Ever Since

Coley and Nathaniel first met as new neighbors, not knowing that this was the start of their strong relationship that would last a lifetime.

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2. II. Dejavu

“Stop lying Coley,” Rin started, “You have a crush on him!” Her eyes light up and she pulls out a notepad and pencil, starting to scribble in the packets of paper. I reckoned she was planning our wedding or coming up with a name for our child.

I hate it most when I am friends with a guy and I am caught laughing with him more than once. Automatically we are suspected to be destined soulmates, which was absurd.

“You know I like Jack,” I countered.  I didn’t know if it was true, but it was the safe option. Almost every girl I knew in the 8th grade had a thing for Jack tucked inside them.

Not only was he the classic handsome redhead, but he was athletic, bright and popular as well. Pretty much the full package; the ideal guy to like.

So I pretty much say I liked him as a cover or an excuse. You know, the easy way around situations regarding your romantic life as an 8th grader.

Though he was awfully nice to me, I never really grew to like him that much.

I guess I could picture myself- a blondie with a redhead like him and be considered the couple of the year or something, but personality wise: we aren’t compatible.

Infact, my close friends may say we should be together, though they know it would be like a joke.

Rin raised an eyebrow and swept her long, glossy black hair behind her shoulder.

“If you like him, then prove to me you don’t like Nathaniel and ask him out,” she gave my shoulder a nudge as if taunting me and saying, It’ll be a piece of cake.

Rin was one of the bravest and determined person I knew, so for her to say all this wasn’t an exactly, Don’t worry, I know how you feel- Coley dear, type of situation.

If she and a professional basketball player gambled all their money over a game of half court, she wouldn’t blink twice to take the risk. Not because she was stupid or unable to see past the end of her nose, but because she is just soaked with adventurous energy.

I hesitated, feeling my cheeks go aflame. Then I stammered and finally said, “Fine.” Though my voice cracks and I sounded more discouraged than I would’ve sounded naturally; only making my face brighten up even more.

“What’s the matter?” Rin teases, “You afraid Nathan’s going to be jealous?” I know Rin only means well, but all this pressure was making me sick.

“Just stop,” I growled in a low tone, folding my arms and turning away. “God,” I huffed out, “I’ll ask him out.”

She revealed a sinister grin and  jumped in front of me- ruffling my bangs, “That-a-girl!”

_______________________

After school, I dropped by my house to announce that I was going to the park.

Naturally I got no reply other than a rude, “I don’t care,” from my second middle sister, Janie.

I bring a book as I drop my bookbag at the door and race to the park, reaching the tree with the tire swing.

I usually looked around me, but I was afraid to spot Nathaniel or Jack right now. So instead lowered my head- staring at my thick book.

As I sat down, I raised my head once again- resting it against the old tree with a creaking thud.

“Coley!” I heard and quickly snapped my head up, expecting it to be Nathaniel; instead it was the boy with flaming hair and skin coated thickly in freckles. Jack.

“Oh hey, Jack,” I said, slowly getting onto my feet. My expression was sour, a flashback of what Rin said- screaming in my head as if to give a red flag. This is your chance!

Jack let off a small chuckle, slowly turning pink. Though I suspected that is what happened to freckle faces- they turn red easily.

"You look sick," he comments and I quickly shake my head- looking away.

"Oh me?" I give a nervous laugh, "I'm fine."

I looked back at him, giving an assuring smile. The smile felt crooked. So I confirm it was all forceful, and I didn't want to be here.

He gave a calm smile in exchange, growing more red by the second.

Why does he always act like this? I question in mind, referring to how he always blushes when he is near me. Does he have a little crush on me or something? I wanted to roll my eyes, but being the fact he was right in front of me, I didn’t want to act like something was wrong.

Though the soft side of me wanted to offer the thought that he looked quite adorable when he blushed- his bright face, an equally shade of red as his hair and his handsome face coated in freckles shining bright. It made my smile reform into a natural one.

“I need to ask you something,” he starts twiddling his thumbs, clearly appearing nervous. A cool breeze seemed to whistle by and my stomach felt hollow.

For a popular kid who is crushed on by many, he looked pathetic. Jack was letting off an awkward air into the conversation, as if he was talking to a fifty feet, fire-breathing dragon.

Luckily, Nathaniel came by- installing a strong gap between Jack and me. Not only because Nathaniel was my best friend, but because their frustration toward each other was as strong as to create other heat in the atmosphere. Not just the burning of Jack’s cheeks.

Nathaniel gave Jack his mocking smile (clearly showing that he could breathe better without his presents), while Jack glanced at him with a look of disgust on his face before bringing his attention back on me and acting like Nathan wasn’t there.

“What’s up guys?” Nathaniel asked warmly. Though he said ‘guys’, I knew he was only referring to me.

I heard a heavy sigh from Jack, as he ignored Nathan and shaked his head as if a fly was near.

My head turned toward Nathaniel as I give him an inviting smile- telepathically saying, Thanks for saving me. “I’m fine,” I say reassuringly.

A small, impatient rhythm of Jack’s foot tapping onto the ground emerges. I had guessed he was waiting for me to finish, noticing his large eyes burning against mine as I looked from the corner of my eye as I was facing Nathaniel.

What he was doing striked me as immature, since he could just say farewell and tell me later or get involved in our small talk in a social way- instead of being stubborn like a six year old. Although his face was no longer a magenta color, so he appeared like those impatient teachers who would for your attention.

Nathaniel winks at me, giving the indirect reply, You know, I will always be there for you.

He also notices how Jack is acting and tries to hold a snicker from rumbling. I can’t help but to blush and want to start laughing too.

Clearly, this was too much for Nathaniel and he blows up- erupting with a loud laugh. Though that all happened just as Jack dramatically clears his throat, clearing trying to draw our attention.

“Coley Marie Nightlock,” Jack starts slowly in a grand, confident fashion- appearing to be a strict teacher who’s about to start a long lecture regarding the class’s inappropriate behavior or something.

He pulled out the classic symbol of love strung on a piece of chain, presenting in his palms- the half-of-a-heart. His dark eyes were flimmering as a faint grin appears upon his thin lips.

This must be some joke, I think harshly to myself. Nathaniel face showed a collection of negative emotions, his fists clenching and unclenching as if he was unable to decipher whether to be in shock or to be furious.

A sinister smirk appeared on Jack which made me more sick than I was starting to feel. It made me wonder if he only did this to get me to be his girl or to just humiliate Nathaniel.

“Will you give me the honor of being your girlfriend?”

I could almost hear Rin’s voice in my head, Now how could you reject that, hun? And you don’t even have to do anything but say yes.

I would have been scarlet by now, but I simply couldn’t. I was in war with myself- too many thoughts invading my head at once. I didn’t have time to think this all out, because rumors would emerged- even if I didn’t tell anyone. I had a feeling that Jack would spread the news and peer pressure would only drown all the thoughts I had in mind. Nathaniel would grow to be more of a nuisance if I had said yes.

What the matter? You afraid Nathan’s going to be jealous? Those words start ringing in my head, my eyes darting from Jack, the necklace and finally to Nathaniel.

How long has it been now? Thirty seconds? A minute? Two minutes?

Noticing the excruciating pain in Nathaniel’s eyes was crushing me. Nathan was not only my neighbor, but my best friend. We were like brother and sister- who were bound by something that countered friendship. We leaned on each other and shared our biggest regrets. During our greatest achievements we praise each other and celebrate. While during our worst encounters, we helped each other. I molded him, while he molded me. I have no idea how I would go on with life without him.

Clearly in war with myself, what Rin said came through and I concluded that Nathaniel would feel good for me. I knew he would be determined to make sure that we would still be friends and that a simple thing like that wouldn’t break our brotherhood.

“Yes,” I said softly, although I do not dare to make eye contact with Nathaniel.

I scooped the necklace from Jack’s hand and swiftly grabbed my book from behind me before running off. I decided not to look back, afraid to view reactions that I was expecting.


 

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