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Game Day

Benny:

I didn't like seeing them.

I waited outside her class once the bell rang hoping to walk her to her next class, but she never came out.

When the rush of students died down, I poked my head into the class to find it empty.

My mind immediately jumped to conclusions. Was she okay? Did something happen? Where was she?

At that moment I didn't care about class, I went through every hall on every floor of the school in hopes of finding her. But I never did.

In my next class, I sat down anxiously, wishing somehow she would just appear and wash my worries away.

But as soon as I wished it, I wished I hadn’t. I looked out the window to not only see Thea but Alex as well. They were drawing together and my heart tugged painfully. Did they ditch school together? Of course both her and Alex would share an interest in art.

What did I have? A hobby of baking which I’m not even allowed to do in my house.

Would she ever do that with me?

When they left to go somewhere, all I could do throughout the rest of the school day was wish she would come back.

Ethan had tried to get me to go hang out with Connor and him but I declined, needing to straighten my head.

I walk towards the park that Thea, Connor, and I went to that one day. Every time I come here since that day, I think of her. I think of the stars that she stared at in wonder, the laughter that rang out joyously as we ran around. Everything is just her.

I kick up dirt and leaves as I walk through the woods, dirtying my shoes. My hands are shoved in my pockets to shield them from the harsh wind.

My hair falls into my face but I don't bother moving it away. The brown strands almost providing me comfort, like a veil.

I sigh out harshly. Fate has brought me Thea, and then gives her to Alex?

I shake my head. No, Thea isn't a toy we fight over on the playground in first grade. She’s a gem, a treasure.

I kick at the ground a little harder. It’s not like Alex and her are getting married. Maybe I can get there before he can.

I scoff and relax my tense shoulders. They hung out once, not a big deal.

I guess I just wish it were me that was with her. Would she have hung out with me if I were with her instead of Alex?

My foot catches on something and I stumble forward a bit as my heart lurches as I steady myself. I look over my shoulders and notice why the leaves hadn’t kicked up when I kicked them. I squatted down next to the tree and pulled the black backpack out from under the fallen leaves.

Why was a backpack here in the woods? I curiously unzip it and I tilt my head at the vast amounts of spray paint inside. It seems I've come across someone's vandalism supplies.

I scoff softly. What is the point of vandalism? To mark some sort of territory? That is unless you’re some sort of street artist, then I approve. But I have no way of knowing what these paints are used for.

I pick it up and pull it over my shoulder, deciding to leave it at the edge of the forest in view of the person who this belongs to.

As I walk through the woods, the paint reminds me of a one time, a long time ago where I found a similar painting that Ethan got in his locker. Mine, however, was under a tree.

It was the time where my parents had just set up another appointment for me which I absolutely hate.

I hate how much my parents flaunt their money. I don't want to be anything like them. I want to make my own money how I want. I want to be free from my parents and their elite friends.

Every time we get invited to any sort of party I’m put into my famous royal blue suit and styled to perfection.

I don't want my face in the media anymore. I don't want to be Benjamin Sanders, just Benny.

It’s why I love it when Thea says my name. She has no label to put over me. Not Benjamin Sanders from Instagram, or Benjamin Sanders on the front of GQ. Just Benny. She’ll figure it out one day I’m sure, but right now I just want it to be me who she sees.

As I come out of the woods and onto the street of the playground, I turn and leave the backpack leaning against one of the trees. I hesitate for a moment before shrugging and walking away down the street.

The sky is clear. Darker clouds seem to be making their way across making me wonder if it’ll rain. it’s also pretty cold. Winter is certainly on its way and while the days may be warmer, the night times can be awful. So while the sun is still lighting the sky, it makes it's way down, cooling the air as it goes.

I begin to make my way through town. There are more people than most times, seeing how it’s the end of most people's work shifts and they most likely are trying to get home. Funny seeing how I’m doing just about the opposite.

I wonder if this is where Thea and Alex went when they ditched.

God, why can’t I just get her off my mind? I want to be happy for Alex, truly I do. He’s family to me and nothing will break that bond. But every time I tell myself I’m not jealous I know I just might be.

Am I delusional to think that she could want to be with me? Could I be better than Alex?

I shake my head. No. I have to remember this isn't a contest. She can like whoever she likes. Who’s to say she even likes him romantically. It’s only been a little while and maybe if she gets to know me, she’ll see something more in me than a friend.

My attention is diverted when I hear loud cheering and commotion coming from the school.

Then I remember Reeces baseball game. I was never really a sports guy, in my younger years I would do more mellow clubs like yearbook, or even drama. I’m not afraid of a stage and people. But sports? I don't think I have the endurance.

I only had a moment’s hesitation before I decided it’s best I don't go home just yet and I turn left towards the school.

I cut around the school, through the grass, and towards the back where the field is.

I walk down the back steps and towards the gate where our gym coach sits on a metal stool, leaning against a post, most likely monitoring students coming in and out.

I walk towards him but as I come closer I can see how his head is just tilted back and his eyes are closed. I pause my steps when I realise he’s sleeping.

I shouldn't be surprised. If you get the staff that matches the disaster of our school you’re bound to get exactly what you pay for. And considering the pay they get, we’re not getting much.

I walk past him and through the gate, making my way towards the bleachers.

I wonder if Levi or Ethan are here. I doubt Connor is here, he’s more reserved and would rather work on the novel he’s writing in his house.

Alex might have come, but I don't particularly want to see him right now. So instead I just look for an empty spot on the bleachers which are mainly full.

I try and maneuver through the dozens of people and hope I don't get stuck standing between them when we gain a point because then chaos will occur when they all stand and scream and hug and high five.

The chatter around makes it hard to hear my surroundings, but I would always be able to see the smile of the sun and the cheers of angels. “Thea” I call and she turns her head to look at me and a smile lights up her face.

“Hey Benny! I didn't think I would see you here” she pats the spot next to her and with no hesitation I take it.

“I wasn't exactly planning on it, but I was around and figured I would stop by” I shrug, not wanting to give away my real reason for being here.

She leans closer and my heart beats harder.

“I’m glad you’re here” she says in my ear and then moves back to her original position and smiles slightly at me as I pause momentarily.

I smile to myself and I can basically feel the joy running through my veins. When I look back at her she’s looking out toward the field and watching carefully what’s happening. I didn't anticipate seeing her here, but the surprise makes it better. In some ways, it’s like Christmas.

“I'm glad I'm here too” I murmur to both her and myself

I do what I can to pay attention to the game, but with Thea sitting just a few inches away I can’t seem to direct my attention to the game.

Thea must interpret my distraction as confusion but when she leans back in towards me, I’m not going to say anything.

She begins pointing out the bases and what the overview of the game is. She points towards number twenty. “That one is Reece. I wasn't sure at first which one he was at first but they eventually spread out so it’s easier to spot him”

I nod along with what she’s saying even though I already know both how the game works and which number Reece is. “How do you know so much about baseball?” I ask. I've never seen her at any of the games before and I wouldn't take her as a baseball fan.

She hesitates before shrugging “my dad and I used to watch it together. And Reece had come up to me before the game and gave me this hat so that ‘I wouldn't forget him’” she giggles and while jealousy hits me hard, I’m happy that she’s happy. She points at the hat which I am just noticing now is a white hat with blue accents and a large ‘20’ on the front in blue.

She twinkles her fingers at me “maybe we can get you a hat too. Cheer buddies″ she smiles cheekily and I purse my lips, doing my best to not completely glare at the idea of being one of Reece’s ‘fangirls.’ Not to say Thea is one, but I could point out at least fifteen people wearing a shirt with his number on it and fifteen more in the front screaming trying to get his attention.

“Oh come on Benny” she lightly hits my shoulder “I’m joking

She then lifts her hat off her head and puts it on me. It’s a little small and she pulls it over my eyes slightly so when I pull it back up to a normal height I see her grinning at me “you can have mine”

I roll my eyes and pull the hat off, running my fingers through my hair to fix it slightly before doing the same to her, I put the hat over her head and pull it down to obstruct her view slightly.

She clicks her tongue “fine. I’ll cheer myself then” she then turns to face the crowd and watches the game like a hawk, most likely watching Reece for any reason to cheer, and suddenly I wish I had kept the stupid hat.

From Thea’s direction, I see Alexis coming our way and I hold in a groan. I mutter under my breath “here comes the queen of the underworld” it’s almost impossible to not see her coming with her black skinny jeans and a black long sleeve tee shirt with a black jacket tied around her waist. Her boots make clunking sounds on the metal bleachers so I could basically hear her before I saw her.

Thea turns to me and tilts her head in confusion before Alexis stands on the bench in the row in front of us, blocking the game from Thea. She moves closer to me trying to look around Alexis, most likely not sure why she’s standing there.

Alexis puts her hands on her hips, showing off her black painted nails. “Hey”

Thea looks up at Alexis. Her eyes are unwavering as she looks in her eyes. Trying to not stare at her dark attire. “Hi”

“Alexis” she turns her head to me and scowls at me “we’re trying to watch the game”

She pointedly ignores me and she looks back at Thea who has a confused look on her face as she looks between Alexis and I “do you two kn-”

She is cut off when Alexis reaches out and taps on the visor of Thea's hat “do you like number twenty?”

Theas confused look never wavers “well yes, he’s my frien-”

She is once again cut off when Alexis scoffs, pointing her nose up slightly “well, he’s my boyfriend, so don't get any ideas”

Thea's mouth pops open slightly and I intervene “Alexis, that’s enough”

“Its alright” Thea says softly to me before looking Alexis in the eyes “excuse me, I have no intention of 'getting any ideas’ he’s just my friend”

Alexis nods sharply and as the crowd stands up and cheers in an uproar most likely because we’ve scored a point, and she walks off into the crowd.

We both don't say anything for a moment until Thea stands and I’m concerned she’s going to leave because of Alexis but she smiles at me and offers me her hand as I stare at it dumbly.

She wiggles her hand, emphasizing that she wants me to take it “c’mon, let's get closer”

I take her hand and she leads me through the crowd to one of the closer benches and we sit and this time, we pay more attention.

Thea is immersed in the game as she watches. When we miss, she, along with the crowd will groan and deflate. When we win points she’ll cheer and clap.

At one point in the game we all watch with anxiety and anticipation as number 4 hits third base and makes his way towards fourth. The timing is close as the ball flys through the air and people run around but just before he gets called out, he slides and touches the base.

It’s chaos as people jump up and yell and cheer. Thea jumps up and claps her hands together in joy. She jumps to turn to me “we won Benny!” she throws a fist up and I smile at her.

It’s times like these where I feel never faltering joy. It’s my first time alone with Thea but this moment is one to be remembered. The moment where nothing matters but now. It’s a weightless feeling where nothing else seems to be weighing on me. Not when my next photoshoot is, or how I’m doing on social media, or how my status is in the world and if it’s all enough to keep my parents happy. I don't have to focus on any of that. I want more of this, but I don't know if it’ll last.

Thea's eyes are bright as she grabs my hand unexpectedly and pulls me towards the field as she waves at Reece and he waves back in large movements.

She lets go of my hand and she goes running up to him “Reece!” she calls and he grins as she slows to come face to face with him and he wraps her in a hug.

My heart clenches in my chest and I stand back and watch the interaction. They pull away and his eyes meet mine and he smirks at me. “Didn't know you were such a fan benny, here to greet your favorite player?”

I scoff “you are so not my favorite player”

He shrugs “it’s alright, I've got little thee bee here to cheer me on.” he pulls Thea into his side as he puts an arm around her shoulder.

“Thee bee?” I question trying to keep the jealousy out of my voice

He nods and looks down to Thea “she’s small like a little bee” he waves a reprimanding finger “but she can sting”

Thea scrunches up her nose “I don't sting”

We both chuckle a little, “hell yeah you can” Reece basically cheers “my little thee bee”

I roll my eyes before meeting Thea's eyes “do you want me to take you home?”

She pauses for a moment, thinking “no thank you”

“Do you have a ride?” I don't want her going home at this time alone. “I don't mind walking with you”

She shakes her head “I'm okay, I wouldn't want to inconvenience you”

Inconvenience. As if she could ever inconvenience me. “Never”

“If you guys want I can drive you, I drove here so it would probably be easier” Reece says as he looks between us.

I throw my hands up “where did you even get a car? It would probably be helpful to get to and from school you know”

He looks a little uncomfortable “it’s my moms. I don't think she wants me to use it but I had to use it to get here on time”

“If you wouldn't mind, that would be great” Thea speaks up

Reece nods “ you guys can meet me in the parking lot, I just got to get some things”

Thea nods and we start going opposite directions.

I want to grab onto her hand like she did with me. I want to feel the contact just so I know she won’t pull away. That she’s real and with me. It would be so easy to wake up and have it all be a dream, because that’s what she is, a dream.

“I can’t believe I’ve never come to a game before. It was fun” she looks at me “but I’m sure it would have been less fun if you weren’t here”

With her words, I hesitantly go to take her hand and she accepts it, holding on tightly.

“I had a lot more fun with you here too” I murmur

Her eyes widen and I can see the question brewing just behind them. “So I was wondering-” she pauses and I nod my head at her in encouragement. “Who was that girl, Alexis I think?”

I want to groan at the thought of her. She’s not a bad person, we just happen to have a mutual hate. I doubt her and Thea will be friends either considering how territorial she is over Reece.

“Yeah. She can be a lot. She is Reece’s girlfriend. She hangs around us by default because of Reece”

Thea doesn’t look a bit jealous and it makes relief flood through my body at the fact that she doesn’t seem interested. And then I remember Alex and how close they seem and my mood falls.

In the parking lot, Reece comes rushing out of the doors with what is presumably his sports bag and races up to us. “You guys ready to go?” He asks

We nod and he leads us to a blue Subaru as he unlocks it. Thea starts to go to the back but I catch her hand before she opens the back door. “You can go in the front” I offer

She looks back at me and smiles before shaking her head “it’s okay, I’ll take the back. It’s not my car anyway”

“It’s okay, really, I don’t mind” I insist

Reece calls from his side “it’s fine! Either one of you take the front or both get in the back!”

Thea opens the back door but instead of getting in like I thought she would, she moves over and looks at me expectantly “you go, I’ll follow”

I guess we’re both going to go in the back. I’m not complaining. I duck into the car and slide over to give her space and she slides in after me.

Reece looks back at us “what am I? The chauffeur?”

Thea giggles, gently holding a hand over her mouth

I roll my eyes at him and buckle the seat belt “just drive”

We begin pulling out of the school’s parking lot and onto the road. “And don’t make us crash” I say looking in the mirror at Reece.

Theas eyes widen at me before turning her eyes to Reece “please don’t”

He scoffs “I won’t crash. I happen to be an excellent driver”

Right after he says that, he presses on the breaks quickly, making us jerk forward momentarily. He makes the fakest innocent face “oops”

I glare at him and Thea sighs in exasperation “if you guys could not antagonize each other for the duration of the car ride, I would like to get home in one piece”

Reece focuses back on the road as we turn onto a more busy street “fine, fine”

This day has been something to remember and with Thea involved, I want to remember it forever. As she looks out the window watching the world rush past her, I do my best to ingrain her into memory. Soon enough I’ll be in the confines of my house under the watchful eyes of my parents. I’ll be put into a box of media and riches. I’ll be surrounded by the elite and be forced to fit in. Having Thea there, even if it’s just in my mind, will give me just enough fresh air to keep me from suffocating.

I can already see my mother fussing over my hair and clothes. She’ll throw Armani and silk my way while I look into a camera with my head tilted up and to the right.

My dad will analyze and criticize while he talks to more agencies. I’m sure they’re planning for my future while I plan to get as far from them as possible.

The car gently pushes me forward as we pull up to Thea's house. I sigh as I watch her thank Reece for the ride and compliment his game today. She then looks at me “thank you for keeping me company today Benny”

She smiles sweetly and my brain just turns to fuzz at the sight of her smile. “No thanks needed Thea, I would keep you company any time.”

She waves one last time before walking up to her front door and going inside. Reece turns in his seat to look at me “are you going to be okay?” he asks referring to my home situation. All the guys know about how things are, they continuously fuss over it but I promise to them I will be okay. And with one look back at Theas door, I meet Reeces eyes “I think so”

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