Losing Faith C. Griswold & V. Lavery

By Christopher Griswold and Victoria Lavery

"YAY!!! BAND TRIP!!!!!" Yelled Sarah and Jasmine at the top of their lungs.

"Hey, Jeremy, be careful with those, they're expensive. And those timps' are not in the best of shape anyway so they're fragile."

'They're all a bunch of losers' Jeremy though to himself as he loaded the timpani onto the coach bus. 'Stupid band geeks'

"Daren!" yelled Sarah, running toward him, attacking his middle. "Are you sitting behind us on the bus again this year?"

"Yeah!! Epic. Time for a game of Ultimate Go Fish!!" Sarah looked at him confused, Daren laughed. "You've never played Ultimate Go Fish have you?" She shook her head. "Excellent, I'll have to teach you." He started to mock an evil laugh, but started coughing instead as Jeremy gave him a hard slap on the back.

"C'mon you two, I'm not getting yelled at by Smitty again, let's get on the bus already." There was a stampede of band geeks toward the door of the coach bus led by Jasmine, Kirsten, and Dayle; who were rooming together on the trip. Sarah and Daren joined up with them as they started up the stairs looking for a seat. Jeremy casually slipped himself behind the two of them on the way. Dayle quickly took the first seat on the left. Jasmine moved over in the isle so that Kirsten and Daren could slip past and sit in the third seat. Sarah then took the second seat by the window. Jeremy started to move into sit next to her, but Jasmine cut him off and sat next to her instead. He growled softly as he stepped back a seat and sat with Dayle.

"99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer," chimed Daren from his seat as soon as they had all sat down. They all laughed, especially Sarah and Jasmine who seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed his sarcasm on the previous trip.

The band director climbed the stairs and took a head count. Once he was confident that all 37 people were there (after several times of counting) he gave the 'all clear' to the driver and the band trip had officially begun. There was a brief and monotone cheer from the busses occupants followed by almost complete silence.

"I guess even band geeks aren't quite awake at five in the morning." muttered Jeremy. Although, the ones behind him were. They had already broken out the playing cards and Daren had begun to teach Sarah how play Ultimate Go Fish while Jasmine, laughing hysterically, and Kirsten watched. Although Kirsten had no clue as to why Jasmine was laughing so hard.

"Right, so now that we have dealt out all the cards to the players, the dealer asks first. Can I have all your 5's please?" he asked politely. Sarah searched her hand and gave him all three of her 5's. "Excellent, now since I got what I asked for, I get to ask again." This caused another sheik of laughter from Jasmine and another baffled look from Kirsten. "Can I have all your Aces?" He asked again. And Sarah gave him all her Aces. "Excellent." He started snickering when Kirsten giggled at her epiphany. "How about your 3's?" he asked through snickers.

Sarah searched through her hand and found all her 3's. She reached out her hand to give them to him, when she stopped. "Hey….. Wait a minute….." All five of the rest of the group broke out into laughter. Even Jeremy was amused. And after the laughter had died down, Jeremy suggested a game of Kent. The group agreed.

"Okay, partners then… How about, Daren and Jasmine, Me and Sarah, and Kirsten and Dayle? That way, partners won't be next to each other." Jeremy dealt out the cards and within minutes, Kirsten and Dayle had won because Daren forgot the word he was supposed to say. Jasmine promptly turned around and kicked him in the shin leaving a nice shoe print on his leg.

They played several more games before stopping at a McDonald's somewhere in Connecticut for breakfast. The group filed off the bus and into the restaurant. Jasmine and Sarah headed for the bathroom while Daren, Jeremy, Dayle, and Kirsten got in line for food.

Daren was at the front of the line in no time. "I suppose sitting in the front has its advantages. You get to be the first one off wherever we go." He said to no one in particular. He then placed his order and moved aside for Jeremy, who also ordered and moved aside.

"So, Daren. Seems like you and Sarah got something going on. You like her?"

"Neh?" He was surprised but not fazed. Plenty of people had popped this kind of question before. He knew how to handle it. "Not the way you think I do."

"Yeah? I don't know, you two seem to be connected a bit more than you let on. You sure you don't like her?"

Daren grabbed his food off the counter. "Yeah, I'd have to say I just like her as a friend. I only met her last year." Daren started toward the table Jasmine and Sarah had picked out. Jeremy quickly caught up.

"Good, I'm relieved." That fazed Daren a bit. "I'm planning on asking her out over the next couple days. I figure we got plenty of time to be alone here, why not get a girlfriend, ya know?"

Daren looked at him. "Yeah, you like her?" He felt his heart drop into his stomach.

"Well she isn't really hot, but she's nice and not too bright. Pretty good girl if you ask me."

"Be careful," he said as they approached the table. "She's smarter than you think. A little blonde maybe, but still smart." He set his tray down at the end of the table and went to the trash can just behind Sarah to throw his trash away.

When he came back, Jeremy had already claimed the seat next to Sarah and had his arm over her shoulder. Daren went back and got his tray, then took the long way around to Jasmine's side of the table, stopping briefly to remove Jeremy's arm. Jeremy turned in surprise and Daren gave him a 'keep it to yourself or lose it' look before taking the seat next to Jasmine to eat his meal.

Sarah took out a hair elastic with a yellow flower on it and put her hair up in a ponytail. Daren felt his heart drop again as he stared at the elastic. He was remembering the Valentine's incident a few months prior.

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It was Valentine's Day. Daren had bought a small bouquet of flowers. Most of them were small colored flowers but there was a large red rose as the focus piece in the middle. He had put it in Sarah's clarinet case in the band room early in the morning so that she would find it when she went to take her instrument out. This worked perfectly and she was pleasantly surprised by the gift. She looked around for a card. At last she found one wrapped in the stems of the flowers. But there was no name. Just a picture of her favorite characters from her favorite TV show with words Happy Valentine's Day typed on the front.

That night, after seeing that he was successful in having her receive the flowers, he sent her an e-mail with the same picture at the top. Thus when she opened the e-mail, she knew who had sent the flowers.

The following day, he received an e-mail from her. "At this point in our lives, I think friendship is the most important thing. Daren, I don't want to risk the friends that I have in what could be a very short moment of my life." He stared at the e-mail, re-reading it several times before lying down on his bed. After 15 minutes or so, he allowed himself release of his feelings in the form of tears. And an hour or so after that, he had managed to slip under the covers and cry himself to sleep. He felt like his life was over. He didn't know rejection would hurt this much.

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A half hour later, Mr. Smith snapped him out of that unpleasant memory by announcing that it was time to clean up and board the bus. Jasmine piled her trash on Daren's tray. He looked at her without surprise and sarcastically exclaimed "Okay Jazz, I'll be a nice guy and take your trash for you." Jeremy then threw his trash on the tray as well followed by Sarah. "Okay EVERYONE, I'll be a nice guy and take your trash for you." He stood up and took the tray to the trash while the rest headed for the bus.

All except Jasmine. She followed Daren to the trash then turned and walked to the bus with him. "So, Daren…. You like Sarah right?" Now this also fazed Daren. Two people had noticed a difference? "You do. Okay."

"Wait, I didn't even answer yet." She smiled.

"It doesn't matter. You didn't answer right away. That means you do like her and you were trying to decide whether to tell me or not."

Daren took off his glasses and cleaned them with his shirt. He wasn't giving up that easily. "And you're going to base your matchmaking plans on my not saying anything?"

"Matchmaking huh? Good idea!!" She clapped her hands and giggled madly. "So you do want to go out with her!" she yelled pointing at him dramatically.

Daren had lost this battle. He sighed, hung his head, and released the truth. "Well, I do like her. I couldn't picture myself going out with her, but yeah, I do want to."

Jasmine grinned with excitement. "Great! This trip will be very interesting then."

They re-boarded the bus and proceeded to play normal card and other travel games for most of six remaining hours before reaching Niagara. The mass of tired Rhode Islanders exited the bus and followed the tour guide over to the park across the street.

"Okay, we have three hours here in Niagara. That should be enough time to do some sightseeing and get a bit to eat at one of the restaurants over there." She motioned to the Group of family style restaurants like Chili's and Applebee's. "We'll meet back here in this park at 8pm. And just so everyone knows, there will be a special ceremony of lights tonight. I'm not sure what it is but there is a tourist booth over near the Falls for anyone who is interested. You are free to go now."

Another stampede of Band geeks rushed past the tour guide toward the Falls. Sarah, Dayle and Jasmine were stunned by the beauty of it all. Daren had seen them several times before and was considerably less stupefied. Instead, he was dragged into the gift shop by a Kirsten with a full bladder. Jeremy didn't seem to care much.

"Hey, Dayle, can you get a picture of us?" He asked approaching Sarah. Jasmine noticed what he was doing and jumped in the picture as well between the two separating them. Dayle snapped the photo and attempted to give the camera back to Jeremy but it was stolen by Jasmine. She went off with the camera to take weird pictures for him.

This gave Jeremy the opportunity he had been looking for.

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Once Kirsten's bladder was relieved, she dragged Daren back to the rail near the Falls. Jasmine intercepted them.

"Hey, guys!" She glanced over her shoulder at Jeremy and Sarah. "Uhhh, Kirsten, I have to talk to Daren for a minute."

She stared at her curiously but allowed Daren to leave her side. Kirsten went to find Dayle by the Falls. Jasmine pulled Daren close. "Daren, go talk to Sarah! Quick!" She pushed him their direction. He stopped and turned back to her.

"Why? She looks like she's talking to Jeremy."

"She is you dobe*. He's going to ask her out! Go talk to her and stop him."

Daren stopped and thought for a moment. "If he asks her out, I'm pretty sure she'll say no. But even if she said yes…" He was having trouble getting it out. "Even if she says yes, it's her own choice. Maybe she likes him. Why should I stop her?" He turned so Jasmine couldn't see his face. "As long as she's happy," he finished. And as he did, he started toward the wet area near the bottom of the Falls. Jasmine turned back to Sarah and Jeremy just in time to see him put his arm around her again. She snorted and went after Daren.

She followed the signs to the wet viewing area at the bottom of the Falls. There she found Daren, sitting on the railing with his hands over his face. He had taken his glasses off but didn't bother to even pull the hood over his head to prevent the small showers of water that were falling on him. She walked over to him and put her hand on his arm. He turned his head slightly, only enough to see who it was before turning back to watching the water fall in front of him. She could tell he had calmed down enough to talk to.

"Daren. I think she said yes." She ended there. There wasn't much else to say. He turned to face her in surprise. Even through the water from the waterfall, Jasmine could tell he was crying. "But," she continued, "You certainly still have a chance. Jeremy's a jerk and you'll have to show her that. She's told me before she thought you were cute. Maybe she'd rather…"

"Stop," he interrupted. The breath in her chest deflated at his curt tone. "If she said yes, then she must like him. She wouldn't say yes to anyone she didn't like." He paused to regain a bit of composure, his voice was cracking as he spoke. "And if she likes him then I won't interfere." He paused to think again. Then he continued softly. "And if she likes him, then I can't be near her."

"What? That makes no sense! If you like her, you need to be close to her! Be her friend and help her! Be there for her, be her shoulder to cry on when she sad; be the guy she's always dreamed of! I know you can do it, I don't know why you give up on yourself like this."

She took a deep breath to calm her temper, "Because I believe in you." He looked at her, the tears forming behind his blue eyes. As he looked at the emerald lining of hers, he saw the truth lying behind her words. He shook his head; he knew he wasn't good enough for Sarah.

"But I can't. I saw him with his arm around her. And that hurt. That's just an arm around her! How do you think I'll feel when things escalate? When they hug or kiss in front of me."

Jasmine was silent for a moment, thinking. Several moments went by; the only noise heard was the rushing water over their heads. Finally Jasmine opened her mouth to say something while looking forward toward the Falls.

"You're a coward." She said coldly.

"Excuse me?" She knew the words would hurt him, but they had to be said, she didn't want to hurt him anymore than he already was.

"You are a coward. Did you think it was going to be easy to be able to be with her? Did you think you'd just be able to tell her how you felt and she'd be yours? You're an idiot AND a coward! If someone told you that she loved you, but you could only be together if you got shot; wouldn't you take the bullet? Wouldn't you suffer through the pain to be with her? There is no difference here! If you want to be with her, you have to take the hits. You have to sit there quietly and watch her kiss him if she wants to."

"Do you realize how hard that is? Probably not! You've had a boyfriend for a hell of a long time; you don't know what pain is!" Daren holds onto the bar next to them for support, his breathing labored after yelling at his only confidant. Her face contorted into despair and she looked him dead in the eyes.

"Do you honestly think I don't know that pain?!" she yelled at him, it was stinging at her eyes. She laughed at him, one filled with sorrow. "I know that pain, just as much as you do. I had to sit by and watch my best friend steal my love away from me. I was in the same situation you are in right now. The best friend, the person on the side, the one they can run to. You're so afraid of getting hurt again that you'd just give up on her? You'd lay down your love for her and move on if it looked too dangerous? You are a coward." She paused as she wiped tears from her eyes. "If you really love her and if you want to be with her, then suck it up, take the hits. Convince her that you are better than he is." She screamed the last part at him and paused to let it sink in, then quietly finished as if it was to herself. "I know you're better than him. Now you need to prove it to her and to yourself." And with that, she turned and scaled, running faster than he ever saw her run, up the steps back to the tourist area. She was really upset, and he had caused it.

Daren spent the rest of their sightseeing time in the wet area, even missing dinner. His knuckles were white because he was gripping so tightly to the bar separating himself from the roaring Falls. He wanted so desperately to just jump over the railing into the freezing, suffocating water. But he couldn't do that to them. Not Jasmine, not Sarah, not any of his loving friends. They loved him and wanted him; sometimes it even felt like they needed him. He'd never felt that before. He smiled, it was a small melancholy smile, but it was one that Jasmine knew could be put there. It was one of self confidence. He realized that, that's all she was trying to do.

He looked at his watch, it was almost eight, and decided that he'd better get going if he didn't want to be in trouble with Mr. Smith. While he made his way up the stairs Daren bumped into Dayle, she had been looking for him because Jasmine had asked her too. "There you are Daren! We've been looking for you everywhere! Jasmine got you some dinner and she told me to tell you that there's a change in seating…. So come on, we gotta go!" she said turning around and walking back up the steps Daren following behind with his hands in his pockets.

They soon reached the bus and got on finding that the change in seating was awkward and unnerving. Sarah had decided to sit next to Jeremy, placing Dayle with Kirsten and Jasmine with Daren. Once he made his way through the Geeks to Jasmine she gave a disapproving look her eyes shifting toward the spot where the new 'couple' was.

"Hey Daren, I got some food for you, I hope a cheeseburger is okay." She said holding out the bag to him once he was seated. He smiled, she wasn't mad at him anymore. He mouthed an apology so that no one could hear and she patted him on the back. "It's okay, that normal friend stuff, I wouldn't do it if I didn't care." She smiled too happy that she had someone other than the other four who were absorbed into their new Jeremy club.

"I really hate him sometimes," Jasmine said to Daren in a hushed whisper. "All he ever does is use girls and I don't want to see her go through that. If he lays one finger on her where it's not supposed to go… I might get thrown off the band trip for it but, oh, it would be so worth it!" he nodded in agreement and wanted nothing more to join her in beating the living snot out of him if he tried anything funny with their innocent friend. Little did they know that was just what Jeremy had in mind.

Hours of groveling travel, sore backs and butts, they finally made it to the hotel. As usual everyone cheered and ran to each chaperone to get the keys and room numbers. Jasmine ran with her luggage up to her chaperone, gathered the keys and headed toward the elevator along with her three other roommates along with Daren and Jeremy.

"Thirty-three, thirty-four, thirty-five… thirty-six! Here we are girls! Daren, Jeremy we'll meet you down at the pool soon okay?"

"Sure, we'll stop by before we leave." Daren said putting a hand on Jasmine's head and the other on Sarah's. "I'll be back soon my lovelies!" They giggled at Daren's little nickname and opened the door to their room. Sarah stayed behind and waited till everyone was inside the room. Jeremy approached her and kissed her on the lips right there with Daren watching.

It took all Daren's might to keep him from socking Jeremy right in the face. But it was what Sarah said that made him calm down even more. "Jeremy, don't do that in front of him. It's not nice and you know the rules! Now go I'll see you later. Bye Daren!" she said walking back inside shutting the door in Jeremy's face. His eyes were wide and a snarl formed on his face, Daren cracked a small smile and started toward his room.

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After the other three girls were dressed in their suits and were situated in the room, Jasmine told them they could head down. All except for Sarah. She had known this was coming, it was only a matter of time before she pulled her aside to yell at her about the irrational choice she had made that afternoon. "Yes, I know your going to yell at me. But I just- I didn't know what to say to him. The only thing that came to my mouth was yes." Sarah looked down at her sandal clad feet and sighed.

"I know those are hard decisions to make, but Sarah…have you seen what it's done to Daren? Of course you haven't… well, he's been… well- He doesn't like that you're going out with Jeremy. And truth is, neither do I. No one else does either, he's a girl player an-"

"Jasmine, so who cares? That's what people said about Tetsuo and you didn't care, so why should I care what people say about Jeremy?" Jasmine folded her arms and pinched the bridge of her nose.

"Tetsuo was a different story, which was just lies because he was an exchange student. This, this is very real Sarah and I don't want to see you get hurt by some two-timing jerk!" Jasmine was trying very hard to control her temper, but it was failing. She was getting mad for Daren when she should have been trying to help him. "You wanna know something else? Daren LOVES you, he really does and all you do is break his heart into a thousand little pieces by going out with Jeremy. A thousand pieces Sarah! You know something else? Daren will actually love you for who you are, not what you look like or because he thinks he'll get laid! He honestly, truly, till death do you part, loves you! I can't believe you can't see that!" Her palms were covered in red half moons and her face was bright red. Sarah couldn't even look at her best friend at the moment and she rushed from the room.

Daren had heard it all, every word Jasmine yelled at Sarah. Although he knew she was trying to help, it just seemingly made things worse. He was about to knock on the door when Sarah rushed out of it not even looking at him. She had one thing on her mind, and it was to find Jeremy. She ran toward his room, Jasmine at her heels.

It all began to unfold before their eyes.

Before they knew it she had seemingly given herself completely to the idea of staying with him. It all happened so fast. "Sarah, let us in!" Jasmine rapped her fist on the door that was locking them out of the chamber. Daren had forgotten his key inside and they had no way of getting in. From inside sadistic noises erupted and only their imaginations could guess what was happening inside.

Daren's anger got the best of him and he broke down the door with help from a few other people. Sarah lay there underneath Jeremy, her hands held above her head. Her legs were trapped underneath his. She was caught immobile and her screams were muffled by his other hand.

She was terrified.

Upon the entrance of several band geeks Jeremy jumped off of Sarah trying to find a place to run. But there was no escaping Daren's fury. With each punch Daren felt his rage melt away. Once Jasmine had safely removed Sarah from the room, Daren gave him a few more punches and moved toward the door. By that time, Mr. Smith had made it up to the room and had rushed over to where they were. He just nodded at Daren and moved toward Jeremy. A couple of the chaperones were scared, approached Sarah and comforted her. To say Mr. Smith was disappointed, was an understatement, he was outraged. Jeremy had found his one way ticket home and out of the ensemble. But first things first, he had to get the police involved.

Jeremy lied on the floor unconscious, blood coating his t-shirt and face. Several bruises began to form and it seemed like his nose was shattered. One of the mother chaperones ran to the bathroom to get towels to clean the boy up. Jasmine walked over to where Mr. Smith was once Sarah was safely with Kirsten and Dayle, who had returned from the pool when Matt went and got them.

"Oh my god…" the words fell upon deaf ears but it was apparent that she felt that something was wrong. "Mr. Smith, what's going to happen to Daren?"

"Well, I don't know really. You saw what happened correct?" She nodded, "I don't know if they'll let Jeremy press charges do to the fact that Daren was protecting Sarah. But by god did he have to beat him that badly?"

"Daren loves Sarah. He'd do anything to protect her." The words slipped from her mouth like there was no chemical reaction. When her teacher looked up at her surprised, she realized what she had just said. One of the chaperones handed her a towel to clean up Daren and she left the bloody mess on the floor for everyone else to clean up. But before she left she mouthed the words: 'He really does, don't say I said anything.' He nodded and focused on the unconscious boy below his feet.

Jasmine walked over to her friend who was in an arm chair outside the room. "I can't believe he did that, that slimy bastard." He was talking to himself again; he did that once in a while.

"Daren, are you okay?" He nodded as she took one of his hands to clean the crimson mixture from his hands. The fist she wasn't cleaning tightened and pounded the arm of the chair. "I know," was all she said to him as she patted his knee. She totally understood. In the short year they had known each other they had created an unbreakable bond. Their friendship was one not even her brother, Rob, could understand.

They had been through hell and back together trying to figure one another out. He had come to her when he needed her and she ended up needing him as a friend more than she realized. Now was one of those times, she knew he thought that he had just lost everything. Especially if Sarah saw Jeremy like that, lying on the floor of the hotel room. But Jasmine knew something he didn't.

It was that Sarah didn't care about Jeremy anymore.

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After persistent questioning from the police and several long hours later; the three finally got some time to sit and relax. Although, there wasn't much relaxing going on. Daren was exhausted and on edge, wanting to find closure in the situation but wanting to say something to Sarah about his feelings. He knew it wasn't the best time, he knew it would hurt her if he said anything; but he had to.

"Jasmine, can I talk to Sarah alone for a minute?" she nodded and looked toward the chaperones. Then he added, "I'll keep the door open." They all nodded and left the room standing outside the door, just incase something went wrong.

"I know this isn't a good time to say this Sarah, but I have to tell you." He paused looking at his gauzed up hands. "I love you. And I need to know now if there could ever be anything between us. I'm sick of waiting for my balls to grow and give me confidence, and I'm sick of waiting 'till we're out of high school and the 'short time in our lives' ends. I want you Sarah, all of you." he looked up at her through his dirty blonde hair. "I'll love you no matter what. Whether your hairs a mess, when you feel miserable, and when you say no to anything. I'll love you and I'll always be there, what happened tonight only gave me the initiative I needed. And it showed me that not only could I protect you but it told me that I could, and would never have even attempted, doing what Jeremy tried to pull tonight.

"Not only did it hurt you, but it hurt me and Jasmine as well. Jasmine was just looking out for both of our interests and, as much as she thought she was helping, she seemed to make things worse. But I would never blame her for what happened here tonight at this hotel. The only person that deserves all the blame is Jeremy. I'm sorry I couldn't tell you this before what happened, but I just wasn't strong enough." He smiled, "But thanks to Jeremy I have the fortitude to actually tell you how I feel, and to not care if you reject me. Because I'm stronger now than I ever was." He looked her in the eyes, got up, and put, one of his wrapped hands on her cheek. "I'll always love you, even if this doesn't work out."

He kissed her forehead and proceeded to the door. Everything was out on the table, there was no going back; but Daren felt good like a weight had been lifted off of his shoulders. What he had said was true and it was the most important thing he had ever done in his seventeen years on this earth. But as he had his hand on the door frame, wondering if he should look back she came rushing toward him wrapping her arms around his midsection.

"I love you too…" she mustered out through tears. He smiled, turned, and held her chin up.

"I know." With that he kissed her full on the lips. Who knew that a band trip to Canada could create their happily ever after?

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