Lunch: It's Not About Food
Leo was staring at me ridiculously weird, like he was internally freaking out or something. We were at our usual table at lunch, only this time, Sam joined us.
Brandon’s usual seat beside me was taken by Sam, so the original owner decided to take the seat adjacent to us. I don’t think he looked all that pleased, but he managed to hide it pretty well seeing that he gave our guest a small smile.
Nichole pretended like Sam wasn’t there. But her little act just made the situation all the more tense, awkward. Leo was still staring - glaring at me, silently asking why Sam was here. I shrugged my shoulders, a bit confused as to why they were acting this way. I thought they made up already?
I cleared my throat before stealing a quick glance at Brandon. He was looking at Sam carefully, as if analyzing him. What the heck is with my friends? They’re treating Sam like a total leach.
“Umm,” Sam slowly sunk into his (my potato’s) seat. “I get it. I’m unwanted. I just wanna talk about something.”
“Don’t say you’re unwanted,” I said, shooting my friends a sharp look each. They were being so immature right now. They should know how much it sucks to be treated like this. “What did you want to talk about?”
I was honestly more enthusiastic about what he was about to say than his own presence - he doesn’t need to know that though. I was finally gonna know what the hell was going on.
Sam sent me a small smile, and I was relieved to know that he was taking this coolly despite my friends’ unwelcoming auras. “Yeah, it’s about what happened weeks ago. You know, when I accidentally bruised Nichole’s wrists, which I apologize for again,” he nodded at Nichole. She gave him an acknowledging nod in turn.
He then turned to Leo. “Like I told you before, I didn’t mean it. I just wanted to know where Mira was. You were ignoring me, so I grabbed a hold of your wrist but I didn’t realize you got bruised easily.”
“You also didn’t realize your own strength until you saw my bruises.” Nichole cut in. Sam agreed guiltily.
“Wait,” I interrupted, earning all of their attention. I think I’m missing something here. “Why were you looking for me?”
A barely visible shade of pink filled his face. “I just wanted to talk to you.”
“Nothing. Just casual talk. That’s all.”
I looked at him like crazy. “What do you mean that’s all? I beat you up. You bad-mouthed me to the principal. I don’t think you just wanted to talk.”
I was totally unconvinced. Was what he was saying true? Was he lying? I looked at my friends’ expressions to confirm if what he was saying matched what he told them weeks ago. Nichole and Leo nodded, meaning what he was saying was indeed true.
Did I just make a really big issue out of a really tiny one.
“Alright then,” Sam said. “I’ll elaborate.”
I looked at him closely, paying attention to every word that comes out of his mouth. “I got mad at you in the principal’s office because, well, duh, you beat me up. Sorry ’bout that too by the way, I lost my temper. And I’ve had a crush on you since freshmen year. Good enough?”
I gaped at him.
Gaped at him like a freaking goldfish.
I closed my mouth and leaned back on my seat, folding my arms on the process. My brows were knitted and my eyes were focused on my untouched food. “That doesn’t make sense,” I shook my head. “You don’t have a crush on me.”
“I just said I have a crush on you,” he said, firmly. “And I’m not a stalker like you accused me of that time in the office. I just happened to live in the apartment a few blocks away from yours. You seriously thought I was following you?”
I wasn’t catching up at all.
This little twist in the story I came to know punched me back in the gut like a Silverback gorilla.
Sam laid his back against his chair with a shy smile plastered on his face. “This is so embarrassing. But at least I finally told you, right?”
I didn’t reply - just stared at him blankly while my brain was still processing the unbelievable input.
He then glanced at Brandon, looking a bit cautious at that. “I’m not picking a fight here bro. But I want to ask you something, so I’ll know where I stand.”
I was nervous. What was he gonna ask and what was Brandon gonna say?
Brandon nodded, motioning him to shoot the question. Sam didn’t waste another minute.
“Are you planning to date Mira seriously?”
The air around us got heavy all of a sudden. Judging from Sam’s expression and tone of voice, he was, I think, serious. I was too afraid of Brandon’s reply. He was quiet for a bit and so were Leo and Nichole.
I have to save myself.
“You’re too serious Sam,” I said, waving a hand to show off nonchalance. I hope he bought it. “Brandon and I have a deal. We’re just doing stuff for fun. Of course we won’t consider dating each other seriously.”
My voice was shaking the whole time I said that. I don’t know why my hands feel so clammy or why my heart is beating so fast. I’m scared. Did I say the right thing? It was a fact right? But why do I feel so sad after saying it?
Gosh where did my brain go?
Sam looked unfazed, as if he was expecting such an answer from me. I slowly sunk in my seat, hoping someone would agree with me so I won’t sound like a total idiot just now.
I saw Brandon straighten his back from the corner of my eye. I swallowed hard. Shit why do I feel so scared? Scared? Scared of what?
“Like what she said,” Brandon finally spoke. I couldn’t sense a hint of any emotion from his tone. I can’t tell whether he was mad or offended. Or maybe he just doesn’t care and wants to get this drama over with. His tone was just, dull. “I don’t like her. I won’t date her seriously. Heck I’m not even taking her seriously, and I’m sure she’s doing the same. We’re just playing around to kill time.”
A huge lump formed in my throat. I know he was just backing up what I said earlier, but he didn’t have to be so blunt about it. It stung. I pinched my arm from under the table to snap myself out of my dumb thoughts.
I wanna cry. I wanna cry.
Don’t, don’t cry please.
Damn you Mira, your mind is a living contradiction. What the hell do you really want?
“Whoa,” Sam chuckled lightly, a bit shaken after what Brandon said. Did he not expect that? Or was Brandon showing him a scary face or something? I don’t know. I’m not gonna find out. “You two are the ones being so serious. It was just a question.”
“And we just gave you the answer you wanted.” Brandon replied. He sounded so cold. Why was he so mad? “You said you liked her, but she doesn’t like you. So while you make up some sort of plan to get her like you back, I’ll hold on to her in the mean time.”
I bit the inside of my cheek a bit too hard, I tasted blood in my mouth. I dug my nails on my palms as I breathed heavily.
He spoke as if I was some toy they could just throw around for fun.
I finally gathered the guts to look at him, but it wasn’t just a simple look, it was a heated glare. How dare he.
He met my glare with a cold stare. What. What was happening? What the hell is happening?
Nichole abruptly stood up from her seat, causing the chair to fall backwards. The loud sound silenced the whole cafeteria. Great. Way to cause a scene.
She shot Brandon and I a sharp look each before storming off. Leo’s eyes were narrowed the whole time he followed after her.
Brandon stood up not long after and made his exit as well. Only Sam and I were left on the table. He was staring at me, waiting for me to say something.
I still can’t believe what just happened. It was so fast. Did we just fight? I don’t understand. They were so quiet. But by the way they looked at me, it was so obvious I did something that ticked them off. All I did was protect my pride. Was that so wrong? I don’t understand anymore.
I grabbed my bag and left my food on the table. I left Sam without sparing him a word or even a mere glance and then went straight to the bathroom.
When I reached my destination, I lowered my head because there were two girls freshening up in front of the mirror. When they finally went out, which took almost forever by the way, I stepped forward and placed my hands on the corners of the sink. I looked at my reflection and took a deep breath.
You’re alone now Mira. You can cry now.
After wasting some water my eyes produced unwillingly, I washed my face because my cheeks felt so sticky. My eyes were red and so was my nose. There was no way I’m going back to class looking like this.
I went inside one of the cubicles and locked myself inside. I closed the toilet and sat down, taking off my phone from my pocket. I’m not going out until my face recovers. I’ll play some games to kill time.
Brandon and I are just doing this dumb game to kill time. He was the one who suggested it, so it’s all his fault. But I agreed, so it’s my fault too.
“I don’t like her. I won’t date her seriously. Heck I’m not even taking her seriously, and I’m sure she’s doing the same. We’re just playing around to kill time.”
I was just about to enter my passcode on my phone when drops of water splashed on my screen. My vision was getting blurry. Shit. Stop wasting water you stupid pair of eyes.
Stop remembering his words you useless brain.
Damn it nose, stop sniffing like some drama-crazy teenager.
Heart, you douchebag, look at what you did.
Seriously, none of my body parts listen to me.
I don’t know how long I was in the bathroom. Maybe too long, because my phone’s battery was dying. I played games the whole time I was in there, maybe took a break so my eyes could release some more unwanted water from time to time, or so my heart could punch my chest while my jerk of a brain reminds me of all the bad things I’ve done.
Yup. I was fine just chilling in the bathroom. I, the stupid, idiotic, ungrateful girl. I, the confused yet stubborn girl that uses sarcasm as a shield. I, cry.
I fucking cry.
As I was drying up my eyes for the nth time, I heard a group of girls enter the bathroom.
I held my mouth so they won’t know I was inside the last cubicle, and I even hauled my knees to my chest above the toilet so they won’t see my feet.
In situations like this, usually I’m about to hear some sweet information from those girls. You know, like in the movies.
It’s not as cool as the movies though. My legs were cramping. They were taking too long to say anything useful. All I heard were a series of compliment exchanges.
One of them giggled before starting up a real conversation that didn’t involve whose boobs got bigger over the year. “Hey do you know Brandon Pierce?”
That definitely caught my attention. I felt a pang of hurt in my chest when she said his name. As if she was so familiar with him.
“That guy we bumped into on the way here?” Her companion asked.
“Yeah him,” the first girl replied. “Didn’t he look... I don’t know, different than his usual cheery self?”
Girl #3 chuckled. I was labeling them based on their voices. “Maybe he fought with his girlfriend. Why do you care anyway? You like him?”
Teasing began and it echoed across the bathroom. I could only mimick their way of speaking so girly. I wonder why I feel so irritated.
Girl #1 defended herself. “I kinda have a tiny little crush on him since he sat next to me in Algebra last semester.”
“Well,” girl #4 started. “He is cute. And he’s part of the swim team right? He’s got the looks, the personality and the body. Good taste.”
Brandon was in the swim team? How come I didn’t know that? Oh wait, Leo’s in the swim team too! Of course. I mean, I knew he was in some kind of sport but I didn’t exactly expect him to be in the swim team.
No wonder he has such a nice body. Um.
“And he just looks so dreamy. He smiles at everybody. I’m so jealous of his girlfriend.”
“So he does have a girlfriend?” Girl #2 said. “Who?”
I held my breath. He does? He has a girlfriend? Then why’s he sticking with me?
Girl #1 sighed hopelessly. “Mira Jadsen. She’s in my Biology class.”
Girl #2 gasped. “That brute-strengthed girl managed to snag Brandon? Maybe she’s just blackmailing him into going out with her or something.”
I didn’t snag him. He stuck with me. It’s not my fault I’m likeable.
“She’s really nice,” Girl #1 mused. My eyes widened at the sudden compliment. “Don’t judge her. She’s a really, really nice person. And she’s so pretty.”
Wow Girl #1, I feel so touched. I’m so sorry I don’t recognize you from your voice alone. When I hear your voice again in a different time, when I’m not hiding inside a cubicle eavesdropping on you and your friends, I’ll talk to you and be your friend too.
Only a few people see how friendly and loveable I really am.
“Oh,” Girl #2 said. “How’d you know she’s Brandon’s girlfriend?”
“Well, it’s kinda obvious since they’re like, always together. And he looks happy with her. I even saw him kiss her in the hallways before. They looked so sweet.”
I looked at the unstained tiles on the floor. We look like that to other people? No, maybe this girl was just overthinking it. Brandon doesn’t like me that way. He’s just a great actor.
His statement from earlier already proved that.
“Well, whatever,” Girl #2 said, dismissing the topic. “If he’s got a girlfriend then there’s nothing you can do. I’d tell you to take him from her but that’s not like you, so.”
A series if giggles started and then slowly faded out. They went out now.
I put my legs down and stretched my limbs. I can’t believe I actually heard something related to me in the bathroom. It’s not just in the movies afterall.
I went out of the cubicle and checked my appearance. Okay, I looked close to normal now, but my eyes were still a bit glassy and a shade of pink appeared on my eyelids from rubbing it too much.
My face looked so puffy ew.
I washed my face again before stepping out of the bathroom. I skipped two classes today. If they ask me why, I’ll say I had diarrhea. That’s a good excuse.
It was perfect timing when the bell rang. Classes were over. I just got out of the bathroom but I felt the sudden urge to pee. There were so many people in the hallways. I was afraid I’d bump into Brandon, Sam, Leo or Nichole.
I was afraid someone would notice I’d just cried, ask me what happened and I won’t be able to finish explaining because I’ll burst out into tears again.
Ugly-fying my face more than it already was did not sound at all appealing.
I pushed through the crowd of students and hurried to go outside, go home, eat then sleep. I need to recharge. I’m so exhausted I just want to sleep but I doubt my mind would let me.
I was already near the exit when I felt a hand grip on my arm and pull me into an isolated classroom. My eyes took some time to adjust to the sudden change of environment before I looked at the culprit.
I wasn’t surprised to see who it was. More like, I was actually anticipating he’d do this sooner or later, though I don’t know how he always managed to get his timing right.
“Brandon.” I said.
I was nervous. I could feel the lump forming in my throat again and the tears were starting to sting my eyes.
Still, I pulled off a hard glare and composed myself, showing him how I was handling everything perfectly fine, and I still had the energy left to argue with him.
But I know he knows otherwise.
His expression showed no hate or anger. Just pure disappointment. I breathed heavily through my nose and learned that it was a big mistake because my nose sounded like it was vacuuming all the snot that collected inside it.
It’s not as gross as I described it. Really.
I was hurt at the mere sight of his face. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I know I hurt him too. But did I really? I wasn’t sure.
But whatever it was, I wasn’t gonna back down if he picks a fight because of it.
“Mira.” He started, his voice cold and dull. I concealed a wince. It was like a few days ago when he got mad at me for getting lost on my way back to the apartment.
Anger boiled inside of me all of a sudden. A series of memories slapped my mind like a bitch - and they were all memories of Brandon. How dare he. How dare he treat me like this. After I told him about my dad.
He’s just like him. They’re all the same after all.
I was resisting the urge to punch him. His expression remained cold and the same. That ticked me off all the more.
I’ve had it. I’m calling this damn deal off. I’ve had enough. I’m done with this guy. Screw it, I’m done with guys in general.
“Listen here you mo- ”
He cut me off abruptly when he quickly stepped forward, and I definitely did not expect what he did next.
Trivia: Did you know that spiders are freakin pervs? While I was taking a shower a while ago, this ugly creature with several hairy legs kept staring at me.
I tried to ignore it, but I was too conscious. I didn’t dare close my eyes, so much that my shampoo stung my eyes. I blame the damn spider. While I washed the soap off my body, it started bouncing in place, and I thought, was it enjoying watching me bathe or something? Maybe what I was doing was like live-porn for it. Ew.
And as I was wrapping a towel around my body, I panicked because it wasn’t there on it’s usual spot anymore. I just took my eyes off it for a second. The next thing I knew, it was already crawling on my back.
I was like, “How’d it get there?!” and “Holy shit I’m about to get violated by a spider.”
Imagine my banshee-like screams and the bottomless profanities spilling out my mouth. I practically looked crazy to my roommates when I ran out of the shower barely covered in a loose towel.
Damn spider. All spiders are perverts.
Trivia #2: This is the longest trivia I’ve written. I give you a warning, dear females. Watch out for the eight-legged pervs living in your bathrooms.