Riddle never took my phone calls, even after Chance talked to her. Coke even tried pleading my case, but no. Riddle didn’t want anything to do with me. I longed for my best friend back. I didn’t care that she was dating Ben Corrado – well okay, maybe I did. However, at this point, I would rather have my best friend back than the woman I love.
At lunch I sat and ate silently while I watched Riddle and Story laugh it up with Ben.
“She still hasn’t talked to you?” Casey asked as he slid into the chair next to me.
I shook my head. I looked down again at my uneaten sandwich and decided I was done with lunch. I wasn’t hungry. Ever since the breakup I’ve hardly eaten, slept, or written anything.
“You doing okay, bud?” River asked, sitting across from me.
I again shook my head. Why couldn’t my friends just leave me alone?
“You know what he needs?” Willow asked her brother. “He needs a new girlfriend.”
Casey laughed. “Right and I take it, you want to fill those shoes?”
“No, eww, no. No offense Isaac, but ewww. I have my eyes set on someone else.”
“Rose needs a date for prom,” River piped up before Casey could ask about Willow’s latest crush.
“Rose wouldn’t look at me if I was burning in the middle of school.” I said. It was the first thing I had said to my friends in three days. “Besides, it’s not the girlfriend I miss, its Riddle. She was my best and closest friend I have ever had.”
In the last few weeks my fellow classmates have seen me dip into a sort of depression and these three have decided to make it their personal mission to replace Riddle as my best friend. I didn’t know what to think. First I was appalled that they were talking to me. I didn’t know them! Then, I was grateful that I had someone to talk to. Now, I really consider these three my friends, but not one of them was my best friend. I had only held that spot for Riddle.
Best friends should know everything about you. The insides and outs. Only one person knew everything, well almost everything, and that was Riddle Moss.
“You know, my folks are going out of town. Why don’t you come over and party with us?” Casey suggested. “We’ll have some beers, have a few laughs, and you can forget Riddle for one night.”
“She’s not coming?” I asked.
“Why would she? I’m only inviting my friends. She isn’t one of them. You are.”
“Who’s going to be there?”
“Us, Sam, Rosie. . . “ He looked around, “That’s about it. Come on Isaac, it’s gonna be fun.”
“I’ll think about it.” I said to him. Drinking did sound fun. Hell, it wasn’t like I hadn’t been downing my sorrows in a bottle every night..
Lunch ended and I headed to Mr. Moss’ class. I sat there for half an hour just waiting for it to be done. I didn’t want to listen to anything. Every class was the same; you go in, you sit and listen, you leave. I was bored out of my mind! “Mr. Britt!” I heard my name called and snapped my head off the table. I didn’t even realize I had fallen asleep.
“Huh?” I asked and everyone around me laughed.
“Glad you have finally joined us in the land of the learning. Perhaps you can tell us how you would punctuate the sentence written on the board?”
“Um…put a comma in it?” I was lost. I knew we’d been talking about commas, but the sentence on the board looked fine. I knew I was missing something.
“Where would you put the comma, Mr. Britt?”
“Uh, in the middle?” The class erupted in laughter. I didn’t think it was funny.
“Not necessarily. Remember that commas separate information–items in a list, two connected sentences, or information added for emphasis or explanation.”
I looked at the sentence and noticed the conjunction ‘and,’ I shrugged, “Before ‘and’?”
“Before the ‘and’. Correct. The conjunction connecting two sentences must have a comma…” Mr. Moss went to the chalkboard and added the mark as he continued his lecture. I went back to sleep.
I woke to the sound of the bell and found a paper next to my head. It was my report on Cocaine Chimeree, B+. Not bad.
“Nice job there.” Mr. Moss said. “But you’re missing some key elements.”
I looked at my paper again and went through it. My paper was solid. I did all the research I could, besides getting an actual interview – which he wouldn’t allow. “What am I missing?”
“You got a good portion of his life, but you’re missing his death.”
I narrowed my eyes, “You and I both know he’s not dead, Mr. Moss.”
He smiled, “And you’re a fiction writer.”
“You wanted me to B.S. my way through a paper?” I asked, surprised that any teacher would even suggest that. My papers only ever relied on facts; I don’t do bullshit.
“Isaac, you’re gonna learn that papers will require a bit of rhetoric to keep it interesting. Also a bit of bullshit can go a long way in a paper. I was kinda looking forward to reading about Cocaine’s death.” He winked.
“I don’t do fiction. Not in papers at least. Maybe in my novel, but not this. I stick to the facts. It’s what makes a good reporter.”
He laughed, “No, weaving a bit of fiction into fact shows the makings of a good reporter.”
The door open before I could respond, and Riddle stood there, “Sorry, didn’t know you were busy, dad.”
“Not at all. Isaac and I were discussing his paper about me.”
She didn’t even look at me, “Ben and Story and I were wondering if we could go to the movies before the game?”
“Sure,” he sighed. “Do you need money?”
“Nope.” She turned and closed the door.
How do you respond to your best friend ignoring you like that? She didn’t even look at me.
“Isaac, she misses you. I know she does. She may not talk to you, or even about you at home, but I see it. She’ll come around.”
I nodded and allowed the tears to flow. It felt good to know even if it was bullshit. I screwed up and broke Riddle’s trust after she made me promise that I wouldn’t say a word about her dad, and I went straight to the man himself. She didn’t even get into trouble. It was more about me breaking a promise. To break a promise with Riddle was like breaking a window in a building made out of glass – it just wasn’t done without something else breaking.
I lost my best friend and quite possibly the love of my life.
After school I headed to the place I had been going to for the last few weeks. The bar was perfect and my fake I.D. was better than most. I have to thank Casey sometime for getting me it. I think if I hadn’t had Casey the last few weeks, I would probably be in the loony bin. Maybe I should consider him as my best friend rather than wishing Riddle was around. He’d never hurt me like she did.
Drinking came naturally to me. After the first sip of my drink I felt the heaviness in my chest lifted. I don’t know what it is about the taste of alcohol, but it makes me feel numb, and I need numb. I sat there and watched the game over the bar as I drank beer after beer. The bartender didn’t make any small talk, he knew enough to know I wanted to be alone.
After the fourth (or was it the fifth) beer I staggered outside the bar and wasn’t surprised to see Scotty. He knew exactly where I went after school these days. It didn’t help that the bar was located across from the firehouse. “Need a lift?” he asked.
I staggered over to his car and climbed in. “Thanks,” I mumbled.
“You’re mom would shit if she knew what you were doing.” He said. “You shouldn’t be drinking Isaac. You’re only sixteen.”
“You have your entire life to be miserable. Stop pining for this dumb-ass chick that clearly doesn’t give two shits about you, and probably never did if she could write you off completely. She doesn’t deserve you.”
I stayed quiet and looked out my window. Scott was wrong. Riddle was my soul mate and I wanted her.
“Isaac, you’re like a son to me, even if you hate my guts. I hate seeing you hurting like this. Promise me you’ll stop going to that bar.”
“I don’t do promises.” I mumbled, not taking my eyes away from the window.
“I don’t care. Let me put it into simple terms kid, next time I find you there I’m telling not only your mother, but Mr. Moss.”
I shrugged. “You do whatever you want. Drinking numbs this pain and I’m not about to give it up.”
Scott parked the car and looked at me, “Look you need to stop.”
“Because you’re mom needs you right now.”
I narrowed my eyes at him, “What did you do to her?”
“She’s. . . well, she is. . . . I can’t tell you. She wants to tell you, but I don’t want you to be drunk in front of her when she tells you, so I need to tell you. Plus, I think I have a better shot of protecting my ass since you can hardly walk.”
“What did you do to her, Scotty!”
“You’re mom’s pregnant,” he said and walked out of the car, leaving me with my mouth hanging wide open. That son-of-a-bitch!
I shot out of the car and went after him. I may have been drunk, but I could still brawl. I tackled him to the ground and punched him. Ma came storming out of the house, screaming at me. “ISAAC!”
I continued to hit Scott and swore worse than a drunken sailor.
Ma pulled me off of Scotty, “Room, Now!”
“No!” I yelled. “I’m gonna kill him.”
“No, you are not! Now into you’re room, Isaac Britt.”
“Screw you!” Yup, I am drunk and allowing this to spill out of my mouth to my own mother. “I’m ‘outta here!”
I stormed off the lot in a huff. Ma wasn’t far behind. “Isaac!”
“Not my name.”
She grabbed my arm and hauled me around the houses, “Kaliq Isaac Rain!” she yelled in a whisper, “You are going back to the house. You are going to apologize to your step-father, and then we are going to discuss your problem. If your father was here he would be ashamed. Now get into the house.”
I tugged my arm out of my ma’s grasp and walk towards the house. Scott stood there, wiping the blood from his lip. I didn’t offer any sympathies towards him. I stormed right into the house and headed for my room.
Ma and Scott both walked into my room, not even bothering to knock. “Isaac, don’t you have something to say?”
“Yeah, did you tell Jon and Jen that you two tied the knot, because he knocked you up?” I asked.
“Isaac!” Ma gasped.
“It’s true and you know it, ma. I just want to know if you told your other kids that they have a new step-dad and a new sibling on the way? I hope I’m not the only one that knows, cause it seems like I can’t keep a secret and I may have to call my sister and tell her the unfortunate news.”
“They both know,” Scott chimed in, “Jen and Joe came with us to the courthouse.”
“How bout you’re own ma, she know? I ain’t calling her grandma.”
Scott laughed, “Believe me, she won’t even want this kid to call her that.”
“Scott can you give us two some privacy?” Ma asked after a very uncomfortable silence. Scott walked out the door, but not until he kissed my ma and rubbed her belly. After he left she yelled to me, “What the hell has gotten into you?”
“Besides the fact that tool just knocked up my ma? Or the fact that you married without consulting me.”
“Well I am sorry you’re upset that I am happy for once.”
“Ma, you told me a few weeks ago you weren’t pregnant.”
“Well, I thought I wasn’t. Then after you asked, I got to thinking and so I had some work done at the hospital and I am pregnant. I’m sorry, but there’s nothing you can do about it. It happens Kal.”
“And what about that? Did you even give you’re real name at City Hall?”
“No. For all intended purposes I was born Sara Britt.”
“So, you’re still going to lie to him and we’re going to keep everything hidden. That’s just great, nothing like a family secret to keep us more separate from the world.”
“We have to, and you know it. Now end of discussion Kaliq.”
“Fine.” I threw my hands up.
“You’re very lucky you’re still drunk or I’d be ripping into you, young man. I really don’t know what’s gotten into you, but you will start respecting me, Scott, and everyone else. And if I so much smell a hint of alcohol on you ever again, you will be sorry.”
“Well, I guess I’m sorry. I’m going to Casey’s house this weekend for a party.”
“Oh yeah, we’ll see about that. Did I forget, you’re grounded?”
“You can’t ground me!”
“Yes, I can. You are to come here after school and that’s it. No TV, no computers – unless it’s for homework, and no phone. Hand me your cell.”
She held out her hand and gave me the look that all men are scared of, or at least I am. I handed ma my phone. “Now unplug your computer.”
“Do it Kaliq.”
I closed down the computer, and unplugged it. Ma made a threat that if I turned it on she would remove it out of my room and I wouldn’t ever see it. I promised her I wouldn’t and I would keep that promise. I would always keep my promises.
* * * *
True to ma’s word I was grounded for a month. At school nothing changed. I still hung out with my few friends. i sat in class – bored out of my mind. I kept my gaze off of Riddle. There was no point in pining after someone with a heart made up of ice.
At home there was nothing to do. I tried cleaning out my room the first week or so. I didn’t realize how much crap I had everywhere, but I did. I looked around the room and saw all the pictures. It had probably been a good solid six weeks since I took a really good look at the photos on the wall. I must have grown a blind eye at some point, cause the room was just reeking in heartache. Every picture was of Riddle and I, and I just couldn’t stand looking at them. Then there was the picture frame on my desk that I had to turn around after the breakup.
“MA!” I screamed.
“Yeah?” She screamed back.
“Do we have any boxes?” I would throw the pictures away, but a part of me couldn’t part with my past. If I could just remove them and place them in the garage, it would be a lot better; then I wouldn’t have to look at them everyday.
Ma came into the room with a cardboard box, “You’re finally going to take down the photos?” She asked. I nodded and started crying again. “Oh honey.”
I held onto my mother like the lifesaver she was. “It hurts.”
“I know it does, but you’ll find someone someday.”
“I don’t want anyone else.”
Ma laughed, “You’re so much like your father, it’s not even funny.”
I looked at her, “I am? How?”
She sighed, “Maybe I should tell you some things about him. I know I haven’t said much about your father, but part of me was selfish. Your father was the most interesting man I have ever met.”
“What was his name?” I asked in a whisper.
“I wish I could tell you, and you need to know that, but for his safety and yours I can’t. Maybe someday I will, but not while it’s still dangerous.” I only nodded. Ma took me to my bed and we sat on there and she told me how she met my dad. “I met your father when I was your age, actually. I had just gotten married to Asmeed and you’re father was visiting Egypt with his grandpa. He was a goofy little kid, excited to see the world.”
“Did you fall in love with him then?”
“No, but your father desperately tried to win my affection. I ended up having to end it there before Asmeed found out. You know, I wasn’t even supposed to talk to another man without him there, but your dad always found a way.”
“So, how did you end up with him?”
“Well, after many, many, many years I started to work as a nurse in an Egyptian hospital. There was a man there who was greatly injured – I can’t tell you how though. Part of him has to remain a secret -”
“Yeah, I know, to protect us and him. Why would you want to protect a guy that wants to kill us?”
“Is that what you think?” I nodded at my mom who looked baffled. Maybe I had been wrong about my father. “No, sweetie, he had to go, because all of our lives were and still are in danger. He went searching for the man that wanted to kill him. He also had his friends send us away to be safe.”
“So, you met him at the hospital?” I quickly changed the subject before ma started to get as teary eyed as me.
“Yes, and after helping him for a year, he left. I continued my work. Then Asmeed was killed. A friend of mine told me that the man that killed him was looking for me. So, I ran to the one person that could protect me – your father. That’s when I fell in love with him.” She smiled and tapped me on the nose, “Don’t give up, Kaliq. Just because Riddle hates you now, doesn’t mean you won’t find her later. If there is anything that you could learn from your dad, its persistence.”
“Thanks ma. I love you, you know.”
“I know, I love you too. Now lets take these pictures down and maybe later go out for ice cream.”
After ice cream I walked back into my bare room and shook my head. The walls were empty of everything. I needed something. So, I took up my old easel out in the garage and painted. I didn’t mind painting, but it wasn’t my favorite hobby. When I was a kid, I enjoyed it more since it was something I did with Jon. For the rest of the month I spent my time in the garage painting. Ma didn’t care; she thought it was nice that I was decorating my room with something other than photos of Riddle.
The only real painful part of this punishment was that prom was coming up. I wanted to go, and I didn’t care if I went stag or went with one of my friends, as long as I had a chance to win Riddle back. I knew she and Ben were going together since Story was also grounded.
For days I begged ma. “Please ma! It’s only one night and it’s PROM! Please let me go. I want to go!”
“You don’t even have a date.” Ma pointed out.
“That’s because you won’t let me go. I want to ask Rose out, so please say yes so Rose and I could go.” Really, I didn’t want to take Rose, but River and Casey talked me into it over lunch that afternoon.
“Rose?” Ma smiled. “You didn’t tell me you had an eye for another girl.”
“Rose Jamison, She’s the daughter of the rocker, Reaver Pierce.”
“Wait, isn’t he with that Bowen guy?”
“Yeah, kinda. That’s her dad as well.”
“Okay, you can go.” I jumped up and down, hugging her with excitement. “But you have to promise me you’ll be home by 11.”
Now all I had to do was ask Rose Jamison to go to prom with me. I wasn’t sure if I could really do this. My nerves were hitting me hard, and my hands were dripping with sweat. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck stick up. I didn’t even know why I was so nervous, but I was. I didn’t really like Rose like that, but River said she needed a date. I tapped her on the shoulder in the hall.
“Can I help you?” Rose asked with annoyance.
“Rose, I was wondering, if maybe you wanted to, maybe like, go to prom with me?”
Rose stood quite and looked at me. She blinked a few times and I felt the sweat on the back of my neck drip onto my backpack.
“Okay.” She said with a smile.
“Great, pick you up around four for dinner and then to prom?” I asked with just as big of a smile.
I gave her a hug and thanked her again. I had a date to prom. It wasn’t how I wanted it, but it was still exciting. Not even two months ago, Riddle and I were planning out prom together. Now, she and Benny were going together and I was going with Rose Jamison.
I put my stuff in the locker just before the bell rang and felt a shove. “Jerk.” I heard Riddle yell.
I was stunned. I turned and saw Riddle walking away. “What the fuck’s your problem!” I yelled after her.
She didn’t answer.
“Riddle!” I yelled. She didn’t turn or acknowledge me – like always. “Bitch.” I mumbled as I closed my locker.
“Kinda brave mumbling that while I’m heading to class, Mr. Britt.” Mr. Moss said from behind.
“Sorry, Mr. Moss, but if you don’t want to hear what I think of your daughter right now, I suggest you leave.”
“What did she do now?”
I turned and looked at him, “She shoved me into my locker and called me a jerk out of nowhere. When I asked what her problem was, she went back to being the Ghost of Riddle.”
“Do you know why she would do that?”
“Besides she’s crazy? Maybe, because I asked Rose Jamison to prom. It’s not like Riddle isn’t going with another guy. She’s the one that wants to shut me out. Why should she even care that I’m trying to move past her?”
“Women,” Mr. Moss laughed. “She’s just like her mother. You know I had to fight for Anya. She didn’t want me at first. Maybe it’s time for you to fight for her. Make her understand you’re not leaving because she’s too stubborn.”
“Yeah, well, how can I if she doesn’t even look at me.”
“She does, just not when you’re looking. Like I said, she misses you.” Mr. Moss walked away letting me think on that. Why can’t Riddle see how sorry I was? I decided to skip class and just sit at the locker with my notebook. I wasn’t sure what I was really doing, until I started to write.
Riddle me this, Riddle me that. . . Why can’t the girl I love forgive me? Why can’t I even talk to my best friend. I’ve missed talking to her, telling her about my day. I’ve often had to hold my own conversations, and fantasize about those talks.
“My girlfriend hates me.”
“Because I broke a promise that I didn’t mean to break. She told me something that I couldn’t wrap my head around, and now she won’t even look at me.”
But what would my best friend say to that? Would she encourage me to keep fighting? Or would she tell me to fuck off and find another woman?
“My ma’s pregnant and she and Scott married.”
What would my best friend tell me with that bombshell? I’ve tried thinking of ways she would comfort me, but nothing seems perfect. I miss my best friend. Fuck the girlfriend part of the equation. I don’t care if I ever kiss her again, but to not talk to her would be a simple crime. I miss her.
When I looked down at the letter, blotched with tears, I folded it. It was probably the hundredth letter I had written to her. Most of the time I wrote them on email and then deleted them before clicking send. Now I had a hard copy of the letter I wanted her to read, but too scared to give.
I walked over to her locker and stared at it before sliding it through the slip. That was that, the letter was now in her court. Would she rip it up? Would she read it? Would she even care?
Monday came, and it was the week of prom. Already Rose had called me to give me an earful about Riddle and that she found a dress. She was so excited to be going to prom that I felt almost as excited. That and ma gave me my phone back when I got home from school on Friday and I was told I could turn on my computer.
I walked to my locker and was surprised to see a paper fall out as I opened it.
Riddle me this, Riddle me that. . . I am not your friend so stop calling me that. Your girlfriend is over you and it would be wise to stop thinking of her. She’s happy and if you can’t see it, then that’s your problem. Stop harassing me and move on. I don’t miss you, I don’t need you, and I don’t want you. Next time I see a letter, I’m gonna tell my father you are harassing me. Ritz.
I tore a piece of paper from my folder and began to write.
You are a bitch! I can’t believe I loved you! Yeah I went to your dad. Yeah I broke a promise. But for you tell me you aren’t even my friend is like showing me your icy cold heart. I should have known that you were made out of the same batch of slime as your sister, but apart of me thought differently.
“Dear friend, I’m going to prom with Rose and I think I love her. I may wind up marrying this girl. Who knows, we may even have fun at the after party.”
I slid it back into Riddle’s locker and stormed away.
At lunch a very pissed off Riddle came storming up to my table and slammed the letter next to me. I didn’t flinch. I just continued eating my sandwich. “You asshole!”
“Yeah, well you’re a bitch.” I said taking another bite of my tuna sandwich.
“You would screw the first thing that came after me. I thought we-”
“THERE IS NO WE!” I screamed getting the entire lunch room’s attention. “You’ve made that perfectly clear Riddle! You don’t want me as a friend, a boyfriend, or anything! So, yeah, maybe I’ve changed my mind about that. I would have waited with you, but since you’re with Ben I don’t have to wait. Hell, I’m sure I don’t even need to ask what you do with the quarterback, it’s written clearly across his smirk.”
“Screw you, Isaac.”
“Trust me, I plan on getting a lot of screwing done.”
“RIDDLE, ISAAC!” We heard from across the room. Mr. Moss was standing there, looking none too pleased. “My classroom now!”
We both marched in a huff towards his classroom. Mr. Moss slammed the door. “What in the hell was that about!” he yelled. “I’m enjoying a wonderful lunch when I get a phone call saying that Riddle and Isaac are going off on each other in front of the entire school. I want to know what the hell is going on?”
“Ask her.” I pointed, “I was just eating my lunch when she came after me, yelling at me.”
“Well, you’ve been harassing me.” Riddle accused.
“Is that true?”
“NO!” I yelled. “I don’t know where she gets off saying that. I’ve only ever said hi to her out in the halls a handful of times. I sent her one letter last Friday, but only after talking to you. If anything she’s been harassing my girlfriend.” I turned to Riddle, “Tell you’re dad what you did to Rose at the mall on Saturday.”
“Riddle?” Mr. Moss looked past me.
“That bitch deserved it.”
“RIDDLE MOSS!” Mr. Moss yelled.
“Well, she did!”
“What did you do?” Mr. Moss asked. She didn’t say anything. “Isaac?”
“Rose bought a beautiful blue dress at the mall with her sister. They went to lunch and Riddle here saw them and poured her Red Icee down the bag and told her to have a nice day.”
“Riddle, tell me you didn’t?”
“It seems to me that you’re gonna be using your prom money buying another girl’s dress. It also seems to me that neither of my daughters are going.”
“BUT THAT’S NOT FAIR!” Riddle screamed.
“No! What isn’t fair is how you’re treating your friend!” Mr. Moss yelled. “Look at him! Is that the kind of person you want to be Riddle; someone that breaks her best friend’s heart, because you told him a family secret. I’ve lived a long enough life to know you don’t hurt someone you love. Now I’m sorry kiddo, but you aren’t going to prom.”
“But he broke his promise.”
“So did you, but do you see me shunning you out of my life?” Mr. Moss asked. “I made you, you’re sister, and you’re brother promise the same damn thing. Story is likely to tell Ben someday. Chance may even tell his future wife. I figured you’d eventually tell Isaac here. I was surprised it took you this long to do so. You two have been friends since you were six and it breaks my heart to see you treating Isaac like this.”
“You knew I would tell him?”
“Yes, because you love him. Why do you think I told your mother, or you?”
“Well, I don’t love him anymore.”
And just like that the dagger in my heart move just a tiny fraction more. “Then don’t act like you don’t care.” I fought back.
“I don’t care.!”
“Then why’d you ruin my girlfriend’s dress?”
“She’s not your girlfriend.”
“Yea, she is.” I grounded my teeth and stormed out of the room. I was done with Riddle. I went out and found Rose. I took a deep breath before walking up towards her and kissed her. “Would you go out with me, not just as friends – but together, as my girlfriend?”
She nodded and kissed me again.
* * * *
By the time Thursday rolled around the school was jumping with Prom Fever, and Rose and I were no different. The school started an emergency, Prom Queen and King campaign for Rose and I. It was interesting to see how everyone reacted to mine and Riddle’s breakup. Half the school was against me and half the school were making sure I’d get crowned King. I didn’t want to be Prom King, but Rose was besides herself. She wanted it, and I couldn’t say no.
After school Rose and I went everywhere around town. She said her family life was hostile at best. Her dads were always fighting, and she hated her dad, Bowen. I guess he doesn’t treat the rockstar all that great. She never wanted to go home, so if we weren’t out and about we were at my place hanging out.
Mom enjoyed having Rose over as much as I did. The two would talk about Egypt, cars, and other stuff that I really wasn’t interested in. When they got to talking I went onto the computer in the living room and worked on my writing. Of course, I’d would get about a page into my writing when one of them would call for me.
“Isaac, why are you always writing?” Rose asked that Friday. “Don’t you wanna plan out tomorrow?”
“I thought we got it planned out?” I asked over my shoulder as I typed.
“We did. I just thought you’d like to talk.”
“Don’t mind him, Rose, he’s always on the computer writing away. Did you know he’s writing a novel?” Ma said.
“YOU ARE!” Rose asked. I smiled at her excitement. I remembered Riddle and I always discussing my dreams of being a writer and how proud – no I need to stop thinking of Riddle.
“Yeah, it’s cool. I’m writing a story about this real spy I learned about. He’s pretty intense.” I heard ma mumble something that I didn’t quite understand. “What, ma?”
“I said that’s interesting.”
“Anyway, I’m basing this fictional story around him. But I look him up to get ideas for his character.”
“How much research are we talking about?” Ma asked, now concerned. “I’m not going to get visited by the cops or the FBI or the SIA, because of you?”
“No. I just do searches through Google. Nothing illegal, I promise.”
“I don’t like you obsessing about some spy, you can get into serious trouble.” She huffed and walked out the room. Ever since ma learned about my book she’s been grouchy and unsupportive. I just couldn’t get it. At first she was happy about my novel, but the more I talk about the more upset she gets. Maybe it’s just hormones.
* * * *
Friday was the longest day I have ever sat through. At first it was great until Riddle and her gang attacked Rose. I was right there when I watched Riddle throw a slushy at Rose. It was like watching an episode of Glee and I honestly couldn’t believe she did it.
“RIDDLE!” I screamed halfway down the hallway. She didn’t stop laughing or walking away. “DAMMIT RIDDLE, I’M RIGHT HERE!”
“YOU KNOW IF YOU DIDN’T LOVE ME, YOU WOULDN’T ACT LIKE A JEALOUS BITCH! YOU JUST WISH THAT YOU GOT AS MUCH ATTENTION AS ROSE GETS!”
That got her attention. She turned and took another slushy from Story and walked over dumping it on my head. “No, I’m not jealous. I just didn’t see your Harry ass. So long Potter.”
I didn’t think it would sting hearing her call me Harry Potter, but it did. Maybe because for years she stood up to her sister about those names. I wanted to run and hide, but I knew I had to stay strong. “Whatever, Gotham’s Greenest Villain.”
The entire hallway went quiet, and why, oh God, why did I know that it was because Mr. Moss was right behind me. I think I prayed as I turned around, repeating please, please, please in my head. Sure enough, Mr. Moss was standing directly behind me. Fuck!
I think I heard Story giggle as I looked up at Mr. Moss. “Sir?” I asked with a shaky voice.
“I think that was the funniest insult yet, Mr. Britt. Detention, now! You too Riddle.”
“But -” Riddle cried.
“No buts. Both of you, detention, now.”
That’s how I spent my Friday afternoon. I hadn’t been in detention since Riddle and I turned the sprinkler system in the school on (by accident) in our Freshman year. I think the only reason we hadn’t these last few weeks was because of Mr. Moss. Now, even he was at the end of his rope with the two of us.
The two of us joined three others, including Casey in the boring classroom. (He’s always in detention.) Mr. Moss walked in and looked at both Riddle and I. We sat across the room from each other. “The two of you, next to each other. Now.”
I moved to the desk Riddle sat at.
“You two are going to sit there till the end of Detention. Maybe this way you guys can learn to be civil. I’ve had it with the two of you. I’ve tried to be a great middle man for both of you, but I am done. No more.” He stormed out of the classroom and left us with the teacher on call there, Mr. Conner, Scott’s brother.
I took out my notebook and did some free-writing. I didn’t have much homework for the weekend, since there was only a few weeks left for school. Riddle took out a book, one of Coke’s and I laughed. “Daddy’s little princess trying to get into his good graces?” I whispered.
She carefully gave me the middle finger.
“No thanks, I don’t date sluts.”
I think that’s when I knew I crossed a line. I watched as tears filled her eyes until she couldn’t take another moment, and she stormed out of the classroom crying. I wanted to chase her, but Sean gave me a warning look as he stormed out to go find her and lecture her about leaving detention.
I couldn’t believe that I did that to her. Even if she hated me with every bone in her, I still loved her. She was dating the Quarterback, though, and his rep was the type to “do them and dump them.” I also knew Riddle never would, she wanted to be the girl that saved herself for marriage. I had no qualms about it, I was hoping to do the same thing.
Prom finally came the next day. I was prompt in picking up my date. Mr. Jamison went all crazy and took a million pictures of us while Mr. Pierce gave me the death glare; the same one that Mr. Moss gave me when he found out about Riddle and I. The one that read, you hurt her, you die. I gave Rose her bouquet of flowers, and once the pictures were done we headed to dinner.
After dinner we headed to the school, where we met our friends and danced. Rose and I hardly left the dance floor, we had so much fun. Casey did what he did best and spiked the punch bowl, while Willow found every guy she could find to dance with. River was the only one I felt bad about, she didn’t have a date and no one danced with her. I felt horrible, so much that I excused myself from Rose to dance with her.
Rose watched and after the dance I returned to a huge smile plastered on her face, “That was sweet of you” She said with a kiss.
“It looked like she needed someone to dance with. She’s my friend, I can’t let her have a crappy prom.”
“You’re a sweet man, Isaac. A girl would be crazy not to dance with you.”
I hated how that made me feel. I know Rose saw the hurt and I cursed myself for showing my week emotions.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean -”
“It’s okay.” I shrugged, “Maybe she is crazy. Come on, lets dance and forget about it.”
When it came time for Prom Queen and King to be called, the school was pumped. Who would win? There were some great people that totally deserved the crown.
. I secretly hoped that Casey would get crowned Prom King. He’s the most popular kid in school and if anyone deserved it, it was him.
I was surprised when they called mine and Rose’s name.
Rose squealed and pulled me to the stage where we were crowned and given the dance. People around the hall cheered us on. It was romantic as hell, and to say I loved it would be a lie. I hated every moment. I really liked Rose, but there really was only one girl that deserved the crown, Riddle. I hated even thinking it too. I wanted this with Riddle, not with my rebound girl who I liked just as a friend.
I stormed out of the auditorium after the dance. I thanked those that congratulated me on my way out, but I didn’t want to be there. Rose quickly followed and found me at the fountain right behind the school. “You okay?”
“Yea. . . No. . . I don’t know!?!” I exasperated.
“You wished it had been her, huh?”
I didn’t say anything.
“I get it, Isaac. You love her and only her. I like you, and I’ll be here, but only as a friend.”
“It’s not fair.” I cried.
She took me in an embraced and held me as I allowed the tears to pour from my eyes. “Shhh, I know. Papa, he gets like this sometimes. He wants dad to love him, just like you want Riddle. Dad, however, could give two shits about him, and I have to watch as he breaks papa’s heart every day. It’s hard to watch Riddle do the same thing to you. If she only knew how much you cared for her.”
“Why does it hurt so much?” I asked.
“Because that’s love. I refuse to fall in love.” She smiled at me when I gave her a weird look. “You’re my friend, but if you think we’ll fall in love, you’re sorely mistaken. I don’t want to be hurt, and love hurts.”
It was then I realized, I didn’t want to love anyone ever again. I was through with the idea. Love only hurt those around you. Ma had to suffer through two dead husbands, and what did it get her? Nothing, but heartache. That night Rose and I made a deal, that we would date and pretend to love each other, so we could protect one another from getting hurt. We knew neither of us would fall in love with each other; we were friends that occasionally kissed for appearances. It was a good pact and one I would regret.
Author’s Note: I have to thank Hrootbeer for giving me an “expert” opinion on Coke’s lecture. I may have studied English in college but I never paid much attention in high school to remember what we learned! So thank you sooo much Heather for your help.