“You called me a…a—”, I stopped midway my accusation.
“A what?”, he bit off rudely.
“I can’t even make myself say it. I can’t let myself drop to your level.”
“Why the prude act now, Anna? Haven’t you already done and said enough to be proved otherwise?”
I stared at him in shock.
Was this the same David who had openly defended me in front of the other popular kids?
Was this the same David who had befriended the geek in those big black spectacles and made her feel welcome on her first day?
WAS this the same David?
“You’re popular.” I said softly.
“I know.” It was impossible to miss the hint of pride in his voice.
I looked up at him through my big black spectacles, shaking my head and realizing that this was a lost battle.
“That’s whats wrong with you.”
“Whats wrong with being popular?”
“Nothing. Unless you become a jerk, abandon your friends, fight with your dad, miss classes and get caught cheating. Oh and I nearly forget”, I added sarcastically, “Get suspended for the forementioned cheating.”
He opened his mouth to retort but cutting him off I said, “Do you even realize what this would do to your mom? Oh wait! You don’t. That’s the thing with you oh-so –popular kids. You care about no one but yourself. And the irony is if you truly cared even a little about yourself, you would know that what you were doing could completely destroy your life.”
“Listen Anna—” His tone was taunting.
“No YOU listen David. You were my friend.” I paused. “But you aren’t anymore. So you can go to hell for all I care.”
Not even giving him a chance to reply- or retort- , I turned on my heels and started walking away.
“You’re just heartbroken that I don’t love you back.”
“What!!”, I turned around so fast that I lost a step and had to hold on to a nearby pillar to stabilize myself.
“You heard me alright.” He walked closer. “Poor Little Anna! Always a geek but now a loner too?! No one to whine about her ‘A- and not A+’ problems too! No one to secretly crush on! No one to even show off to!”
“Shush.” He caught hold of my arm in a tight grip and silenced me.
“But I’m not going to share your misery anymore. I’m not going to let you hold me back from being happy. From chasing my destination.”
“If you’re destination is New Jerk City, then congratulations! You’ve already reached!” I said gritting my teeth.
Okay that’s it. I’ve had enough. Contrary to what he might think, I’m not a big fan of listening to people insult me.
Stomping on his foot with the back of my shoe- which lucky for him, was a one inch long heel- I took a few steps back, my anger turning my face pink.
“Owww!!” He kneeled down, massaging his foot with both hands. “What is your problem??” He looked up at me in distress.
“Do i need to get you a MIRROR to show you my problem?” I spat out.
“No, seriously.” His tone was somber now. “What is the problem?”
The use of the article and not the pronoun was not overlooked . But he had taken this fight to an absolutely new level by using the words ‘geek’, ‘loner’ and ‘love’ in all the wrong sentences.
Opening my sling bag, I took out all my books and pens and my spectacle case and left just a small box of things –like a ‘FRIENDS’ photo frame with a picture of us, a friendship band with ‘ANNA’ on it, a day-planner and a pen drive– behind. Then I threw the bag at him –still on his knees– and mentally patted myself for striking the bull’s eye, in this case, his head.
“Owww!!” He said again and held up the bag as a question.
“Keep them. The bag and the other things you ga- we exchanged. I don’t need your friendship and I don’t need those memories.” I said gesturing towards the bag.
“Anna.” His voice was a plea.
At that moment, in that instance, I saw a glimpse of my friend –David Sherdan. He was the kindest person that I had ever had the privilege of knowing. A true inspiration. And although the person standing in front of me looked a lot like him and spoke exactly like him, the ugly truth was that he wasn’t David Sherdan. And –from what it seemed– he was never going to be either.
Traitor tears fell on my cheek. I wiped them away with the back of my hand. He stood up and looked at me warily.
“Why are you crying?”
I took a deep breath and pressed my eyelids shut with my fingers. Opening my eyes, I gave him a watery smile and said, “I’m just sad that my friend died and I couldn’t save his life.”
With that I turned around and started walking. My shoulders shook and my books got wet as those tears just didn’t stop. I heard him call out, but I didn’t even bother turning around.
I had lost him. Probably forever.
Forever. If only I had known how to save his life. And in turn save mine as well.
“Hey Anna!!”, my brother –who had come to pick me up– called out. He unlocked the door to the passenger seat and I got in. “How was school?”
“Great!” I feigned a smile.
“Good!” The thing with my brother is that although he tries really hard to be caring and sweet…he just doesn’t know HOW to. “Hey whose that?” I looked up and saw him frowning at something –rather someone. Following his line of sight, I saw what –or who– he was staring at.
HE was walking towards me determinedly with my bag in his hands.
“Can you just…start the car?” I told my brother, not in the mood of creating a scene in public.
“Okay.” My brother looked suspicious but turned on the ignition anyway and to my great relief, we moved. “Who was he, Anna?
I was busy staring at HIM as he kicked at a stone in frustration and cursed loudly.
When David and the St. Savio High School building were completely out of sight, I turned to my brother, and trying to stop those tears said, in a voice braver than I felt –“Somebody I used to know.”