Remember when Elyse told Brendon she didn’t want to be friends anymore? (If not, please read this first.) Well, now that it’s the holiday season, she seems to have had a change of heart. But has he? Is Elyse’s apology enough? Will he accept it? And… does it even make a difference?
EXCERPT FROM: “PS, BOOK 1”
CH. 18, “DEAD ENDS”
Standing frozen in the doorway with windblown tendrils of hair and snowflakes dripping from my fuzzy lilac acrylic hat, I surveyed the classroom for a place to sit. This scenario was typical for me during these darker, colder days, except for one thing: this time I was being noticed.
I hesitated before walking forward. I felt like I was five years old asking my mom for permission to eat a chocolate cupcake for breakfast. However, in that case, I had been pretty sure she would say yes — at least once every blue moon.
Today — nearly a decade-and-a-half later — my self-confidence was virtually non-existent. I was not at all certain Brendon would allow me back into his life. Still, I found myself making an approach to him at his desk… slowly, quietly, without hesitation. I didn’t care who was looking or why or what would come of it. I only knew it was the right thing to do. If there was nothing in it for me, fine. I would let it be. I wouldn’t ask for much. I would just tell him I was wrong to treat him so badly. Not as badly as Lucie was possibly treating him, but… still… badly.
He wasn’t making it easy. He had watched me enter the classroom, and his eyes never left me. He stared me down as I made my way closer and closer to him. He said nothing. Acknowledged nothing. But he placed his hand on top of the desk beside him when Buddy attempted to sit in it. Brendon’s eyes still hadn’t left mine. Buddy looked back-and-forth between us, then finally gave up and moved to another seat. Brendon lifted his hand from the desk. I sat down beside him, looking away only long enough to settle myself into the seat and straighten out my books. I opened my mouth to speak, but he beat me to it.
“How was your show?” he asked — his voice completely controlled, distant.
Don’t you know? Weren’t you there? My sister said she saw you… someone like you… it had to be you.
“Fine,” I replied, shaken and shaking.
He flinched at the sound of my voice. Perhaps he noticed my fragility. There was no disguising it. Weeks of sadness, fear and worry had taken their toll on me. Today’s apology couldn’t correct it. It could only put us back in Square One together. He sat motionless, quietly waiting for me to say something meaningful.
“I’m sorry for everything,” I finally said. For dreaming of you. For wanting to be with you. For thinking there was anything between us other than friendship. For acting out on those feelings — against you. I’m so, so sorry for everything…. Of course, the only thing he thought I was apologizing for — and, I was… on the most basic level — was telling him I no longer wanted to know him, without any explanation.
He looked away, breaking our contact, “It’s okay. No real harm done.”
That’s a little inaccurate, I thought. It had damaged me.
His voice felt disconnected, but it had become lukewarm. At least that was an improvement.
“So… can we be friends again?” I asked, hoping for something akin to a chocolate cupcake in return.
“Sure… you can’t have too many friends, right?” the sarcastic tone of his words bit into me like a punishment instead.
Actually, you can. And her name is Lucie.
But Brendon’s voice had conveyed the true relevance of his words: he didn’t care one way or another if we were friends, because he had so many others. Despite my recent agony over losing him, my presence in his life had not been missed. I had not been missed — at all. In fact, it was possible he hadn’t even noticed I was gone. Maybe nothing I was saying right now was making any sense to him because he had no interest in it — in me.
Or, perhaps, he was just throwing a few daggers at me because he hated me so much or just wanted me to feel bad. I ignored them and stayed my course. I would rather be in Square One with Brendon again in a half-hearted friendship than on a completely different playground. At least now I could hope time would heal us both. If we both needed healing that is. Maybe it was just me.
“So, how’ve you been?” I asked, in a very friend-like manner.
“Hmm… in the words of Elyse Arianna Wellington, ‘Fine,’” Brendon responded in a less than friend-like manner. Maybe I really had cut him deeply? His tone then lightened, “Anyway, I am boycotting the holidays. I’m sorry to say so, Elyse, but the only thing I like about this time of year is its sad, sad Christmas songs — and there are many. I’m sure you hate that, but what can I do?”
What can you do? Anything. Everything!
Listening to Brendon utter such dismal thoughts tore me apart. I wanted to throw myself into his arms, hold him, love him, kiss him… sweetly, passionately… lovingly… and cry my heart out on his shoulder, but I stayed still in my chair.
“Well… I wish you a merry Christmas anyway,” I told him. What else could I do?
Only two classes remained until Brendon and I would never sit — together or apart — in this room again. His leg started shaking beside mine when the professor walked in to begin class. I reached out my hand instinctively, without a thought, and placed it on Brendon’s knee to keep it still. The shaking stopped. He turned over his shoulder to look at me, but said nothing. I withdrew my hand and sat on it so it wouldn’t happen again. “Sorry,” I told him, unnerved.
“It’s okay,” he said softly. Then nothing more.