He was my best friend.


5. My Own Girl, My Own Friends


I've decided to distance myself from Dask a little. I'm going to get my own girlfriend and hang out with some of my other friends.

I think my whole problem with Dask and Clara being together, was I felt left out and like I had no life.

Dask and Clara have been boyfriend and girlfriend for one month now. They'll probably go to the school dance together again this Friday, and I plan on taking a girl of my own this time, because I'm over being the lonely 'hanger on'.

There's this pretty girl, named Kelly, at my school, who I've been thinking of asking out. She's outgoing and she seems to like me, for some reason, and I've decided I'm going to ask her to the dance, tomorrow at school. If all goes well, I'll have a date to the dance this Friday and hopefully a girlfriend by this weekend. If all goes according to plan.

The next day at school, I approached Kelly. She was sitting with her friends, who were chattering away and laughing amongst themselves, at their lunch table. Once she noticed my approach, she smiled brightly at me. "Hello Joseph. Welcome to our table." She made a grand, sweeping gesture, indicating the whole lunch table, encompassing all her friends. They greeted me variously, with smiles, waves and 'hellos'.

I tried being smooth, which or may not have worked. "Well, hello ladies. How are you all this fine day?" I was joking in the way I said it, which they knew. I don't usually talk like that, but the girls seem to like it.

"May I take the lovely Kelly away from you all, for a moment?" I asked them, turning towards Kelly. "Is that okay?" I asked her, and awaited her answer.

Kelly's face had reddened and she was noticeably quiet. I began to wonder if I'd taken the right approach. She was usually quite loud and confident.

Her friends whispered and snickered quietly amongst themselves. They were smiling all the while, and looking towards Kelly expectantly. Her best friend could hardly contain herself, and she pushed Kelly to her feet. That seemed to snap Kelly out of her daze, and she stepped away from the lunch table, to stand in front of me.

"May I?" I stretched my hand out and she placed her hand in mine.

I led her outside of the cafeteria, to a small fenced area, where no one was sitting. We sat down at one of the benches.

Then, I just spilled it. "Do you wanna go to the dance together this Friday?"

Kelly smiled at me. "Sure. Why not?" she said confidently, having recovered herself from earlier.

I shrugged my shoulders and smiled back at her.

"So, is this a date, Joseph?" she questioned in a flirting manner.

I grinned. "Yes, it is. Are you okay with that?"

"Yes, I am," she responded happily. "Seal it with a kiss?"

"Sure," I said, and made a show of sliding over the bench closer to her.

Kelly turned her face to the side and pushed her cheek out a little towards me. I grinned at her self assurance, I liked it. Then, I leaned in a little, and kissed her cheek gently.

Afterward, she turned back to look at me. Her face was glowing with excitement.

"Why thank you for that Joseph. Ask your parents to drive you over to my place on Friday, and you can pick me up at seven," she said, standing up.

"Okay, sure." I confirmed, standing up too.

"Great. See you later." She smiled at me, before leaving, to rejoin her friends.

That went pretty well, if I didn't mind saying so myself.

Friday, at the dance, Kelly and I had a nice night. When I picked her up, she looked beautiful. I kissed her on the cheek by way of greeting her. We danced a lot at the dance and chatted a little. I paid her a lot of compliments and tried to act the perfect gentleman. By the end of the night, Kelly was my girlfriend.

My friend, Mike, was going out with Kelly's best friend, Rebecca, and the four of us hung out a lot. Mike's older brother would sneakily buy us some alcohol every now and then and we would drink it in the old barn on Mike's property.

I messed around about town with Mike and a couple of our other more rowdy friends. We didn't get into too much mischief, just enough to let us know we were alive, without getting into trouble with the authorities.

I went without seeing Dask for as long as I could possibly stand it. I'd managed to avoid him for nearly three months by concentrating my efforts on wooing Kelly, hanging out with Mike and messing about on the weekends with Mike and our other friends.

My mother was the one who raised her concern that I wasn't spending much time with Dask anymore. Dask's mother had rung her, and said Dask wasn't up to much these days. He was sitting at home, playing computer games all the time, by himself. Apparently, he and Clara had broken up a couple months ago.

I didn't know what to make of it. I thought Dask and Clara were still together. They still hung out a lot. They caught the bus together, they hung out at lunch times together and I'd assumed they'd gotten serious about one another, and hung out on the weekends too. I guess I'd been wrong.

I knew I couldn't avoid Dask forever. For one thing, our parents were good friends and invited each other to important milestones and family events. It was a wonder I'd gotten away with not seeing him this long.

My fifteenth birthday was on the weekend, and mom told me I could invite a handful of friends over to celebrate. She said they could sleep over the night and to remind them to each bring a sleeping bag.

I knew Dask's parents were automatically invited, and his and my parents would be having a drink together that night. These sorts of occasions, they'd get drunk together and be cheerful and loud all night. Then, one set of parents would drop off to sleep in the other's lounge room for the night, when the others went to sleep in their bedroom. The parents would leave the next morning.

Dask and I took turns sharing our rooms with each other on those nights.

Because we lived a fair way out of town, and my parents would only let males sleep in my room overnight, I decided to invite Mike, and a few of the other guys we'd been hanging out with lately. Altogether, there was going to be Dask, Mike, Tom, Matt and Pete.

Dask and his parents came over a little earlier like usual.

One look at Dask and guilt ate away at me. His eyes had bags underneath them from lack of sleep, his skin had a couple of pink spots he'd obviously been picking at, and he looked pale from lack of sunlight. His golden mop of hair was a mess, his fringe constantly falling into his eyes.

Those little things weren't extremely noticeable. In fact, wearing that light blue shirt and those dark washed jeans, he looked great. His fringe was swept to the side, like he'd purposefully had it cut into that floppy style that was popular at the moment.

The smile he greeted me with caused his face to brighten. "Hey. Happy birthday Jo," he said and moved towards me, slightly embracing me in an unsure, gentle hug.

I wrapped my arms around him firmly. "Thank you," I said.

I heard Dask chuckle softly and I smiled. I'd missed him.

Our parents went into the living room and we headed up to my bedroom.

Dask bought me a book about photography, which included a disk for the computer, to create some special effects. Photography had been a huge hobby of mine, before I'd started avoiding Dask. I don't really know what happened, but the past few months, the expensive camera I'd been given as a birthday gift last year by my parents, had lain neglected on my dresser cupboard.

We settled next to each other on the small couch in my bedroom.

"What happened with you and Clara?" I asked. I was curious about their current friendship.

Dask shrugged a little. If I'd not been paying attention, I'd have missed it. "I don't know," he said.

"How long were you two together," I asked.

"Six weeks."

"Oh," I said. There was nothing else to say about it, really.

We sat in silence for a bit.

"Kelly and I are together," I offered, and Dask nodded his head. "We've been together about three months," I said and felt guilt at having not shared more about my life with him lately.

"She's pretty," Dask said quietly.

"Yeah." I didn't feel like talking about Kelly.

"Mike and the guys are coming over in a couple of hours," I informed him, not really wanting to talk about them either. But, I thought it beneficial to him to know they were coming over too.

"Okay," Dask looked out my bedroom window, seemingly lost in thought.

"You like Mike and the others," I stated, knowing it was true. Did he have a problem with them coming over?

"Yeah," Dask said, not looking at me, still looking at the window.



"Look at me will ya," my voice was an exasperated whisper. Why was I whispering? I don't know. Maybe I didn't want everyone in the house to know how annoyed I was with his monosyllabic answers and his penchant for staring out my window.

He slowly turned to look at me.

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

He shrugged.

Concern caused my brows to furrow.

Dask gently lifted one hand from his lap, and softly smoothed my frown with the warm pads of his fingertips, using feather light touches. I instantly felt myself relax, and closed my eyes, enjoying his touch. I knew all too soon he'd stop, and I realised I didn't want him to, and how much I'd missed him.

"Dask?" I asked, my eyes still closed.

"Hmm?" he mumbled quietly.

"You want me to tell the guys it's cancelled?" I asked, opening my eyes.

"No," he said softly and gently dropped his hand back into his lap. His eyes watched me.

Dask's lips were now curved into a content smile and his blue eyes shone brightly.

It felt like time had dropped away from us and the past four months or so, hadn't happened.

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