." My voice cracked on his name. He knew as well as I did that I was on the verge of tears. "Please."
"Jesus, don't cry." His voice came out as whisper, but it had the impact of a scream. I tried to throw my arms around him but he stopped me, his face as cold as ice. "Scarlett." That single word said so much, yet so little. It was harsh, almost like it was poison in his mouth, and I knew he hated me. He hated me more than words could describe. "You need to stop. You need to stop being so dense, and so fucking stupid."
"What? I don't—" I reached for him he stepped away.
"You know, I waited for you to get over him. I tried to be the nice guy and be there for you as he broke your heart over and over again. But, you never looked at me the way you look at him. You need to get it through your head, Scarlett. Shreyas doesn't love you. He never did, and he never will."
"Jason," I said softly.
He only got angrier. The sound of his fist on metal made me jump. "You are so wrapped up in the idea of him that you don't see anything else. Hedidn't love you, I loved you, and you know, for the longest time I blamed him, my best friend, for all the pain he was causing you. I thought he was the one who couldn't see what he had." He scoffed. "I should have known better. I should have realized earlier that you were the one who was blind to anyone else's love."
"If I'd have known, I would have—" I tried, but he was raging so hard, I couldn't get a sentence in edgewise.
"You would have what?" he said with disgust.
"I would have done something," I responded with confidence.
"Well its too fucking late for that, because I'm done. I'm done with you, I'm done with Shreyas, and I'm done being the fucking nice guy. If you thought you didn't have anyone before, you truly have no one now," he spat the sentence and left the sweaty locker room without so much as another disgusted look my way.
I let myself cry for three minutes. I haven't shed a tear since.
The sad thing was I knew he was right.
As I sat in the boy's locker room having my three minutes of full on waterworks, I found myself waiting for Jason to come find me and be my shoulder to cry on, only to realize I don't have a Jason, I don't have any friends. I was truly alone.
It only made me cry harder.
The locker was cold against my back, the tears hot against my face.
"Hey, are you okay?"
It was all I needed to redeem the human race, those few words that proved that there were still some decent people in the world. As I looked up I saw the one person I never thought would be the one to come to my rescue. A stranger.
"Yeah, I'm fine," I answered wiping my face. According to the clock, my three minutes of allotted sadness were over.
He frowned and toppled down next to me. "You don't sound like you're fine."
I shook my head, and started to fall into his warm embrace. As I cried on his shirt, I tried not to think about the oddness of the situation. I didn't even know his last name, or first name for that matter.
"I'm Cameron by the way," he said like he could read my mind.
I laughed into his shirt, and tried to wipe the mascara streaks from my face. "I'm Scarlett, but you can call me Scar."
His laugh sound like a French horn, full-bodied and mellow, which is the exact opposite of how I felt right now. I felt like a pumpkin right before Halloween, all emptied out and hollow, waiting for something to light up my face.
Luckily, in the midst of this hot and cold situation, this black and white state of affairs, I had finally found my gray area, and his name was Cameron.