It's 4:00 am, and I cannot sleep. Drooping eyes and an exhausted body have been battling against my never ending thoughts for the last three hours. They say if you leave your bed and write out what's on your mind, you should clear enough junk out to fall in to a peaceful slumber. Sadly, the story I'm about to tell you will possible find me in my dreams tonight, maybe a day dream tomorrow, and probably every day of this lonely forever.
My "one that got away" story starts on an old, squeaky, yellow, school bus during my sophomore year of high school. I was 15, and our two intermediate school show choirs were traveling home from a competition. "We are the champions" blasted through an old black boom box and rattled the rickety rolled-down windows. We screamed the lyrics at the top of our lungs, because we were bringing home another win for our school. Our teacher and choreographer sat proudly in the front two rows, letting the students in the seats behind have a little too much fun celebrating. Field trips, especially those within the arts programs, are synonymous for shameful behavior. A group of us sitting in the back of the bus decided to start up a game of Truth or Dare. Trouble always comes from the back of the bus. It where the cool kids sit, of course! ;-)
I forgot to mention, we had a new guy in choir that year. Mr. C, we'll call him. Mr. C was an instant hit among the choir students, and not just because we were always so desperate for bass singers! He had a sweet smile and soft eyes; the kind that say everything without saying anything at all. My mom calls them "bedroom eyes." Of course he had a mystery about him, being the new guy and all. But there was something in his eyes you knew had stories to tell. He just had a way about him, something that clued you to think he could be a good listener and a giver of excellent advice.
Back to Truth or Dare. Yes, a bit childish for 14 and 15 year olds, but you can only play so many rounds of Never Have I Ever before some horny teenage boy wants to put some allegations to the test. Anyways, it was known among my fellow choir members I had never been kissed. What do you know? A little dumbass thought it would be hilarious to dare me to kiss the new guy. I was mortified, but I never turned down a dare.
I slid across the aisle into the empty space on ripped, brown, vinyl seats. Mr.C grabbed a blanket and threw it over our heads, so we could have some privacy. He knew I had never been kissed, so we created a plan to pretend to be making out under the blanket by swaying our heads back and forth and close together. (I must note I am incredibly embarrassed about this. How immature could I be?) I will never forget our laughter behind ear-to-ear grins. We stayed under the blanket long enough to draw out a few OOS and AWWS from our friends. Of course, they knew we were faking it.
At this point in time, I was starting in on my second year of being hopelessly in love with the boy I mentioned in my last article. But, after that trip, I started to notice Mr. C more. I primped a little more and giggled a little louder when I knew he was in the room. It was a silly school girl crush, but I was drawn to him for the kindness he showed me. He could have just grabbed me and kiss me; but he was respectful, and he surprised me.
The BIG moment happened at the show choir end-of-the-year party. My neighbor, Brandon, had everyone over for an evening of choir-nerd craziness. My affections for Mr. C had never faltered throughout the school year. Of course, I never said anything to anyone. Everyone new my dirty laundry when it came to the boy, so I decided to keep my feelings for Mr.C a secret.
Our friends were playing games in the backyard, and we managed to break away from the group alone. At some point in the time we had been going to school together, he had told me he used to box. You know I had to play the girl card and ask, (in a high-pitched, flirty voice) "Will you teach me how to box?" For a girl, this is absolutely genius, because a guy will never tell you "no" when you ask him to show off or teach you something he is confidently skilled at. I tried to hide my ridiculous smile and rosy-red cheeks while he molded my hands to form the perfect punching fists. He taught me how to stand, where to hold my hands, and the obvious, how to punch. We were having so much fun; we didn't even notice everyone had returned inside the house. This was not by accident. You see, Brandon, knowing me better than I know myself sometimes, caught wind of my affections and concocted a plan to move everyone inside to give us alone time. I found out later that they all watched us from the windows. The cat was out of the bag. Meanwhile, outside, our boxing lesson had ended and the conversation took an interesting turn.
"Can I ask you something?" I said, nervously.
"Sure." He smiled.
"Do you like me?"
"Well, that was a blunt question."
Embarrassed by his retort, I giggled. "Yeah, I guess it is."
"Do you like me?" His question caught me off guard. Although he had a wicked grin on his face, I struggled to answer the truth. Fear of rejection got the best of me.
"No." Stupid girl.
He obviously liked me, otherwise he would have just said "no" instead of turning the question back on me. I always questioned whether he did, because of the way he always smiled at me or how I would catch him listening a little too closely when I told stories and jokes. I should have known better.
"Do you?" I repeated the question.
"No." Rejection found me, even though I knew I shouldn't feel sad, because I just told him I didn't like him. I was definitely not going to tell him the truth after he answered "no."
He was a grade behind me, so when I went on to the senior high my junior year, we didn't see each other until I attended the show choir's Christmas Concert the next December. After their performance, I approached his welcoming smile to tell him about his great performance.
Timing is everything. At the beginning of junior year, the boy, managed to control his wandering eye and gave his undivided attention to me. I was thrilled to finally receive his affections, but over the course of the fall semester, the boy's attention started to falter. You see, the boy didn't want to be with me, but didn't want me to be with anyone else either. He quickly noticed my reaction to seeing Mr. C at the Christmas Concert and noted the time we spent together over the next month.
Mr. C was such a good friend to me. We would talk on the phone for hours, and he would listen to me complain about what the boy had done this week. Mr. C was the perfect gentleman, telling me to stay away from the boy and how he would stand up for me if I was ever hurt. He even encouraged me to continue my dream to be a singer, even though I had let that dream die some time before. I was so blind, wrapped up in the shenanigans of the boy, while missing out on the perfect guy. My feelings grew for Mr. C, and I smartened up, ready to get rid of the boy for good. But by the time I did, it was too late.
"Hey Ashton. I need to talk to you." Sadness weaved through the words from his receiver to mine.
"Hey! Is everything alright?"
"I have bad news." I couldn't stand to hear him unhappy.
"Okay, what's up?"
"In a few weeks."
Of course this would happen, right? I finally met the right guy for me, and I had wasted too much time due to one little lie. I decided to tell him the truth about my feelings. What did I have to lose?
"So...I have something I need to tell you." It was one of those moments where you press your face into the closest pillow to muffle the shriek of your fowardness.
"Remember that night in Brandon's backyard when you were teaching me to box?"
"I lied to you, when you asked me if I liked you."
".....(dramatic pause).....I lied too."
The day he left, I left school in a rush to get to his house. Guess who thought he needed to go too? The boy. So, I didn't get the bittersweet sendoff, because it was awkward to hug the guy I had fallen for, while the boy who haunted me lingered by my car. Tears fell and without Mr. C, I fell back into the vicious lonely circle with the boy.
And the story twists again...
Two years later, Mr. C. called me while I was away at college to let me know he was coming to Oklahoma over Christmas Break. Boldness escaped before I could filter my words. I asked him to take me out on a date for my birthday! He agreed, and I thought we might finally get our shot. The week before we were to see each other again, he called to tell me he had a girlfriend. Needless to say, I was bummed. I was still very excited to see him again, even if we were only meant to be friends. I'll never forget how good he looked. They always look too good, when you know you can't have them.
I think I was 20 the last time we spoke. He told me he was getting married. Talk about a final nail in the ol' coffin. Shortly after, I saw he joined the military, but it wasn't long before he deleted his Facebook account. Too much time had passed, and I assumed the phone numbers were outdated. I even Googled him once, but came up with nothing.
It been almost 10 years since that silly dare. If I could go back, I would jump in his seat, push the blanket away, grab his face, and lay a big one on him in front of everyone! I guess I'll leave that re-write for my daydreams.