Is it childish of me to wish I had those glow-in-the-dark stars that people stick to their ceilings? Maybe those would help me sleep better at night.. I could then imagine before I fall asleep that I’m floating on my back at the pond I loved to swim in, looking up at the night sky that I never got tired of and maybe it would help me sleep better. I could maybe fall asleep without thinking of my uncle, or mother, or father, the three people that I didn’t want to see in my dreams with the fear that they would turn into nightmares, and they almost always did.
A gentle knock on my door caught my attention and I turned my head towards it, hearing someone turning the knob and it was James that came into my room, “Oh, you’re awake.. I thought I would’ve seen you downstairs and ready by now,” he began with a soft chuckle, “Get ready, man, we’re going to be late for that test if you stay in bed any longer,” he pointed out. I glanced up at my clock and it was almost ten, we had that Pathology test to take today that I had studied all weekend for and I didn’t want to miss it, but I didn’t want to get out of bed yet, either.
“Go ahead without me, I’ll just meet you there,” I replied, my eyes going back to the ceiling.
“Are you sure? I can wait if you want,” he offered.
“No, it’s fine.. Just go,” I replied with a tone much more depressed than I wanted it to sound. There was a short silence and I noticed James didn’t leave my room yet, continuing to look at me.
“..Are you alright?” He asked, sensing the slight concern in his voice and I nodded without looking at him. “Whatever, I’m waiting for you.. Now get dressed, we gotta get goin’,” he insisted, backing out of my room then and shutting the door behind him. I sighed softly as I listened to his hurried footsteps walking away from my door and downstairs, wondering if I should stay in bed a little longer and make us late or if I should just get the hell up and get dressed. I didn’t really want James to wait for me, I was in the mood to walk to school alone, but then again, there was still part of me that was glad I had someone to walk with.. Maybe I wouldn’t get harassed by my schoolmates if he was with me..
I slowly got out of bed, dragging my feet as I approached the dresser with a yawn and I scratched the back of my head as I pulled out a drawer. I picked out a clean white shirt and threw it on, grabbing a neat black tie as well and throwing it around my neck. I got out a pair of black pants and threw those on, then began doing up my black tie and I let it hang lower than it should from how lazy I was this morning. I was still pretty tired, I had woken up periodically from the simplest things all night, and the dream I had before I woke up seemed so real that it was hard to decipher between it and reality when I had first opened my eyes. I grabbed my red blazer and threw it on as well, walking over to my backpack then and throwing it over my shoulders and I left my room to meet James downstairs.
I met James in the foyer and he scoffed at the sight of me, “Jesus, Ollie.. Fix yourself up, the Dean is always looking for reasons to fuck with us, you wanna give him more reasons?” He asked, coming up to me and he began fixing my tie for me. I was a little thrown back by him being so close, though I didn’t think much of it as I averted my eyes away and let him fix it.
“Me? He gives you shit for that teal hair of yours every day, he’d yell at you for that before he’d yell at me for a simple loose tie,” I rebutted and he chuckled.
“Yeah, well.. He can shove it,” he replied with a grin.
“Where’s your backpack?” I wondered, noticing he didn’t have it.
“Don’t need it today, we’re taking a test.. All’s I need is the pencil in my pocket,” he replied with the same grin.
“Hey, you guys want breakfast?” Katalina called out from the kitchen and James and I looked to her after he had finished my tie.
“No time, Oliver made us late by sleeping in!” He called back, elbowing me with a chuckle and I smirked briefly, but turned my attention away from him and back to Kat.
“Well, alright.. Hey, good luck on that test, you two! That’s today, right?” She asked and James nodded.
“Yeah, thanks, Kat. Have fun in ballet today. We’ll see you later,” he replied and then patted my shoulder, “Come on, we need to get goin’,” he said to me with a smile and I followed him out of the house.
We had about fifteen minutes to get to class, so our pace stayed rather hurried as we walked to the college. “Have you been thinking at all what medical field you want to go into after you graduate? I mean, I know it’s a long time away from that, but we need to decide whenever we start our Residency at the hospital..” James wondered and I shrugged.
“Just general surgery.. I don’t have a strong passion for anything specific,” I replied, “What about you?”
“I don’t now.. Maybe Gynecology,” he answered with a laugh and I scoffed.
He continued to laugh softly as he looked at me, nudging me with his elbow again like before, “Just kidding, I’m not that much of a perv.. But, I was thinking of pediatrics, in all honesty,” he finally gave me a genuine answer and I looked to him, slightly surprised.
“Really? I never pictured you as a ‘kid’ person,” I pointed out and I watched him shrug.
“Meh, I like ’em an all.. They always have high hopes and big hearts. I feel like even if you told them bad news, they wouldn’t let it get ’em down and they’d put up a good fight.. Kinda makes me wish I was a kid again so I still had that mentality, you know?” He continued and I smirked.
“That’s a good point, I guess.. You’re fun, too, I think you’d make a great pediatrician,” I replied and he looked to me with a smile.
“Thanks, man,” he added, nudging me again for the third time, “Now we just gotta make sure you can get passed that fear of blood and you’re golden,” he teased and I rolled my eyes.
“I’m not scared of blood.. I just.. Whatever..” I tried to brush off, but he continued to hound me.
“That’s a laugh! Every time we practice drawing blood, you faint like a little girl,” he continued to tease and I shoved him as we walked and he still laughed.
“Shut up, I can handle it just fine..” I answered with a short tone.
“Whatever you say, man.. Next time we need to practice, you can practice on me at home so that you can faint on the bed instead of the school floor,” he added with another laugh and I let out a groan.
“How would we even do that?”
“I don’t know.. I’ll sneak into the supplies closet and steal some stuff, I won’t get caught.. I’ve done it before,” he replied and I looked to him, surprised by his words.
“What..? Why? What for?” I asked.
“Calm down, I didn’t steal any needles or anything for drugs, you tweak.. Just a stethoscope and some other crap.. Also hooked up with a girl in there first year,” he replied with a grin and I rolled my eyes. I was a little relieved by his answer, though I was still worried about him getting caught.. “Maybe you should be a mortician instead, that way you don’t need to do anything with going into the body and there won’t be any blood, you can just set them up for funerals,” he added with a chuckle.
“Ew.. No, that’s just creepy. I want to save lives, not look at bodies of people that are already dead,” I replied, both of us stopping at the corner of the street and waiting for the ‘walk’ signal.
“Yeah, good point, I guess.. Well, if you still wanna do that, then I’ll help. I’ll be your patient for when we need to practice,” he offered and I smirked.
“Thanks.. Though hopefully we won’t have to do that for a while,” I replied and he chuckled under his breath.
The ‘walk’ sign came on and we crossed the street, continuing our journey to the campus and James elbowed me for the millionth time, trying to get my attention and I looked to him, “She’s cute as fuck, say hi to her,” he instructed and I could feel my cheeks getting warm, looking forward nervously and noticing a blonde girl walking towards us.
“No, I don’t want to.. Why would I?” I asked with a harsh tone.
“Come on, just do it.. Take that leap already, will you?” He pressured and I looked to him with an uneasy expression.
“Even if I wanted to, we don’t have time for that.. Let’s just get to class,” I insisted and I heard him sigh heavily.
I grew more nervous as the girl got closer and I hoped James wouldn’t say anything to her to grab her attention, I wasn’t in the mood to put up with any of this so early in the morning. Her head was up and looking away from us, though I could tell it wasn’t intentional as if she was trying to avoid looking. I kept my eyes down as she was about to pass us, but Jimmy’s notorious nudging pushed a little harder than I was used to and the next thing I knew I was bumping abruptly into the girl and she let out a soft ‘whoa!’ as she stumbled a little from James shoving me into her. She dropped the book she was holding and I could feel my face turning hot and I knew I was beat red as I tried to recover from the sudden push.
“I-I.. I am, so, so sorry.. I-I really.. I didn’t mean to bump into you.. Are you okay?” I asked with a soft stutter and I bent down quickly to pick up the book for her, shying my eyes away and I handed her the hardcover.
“It’s fine, really.. I should’ve been paying attention,” she replied and I could hear James laughing softly as he continued to walk ahead of me. What an asshole.. I looked up and the girl was blushing as well, her eyes shying away from me as much as mine were doing to her and she smiled softly. She took the book back and nodded in thanks and I smiled nervously, breaking my gaze from hers and quickly standing up, walking passed her to catch up with James.
“You’re such a dick!” I expressed with anger as I approached him hunched over, still laughing at what he had done and I punched his arm.
“Oww! Fuck, man! I was just playing around, and trying to help,” he replied as he held his arm where I had punched him.
“Well, I don’t need your help, or Kat’s, or anyone else’s.. Can we just get to class so we can get this stupid test over with?” I asked angrily and he chuckled as we walked together again.
“Alright, alright..” He agreed, and luckily he didn’t shove me into any more girls for the rest of our walk.
We had made it to class and walked in through the door as our teacher, Mrs. Marrow, just began speaking, “Okay, everyone, take your seats,” she announced and James and I stayed in the back of the room, sitting down next to one another and the rest of our classmates did the same. “Alright, everyone..” She began again, beginning at the first row of students and walking down the row as she handed out the test, “You have an hour and a half to finish this test, I’m giving you the whole period to do it. As you know, I want no talking, no looking up from your papers, no cell phones, and of course, no cheating, which should go without saying,” she continued and she reached James and I in the back of the room.
“You look very nice today, Mrs. Marrow, did you do something different with your hair?” James said with an innocent grin and I smirked, trying not to laugh. There wasn’t a class that went by that he didn’t say something nice to her.
“I see you haven’t changed yours yet, Mr. Lebeau..” She spat back and I almost lost it. “And no sucking up for a better grade..” She replied to him and I couldn’t help but chuckle softly.
“Is something funny, Mr. Dubois?” She asked me next and my smirk was gone faster than I could blink.
“No, ma’am..” I replied before clearing my throat, keeping my eyes averted away from her and she then set down the test in front of me and continued walking.
“This isn’t high school anymore, gentleman, it’s your third year, so act like it..” She insisted with a short tone and both James and I didn’t look at her anymore, “If we’re all done screwing around, we can begin the test once I’ve handed it out to everyone,” she continued, passing out the rest of the tests and we all readied our pencils once she stood at the front of the class, “Begin the test now, good luck,” she finished, and all at once, the class began reading the first question.
Everything was easy, I had studied like crazy all weekend and I had a pretty good memory when it came to what was taught first hand in class, as well. I knew I was going to do good. Even though we had an hour and a half to finish the test, I was done in twenty minutes and I was also the first one to be done, but that wasn’t anything new to the class.. Everyone pretty much assumed that I’d always be the first done and the first one to leave. I closed the packet in front of me and I noticed James glance over towards me, whispering as softly as he could, “You’re done?” He asked and I nodded as I looked over to him, “Wait for me in the courtyard, okay?” He continued and I nodded again, standing up from my seat and going to Mrs. Marrow’s desk and handing in my test.
I walked out of class and ventured down the quiet halls of the school, eventually finding my way to the courtyard and I sat on one of the benches. I enjoyed sitting in the courtyard, it was always a beautiful place to me, though I missed the cherry blossom trees that would be a vibrant pink during the spring and summer.. At least there was a rainbow today.. The fall season was nice to an extent, but I only enjoyed it when it was just beginning so I could watch the trees change different colors, but now that it’s November and getting colder, the trees were barren and they looked like they were falling apart as the thin twigs swayed with each chilling breeze, causing the last petals and leaves from each tree to struggle to stay on. James was never far behind on finishing his test after me, though I wished he would hurry up so I wouldn’t have to wait in this weather anymore.
After about fifteen minutes of sitting there alone, James had finally come out of the building and got my attention, “Ollie! Let’s go get some lunch, man.. I’m starving,” he expressed as he walked up to me and I smirked, nodding in agreement and standing up to walk with him. “Hey, what did you get for that one question about the lung? Where it’s in a honeycomb pattern.. What is the result of that?” He asked and it took me no time to think of it.
“Pulmonary Fibrosis,” I replied and he let out a triumphant call.
“Ha-HA! Yes! I was thinking that that might’ve been the only one I got wrong ’cause I wasn’t sure about it, but I got that right,” he said with joy and I smiled towards him. It always made me feel good when James would hear the answers I gave him and he knew that they were right without even needing to question me. I knew I was right, but he never once second guessed me and I enjoyed how much he trusted me.
“That’s great.. What about that one with the brain you were having trouble with a few days ago? The one where the brain has a yellow pus under the dura when lifted with forceps, you put down that it’s bacterial meningitis, right?” I asked and I watched his face go from joy to worry in a few seconds.
“Ahh, fuck..” He let out with a defeated sigh and I knew then that he had gotten it wrong, “I should’ve known.. Dammit!” He let out and I chuckled.
“It’s okay, that’s probably the only one you got wrong, then.. That’s still good,” I tried to cheer him up.
“Yeah, I guess.. Why can’t I get one hundred percent on anything like you do? It seems that even though I think I got everything right, there’s always that one question that screws me over..” He replied with another sigh.
“Stop thinking about it, these things just happen.. Where do you want to get food?” I asked, trying to get his mind off of the test.
“I guess the cafe down the street from our place, we haven’t been going there as often as we usually do..”
“Yeah, that’s true..”
“It’s fun to sit outside there but it’s too cold to do that.. We’ll be able to do that again once Spring comes around, though,” he replied with a smirk and I nodded, his smile coming back and I was glad he could get the test off his mind.
We got to the cafe and chose a table, James offering to pay for me and he got us our orders as I sat alone at the table we chose momentarily. I removed a few books and some papers from my bag and placed them on the table, studying a little for Physiology and Anatomy, as well as a random Physics course I needed for extra credits, but before I could get engulfed into it, my concentration was broken by James.
He returned to the table with our food and he placed my order over my papers. “Come on, no studying right now.. Just relax a little, huh? We just got done with a test and now your studying for something we don’t even have a test for in a long time.. What’s the point?” He asked and I sighed, looking up to him and watching him join me at the table.
“I just want to be ready, that’s all.. It never hurts to be prepared, you know..” I replied, pushing the plate out of my way and looking at my papers again, though James wasn’t standing for it. He picked up my food and placed it back in front of me, letting the plate drop somewhat loudly on the table and I looked up to him. “What the hell?”
“Look, I bought you lunch, you could at least thank me by eating with me and giving me someone to talk to, I don’t want to sit here in silence like it’s a terrible blind date gone wrong or something weird,” he added with a chuckle and I felt a little bad for ignoring him unintentionally for my studying habits.
“Right..” I replied, shaking my head softly and I smirked, “Sorry.. Thanks for lunch,” I added and he kept his smirk, putting my books and papers away and I finally joined him in eating lunch together like we had came here to do in the first place.
“Oh my God, I’m so full..” James let out with a groan after we had finished eating and I chuckled at his sluggishness.
“Maybe you should’ve stopped after the burger instead of ordering a bagel and a slice of key lime pie,” I pointed out with a soft laugh and he brushed me off.
“Eh, whatever.. I love food, I regret nothing,” he replied and I chuckled again and noticed a waitress come to our table and she took away our empty plates.
“Thanks,” I voiced softly and she nodded with a smile, looking at me longer than I thought she would and I hoped James wouldn’t notice it, but sadly, he did..
“You should ask her for her number,” he suggested.
“What..? No.. Just because she smiled at me doesn’t mean she’s interested, she was just being nice and doing her job,” I tried to convince him, but he wasn’t buying it.
“Well, usually if they’re just being nice and doing their job, then she would’ve acknowledged me as well, which she didn’t, not even for a split second..”
I let out an aggravated sigh, “Meaning..?” I asked with little interest.
“Meaning, that she obviously liked you and thought you were cute or something, so go for it,” he replied and I rolled my eyes.. I couldn’t understand why him and Kat always felt the need to try and fix me up with someone when I made it clear that I wasn’t interested.
“Why do you guys always do this?”
“What? Who?” James asked, surprised.
“You and Kat.. Just because I haven’t had a girlfriend or even just meaningless sex with someone since we moved here doesn’t mean I need it or anything.. Why is it so hard to believe that I just want to focus on my schooling and not have to worry about that kind of thing?” I tried to persuade him, but he only made the situation worse.
“Ohh, I get it.. So you masturbate a lot..?” He asked and I could feel my face turning red and hot instantly from embarrassment.
“What?! No! Jesus..” I replied and he laughed, “Could you say that any louder, too?” I asked sarcastically and he continued to laugh at my discomfort.
“Well? What the hell else am I supposed to think? You’ve obviously not a virgin, you’ve had a taste of Eve’s sweet apple, I just don’t understand how it’s not constantly on your mind.. Especially after this long without any.. I almost feel bad for you at this point,” he explained and I sighed, finally feeling my face returning to normal.
“It’s..” I began, exhaling sharply before I continued, “It’s not that I don’t think about it ever, just not as often as you, that’s all.. I mean, I know you want to be with Kat, but you don’t hear me hounding you every day to ask her out.. You know why? Because I know it makes you uncomfortable to think about it, because I know that you’ll get around to manning up eventually, but I know it takes time.. That’s the same thing that I’m doing.. I’m not waiting for ‘the one’ or anything like that, I’m just.. I’m not going to fuck every girl that smiles at me, okay?” I explained more thoroughly and James put his hands up defensively.
“Okay, okay.. No need to explain any more..” He replied and I let out a sigh of relief, smirking towards him as I sat there, feeling slightly accomplished that he was going to back off a little now, or so I thought..
After a few minutes, I watched him give me a normal expression, “Hey, do you still have my laptop in your bag?” He wondered and I nodded, taking it out for him and he placed it on the table, starting it up and I wondered why he was doing it.
“What are you doing? Studying?” I asked with a slight sense of enthusiasm and he scoffed.
“No, of course not.. Not now, anyways, so you can put your study-boner away,” he replied and the smirk I held turned into a frown from his response.
“..Then what are you doing?” I asked again, but before I could react, he pulled up his phone from hiding it behind his screen and he took a picture of me, “Ahh! What the hell?” I asked, trying to block my face, but it was too late.
“That’s a good picture, the light’s hitting your face nicely.. Well, from what you can actually see of it,” he teased at my hair but in a complimenting way as he looked to the picture on his phone and I let my guard back down a little, liking his compliment.
“Oh, uhm.. Okay.. Thanks, I guess..? Wha’d you do that for?” I asked and I didn’t like the grin that formed on his lips as he looked up to me, it looked evil and I knew he was up to something..
“Just need to upload this puppy and… Voila! I made you an online dating profile,” he replied with a pleased expression and I could feel my face turning red with embarrassment once again.
“You what!?” I called out and he started laughing, “Give me your laptop! Delete it!” I continued as I reached for his laptop, but he closed it and pulled it away so I couldn’t reach it.
“No can do, bud! I logged out and you don’t even know the password to delete it,” he teased and I slumped in my chair, James putting his laptop away in my bag as my head met the table and I let out a sad groan.
“Why, James.. Why do you like to torture me?” I asked with a depressed tone and he tousled my hair as I fake-cried on the table.
“Don’t be such a buzz-kill.. If you won’t approach anyone face to face, then why not over the internet? That way you can just message back and forth, reply whenever you want, no hassle.. You don’t have to go through awkward silences or anything like that and you can even just ignore them like you do now if they show interest, what’s the big deal? I figured this is a much better way for you to find someone you like since you’re too shy to approach anyone outright,” he replied, “Just give it a chance.. I’m sure you’ll find someone you really connect with if you just try it out..”
“I’ll give you the password once I’m convinced you won’t delete it right away.. We’ll give it a few days and see if you get any responses, then you can decide from there,” he continued and I lifted my head up from the table, realizing something else that worried me.
“Wait.. What did you say about me? You didn’t over-exaggerate or anything, right?” I asked cautiously.
“..Define over-exaggerate..” He teased with a grin and I gave him a worried face.
“James! Come on.. What did you say about me? You can at least tell me that much..” I pleaded and he chuckled.
“Alright, calm down, spazz, I’m just kidding.. I didn’t really fill out anything, it just gave me things to choose from, like multiple choice or whatever.. I said you’re about 6’2”, dark brown hair, blue eyes, athletic build since you swim a lot, and you live in Dronningslund and only want locals to contact you, because you don’t want to really go anywhere far to meet anyone, am I right?” He asked and I didn’t answer him, answering his own question, “Right.. So, does that suffice, Mr. I-tweak-about-everything?”
“I’m not a tweak.. And it’s not like it matters now..” I replied, hanging my head and I could feel my stomach turning into slight knots the more I thought about what he had done for me. I admit, it was a little easier than talking to someone face to face, but at the same time, talking over the internet seemed so informal.. So laid back.. But how was someone like me supposed to be laid back when there’s never been a day where I have been? Even with James being my best friend, I managed to still get nervous and shy, when normally someone’s best friend would bring out the best in them. “What if I get nothing? What if no one talks to me or they get bored of me if they do talk to me? I’m better just being alone the rest of my life..”
“You need to stop looking at it like that, like you have no self-confidence,” I looked up to James from hiding behind my hair, “I’m not trying to come on to you or anything, but you’re a pretty attractive guy, and I really like hanging out with you, why wouldn’t anyone else think that, too..? Even if your profile is up there and if we never went back to it to read any messages, or even if you don’t get any at all, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.. You could even use it to make friends instead, maybe meet some other people that are like you and it could even help you come out of your shell a little more. It doesn’t have to always be about finding love or finding sex, no promising relationship starts out easy, anyways.. It always takes time for the ones that are worth it, but it also takes time to find those who are.. Don’t you agree?” He asked and I sighed, looking down at the table.
“It’s hard to be mad at you when you make a lot of sense with your arguments,” I answered and he laughed.
“I knew you’d come around..” He replied with a grin and he stood up, “Let’s get back home, Kat rented that new zombie movie yesterday that I wanted to see with you guys,” he said with excitement.
“Actually.. I think I’m going to head to the pool, I’ll just see you at home later,” I replied.
“Oh yeah, that’s right.. You haven’t been swimming in a few days.. I’m surprised you’ve lasted this long without it,” he answered with a chuckle, “All the stuff you need is in a locker at the pool, right? Want me to take your backpack home for you?” He wondered and I smirked.
“Yeah, that’d be great. Thanks, man.”
“No problem.. See you later, Ollie.”
“Enjoy the movie with Kat,” I added and he cocked his eyebrows suggestively.
“Oh, I’m sure I will,” he replied and I chuckled, shaking my head softly as he left and then got up as well, leaving the cafe and heading back towards the campus where the pool was.
I tried to see the brighter side to James making me a profile on some dating site, but then again I couldn’t get passed the fear I had that no one would be interested in me.. I was more nervous of the fact that I could possibly get no feedback at all, resulting in James’ encouragement to have higher self-confidence being pointless and I’d be back at square one. Who would want to get to know someone like me, anyways? Besides Kat and Camilla, who were family, and James, the random anomaly that decided to be our friend, who else was out there around Dronningslund that would want to get to know me? The majority of the college already knew who I was and either steered clear of me because I was so quiet and that weirded them out, or they were the other ones that made fun of me for the same reason.. I came back to the conclusion that it was a pathetic and pointless attempt to hope for anything different anymore. This is what my life was, any attempt to change it now wasn’t possible in my mind.. I was just meant to be alone.
When I approached the campus pool, I noticed a group of guys that were notorious for making fun of people like me.. Well, only me.. I debated on whether or not to go to the pool anymore, glad that they hadn’t noticed me yet, but what was I supposed to do? Should I turn around and just go home, or should I go to the pool and hope they don’t notice me?
The longer I stood there trying to figure out what to do, the more time I gave them to see me, and when I had finally made up my mind to go home, I noticed one of them look at me and he grabbed the others attention to point me out. “Shit..” I said under my breath, abruptly turning away to leave, but it was too late.
“Hey, Oliver.. Where you off to?” One of the guys asked and I could hear their footsteps catching up to me as I tried to walk away.
“I figured the fish would try to swim today..” One confirmed for his friends, “So why don’t you go on ahead, Oliver? What’s stopping you?” He asked, though I tried to ignore them.
I felt a hand on my shoulder, turning me around abruptly and I was pushed against the brick building. The shove wasn’t that bad, but I was worried for what was coming next. I continued to try and ignore them, holding back my tongue and avoiding eye contact, but that only provoked them more. “You can at least look at me when I’m talking to you, Dubois,” he threatened, putting his hand to my chin and pushing my head up. The back of my skull met the brick and I winced slightly at the harsh contact, but I still didn’t answer him.
“I don’t think he has any manners, Thomas,” one of the clowns pointed out to his ringleader.
“Well, maybe we should teach him some, huh?” Thomas replied with a grin, “Or maybe it’s me that needs to be taught some manners..? I could take an example from him and run and cry to that sexy Katalina, how’s that sound? Come on, Oliver, take a swing at me so I can have that fine cousin of yours lick all my wounds clean.. The whole college knows she would,” he taunted and I finally looked to him with a spark of anger building up in me.
“Ohh! That got his attention.. Too bad, though, he’s got no bark or bite..” Another taunted and Thomas chuckled.
“How far do you think a ballet dancer’s legs can spread? She must be really flexible, what with all the practice she’s gotten in and out of class,” He continued and my anger was growing quicker and quicker.
“What are you waiting for, Ollie? Knee me in the dick so I can go to Kat and have her kiss it and make it feel better,” he continued. I didn’t know what came over me, but it was too late to go back now. I snorted roughly and parted my lips, shooting a wad of spit on Thomas’ face and his friends laughed at what I had done, though their laughter didn’t last long once they saw the anger in his eyes. He continued to hold my jaw in place with one of his hands as the other came up and wiped the spit off of his face, giving me a few last moments to regret what I had done. “Well, lucky for you, it looks like you’re the one that gets to run to Kat for comfort this time,” he said with a mean grin and I shut my eyes, not wanting to see the fist I knew he was about to hit me with.
Like I had known, his first hurled into my nose and I was taken down from that one punch, my mind dazed from being hit so hard and my legs lost some of their strength in holding myself up, but I couldn’t fall. Thomas still held my jaw and he forced me to stand, hitting me again in the lip and it was then that he had let me drop. “I’ll make you regret that, Dubois,” he hissed through his clenched teeth and I opened my eyes, but before I could look up at him, another fist hit my cheek and I was dazed yet again.
I had been getting bad attention like this since I was a kid, so sadly, I was used to it. My father’s advice always played back over and over in my head the one day he talked to me about getting bullied. He told me to ignore them and they would eventually stop, and I followed his advice, though it was always hard for me to believe as more and more years passed that I continued to get picked on, which then eventually turned into beatings like this one. I sometimes doubted my father, his words about how he only had to team up with his brother to teach others a lesson made me think that I needed someone like a brother, that I needed backup or else this was always going to happen.. He was alone when he got beat up, and so was I whenever it happened to me. But, I could never be like them, I wasn’t strong enough and I never wanted to have a partner in crime like that.. They ended up ruining one another’s lives, my father’s more so, in my opinion, and I never wanted something like that to happen to me. Even though their quarrel was over a woman, my mother, there’s no telling what a partner of my own and myself could end on.. I couldn’t bring anyone down with me like that.
Another fist in my face and a swift punch to my stomach, I let out a heave of air as I lost my breath from the force of the connection.
As I laid on the ground, my back up against the brick wall, clinging to the air as I tried to catch my breath, I waited for more punches, but I heard a familiar voice calling in the distance, “Hey! Get away from him!” James yelled and I was relieved that Thomas decided to back off then.
“James! Great to see you,” Thomas said sarcastically, “Come to rescue your princess, I see,” he mocked and James finally reached us. I looked up to him, but when I noticed him begin to turn his head to look down at me, I averted my eyes and hung my head, ashamed that I constantly needed ‘rescuing’ as Thomas said. This is exactly what I didn’t want, a partner, and I guess James was the closest thing to that.
“Are you alright, Ollie?” James asked, but I didn’t answer him.
“Yeah, Ollie, what happened to you?” Thomas asked with more sarcasm and I continued to avoid looking at either of them.
“Just get the hell outta here, Thomas, you’re such a fucking asshole,” James threatened and I heard Thomas laugh.
“Do you know how long I’ve waited for you to make me? Now’s your chance, James..” He taunted, stepping closer to Jimmy and I wanted to speak up to stop them from fighting, especially over someone as small as me, but before I could, I heard another familiar voice, one I had hoped wouldn’t show up..
“You heard him, Thomas, get the fuck out of here you piece of trash..” Kat walked up after James, assuming that they had come together, “All you do is pick on Oliver when he’s done nothing to you.. You can forget about ever taking me out now, too, you low-life.. Messing with my kin is a sure-fire way of ending up on my shit list.. And you know I can ruin your life before daybreak tomorrow,” she said angrily towards him.
“Whoa there, kitty Kat, I can’t stand those pretty green eyes of yours holding such a hard gaze at me.. I didn’t even do anything to the little prick, I found him like this,” he lied for the sake of Kat and I scoffed.
“Bullshit, Tommy, the blood on your knuckles says otherwise,” James pointed out and Thomas put his hand behind his head.
“He started it, he spit in my face.. That’s not something I take very lightly,” he tried to sound convincing.
“Yeah? And wha’d you say for him to react like that? Pull your tongue back, snake, and don’t fucking mess with him again,” Kat called his bluff and he chuckled softly.
“Welp, you got me.. Let’s go, boys, it’s too much of a therapist’s wet dream here..” He finally admitted with an insult to follow, beginning to walk away, but he stopped and looked back at me, “Hey, Oliver..” I looked up towards him, “Now that you’ve been saved, you can go home and cry to Mommy.. Oh, no.. Wait.. You can’t..” He rubbed in my face and I ground my teeth together in anger as his friends laughed and continued walking away.
“Fuck you, Thomas!” Kat called out after hearing his remark, still defending me.
I went to stand, to actually do something in defending myself for once, but James stopped me with his hand on my shoulder, “Just stop, Ollie.. He’s not worth it.”
No, no, I wasn’t going to cry.. I was too old, too mature now to still give a damn about what happened to her, or at least too mature to weep in public.. I shoved James’ hand off of me and turned away, “Why are you two even here? I was doing fine by myself, I can deal with this,” I said softly with irritation.
“Your face tells a different story,” James pointed out and I rolled my eyes, “Look, when I got home, I went online on my phone to the schools website to check some things and I noticed that they posted an announcement saying the pool was closed for maintenance, so Kat and I walked back to see if you wanted company for the walk home, assuming you’d notice it was closed, but when we got here, we noticed you here with Thomas and his idiot friends.. What did you want us to do, just let you get the shit beat outta you? What kind of friend would that make me, huh?” He asked with slight anger and he made me feel guilty for not thanking him instead of being ungrateful, but I was battling whether or not I liked them showing up..
I could feel blood gathering inside of my mouth from my tooth cutting the inside of my cheek and I spat it towards the ground, but didn’t look down at it in fear that I’d get dizzy. I then heard Kat’s heels on the ground walking over towards me, stopping next to me and I felt her hand on my arm, “Don’t let those assholes get to you, just forget what they said.. Are you okay?” She asked, bringing her hand up and placing it on the side of my face that received less of a beating, pulling and making me face towards her as she looked at my wounds.
“I’m fine, Kat..” I replied with little confidence, avoiding eye contact as much as I could.
“Are you sure? If you want to talk about anything, then-”
“I said I’m fine..” I cut her off, pulling my face out of her hand and facing away from her again.
“Fuck, Ollie.. The only time you’re ever a prick to us is always after we save your ass!” James called out, surprising Kat and I.
“James, what the hell?” She asked angrily.
“What? I’m just calling it like it is!” He answered Kat, then came up to me and his hand met my shoulder, pushing me to face him, “Look at you, Ollie, just a few punches away from a broken jaw and we always stick our necks out for you so it doesn’t ever go that far.. Yet all we ever get in return is a smug, beat up face that never seems to realize he has friends and family that look out for him every day of his damn life! Next time you’re getting fucked up, do you want me to stand back and watch, laugh even? Do you want me to be like the rest of them?” He asked harshly and I grew angered.
“I never asked to get beat up, and I never asked for your help, not once! Stop acting like you’re a fucking super hero,” I spat back.
“You guys! Just stop, okay?” Kat pressured, getting in between us, “James, back off.. He’s gone through enough already, he doesn’t need his best friend becoming his enemy, too..” She tried to reason as James and I stared one another down, but eventually James’ expression began to calm and he let out a heavy sigh, backing off once he looked down at Kat.
“Fine, whatever.. I’m not looking for a ‘thank you’ from you, Ollie.. Just don’t give us a cold shoulder when all we want to do is know if you’re okay, alright?” He asked sternly and now I felt worse about the whole situation.. I was a jerk, I was too busy trying to make myself look tougher than I was that I completely ignored the fact that I’d been spared from a potentially more worse beating by Thomas thanks to them. My face was beginning to hurt a lot more than it did a few minutes ago and it was a struggle to even smirk towards James, but I tried anyhow.
“You’re right.. I’m sorry, James. I should appreciate you two more often.. Thanks for coming to see if I wanted someone to walk home with, it couldn’t have been better timing,” I joked slightly, seeing James looking to me with an appreciative smile and I much more preferred seeing them like this than angry with me.
“Come on, let’s go home and get some ice on your face, fist magnet,” Kat teased me with a new nickname and James laughed, Kat walking behind us and James threw his arm around my shoulders.
“Is it really that bad?” I asked, reaching up and touching my face gently with my fingertips.
“No, not really, but your face will be purple for a few days.. And that’s twice now today that you’ve apologized to me.. When are you going to get it through your thick skull that I’m always right?” James teased and I rolled my eyes with a smirk. “Hey! You can watch that zombie movie with us now since the pool’s closed!” He said excitedly and I smiled.
“I should’ve just went home with you in the first place,” I replied with a defeated tone and him and Kat chuckled, assuming they were mentally agreeing with me.
I didn’t know why I was so stubborn, but I guess it just runs in the family. I had never told James this, but I looked up to him in a lot of ways.. He was confident about most things, of course, except when it came to wooing Kat, but he had a good heart and an even better head on his shoulders, and I wished that I could be at least half as strong as he was, emotionally and mentally. Maybe then I’d have at least a shred of confidence to stick up for myself more often..