"Another day, but it's all the same", Joel thought, as he walked down the crowded hall towards his first period class. "Ah, I see Mark and Jennifer are still at it, both looking as sexy as ever", he noted as he observed Mark Jeffrey, the leading swimmer on the school swim team, and Jennifer Saunders, the typical blonde cheerleading captain, hands and lips interlocked one last time before she had to detour left for English, while he kept on straight, heading for Chemistry. "It's a wonder they can walk like that though".
"Wow, it's like they got in a fight with super glue and the super glue won. It's gross, they should totally get a room, don't you think?". Joel's' best friend Liz had caught up with him and interrupted his thoughts as they were drifting to Mark in his blue and red speedo.
"Yeah, I guess so" replied Joel, but thinking "No, then they'd be harder to watch".
"Black eye-liner again? Gosh, I swear, you're either going Goth or turning into a girl."
"Or I could be coming out of the closet, you forgot that" Joel teased.
Liz scrunched up her face and put her disgusted look on, like she always did when she saw or somebody mentioned gay people. "Don't even joke like that, you know thinking about... faggots and such grosses me out".
"Hey, I was just kidding. Besides, it's just eyeliner, it's not like I have a full makeup bag or anything. And don't call them faggots, it's not very nice. I know some gay people, and they're not all that bad".
"Yeah, whatever, I still say relationships like that are supposed to be between a dude and a girl, not a dude and a...dude".
"I marvel at your open-mindedness", Joel said sarcastically. "You're just like my mom".
"Great minds think alike" Liz retaliated, as they entered their World History class and headed for the third to the last horizontal row where they usually sat.
"Yes, but so do obtuse minds" Joel shot back before he took his seat behind Brian Turner. Brian. Such a cute name for such a cute person. Brian Martin. Joel Turner. Joel and Brian. Brian and Joel Turner. Would we be a "cute" couple? We'll, he's cute, so... and smart too. And he's so...I don't know, real. He doesn't try to be anybody but himself just to be popular, just to be noticed, and maybe that's what attracts me to him so much. What you see is what you get with him, and I like what I see. Now if I could just get the "get" part down. But what am I thinking? Even if he doesn't have girls crawling all over him, I'm sure he doesn't want me, especially since I'm a dude too. Gosh, I hate that I'm always attracted to the straight guys.
"Mr. Martin, is there something growing out of the back of Mr. Turners head, or some other distracting feature about it that you would like to inform us about?". Mr. McCoy's' raised voiced sliced through Joel's' thoughts like a steak knife through softened butter, and Joel jumped with a start, realizing he had been in-fact concentrating on Brian and nothing else since class started.
"N-no sir, umm...sorry, I just spaced out...".
"Well, I'm very sorry to disappoint you Joel, but this is actually World History class, not Astronomy, so I'll thank you to pay attention in my class and not "space out" as you so quaintly put it, how does that sound to you?".
"Yes sir" Joel replied, but in his head "Can you say B-I-T-C-H?"
After World History, Joel had Algebra 2 and Health while Liz had English and Chemistry, then they met up at the top of the main stairs, as always, to walk down to the cafeteria together. Joel couldn't help wondering if he and Brian would ever walk anywhere together.
"Hey, sorry I was a little late, I kinda...blew something up in the Chem. lab again, and I had to help clean it up". Liz had appeared, again interrupting Joel's thoughts.
"What'd you do?" Joel asked, knowing the answer, only asking so he could appear to be listening as he watch a couple of jocks from the soccer team come upstairs, fresh from gym class.
"Oh, the usual, not paying attention and mistaking the nitroglycerin for water. It was actually pretty funny 'til Ms. Wilson gave me an F for the day. Hey, you write...poetry and stories and stuff right?".
"Huh? Oh, yeah, I guess. Why?".
"Well, since I'm on the weekly school news letter committee, I suggested we post poems and whatever written by the students here, and I was wondering if you'd like to start it off...with something you wrote". She spit the last words out and gave Joel a hopeful face.
"No" said Joel simply as they finally made it to the lunch room.
"Joel, please!" Liz pleaded. "Do this for me! I want to start this up, and who better to use than my best friend, who just happens to write?".
"If you want to start it, why don't you write something?".
"Yeah right, you know I suck at writing!"
"Well, I'm sorry, but no. I've only let you read one poem, and that's because you pulled that evil cute-puppy-dog-pout face on me, what makes you think I'm going to let the whole school read my stuff?".
"Please Joel!!" Liz was serious now. "That one poem you wrote was awesome, and I'm sure everyone else will think so too! You have a natural talent, and you use it, but if you never show other people, what good does it do?".
"It does me plenty good" Joel argued. Liz sat back in her chair and stopped talking. "Liz! Liz stop, you know I can't stand that. Liz, talk to me! Liz!". Joel sighed. "Fine, whatever, you can use one of my poems, just stop...not talking".
Liz perked up immediately. "So, which one can I use?".
"I don't know yet" Joel replied.
The next day, Wednesday, this poem showed up in the weekly news letter:
Those Jeans by Joel Martin
Those jeans you used to wear,
They still hang in my closet,
The faded ones with the intricate
Violet and rose colored butterflies,
That remind me of the butterflies in my stomach,
The night we first shared a kiss,
Under the singing stars and the jubilant full moon;
The ones that embraced you perfectly,
Just the way I always hoped I could,
And just the way you always embraced me;
The ones that used to join us when we danced,
They moved when you moved,
And never lost a beat;
The ones you wore,
When we were still in love.
Yeah, those ones.
They were your favorite pair,
And I wonder why you never came back for them,
So I could believe you came back for me, one last time.
You left them here purposely,
I see them every morning,
I stare at them,
And each time, they drive me a little crazier,
Just thinking of you.
And sometimes I see you in them,
But as I reach out to you,
All I feel is the cold, lifeless hanger.
Sometimes I try to put them on,
Just to remember,
And to see if you left a bit of warmth in them,
But it's like trying to put Godzilla in Barbie's wedding dress,
A laughably vain attempt.
And it doesn't make sense to me,
Why I'm writing about your jeans,
Why you're not still here with me.
But I've learned it doesn't have to,
And it won't,
No matter how long or hard I try to figure these things out.
I'm a broken soul,
And life means nothing without you.
But it's okay,
As long as I have your jeans,
You're welcome to keep my heart.
"I can't believe I let you do this". Joel muttered.
"But Joel, this is even better than the other one. I don't know why you hide your writing so much. You're like...the modern Shakespeare".
"I hide it so people can't judge me by it".
"What if they judge you in a good way?"
Just then, Joel heard Brian say his name, but like so many other times, he thought he was only imagining it. This time though, it became more persistent, and he realized it was really happening. Brian Turner was actually calling his name! Joel pinched himself just to make sure he was awake, then turned slowly to see Brian heading toward him and Liz.
"Hey, umm...your name is Joel, right?" said Brian when he reached them. "And you're Elizabeth Brandon?".
Joel tried to answer, but he was completely tongue-tied. "Yeah, and you are...Brian Turner?" replied Liz, not at all fazed by Brian's brilliant but natural spring blonde hair, just barely shoulder length, his deep blue, soothing eyes that made Joel dissolve into puddles just thinking about thinking about them, his slim but not anorexic looking skinny 5 ft. 11 body, and his smooth, perfect complexion (somewhat marred by a few zits that scattered around his face, but in a way, made him all the more attractive), not too pale, and not too peachy, just...just right (Joel could go on). Joel was such a stark contrast to this beauty, with his mid-neck length dark honey brown hair, and his hazel eyes flecked with forest green, his 5 ft 9 1/2 frame. But Joel had just about given up on ever being with Brian, so did it really matter what they looked like together?
"Yeah, I just wanted to say that I was really impressed and moved at how deep and ...heartfelt the poem Joel wrote in the school newsletter was, and I...wanted to give you this Joel. Just in case you wanted to talk about your writing or whatever. I write a little on the side too, so if you wanted to share ideas, or just talk about writing, or just talk ...here". He handed Joel a piece of paper folded in fourths, then turned to Liz. "I guess I'll see you two around, bye. Oh, by the way, Joel, I like your eyeliner, it looks cool". He smiled and turned to walk back to his table.
"So, what'd he give you?" Liz asked.
For a moment, the question didn't compute in Joel's head, he was still trying to restart his heart. "He actually smiled at me...me!" Joel thought. "And he thinks my eyeliner looks cool". Then, realizing Liz had asked him something, he said "Huh?"
"I said, what did he give you? Pay attention".
"Oh, yeah". Joel stared at the piece of paper, then slowly opened it to find Brian's cell phone number and email address. "Uh oh" he thought as his heart stopped again. Then suddenly, before answering Liz, or saying anything at all, he sprinted out of the cafeteria, down the hall to the bathroom, where he shut himself in a stall and insisted to Liz that he was ok, he'd just had a random inspiration. But all he did was sit and stare at the paper, and think. "What does this mean? Is this a joke? Does he really want me to call and email him? Does this mean anything? Well, I certainly can't call him yet, I'd freeze up when he answered. But do I the guts to even email him? Should I? What would I say? Nothing about how I feel about him, that's for sure. But what exactly?"
Joel sat at the computer in his room and stared at the email address he had for the first time typed in the "To:" box. He stared for a few more seconds, then started to type.
To be continued....