Palms and Pockets
by Paul Diaz
by Paul Diaz
Chapter 14: Being There
Monday at the cafeteria was different, the four were at their usual table but this time they were like celebrities. It seemed that their win suddenly transformed their appearances and a lot of girls were paying more attention to them.
While the four were enjoying a laugh John saw Anne enter the cafeteria, he was about to stand but a few tables away Charles beat him to the punch. The young woman noticed her boyfriend first so she walked towards him, John leaned on his seat and shook his head. “Hey man sorry it didn’t work out between the two of you” Rick said and John just smiled at him.
“We won so we should be happy. Like what you all said this wasn’t for me, it was for all of us” he told them. “So what are your plans now?” Kevin asked. “You should move on, Raven likes you” Jeremy teased and Rick shook his head. “What do you think…brother?” John said as he looked at his friend and they all laughed.
“How about Sarah?” Rick inquired and all eyes were on John. “What about her?” he asked. “You two seem to be close lately” his friend said. “Well we are friends, and guys can we stop all this girl talk. I have not had this much fun in a long time, so what’s next?” John told them as he glanced over at Anne.
That afternoon John decided to wait for Anne by the gate. “They already left” Sarah said and the young man was surprised to see her. “I didn’t see them” he said. “Through the parking lot, Charles has a car you know” she explained. “I see, well I am going ahead then. How about you?” John asked.
“I am waiting for Barry. You know she already has Charles, why are you still waiting for her? I mean like now” Sarah asked. “Yeah I know she has a boyfriend but still I want to be there for her. I don’t want her walking home alone” he explained. “John…about the hope thing, it doesn’t mean you have to wait and be idle. You still have to continue living I forgot to tell you regret works both ways, if you wait and nothing happens then you would regret the time you wasted” she shared.
“Sarah I know what I am doing does not make sense right now. Please let me be for now. Scold me if you want but I am not listening…I don’t want to. I know what may happen and I still choose to do it. Please don’t get mad at me. I want to be hard headed for once. Maybe what I am doing will pay off, but if it doesn’t then I am ready for that too. Just let me try it my way for now then you can scold me later, I promise that time I would listen” John said.
Sarah could not respond to what he just told her. She just watched him turn around and walk away. Sarah didn’t feel pity for John, instead she envied him. He was able to do something stupid and was ready to face the consequence just for the hope of happiness. She wanted to do the same but she was not brave enough.
A few meters away from home John saw Anne seated by their porch. “Hey John” Anne greeted him. “Hey Anne” the young man replied and sat down beside her. “I came by here yesterday but you were not here” she said. “Oh I was at Rick’s place, his parents decided to have a little celebration for us” he replied.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Anne asked. “Well I thought you wouldn’t be interested or you might have plans with Charles” John explained. Anne felt sad and bowed her head, “Does things really have to change?” she asked. “I guess so, I was just respecting your relationship with Charles” he replied and the more down Anne felt.
John noticed her silence and he didn’t like seeing her that way. “You are now in a relationship Anne. You two should be working in making that relationship better. In order to do that you have to sacrifice many things…like time with friends” the young man explained giving emphasis on the last word.
“You don’t have to tell me that. In just a span of one week I feel so lost when it comes to you. I didn’t know that you guys entered the talent show and what made things worse I didn’t even know you play the drums. It seemed that so many things happened while I was with Charles” Anne told him.
“Well I wanted to tell you but like you said you were not around” John replied. “But we were there at the gym, you could have told me” Anne countered. “We wanted to surprise everyone, and I think we did” John said and Anne smiled.
“Yes you did. I could hear others jeering and shouting bad things against you. I heard one saying how you sucked two years ago and stuff like that. I honestly thought you four were going to make a comic skit or just make everyone laugh” she related.
“But the moment you did that solo in the beginning…I had mixed emotions. I was so happy but at the same time I felt bad because I should have known you do play the drums. When you all started…I just got blown away. I really could not believe you all playing so well and the voices, oh my God I screamed so loud and I don’t even know why. I don’t know how to describe it, I was happy, but there was something more that made me jump, dance, scream and I felt so proud of you”
“I wanted to celebrate with you guys but I saw Charles sad. I had to comfort him but I think I made it worse. I just couldn’t stop talking about you four so we had our first fight. But we are okay now” Anne said.
The young woman looked at John, he was playing with his hair and pouting his lips. “What are you doing?” she asked. “Being you” he replied and Anne looked at him oddly. “You are talking too much, again being me. So I decided to be you, am I pretty?” he spoke in a gay manner and Anne burst in laughter.
John stood up and acted girly, he walked around swaying his hip and acted all demure. Anne had tears in her eyes from laughing, she was begging him to stop but the young man continued for he was happy seeing her that way.
A few minutes later Anne had calmed down and John was beside her. “John…I miss you” she softly said. “Yeah me too” he replied. “Does everything really have to change?” she asked as she leaned on him. John took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment. “No” he replied as he put his arm around her. “Can I join you and your father to school again starting tomorrow?” Anne whispered. “I would love that” John said and the young woman wrapped her arms around him.
The following morning Bob and John were already inside the car waiting for Anne. “John are you okay?” the older man asked. “Of course I am, whats with the question dad?” the young man replied. “I heard she already has a boyfriend” Bob said. “Yes that’s true, his name is Charles” John replied.
Bob didn’t notice anything on his son’s face but he knew he was just keeping it inside. “And you are okay with it?” he asked his son. “Dad you already know the answer. Why do you have to ask that?” John said. “Well son I was just worried about you” Bob told him.
“Nothing has to change. I befriended her, she became my friend. I did fall in love with her but she broke my heart. That alone does not mean we have to stop being friends. I actually thought about avoiding her but what would that say about me? That our friendship has a limit?”
“If someone breaks your heart do they have to be your enemy? The pain would force to you say yes but that is just plain stupid. We have to remember the good things we have gone through together and you cant just throw it all away. I want to be here for her no matter what but of course I wont deny that I am praying they break up and eventually she too would learn to love me” John said.
“Son, you are contradicting yourself” Bob said and the two laughed. “I know dad. I didn’t know love could really mess up your brain this badly” he replied. “Would you like to come with me to the hospital to have it checked?” his Bob joked but John pointed at someone approaching. “No thanks, the only one that can cure me is here” he said as he quickly got out of the car to open the door for Anne.
Everything seemed to be back to normal, as the two entered the gate Charles was there to meet them. Anne was used to John vanishing everytime her boyfriend would make an appearance but this time he never left. “Charles” John greeted as he extended his hand. The two shook hands and the young woman was surprised. “Congratulations on your win dude” Charles said and John smiled.
“Anyway let me leave you two alone. Charles you take good care of her you hear me?” John said and Charles nodded. John nodded back and then smiled at Anne before he left. “Your best friend is scary” Charles whispered as John walked away. Anne angrily looked at her boyfriend, “Cant you see he is being friendly, don’t you ever say bad things about him or else I am going to break up with you” she threatened.
Charles apologized and they began to walk, he looked at his hand and he could still the pain from John’s friendly strong grip.
Rick and Kevin saw what happened so as John approached them they looked at him curiously. “So you finally gave up” the curly guy commented and John laughed. “What the hell are you talking about?” he asked. “We saw you shake his hand, it was as if you were handing Anne to him” Kevin explained and their friend shook his head. “Hell no! I just wanted him to feel my presence” John told them.
“What?!” the two asked in unison. “Chill out you two, Anne still needs me so I will be here for her” John told them as they started walking. “And you are okay seeing them together?” Rick asked. “Nope!” his friend replied and the more bewildered the two got. “You are not okay with her being with him but still you want to be there for her?” Kevin clarified and John nodded. “Because she still needs me” he said.
“John, you are just killing yourself slowly” Rick told him. “I know that, even if I die I will still be there for her” his friend replied and the two laughed. “I think there was a movie like that with Demi Moore in it” Kevin said. “You know what you two should be supporting the happiness of your friend” John told them.
“So are you happy that way?” Kevin asked. “Nope!” he replied and the two gave up. “Look guys, I don’t expect you to understand because even I don’t. I love Anne, very much at that. I am not ready to lose her or let her go just yet. So instead of criticizing me for my decision I do hope you guys got my back on this one” John told them.
“Nope!” the two answered and John looked at them. Rick and Kevin laughed and patted their friend’s shoulder. “Dude we don’t agree with what you are doing but of course we got your back” Rick told him. “Well you just made my college decision easier, I will never take up Psychology. Geez if you are my patient I surely will go nuts” Kevin added and they all laughed.
Friday afternoon as John was about to exit the gate he saw Anne and Charles. He waived at the two but the young woman signaled him to wait. The couple approached him and Anne quickly wrapped her hands around his arm. “I have to do some school stuff at the library so can you walk her home?” Charles asked and John nodded.
“Thanks man, you take care of her you hear” Anne’s boyfriend said and John grinned at him. “I always did and I always will” he replied. While the two were walking Anne could not stop giggling. “What gives?” John asked. “Oh nothing. By the way what are you doing tomorrow?” she asked.
“Oh yeah, would you like to come with us? We are going to watch the basketball game at school then we might hang out at the mall afterwards” John told her and the young woman frowned. “I cant” she whispered. “Oh you and Charles are going out?” he asked and Anne shook her head.
“I have to do lots of assignments and I have to review for the exams” she said. “Oh I see, so why were you asking me what I was doing tomorrow?” John asked. “Hmmm…nothing. I just wanted to know that’s all” Anne replied and John nodded his head but he knew she was lying.
Saturday morning, Anne started working at her room after breakfast. In front of her was her laptop and there were lots of books scattered on top of her study desk. As she was typing, she saw a pair of hands tidying up her desk. “Stop it mom, they are my reference books” she said. “Okay dear as you wish” she heard John reply imitating her mother’s voice. The young woman laughed and she was surprised to see him there.
“What are you doing here? I thought you were going to watch the game?” she asked. John grabbed the other chair and sat beside her. “Basketball game? What are you talking about?” he replied. “You told me that you were going to watch the game at school and then hang out at the mall” Anne clarified.
“I did? I don’t remember saying that?” John said and he laughed. Anne faced him and she raised an eyebrow. “Don’t lie to me” she uttered. “They can tell me about the game on Monday, you need me here today so I am here” John told her. “I never said I needed your help” Anne lied.
“I know so I will just sit here and watch you. If you need me to do anything just tell me” he said. Anne faced her laptop but she could not hide her smile any longer so she pretended to look for something. “You have plans today so go ahead John, I will be okay” she told him.
“Okay” John said as he stood up. Anne continued typing on her laptop when suddenly her swivel chair began to move. John moved her aside, he took his chair and sat in front of the laptop. He took the book and handed it to Anne, “You dictate and I will do the typing. I type faster than you. We can get more work done this way” he said.
Anne held the book and stared at John. The young man had his fingers ready on the keyboard and he was waiting for her to read. Their talk days ago suddenly came back to her mind and she didn’t understand why he was sacrificing for her.
“Thank you” Anne said. “Thank you” John repeated and typed. “No, I meant thanks for helping me” she clarified. “No, I meant thanks for helping me” he again repeated and then typed. “John! I was talking to you and not dictating” Anne said and the young man laughed. “I know, I was just fooling around” he told her and they both laughed.
“Thank you John” the young woman said and John smiled at her. “Thank me later, lets get to work” he replied. Anne moved her swivel chair closer, John was ready to type but she leaned on him. John looked at her and their eyes met, “Is this okay?” she whispered. “Yes” he replied.
Anne started to dictate and she saw that he was indeed a fast typist. She hooked her right arm around his left arm and John looked at her. “Anne, if you do that I would type slower” he told her. Anne pretended not to hear what he just said; she continued reading slower and the young man understood what she was trying to say.
John leaned back and relaxed, Anne wrapped her arm tighter around his and the young man leaned his head on hers. He was there for her and he was happy.
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