At that moment, my feet refused to take me home. They were glued in place. Jake’s sad eyes locked with mine and I couldn’t look away. All I saw was a little boy who wanted to be like his older brother. His idle stare gave me the impression he wasn’t surprised by the greeting. Like he was resigned to it. His eyes didn’t let me go until the car sped off, and I could only make out the red tail lights. I never saw his dad again, but I saw plenty of his brother. Jake stayed close to him around school until he left to go to university.
We’ve been sort-of friends ever since. I never ask him about his family, and he never volunteers any information. It’s as if the evening never happened, yet it’s etched into my mind so deeply I always think about it when I see the harsher side to Jake. Those few moments had tied me to Jake, and although the tenuous threads may have frayed, they always make me go easy on him when I really should give up and never speak to him again.
“Have you got your essay finished?” I change the subject, wanting to get back to surer ground.
“Essay?” he asks, again looking for me to explain.
“You know, the one assigned last week comparing the multi-store model of memory and the working memory model?”
“Looks like I’ve got a piss-poor memory, huh.” He wiggles his eyebrows humorously, and I’m right back to loving him again.
I turn away and bury my head in my hands and try to balance out my own mood towards Jake. The lesson is over with no other wisecracks from Jake, and I head over to the other side of the school for my last lesson of the day.
“Hey, Lil, wait up,” Jake calls after me, and I freeze. He waits for the steady stream of students to thin around us before going any further. It’s my turn to look expectantly at him.
“So, you have a better offer for the weekend than what’s-her-name’s party?”
“No, I just don’t think it’s my thing.” I pull my books into my chest and inch my feet towards my next class. As much as I want to keep talking to Jake, I don’t want to be late. I keep my eyes away from his, not wanting to get trapped in them. It’s a constant hazard I’m susceptible to. I’m sure he can see everything I feel if he will only look a little harder at me. As no other guy in school has ever shown me any attention, I’m under no illusion the first one will be Jake Stewart. My feet start toward the science block. Jake walks beside me a little way. Sometimes, on the occasions when Jake was close to acting like a normal friend, I felt as if he was waiting to tell me something. It never transpired though and like all the other times, he peels away and turns back in the opposite direction. No ‘bye’ or ‘see you later’, but then, that isn’t Jake’s style.
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