The world around me is spinning. Well, technically, it is. Earth is in constant rotation, so I’m not wrong. “W-W-What?”
Josh scratches his head. “Why can’t I be your fake boyfriend?”
Then, reality hits me again. We were discussing Ricardo being my fake boyfriend. Fake. Fake. Fake! I want to grab Josh’s shoulders and shake him. I don’t want to be his fake girlfriend. I want to be the real one! I chuckle, “Good one.” I know there’s a dumb look on my face. I’m trying to cover up the shock and anxiety. I almost had a heart attack when he proposed to be my boyfriend earlier.
“I’m serious.” His tone didn’t sound like he’s joking. Then again, there are moments when he jokes with a straight face. I waited for the - Just kidding. You should’ve seen the look on your face!
We went into a staring contest. It was pretty intense.
The taunting never came.
“I want to be your boyfriend.”
That was the sound of my universe exploding.
“Sure,” I said, intervening in silence.
“Sure?” Josh questioned my response.
I didn’t know why I responded the way I did. Before I could even wrap my mind around the conversation, I already approved his proposal. If he laughs about it, saying how he was joking. Then, I’ll laugh along with it if he doesn’t. Then, I’ll go along with that too.
But, what is it that I hope for?
Maybe, if Josh sees me in his girlfriend’s position, he may change his mind about me.
This can be my escape from the friend zone without sacrificing anything. If he doesn’t feel any sparks between us, we can brush it off as a joke. I can still keep my best friend and my thoughts of - what if - can be at ease.
This is the best path?
Or maybe, this is my stupid fourteen years old self being stupid.
“Yeah,” I respond mindlessly. “You can be my boyfriend.” I noticed how I didn’t even add fake.
“Alright. Then, I guess I’ll be your boyfriend.”
I withdrew my hands behind my back and continuously pinched my palm. This isn’t a dream.
“And you’ll be my girlfriend?”
I cannot believe he hasn’t laughed. “Yes,” I responded. “I’ll be your girlfriend.”
Josh nods mindlessly before his eyes cast around the room. “Cool.”
“Oh-” I respond. I didn’t expect this conversation or this outcome. “Cool.” Even when I know it’s all fake, the butterflies won’t settle. I wonder if it will feel a thousand times more unsettling if this was all real.
Josh scratches his neck. “So, you like a guy from our school?”
And then reality hits. I know I shouldn’t lie. And I won’t. “Yes. I do.” It’s you.
I headed towards the bed and sat down. “No. He’s older.” I’m practicing to be a bit more truthful.
Josh settled beside me. He ran his tongue across his cheek. “When did you like him?”
“A while now,” I grumbled.
“Why didn’t you go to me?”
“Because it’s hard. I thought you might make a big deal out of it.” Good. Not a lie. It may be a big deal.
“You really like a guy?” He was a lot calmer than I would like. I really believe he was going to flip the table. Maybe, be a bit jealous.
I nod, “Yes.”
“What’s his hair color?” That is a random question.
“How tall is he?”
“That wasn’t a proper response.”
“I don’t know because he keeps growing.”
“And he’s not in your class grade?”
“Is he a senior?”
“Is he a sophomore?”
“Does he stay in the other dorms?”
“Can you tell me who?”
“Have you ever talked to him before?”
“How else would I like him?”
This feels like an interrogation, but I’m glad he doesn’t ask me for the guy I supposedly like name.
Josh’s eyes narrow, “Is he smart?”
“Is he handsome?”
I don’t know why we are repeating this. I know I already answer that question. “Yes.”
“Stayed in the Golden Dormitory?”
“What’s his eye color?”
“And you like him?”
“And you want me to be your fake boyfriend so he will notice you?”
I feel like I was on auto. I was responding to every one of the questions without a single thought.
Josh expelled a breath and nodded.
“So, do you feel anything?” I ask.
“Me. Liking another guy.”
Josh smiled, “Why should I? Hailey, we talked about it. You respect my boundaries, and I’ll respect yours.”
“Oh,” I responded. “Cool.”
He played with my hair and made a mess. “I’m a bit worried. Are you sure you like him? I mean, you’re fourteen. So, it may be a bit too early?”
I bit my lower lip. There are times when I think I don’t like Josh the way I think I do. “Why would you say that? Are you saying because of my age, I can’t be in love?”
Josh exhaled, “I’m not saying that at all. Hailey, I’m two years older than you. What do I know?” He looks at the carpet. “Really, what do we both know?” Silence elopes us. Josh stared at the ground below us, seemingly in serious thoughts.
“Sorry. I was just thinking about something.”
“What is it?”
He smiles, “It’s nothing important.” He tugs my cheek. I puff them so he couldn’t hold them. “But, really, consider your emotions, Hailey. I don’t want you to get hurt.”
It feels painful listening to him lecture to me about love. What if Josh never considered that I had romantic feelings towards him because I’m young? “I like him, though.”
“And that’s all the more reason you should think about your feelings. What if-”
“What if he doesn’t like me the way I do?”
“He likes you!” That sudden outburst almost got me fallen off the bed.
“How d-do you know?”
“Because who wouldn’t like you?”
“Alot of people.”
Josh smiles softly, “Who cares?” It had always been easy for him to brush off other’s thoughts. “Now, what’s the plan?”
“This relationship. What’s the plan?”
He’s talking about our fake relationship. “Oh, I never thought about it.”
“Well, you discussed it with Ricardo, and he was your primary fake boyfriend choice.” I can pick up a bit of sourness. I cannot believe he is jealous that Ricardo was my primary fake boyfriend, but he isn’t jealous to know that I like another guy. The feud between them is deeper than I thought. “If I was Ricardo and we decide to be a fake boyfriend and girlfriend. What would you do with him?”
I gaze up towards the ceiling. Suppose I did accept Ricardo’s proposal. What would we do? “A contract.”
Josh laughs, “Really? That’s what you guys would do?” He drops on the bed and curls himself up. “A contract! That’s fucking hilarious!” He pounded a fist against the bed. “Wasn’t that in one of those tv shows?”
My face feels hot. “Fine!” I spat out. “I’ll ask Ricardo to be my fake boyfriend!” At least he won’t laug- well, he may.
Josh blocked me, “I’m kidding. Kidding. A contract sounds good.”
I growl at him.
“Good f-f-first step.” I can tell he wants to laugh, but he’s holding it back. He turns it around and pushes me towards my desk. “Now, let’s write out the terms for the c-c-con-”
“I’m sorry.” He turns around from me. “I need a moment.” After five minutes, Josh turned around and stared at me with a straight face. “Okay, let’s write out the terms.” He grabs a pen and pulls his chair towards my desk. Then, a click. “First rule?”
“First rule.” I tap my fingers against the table. “First rule.” Josh continues to stare at me. “First rule.” The wind blows into the room. “The first rule would be to treat each other nicely.”
“Really? Am I not nice?”
“Then, you come up with a rule.” Yeah. How do you like being put on the spot?
“We should kiss often. That is the first rule.” He writes down - kiss often -
“What kind of-”
“We should attend all school events together.” He writes down that.
“We should sit together during those events.” I wonder if he is still sour about me not sitting together with him during the field trip back.
“When we’re sad or happy, we should tell each other. Confined in each other.”
“If the other did something wrong, we need to talk about it. Work things through. Minimize the bickering.”
“We should study together.”
Josh smiles, “And walk to every class together while holding hands.”
“We should share lockers too. You know-” he looks at me. “to make it convincing.”
He bit down his lower lip, “And also, we have to hug a lot more often. Oh, sitting on my lap during lunch is good too.”
“You don’t have to attend all my practices, but you have to be at the competitions and wearing my number. Yeah, that sounds good.”
I stared at him.
He stops writing and looks at me. “So, what do you think?”
I scanned the paper. “Those aren’t really rules.”
“Really? I think it’s something we have to follow. You don’t like it?”
“I mean, it’s not unfair.” These things do sound like something couples would naturally do.
“Then, we keep it. Anything else?”
I play with my fingers. Anything else? Do I have something else? “We can’t see other people.”
Josh grin before his eyes flutter towards the paper. “Sounds good.” He writes it down.
“What if I think of something else?” I ask.
“Then, we add more.”
He signs his name at the bottom and hands me the pen.
I grab it and sign my name.
Josh rests his chin against his palm. “What’s next?”
I look away from the paper. “What do you mean?”
“Want to practice kissing?”
The redness returns, “Isn’t it a bit too early?”
“Early? So, when will be the right time?” He teases.
I cannot believe we are discussing this. The longer Josh stares at me, the hotter my body burns.
“Your birthday-” he said, “let’s kiss on your birthday.”
“Yeah. Your sweet 15th birthday is coming. Let’s tell everyone we’re a couple.” He smiles, his hair slightly sways to the right. His hair has grown. “Invite the guy you like too.”
His smile widens, “You heard me. Invite the guy you like.”