I hate him.
At least, I think I do. It would be the most logical explanation to the way I react when I’m around him. It has to be. I get riled up any time I’m near him. He embodies everything I hate. But… no, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll start from the beginning…
My name is Alec Feinholtz. I live alone with my dog, Arby. My parents left on a tour of Europe. Naturally, they deemed me mature enough to hold down the fort for a month or two. After all, I am a straight-A student. I’ve always been at the top of my classes. Now that you know more about me, this is where the story really begins.
My third year at Riverbell High School had just started. At the start of class, we were introduced to a new student. It was HIM, of course, the bane of my existence. His name was Rolan Arlington. The first time I saw him, my blood ran hot and my face became red. Obviously, I hated him right from the start. He was dressed like a total punk. Baggy clothes, a stupid graphic tee… sometimes, I’m so fixated on the first time I saw him, it’s all I ever think about. I really hate this kid. Everyone crowded around him, thinking he looked “cool.” Ugh. But he ignored them and walked right over to me. Out of everyone. Can you believe it? I was reading, so I didn’t notice at first. He walked right up next to me and simply said “Hi.” I jolted, a bit surprised that out of everyone, he wanted to talk to me. I was only surprised by this because not only was I busy reading, but because I was way above people like him, punks and jocks. My heart kept beating faster and faster the more I stared at his stupid grin. Obviously, I was pissed. I was reading, and he just comes up and thinks he has even a small chance to become my friend. Inconsiderate AND clueless. God, I hate him.
“W-What do you want?” I struggled to fix my gaze back upon my book.
“Well, I want to make some friends. I’m new here, after all.”
“W-What makes you think I’d want be friends w-with you, anyway?” I was so mad at him, I was losing my composure, speaking quickly and shakily. Of course, this was because I wanted him out of my face as soon as possible. Simple logic.
“Nothing. I wasn’t assuming you wanted to be friends with me at all. I was just coming over here to say that I would like to be friends with YOU.” He still had that stupid smile on his face. The more I looked at it, the warmer my face felt. I couldn’t think of anything to say back to him. Now I was really annoyed.
“Shut up and go away! Can’t you see I’m trying to read?!” Rolan stopped grinning, but he didn’t frown. I had no idea what he was going to say or do. He just smiled again. What was with this guy?
“You’re right. It was rude to just walk up to you. I should have been more attentive to the fact that you were reading. Sorry. Maybe we could hang out later.” He went to his seat, which wasn’t too far from mine. I looked back at my book, trying to pick up from where I left off, only to find that I had lost interest in the book. That never happens. So now not only had he interrupted me and pissed me off, now he ruined my reading mood. God, that jerk! I put my book away and just glared at him. Strangely, though… I didn’t stop. I tried to look away, but I just couldn’t. My hatred for him must have been so strong, it hypnotized me. That’s only logical… right?
I noticed something strange, once a few weeks passed. I haven’t any idea how, but Rolan had become more tolerable to be around. I still hated him, though. I just wasn’t as short tempered toward him as usual. I suppose I’ve just started to become acclimated to his obnoxiousness and idiocy. We’ve even exchanged numbers… not that it really mattered. Like every other day, he approached me at the start of class. We’d talk for a while and he’d make a joke or two. I found them amusing, but never really laughed. But of course, my face would get warmer the longer I talked to him – an obvious sign that I was becoming annoyed – but he’d learned how to pick up on it. That was another strange thing. He’d always try to adjust his behaviors whenever he noticed I was becoming annoyed or angry. It was like he could read me. And whether or not I like to admit it, I’ve become able to read him, too…
That aside, at lunch today, I found myself curious as to what kind of people he eats with. I assumed he ate with the other punks and jocks. And I wasn’t too surprised to find out I was right. He was right there in the “cool crowd.” The muscly dudes who talk in their weird sporty lingo, their girlfriends, who would either dress really preppy or really slutty, and the star athletes in our school, all right there next to him. What I noticed about Rolan in particular was that he seemed… uncomfortable around them, like he didn’t even want to be there. He had the punky jock look down, so to anyone else, he would have seemed right at home. But something about his body language made him seem unhappy… Crap. He saw me. He saw me looking at him. No, no, don’t get up! Shit! He’s walking right over to me! Okay… calm down… be cool… why am I getting so god damn worked up?!
He sat right next to me, and I was having what felt like my first ever panic attack. My face was so warm, it felt feverish. I broke into a nervous sweat. What the hell is wrong with me?!
“Hey, are you okay?” he asked. I jolted, as if I didn’t even know he was there.
“F-Fine! I’m right as r-rain! Why w-wouldn’t I be okay?” I was trembling now. What the hell? Was I sick? Had I caught a cold? I swear to god, if he gave me a cold…
“Because you’re sweating and shivering like crazy. You aren’t sick, are you?”
“N-No, of course not! That’s absurd!” Now I was really confused. I wanted to get away from him as fast as possible, yet at the same time, I wanted to stay right there with him. Maybe even move closer to him… W-What am I thinking?! I hate him! Why would I want to be nearer to a punk like him?! I stood abruptly. I needed time away from him. I had to sort this out…
“I have to go. Like, right now.” I grabbed my things and stormed out of the cafeteria. I looked back at him, only for a moment. I could have sworn – I might be wrong – but I could have sworn he seemed disappointed.
A week after that little episode, I had cleared my head again. I still hated him. Just not as much as I used to. I had begun actually wanting to hang out with him. Not only that, I considered him a good friend. I had no idea what had gotten in to me. Now, when he told me his stupid jokes, I laughed a little. My face would still turn red and warm up when I was around him. So I obviously still disliked him to a degree. Anyway, on to current events…
Early this Saturday afternoon, he sent me a text inviting me to come see a movie with him. I figured I should say no, since it was on such short notice, but I decided “what the hell.” When I asked him what kind of movie we were going to see, he said that it was a surprise. Of course, he wouldn’t know that surprises make me seriously uncomfortable. But oh well. I already agreed to go.
When I arrived at the theater, Rolan was waiting outside for me. He smiled at me and I smiled back.
“Alec! I’m so glad you could make it!” His beaming smile could give the sun a run for its money.
“Well, I wasn’t really all that busy anyway. I just figured this would be a good way to kill an hour or two.” We went up to buy our tickets, but he insisted that he pay for them, saying he didn’t want me to have to wait in line. I guess that was somewhat considerate, especially for someone like him. He told me to just go and get the snacks. So, I did. I got the usual movie food; popcorn and cherry coke. I waited for him to come in with the tickets. When I saw him, I ran to meet him halfway.
“So what movie are we seeing?” He showed me the tickets… No... God, no… no, no, no, no, NO! It was for that new horror movie. My face went pale, and I began to shiver.
“Crap, do you not like horror movies?”
“No. GOD, no. I hate them!”
“Geez, I’m sorry. It seemed like a cool movie to see. I wish I had known you didn’t like horror. I’ll just go and - ”
“No, it’s fine. You don’t need to buy two more tickets for a different movie. I don’t want to be that much of a burden. And besides, this theater doesn’t give refunds.”
“But I don’t want to do this if you won’t even enjoy it. Do you want to just go grab a bite to eat from the pizza place across the street?”
“Look, you already bought tickets, and I already bought snacks. Giving up on this would be literally throwing away money. Besides, as long as I’m with someone, I can suffer through it.” I looked up at him knowingly. I was somewhat mad that I’d have to depend on him to comfort me.
“Well, okay. If you say so…”
We gave our tickets to the ticket guy and went inside the theater. When we sat down, a wave of dread swept over me. I was basically waiting to be scared senseless. I hated suspenseful, jump-out-at-you stuff. The first time I saw horror movie, I threw up out of the sick feeling in my stomach. I was on edge the rest of the day because my adrenaline ran so hot. So, I started a conversation with him to try and get my mind off of the fact that I was going to eventually lose my lunch.
“So, what exactly do you like about horror movies?” My hands fidgeted as I spoke.
“I’m not really sure… I guess I admire the special effects. Plus the adrenaline rush is pretty intense during those moments where things just jump at you out of nowhere.”
“I personally don’t see how anyone could enjoy that feeling. It makes me sick to my stomach. Literally.”
“Well, if it gets too intense, I’m right here.” And just like that, my face got hot.
“I-I’m not some little kid! I can manage myself, thank you very much!” He smiled at me, like he always does.
“I’m not saying you can’t. I’m just saying I’m here if you need me. Besides, you’re the one who said they needed someone with them to ‘suffer through it.’” I looked down at my fidgeting hands. Once again, he put me at a loss for words. The theater lights dimmed.
“Hey, it’s starting!” And my hellish day began.
We were a half hour in to the movie, and my nerves were either shot or entirely dead, like that family was massacred right in front of me. I will NOT. THROW. UP. I looked over at Rolan, who was almost completely unfazed.
“This isn’t even that good of a horror movie. It’s just a bunch of gory crap.”
He isn’t human. He can’t be. How can someone tolerate this? Eventually, the movie came to an actually suspenseful part. My face felt cold now and my hands were clammy. Slowly the door to the previously locked room creaked open… slowly… slowly… but nothing happened. I breathed a sigh of relief. Those idiot teens went into the room. There was a good 5 seconds of a suspense-free atmosphere, but then AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGLLLLBRGH!!!! The ungodly thing killing everyone off came out of nowhere, with barely any warning. I had to grab hold of something. Anything! I shut my eyes tight, and threw my arms around the nearest thing I could find. I clung to it with a grip like a vice. I opened my eyes slowly and looked up. It was Rolan. I was so massively embarrassed. I tried to let go… but I just couldn’t. I got so scared, I was frozen. My icy hands and face warmed back up when Rolan put his arm around me, and smiled.
“Like I said, I’m right here.” My mind went blank. Now, not only could I not let go… I didn’t really… want to. He kept his arm around me, and I kept my arms around him for the rest of the movie. I buried my face in his jacket, and suddenly, I didn’t feel like I was suffering through a horrifying experience…
I thought… for a long time after that day… about me… about him… about my feelings. I-I mean I’ve had crushes on girls before… right? So why would I… I mean, if I have had crushes on girls, feelings like that aren’t possible. Especially towards a guy, right? But… were they really crushes? I liked them a lot, but I thought they were just nice. I mean, I didn’t LOVE them or whatever. I just… I don’t know. Dammit, dammit, dammit! I just… ARRRG! What is up with me? I… I… I had to talk to him, the next Monday, I sent him a text. I asked him to meet me behind the school after classes. To which he replied “Ok. No problem.” So, when classes ended, I went behind the school and waited…
I paced back and forth, trying to think of what I would even say. Stupid, stupid, stupid! You don’t even know what to say! What were you thinking?! I waited and waited… until he finally came. He was smiling, just like almost always.
“Hey… so… what’s up?” His tone sounded kind of serious, but then again so did mine.
“So, look… I asked you to come here because I wanted to talk to you. About… stuff.” I took a deep breath. My eyes remained fixed on my fidgeting feet.
“When I first met you on that first day of school, you seemed like a completely punkish ass… I mean, I don’t think you are now, but… the more I got to know you, the more I liked being in your company. So mostly, I want to apologize if I ever, like… hurt your feelings or whatever. And, a few days ago, at the movies… I wanted to thank you for being there for me. Not just at the movies, but the whole time that I’ve known you. You’re really great. I… I don’t hate you at all. Actually, the truth…. the truth… is… I really like you. In fact… I… I think that…” My heart was pulsing fast and so hard, I thought my sternum would break. I looked up from my feet to meet his face. He was starting to turn red, like I always did. This is it… now or never…
“… I… love you…” I said it. I actually said it. Not just in my head or in the background of my thoughts. I said it out loud. To his face. My eyes began to well up. I looked back down at my feet and cryed.
“I’m… I’m sorry… That was a stupid thing to say… you probably think I’m a total creep now. God, I’m so…” He walked right up to me and wrapped his arms around me. I was struck with disbelief. T-There’s no way… D-Does he…?
“It’s all right… I don’t think you’re a creep…” I buried my face in his jacket again and let the tears come gushing out. I didn’t make sound. I cry silently.
“Look at me…” I looked up. He was smiling at me. His eyes welled up, too. We just stared at each other for a bit. And then… he kissed me. He actually kissed me. I felt so… free. Like the weight of everything in my life had just vanished. Any remaining restraints holding back my tears had been shattered. My eyes had become tiny waterfalls. He broke the kiss, and I buried my face back in his jacket.
“I love you, too… Like I said…”
~I’ll always be right here~