Usually I sit outside and say nothing. This is the only time I pretend I can tan because I don’t go outside any other time during the day. Only fifty-three minutes of my day is spent willingly in the sun. Other than that, I’m inside school or my house or my car...Or someone else’s house or someone else’s car.
“Hey, Cayden.” A friend of mine nudged me but I didn’t move. I also pretended to be asleep but that wasn’t working well. “Cayden...” She cooed in my ear.
My eyes opened slowly and looked up at her. She was blocking the sunlight with her head but that was okay. I could stare at her face all day and everything would be right with the world.
“When can I smash?” I asked her as I came out of my daze.
She rolled her eyes and moved away from me. I heard Kyle laughing from across the table. And Brenna just picked up on her ranting about my inability to care about women because I always ask about sex.
That’s a normal day.
I sat up and sighed quietly. Everything is the same.
Not that it’s a bad thing, but sometimes it’s boring. I don’t resent my friends, but it would be nice for them to do something out of the ordinary once in a while.
“...how you thought Cayden wasn’t about to ask. He always asks.” Kyle laughed harder.
My crush on Mariah has blossomed into something annoying. I can go out with any other girl, but I will always come back and ask Mariah when she’s going to let me hit it.
“You started that rumor didn’t you?” She pointed her fork at Kyle. “You know, you could ruin someone’s life by spreading false things.” She mentioned.
“Kyle’s not one to care about a girl’s feeling.” Brenna said. “This is why he will never date anyone.” She said under her breath.
I had more important things on my mind, like Mariah. It’s not really a serious thing. She’s my friend and yeah I like her more than my other friends. We went out for ten days freshman year but that doesn’t count cause no one knows how to date people at fourteen.
I was just casually going to put my arm around her, hoping she doesn’t notice. And if she does, let’s hope she doesn’t say anything.
“Where are we going later?” Mariah asked before she looked down at my hand that was resting on her other shoulder.
“It’s Wednesday.” Kyle said.
“You don’t study.”
“I do, actually.” He corrected. “I have a test tomorrow, and-”
“We should go to that expensive restaurant downtown.” Mariah didn’t care about Kyle’s life. She didn’t care about anyone’s life.
We all went quiet.
There’s many expensive restaurants in the city, but we knew which one she wanted to go to. Kyle and Brenna stared at her for a second.
“Do you have expensive restaurant money?” Brenna finally asked.
“Eating at that restaurant costs more than the rent my parents pay at our place,” Kyle started eating again from the disappointment. “You want to go somewhere tonight, it better be a place where I don’t have to spend money.”
“Cayden can pay. He’s rich.” Mariah said.
Here we go again.
“My parents are rich. I don’t have money.” I clarified like I always do.
My parents have a name around here. A lot of people know them. Only rich people would say being rich is a burden. Only rich kids wouldn’t be grateful with everything they have. Honestly, I’m not going to say I could do without the money. But it would be easier to know who my friends truly were if I didn’t have to carry around an important last name.
So yeah, the money may not be a burden. But the popularity and attention that comes with it is.
“There we go. We aren’t going anywhere tonight.” Kyle finished that conversation quickly.
I try not to spend money wildly but sometimes I can’t help myself. What I should be doing is saving it because I actually want to be independent one day. However, there are expensive things in the world and I do go through my materialistic fazes.
My parents...well my family has been broken for a while. It’s not easy with divorced parents, it never is. Then I went through some denial faze where I thought everything was my fault and I had to take responsibility to bring them back together. That didn’t happen.
I have a feeling my parents didn’t really love each other as they pretended to. They only lasted as long as they did because of me.
My dad wanted a trophy wife. My mom wanted to pursue her dream in art.
How they ended up together, I will never know. Ever. But they split a couple years ago, and my dad just took me along with him because my mom definitely didn’t want me. She travels a lot so I tell myself that was the excuse.
I haven’t seen her in a couple months.
My dad drinks, he doesn’t come home, he forgets about me a lot. And some kids want to be forgotten about just so they can do whatever they want. Last I thought though, parents are supposed to be around for their kids. Maybe I’m being selfish because I’m an only child.
But is asking for one phone call from my mom once in a while too much to ask for? What about having my dad around to at least sign my permission slips?
I take my allowance money and usually blow it off when I should be saving it because there is no way I’m going to live like this. I just want to graduate high school, get my own place, and live my life in a city where they don’t know either of my parents.
I base my friendships on who doesn’t get mad when I say I won’t pay for something just because I have money. And I’m not talking joking mad, but some people get so angry that they stop talking to me.
Right now, I’m at three friends: Kyle, Mariah, and Brenna. And I’m okay with that.
“Want to go to the mall later?” Mariah asked me quietly. “We can ditch those losers and see a movie.” She smiled.
“Don’t you have a test tomorrow too?” I asked.
“I don’t study the night before like Kyle does. He’s never going to pass by cramming.” She rolled her eyes.
If I could marry her I would. Mariah has my life in her hands right now. She’s smart, she’s way too funny, and she’s gorgeous. Her life is planned out in front of her and that’s amazing. I know I may not be in her future plans but that’s okay. I’ll wait.
I say that jokingly but some part of me doesn’t mind holding her hand.
Unfortunately, I hold a lot of people’s hands.
“No, I will not come over to your house later so you can try to make a move on me.” She answered that question before I even asked.
“That’s okay. We can just see the movie.”
Kyle looked up and stared at us. I hadn’t realized he was studying right now. “Aren’t you dating Jennifer. What’d you do to her?” He asked.
“I’m not dating her.” I said slowly as I made a face like I was caught.
Jennifer is...I’m not dating her. But I don’t stop her assumption from thinking we are.
I have a tendency to lead people on. And I don’t ever mean for that...well, that’s not true. I’m not interested in a relationship with a lot of girls. I just want to get a little action then move on with my life. That’s what I’m more interested in. Jennifer is great and all for sex, but she’s not my type especially with how mean and obnoxious she can be.
I wasn’t going to say anything about people thinking I’m going out with her. If she wants to talk that’s fine, but when she wants to talk to me about it, she can come find me and we can talk about this whole not relationship thing.
“You better tell her you’re only an idiot for fucking or she’ll kill you.” Brenna warned me. But she wouldn’t mind seeing me get hurt.
“If I tell her, she’ll kill me.” I said.
Brenna shrugged but she was still going to force me to say something. She’s really sneaky with the way she does it too. I’ll just end up in a position where I’ll have to clarify things.
“Why did I go out with you again?”
“We never dated.” She said.
“Other people don’t know that.” I said since I could totally tell other people that we have.
She stared at me, her dark eyes glaring right into my soul. I used to have a crush on her too but she shut me down so fast that it was almost embarrassing. I just have a thing for girls...that move. No, but Brenna really got me one year. I really liked how she has big hair and her smile is great; when she makes fun of me, I feel it in my heart. She will never date me in a million years but that is also okay. She’s the only friend that keeps me in line.
Kyle won’t do it, he says it takes up too much of his time. It’s not like he studies all the time, only when he’s failing the class.
“The bell’s about to ring.” Kyle put up his stuff and inhaled what was left of his food. “Wish me luck on this history test.” He said before getting up abruptly and leaving the table.
“He is going to fail.” Brenna muttered as she packed her stuff up.
“Wait for me. I have to return Mason’s chemistry notes.” Mariah said beside me as she went in her bag.
“You always have his notes.” I said.
“Yes, Cayden, because I think he’s really cute and I hope he thinks this means I want to let him in my pants.” She said sarcastically as she moved my arm from around her shoulders.
I wasn’t being defensive. Honestly, I didn’t care. They always exchange notes since they mostly have the same classes. I always forget that Mariah is a year under me. This Mason guy is too. I don’t see him around a lot, but he’s one of those people to mind his own business and worry about his own life. I wish I was like that. I’m always in people’s business.
“She’s not lying.” Brenna said to make me feel bad.
“Why do you do this?” I asked her and she smiled at me.
I looked over to see the other table where Mariah went. She even sat next to Mason like it was nothing special. I thought she was giving his notes back. Apparently it was more.
“Nothing will happen if you keep staring.” Brenna said. “You need to leave her alone and worry about yourself.” She reminded me.
“Back off, okay. You can-”
“Say it.” She held her fork up.
There’s no reason to threaten to stab me. I turned away again so she wouldn’t go ahead with her threat. I know Brenna, and she really would stab me if I say anything disrespectful to her.
I guess I should mind my own business.
I don’t get the vibe like Mason would do anything. I have the feeling like he doesn’t talk or do much. To me it just seemed like Mariah was doing all the advancing but it’s like her to do that anyway. She can make people blush and Mason was definitely no different.
“So what are you doing tonight?” A friend of mine asked me.
“Yeah, we haven’t seen you in two weeks.” The other pointed out quickly.
“I-I... well, I have family stuff to take c-care of t-tonight.” I lied, I tried to lie.
Carson and Derek always press when I don’t go out with them. It’s been weeks and I get it but I have things to do.
When I say anything that has to do with my family, they back off. I’ve already told them my father has cancer, but I haven’t told them the part where I have a job to help with paying for his treatment. It turned out to be a lot more than my family could handle. Both my friends get it, except the job part, so they backed off.
If I told them where I worked, they would make such a big deal out of it and ask for so many favors.
“How’s your dad?” Derek asked.
He’s still alive so that’s a good thing.
I haven’t seen him in a few weeks so I can’t really say anything. Between school, work, and finding time to study, there’s not much I can do.
I don’t even know that. On the nights my mom comes home crying, I sort of get overwhelmed.
“Well, tell us what day you’re free cause it’s been a while.” Carson turned slightly in his seat and glances back over his shoulder.
“You saw me yesterday.”
“Not in a setting that wasn’t a classroom.” Derek said.
“Before we take this any further,” Carson stopped everything and looked between us again. “How’s Brenna?” He looked at Derek.
Carson has a massive crush on her. He just really incredibly likes her. It’s been a few months but I haven’t seen him do anything about her. When it gets to stuff like this, I don’t get involved.
“She’s...fine.” Derek was confused.
“Yeah, I know she’s beautiful. I want to know how is she.” He glanced back at her table again.
I don’t know her so I can’t say anything. The only person I actually do talk to at her table was Mariah. I don’t know Kyle or Cayden well. I hear stuff about them going around but I haven’t had a conversation with them. As for Brenna, I’m not sure either. Carson just really likes her.
“Just ask her out.” Derek said.
“I need to know if she likes me first.”
I didn’t have anything to say to that either. I’m not much for feelings and liking people. I’d rather focus on getting into college first.
“Shit, Mariah’s coming.” Carson turned back around and looked down at his food.
“She’s giving me my notes back.” I told him so he wouldn’t be nervous but it didn’t work.
Mariah came and sat next to me as she put my notebook on the table. She did this thing where she flipped her brunette hair back and I could smell flowers and love. All three of us have a tendency to stare at her. I wonder if she knows that.
“Hey, Mason.” She said and put her arm on the table. “You’re really smart. Your notes are saving me right now.” She said.
For a year, I thought she was messing around me, using me just because I was smart. Then I found out her GPA and realized we were both in this struggle together. She says I’m smart but so is she.
“I-I... I’m not that smart.”
I think I was blushing. It felt like I was blushing. Mariah is really nice and she knows how to make me nervous.
“Yeah, you are, you don’t need to be humble.” She said and smiled.
“Well thank you.” I looked away, my glasses beginning to fog up.
“Hi, Carson.” She cooed.
"Please don’t tell Brenna I like her.” He said routinely like he does everyday when Mariah comes around.
“She already knows by now.” She said.
“I won’t say anything.”
I felt Mariah’s hand on my shoulder and I just about jumped.
“I should have my psychology notes down by the end of the day so I’ll bring them to you before you leave.” She said as she got up.
We all watched her leave.
And we all watched her meet up with her friends to go back inside. Cayden put her arm around her shoulders and that wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary if the rumor about him going out with Jennifer didn’t exist.
“You need to snatch Mariah.” Carson hissed at me.
I was a bit shocked that he would say that to me. I can’t snatch anyone, especially someone like Mariah. Plus she already might be taken...I think. I mean, I don’t know.
“Let’s just go.” I said as I rushed to put my stuff away in my bag.
My phone vibrated in my pocket and I reached to get it out. My shift manager was the one texting me, asking if I could come into work earlier tonight. If I didn’t depend on this job, I wouldn’t respond. But I could use the money desperately right now. I sighed to myself, a little sad that I had to give up my entire night for work.
“You okay, Mason?” Derek asked, probably because it looked like I was miserable.
I just want my dad to be okay. I want my mom to not have to work herself so much to pay all the bills. I just want to quit my job so I can focus more on school.
“Yeah, I’m okay.” I lied easily.
I’ve been doing that for months.