He was my best friend.


6. Ignored (Dask's POV)

 Jo has ignored me for the past three months. He's been hanging out with other people, instead of me.

He's barely even looked my way or made small talk with me.

He hasn't sat with me in class, at lunch, at the bus stop or on the bus ride to or from our school. He doesn't ask me over anymore or invite me to the things he does with Mike and the guys.

If I ever walked his way at school, he either didn't see me or he pretended he didn't see me. He'd walk the other way, or worse still, right by me.

If I tried to talk to him at school, he either didn't hear me or he pretended he didn't hear me. There was always someone who would talk over the top of me, or Jo would be engaged in a conversation with whoever was with him.

I thought Jo might have been ignoring me because he was annoyed with the amount of time I spent with Clara. But, I had always made sure to spend time with him. It was just that the amount of time we had together had shrunk a little.

I had thought Jo didn't like Clara. I'd seen her trying to befriend him a number of times. Yet, it seemed, the more she tried to be friendly with him, the more he pulled away from her.

I liked Clara. She was really nice to me and she thought I was hot. I'd never thought of myself that way. She made comments about how good I looked and how she thought I was smart. She laughed at all of my jokes. I felt good about myself when I was around her.

It felt weird letting someone else into my life. She came over a few times and we talked or watched television. It was nice. My mom really liked her.

I was getting bored. I wanted to hang out with Jo. It didn't help that he was avoiding me.

One day Clara questioned me about Jo. She asked me why Jo seemed to be avoiding me. Weren't he and I best friends? Why didn't we hang out anymore? I felt pressured to answer.

The truth was, I didn't know what was happening with Jo. I couldn't ask him, because his time all seemed to be taken up by Mike and the guys. Whenever I called him on the phone, he was either busy or out.

All I knew was, Clara wasn't going to let it rest and I didn't want to pursue it. If I did, I wanted it to be private, between Jo and I.

"Doesn't he like me?" She asked.

I shrugged my shoulders. "I don't see why he wouldn't like you," I replied.

It hurt when he ignored me. I tried to stay concentrated on Clara, but I missed Jo so much, I think I annoyed Clara with my constant depressed mood.

One day, about two weeks after Jo started ignoring me and I had been with Clara for six weeks, she suggested we break up. I just agreed with her. I was feeling miserable and I knew it was dragging her down too.

The next day, I felt more alone than ever.

I realised a couple days later, I wasn't extremely upset about Clara and I breaking up. I felt relieved, to be honest. Being a good boyfriend was beginning to be exhausting for me. Listening to everything she said, taking the bus to and from school together, hanging out in class and at lunch. I really liked Clara, but I needed some space.

Clara and I decided to still be friends. I didn't want to have to answer to her about Jo, but being just friends, she never pushed the issue. I appreciated that.

Jo still ignored me after Clara and I broke up. I'd thought about calling him and telling him of me and Clara's break up, but I doubted he'd answer. He seemed to be going through something himself, that he didn't want me a part of.  It hurt. But I tried to respect his choice. I'd felt rejected, to be honest.

He was never alone.

I knew he was hanging out with Mike and the guys on the weekend, drinking sometimes. Clara's friend Rebecca had told her.

I heard Jo started going out with Kelly. She was the most popular girl in our grade. All the guys thought she was the hottest girl in our grade too.

I guess Jo was heading in a different direction to me and he didn't feel like taking me along with him. I'd become a burden. I'd always thought the day would come. It hurt, but I just hoped he wouldn't forget about me completely and would eventually include me in his life again.

Clara was really good at distracting me. Now that she and I weren't going out, I think the pressure was off the both of us.

I had always thought I was special to Jo. We've been best friends since we were eight year olds. He made me feel safe. He knew all my secrets, my insecurities, my weaknesses,  my fears. I felt like I could always rely on him. He was the only person I felt like I could confide in and trust not to tell anyone else what I said. I always felt like he'd never intentionally hurt me.

I knew Jo's birthday was coming up. I hoped he still liked photography. I was nervous going to his party. I knew Mike and the guys would be there.

I wasn't sure just how much he'd changed. I hoped I fit in. I hoped we were still best friends underneath. Our parents were still friends and our years of friendship surely assured me things were fine underneath.

I knew I didn't want to get up to mischief with the guys. Not too much anyway. My parents would be disappointed and I hated disappointing them.

When we were invited, I was excited and nervous. I wasn't sure Jo wanted to see me.

My parents and I went to Jo's place a little before the birthday party, like usual. Jo looked healthy and happy and I couldn't help the smile that overtook my face when I saw him. "Hey. Happy birthday Jo," I said.

I immediately moved towards him to give him a hug, feeling a little shy. After all, it had been a while.

Jo had no such reservations it seemed.  He pulled me in close and hugged me tight into one of his bear hugs, causing me to chuckle softly to myself.

"Thank you," he said, sounding like he meant it and smiled at me.

I'd missed him.

Our parents went into the living room and we headed up to Jo's bedroom.

I gave Jo the book about photography I bought for his birthday present. I hoped he was still into photography. It use to be one of his favorite things to do and I thought he was fairly good at it. He seemed to like it.

We settled next to each other on the small couch in Jo's bedroom.

"What happened with you and Clara?" he asked me, sounding curious.

I shrugged my shoulders a little. I still wasn't sure why Clara broke up with me. "I don't know."

"How long were you two together?"

"Six weeks."


We sat in silence for a little.

"Kelly and I are together. We've been together about three months," he said and I nodded, already knowing.

Jo hadn't told me he liked her. He hadn't shared anything about his life with me these past few months. The thought sobered me up a little. I didn't even really know Kelly.

"She's pretty," I said quietly. I didn't know what else to say.

"Yeah," he said flatly. "Mike and the guys are coming over in a couple of hours."

"Okay." I looked out his window.

I wondered whether he would ignore me when they came over. They'd taken up all his time lately. I'd heard they'd been jumping trains, sneaking into movies, tagging their names on buildings and getting drunk together. Are they the things Jo really liked doing? Is that why he'd been ignoring me? Was I too boring?

"You like Mike and the others," he said, though it sounded more like a question.

"Yeah." The truth was, I didn't know how to answer him. Did I like them?



"Look at me will ya," he asked in an exasperated whisper.

That got my attention. Why did he sound frustrated?  I didn't know if I'd like the answer, so I took my time turning from the window to face him again.

"Do you like Mike and the guys?" he questioned.

I shrugged. What did he want me to say? I wasn't their biggest fan.

Jo's eyebrows immediately furrowed in worry. Was it important I like them? Was he worried about me?

Jo was never generally one to worry about things. He was a person who did things and thought about the consequences later. He always use to worry about me a lot. It seemed like he was now too. I didn't like it when his natural exuberance for life was clouded over with worry.

I lifted one hand from my lap, and gently smoothed his frown with my fingertips. I felt him instantly relax from my touch.

This is the Jo I knew. The one who needed me to calm him down sometimes. The one who worried far too much about me. The one who invited Mike and the guys to his party, but didn't think through how it might affect me or his family and other guests if they became too rowdy.

"Dask?" he asked, his eyes still closed and I smiled to myself. He looked cute and he seemed so needy for me.

"Hmm?" I mumbled, not able to think of anything coherent when he showed this vulnerable of himself to me. I knew he wouldn't have shared this side of himself with any of his other friends and probably not even Kelly.

"You want me to tell the guys it's cancelled?"

Did I? No. It's his party and it's too late to cancel now.

I'm not very good at lying either. If someone asked me about my weekend on Monday, I'd give away that Jo's party had still gone ahead and it would be obvious he just didn't want the others to share it with him.

He'd started hanging out with those guys for a reason. I wasn't entirely sure what he'd been going through the past few months. But, they'd offered him something that added to his life. I knew I had Jo back in my life now and if I preferred him to be happier and less worried, I needed to share him with those guys.

"No," I said softly and dropped my hand back into my lap.

It was sweet of him to ask me, but this was his party, not mine. I smiled, content that I had my best friend back again.

"Let me massage your feet!" Jo suddenly exclaimed, out of no where. His eyes were wide with excitement.

"What?" I asked, confused.

"Your feet," he casually threw over his shoulder, jumping off the small couch we'd been sitting on and climbing onto the end of his bed. He patted the space beside him.


"Come on Dask."

I'm not sure why I did it, but I went to his bed and sat down next to him.

"Take your shoes off."


"Please?" he interrupted, his eyes pleading.

I shook my head, and smiled to myself. "You're a strange one Jo."

"That's why you love me," he said matter of factly.

"Yeah," I said dryly and smiled as I began to take my shoes off.

What was he up to this time?


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