Friendship High School Teens & Young Adult

A/N: This is a partially true story. The characters are based on me and people I know, but none of the names are according to theirs. Some of it's real, and some of it is just a dream in my heart.


"Don't you dare startup about my folks!" I crossed my arms over my chest, facing the dark-haired male in front of me. "Bless your heart. You ain't got no room to judge somebody when you ain't met them yet." My eyes blazed green with flames of fury as his spiteful words replayed over and over in my mind. "Especially not my parents!"

"Well, he has no room to be calling me a stalker when I said I wanted to move with you and your friend. I have a past, one that you don't know."

"We all got pasts, Aran." My mind whirred with memories of my own fucked up past. "We've all got to deal with our own demons. So, you best pray to God, or whatever the hell you believe in, that you don't say that shit around him!"

"Here's the thing, dear. One, I was accused of raping a girl when I had an airtight alibi, all because I broke up with her. Two, I don't believe in anything." My thoughts went back to when I'd first said something to him in Civics the previous year.


"What would you do if I told you that I liked you? Wanted to go with you?" I fiddled with the cross around my neck, waiting for an answer.

"I don't think a Christian country girl would ever work out with a Satanist like me."

"Oh. Okay..." I turned and went back to my roadmap to the Constitution assignment.


I shook off the memory, but it only added fuel to my flames. "So, not only are you disrespecting my folks, but you've lied to me for the entire year and eight months that we've known each other??? You told me you were a Satanist!!!" I rapidly blinked back tears that threatened to flow in my rage's wake. "And trust me, I know rape is a serious allegation, Honey. I've been on the opposite end of that spectrum because I was raped. I've made the accusations, tried to go through with charges that would never stick because the time to tell had run out two years prior!"

I noticed a leaf that fell on his shoulder. "I am not disrespecting anybody! I take stalker accusations seriously! I told people that to get them to leave me alone. Why does it matter?!"

"It matters 'cause I value honesty. Integrity. Authenticity. I couldn't give a damn about what you believed in! I could care less if you were an atheist because I don't care what my friends believe in! But don't fucking lie to me about shit!" I took in a deep breath and continued. "And obviously it didn't fucking work! I didn't leave you alone! Neither did Emery! Or anyone else in our friend group! So, don't even pull that shit on me!" My heart pounded in my chest, so loudly in the ensuing silence, that I thought it would explode. I loved him, I knew it, but he never would know. He'd made it abundantly clear it would NEVER work out in this lifetime.

"It kept people I didn't want away. So, yes, it worked. I don't know what kind of image you've built up in your mind about me since Covid hit, but I'm not that image." I turned to the wall, my eyes refusing to meet his for fear that he'd see the hurt and raw pain in their depths. "I didn't lie. I just didn't tell you everything, and even you have your secrets. Ones that I don't think anybody but you know. I know you're not a fanatic, or we wouldn't be talking right now."

"You're a real ass! You know that? A real fucking ass! I ain't had no image of you since COVID hit, but you know something? Maybe that's a good damned thing because you're never going to be the man I want!" I winced inwardly at the pain that flashed across his features. Funny how all it takes is one word to change the meaning of a statement. I didn't want him but I damn sure needed him. "Damn skippy I've got my secrets, but I don't tell somebody I'm something I ain't! That's called L-Y-I-N-G! Lying!"

I glared at him as he shifted on his feet. "And I don't put up with liars, Aran! I swear to God, I don't know what to fucking do with you!" I clenched my fist, made a sharp about-face, and marched off. A small part of me hoped that he'd call out for me, stop me from wherever I was going, but he didn't. At that moment, I hated his guts, but I knew it wouldn't last.

I called Emery, hoping she'd pick up. "Ember? What's up?"

"Aran is a fucking asshole!"

"I know that, Darling." I waited for her to continue. There was definitely some kind of "but" coming. "He's an insufferable asshole sometimes, just as stubborn as you are. What'd he do this time?"

"He lied to me! Disrespected my parents!" I let out a frustrated yell as she sighed.

"And let me guess. You punched the shit out of him?" I laughed at the idea.

"Tempting, but no. I don't do that. Bradley was the exception, and that was only a slap on the arm because most of my temper had been diffused by yelling at him." I shook my head at the memory and the 3 classes of ISS/AID in my Junior year, my only time ever getting into trouble with the school.

"So, you cussed him out and said some rude shit?" She knew me so well. I smiled a little bit.

"And this is why I call you, Emery." I could envision her shaking her head at me. "Yes, that sums it up. I ain't apologizing to him. I meant every word and he deserved every angry lash dealt to him!"

"Welp, this is going to be interesting. He's not going to apologize either, Ember. You both are way too stubborn for that. I'm not interceding this time, only lending a listening ear."

"I've never asked you to fight my battles! I just call to vent and feel better!"

"I know. I know. He wants you, but he'll never tell you such. Since your stubborn-ass doesn't know how to get a man though, you're going on a date tonight. My place, thirty minutes. If not, I'm hunting your ass down. Love you."

"Love you." I clicked off the phone, knowing that I would never attempt to get with him after his flat-out rejection last year. Emery, forever the single matchmaker, did not see it that way. I shook my head, wondering who the hell she'd set me up with this time. Every date she'd set me up on, I'd only went to keep from hurting her. I never clicked with any of the guys (or girls) she set me up with, but she, bless her heart, had to keep trying.

So, thirty minutes later, I was at her red door. Her small white house was perfect for one person, maybe two. It was the same style as mine. Two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, a back hall, and a small bathroom. It was almost as if somebody said, "Hey! Let's tear up an apartment complex and set each apartment in the middle of Nowhere, USA!" In reality, it was just the same old small-town mill house in the South.

"You're here!" She pulled me inside as if worried that I'd run away or somebody would see me. "Okay. Hot pink dress. Cowgirl boots. Curls. Earthtones. Mascara. Lipstick. Sit!" Obediently, I sat down, already dreading this date. I hated hot pink, hadn't worn it in eight or nine years. After polishing my nails, which were always scuffed and ruined from farm work, she went to town on my makeup, something I knew almost nothing about. "He is going to love you tonight." Eyeshadow. Mascara. Eyeliner. Lipstick. Lipgloss. "Dress! You are going to be the hottest chic alive tonight!"

"How about some size 6 skinny jeans, a skin-tight army green shirt dotted with tiny white flowers, and a choker-style neck? Decked with a denim jacket and my boots?" She gave it some thought.

"Does this shirt show some skin?" I laughed and nodded as I went into the closet I used when I stayed the night.

"Girl, I don't know how you do it. Greens, blues, pinks, blacks, and purples. You pull off any color except orange and red." She cocked her head. "I take that back, you pull off orange in the summertime when your skin gets bronzed."

I donned on the skin-tight clothes and she curled my hair. "So, what time is this date? Is it somebody I know? Where is it at?"

"Half an hour. You'll see. You'll see. I'm driving you." I rolled my eyes and followed her to the truck fifteen minutes later, with curls to my hips.

Fifteen minutes later, we pulled into the parking lot of what used to be the Mason Jar Cafe but was now Mawmaw's Kitchen. "They've got some hellacious buttermilk cornbread, pork pintos, and fried squash."

I strode into the restaurant and sat down at a table. As I was perusing the menu, I felt somebody sit across from me. "Ember?" My head whipped up in shock. "Where's Emery?"

"Ummm...She's the one who brought me. I think she just left..." I laid down the menu. "For the love of God, tell me you're not my blind date tonight!" My phone buzzed in her pocket at the same time that he pulled out his black cellphone that dinged with a notification. Get him, Ember. He's your date.

"About earlier..." He started and stopped when I shook my head.

"Earlier is done and over with. Don't spoil my evening." He smiled and hailed a waitress. "Pintos, cornbread, a side of fried squash, and some sweet tea, please."

"Fried chicken, hush-puppies, and fried squash, please." He glanced at the drinks. "And a glass of Cheerwine, Ma'am." She scrawled it down on her pad. "That's all. Thank you."

His eyes focused back on me like I was the only woman in the room. "You look stunning." His hand reached across the table, his calloused hands landing gently on the back of mine. "How do you do it?" I heard the chatter in the background, but it didn't matter to me. "How do you manage to stay so angry, yet so light-hearted? So stressful yet so carefree? So organized yet so full of chaos? So complicated while being an open book?"

"I'm a walking contradiction. What can I say?" I sucked in a deep breath. "If you hadn't shot me down last year, we could've been here twenty months ago. I'd have taken you home to meet my folks. I'd have told you yes if you'd asked me out." I sighed. "But, that, it appears, will never happen."

"Why me?" His gaze searched mine. "Why did you like me back then? I've never been a looker. I'm ugly."

"I don't know. I still ask myself that, but looks aren't everything." He was kind, caring, sarcastic, debative, sweet, yet somehow all alone. You were drawn to him from day one, for reasons you'll never know. "I've never dated because of looks. Why did you shoot me down? We've had this conversation about your Satanist excuse, so give me the truth."

He laughed dryly. "I know some of the people you've dated, probably even hooked up with. Looks must play a part." I shook my head as the waitress brought back the food. He picked up a hush-puppy and chewed it slowly. "I was a nobody, a graduating senior who'd made it through without a problem. Then a fiercely independent, firey, hot Southern woman basically tells me she likes me. What do you think?"

"First off, I don't hook up with whoever I date. I've only ever hooked up one time, four years ago, with my first love and boyfriend. And I've dated five guys and one girl since then." I sipped on my glass of sweet iced tea. "And I think it means that either a) you were extremely stupid for not taking up that offer if that's what your thought process was or b) you had no clue what to do with an offer like that."

As we finished our meal, I sighed. Handing him an envelope, I thanked him for dinner and walked out of the restaurant. That began my three-mile walk home on a dusty backroad. I knew he'd stay in there and read everything I'd written for him, which meant I wouldn't be there and he'd have no clue where I was when he reached the last page. That's what I needed. I will never tell him how I feel now. He will never tell me how he feels. We know, but we don't say it. We don't act on it. It's just there. I guess that's all the love there will ever be between an Aries male and a Cancer female.

May 17, 2021 19:12

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