“Was it difficult?” I asked. I twirled the blade of grass between my fingers as a way to stable my hands from trembling. My heart thumped.
“Was what difficult?” He smiled as he turned to look at me.
I panicked. I couldn’t look at him. Eye contact would be too hard.
I turned to my right and glanced as far into the distance as I could. I steadied my breathing before I spoke.
“Being that guy” I explained “the guy who everybody respected and everybody looked up too. Being popular, being talked about, being invited to parties and being included in group photographs. You were on top of the world, at the top of the entire school. You were with the guy all the girls wanted and all the guys wanted to be. Your reputation exceeded you. Was it difficult? I mean, did people talk about you the way they talked about me? Did you ever feel like you had too many plans at one time? Did you ever just want to say at home and relax? Did it ever get too much for you? Managing connections, attending parties, being watched pretty much 24/7. Everything you do, they do the next day. Was it difficult prioritizing who would be your friends and who wouldn’t? Always getting to choose but always being put first yourself?”
He was silent. I still couldn’t look at him. I couldn’t tell if he was shocked or surprised. He didn’t make a sound.
I built up my courage and turned to look him straight in the face. He was shocked. His lips were parted, it was as if he wanted to say something but the words wouldn’t come out. I analyzed his face yet he was still silent. I placed the blade of grass down I was playing with previously.
“You can pretend you were and play dumb to this whole situation but I know you were. I’m not a fool. I’m not stupid”
He stutters, I can tell he’s got stuff to say but he doesn’t know how. ” I wasn’t saying you were!” he laughs trying to make light of the situation, ” I’m just surprised that you hate me that much”
“I don’t hate you” I frown at him confused
“Yeah, it sure sounds its” He jokes breaking my eye contact
“Why do you always have to make this about you?” I snap
“How am I making this about me? You just insult me for no reason whatsoever and then start asking all these stupid questions from years ago and expect me to know answers just like that” He argues back
“Don’t you think I deserve answers?” I question
“Answers for what! I don’t know why high school worked out the way it did. I never planned for it to turn out like that, Jeez. I wish I could have done something different for you if it bothers you so much”
We were both fell silent. I went back to gazing into the distance.
“I’m just surprised you think that way about me, it’s quite surprising” his voice was soft, almost a whisper, I could tell he didn’t mean to lose his temper.
It wasn’t thought, it was fact. I’d known him too long, I knew what he was all about. I sigh and roll my eyes before turning to look at him again.
“You do know, you’re talking to a girl who spent all her teenage years going unnoticed? Nobody even knew I existed. I was never included in any group photos. I never received any party invites. Nobody spoke to me the way they spoke to you. I was just in the background. I never got to go to prom, despite the fact I work my damn hardest all year around. I never failed any classes. I never wronged any teachers. I gave school my 100% every single day. And then, guys like you. People like you. You just get all that stuff for nothing. You disrupt our classes, you’re a general prick all year round yet I’m the one who gets my prom revoked. I pass every single class yet I’m the one who gets punished. I never spent all night out drinking and partying, turning up hungover to class the next morning. I actually cared about my education. I actually wanted to go somewhere. ” I realised I had begun to rant so I paused to calm down
Again, he didn’t know what to say although I could see him looking at me through my peripheral vision.
“To be honest,” I sighed, “Even you were only nice to me when you wanted to be. When your friends came around you were a different person. I was back to the background again. I was unimportant because I wasn’t one of them girls. It hurt. It really hurt. One day you’d smile at me and act nice, the next you’d blank me as if I didn’t exist. Especially when your reputation was on the line. When I needed acknowledgment the most, when I needed people to see I was human too, I had interests and hobbies too, just like you. You’d cut me out. You’d remind me that I was no one and that I’d never be anyone. Not to you or to them. A small reminder, I’d never fit in with the cool kids”
I lowered my head as I fought back tears. This was the closest I had ever come to telling someone exactly how I felt. Exactly how they had made me feel. I was being brave for once in my life, I was opening up.
“Girllllllll!” He laughed nudging me gently with his shoulder “Don’t talk like that. That’s in the past. Ignore it. Forget it! I mean look at us now. We’re here, together. We had a fab day at the shopping center, why does high school matter”
I gave him a disapproving look. How could I expect him to understand? I couldn’t. He couldn’t.
“Six years later we can finally go to the shopping center. Six years later, it doesn’t matter anymore? I finally have your approval, I’m finally ‘cool’ enough to hang out with. It took six years of isolation to get your friendship now, today. Now your reputation doesn’t matter anymore because high school is over and everybody has changed? Six years just to have the name calling and bullying to stop, by being friends with you. You think that’s fair?” I tilt my head to look at him, my tone deadly serious.
“Look, I’m sorry I made you feel that way. But that’s in the past now, isn’t it? Like you said, we’re not them people anymore. Them people don’t matter anyone. Being cool or uncool in school doesn’t matter, we are over that. People move on. It’s not the end of the world. Can’t we just move on, you need to move on” he tries to brush it off but I feel like he’s just full of excuses.
I break eye contact once again, “The past scars people you know. You can’t just move on from things like that.”
It fell silent once again,
“But I guess you wouldn’t know that. You never cried yourself to sleep the night before not wanting to go to school the next day. You never got given detentions for things you never did. You always managed to manipulate people just the way you wanted and needed too.”
I got up and walked away. It wasn’t worth it. There was no such date, he could take me on that would ever make up for all of the hell that I’d experience. There was nothing. Nothing.