FLAME

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Loneliness is my new friend

“How could you? When you are the problem.”

I couldn’t believe what he was saying. I was confused and as far as I know, I didn’t do anything wrong. But it still hurts what he said.

“I … I don’t understand.” I couldn’t form proper words because of shock.

“That’s the problem. You cannot fathom to understand anything but you just like you do which is frustrating. You will never understand me so stop following me and leave me alone.” He said hitting the table with his hand in anger which startled me. I have never seen him get angry with me. He was always sweet and nice to me, so his words hit me hard.

I thought I was trying to help him. I thought maybe me being with him makes him feel a little better. I just… I just didn’t want him to feel lonely. But I would have never guessed that he felt this way.

“Just let me be alone. Don’t follow me. Your pity look kills me.” He tried to leave giving me a warning look.

But I stopped him standing in his way. I don’t know why he is talking like this. But I am not the one to give up on my best friend. Whatever he says and whatever he does to me, I am not going to let go of him that easily. Yes, I am hurt by his words, but I can also understand that he is troubled by something.

“Fine, but on one condition,” I said with a determined look.

He knitted his eyebrows together in confusion.

“I need you to come home at seven. You can go wherever you want. I won’t follow you, but you need to stay at my home and eat every meal my grandma prepares for you. If not, I am coming to find you, and I will stick with you like a leech forever.” saying that I left without looking back. I need to leave before I start to cry.

He is my best friend, and I can understand that he wants to be alone but everything he said hurt like getting stabbed by hundreds of needles. I was just trying to be there for him and it just backfired. So I made sure he doesn’t go back to his house like he tried today and doesn’t skip meals. After all, he loves my grandma’s cooking.

As I said, Jay came home every day after school. He got the message that I didn’t want him to go back to his parents. But we left for school and came back home separately. I stopped following him at school, and I tried not to go in front of him when he was at home.

I don’t know if Vian noticed any of this. He looked like he was having fun with Hazel every time I saw them which make my blood boil but still I didn’t do anything about that.

I was miserable without the two of them with me. I was lonely, and I didn’t know how to handle this. Sitting beside them in class and not looking at each other makes me sick. I skipped many classes more than I have ever done in my life. I know my mom got a call from the Principal’s office, but I have been ignoring her calls for a week. Even if I tell her what’s wrong I don’t think she will understand. It’s just a kid’s fight for her.

Most of the days I skipped lunch just to avoid seeing Vian and Hazel together. I just didn’t like the look hazel gives me. It was this pity plus sinister mixed look. I don’t even know what that means. Hell, I don’t even know why we don’t talk anymore. I know I need to talk with her, but she is not my priority right now.

When I am hungry like today I just go to the ground with my lunch and sit under the bleachers where no one can see me. Somehow even I was alone I don’t feel lonely when I am here.

I was eating my fries when I heard an annoying voice beside me.

“So this is where you hide, huh?” Ryan announced his presence teasing me and sat beside me stealing my fries.

I rolled my eyes and snatched it from his hand. I placed my fries on the other side, so he can’t take them anymore. I don’t like sharing food from my plate except with someone I am comfortable with. I just focused on my food ignoring him and surprisingly he didn’t talk anymore, which irked me.

“Why are you here?” I asked him without looking.

“To keep you company.” he simply said without hesitation.

“Don’t you see you are doing the opposite of what I want?” I asked him raising my eyebrows. Yes, I don’t want to be alone, but I don’t like him and I just want him to be gone.

“Is that so? Then tell me what you want Ava?” he asked me making eye contact. It just made me more cautious of him. He looked right at my eyes like he knew what I was trying to hide which makes me want to keep my defense up high.

“Oh god, I want you to be gone. Just go away. I don’t like you, and I clearly made sure of that the last time you approached me.” I said angrily.

“You are not going to stab me with the fork, are you?” he said looking at the fork on my hand. I didn’t realize I was holding it until he pointed it out which made me remember when I acted like I was going to stab him with my pencil the last time and that made me laugh surprisingly.

I kept the fork away shaking my head smiling. He visibly relaxed after that.

“This used to be my secret place when I want to think. I came here and I saw you so I thought maybe you would keep me company,” he said smiling.

Now I am embarrassed. I didn’t know that this was his secret place. I just started coming here recently.

“I am sorry. I will leave then.” I stood up trying to leave.

“No… No… Please… stay.” He said in a begging tone or maybe I imagined that. I could tell he tried hard not to sound needy. Either way, I didn’t want to leave yet.

We sat beside each other in silence. Ryan being silent made me curious. He is the playboy of WH high school. He is almost always with someone, most of the time flirting with a different girl every other day. He is the typical spoiled son of rich parents and to be honest I always thought he is shallow which contradicts the situation now. I stole glances when he didn’t look and he seemed to be in deep thinking. It was like seeing a different side of Ryan.

“I think I should leave.” realizing that I was thinking too much I decided to leave. I don’t care if he is shallow or deep or is there more to him than meets the eye. I can never be curious about him. Curiosity is a dangerous thing for me.

He just nodded his head okay with a smile. I was about to leave, but my legs stopped. I was about to leave, but my legs stopped. I sat down again which made him look at me confused.

“I just don’t want to go inside yet,” I said shrugging with an awkward smile. He must have understood why I sat again.

“Thank you,” he said with a grateful smile.

Honestly, I was grateful too. At least for a second, I didn’t feel lonely. After the bell had rung, we went inside together.

We exchanged smiles whenever we see each other and he sat with me in Art class. Today the teacher wanted us to paint the scenery that we enjoyed… something we admired.

We all spread out and started working on our painting. I just painted the scenery around the school with my favorite tree on it. The teacher praised everyone that we did a good job when the final bell rang and dismissed us. Everyone rushed out of the class except Ryan. He was still painting.

I went to him and noticed that his painting was somewhat similar to mine except a girl was sitting under my favorite tree and writing something. It was like a déjà vu.

“Wow, this is so good,” I said to Ryan who was giving his final touch. He is a better painter than me honestly.

“Thank you,” he said without looking at me while stroking some final shades. I stood there watching him paint while thinking about what it is in the picture that feels so familiar other than the exact scenery.

“If you like it that much, you can have it,” Ryan said noticing me still standing there looking at the painting.

“Oh… no… I mean I like it. It’s just… never mind. See you later.” I left biding goodbye.

I went to the library to finish some assignments since I didn’t want to go home yet. After an hour or so there were not many people left at school and that was the perfect time to write my journal sitting under my favorite tree.

Sometimes when I have something that I couldn’t share with anyone I sit under that tree and write my journal ditching Vian and Jay. Mostly it was about my dad, so I write it rather than sharing it. I know I am wasting my time on a worthless person, but I miss him so much sometimes. Memories about him are so vivid that I couldn’t erase them.

I think this is the one thing that Vian and Jay don’t know about me. I always lie that I have to go to the library to ditch them because they avoid it like a plague and then I sit under that tree alone and write my diary after the place gets quiet.

Today when I sit under the tree with my journal, it suddenly hits me. Ryan’s painting… it was me. Panicked, I looked around to see if he is somewhere around but thankfully he wasn’t. He must have seen me one of those days. I can’t believe he drew me. How could I not recognize that?

After realizing that I was an idiot for figuring it out this late and there is nothing I can do about it, I started writing my journal. I wrote everything that happened the past few weeks between me, Jay, and Vian and all the things that hurt me and made me sad. Even when I am writing I couldn’t hold my tears back.

Writing a journal is like sharing a secret with your friend. If you are troubled, you will get a different insight while writing your problems which help you solve them or overcome them. A journal is like a best friend who will console you, gives you a different perspective of your problems, and listens to you ranting patiently. You will always feel light after writing everything like after talking with your best friend.

Sweet dreams were broken

When I looked upon the sky

Hateful words spoken

I thought to say my goodbyes

Down the hole, I went

Where dark was the only light

The frown I resent

The bright day barely in sight

Deep in my sad mind

There I laid down on the grass

Where I try to find

Whatever can truly last

I look to the sky

Where darkening gray clouds come in

The rain starts to fly

Down upon my weathered skin

Then I close my eyes

And let the dark enclose me

Now there are softened cries

as I die by the green tree.

Finishing my diary, I stood up to leave, but I found myself not taking a step. I just didn’t want to go home yet.

Home is not where you live, it’s where your loved ones are. Somehow without Vian and Jay, it doesn’t feel like home. It just feels like my own hell of loneliness.

I decided to take a walk around the campus, and my legs took me to the basketball ground. I remembered how I used to wait for Vian and Jay to watch them play when they have evening practice.

To my surprise, someone was playing alone. I went a bit closer to find who it was playing at this time and it was Vian. I wasn’t even surprised when I realized it was him. I guess he wanted to blow off some steam given everything’s happening.

He was wearing his team’s purple jersey and short with number twenty-four on it. I could see that he was sweating profoundly, but that didn’t stop him. He ran dribbling the ball from one end of the court to the other and slam dunk the ball directly through the basket.

A silent ‘wow’ escaped from my lips looking at the way he jumped and his jersey came up a little revealing his toned abs. Gosh… I need to distract myself from this distraction.

He ran dribbling the ball from one end of the court to the other and slam dunk the ball directly through the basket. A blare of my phone’s ringtone made me jump. It was my Grandma asking me why it was taking so long for me to come home. Obviously, I lied that I got some homework to finish and I am on my way right now.

I ended the call and turned around for one last look at Vian, but I was startled by the basketball sound behind me.

“V… oh my god,” I said closing my eyes with my hands on my chest trying to calm down. How the hell did he come behind me without me noticing?

“How did you know I was here?” I asked him.

He just pointed at my phone. He must have heard the ringtone. He was the one who changed it into that weird song. He used to change my ringtone often into some weird songs and he once pranked me calling during my class. I was like ‘whose phone was it?’ and then I realized it was mine when my teacher glared at me. I looked so stupid in front of the whole class, and he didn’t stop laughing that whole day. This time I didn’t want to change it. Call me a sentimental idiot.

“What are you doing here?” he asked me.

I just shrugged. I didn’t know what to say because I wasn’t sure for

myself why I am here.

“Come on.” He guided me towards the court grabbing my hand with a mischievous smile which means he is up to nothing good for me.

He passed the ball to me and said, “Come on, shoot.”

“Are you kidding me?” I asked him in disbelief. I never once have touched a basketball in my life.

“It’s okay. Just shoot. Trust me, it will be fun.” He said with an assuring smile, and that is all it took for him to make me agree to embarrass myself in front of him.

I threw the ball aiming at the basket, but it flew above the board and went outside the court. I looked at him pitifully frowning. He casually laughed at me frowning and went to grab the ball. This time he gave me some tips to shoot better by showing a couple of times and gave me the ball.

I followed every direction he gave me, but I couldn’t shoot one single ball inside the basket after trying a hundred times. I even cheated and went near the basket as much as I could but even then I failed. It was always a near miss.

While I was miserable shooting, he was trying so hard not to laugh looking at my failed attempts. When I sighed and gave up finally, he started laughing.

“How could you not score a single point? Even a blind man could have scored at least once.” He was hysterically laughing rolling on the ground which woke my competitive side.

“Come on. Let’s go home.” He said getting up from the floor.

“No way, I am not going home until I shoot at least once,” I said determinedly and started shooting the ball.

“Now stop it, let’s go.” He grabbed me in the middle when I went to collect the ball I threw. I released myself from him forcefully and went to grab the ball.

I was right. It is really a good stress buster. I went a bit near the net this time and got ready to throw the ball.

“You want to put the ball in the net, right?” he asked me. Before I could answer, he came in front of me and lowered his body looping his hands just below my rear end, and lifted me.

Before I could answer, he came in front of me and lowered his body looping his hands just below my rear end, and lifted me. I could feel his hot breath fanning over my thin top.

“Come on Ava, shoot.” He urged me to shoot the ball which brought me to this world. And I did without aiming but surprisingly the ball went in.

He slowly let me down brushing each other’s body sending chills all over my body. Even after I was on the ground his hand on my waist kept me in a place closer to his body. I was hyper-aware of this proximity. My whole body lit up like every atom in my body electrified by his touch.

My breathing was erratic. I didn’t know if it was because of the work-up or due to his nearness. My eyes were locked by his alluring grey eyes. His gaze never once wavered pinning me down in place. His other hand slowly came up caressing my cheek. I closed my eyes to enjoy his touch and the heat that his body radiating.

Suddenly we heard that awful ringtone from my phone in my pocket. His hold on me started to get loose, and I wasn’t ready yet to let him go. I tried to keep the space between us minimum, grabbing his jersey stopping him from going further away.

“You did great today. Let’s go home.” saying that he released me.

Suddenly I wanted to get rid of all the phones in this world… Ringing exactly when they shouldn’t.


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