Earth; The United States of America. August 27, 2014
The difference between knowing Chartenia Calhoun and being friends with Chartenia Calhoun is that nobody wanted the latter. Nobody except me, Henry Harrison, Chartenia’s best friend. Well, actually I was Chartenia's only friend, a fact we both just kind of avoid.
But that didn't stop her from practically ignoring me as I sat down next to her during their lunch period. She, as usual, had her face hidden behind a rather large book, a regularity at our spot under the young oak tree. We typically spent our lunch period in silence; Chartenia reading a book; me staring toward a gaggle of giggly girls that I was more-than-happy not to be near.
That was when Chartenia did something unexpected. She closed her book. I looked up, surprised. “What?”
“Does it make you feel bad,” she asked. “When I completely ignore you?”
“Wha - what do you mean?” I asked back, trying to play dumb.
“Every day, I sit here reading my book, and you just sort of stare off into space. I see you staring at those girls who I’m sure you would much rather be near.”
“What makes you think I want to be near them?”
“Well I think you need to take a better look.”
I hesitated, then said, “Maybe you should first.” Afterwards, I wasn’t sure what I had told her that for. It sounded cheesy - something only a guy in one of her books would say, no matter how truthful it was. But, after a comment like that, I wasn’t going to sit there while she thought about what I had said. So I stood up and walked away, quickly stopping by the trash can to throw away my not-eaten lunch.
I headed to sixth period earlier than normal. Mr. Smith wouldn’t mind, and I needed to work on some homework.
“Hello, Henry,” he greeted.
“Hi. Mind if I just work in here for a little bit?”
“Not at all.” He smiled, then returned to grading some essays from one of his other classes.
I sat in my usual seat, the front left-hand corner. Usually I preferred to be in the middle, surrounded my classmates that don’t even know my name, hiding behind all the other raised hands. In the front, even further toward the wall, I stuck out.
My phone lit up, which surprised me. The only people with my number was my older brother (junior, a couple years older than me), my parents (obviously), and . . . Chartenia. Shoot. After a moment of indecision, I read the text.
Chartenia: What did you mean?
I didn’t know what to say. What did I mean?
Henry: idk. hard to explain
Chartenia: You said that “Maybe I should take a better look at myself first.” What the heck does that mean?
Henry: just forget it. whatever
Chartenia: No, tell me what you meant.
I wasn’t too sure how to explain it to myself. So I took the smart route:
Henry: look, my phones about to die. i need it for calling my mom later to pick me up. talk to u later
Turning off my phone, I sighed. The words kept echoing in my head. “Maybe you should first.”