He was my best friend.


4. Jealousy

Three weeks!

It's been three weeks since Dask started going out with Clara.  Three weeks I've listened to him rave on about her and three weeks where every second sentence out of his mouth seems to be about the wonders of Clara DeVries.

He's been with her longer than any of his previous girlfriends. The dance has come and gone and he's still with her!

What is he thinking? It's like she's taken control of his mind.

I've had my fair share of crushes and girlfriends in the past. Though there's no one that interested me at the moment. I was enjoying time to myself and hanging out with my mates.

Clara may be nice and she may be cute, but I don't see what's so special about her. Though she does laugh at all of Dask's lame jokes. She is smart and she's loyal to him too. She has a sharp tongue for anyone who tries to mess with her or Dask and she is actually quite witty. Fine. She's a pretty great girl and good for Dask.

It annoys me though, she seems to have both the girlfriend and best friend positions all wrapped up.

I was thinking about this when the bell rang after last period. I was making my way to the bus stop where Dask and I catch our bus home.

There, sat on the bench, under the bus shelter at the bus stop, was Dask and Clara, engaged in conversation.

I rolled my eyes.

There's another thing that annoys me about Dask and Clara being together, Clara seems to think we're best friends too. It's like she thinks she knows me, because of her involvement with Dask, and whatever bits of information she may have learned about me from their conversations. Also, when Dask isn't nearby, she chatters away to me constantly and sits herself next to me in class and at lunch times. It's like I spend more time with her these days than I do with Dask!

It pissed me off when they didn't notice me, standing to the side of the bus shelter, a small distance from them. I'd decided to not go sit next to them on the bench, because I didn't want to invade their personal space.

Instead, I watched them from where I stood, as I leaned against the side of the bus shelter. They were chatting away, sharing private jokes and laughing.

I sighed and my shoulders slumped, my presence continued to be unacknowledged. I was so thankful when the bus arrived.

They both looked up when they heard the bus and spotted me. Dask smiled when he saw me and said, "Hey."

"Hey," I replied, not being able to stop myself from smiling back.

Clara smiled brightly and greeted me too, then apologized for not having seen me earlier.

I shrugged my shoulders at that, said a quick 'hi' to her, and boarded the bus, taking a seat towards the back.

Dask followed me in and, of course, Clara hopped onto the bus too. They sat down next to each other, midway up the bus.

I rolled my eyes and looked out the window. Another friend, Mike, boarded the bus, and sat down next to me. He chatted away as the bus drove slowly along the tired roads towards the outskirts of town, where we lived.

Dask and Clara seemed to be flirting. Clara would touch his shoulder, his face or his hair at intervals and Dask would let her. I could hear their faint sounds of laughter and Clara giggling from where I sat. Their sweetness sickened me.

I tried to ignore them altogether and concentrate on what Mike had to say. Something about biofuel and sugar cane. I made the right noises and nodded my head at the correct moments.

Mike's stop came and went. I was relieved, to be honest, when he left.

I tried to concentrate on the barren countryside, outside the window, and rundown barnyards instead of Dask and Clara.

I was getting a headache.

Clara exited the bus at her stop, but not before she kissed Dask on the cheek.

After she left, Dask scooted towards the back of the bus and sat down beside me.

"Hey," he said.

"Hey," I returned.

His face was flushed with a light pink glow. His eyes sparkled. Was that because of her?

Clara and Dask waved to each other through the window, before the bus pulled away from the stop. I gave her a curt wave when she waved vigorously at me too.

My head was pounding, my headache had not abated. I opened the bus window a little, and gazed out the window as I tried to breathe in some fresh air.

"Are you okay?" I heard Dask ask me.

"Yeah, sure," I replied.

I just wanted to get home, take something for my headache and lay down.

"You wanna come over?" Dask asked.

Any other time I would have been happy to go to his place after school. Today I felt too out of sorts, not to mention my splitting headache.

I turned my head away from the window and faced him. Dask obviously hadn't been convinced of my earlier reassurance. His soft blue eyes looked concerned.

"Okay," I said and Dask's face lit up. I was relieved when the frown of worry left his face.

I can do this, I thought to myself.

The bus pulled up at the stop nearest to Dask's house. After exiting the bus, we followed a dirt path which led into the expanse of land that Dask's house sat on.

It's about a ten minute walk from the bus stop to his house. Dask called his mom on the way home and let her know I was coming over.

I like Dask's mom. She's a nice lady. She works as a nurse down at the local clinic.

We didn't say anything for a while after the phone call. We walked in silence, side by side.

Dask lives only two properties away from me. Our houses are both situated on acreage, and though it took about twenty minutes to walk from one house to the other, it was only a five minute drive by car. We lived on the outskirts of Cheshire, so there were even less people out where we lived.

Cheshire was a small village with one main street. On it, sat a grocery store with an ATM and small counter inside, which served as both a Newsagency and post office in one. There was also a fuel station, a beauty/hair salon, a clothes boutique, and a small, 24 hour medical clinic, that doubled as a pharmacy and filled people's prescriptions. A church resided at one end of the street, on the corner, and up the other end of the street was, of course, a pub.

"What'd your mom say?" I broke the silence first.

"Ah, not much," he replied. "She said you're welcome over anytime."

"Hmm." I nodded my head. It's what Dask's mom has told us since we were young boys. Though, my mother told us it's always polite to ask. So we did, ask for permission each time, as a courtesy. Dask's mom never says no to me. Much like I can't say no to her son.

My head still ached and I felt irritable. I picked up a stone and threw it hard towards a tree a small distance away, then picked up another and threw it too. My hands were itching to do some damage.

I can't say anything to Clara about her being a knob who's taking up all of my best friend's time. I can't tell her to get a life, because you know, that's rude. Anyway, she could argue back that I was the one who needed to get a life, and she'd be right, if I'm being honest with myself.

I hadn't been prepared for Clara to have such a big impact on my and Dask's friendship. I knew things would change, but I didn't realise how affected I was going to be.

Sometimes, I can't seem to help the little slip ups of snide remarks I make to Clara. She doesn't deserve it, cause she's actually a nice person, and good for Dask. I sighed to myself.

"What's wrong Jo?" Dask tried asking me again.

"Nothing," I answered, yet again, and threw another small stone.

I took a sidelong glance towards Dask, and noticed he looked troubled. His face had fallen and his earlier radiance had left it, replaced by a furrowed brow and him biting his lips to pieces.

I dropped my bag and went in search of some small stones. Dask quietly watched as I picked up a bunch of them and stuffed them into my pockets.

Once I'd decided I had enough stones, I strolled over to Dask, lifted one of his warm hands up from his side, and smoothed out his fingers, so they were flat, and facing up. Then, I reached into my pocket, scooped up some stones, and placed them into his hand, gently curling his fingers over them with my hands. I raised my eyes to see Dask looking at our hands. His golden lashes gently lifted, and my breath got stuck in my throat, when his soft blue eyes caught mine, watching him. His full pink lips curved into a smile. I didn't want to let his hand go and he seemed quite content for me to keep holding onto it.

"Let's go skim some stones on the lake," I suggested, my voice low and husky.

Dask didn't speak. He nodded his head instead, to show his agreement, and continued to watch me. His face had brightened. His eyes were dancing with happiness and some color had returned to his cheeks. His soft blue eyes twinkled once again and his pink lips were smiling just for me.

"Race you to the lake?" I asked quietly, my hands still holding his.

"Okay," Dask replied softly.

Our eyes held for a moment.

Then, I reluctantly let his hand go, picked up my bag and we took off together for the lake. We laughed as we nearly tripped over scattered rocks, slippery mossy grasses and we jumped over fallen branches.

I felt the adrenaline as it ran through my veins, and helped pump my muscles. The fresh air filled my lungs and happiness radiated throughout my whole being.

Any troubles we might have had were forgotten as we enjoyed the remainder of our day together.


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