The Glass Menagerie
ONE MONTH LATER
“I can’t believe today’s finally here… the first day of our second semester as high school seniors!” Hallee sighed dramatically as she pulled open her locker door.
“Yeah, winter break went by so fast,” Gabe said, leaning his back against the next row of lockers.
“Think about it, in just seven months, we’ll all be leaving for college,” Hallee said as her eyes darted to the collage of NYU stickers all over the insides of her locker wall.
“Have you heard anything from NYU yet?” I asked her.
Our play was a great success and she had sent in footages from our play as her portfolio in her application to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
“No, nothing yet. But I have a good feeling about it!” Her excitement for NYU was literally overflowing through her little body.
“What about you, Gabe? Which schools are you applying to?” I said to Gabe.
“I’m not sure. I’ve just been applying to random schools around Tennessee. I don’t know about college, but the music scene there is just amazing,” Gabe replied, and I could tell from his eyes that he was just as excited as Hallee about the future, if not more.
“What about you? How’s that college essay coming along?” Hallee asked, and boy did it hit a nerve.
It had been over six months since the start of my senior year and I thought I’d be able to get it done by now. I thought Taya 2.0 had come a long way, but in all honesty, I was still as lost ever.
“I was working on it everyday during break, but I still can’t get past 200 words,”
“Oh dude, you really need to get on that,”
“I know, I know. But I just can’t seem to find… my voice,”
“Well, maybe if you weren’t so distracted,” Hallee winked and bobbed her head to the direction behind me. As soon as I turned my head around, my body was suddenly was enveloped by two strong arms and a warm body.
“Hey baby,” Blake said as he linked his arms around my waist and pulled me close to him. “You look lovely,”
“Hey,” I murmured against his chest. He smelled so nice. Hmm.
“Don’t forget, we’re having dinner with my family tonight. My dad just came back from his business trip in France,” he beamed.
“Of course. I’m excited to meet your family,” I beamed back. I had met his mother and little sister last Sunday, we all went out for brunch together.
You would never guess that Blake’s mom, Melinda, was in her forties, as she looked thirty at most. She was super stylish, donning designer items from head to toe. I heard that she was a runway model back in the day. Blake’s little sister, Stephanie, just turned thirteen and she was the sweetest girl ever. In short, they were the loveliest and prettiest family I’d ever seen.
Blake didn’t talk much about his dad, but I could tell he had a great deal of respect for him. I was nervous to meet the guy, especially this soon in our relationship. But Blake was so excited for this, so I just couldn’t say no.
“Ok, I gotta go now. I’ll see you at lunch later?” Blake said again and I noticed Hallee and Gabe exchanging looks behind him.
“Sure,” I said as he leaned down and closed in on my lips. His kiss was soft and sweet. And he tasted like mint.
“I miss you already,” he whispered as he pulled away. Giving me one quick peck on the cheek, he then turned around and headed for the halls.
“Look at that. The boy’s totally whipped for you,” Hallee commented as soon as Blake was out of sight. “What have you two been doing all winter break long?”
“Nothing…” I scowled at her.
“Nothing? Really? Not even cuddling under the blankets? Making out under the mistletoe? Hold up—Tay, did you finally lose your V-card?”
“Hallee Anne!” I hissed. And boy was I thankful for the sound of the next bell that rang as Hallee said her last words.
“Okay, this is my cue to tune out from this conversation,” Gabe rolled his eyes and drifted off to his next class.
“So, you guys haven’t? How far did you guys go, though?” following Gabe, I rolled my eyes at Hallee and walked away.
“Hey, where are you going? Don’t run away from me! I’m your best friend, it’s an obligation to tell your best friend about these things!” she paused for a second before yelling even louder, “Hey, I can give you tips!”
By lunchtime, Hallee, Gabe, and I were sitting at our usual table in the cafeteria. It felt weird. We hadn’t sat here in a while. Usually, we sat outside by the bleachers, keeping Judah company.
Speaking of Judah… I hadn’t seen him around school all day. Not that I was looking for him, I wasn’t.
“Why would I be?”my inner subconscious laughed nervously.
“So, you’re meeting the family, huh? You and Blake must be real serious about each other,” Hallee’s voice pulled me back into reality.
“Yeah, Blake’s a big family guy. He hangs out at my house all break long, even going out fishing with my dad, teaching Kai football, and he cooked with my mom. He’s pretty great,” I smiled as the memories flashed through my head.
Hallee and Gabe eyed each other knowingly, and I noticed there was something off about their eye contact.
“Okay, what is it?” I said, rolling my eyes, “Do you guys not like Blake? Just say it, tell me how you really feel,”
Gabe had his head down, avoiding eye contact with me, but Hallee took a deep breath and spoke up.
“Tay, it’s not that I don’t like Blake, he’s alright or whatever. And I’m glad you’re having a great time with him, really, I do. But, I do feel like you guys are moving a little too fast. And I’m your best friend, so I’m obligated to call bullshit when I see one,”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean… Have you spoken to Judah at all?”
“Nope. Not since that day at Castro’s. Haven’t seen him or spoken to him since, and I don’t need to,” I said, trying to sound as casual as possible. “What does that have to do with anything?”
“Here’s what I think Tay, you never got the closure you wanted with Judah and maybe you’re using Blake as some sort of rebound,”
“That is so not true! I like Blake since… forever!” I gaped defensively. “And I don’t need closure with Judah because there’s nothing to closebetween us in the first place,”
Hallee sighed and I knew from the look in her eyes, she didn’t believe me one bit.
“Look, Hals, there was a time in my life where I thought that Judah and I were something special. But Judah’s made it clear to me after the play that it was never anything to begin with. He even said it himself, it was all just an act for him. So, there, how’s that for closure?”
Hallee and Gabe exchanged looks again. And suddenly they both broke out into laughter, leaving me with a confused look on my face.
“Why are you guys laughing? What is it?”
“Tay, Judah’s a terribleactor,” Hallee said in between her breaths, “He can’t act,”
“Yeah,” Gabe added. “There’s no way he was just acting for the play. It was pretty obvious, the way he looked at you and the way he spoke about you,”
“No way,” I said breathlessly. “There’s no way… I mean, really?”
“Everyday when Judah was helping me with our sets, he wouldn’t stop talking about you. Taya this, Taya that,” Hallee scoffed as she imitated the way Judah talked.
“And he’d ask questions about you… like what were you like in middle school, or about your family, and even schools that you’re applying for,” Hallee continued on.
“I remembered, one day he asked to borrow my SAT prep books ’cause he said maybe he wanted to try for college too,” Gabe added.
Judah wanted to try for college…?
“Taya, take it from a guy who secretly loves a girl for almost four years now. I know unrequited love when I see one,” Gabe chuckled bitterly.
“But, if that’s all true… why did he lie to me?”
“That’s what we don’t understand either,” Hallee shrugged.
“Before the play, Judah and I made plans to hang out during the break, but he just stopped responding to any of our calls and he just disappeared after the play,” Gabe sighed as he said, “My theory is that something went down but Judah’s not telling us about it,”
That sounded… plausible.
“I know you guys talked already and you feel like you don’t closure from him, but we need it. We’re his friends too and we wanna know what’s up with him. It wouldn’t hurt to try and talk to him again, wouldn’t it?” she paused for a beat before saying, “Maybe he’s outside by the bleachers. Do you wanna go and talk to him?”
Not gonna lie, I did entertain that thought for a second. I thought of going outside, finding Judah by his usual spot on the bleachers, wearing his signature denim jacket as he laid there under the warm sun.
“Hey Jude,” I’d say to him like always.
“Hey Blondie,” he’d beam at me with those cute dimples.
Those were some entertaining thoughts. But then I remembered something else that he told me once:
“When a guy really likes you, he won’t be afraid to tell the whole world about you. Hell, he’d want to tell the whole world about you,”
Those words struck a chord in me. I realized it now, if Judah really did like me, he would have told me. Plain and simple. There’s no hidden message or mystery. The answer was clear as day: he was just never that into me.
And suddenly my heart felt like it’s been stabbed all over again.
No, this is not happening again!
I’m in a happy, committed relationship with the man of my dreams. Judah and I were nothing, are nothing, and will never be anything.
“No, I’m good,” I said flatly.
“No, guys. We’ve tried, alright? If he really wants to be our friend, he would’ve made an effort for it. But clearly he doesn’t want to be found, so just… no,” I cut her off, putting all arguments to rest.
We all grew quiet for a while, and meanwhile, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a petite little blonde pacing back and forth around our table. It was Maddie, and she he was holding her tray of foods.
“Aw, all the tables are full,” she sighed.
It was the first day back to school after winter break, so people were definitely excited to see all their friends and that resulted in the packed cafeteria. Maddie frowned at the sight and Hallee took notice. Quickly, she scooted over and swatted Gabe’s arm, urging him to speak up.
“Uh, you can… sit here, if you want,” he croaked.
Maddie turned her little face over to our table and Gabe immediately looked away, avoiding eye contact with the girl. That was cute, but the boy really needed to work on his confidence.
“Is it okay if we join you guys?” Maddie said to us.
“Sure,” Hallee replied casually, but I could tell she was winking at Gabe internally. I was also doing the same thing.
“Guys, over here,” Maddie waved her hand to the back of the cafeteria, and there stood Peyton and Viviane.
“Ew, it’s the theater club freaks’ table,” Viv sneered as she approached our table and saw that it was us sitting there.
“Ew,” Peyton mimicked her.
“Thanks, but no thanks, Maddie. I’d rather sit outside,” Viv tossed her hair back with her fingers and rolled her eyes.
“Are you sure? This table is the closest in proximity to the surfers’ table. And if you’re looking for Blake Harrison, he’ll be joining us soon—“ Hallee attempted a smart comeback, but Viv was quick to cut her off.
“Oh, I am so over Blake Harrison. You can have my sloppy seconds, Taya,” she laughed sinisterly. And boy did I hate the way she said my name.
Still, I decided to be the bigger woman and just ignored her royal rudeness. Shrugging her off, I took a bite of my sandwich and chewed away.
“Don’t worry about me, I have set my eyes on a fresh new meat,” Viv said again before snapping her fingers, a sign for her minions to come and follow her out. She sashayed her way out of the cafeteria and I couldn’t help but notice that her butt just got… bigger?
“I suppose butts are the new boobs now?“ Hallee commented, apparently she noticed it too.
“Kids nowadays,” I rolled my eyes sarcastically.
“Can we please talk about something else?” Gabe chimed in.
“Yeah, like your pathetic attempt at talking to Maddie?” Hallee glared at him. “Dude, seriously! You have a Youtube channel that has thousands of subscribers and you can’t even talk properly to one girl? What is wrong with you?”
Throughout the rest of our lunchtime, I was glad that Hallee had decided to focus her energies on Gabe instead of me. She kept babbling on how Gabe needed to put himself out there some more.
Meanwhile, I found myself looking lazily out the window, my eyes wandering involuntarily to the bleachers outside.
Here I go again, wondering about him, wondering if he was wondering about me too…
The rest of the day went by like a blur. I focused myself on my classes and occasionally I’d thought about what to wear for tonight’s dinner and smart conversational topics to say to impress Blake’s family.
As soon as the last bell rang, I made a dash towards the parking lot. I thought I was doing well, I had managed to get through the day without having to see Judah or to answer more of Hallee’s pestering questions. But apparently I had spoken too soon.
I turned a corner and saw Judah, standing right in front of me. He looked taken aback to see me too, but he was quick to gather his composure. He looked cool, as always, although his face looked a little thinner than the last time I saw him. I noted the cigarette was hanging on his mouth, a sign that he was smoking again.
We just stood there in silence for a few seconds and I contemplated whether or not I should say something to him. He was quiet too, didn’t seem like he was gonna say anything. Taking a deep breath, I decided to just walk past him, as if we were nothing but strangers.
Because maybe we are.
But I had only walked three steps away from him when I heard his raspy voice spoke.
“You and your boyfriend look great together,” he paused for a beat and said, “like two fucking Barbie dolls,”
“Excuse me?” I turned around instantly. We hadn’t talked in weeks and this was how he decided to greet me?
He blew out a clot of white smoke and chuckled. My face was stern, a sign that I was absolutely offended, but he just kept on smiling.
Of course, he wouldn’t take me seriously. He took nothing seriously.
“You should probably thank me for that. I helped you put one hell of a show and got him so goddamn whipped like a motherfucker,”
I never cared about his use of profanities before, but this one struck a nerve. It sounded so condescending and I wasn’t having it. I shook my head slightly, took a step closer to him, and stared him dead in the eyes as I spoke.
“Why are you being like this, Judah? Why are you patronizing me? I mean, what the hell did I ever do to you to piss you off so much?”
I thought I was doing a great job at being intimidating, but he was unfazed. Ignoring me, he just shrugged as he took a long drag of that cigarette on his mouth. Clouds of white smoke escaped through his nose shortly after.
“I mean, I thought we were friends,” I said again, muttering under my breath.
“Friends?” he scoffed with one eyebrow raised at me.
His tone was mocking, but I tried my best not to flinch. I kept my gaze on him, at that sinister smirk on his face. But as I stared at him some more, I noticed that his eyes held a different tone.
It was melancholic. As if he was just… sad.
Clearly he wanted to appear strong as if nothing fazes him. But maybe he’s just… hurt? Maybe Hallee and Gabe were onto something. Judah was terrible at acting.
“Judah,” I said firmly, “Look me in the eye and tell me what we had meant nothing,”
“You deaf? I’ve told you a million times. It wasnothing,” he said as his hands went to rake his hair.
“You didn’t look me in the eye,”
Rolling his eyes in annoyance, he cocked his face to the side and stared at me. His gaze turned cold and intimidating, and I was quivering on the inside.
He opened his mouth again as if he was about to speak, but something caught his eye and he stopped. I followed his gaze and turned around, finding Viviane walking towards her pink convertible in the parking lot.
And suddenly, Judah shoved past me and strode directly over to her. Her eyes lit up as soon as she saw him. She tried to play coy, but it was so obvious. She was a giggling mess as Judah leaned in and whispered something to her ears. Blood was boiling through my vein as I saw them standing so close to each other, too close.
Then, without warning, Judah leaned down and his lips captured hers. It was as if time had stopped and all air had left my lungs, I couldn’t breath. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t look away. I didn’t know how or why, but it was the most painful thing I had to ever witness.
And it seemed as if it went on forever.
Finally, he pulled away from her and she was just smiling from her ear to ear. He smiled back at her before he started walking back over to me, and I just stood there, unmoving. He didn’t even bother stopping as he went walking right past me. A blank expression hung on his face, and his eyes were dark and cold as he sneered at me one last time.
“Like I said, it was nothing,”