anita darling © May 2012 – present
Late Night Macca's Run
Will's best friend Beck has plans to go to their Year 12 formal with the good-looking, popular, all-around school sports-star, Perry. Will is jealous of Perry consuming all of Beck's time, but he's not in love with her, no way. He just misses her because they used to hang out all the time. Right?
This idea is entirely my own and not stolen from any source, though inspired by several.
I have written this as an entry for A Drop of Romeo's Round V: A Battle of the One-Shots (Prompt 2: The Photographer). I hope that you all enjoy it.
It's so not fair, I think. Why is my best friend even in love with that idiotic redhead? She should know better. It's not like Beck to be so irrational as to fall in love with the first guy who asked her out to the Year 12 Formal.
I mean it's not like I love her or anything. We're just friends. My whole life I've been by her side, even when the boys in primary school and high school teased me for spending so much time with a girl.
My relationship with Beck is complicated, you know? We did kiss, once. Okay, twice.
It was during primary school, our first kiss, and it was a total accident.
"Mum, don't!" I groaned. "I really don't need sunscreen!"
"Will, sweetie, I don't want you to get sunburnt." Mum squeezed more sunscreen out onto her open palm and smooshed it all over my face.
"I'm not gunna get sunburnt!" (For the record: I did not get sunburnt that day. However, I did get sunburnt the next day when I escaped Mum's sunscreen hands.)
She smoothed her thumbs under my eyes, stretching out the skin there. I swiped at her with my eleven-year-old hands, and Mum just laughed. "Okay, sweetie, you can go for a swim now!"
I pretty much ran out the backdoor, taking the stairs two at a time.
And I smacked right into Beck, who was coming up the stairs, and I tried not land on her too hard as we fell back to the grass. I'd been kind of freaked out at the time, and when Beck and awoken from her short-lived trip to outer space, she'd lifted her head. For the shortest of moments, our lips locked. I pulled back as soon as I realised, wiping my mouth – an action which resulted in the taste of sunscreen on my tongue for the rest of the day.
Beck had simply blushed, said nothing, and run inside, leaving me feeling the shame of having a sure case of cooties running through my system.
I ran down, jumped over the pool fence, dropping my towel, and diving into the pool. I even swallowed some pool water on purpose to try and clear out my system.
When we sat down together for dinner, Beck met my eyes steadily. After a long moment, she looked back at my younger brother, who was telling a joke about something I don't remember anymore.
"William!" Beck says, touching my arm. "You're a total space case." She smiles. I give her a try-hard smile in return. She tilts her head slightly. "So are you excited for formal?" she asks, trying again at conversing with me.
I shrug. "I haven't got a date."
"You don't need one, Will. You know you're welcome to come with me and Perry."
Perry is her ranga boyfriend. He's one of those over-athletic jerk types, and just because he asked my Beck to formal, she said yes. And sometimes I wonder if she can't see that there's nothing wrong with her best friend monopolising her time. Bros before hoes.
"Don't worry," I tell her. "I'll find a girl."
"Oh, good," she smiles at me. Then she reaches into her pocket to retrieve her mobile phone. "It's Perry," she says. "I'll see you around, Will."
I barely have time to give her a smile, let alone a hug, before she's dashing down the college corridors into the distance. Year 12 sucks.
I open up my locker and get out my wallet, shoving it into the back pocket of my school trousers. "Will?" says a female voice. I turn, expecting Beck only to see Lauren looking at me expectantly.
"What's up?" I say, smiling. I slam my locker and snap the combination lock shut.
"Could you lend me a couple dollars so I can buy a packet of chips from the vending machine?"
"Nah," I say. "Come on, I'll buy you a proper canteen lunch."
"Oh, thank you, Will!" she steps forward and hugs me tightly. I hug her back. She practically skips all the way to the canteen. I buy her a chicken burger, and get myself a sandwich, and we sit down together outside because it's warm and sunny.
"Have you got a date for the formal?" Lauren asks off-handedly, glancing up from her chicken burger to look at me.
I shrug. "Not exactly. I was thinking about skipping."
"Will! You can't skip formal!"
Lauren, I can so skip formal.
"I was going to go with Tim, you know, Tim K? But if you don't have a date, I'd be happy to go with you."
"You don't need to let Tim King down for me," I tell her, throwing the crust of my sandwich at a seagull.
After a moment of staring at me, she announces quietly, "You like Rebecca Robins, don't you?"
"I do not," I reply. "We're just friends, Lauren." I sigh.
"No," she says. "I don't think so. I think you're in love with her." She doesn't say this in a haughty voice, like I would expect, but instead in an almost pitying tone. "She's going to formal with, um, oh! Perry, right?"
"He's such a jerk!"
"I know, right?" I exclaim.
Lauren gives me a funny look, bemused. "How many times have you seen Mean Girls?"
I laugh. "Not as many times as I've seen Romeo and Juliet. For heaven's sake, Beck never stopped watching that, not when we were five, or ten, or fifteen, or now."
"Yeah? Prove it."
"Two households, both alike in dignity / In fair Verona, where we lay our scene / From ancient grudge break to new mutiny / Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes / A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life / Whose –"
"I get it. I get it. Shut up already." But she's smiling. "You should tell her how you feel, you know."
"Why should I take advice from you, Lauren?"
"Because I'm a girl."
I narrow my eyes. "Having a vagina does not make you psychic."
Lauren just rolls her eyes. "William Westlake, it would not hurt you to make your feelings known."
"One: There are no feelings to be known. Two: Even if there were, why would I risk ruining our friendship only to screw up a relationship?"
"A wise woman once told me, my auntie, that our soul mates are more often than not our best friends. There's no point in an intense sexually-charged chemistry if you can't stand to be around each other during the day. You need to be friends first, lovers second."
"Tim K's not going to get you far in that department."
"He's notorious," agrees Lauren. "Look. I need to go and get ready for Drama, but I'm sure you can sort out your feelings on your own."
Perry doesn't deserve a girl like Beck anymore than Tim King deserves a girl like Lauren. Sadly, the more I think about it, the more Lauren's words ring true in my head. Being in love with Beck would certainly explain my jealousy of her (idiotic) boyfriend. And it would explain why I feel kind of empty when she's not around – when she's playing an away game for state badminton or on a school camp.
Our second kiss, I am starting to realise, may have not been so accidental after all. Maybe it was consciously accidental, but maybe my subconscious wanted to stick a good foot in, to show who was boss.
At the time, I actually had a girlfriend, Jessie, which made the situation more than a little awkward when she found out – she dumped me a fortnight later, in fact. I was hanging around school, even though it was getting late, because I was getting a ride home with Beck's mum. Beck, of course, had badminton training, and that didn't finish until five o'clock, which left me sitting court-side with not much to do.
Beck was playing a practice single against one of her teammates, and she hadn't lost a point. Even in Year 8, Beck was a kick-arse badminton player, just as she is today.
"Pick up your game!" called their coach to the other girl – Esther, I think, her name was. "Beck's smashing you all over the court!" But I saw the smile that the coach shot at Beck. Not that his training had anything to do with her skill; she was a natural. She kicked even my arse at all of the games that involved balls and racquets.
I leant back against the brick wall, trying to absorb warmth from the heater over my head. Beck's opponent's cheeks were red from their coach's words, and she hit the birdy a bit too hard, sent it flying over Beck's head.
It hit me in the middle of my forehead, and I groaned.
"Oh, God!" Beck said, rushing over to me. She cupped my jaw in a hand and tipped my head back to inspect the red mark that didn't leave my forehead for a week. Except Beck, off-court, had the grace of an alpaca with three legs, and she threw my head back hard enough to send my skull ricocheting off the brick wall.
In hindsight, I probably could've stopped myself from kissing her in that moment. Perhaps I could've tilted my head slightly to her right, or even her left. Or I could've ducked, clutching my head and groaning. I didn't though, and that's the point.
My mouth met Beck's for a second time in my life, and it was … It wasn't even a kiss, but it left my heart pounding and my mind racing. It lasted longer than our first kiss, as Beck's mind took a moment to absorb what was going on. Her lips brushed gently against mine as she pulled away, and I tried not to smile. She let go of my head, and walked away.
I heard her say to her coach, "I think he has a concussion," before disappearing out of the room. They sent me to the hospital just in case, and it scared the life out of my mother – my father is more of the opinion that getting knocked around a few times is good for you.
If I had been in hospital for any other reason, Beck would've been there with me, at my bedside. Instead I was stuck with Mum, Dad, and my whiny little brother, James, who was in Year Five at the time.
They didn't keep me in for long, haven't determined that I probably didn't have a concussion, but to come back if any symptoms arose – and they didn't.
Beck ignored me for the rest of the week, deciding that I got hit on the head on purpose.
Stupid bloody feelings! I think, as I kick a pebble with my shoe. Walking home from school has never been a pleasurable task, and today I'm stuck with it, because Beck's off dress shopping for formal with her girlfriends.
And she's the one who got her P-plates before I did. I sigh.
I wish Lauren had never pointed out that I might be in love with my best friend. I could spend the rest of my life in blissful ignorance!
"Will!" I turn around to see James running up behind me. "What's up?"
I shrug. "Not much. School still sucks."
"I know!" he exclaims, crossing his arms. "I hate-hate-hate Year Nine. It sucks. We've got to do this stupid assignment and it's supposed to be, like, a million words long." James groans. "And I don't get why Lily isn't in love with me, you know? I mean, we're Lily and James. It's practically meant to be!"
I smirk at James' Harry Potter reference. "Yeah, well, girls are a pain in the arse."
"I've got it!" James says with a gasp. "I could talk to Beck! Invite her over for dinner. Please, bro!"
"One: Don't call me bro, okay. Two: I think she's busy tonight."
James inspects me for a moment, then looks ahead, kicking a pebble. "She got a hot date with you or something?"
After a moment, I say: "No, not with me."
James stops in his tracks, even though we're like five blocks from home still.
"I know Mum and Dad joke about this all the time, Will, but have you ever actually stopped and considered that you might like-like Beck?"
"I am not having a D and M with you, James." I start walking again, and James catches up easily.
"You do like her, then."
"YES," I yell. "I like Beck! Are you bloody happy now, James?"
He shrugs. "It's good to hear you admit it out loud. Now you can go after her."
I shake my head. "James, she's going to formal with Perry."
"You mean ranga Perry? He has a bad rep, even in the high school."
"You think I don't know that? He's an idiot. I don't know why she likes him."
"He's popular," James says. "And good-looking."
"Sometimes I think you're gay, James."
"I'm not," he says. "I just appreciate things. Like people and art and shit."
"I bet that sensitive thing gets you places with girls."
"I've already made it to third base, so –"
"James, shut up! I do not want to know."
We walk in silence for the rest of the way home.
We sit down for dinner, and Mum complains about being overwhelmed by testosterone, as usual. Dad smiles and kisses her cheek. It's Dad and James' night to do the washing up, so Mum and I turn on the telly and sit down to watch the news. "James told me about Beck," she says.
"What about her?" I hedge.
"He told me you've in love with her."
"I don't know what to do," I say, watching Nev, Mum's first boyfriend, reading the news. I bet she'll say something vague, like: You love her, you'll work it out.
"I think you need to show her that you're better than this Perry bloke. Like take her out to lunch, but not to some fancy-pants restaurant, a place you know she loves, and buy her an ice cream or something."
"Mum, I think you're crazy. Perry's much better looking than me, and he's a sports star, and –"
"William Dean, shut up. Beck is not that shallow, is she? James told me that Beck only likes him because he likes her, right? So show her you love her. And damn well take her to formal, William."
Me: Did you find a dress?
Beck: Yeah. It's perfect.
Me: Wanna show me?
Beck: And ruin the surprise? Yeah, right!
Me: Macca's run?
Beck: God yes. I'll come and get you.
I'll be the first to admit, it's not exactly romantic, having Beck drive us to our date at Macca's – okay, so she doesn't know it's a date. Whatever.
Beck: Outside, now.
I slide down the banister and leave a note on the dining table for Mum, then head out the front door, locking it behind me.
"Good night?" I ask as I get into Beck's Mum's completely unnecessary Tarago. Beck just shrugs and pulls away from the curb.
"It's almost one in the morning, and I've been up studying."
"You're crazy," I joke.
"Oh, yeah, and why were you up?"
"Too embarrassing," I reply.
"Really, now?" she asks, interested. "What were you up to, William?"
"I do believe it's none of your beeswax, Rebecca."
"I'm your best friend. Come on."
I sigh. "I was watching chick flicks."
"Aw, cute. You got a girlfriend over or something?"
I furrow my brow. "No. I don't have a girlfriend. You'd be the first to know if I did."
"I saw you chatting to Lauren today," she adds.
"She forgot her lunch. I shouted her. No big deal."
"That was really nice of you."
I've done it for you so many times, Beck, and you never sounded so sincere as you did just now when I bought lunch for another girl.
Then we drive straight past Macca's.
"Where are we doing?"
"There's this rooftop I wanted to show you. I know it's cheesy, but it's really lovely at night."
She turns up the volume so loud it's impossible to talk, but we drive for another fifteen minutes, deep into the CBD before she finally parks illegally on the curb of some super narrow street.
"We won't get picked up," she tells me, "it's like one thirty in the morning. All the cops are in bed."
"Are you sure about this?"
"Yeah," she says after a few seconds of delay, "I'm sure. Come on." She takes my hand and leads me down an alley and up a fire escape. Once we're on top of the roof, I wish I'd worn more clothes, and Beck picks a camera out of her pocket. I hold my hand up over my face.
"No photos, Beck. Please."
"One picture, Will. Just one, I swear."
Just before the flash goes off, I make sure to wink at the camera – my trademark photo ruining look.
"I can't believe you did that!" she exclaims while she inspects the photo. "Aren't you cold?"
"Well, if I'd known we were going to be up here, I would've worn more clothes. I thought we were just going to Macca's."
"I'm sorry, I just had to let you know something, that's all."
"And what's that?"
Work up the courage, you idiot. Prove that you're better than Perry, because you bloody are.
"I told Perry I can't go to the formal with him."
"Because I want to go to the formal with you." She steps closer to me, to where I'm leaning up against the brick wall, the edge of the building.
The wind is whipping her hair around in all different directions, and she looks so wonderful. I can't take my eyes off of her, can't make my mouth say, You mean as friends? Because you don't like me like that. She steps toward me again and puts her arms around me, her head against my chest.
"Not as best friends, Will," she adds, looking up into my eyes. "I want you to be my boyfriend, if you'll have me."
"Love give me strength," I quote from that stupid movie we watched so many times.
"God, you're an idiot. Juliet says that, not Romeo!"
"Thus with a kiss I –"
Beck presses her lips against mine, and I swear I feel fireworks go off inside of my chest cavity. "William Dean, you will not die on my count."
"So you'll be my girlfriend?"
"I asked you first," she replies quickly. "That makes you my boyfriend."
I shrug. "Semantics." I hold her tight against my chest, no longer really feeling the chill of the wind, though Beck notices the goosebumps on my arms.
"Let's go and get Macca's now, okay?"
Beck glares at me, but then she breaks out in a grin.
All of the awkwardness I was expecting doesn't seem to exist. Somehow we've just stepped over the line between friendship and relationship without a hiccup. And it's bloody brilliant.
"Will, hurry up! I really want a –"
"Quarter Pounder burger with a McChicken patty instead of a Quarter Pounder patty, I know." I catch up to her easily, and we jump in the Tarago – which I'm glad to see hasn't been towed, and drive off into the night. Though I can't see any stars out, I think that the lights of the city replace them quite well.
For the first time ever, when we walk into McDonald's, we hold hands, and I let Beck order for us because, well, we get the same thing every time anyway. I don't insist on paying because Beck offers. I promise her I'll pay for ice cream afterwards, just to even it up a little.
"Just saying," she says after she bites in her McChicken-Quarter Pounder, "but we're going to go home and watch more of your chick flicks, all right?"
Beck opens the front door, and I smile at her, rushing up to kiss her cheek. "You're beautiful as always," I tell her.
"Are you blushing?" I ask. "I can't tell for all your make up."
"Will!" Beck slaps me playfully on the arm. I'm driving us to formal, because I finally got my own P-plates. We get there right on time, and I help Beck out of the car. We laugh at her complaints about her heels. Even as we sit down to eat, and later, get up to dance, all we talk about is the movies that we're going to watch when we get back to my house.
Then we can fall asleep on the couch, her in my old clothes, me in my pyjamas, wrapped in each other's arms, saying it's for warmth, but really just loving the comfort. And the movie's menu screen will play ridiculous music all night long, and we'll wake in the morning to James teasing us, but happy for us all the same. Mum will make us pancakes, and take me aside and tell me I did good, but I'll tell her it was all Beck.
Because it was always Beck, and I'd be surprised if it won't always be Beck.