Chapter 11 - Cautious
“The closer I get to you / Deeper I fall / And I’m treading slowly / But I’m still lost in you” – Cautious, Tyler Shaw
“So, what are you doing this Saturday?” Samson asks all of the guys at the lockers.
“History project that’s going to take me all day tomorrow.” Richard says, “But I’ll be done before the evening.”
“I’m helping my dad build a new fence around the cottage.” Malcolm says, “But we’ll just be doing that during the day. Why?”
“My parents just told me they are out for the evening Saturday, and so we’d have the house to ourselves.” Samson says, “We could have a bonfire by the lake.”
“Yes!” Malcolm says, “I’m so up for that, we should invite some girls over too.”
“Just keep it small.” Samson says, “I don’t want to be responsible for a bunch of drunk teens by the lake. No more than ten and I mean it.”
“Why did you look at me when you said that?” Malcolm asks.
“You know why,” Samson says.
“I promise I will abide by your rules.” Malcolm says, “An exclusive party is much better anyways.”
“Great!” Samson says but then turns to his friend James that has been quiet, and on his phone this entire time, facing his open locker. “James, what do you think?”
“Hmm... About what, sorry?” I say, putting my phone away and finally joining the conversation.
“Bonfire, my house, this Saturday night?” Samson says.
“Sorry, I can’t,” I say automatically because for me it is an automatic response to being invited anywhere. It doesn’t stop my friends from trying to get me to come out, but they rarely succeed.
“Why?” Malcolm asks.
“I’m busy,” I say.
“With what?” Malcolm pursues.
“I’m busy okay,” I say, getting a little irritated that Malcolm won’t let it go, but really, I just don’t want to tell them what I’m doing, “So just drop it.”
“This wouldn’t have anything to do with a date with a certain West Side chick?” Samson asks. I turn on him. What has he heard? How does he know anything? By my look, I confirm what he has asked. “News travels fast in this school, James. Especially when the hot-shot soccer player is taking out a girl from West Side.” Samson smiles at me, glad to have confirmed something that was only a rumour until now.
“You’re going out with a West Sider?” Richard interjects.
“She’s not from West Side, she goes here,” I say knowing that I can’t keep Arya a secret. I don’t know why I thought that she and I could just get to know each other first without having to deal with the pressures of our friends. High school is terrible sometimes.
“Then why did Samson say that you are taking someone from West Side on a date?” Malcolm asks, confused.
“Well, she doesn’t go to West Side anymore.” Samson says, “But I guess people still think of her as a West Sider, even after two months.”
“She’s not a West Sider anymore.” I say, “She goes to this school, she belongs here.”
“You can take the girl out of West Side, but you can’t take West Side out of the girl,” Samson says, almost as a warning.
“Wait, are you talking about that psycho bitch that attacked me for hitting on her sister?” Malcolm says.
“Don’t you dare call her that,” I say, instantly on the offensive when it comes to someone insulting Arya. Like if they were insulting someone that I deeply cared about.
“Really, James?” Malcolm says, “That girl may be hot, but she is crazy. On the hot-crazy scale, she’s definitely off the charts.”
“She only acted that way towards you because you pissed her off,” I say, getting heated with anger.
“She’s just one of those spoiled princesses from that preppy school.” Malcolm says, “She’s used to getting what she wants all the time and doesn’t know what it’s like for the rest of us. And when things don’t go her way, she goes all crazy like she did on me.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” I say, “You don’t even know her.”
“And you do?” Richard asks, “Do you know her?”
“I’m trying to.” I say, “But I do know that I like her, and I want to spend more time with her.”
“She’s from a different world to us.” Samson says, “I have no idea why she transferred to East Side, but I don’t think it was her choice. She belongs in that preppy, Catholic school, James. Not here.”
“And not with me,” I say, reading between the lines of what my closest friend is saying to me.
“I never said that.” Samson says, “I just want you to be careful with her. You haven’t dated in so long and now you decide to go out with a girl you barely know. I don’t want to see you get hurt.”
“So, it’s okay for you guys to push girls like Lisa down my throat, but when I’m interested in a girl who is, yes, different, and that you don’t know, you want to pull out all the stops?” I say. “I didn’t expect this from you guys. I thought you would be supportive.”
“Yet you kept it a secret from us?” Richard says, not trying to be rude or unkind.
I just wanted to enjoy her to myself for a while. Is that so selfish?
“James, you don’t get it.” Samson interjects, “We just want you to be happy, we don’t want you to get hurt.”
“She’s not going to do that,” I say truthfully, staring at Samson so he can see that I mean every word I say. “I trust her.” Samson looks at me and after years of friendship, he just nods in understanding. He knows that I mean it and I know that they are just looking out for me.
“Okay.” Samson says, “Then you should bring her out to the bonfire on Saturday.” Richard and Malcolm nod in agreement.
“I’m sorry, James.” Malcolm says honestly, “If she’s important to you, then she’s important to us. If you like her, then she’s always welcome. But if she goes crazy on you, don’t come complaining to me!” I punch Malcolm on the arm.
“Thanks, guys,” I say, “I don’t know if that’s a good idea though.”
“Why not?” Richard asks.
I don’t want to put Arya on the spot. I don’t want her to be surrounded by a bunch of people asking her questions and I don’t want her to feel out of place, but I don’t want to tell the guys this. “I’ll think about it.” is all I say.
Eleanor leans up against Arya’s locker while she’s not there and turns her head to look at Diana.
“Should we tell her?” Eleanor asks Diana.
“About his dad?” Diana says as she grabs her books from her locker. Eleanor nods. “Apart of me wants to. The other part thinks that he should be the one to tell her.”
“It messed him up,” Eleanor says. “He hasn’t been the same since.”
“Well, maybe a West Side girl that’s just like him is what he needs to...” Diana says and then bites her lip. “I don’t know. Help him become himself again?”
“So, we aren’t going to warn her?” Eleanor asks.
“He probably likes that she doesn’t know,” Diana says. Eleanor gives Diana a look. “He’ll tell her when he’s ready.”