Palms and Pockets
by Paul Diaz
by Paul Diaz
Chapter 23: Limit
Two months have passed and the two have adjusted well into college. The two would go to school each morning riding John’s new car that his parents gave him. Every morning Anne would pass by a small bulletin board at the center of campus and she would spend much time reading poems and love letters posted by other students.
“Did you find something interesting today?” John asked as nodded her head pointing to one poem. “This person makes good poems, they are very uplifting. You should read them too you know” she replied. “I didn’t know you like poems, sorry I hate reading” John told him. “Well I do and I think you should start reading too” Anne said. “I don’t want to” the young man replied but he saw her eyebrows starting to raise so he pretended to start reading.
Anne laughed and pinched John, “I was just teasing, you don’t have to read if you are forced to” she told him. “Ssshhh this is interesting” John said and the more Anne laughed as the young man acted as if he was really into it.
After their last class Anne was with some girl friends so John waited for her in his car. A few minutes later his phone rang and it was her. “Hi John, me and the girls are going to the mall. Want to come with us?” she asked. “Oh I thought we were doing the research paper today?” John said. “Oh my I forgot, can I just go with them for a few minutes? You can go ahead and start then I will catch up” Anne said. “Okay, you take care okay?” he told her as he turned his phone off.
John happily went home and started work on their research paper. Anne was the brains and he was more of the listener but this time he was excited to do something good for her. A few hours later he was done, his stomach started acting funny and when he looked at his watch it was way past ten in the evening.
John laughed at himself because this was the first time in his life he every got serious in terms of academics. He looked at his phone and remembered that Anne was not home yet. He took her copy with him and decided to check on her. As soon as he got out of the door a car stopped in front of their driveway and he saw Anne step out. As the young woman was all smiles approaching him, John has his eyes fixed on the young man driving the car.
“Sorry I couldn’t break free from them” Anne said. “Yeah I can see why” John said and the young woman turned around and laughed. “Oh that’s Eric, he is a good guy” she said. “Yeah just like Charles” John commented and Anne angrily looked at him. “What’s your problem?” she asked.
“Nothing, here your research paper. Take it and I have to eat dinner” John said. Anne took the research paper and felt embarrassed. “I am really sorry John. I really couldn’t break free from them. I told them I had to go home but they asked me to stay longer” she softly uttered. “Its okay. You should go home now and get some rest. See you tomorrow” the young man replied and turned away.
“John, I am really sorry. I promise it will never happen again” Anne said but John just nodded and closed the door.
A few days later it happened again. After which it became more frequent until one night John received a call. It was Anne and she sounded in so much pain. He didn’t think twice and immediately got in his car and drove to where she was.
Thirty minutes later at the outskirts of the city, John saw Anne sitting on the road as her friends were laughing on the sides. He quickly got out of the car and ran towards her and pushed Eric aside. “Whats wrong?” he asked but he saw the young woman massaging her knee. “The car ran out of gas so we decided to walk to the nearest gas station” Eric said and John angrily looked at him.
“I wasn’t talking to you dumbass” John said but Anne held his arm. The young man took a deep breath and carried Anne to his car. Her friends were walking over to his car but he immediately took off. “John! You could have given them a ride” she said but the young man wasn’t listening to her.
John took Anne inside their house and immediately applied an ice pack on her knee. “It’s a school night” he uttered. “Yeah I know I am sorry” she replied. “That’s what you have been saying each time” John said as he massaged her leg and the young woman fell silent.
“Today you learn but tomorrow you are out with them again. What if something much worse happens?” he asked. “I know you will be there” Anne happily said and the young man just smirked. “You will be there right?” she repeated and John looked at her. “Yeah because that’s what friends are for” he told her.
John continued massaging her leg and silence engulfed the room. “Hey Anne, what am I to you?” he asked and the young woman was surprised. “Why are you asking me that?” she asked. “Just answer the question, I really want to know once and for all” he told her.
“I cant answer that right now John” Anne replied and John shook his head. “It’s a simple question. What am I to you?” he repeated. Anne sat back and took a deep breath, “Why are you asking me that question?” she asked.
“Just answer the question please. Do I have to beg for it?” John replied and the young woman seemed confused. “Please don’t let me answer that question” she said. “Why cant you answer it? Is it that difficult? I told you I love you. You said the same words to me. So what am I to you Anne?” John said.
“John please don’t do this” she said. “Tell me right now” John said and the young woman saw that he was angry. Anne was shaking, her heart was pounding rapidly and her mouth seemed to be frozen. “Youre my bestfriend” she uttered.
John smiled and nodded his head, deep inside he could hear his heart crying but he toughened up and smiled some more. “So that’s all I will ever be to you” he whispered. “I thought we were happy this way?” Anne asked. “I am but its just sad knowing that I will never be more than your bestfriend. Its okay Anne don’t worry about it. I got the answer and the message is crystal clear” John told her as he stood up and walked to the door.
“John we are okay right?” she asked. “Of course we are. You need a friend so I will be a friend. Come on let me walk you home” he told her. Anne slowly stood up and she felt something different with him already. “John are we really okay?” she asked. “Yes my friend we are okay” he replied and she was starting really get worried.
Morning arrived and Anne noticed many changes. She barely arrived in time at John’s place for his car was already leaving the drive way. “You were leaving without me?” she asked and John smiled at her. “Sorry I thought you were not going to school because it was getting late” he replied.
“You know that I am always late every morning” Anne countered. “Yup and I also know you come home late at night” he told her and the young woman decided to keep quiet for she didn’t want to argue with him.
Once in school Anne proceeded to the post board while John walked away. “Where are you going?” she asked. “To the classroom” he said. “Its still early, come read with me” she told him. “Its not my thing. See you in class” John said as he walked away. Anne was not liking it but she decided to keep reading to keep her mind calm.
In the classroom and during lunch John was back to normal and Anne was happy. She thought it was just a temporary thing but when end of classes arrived John walked ahead towards the parking area leaving her behind.
Anne ran after him and once she caught up she confronted him. “What’s your problem?” she asked. “I don’t have any problem. Do you?” he replied. “So why did you just leave me behind like that?” she asked. “Well I thought you would be going with your other friends” John said.
“Well you could have asked me” she snapped. “I don’t need to because its becoming a habit of yours lately” he told her. “So you want me to go with them?” Anne asked and the young man shrugged his shoulders. “Well if that’s what you want then go ahead. If you are not then get in the car because I am going home now” he said.
Anne was sensing coldness from him so she slowly got in the car and looked at him. “John, whats happening to you?” she asked. “Why am I changing?” he asked and she nodded. “Well you wanted a friend so I am becoming a friend” he explained. “But you were not like that before” she told him.
“Well I am now because if I go beyond being a friend I will just end up hurt. I don’t want to get hurt anymore. Don’t worry I am still your friend. The changes that is happening, deal with it because this is what you wanted” he said.
Anne pouted and took a deep breath. “I don’t like this. Cant we be like we were before?” she uttered. “Being friends have its limitations. What we were before that was something else. I thought I was going to be more than your friend but you told me clearly that I will just be your best friend. So I haved reached my limit, I don’t want to get hurt anymore”
“I don’t know why I cant be the one, but I respect you for you might have your own reasons. I just cant be the me of before because I know I am just going to get hurt. Prevention is always better than cure that is what doctors say so I am doing that. So I do hope you understand that my friend” John explained as tears started falling down Anne’s cheeks.
“I don’t want to be that stupid guy anymore who is waiting in line to watch a fairy tale movie that will never be shown” he added and the young woman turned to the window and sobbed silently. Just like her mother taught her before, Anne slept it off. She wished that when she woke up the next morning everything was just a bad dream.
The next morning Anne was sad to see that it was all real. They had no classes that day but John’s car was not on their drive way. She tried calling his phone but it was turned off. “Hello Anne, you didn’t go with them?” Linda asked and the young lady was surprised to see that John’s mother was by their porch. “Where did they go?” she asked. “Comic Con, didn’t he tell you?” Linda told her.
“Oh yeah he mentioned that before and I forgot about it” Anne said. “Well they left early because he was excited for his first long drive. I really thought that you went with them” the elder woman said. Anne shook her head smiling, “Maybe he just forgot to invite me” she said. “Oh that’s not true, he always thinks about you. Maybe he just thought that you didn’t like those kind of events” Linda said. “I have to go back home now, please tell him to call me up when he arrives” Anne said as she left with a heavy heart.
Back in her room the young woman started to get teary eyed. John would always ask her to go with him even if she didn’t want to. He would find ways and reasons for her to go with him but this time he left without saying a word.
She sat down in front of her study desk and turned on her laptop. Her wallpaper was a picture of them goofing around at an instant picture booth at the mall and while staring at it she was starting to miss him.
For a long time she had not sat down in front of her desk. John was right, she was always out so she decided to clean it. Anne was surprised to see her high school paper works were still there so she decided to go over them. All her school work had high marks except one which she recognized because that day John got of his way in order to help her.
She took the paper and looked at it carefully. Beside her grade there was a small note from her teacher that she didn’t notice before. “I can understand students being lazy sometimes. Next time when you let your boyfriend to type for you tell him to avoid inserting unnecessary remarks because we do really read your works. Teach him how to write a love letter instead” it read and the young woman laughed.
Anne was curious so she quickly scanned the research work. At the end of the first page she immediately saw a short phrase encircled in red ink. “Hey Anne, are you going to read this?” it said and the young woman laughed. She checked the other pages and there were small phrases at the end of each one. She took out the staple and arranged the papers so it would only show John’s little remarks and she read them aloud.
“Hey Anne, are you going to read this?”
“I hope not because I want to tell you something”
“I love you Anne”
“Yep, words I have been wanting to say”
“Didn’t have the courage enough to say them”
“But I really do love you. Very much at that”
“I know once you see your grade you don’t go over your paper”
“So I do hope you don’t read this”
“But if you do read it”
“I want you to know that I really love you”
“Maybe one day I will have the courage to say them to you”
“Hahahaha its not me John. Really its not me”
Anne burst in laughter with the last phrase but it was short because she could not stop her tears from flowing anymore. It was an awkward love letter inserted in her school work but no matter what this was her first one.
She wiped her tears but more came out. She got in bed holding her research paper tightly. She read the phrases all over again and memories came flashing back in her head making her realize that John really loves her.
He loves her more that a friend.