Palms and Pockets
by Paul Diaz
by Paul Diaz
Chapter 10: Actor
Monday morning arrived and the car trip to school was unusual. Bob was used to the two talking and laughing but this time the car radio was loud and his son was completely spaced out. They reached the school and John immediately got out of the car and started walking towards the gate.
“John! Wait for me!” Anne yelled as she ran after him. With two hands in his pocket and with head bowed, John walked slower to make her catch up. “What’s wrong with you? You have been acting strange since Friday. Saturday and Sunday I didn’t even see you. Do you have a problem?” Anne asked.
John shrugged his shoulders and kept silent but Anne stood in front of him angry. “Every time I have a problem you are always there to help me out. I can sense you have one so I am here for you. Tell me what your problem is?” she told him. The young man took a deep breath and looked at her. “Charles” he said.
“Charles? You have a problem with Charles?” Anne asked. The two stared eye to eye but John pointed his hand to the guy approaching who just ruined his day. Anne turned around and saw Charles a few steps away. “Oh yeah you know him?” she asked but as soon as she faced front John had already walked away.
The young woman did not know why her friend was acting that way. She wanted to run after him but Charles was already beside her. “Hey there” he said. “Hi Charles” she replied. “You two had a fight?” he asked. “Me and John? Oh no, although he just isn’t himself lately and I wonder why” Anne said.
“Wait, is John your boyfriend?” Charles asked and the young woman laughed and shook her head. “Oh no, John is my first friend here. Him and I are just close. Hmmm yeah he is my bestfriend” Anne replied. Charles tapped his heart and exhaled, “Whew I thought he was your boyfriend” he said.
The bell rang and the two walked towards the school building. “By the way Anne, I always see you two together during lunch. Do you think you can fit me in your schedule and have lunch with me today?” Charles asked and the young woman blushed. “Ah…oh sure. I don’t have a schedule, silly you” she replied. “So see you at lunch then?” Charles asked and the young woman nodded.
Lunch time arrived, John and company were all seated and starting to get noisy at the cafeteria. Three minutes later they saw Anne enter beside Charles but John just pretended not to notice. “Hey John” Rick said. “You don’t have to say it. What you see is what you get” John replied.
“And youre not going to do anything about it?” Kevin asked. “He gave her a rose and she liked it” John said. “And you are not going to do anything about it?” Kevin repeated. The young man leaned back and exhaled. “I think you should. Are you just giving her away that easy?” Jeremy told him.
“Ive been with Anne for one year. I never left her side. I tried to show her how special she was to me. I don’t remember doing anything wrong. Before she had her face operated on she kissed me” John said and the three were surprised. “I thought we already had something going on the moment she kissed me. I said to myself all my hard work paid off and whatever I feel for her she feels the same way for me. I was wrong”
“She told me she didn’t like flowers. Last Friday she could not get rid of the rose Charles gave her. If there was something between us she should not have smiled that way. She would not even keep that damn rose and cling to it. Last year I took her away from her world. She liked my world so I told her it ours”
“She had two operations. Now I am in her world and its so hard to breath” John told them. “Tell her” Jeremy said and the young man looked at him. “Tell her what you really feel. Tell her you love her” his friend told him. “Sometimes people don’t notice your actions, you have to tell them to make them understand” Rick added.
“The last time I told someone I loved her she rejected me. I am afraid that she will do the same” John said. “Hey man, you two have been super sweet to each other for a year. If that didn’t mean anything I don’t what the hell you call that” Rick told him. “He is right, we all thought that you two were a couple. I mean honestly dude, that’s what most people would think seeing you two” Jeremy added.
“So I guess all of you were wrong then” John replied as he stood up and took his bag. “Hey man, tell her” Kevin said. John looked at his friends and smiled at them, “If you wont tell her we will” Rick threatened. “Hey guys thanks but let me handle it. Don’t worry I will tell her” the young man replied and then he left the cafeteria.
The whole afternoon John kept thinking of Anne and what to tell her. He even didn’t hear the bell ring and his classmates noisy as they left the classroom. “When youre done copying please erase the board” his teacher said but John just stared blankly at her. “John are you alright?” his teacher asked and the young man regained his senses. “Yes I am fine” he replied. He quickly stood up and started to erase the board but someone tapped his shoulder.
“Hurry up slow poke” Anne said. “Oh sorry. I kinda spaced out again” he told her. “You know what John if you have a problem you can tell me” she told him. “Yes I actually have something to tell you but I will tell you later on our way home” he replied. “Okay, hurry up then” she said.
Once out of the gate Anne helped John take out the scooter. Once assemble she quickly got on and John started to walk slowly. “So tell me” Anne said. “I think I cant” John replied and the young woman laughed. “You know what John I am not like you but I wish I was. You always know when I have a problem even if I don’t tell you. So please tell me” she pleaded.
John trembled and could not look at her, he started breathing heavily and the more difficult it got when she leaned on his body. “I am waiting” she teased. “Anne…i like you” he softly said and she looked at him. “I like you too” she replied and they smiled at each other. Something didn’t feel right and John knew it. He was not contented with what he told her and he knew it was not what he was really feeling.
“What I wanted to say is that…I am in love with you” John finally had the courage to tell her. Anne was a little bit surprised and looked at him and after a few seconds she started laughing. “I get it. You are trying to audition for the role in the school play!” she said.
John felt a pinch in his heart as he watched her laugh. “You should have told me sooner so I could have helped you practice. You really are funny but I must tell you that you are a convincing actor” Anne added. The pinch now felt like a stab and John’s body felt so lifeless. “Oh the audition is on Saturday. I am sorry I cant go with you. Charles asked me out and I said yes. You know what I am starting to like him” she said.
Tears started to form around John’s eyes, he started to run and Anne embraced him. “John!!!” she yelled and started to laugh. This was the only way he could stop his tears from falling and so he ran faster. Anne embraced him tighter, her face close to his. Still this was not enough to mask the pain he was feeling inside.
As soon as they reached Anne’s home, the young woman got off the scooter but John got on and sped away. “John!!! Where are you going?” she yelled but he never looked back.
Anne and her parents were having dinner when their phone rang. Colleen answered the phone and Gerard noticed his wife’s face go worried. “Anne, Linda is asking if you know where John is because he has not got home yet” Colleen asked. The young woman was surprised and started to worry. “He dropped me off two hours ago. I thought he was just going to go for a scooter ride around the neighborhood” she replied.
The family finished eating dinner and immediately went to John’s home. Linda was very worried so Bob took his car keys and decided to go around to look for him. “Let me go with you” Gerard offered and the two quickly drove around the neighborhood.
“He has never done this. I cant contact him through his phone” Linda said as she started to cry. “Did he tell you anything? A hint maybe?” Colleen asked her daughter. “No. He just took off. He has been doing that lately and I don’t know why” Anne replied. “You don’t know why?” Colleen asked but Linda held her friend’s arm and shook her head.
Anne sat on the porch and started sending messages to their friends. In a few seconds everyone replied and no one has seen John or heard from him. There was nothing the three could do but just wait and hope that Bob and Gerard would find him.
Two hours later they saw John approaching with his head bowed. The three slowly stood up and approached him. Anne couldn’t resist and immediately hugged her friend but John never hugged back. “Where did you go?” she asked. “For a walk” he replied. “I was so worried you know” she added. “Yeah I am sure you were” John replied and kept walking towards their door.
Anne released him and looked at her mom and Linda. “Where is the scooter?” Anne asked. “I don’t know, I lost it” John replied. “Young man! Are you drunk?” Linda asked. “I am underage and I don’t drink. If there is a way to get drunk without drinking alcohol tell me and I would do it at once” the young man replied. John went inside their home and shut the door behind him.
Linda felt embarrassed and shyly looked at the two. “I’m sorry you had to see him act that way. I too am surprised because that’s the first time he is acting that way” she told them. “Oh its okay. Go ahead attend to him. Anne call your dad and tell them to get back home already” Colleen said. “Thanks for the company, please excuse me. He might be hungry” Linda said as she too entered their home.
Linda entered her son’s room and saw him lying on his bed. “What’s wrong with you? Why are you acting that way?” she asked. John just stared at the ceiling and then closed his eyes. “Is it about Anne?” she added. “I am sorry mom, I just needed to blow off some steam. It wont happen again” the young man answered. “You can talk to me about it” Linda told him. “Maybe some other time, I just want to sleep it off” he replied.
Tuesday morning, Bob and John were already in the car waiting for Anne to arrive. “I want to talk to you about last night” Bob said. “I know I was wrong and I am sorry” John replied. “When you have a problem you don’t need to go away and isolate yourself. Its better if you have someone to talk to. You can come to me or your mom” his father told him.
“Don’t worry dad it was nothing” John said. “Nothing? Or is it about her” Bob said and pointed towards Anne who just arrived. The young man didn’t reply and just pouted. “Good morning” Anne greeted the two as she got inside the car. “Good morning, you look lovely as always” Bob replied as he started the engine.
Once in school Anne bumped John several times but the young man didn’t even look at her. “John, are you alright?” she asked. “Of course I am” he replied and smiled. “For the past few days you have been acting all weird” she told him. “Oh sorry about that. There was just some things on my mind that was bothering me” he explained.
“I see. I missed you the past few days. I know we were together but it felt like I was not with you” Anne said. “Well you can fix that” he told her. “How?” she asked. “Be with me, its that simple” he replied. “But I am with you” she countered. “Be with me, be yourself and I will be me” John said and Anne was puzzled.
For the second day John’s morning was again ruined when he saw Charles approaching. “Look its Charles” Anne exclaimed but for the second time John had already went ahead without saying a word. The young woman didn’t know what was happening to her friend but she quickly bounced back with a smile as her suitor stood beside her.
Anne and Charles had lunch together for the second time but the young woman noticed something different about the cafeteria. She glanced at the table where they used to seat at and she didn’t see John and his friends. “Is there something wrong?” Charles asked. “They are not there today” she uttered. “Well maybe they ate outside or had some stuff to do. I am here you know” he told her.
“Its just unusual that they are not there” Anne said. “Yeah I know how that feels. When you are used to something being there and suddenly its not, you feel somewhat exposed. You would feel like there is something missing in you” the young man said. “Exactly, lately I have been feeling somewhat empty” Anne said and then frowned. “Well maybe that is why I am here to fill the gap” Charles said.
Anne managed to smile but deep inside she was bothered. The young man in front of her was smiling and she hoped that he could indeed feel the sudden emptiness she was feeling.
It was Anne’s turn to space out during class. She was trying to figure out why things are starting to change around her. She looked at her legs and they were already as they wished them to be. She caressed her left cheek and even if she didn’t have a mirror at hand, she knew the scar that has been bothering her for years is now gone.
Her wishes have been granted and she was expecting to be happy but lately she was not. Anne saw her classmates getting up and her teacher packing her things. It was already dismissal and she even didn’t hear the bell ring. She quickly packed her things and slowly walked out of the room. Suddenly she was scared but as soon as she saw John by the door, she finally exhaled.
“Hey John. Why weren’t you at the cafeteria at lunch?” she asked. “We were there” he replied. “No you weren’t. I was with Charles and I saw you guys were not” she countered. “We were there to get lunch. We decided to eat outside” he told her.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were going to eat outside? I have always wanted to eat outside” Anne said. “Oh sorry, we decided not to bother the two of you” John explained. The young woman bowed her head and John didn’t stop her, thus she knew something was really wrong.
The scooter was gone so the two walked in silence and as soon as the reached Anne’s home, John just turned around to walk back. “John, tell me. Are you really okay?” she asked. The young man turned around and smiled at her, “Yes I am” he said.
“How come it does not feel so?” she asked and John laughed. “Maybe its because I am a terrible actor. See you tomorrow” John replied and walked away.
She dreamt of change and she got it with some additional changes that she didn’t want.
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