"I miss you," she said with a gleam in her eye. Her arms hung limp at her sides. I was hoping that, in one aspect, she was like all the others. Normally, they would reach their arms out mechanically and bind me in an unwilling trap of a hug. I'd smell some strong Vera Wang or I Love Love for about two seconds, enough time to choke me, and then they'd release me and I'd be glad that it was over. Only with her, I'd feel different because that was what she was—different. Plus, she probably wouldn't smell so extremely good that she smelled bad. She would just smell good, period.
She wasn't like them, though. Her arms stayed next to her legs. And what legs they are! I couldn't smell her perfume. She smiled at me, a big silly grin, as usual; she was always so happy. She complained sometimes, but I didn't really mind. At the end, she'd always smile at me and say something to compensate. "I don't mind, though," or, "I like your shirt." With the family complaints, it was normally, "How's your family?"
"Yeah," I said back weakly to her declaration at missing me. I wish I'd said something else.
"I miss everyone else, too," she corrected upon hearing my response. "You know, our fellow band-mates. I never get to see you kids anymore." This made my heart sink an infinite number of fathoms. I had thought she was making a personal compliment. Oh well, I reassured myself, she included you in that confession.
"Same here," I said unintentionally unenthusiastically. I guess I was bitter at the fact that she hadn't pounced on me after the "I miss you" part. Or that she'd included everyone else. I'm not special to her.
"How's school going?" she asked, sounding perhaps brighter than before. Was there a flaw in her happiness for a second? Maybe that was a flicker of sadness in her face. I was thinking wishfully.
"It's good, I guess," I offered. Good. Yes, good. It could be better.
She kept prying as though she was looking for an answer. She dug her fingernails into her palms. "Do you miss band? I miss band. I miss spending time with you…the guys. Us. Everyone. It was fun. We're a family. Now I actually have a social life." She chuckled, but it quickly faded and divided into silence and a frown.
"Yeah," I responded, smiling fondly at her, appreciating her sincerity. "There are some things I won't miss, ever, like warm-ups and hours of practice. Those huge-ass water coolers that we didn't even really use. I'll miss them a lot." That brought the smile back to her face. "I guess the thing I miss most is the fun and chilling. Just chillaxin'."
"Agreed." Glancing up at the clock, she muttered, "Ugh." Then, tugging at her backpack straps, she told me, "I gotta get to class, but I guess I'll see you later, maybe?" I figured her restlessness was because her backpack was so heavy, or possibly because she wanted to get away from me and from that awkward conversation.
"Yeah, yeah," I said. "I gotta go, too. See you sometime later."
"Bye," she closed with a slight grin and a lame wave, skipping off, her thin knees knocking together as she made her way off across the cafeteria. I only followed her with my eyes halfway across. I figured people would get suspicious if I watched her the whole way. I wanted to keep staring, though, maybe not to follow her ass or because she was so extremely tantalizing (she is, but in an entirely different way than most chicks are), but because of her clumsy gait. I missed walking next to her.
I told Sara all about it. She says I missed out on a prime opportunity. I say she sounds like my mother. She says that maybe I should listen to my mother more. I say she might be right.
I kicked his backpack a few times walking across the cafeteria when he finally turned around and realized it was me. He flashed me his crazy smile. His smile's big, but not particularly toothy. I don't know how that works, but it's a nice combination. Whenever I think about it, I can't stop smiling myself. It's a strange effect.
"HEY!" he exclaimed. "It's been forever."
"I miss you," I blurted out. Somehow, I guess my brain told me to smile even though I was mortified that he'd know. I hoped he would reciprocate the greeting and scoop me up and tell me he loved me, and then a carriage would appear out of nowhere and we'd ride off into the sunset together with "We Will Become Silhouettes" by the Postal Service playing for the whole world to hear as we fell in deeper love. Even though it was only one o'clock in the afternoon and sunset wouldn't happen until five. Hm. I have to work on my imagination.
I also wanted to hug him; I thought my arms were levitating Harry Potter-style, like someone had drawn out a wand, aimed at my arms, and screamed, "Wingardium leviosa!" in the middle of the cafeteria. That's normally what people do when they miss someone, right? Hug them? I figured, though, that he doesn't like girls to hug him, not too much at all. I've seen his face even when pretty girls hug him, and he looks pretty freaked and grossed out. Dear God, I hope he's not gay. I'm also paranoid of not giving people enough space, which, in turn, makes me a little reclusive and avoidant. I hate clingy people, and I assume that everyone else does too, and will automatically dub me as clingy.
Sara says I should have hugged him, considering he's already my friend and that's what friends do. I say that's not me.
Much to my dismay, though, all he had to say was, "Yeah." I felt depressed all of a sudden. He didn't look too psyched anymore. He looked kind of weirded out or maybe confused. Inside, I was panicking. There was an awkward silence, and I swear you could hear my gears ticking, attempting to figure out where to carry the conversation to.
"I miss everyone else, too," I continued. Smooth of me, I know. "You know…our fellow band-mates. I never get to see you kids anymore." Sara says I should have told him I loved him on the spot. I hope she's joking. The air was so thick with tension, you could have stabbed it with a spork or a apatula, or any cooking implement of your choice. Maybe I'm thinking of the phrase, "You could have cut it with a knife." It's funnier when you use a different cooking implement, though.
"Same here," he said quietly. Wow, way to carry on the conversation. I got the impression that he was trying to end it. I tried to ignore that. I would do anything to talk to him for five more seconds.
"How's school going?"
"It's good, I guess," he said slowly. It was like his personality was on mute. He was normally so dynamic. Was he smoking pot? I figured I could prod at him one more time. He wouldn't be suspicious.
"Do you miss band?" I offered. "I miss band. I miss spending time with you…the guys. Us. Everyone. It was fun. We're a family. Now I actually have a social life." I laughed a little, but I realized he didn't find it too amusing. It wasn't amusing. I stopped laughing. I felt like crying. He wasn't being receptive at all. Where was he? Had someone died? I doubted it. Maybe he just hated me with a burning passion. Before, we could have talked about anything. Before we were inseparable. What happened? I hope it's not just that the summer's over and we're not friends anymore. I hope it's not a girl.
"There are some things I won't miss, ever, like warm-ups and hours of practice." Aah, I'd gotten him to talk! "Those huge-ass water coolers that we didn't even really use, I'll miss them a lot." I laughed at his sarcasm, which is an admirable trait. "I guess the thing I miss most is the fun and chilling, just chillaxin'." Nothing specific, though. He didn't reciprocate. As though school wasn't enough stress, his seemingly deliberate rejection was almost too much to handle.
"Agreed," I said, wishing he'd correct himself. I didn't want to leave, but I knew he was annoyed. "I gotta get to class, but I guess I'll see you later, maybe?" That invitation, Sara commended me on. The fact that he didn't take it is another matter.
"Yeah, yeah," he agreed vaguely. "I gotta go, too. See you sometime later." Sometime later was all I got. I tried to muster up a small smile, and then waved weakly and said, "Bye." When I turned around, my face settled back to discontent and the usual depression. I slouched. My eyes watered a little at the fact that I'd humiliated myself so badly to the point that I'd annoyed him. When I was halfway across the cafeteria, I glanced back over my shoulder in hopes that he was looking at me, maybe ready to amend his microinequities, or to punch me in the face for being such a complete dumbass. But he'd turned away long before; he was already talking to a friend and laughing. Laughing at me, probably, and the way I walk. Granted, he's hilarious, and that's why I like him. Maybe he's too narrow-minded to see that. Maybe he thinks I'm ugly. I wish he'd just tell me to my face. It would be so easier if I could read minds. Then I wouldn't cry so much.