Palms and Pockets
by Paul Diaz
by Paul Diaz
Chapter 21: Fifteen
The school auditorium erupted in shouts of joy, graduation caps were flying all around, and the students jumping for joy. Today the seniors attained one of life’s greatest achievements and they really wanted to enjoy themselves before taking on their next educational journey.
Anne was finding her way to John and the young man was doing the same. They met at the center and hugged momentarily as Jeremy pulled his friend away. “Quickly, my mom wants to take pictures” he said. John looked back and looked at Anne, “I will be right back” he said. “What are you talking about? Anne you have to be in the picture too. Come on you two” Jeremy told her and the young woman happily tagged along.
While the four were happily posing Kevin’s mom waited in line to have her turn. “Oh by the way guys I will be expecting you all tomorrow at my party” Kevin told them. “Oh we almost forgot, tomorrow is your birthday. Me and Anne will surely be there. Right Anne?” John said. Anne looked at John and Kevin and she nodded her head.
As the picture taking continued the young woman glimpsed at John and the smile on her face slowly vanished as she started to feel guilty. Underneath her toga she was wearing the dress that the young man gave her for her birthday. She has known John for two years but she never knew when his birthday was.
The following day at Kevin’s home Anne enjoyed watching the four play their favorite video game. John and Rick won and the birthday boy was furious. “Hey! Its my birthday. You should have let us won” he told them. “Sorry four eyes but we came here to eat and since you are starving us then its no mercy” John said and Anne pinched him.
“Okay wait her I will go check on mom” Kevin said. “Let me help” Anne said. “Oh no, why don’t you take my place so they can continue the game” the birthday boy told her. “Don’t let her play or else I would be forced to let them win” John said and everyone laughed. “Please let me help” Anne insisted so Kevin brought her along.
“I am sorry if I didn’t invite much friends. I just wanted to have the ones I treasured the most with me today” Kevin said as they helped his mom with the food. “Its okay I am actually having fun watching you four” Anne replied. “Well it just seemed that you were not happy and bored” he told her. “Oh no, I actually have a problem” she said.
“With John?” Kevin asked and the young woman nodded. “Its so embarrassing but to be honest I really don’t know when his birthday is” Anne said and the birthday boy was surprised. “Say what? I thought you two were really close and you don’t know his birthday?” Kevin said.
Anne shyly bowed her head while the birthday boy laughed at her. “Rick and Jeremy are envious because me and John have our birthdays during summer. His birthday is in two weeks” Kevin said. “Summer? He never told me and I don’t remember him celebrating” Anne uttered.
“We actually did last year. Remember the day we all went to visit you at the hospital? We ate burgers and fries and that’s when you knew he loved chocolate cake because he ate half all by himself. Do you remember?” Kevin revealed. Anne smiled as she could clearly recall everything that happened that day but after a few seconds she felt sad. “So that was his birthday? No one even greeted him so I could know” she said.
“Well before we came over he told us not to mention it because he knew you would feel bad. He told us that you might tell him to go and have fun and he didn’t want that. He just wanted to be there with you” Kevin explained and Anne fell silent. “Later while eating I am going to initiate a conversation and listen to his answer” he added and the young woman looked at him. “What is it about?” she asked. “He keeps telling everyone his age is fifteen, no one knows why” Kevin whispered.
“Fifteen? But we are of all the same age right?” Anne asked. “Yes and he is the last one to turn eighteen” he replied. “So why does he say he is only fifteen? Didn’t you ever ask him why?” she asked. “We did many times but every time we ask he would just invent outrageous reasons so we stopped asking” Kevin told her.
Thirty minutes later John replied as Kevin expected. And when his friends asked him why the young man just laughed at them. Rick, Jeremy and Kevin all looked at Anne, she knew what they wanted her to do but she was too shy to ask so she just shook her head. Anne looked at John and smiled at him but deep inside she was very curious and she wanted to know why.
Three days later as Bob was about to leave for work, he was surprised to see Anne as he opened the door. “Oh good morning Anne, go right in. Sorry I have to rush but go ahead go inside” he told her. Before the young woman could reply John’s father dashed to his car.
“Forgive him he has an early operation scheduled” Linda said and Anne looked at her and smiled. “Well John is still asleep but you can go ahead upstairs and wake him up” John’s mother added. “Oh no, I was here to talk to you” Anne told her.
The two ladies sat down on the couch as Linda sipped her coffee. “Okay dear tell me whats on your mind” she said and the young woman was a bit hesitant. “Well I heard that John always says he is only fifteen. Do you know why?” Anne asked and the elder woman laughed.
“So you know about that too. Well you see when John was fourteen years old that was the first time I noticed acting weird. I knew that my son liked someone for the first time and I tell you he was so funny” Linda shared and Anne could imagine what he was like so she chuckled. “Before his fifteenth birthday he invited the girl to his party. He really begged us to prepare a nice party for him but she never showed up” she revealed.
“Ouch” Anne said but Linda laughed. “Well you know that John is a very emotional person and he really got hurt” John’s mother explained. “Now I understand, its just like his time stopped that day. That is why he always says he is only fifteen” Anne said and Linda nodded and smiled at her.
The two ladies laughed a bit but there was another question Anne wanted to ask. “I explained to him that he just met the girl so he should have not expected her to come. But you know John he is a bit hard headed so he still sulked about it” Linda added. “So up to now he is still hurt by that situation?” Anne asked.
“Oh no. He actually got over it after a while and decided to be friends with her but only to have his heart broken one year after” Linda said. “Sarah?” the young woman asked and the elder woman nodded. “So she broke his heart twice” Anne said.
“Not really, the first one was John’s fault. He just met her and he expected much at once. The heart ache came after he had the courage to tell her that he liked her” Linda said. “Wait, he and Sarah seem to be okay. He took her to the prom and I have seen them being really close. Yesterday he still said he was fifteen. Isnt his time supposed to start moving again now that they are close?” Anne inquired.
“Then there must be a different reason then. Have you tried asking him?” Linda said. “The guys asked but he didn’t give any reason so I don’t want to bug him about it anymore. He must have his own reasons” Anne replied. “Well you came here to know why so why stop?” John’s mother asked and the young woman pouted.
“Oh I get it. Its because of Sarah” Linda said. “He went to the prom with her and to be honest I saw them kiss at school” Anne revealed and the elder woman was surprised. “Well she kissed him I should say” the young woman clarified. “But still his time isn’t moving” John’s mother commented and they looked at each other.
“You know there are some people who make promises to themselves and these promises have conditions. Most often it’s the young ones that them but there are also older people that do especially when they experience heartache” Linda told her.
“Promises like I will never fall in love again unless I meet girl who has one red eye and one blue eye. I shall never fall in love until I graduate. I will doing this until this happens” she added and Anne laughed. “People that are hurt are often like that, they make themselves promises and they do set conditions for themselves. If you look at it, it’s a defense mechanism and a sort of punishment for them at the same time” she added.
“So until their conditions are met that is the only time they move on or stop the foolishness that they are doing?” Anne asked and Linda nodded. “But if something really great shakes their lives then it doesn’t matter if their conditions are met, they will be forced to move on” John’s mother said and the young woman was confused.
“Something great? I don’t understand” Anne said and Linda smiled. “Think of the reason why he started acting that way. If you counter that cause with an equivalent force or something greater then he surely will move on. I do believe that its is only you that can do that” Linda told her.
“Me? Why me?” the young woman asked. “Well I wont say but would you like the person who caused it all be the solution?” the elder woman teased and Anne angrily shook her head. “Then if you want him to snap out of it, make him” John mother told her and the young woman nodded her head with determination.
“Mom I am awake now! I feel sick so I want breakfast in bed!!!” they heard John shout and the two of them laughed. “Is he really sick?” Anne asked. “No, he is always like that every summer. He sleeps late and wakes up late then pretends to be sick so I bring him breakfast” Linda explained and the more the young woman laughed.
“Oh my stomach says it wants bacon! Toasted bread and lots of eggs!! Take your time mom!!!” John yelled and Anne covered her mouth as she could not stop laughing. The two ladies proceeded to the kitchen to cook him breakfast. John started singing out of tune and ranting about things which made Anne cry in laughter.
Ten minutes later Linda told Anne to bring the breakfast to him and she obliged. “Mom you know what, breakfast would be better if Anne was the one who brought it!! If you could make that happen then I promise to mow the lawn and do the laundry” John yelled and laughed aloud.
Anne entered the room and saw the young man in bed with his eyes closed. “Good morning John” she said. The young man opened his eyes and shrieked like a girl for he could not believe that she was the one bringing his breakfast. “Anne!!!” he shouted and the young woman laughed.
Anne set the tray down on his study table, she then sat down on the bed and looked at him. The embarrassed John hid under the blanket but the young woman kept pinching his legs. “Hurry up and eat, you have lots of work to do” she told him and they both laughed. “Too embarrassed” John said and Anne pulled his blanket away. “You are like a child” she told him.
“Yes because I am only fifteen” John said and laughed. “Your birthday is in two weeks. Sorry about last year, I didn’t know” Anne said. “They told you? Geez I told them not to say anything about it” he reacted. “Well I was going to find out eventually. I am really sorry I could not give you a gift last year. This year I promise to get you a good one” Anne told him.
“You gave me one last year” John said. “No I didn’t” Anne replied. “Yes you did” he countered. “Really? What did I give you then?” she asked. “You kissed me” John playfully said and the young woman smiled. “That’s the bestest gift I ever had” the young man proudly said.
“Bestest is not a word, its just best” Anne clarified. “Well it is now because I said so and I don’t know the term for something better than the best so its bestest” John told her and they both laughed. “I kissed you days after your birthday” Anne said. “Well it doesn’t matter how late the gift it actually” he said.
“And youre still fifteen” Anne uttered. “Yes I am” John smiled. The young woman was now confused. Her kiss was not the solution, not even Sarah’s. “John, is Sarah coming to your party?” she asked. “Hmmm yeah maybe” he replied and the more determined she was to find out what that greater force must be.
Two weeks passed and Anne already had a plan. She didn’t know if it would work but she was not letting this day pass without changing him.
John’s closest friends were there but Anne felt relieved that Sarah wasn’t. She was nervous and was just standing by the kitchen watching the four guys goof around at the living room. She was wondering if that greater force that his mother was talking about could be the strong feelings that have been amassing inside her, a feeling that she only felt for John.
An hour later everyone gathered around the dining table. Linda laid the huge chocolate cake on the table and John proudly counted the number of candles aloud. “Fifteen!!!” he shouted and everyone laughed except the young woman beside him. They all sang him his birthday song as his father lit every candle.
Before he was about to blow the little blue candles Anne stopped him and everyone looked at her. The young woman took out three little red candles and placed them one by one on the cake. Everyone fell silent and John seemingly froze and was just looking at her.
“Make a wish before you blow them” Anne whispered and John looked at the three candles on the cake that stood out. “There is three of them” he whispered. “Yes, and they don’t just represent numbers” Anne told him.
Those words of hers hit him hard, he clenched his fists as he fought off the formation of tears in his eyes. His heart was beating crazy as he stared at the three red candles. Years ago he made a childish pact with himself, he remains fifteen until that day when a girl tells him that they love him. Anne gave him three little candles, he knew what she was trying to say even though she didn’t tell him directly. For him it meant a lot and all the pain that he felt in the past was all forgotten.
John looked at Anne, he closed his eyes and held her hand tightly. After a few seconds he opened them again and blew his candles. Everyone shouted and clapped and the birthday celebrant smiled at everyone. “How old are you John?” Anne asked and everyone held their breaths for his response.
“I’m Eighteen” he proudly stated and Linda smiled and nodded her head at Anne.
TEAM ANNE SCORES AGAIN!!!