FACING REJECTION

Mary-Jane Kenwood has got a new crush. She's the type to be big on style and appearance, which is why she's currently mooning over Elijah W. Farnham as if he's never been a giant fucking asshole before. 'Mooning' isn't even the word; she's playing the role of an innocent girl madly in love. Will he hesitate or take the bait? Will he be too self-absorbed to realize what's going on, that he's part of an epic narrative and needs to play along? If he blunders, Mary-Jane will lose interest in a flash. It's fickle, she knows, but then boys don't start getting interesting until way into college. Her words, not mine.

I watch in awe as she perfects her walk across the hallway, drawing most eyes even before she's reached target. Elijah leans back casually against his locker. He greets her with a nod, she smiles dazzlingly. I take a bite out of my apple.

'You think it'll work out?' Leyla asks quietly, sounding fairly apprehensive. We're both observing the unfolding scene from a safe distance, holding onto MJ's stuff for her. We're the silent rearguard.

Leyla is wringing her hands nervously. 'I don't get why she'd go for him... He's kind of an asshole.'

'I don't think that's the point', I say, wiping juicy fingers on my shirt. 'I don't think MJ cares whether he's an ass or not, it's more about the hunt.'

Leyla frowns. 'Don't say that.'

'Come on. You know how she is.'

'MJ has feelings', Leyla objects, looking miserable - as if our best friend's crude approach to love is causing her actual, physical pain. I stare across the hall at Mary-Jane's easy smile, her glossy lips, the perfect pair of jeans. I actually don't think she's feeling anything right now. She's having a ball, sure, but sooner or later that glimmer in her eye will make room for a dull, lifeless stare as our pointless, boring lives at school drag on, endlessly sending us places we don't want to go, forcing us to listen to things we have no interest in, talk to people we don't want to talk to, the list goes on.

Mary-Jane is not in love with Elijah. She probably never even has been in love. I honestly don't know.

'Is MJ in love with someone?' I ask, finishing my apple. Leyla gives me a hard, judging look.

'Er, duh. The name Elijah Farnham ring a bell?'

I just nod and point my chin: 'Look at that.'

That is walking down the hallway in our direction. It's a tall, broad form I can appreciate. Leyla makes a little gasping sound and runs quick fingers through her dark, straight hair, brushing it aside.

Dominic Tate, unlike Elijah Farnham, is popular not only for his looks but for the entire package. He's a striking, natural type of handsome and what's more, he's nice. He treats people with respect no matter their position on the social ladder, something I can personally vouch for. It's the reason he pauses his conversation to greet us when he walks by.

'Hi, Leyla', he says, gracing her with a smile. I get a gentle nod, which is fine. Dominic and I are merely acquainted through our mutual friendship with Leyla. We don't share classes together, we don't talk, I barely know him. Not that he knows Leyla all that well either. He's just incredibly kind to her because, as I suspect, he might have an inkling of the fact that she's crushing on him so badly it hurts. Sadly that doesn't make things any less one-sided.

We both stare at his retreating form: his sexy nape, the short, dark hair - a practical type of short - the swimmer's body, tight ass and thousand-watt smile as he turns to laugh at someone's comment. Leyla is used to it by now, to bask in the glow of his perfect radiance without being able to touch; to observe someone you love and admire from afar and suffer because of it. I think it's the same with Mary-Jane. She's a proud, talented, confident beauty with a great sense of humour. She feels good about herself.

It gets hard sometimes, to look into the face of near perfection all day long. Even I think so, and I'm just the gay best friend.

Leyla sighs as Dominic crouches down beside his locker and his flawless bottom is on full display. He reaches into his backpack and hands a crumpled piece of paper to the blond haired, stone-faced guy beside him.

That guy's name is Declan Easom. He's every bit the prick Elijah is, only Declan is apathetic where Elijah's a show-off, he's downright hostile where Elijah just laughs in your face and he's scary to the point where you'd openly avoid him if you could. Declan's scariness lies in the fact that he looks so damn calm all the time, but it's all an act. I've seen him make people cry with one well-placed insult. Afterwards he just walks away like nothing happened. Declan stands out like a sore thumb next to Dominic Tate. Oddly though, they're best friends.

'I don't get why Dominic would wanna hang out with a prick like Declan all the time', I mutter in Leyla's ear. 'He's got a ton of friends, why choose Declan?'

'They've been best friends for ages', Leyla says. 'I think it's pity.'

'They're total opposites, as in total opposites. I've never seen Declan be nice to anyone before. I don't even think I've seen him smile.'

Leyla cocks her head, musing. 'Opposites attract, I guess.'

'That's a myth, but I'll take it. Dominic's just too nice a guy not to want to be around him. Should count for Declan, too.'

'Tell me about it', Leyla says, blowing out her cheeks. I click my tongue.

'Leyla, come on. You're attractive, and a super nice person. He greets you every time, and it's super genuine. I think you should try and talk to him.'

'It's genuine for everyone', Leyla says. 'But thanks, Lex.'

I shake my head. 'Give yourself a chance.'

She sighs. 'It's torture, but at least I know where I stand. That makes it bearable. Like bearable torture?'

At that moment, Mary-Jane rejoins us with a satisfied look on her face. She's wearing her favourite perfume and a lavender-coloured peplum top. She gives us a wink.

'How'd it go?' I ask, leaning over to dispose of my apple.

'He wants to go see a movie this Friday, but I'm already hanging out with you guys so that's a no-no. He said he'd text me later.'

'You can skip one of our after-school movie nights if it's a date with Elijah!' Leyla protests, waving her arms around. 'This is your love life, MJ!'

Mary-Jane huffs. 'Pssssht, what do I care? Is he gonna die if I say no? Besides, I'd rather hang out with you guys anyway, Elijah's just for sports.'

It seems Leyla doesn't quite know what to say. There's that pained look again, emphasized by a pair of widening eyes and downturned eyebrows. I suppose I could throw in my honest opinion, but what's the point? MJ wants to be happy, Leyla wants to be happy, they both want to lead fun, exciting lives and Elijah and Dominic just might make it all happen.

I notice movement from the corner of my eye. Dominic is on his way back. He comes eye to eye with Elijah, who raises his hand in greeting. They meet each other halfway, which translates to me having to scurry out of Elijah's path. Apparently though I'm not fast enough, since Elijah crudely knocks into my arm with his elbow. I make a rather unmanly sound. Pain really isn't my thing.

'What the fuck, dude?' I mutter, clutching the throbbing spot, because come on.

Elijah turns around to look at me. He quirks an eyebrow in faint amusement, and for a moment I think he's kinda handsome.

'Whatever, faggot.'

There is a stunned silence, during which I realize that Oh, wait, I've actually heard this a thousand times before... though it really doesn't get any less offensive.

I blink. 'What?'

'You heard 'im', Elijah's right hand man, a burly jock called Alphonse Butterman, throws in, purring the words like he's fucking in love with me or something. He looks remarkably ugly right now - smug, that's the word. Both Farnham and Butterman have a look of utter contempt on their faces. It's unnerving.

Mary-Jane takes a step forward. 'Take it back', she tells Elijah. He's got a lazy grin on his face, like he's watching two little angry dogs fight for a bone.

'Like hell', Butterman sneers. 'Stay out of this.' Not his best move, admittedly, what with his best bud trying to bed the girl he just insulted.

'Don't tell me what to do like I'm some kind of dumb bitch, motherfucker', MJ snaps in the coldest, most hateful of voices. I love it when she talks like that.

'Wow, MJ, tone it down', Elijah says, laughing like this is all some kind of joke, too arrogant to realize he just dug his own grave.

'Tone it down?', Leyla repeats, sounding genuinely amazed. 'Really, Elijah? Did you hear what she just said, or do I need to paraphrase it for you?'

'No need', Mary-Jane says curtly. 'This conversation's over.' She turns on her heels and walks away, leaving Elijah and Alphonse to stare in bafflement, two big mouths full of teeth. After a few seconds Elijah follows, hesitantly calling after her.

That leaves Leyla and I staring at Butterman's dumb face. He's probably realizing how badly he fucked up right around now, I deduce from the grimace of shame on his ugly mug. Then he seems to shrug it all off, instead focusing his attention back on the faggot he wasn't quite done harassing.

'You just wait, Cummings', he jeers, predictably using my last name as a slur. I bristle.

'For what', I snap, feeling a bit more courageous now that the real tension's passed. 'Your big coming out party? I figured, with all the gay slurs you've been throwing around lately. Might take a while though, you're still so deep in the closet. I don't think I have that kind of patience, Alphonse...'

For a short, blissful moment, Alphonse's hideous smirk falters. Then it's back in full force.

'You'll see', he says slowly, almost thoughtfully, turning around to leave. 'You just wait and see.'

I feel myself grow cold. It's pathetic how easily this big oaf is able to intimidate me, but for some reason his statement doesn't ring quite as empty as it should. I swallow any retort I might've had.

'Beat it, asshole', Leyla hisses.

'Whatever', he says, and then he's gone. The crowd dissipates and we're by ourselves again.

'What the fuck was that', I say, wiping sweaty palms on my trousers. I'll never get used to these types of situations, they're unnerving every time and they just keeps happening.

Finally Dominic and his posse approach. He looks disturbed. 'You okay?' is the first thing he asks, and I think Aw, before I gather my cool and shrug: 'I guess so. It happens all the time.'

'I figured you could handle it by yourself, but that was tough', Dominic says. 'Want me to talk to Alphonse for you?'

I feel small, almost compelled to cave under his concern. It's well-intentioned, knowing Dominic, but it makes me feel like a failure. I realize I didn't want him or the others to see me like this.

'Le's just get outta here', Leyla says. She throws a quick smile and thank you at Dominic before she grabs both of our bags and expertly ushers me away from the crowd. She's a marvelous friend.

'That okay, though?' I whisper as we're almost out of earshot. 'He was right there in front of you.'

'Doesn't matter', she says, smiling warmly. 'I'll get my chance.'


Half an hour later I'm in maths class, feeling awful penning down endless formulas I don't understand, when my phone buzzes in my pocket. I grab it like a lifeline. The screen shows me a number I don't know.

Hey.

I frown, typing: Hey, do I know you?

Minutes later I get a text from a different number, also unknown.

I heard u might be interested

Whatre u talking about? I type.

Wanna meet up?

I scrunch my nose in disgust. What the fuck?

The guy tries a few more times but I resolutely delete his texts. Where does he get this idea? Is he some type of in the closet loser who's looking at me to experiment? No fucking way would I ever be someone's training horse. My pride wouldn't allow it, and neither would my morals.

Twenty minutes later I receive yet another series of dubious messages.

Whatsup?

Who is this?

Heard you like to have fun

Wtf?

Heyah, how much for a quick bj?

Yo, you up for it?

All day long, I keep getting and deleting texts from random perverts, puzzled as fuck, until it dawns on me...

That dumb dick Alphonse has scribbled my number on a wall somewhere in school.

I'm going to kill that motherfucker.


a/n: I read Under the Grave's wonderful story titled Not Yours Truly here on fictionpress. Found it through plumblossom's reading list. It's the catfishing story I've always wanted to write, so I thought: let's do this.