Chapter 9 – Don't Forget
I promised myself I'd tell him after the weekend.
And with good reason because I wanted to spend as much time as possible being our good old selves before everything changed. The past weekend had been one of the best of my life. Jason took me to Twilight (finally!) on Friday, and then after that we went to Mario's to grab some late night pepperoni. On Saturday, we lazed around in Jason's room all day long watching Quentin Tarantino movies; the marathon, as has always been the nature of anything related to Tarantino, ignited the most repetitive but heated argument between us. Jason, being the archaic sexist jerk that he is, has always firmly believed that something up in my head or down in my crotch must be seriously displaced for whistling after John Travolta accidentally blew up that kid's head in Pulp Fiction. You see how monumentally fucked up he is right? I absolutely hate him.
No, I don't.
Anyway getting back on track, most of Saturday was devoted to Tarantino, who by the way, in my opinion, is the most badass filmmaker ever. He even trumps Scorsese and this coming from someone who cried after The Departed won the Oscar for Best Film. Somewhere between Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2, we tried to cook. Bad idea. I'm certain watching Uma Thurman slicing people with her custom made Hattori Hanzo would have been more appetizing than the spaghetti we tried to put together.
But now back in the sordid realms of AP Biology, the cruel urgency of a certain unpleasant predicament that I had stumbled upon a few days back started weighing down on me. Despondently sitting on my chair, with my face on my wrist, I vividly recalled that I had decided I would do the right thing. As much as it would suck to let Jason go, being with someone he loved would make him really happy and I wanted that more than anything else.
The bell rang.
I packed my stuff and started walking towards my locker but before I could reach mine, my eyes fell on a very familiar head of striking jet black hair. Hugging my AP Bio folder, I scurried to his side.
"Hey best friend," I cheerily declared my presence as I casually leaned against his neighboring locker.
"No I did not put that cute little puppy under your bed," Jason said turning to look at me suspiciously as he tried to fit a fat Trig book into his bag.
"Jason Carter!" I tried to play along, "Are you seriously telling me that I just wasted a considerable amount of niceness on you for nothing?"
"I'm afraid so," he replied putting on a sorry face as he zipped up his book bag, "Sucks that I got to witness a softer side to your otherwise stern exterior in place of someone who clearly shares your love for animals."
"And oh what a shame that is," I said exasperatedly.
"It really is," he sighed dramatically, "If only your daily quota of niceness did not get exhausted by a single genuinely sincere greeting." He closed his locker and started walking forward with his right hand around my shoulder while his left held his book bag.
"We haven't made it through three periods on a Monday morning and you've already managed to rob me of the little shred of humanity I carry around in the deepest core of my cold cold heart," I accused as I tried to keep up with him.
"Perhaps you should stop giving me the benefit of the doubt," he suggested astutely.
"Perhaps you should start giving my word a little more credibility when I call you my best friend and just deal with it," I said shrugging my shoulder as Jason let of it to get to his class.
"You've got boundary issues," he shot at me.
"You've got trust issues," I shot back.
"I don't think so but we can respectfully agree to disagree and part our ways right about… here, see ya at lunch Ann," he suddenly switched back to his usual self as he walked into his class.
"Later asshat," I did the same as I walked away.
Retreating back to my locker, I tried to recall where our conversation had started getting so… childish. It was after I had called him my best friend, I was certain of it. That was when I had a very startling realization: I didn't say it enough. I mean I guess it was a mutually understood and a very widely known fact but I highly doubt I had actually verbalized the words, like I had just done a few minutes ago, more than two times in the last year.
Why would I do that? Or not do the opposite of what I had been doing for negativity's sake?
Wow and now I was losing him. Fucking fantastic. No wonder he fell for Christina Anderson. Guy spends the better part of his week with a damaged person who won't let her guard down easily, he's bound to have grown accustomed to hostile behavior and unpleasant atmosphere. Christina is both hostile, albeit not to him, and unpleasant. But it's not just that. Before the possibility of Christina being the girl Jason was in love with crossing my mind, I had never seen anything past her skin courtesy of her skanky cheerleading outfit that she gaily prances around in and shameless scheming habits. This morning in second period English though, I was looking at her to try and figure out what Jason, in the disastrous case that he did like her, could have seen in her, and realized that she was actually really pretty. The thick ends of her honey blonde hair spiraled into messy but somehow perfect curls, her big blue doe-eyes complimented by long and lush eyelashes, her fair skin glowing in contrast to her rosy pink cheeks, it was like she was a fucking movie star or something.
How the heck could I have not known how beautiful she looked before?
And when I pieced everything together, I couldn't help but be even more convinced that Christina Anderson was indeed at the very root of this travesty. She was gorgeous and apparently even philanthropic, and as much as I wanted to deny it and just condemn the whole universe for ever letting such a vile thing transpire, I kind of saw why Jason could have fallen for her.
I was going to tell him today that I knew, I knew that he was in love with Christina Anderson and that it was okay. And then he could do whatever he pleased after that and I was going to be fine with it. Despondently walking towards chemistry, I imagined a life with Christina Anderson forever latched to Jason's lips. God, that was a depressing thought.
"Annett!" Somebody exclaimed startling me.
I looked up to find one very furious Claire Stone standing in front of Chem lab.
"Where the fuck have you been?" She fired, "I was texting and calling you like a crazy person all weekend."
Oh and did I mention that I turned off my cell phone so that nobody would bother us over the weekend. I even surreptitiously managed to do the same to Jason's phone, poor guy was puzzled at how little battery life his phone was able to sustain these days.
"Yeah, about that…." I meekly began, "I swear I have a very good explanation but I kinda need to get to chemistry right now so talk to you later?"
I was treading on thin ice here. I knew ignoring Claire through the weekend was not a good plan but it was the only one I could think of. Obviously I could not tell her about what had been eating me up lately until all my fears had been confirmed or the very very unlikely but preferred alternative, denounced. And I really just wanted to be with Jason one last time like nothing was different.
"You can't get away with going to watch Twilight without me Annett Parker!" Claire bellowed as I scuttled past her like a scared squirrel.
"How about we go to the mall after school and I buy you a Strawberry Golden Oreo Blizzard at Dairy Queen?" I tried to bribe my way into getting excused, "I know you've been craving one for days."
"It's going to take a lot more than a Blizzard to win my trust back but yeah the mall after school sounds good," she said grumbling while walking away, "that explanation you're talking about better be solid."
Mortal Threat of the day averted!
Now on to chem.—
Mortal Threat # 2!
As soon as I entered chem. Lab my eyes fell on the only empty seat left in the room. And yes, it was next to a certain someone that went by the name Nathan Clarkson, the very same certain someone that I had made a complete and total fool out of myself the last time I saw him. Why did I know in the back of my head that this was going to happen? Gosh, fuck my very very contrived yet predictable life.
With wary steps, I slowly approached the back of the room. His head of sandy blonde hair was down and as I reached the desk I saw that he was doodling on the back of his lab notes. As I stiffly pulled the chair and awkwardly sat down after setting my things on the desk, I tried very hard to focus on the front of the room but my eyes love exercising their abilities to the fullest so I saw him look up from my peripheral vision.
"Annett!" he nearly jumped out of his seat, and hastily pulled his big organic chemistry text book over the lab notes he was doodling on. He seemed surprised and even a little freaked if one were to go by the deer-caught-in-the-headlight expression he had on his face.
Lord have mercy upon my soul!
He isn't afraid of me, is he? After what I pulled last week, I wouldn't really be surprised, but isn't this a bit extreme though? I could be a mentally imbalanced adolescent at worst but Nathan seemed like one of those people who wouldn't be easily intimidated by anything. I guess I was wrong.
"How are you?" he asked smiling, as he uneasily rest one of his elbows on his text book. I kinda had a feeling that he wanted to jump out of his seat and bolt for the door.
"I… am good," I uncomfortably replied, not wanting to further overwhelm him in any way.
"Good, good, that's… good," he nervously said. I looked at him for a long minute as he continued to fidget under my scrutinizing glance.
"So… how was your weekend?" he asked, this time quite normally. God, I wanted to fix this.
"I'm sorry," I blurted without thinking anymore, "about last week. I realize I might have come off as a little weird with my alternative herbivorous high school universe fantasies. And I get why you would think oh she's getting therapy so she must be a little off in the head but I swear I'm only as crazy as any other person in this room. Which… I guess is not saying much since everybody in this room seems to have succumbed to the evil that is organic chemistry but hey, at least you know that I fought a brave fight before giving in."
He was smiling again but the nervous demeanor from before had gone. As a matter of fact, now he even looked quite amused.
"And what exactly was it that made you give in, if I may ask so myself," as usual he tried to engage my craziness. It was like he wasn't scared of me before at all, I guess it was just my overzealous imagination running wild as per usual.
"Oh the plan I came up with to eradicate chemistry from the world was so elaborate and so diabolical that it hurts when I think of how I never got to execute it. A lone box full of dynamite found in the chemistry section of the library was all it took for the school board to pluck me out of this almost revolutionized world where chemistry would not be a pain inflicted on high school students against their wills," I delivered histrionically, just like a veteran politician would on a soapbox.
"You really are a little crazier than the rest of us in this room, you know that right?" he said, chortling, "but it's all good coz I enjoy keeping the crazy company."
"You do realize that makes you a little crazier than the rest of them as well right?" I asked him seriously, suddenly making a straight face for dramatic effect.
"Well you know what they say about the birds with the same feathers, they hang out," he said cheekily.
"They sure do," I replied, barking a weak laugh at his lame joke.
"So Thursday night sound good?" he asked, abruptly straightening his demeanor and looking to the front of the room.
"What?" I asked, scrunching my eyes in confusion.
"It was just a thought," he said smiling like he was embarrassed as scratched the back of his head, "I wanted to talk to you about that girl I told you about the other day."
I almost asked what girl when it clicked in my head. His little crush, he probably wanted some girl advice or something. Now that's just adorable!
"Omg, I'm such an idiot, of course you want to talk about her," I started apologetically, "and I do take Thursday nights off from devising my Plan B for wiping chemistry off the face of the earth so yes, that'd work perfect," and ended with a single affirmative nod.
"Cool," he said, looking at me with a sincere smile.
And just as he said that, Mr. Banks, later than his usual punctual self, stormed into the lab. I'll end here leaving the rest of the excruciatingly painful chemical details out. All we talked about for the rest of the period was our mutual odium for chemistry anyway.
Under the overwhelming hum-drum of the lunch hour pandemonium in the Red House High dining hall, a very ominous and menacing silence continued to persist in the usually rambunctious jocks table. The only thing perforating this silence within the sanctuary of the Powerade guzzling varsity basketball players, were a few of their very own fervent whispers.
"I'm hoping for a cat fight at the end," a single whisper caught my attention and I made a disgusted face looking up at Tyler.
A lot was at stake here, the reigning champion's consistently infallible record, the ages old theory of the underdog's inevitable victory, a whole lot of people's full week allowances, and at the peak, bearing the power of rendering everything else inconsequential if it were to come true, sat the horrifying thought of the prevailing hour going by without an epic quote on quote movie showdown.
"Okay you ready?" Adrianna asked, shifting in her seat. Little beads of sweat fenced at the crown of her head as she looked into her opponent's eyes, waiting for a response of some sort.
"Bring it on Kent," my head turned to my right where Claire was very confidently seated next to me.
"Okay," Adrianna let a deep breath out and started, "Reservoir Dogs —
"Eddie, you keep talking like a bitch, I'm gonna slap you like a bitch." Claire quickly shot back and dodged with, "Fight Club—
"Bob had bitch tits," Adrianna blankly stated. "Snatch."
"Mad Fist went mad and The Gun shot himself," Claire said, "A Clockwork Orange."
"I was cured, all right!" Adrianna made the uber-famous cynical line from the movie sound very normal with her simple delivery and stuttered, "T-Taxi Driver."
That was going to be a piece of cake for Claire!
"You talkin' to me?" she barked at me, jokingly. "Forrest Gump."
"Life's a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get. Breakfast at Tiffany's."
"You know those days when you get the mean reds? Tron."
"On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy. Good Will Hunting."
"Real loss is only possible when you love something more than you love yourself. Citizen Kane."
"The news goes on for 24 hours a day. Gone Baby Gone."
"I feel like 9/11 now. Fargo."
Both of them were firing words at each other like they were not two soldiers but their guns pitted against each other. I have to admit watching Claire be the one sweating now as Adrianna stoically maintained her calm was a little more than unsettling to watch. Nobody has ever been able to beat her at this game before and if Adrianna really does come out as the winner today she was going to have a bitch fit. Personally, I did not know what I wanted the outcome of this match to be because as much as I wanted Claire to win seeing how this has always been such a huge deal for her, Adrianna's win would pump her with some much needed self-confidence. I guess either way one would sulk while the other glowed, same difference.
"When you're a jet, you're a jet all the way. The Green Mile."
"Well you're a VIP today, Earl, so just shut up. Chicago."
"Pop. Six. Squish. Unh-uh. Cicero. Lipschitz. Scarface."
"I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. The Godfather II."
The quotes had just been all swimming about in such an escalated manner that for about five seconds I was not even sure who had missed. Then I saw it, the freckled surface of Adrianna's plump cheeks turning a very violent shade of red, her eyes wide open in horror and her lips parted as if the words were going to come rolling out any moment now.
"I… I made him an offer he couldn't—," she finally found her voice but the end of her quote got drowned in the great uproar of chaos that had broken out in the table. Claire jumped up and stood on her seat while the whole varsity team clapped. Kyle came across from where he was sitting next to Jason to pull her down from the bench and planted a big wet one on her. Some light PDA followed, chased by the hoots of Kyle's teammates. Overdosing on a very uncomfortable mixture of cuteness and grossness, I turned to where Adrianna was sitting to check on her. To my surprise, Jason had moved to where Adrianna had just been a minute ago and I saw him whistle at Kyle and Claire.
"Jason," I yelled trying to get him to hear me over all the noise.
"Huh?" he heard me alright, but continued to make merry at Claire's win.
"JASON!" I yelled again, a little louder this time.
"What?" he finally looked at me a little confused but he was still clapping.
"Where is Adrianna?" I tried not to yell so that people would not notice her missing. He read my lips, looked around in the crowd and just shook his head, still wear a muddled look.
I got up and looked around some more but failing to find her anywhere in my sight scared me so I just shared one last look of uncertainty with Jason, who was still looking over at me, all serious now, for some kind of explanation, and hurriedly walked out of the dining hall. Naturally, I ran to the bathroom first to see if she might have had some kind of a breakdown fueled by feeling humiliated because of her public loss but she wasn't in any of the stalls. I went to her locker and all the classrooms in the north wing of the Cowles Building but couldn't find her anywhere. Just as I was turning a corner to wander some more I crashed into—
"Ann!" Jason gasped, grabbing me by the arms, preventing our collision from being as worse as it could've been.
"Jason!" I exclaimed, "I can't find Adrianna!"
"I'm sure she's fine," he said, comfortingly "she's not a baby Ann, she can take care of herself."
"No, yeah, I know but," I said, panting I realized, "Maybe she could use a friend."
He looked at me, smiling like I was a little child beguiling him in some way, "Find her after school, be a friend then, give her some space right now."
I thought about it for a while, as I slowly walked to the plastered bench beneath the arched edges of one of the Cowles pillars and realized Jason was right. If she really was humiliated right now, maybe she would not want to see anyone. I remember in fifth grade when that terrible Jill Smith accused me of stealing her sparkling eraser, I was so embarrassed I wanted to disappear off of the face of the earth. Jason followed me as I flopped down and sat next to me but while I was hunched with my hands on my knees, his were supporting his whole torso as he had them flexed back palm down.
"I just really hope she's doing okay," I said, looking at him for approval as I had just listened to him but he continued to look at me the same way so I querulously admitted, "I'm just worried okay."
"You're always worrying about everybody," he calmly stated, turning away from me.
"Well, someone's gotta do all the hard work while you kids run amok with all these different issues," I tried to joke but Jason countered in a soft voice, "Maybe if you stopped thinking about everybody else for a minute, you'd be able to see your own issues."
A little thrown off the loop by his comment, I quickly asked in puzzlement, "What?"
"Are you really going to make me spell it out for you?" he gravely asked.
Hoping I was terribly wrong about what was he was going to say in response, I haughtily declared, "I have no idea what you are talking about."
"It's almost a year now and you're still not over what Shane did," he said, his relaxed being suddenly forming visible knots of tension from within. I thought I knew what it was going to feel like when he finally said it but the vivid memory of the things that happened a year ago came crashing down on me as I suppressed a reflexive gasp of pain that tried to escape my lips.
"That is… not true," I denounced his accusation, or at least tried to, but he did not seem convinced at all.
"I get it. It's bullshit what that son of a bitch put you through and I know it's not easy to get over something like that—"
"Please don't," I turned to him, and beseechingly said, "Please."
"No, I… I've let you be for a year, now you listen to me. And look, I understand that all you can do is give it time but… but, Ann you've… you have not been the same after that asshole cheated on you, and I really can't help but miss the old you sometimes, especially after this past weekend… when we were us, the old us." I felt goose bumps protrude out of my skin as the words provoked the numbness I had worked so hard to attain for my old wound. He continued, with a very morose tone, "I remember you cried a lot when you first found out, but the next day you came to school, you were completely fine and I thought wow, she's really taking it better than I thought she would but, it wasn't long after that I realized you were different."
He stopped there, probably waiting for me to say something in return but I did not know what to say. I had boxed that emotionally tumultuous experience in a dark little corner of my mind for so long that, I didn't even know how I felt about it anymore. It felt horridly unpleasant, like I had been pushed into a soul-sucking abyss of crepuscule, exactly like it felt a year ago.
Jason resumed, his elbows now resting on his knees, "You didn't give a shit about anything, Ann… and now you walk around carrying the weight of everybody else's problems, you mull over them, obsess about them… all so that you can avoid your own."
"I… am fine," I muttered, looking away from his intense gaze. I wanted to add something else to that to assure him that he really had nothing to worry about but a flash of Adrianna's speechlessness from the dining hall earlier passed through my head and I suddenly couldn't help but empathize with her as I miserably failed at trying to find the right words. Desperate to not let this go any further than it already had, I got up dismissively and said, "I have to get to class now."
Holding it all together, I daintily got up and crossed him like what he had just said had not affected me in any way at all. It took everything I had in me to keep my calm but after taking a few steps I heard him call my name again.
"I said I am fine! Now just leave me the fuck alone," I swirled around in aggravation, exploding at him, as he innocently stood there holding up my cell phone.
"You left this in the dining hall," he said simply, as he walked over to bridge the little gap we had in between us. My sudden rage got clouded by a shroud of embarrassment for not being able to prevent that unnecessary outburst as I grabbed my phone from his outstretched hand and turned to walk away again.
"You rock at life no matter what you do and nothing is ever going to change that," I heard him say, "but for your own sake, I really hope you don't forget who you used to be, Annett."
I forced my feet to keep moving.
When I was sure he couldn't see me anymore, an avalanche of tears glaciered down my face and I finally took that relieving gasp of breath I'd been suppressing.
I'm going to begin with a big fat I'M SO SORRY for not updating sooner but in my defense: college happened. hopefully that has made me a better writer, if not, feel free to say so lol id really like to know if im getting my money's worth :D
I'm on summer break right now so I really want to get this story over with before i progress to something else. a lot of random ideas for Annett and Jason keep popping up in my head in the oddest of times so hopefully i'll be able to churn chapters out like a writing machine. Another thing i want to talk to you guys about is character pictures! :D i feel like i've brought this up in one of my older A/Ns but so far no one's said anything on the subject. So here i go again, for anybody who wants to know what Annett and the gang look like, I have thought of different celebrities that fit them in my head so let me know if you want me to see them like i do. If you dont want your own imageries of the characters getting ruined, that's fine too. Just lemme know where your heads at regarding this.
And lastly i want to thank you guys because you're the most amazing bunch of readers and i really don't blame you if you have lost interest in this story. it's been fun writing this so far and i really really hope a lot of you are still reading this.
Have anything to say about the new chapter or the story in general? Leave moi a review :D