Conflicted Affection

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Mom cooks all of us dinner and Alexa had basically been all over Ryland when she could be and has been constantly telling him about her stuffed animals.

Alexa holds up the white teddy bear, which she absolutely adores and would have a panic attack if she lost it, and introduces it to Ryland, "This is Mikey! I love him! He is so special! Not only does he comfort me, but he has the power to move things with his mind! Watch," Alexa makes a zapping noise with her mouth and holds up the teddy bears hand and points it to her plate and picks up a chicken nugget with her hand and moves it along with the teddy bears hand.

"Woah that's so magical!" Ryland says and smiles at her acts.

Yeah, I am a bit jealous at how she loves him all of the sudden and doesn't pay any attention to me, but she does have a crush on him and he is so nice and amazing with her. Plus, she is always around me and maybe its just something new for her.

"You're making your brother jealous." Mom laughs.

"Well we are best friends! Now in comes Ryland taking away my sister." I joke and they all laugh along.


After dinner was finished, it was time for Ryland to go. Both me and Alexa are sad about it, but only Alexa shows it.

"But you're so cool!" She protests, tugging on his shirt.

"I'm glad, but I have to go back home. If your mom approves I can try and come over another day, alright?" and with that, Alexa looks towards mom with a look that said, "please mom."

As expected, mom gives in and says, "You can come over any time you wish." She gave him a smile and Ryland returns one.

"Yay!" shouts Alexa as she hugs Ryland's legs.

"Bye guys!" says Ryland as he closes the door behind him and mom goes to greet him goodbye.

Alexa comes close to me and whispers, "I think I like him."

"I know you do." I whisper back, then she brings me even closer.

"I think you like him too." she whispers even quieter and I feel my heart drop.

"Honey, he is just a friend. I don't like guys, I like girls." I tell her.

She finally does her quietest voice and admits something to me, "But you called him adorable."

Before I can respond, mom steps into the house once again and I find it as an opportunity to change the subject and leave, "Well, I'm getting tired so I'm gonna go upstairs and sleep. Goodnight mom, goodnight little Alexa." I smile and give them both kisses on the cheek. Alexa looks puzzled and a little irritated, but I try my best to ignore it before she can ask any more questions about Ryland.



I rush to the cafeteria, stomach grumbling louder with each step and the smell of crispy fries getting closer and closer. Not only am I rushing because I'm hungry, but because I know if I don't hurry, that line will get long real quick.

I get in and out quickly, and I guess I was too busy to realize Ryland was standing right behind me the whole time.

I turn back to greet him, "Hey, I didn't notice you were there," I chuckle, "wanna sit with me today? You totally don't have to though."

Ryland gives me a small, toothy grin, "Yeah, sure." He replies.

I walk towards the nearest table, which was empty, and sit down and begin eating. Ryland sits in front of me, but keeps looking behind him. I realize why when I see some of my friends giving me questioning looks. I motion for them to come over, yet all they do is sit there and scoff, turning around and laughing at us. Back in middle school this would have broken me and I would have pretended to make this a joke on Ryland to make him "suffer". But, Ryland is pretty cool, and I want to be his friend, not theirs. All they do is bully people who aren't perfect or those who actually have fun by being weird and crazy, but Ryland never bullied anyone and I don't think he ever will.

I begin to turn my attention to Ryland once more and his big smile starts to fade, and my heart begins to break.

I attempt to distract him from it, "Ryland,"

"Hmm?" He asks, but a little too quiet and I can notice him subtly hiding away in his natural turtle shell that me and my ex-best friend built for him.

I try my best to think of what to say to distract him, then I think back to this morning, "Alexa was talking about you today, she said she hopes you come over again today. She barely knows you and she already misses you!" I laugh. Yet, all Ryland does is give a second of a smile and a nod.

"Are you ok?" I ask, to which he replies with barely even a yes.

Before I can do another attempt at cheering him up, he pushes the plate over to me and gets up from his seat. At his attempts to walk away as fast as possible, his shoe gets stuck to the bars of the table and slips off, earning many giggles from the people nearest to us.

One of his friends, Sean, comes to save him by falling on his face as he walks up to him. Sean gets up, laughs it off really loud, glares at me, and pulls Ryland out of the cafeteria. I don't blame him for glaring, I would hate someone too if they bullied someone I cared for.

I look under the table to make sure they got the shoe, only to discover that they had not. I grab the shoe and ran out of the cafeteria, ignoring as many stares as possible.


When all else failed, I just give up until I see Ryland on the edge of the sidewalk, waiting to get picked up.

"Ryland!" I shout, but he didn't seem to hear me, not even as I shout over and over, then he grabs his stuff and begins walking, walking fast. To that, I respond with running, even as he ran into the woods.

When I finally catch up to him, shoe still in hand, I grab his arm, stopping him in his tracks.

"Ryland," I breathe heavy from exhaustion, "you--you forgot your shoe." I manage to get my words out clearly even though I can barely breathe.

"Thanks." he says, barely meeting my eyes as he snatches the shoe from my hand and attempts to run again, but I grip his arm stronger.

"Let go!" he shouts.

"" I breathe out once more, groaning. "Are you avoiding me ever since that moment at lunch?"

"Why do you care?!" he shouts, taking me aback from his reaction, "Yeah, I'm shouting! You probably are only nice to me because you want me to do all the work on that project so now you're kissing my ass! No wonder everyone was laughing at me! What did you tell them, huh, were you telling them a little plan to embarrass the shit out of me?!" he shouts.


"Oh you fucking liar! I mean, what else would you be doing?! Spending all your time with me, or maybe telling them how cool and amazing I am, huh?! Asshole!" My grip drops and he pushes me back. "Don't you dare try to come after me." he growls, walking backwards before turning around and running.

I feel dumbfounded by what happened, but it is what I deserve. He is right, I am an asshole, and he should be suspicious of my intentions. I just wish I knew what to do about this and what exactly to tell Alexa.

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