Mac tugged on the frayed hole in his white-washed jeans, a nervous habit of his. We were sitting on his comfy black couch waiting for his parents to get home. He shifted his vintage glasses farther up his nose and shook his hair out of his face. I scooted closer to him and gently intertwined my fingers in his. Mac’s hand was warm and soft.
He was looking down at their hands, woven together. Her bright purple nails, standing out among his somber bedroom “What do you think they are gonna do? You know, when I tell them,” Mac whispered, his voice shaking with fear.
The thought shook me. Mac’s parents were very strict and religious. In 7th grade, he got grounded for 3 months for staying up past 9 p.m doing homework. I couldn’t imagine what they would say when he told them he was gay. Would they disapprove of him? Judge him?
“If I’m being honest, I don’t know. But I want you to know I will be here supporting you. No matter what.” She squeezed his hand, and he squeezed it back and gave me his sweet, childish smile. We heard a car honk in the driveway of his white duplex house.
“Are you gonna leave, Harley?”
“Do you want me to?”
“No, but I don’t want you to get uncomfortable if we arguing.” He stood up, so he now had to look down to see me.
I released his hand from mine, and said, “I’m going to go, you and your parents need to handle this. Call me and tell me what happens as soon as you can.”
“Ok, wish me luck.”
“I will.” I gave him a bright smile before walking down the stairs, and out the front door. Running into Mr. Williams, Mac’s dad.
“Oh, hey Harley! How are you doing?” His wide smile, exposing pearly white teeth. He is clean-cut and his bright brown eyes twinkling. He was wearing a suit and had new shoes on. He looked like a businessman in a commercial.
“I’m doing good, how are you?” She asked in a rush to get out the door.
“I’m great, I went down the art museum downtown and found that a lot of artists …” Her phone began buzzing, saving her from another long talk with Mac’s dad. He looked down and noticed her mom was calling her, and let her go home.
That night, I laid in bed, waiting for Mac to call. But it never happened. I and Mac were close. We’ve been friends since 4th grade, and it has only been me and him. I tell him everything, and he does the same.
The next morning when the bus came to a stop, I bolted off and ran to Mac’s and mine meeting spot, the bench behind the tree. He was sitting there, looking down at his phone. He was wearing black jeans, Vans, and a purple sweatshirt. His hood was up but I can see his curly brown-blonde hair peeking out from underneath the hood.
“Hey.” She said, a little too loud, causing students around her to look at her.
“Hey, sorry I didn’t call last night. But guess what?” He looked up and smiled at her, his teeth a perfect kind of crooked.
“They aren’t mad, or anything. They seemed ok with it.”
“Really?” She said smiling wide.
“Yes.” He stood up and hugged her. The bell rung, and they walked to class together. She told him about how her mom and she hasn’t been home since she met her new boyfriend. But, she stopped drinking as much, so that’s good.
We are walking through the busy hallway, heading to study hall when Gordon Rodgriguez, the bully of the school, shoved his beefy shoulder into Mac and said, “Gay-wad.”
Mac’s tan face turns a bright shade of red and stumbled against the lockers. I grabbed his hand, “Keep walking, keep on walking.” I was practically dragging him behind me. Eventually, when we stopped and leaned against my locker he said, “Do you think they somehow found out- you know what?”
“No, Mac. Gordon’s just a bully, he calls everyone a gay-wad. Don’t take it personally.” He sighed a breath of relief. His checkered vans were tapping against the polished tile floors, making his curly brown hair bounce up and down. I giggled at him. “I’m going to class, Dofus,” I yelled, walking away, and laughing.
In class, I sat in the very back, my usual seat, and watched a group of blonde freshmen. They were gossiping and applying a new coat of their cherry lip gloss every 5 mins. I found myself engrossed in their gossip, and just kept to myself. My phone buzzed 3 times in my pocket. I stood up from my spot in the corner and excused myself to the bathroom.
I took the scenic route to the bathroom, so I wouldn’t have to get back to class soon. On my way, I passed Mr. Chint’s classroom, where he taught algebra. Through the glass part of the door, I saw Mac and some boy. They were laughing, and I didn’t see Mac’s smile fade away the whole 2 minutes I was standing there. The boy had bleach blonde hair with brown eyes, and a tall, lean body. He’s identical to my brother, and before I could stop them the tears were running down my face.
My brother was arrested months ago, for being a theft. Everyone sees prisoners as horrible people, but I know my brother he practically raised me. My dad left us when he found out he got my mom pregnant. And my mom didn’t take it well. Carson, my brother then was who held me when I was crying and made me boxed mac-and-cheese when I was hungry. I remember how patient he was with me, and the love I saw in his hazel eyes. Carson has been gone in jail for months. So it was usually just me at home, and occasionally my mom would stumble in the front door and 4 a.m.
I made it into the bathroom, and grabbed my phone from my pocket, and wiped the tears and smeared mascara from my face. Mac texted me.
The new boy and I are really kicking it off!?!?
Are you in class?
I pulled my thumbs up to the cracked screen and typed,
I want to hear it all at lunch!
I went into the stall and hear the bathroom door open. I planned on staying in the stall, thinking they would leave soon, but they didn’t. I walked out the door eventually and Ms. Perfect, the living Barbie herself, Heather Thompson was standing in the mirror, applying dark plum lipstick. She was wearing a green denim overall dress, with a white undershirt. Her hair was highlighted and curled. Her tan skin glowing in the bright bathroom’s lights. Being around her intimidates everyone, but me. Heather and I are frenemies.
Pre-k through 8th grade we were best friends. The summer before high school she got new, popular friends, and ignored me totally. Even though we haven’t been friends in years, I still feel like I know her just the same.
Heather gave me a once over, then looked back in the mirror. I was about to walk out of the bathroom when I heard her voice break through the uncomfortable silence. “Your still friends with, Mac?” She asked, her soft voice radiating innocence.
I looked at her with a hard stare, “Yes.” It was the first time we have talked in years, so I decided to pop the question. “Heather, why do you hate me?”
Her expression changed, she had a satisfied smile on her pretty face. “You don’t remember do you?” She laughed a quiet giggle.
I thought back to anything I could’ve done to her, but nothing came to me. I shrugged my shoulders. Her smile just grew bigger.
“Well, maybe one day you’ll remember.” Then she walked out of the bathroom door.
Last period, the bell was about to ring, Mac texted.
Can I come over?
Sure! Last to the courtyard, loses. :)
The air was still warm, despite it was mid- September. We decided to go swimming in the lake behind my house. The water was cool and refreshing, and Mac and I hopped right in, clothes on and everything. We have spent so many hours in this lake, talking and laughing.
I was doing slow backstrokes towards the huge rocks on the edge of the lake, when Mac said, “Tell me something I don’t know about you yet, Harley.”
I giggled, hard. “Is there anything you don’t know already?”
“There has to be something.” he swam closer to me, smiling ear-to-ear, “There’s something you don’t know about me.”
“You tell me first.” There was the most beautiful sunset forming behind us, and the wind was gently blowing.
“Well, in 4th grade I had a crush on you.” His cheeks slightly blushed.
“I never knew.” I couldn’t remember 4th grade, Mac. We weren’t friends till 7th. Then it hit me. Heather stopped being my friend around the time when I and Mac became close friends. And oh my God, I almost forgot she had a crush on him at the time. I gasped out loud. It made sense now, she liked Mac, and around that time I and he became friends. Heather thought I have liked Mac too!
“What is it? You look you’ve seen a ghost.” He laughed at his own joke, but then became serious again.
“ You know what Heather said in the bathroom today right?”
“Yeah, what about it?”
“I think I know why she doesn’t like me.”
“You and I became friends in 7th grade, she liked you at that time. She thought that I was trying to take you from her.”
“Heather liked me?”
He didn’t respond just went back to swimming. I started floating in the water beside him when he drenched me with water. I burst out laughing. “Ok Mac, you wanna play this game?” I yelled, laughing at his boyish face. I sent a wave of the lake water in his direction. And he did it back. Our laughter echoed against the trees and the moonlight streaming down on us.
The air became too chilly, so we got out hours later. He ran back and grabbed towels from my bathroom and brought them to me. He stayed till 11 watching our favorite TV show together, FRIENDS. He didn’t wanna go home so he stayed overnight. I slept in my bed and he slept on my couch.
I woke up to my mom screaming/crying. “Mom! What is it?” I yelled, still half asleep. Mac was still asleep, snoring softly.
“Where are my cigarettes?” She yelled, shaking the walls. I rolled my eyes and laid back down. She kept screaming and yelling. Mac stirred and then sat up. His hair was sticking up. I mouthed to him, ‘You should get going.’
He understood and nodded in return. “One-second mom!” I walked him out to his motorcycle. “I’m sorry that she’s not in the best state lately.”
He was rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, my blanket still wrapped around his shoulders. “It ok, thanks for letting me stay the night.”
He hopped on his motorcycle, and we heard my mom start screaming my name. He leaned off gave me a hug. I smiled into his strong arms. “Ok, go home dofus.” I smiled and waved as he drove off.