Look at him….
His brown eyes used to be…boring. Boring brown eyes that held nothing. No insight to the soul. No intriguing mystery that made him unique. I used to see nothing but…brown. Even when he laughed, they were brown. When they watered up unwillingly, they were brown. Boring brown. Like nothing at all affected him. Guarded. He was guarded. His eyes told me nothing. Or…I couldn't see anything from his eyes. I myself was too blind to decipher anything…nah, actually, I just couldn't be bothered.
His brown eyes were now, right at that moment when I stared straight at him, gleaming. Gleaming wildly with…foolish lust. Genuine happiness bouncing off those eyes of his.
…looking all smug and…
He still hadn't told me. He'd told my brothers, Jimmy and Hunter. But not me. Why not?
They were all stoked for him. They thought he wouldn't have a chance. Still thought he didn't have a chance. Joking around about possible mishaps of the blossoming relationship. Giving advice even though they knew they were not qualified to give it. They were just as bad as Sophia. Gushing. They wouldn't think it was gushing. But it was gushing in my eyes, nonetheless. Maybe a bit more of a violent gushing. Jimmy gave him more "friendly" punches, saying it was just a "friendly" reminder of how lucky he was. Not too sure how it worked, seeing as the luck he got came in the form of black, ugly bruises, but I quite liked the way he viewed things.
Jimmy innocently assumed that I was in on the secret and talked to me about it. The "secret" that Zach made him swear on our dead grandmother not to tell anyone, even if they knew. She wouldn't be the least bit offended though, our loving grandma. She never failed to hate us with a loving passion and we returned the favour. I pretended like I knew it from Zach and not Sophia. I didn't even know why Zach wanted it to be a secret. Especially from me. So what if Sophia's brother freakishly resembled the Hulk (his biceps were, quite literally twice the size of Zach's head), what with his eyes being very green and him being notoriously temperamental? So what if he threatened to "rape his balls off if you even breathe on her skin"? Those were just not good enough reasons. Of all people to keep it a secret from…
Hunter saw right through me though. Asked me about it. Asked me if I was alright. I just told him, "God, stop being such a woman and analysing every subtle emotion that my face reveals." Hunter didn't talk to me about Zach for about a week. Actually…come to think of it, he just plain didn't talk to me about anything for a week.
He came bursting through our door for our usual Saturday hangout session. Literally. Almost broke our door. That Zach. Made me laugh even when I was mad at him. Well, I wasn't mad at him. No. I was way too cool to be mad. I was just…annoyed. He should've told me. But he didn't.
I didn't think he'd come. Thought he'd be too…
Without meaning to, I shuddered at the end of that thought.
Jimmy and Hunter didn't talk about Sophia, as promised. I was suspecting it wasn't just a promise. It was much more serious and official. A pinky-promise. You just couldn't break a pinky-promise. Promises. Yeah, they were breakable. They broke as quickly as they were made. But pinky-promises? They needed energy. To curl up your fingers and stick that pinky out. Yeah. Solidly unbreakable.
Hotcake syrup dripped down from the side of Zach's mouth. Oblivious to the trail of debris, which comprised of hotcakes, sugar and honey, he'd left on the lower part of his face, he gobbled up the food in front of him like it was the only thing keeping him alive or something. I would find it absolutely disgusting if I didn't know him. But I knew him. So I was used to it. In fact, I was so used to it that I could find something adorable out of it.
Maybe that was what got him Sophia. He was adorable in the weirdest way.
I shuddered again. Before anyone noticed, I casually looked away and focused my attention on…
"What are you looking at?" Zach asked.
"You," Hunter offered. Jimmy and him sniggered on cue. I wasn't even sure what I was focusing my attention on. But I had to make something up. Quick. Before they noticed the redness urging its way into my cheeks.
"Yeah you Zach, you chunk of hunk. I was admiring that sexy bony frame of yours. I was mentally undressing you," I scoffed.
Fists of laughter punched into the air. My brothers' bums were teetering on the edge of their seats.
"Divine," I uttered before joining in with the laughter. All Zach could do was smile.
They were convinced. They went straight back to…well, being guys. Even the sensitive one, Hunter, wasn't bothered to argue with me. I don't blame him at all. Food was in front of him. Only thing that could distract him from that was probably football and video games.
Everyone yelled, "Shotgun not getting it." Everyone except me and I was the furthest away from the phone.
"Is that you Christine? It's me, Sss…"
She didn't need to tell me what her name was.
That girl…even her voice sounds beautiful.
"Hi Sophia," I said as sweetly as possible, looking straight into Zach's eyes.
Both Jimmy and Hunter started nudging Zach. He boldly returned my stare. His pasty cheeks grew about three shades pinker, like they always did when a cold gust of wind pierced through his face.
"I'm soooooooo boooooorrrred!" she whined. Even her whine sounded as pretty as the tinkling of wind chimes. Others saying the exact same sentence in the exact same way would have made my ears bleed literally. She was able to make me feel a microscopic sense of sympathy for the plight that she was tragically stuck in.
"Well, I can't entertain you. I've got already got Zach to entertain. And you of all people should know how hard it is to entertain him."
Cue howl of laughter from my brothers.
The harder my brothers howled, the harder Zach blushed. If that didn't give away the fact that I knew about their little trysts, then all those years of getting to know me was just a horrific waste of time.
"Are those your brothers? OMG, they sound so cute when they laugh together! Can you say hi to them for me?"
I pulled the phone away from my ear and directed it towards the guys.
"Sophia says hi."
Jimmy and Hunter grunted their "Hi's" in unison.
"Well, then, go entertain my little beast. TTYL, babe!"
The line went dead. My brain almost followed suit. Immediately after it tried to comprehend what the point of that conversation was, it gave up. I didn't think I could ever get used to it. She called me at the most random of times and for the most random of reasons. She'd call to inform me her acrylic nail had broken off. She'd gush over how hot so and so of so and so show was. She called whenever she contracted the disease of boredom. She called before, during and after her date with Zach. That was painful but very entertaining. So I guess it was worth the pain. Any low points of the date that Zach suffered were credited to yours truly. That thought kept me from scratching my eyes out as she detailed every emotion and thing that she experienced at her date.
If she could, she would totally call to enlighten me with the fact that she was in the toilet having the most amazing pee ever. Honestly, I could write a tell-all biography of Sophia Gale with the information she had so freely given me since I became her best friend.
Zach looked like he wanted to talk to me. Like he finally was ready to come clean about everything. I could imagine me punching him in the gut at the end of it, thinking, "This is what you get for keeping it from me" and saying, "On behalf of Jimmy, here's another friendly punch."
He probably read my mind or something because moments later, he looked like he wanted nothing to do with me.
"Hurry up guys, I wanna play wii" And off Zach went.
"Hey, can I come in?"
Zach stood awkwardly at my door. He put his hands into the pockets of his jeans. Took them out few seconds later. Pretending to take in the view of my bedroom, a view that he'd seen for almost half his life, he seemed very formal. Too formal. Like we were just acquaintances. Like he had never just waltz into my room whenever he felt like it, even when I'd specifically asked for privacy.
"Oh so you're asking for my permission now. Hmm, well let's see…,"
I looked up to the ceiling to exaggerate my thinking pose.
He bit his lower lip in annoyance. Immediately, I knew what he was thinking. I could probably even get the exact same words in the same way that his mind has phrased. Of course, he wouldn't dare start a confrontation with me because he knew that I would win. I'd sometimes never bother to start one because it was a tragic sight seeing him falter and desperately shove the white flag in my face to show that he gave up. Like he thought that if he let me win then he wouldn't lose me as a friend. He told me about that once. Over msn. He said that he had this fear of me disappearing from his life just because of one trivial thing. So he'd always let me win. I joked back, telling him how noble he was. He promptly moved on to another subject. Just like all the other secrets that he poured out onto me without meaning to, he never mentioned it again. I would have wanted him to mention that again as it kind of reassured me just how much I meant to him.
This time, I wanted to see him try. I wanted to see him win. It was about time he didn't let a woman walk all over him.
"Come on now, say it," I teased.
"Say what's on that little peanut-sized mind of yours."
He shook his head.
"What the fuck is your problem?" I provided. Yes, he probably actually used that word in his mind. I was very sure of it.
"My problem?" His eyebrows jumped in confusion.
"No dufus," I sighed, trying to hide the laugh that I almost let out when he thought I was being mad at him, "I was just saying out what was in your mind. Which is, "What the fuck is your problem, Christine?" Isn't it?"
He was still standing at my door. I couldn't understand why all of a sudden he didn't feel comfortable enough to simply saunter in and plop himself on my bed.
"I'm sorry. I should have told you about Sophia," he said finally.
He might have said sorry to me but I didn't feel like I won anything at all. He was one step ahead of me. It was like he just nonchalantly sifted through my unconscious thoughts to finally retrieve the one thought that meant the most to me.
"Do you think I'm mad at you? Is that why you aren't coming into my room and sitting on my bed?"
Silence. Yes, don't you just love it?
I couldn't help myself, "Why didn't you tell me? It's not like I was…"
"There. See? You are mad. Maybe "mad" isn't the right word but it'll have to do."
Since when did you get so wise, my dear little Zach?
I felt like just vomiting out the hundreds of questions in my head that were bouncing around furiously, waiting to be answered. That would have been an easy feat some few years ago when we hardly even knew how babies were made. All questions seemed to have a simple straightforward answer then. Actually, any answer would do because back then, we probably hadn't developed the knack of wanting to know the truth and full extent of an issue and the ability to tell from truth and lies. Why is the sky blue? Because it is. Why is it hot? Because of the sun. Why do we have to go to school? To learn. What is love? A feeling.
I didn't say anything though. If I did, it would only confirm the fact that I was mad. Each time I asked something, it would definitely be louder and littered with more swear words than the previous thing. Plus, it wasn't like Zach was going to answer them the way I wanted them to be answered. It would only make me madder.
"Can I just ask for you to not ruin it for me?" Zach pleaded.
Smack! Stung like a smack on my face.
I was definitely mad by then.
"Oh so you think I was going to ruin it for you?" I'd gotten out of my seat and progressed a few steps towards him. Actually, I was right up in his face. Just felt like emphasizing just how mad I was.
His face was expressionless. A bit stiff. Jaws clenched. Like he was holding something back. As usual. But his brown eyes. They were dancing, drunk with lust.
He dared think of her while talking to me.
"Or would you prefer the truth?" he said softly as some form of expression slowly started to leak into his face.
I might have looked like I was listening to him but all I could focus on, at that moment, was my heart, and how it pulsed rebelliously in my ribcage.
Why the hell are you beating so fast HEART? Stop it! I said…STOP IT.
Just as he started to say something, my dad and his friends' guffaws drowned it out.
"When I'm back in the room, I expect you out of it," I demanded.