Writing One Page at a Time
He used to stare at me for hours watching every move I made. How did I know? I always caught glimpses of him from the corner of my eye. It was comforting to me even though most would find it annoying or creepy. I had known Eric from the time I was a preschool child. He was a few years older than me, but it didn’t stop me from following him around like a puppy dog. My sister, Doreen, and he were just a few months apart, so naturally it came to the time for them to date. My prepubescent mind scrambled for a reason as to why he showed her the love and attention I craved. I licked my wounds as I listened to a Debbie Gibson album cover and cried away into my pillow.
I could never tell anyone my deep secret. Even if he had shown interest in me, I was too young to date anyway. My parents would never have gone for a thirteen-year-old seeing a ten-year-old. It sounds cute and all, but they were old fashioned. I trudged along behind my sister and him to the bus stop every morning and watched them walk hand in hand. I withdrew from their company keeping to myself and remaining quiet unless they directly spoke to me. I lost all interest in my favorite hobbies, and it got to the point that my parents began to question the sudden mood change. I was asked variants of questions as to how school was to if my friends were pushing me away. They tried to figure out my sudden disinterest in life, and could I tell them the truth? Hardly.
I waded through three years of torture from the two of them. I came home from school one day to find Doreen crying on the front porch. To my joy, Eric had dumped her; however, to my dismay, things never went back to the way they used to be. I was still invisible to him and my unsocial distraction of puberty had caused us as friends to grow apart. He was now in high school and I in my last year of middle school, which furthered the separation between us. I had hardly spoken to him in the three years he dated Doreen. I felt as if he had betrayed my heart, even though my feelings went unspoken to him.
My flourishing debut of high school came all too quickly. I had managed to make it through all the awkwardness of middle school to come out as a social butterfly in high school. Guys stopped me in the hall to talk to me just to get my attention. Even though the awkward body of the thirteen-year-old had disappeared, my awkward mind remained. So blushing, I would murmur some comment and return to my pace going to my next class. I seldom ran into Eric, and the times I did, he hardly paid me any attention at all. The only person I wanted the attention from was the one who ignored my sudden rise to popularity. It was his last year in high school and after that, I had no clue where he would go in life.
I remember one day while walking through the halls, I accidentally bumped into him as I wasn’t watching where I was walking. My books were knocked from my hands. I bent down to pick them up, and half-expected him to help. As I looked up he had already made his way down the hall from me leaving me to pick them up alone. How did the boy that had picked me up out of ditches while trying to learn to ride my bike turn into the boy who would just bump into people and leave them to clean up the mess alone?
I turned my attention from him to other boys that were my age and soon landed a date with one of the guys off the football team. I found it to be pure coincidence whenever Eric would show up at the burger joint we would go out to eat at, or when he would show up at the movie theater. The coincidences became more of frequencies and it became evident that he wasn’t just “showing up” at these places, but was really appearing anywhere I was out on a date. This was when I first noticed him watching me from a distance.
The times I had wished that I could talk to him through my eyes were not as far and few in between as I would have liked. I caught myself numerous times zoning out and my eyes straying to where he sat. The first few times I stared back at him, he looked away as if he had just looked in the general direction. The glances turned into brief eye contact moments, and then into staring in between the both of us. He never once said anything to me; he never made any gestures to me, and he never stopped following me.
Mid-freshman year, dad was laid off from work. The closest job he could take in the state was two counties away which meant we were uprooting to another location. I was irrevocably crushed by the entire situation. I could care less about leaving the school district. What tore my heart in two was leaving Eric. We started packing up the house immediately and dad put it up on the market. I had one month left in school and it felt like the hours ticked away faster than they should have.
As bittersweet moments tend to happen more often than not in my life, Eric came to the house one day after school. Of course, I was the one to answer the door as I was the only one dragging my feet to pack and run away from home. I completely understood why we had to move; that didn’t mean I had to like the reason why or like the entire situation. As the knock sounded on the door, I bounded down the steps half-expecting more delivery men to carry our boxes to our new house.
I opened the door and standing there in the black hoodie I gave him two Christmases ago was Eric. He was as gorgeous as any other day with his satin black hair falling in his eyes. He had recently gotten his lip pierced and his parents allowed him a single tattoo on his neck. He looked like the ultimate bad boy when in reality, he was lead running back for the football team with a 4.0 GPA. My heart fluttered at seeing him there and quickly crashed as I realized he was more than likely there to see Doreen.
“Hey, Eric,” I said casually. “What brings you here today?” I leaned up against the door frame with my arms crossed hating that I used the line my dad always used with him. “You here to see Doreen?”
He pulled his hood from his head and shook out his hair smoothing it down. “Actually, I’m here to see you,” he replied.
That’s when my heart literally hit the floor. There was no way he was here to see me. I do NOT know what possessed me to get snarky with him, but it slipped out.
He leaned in real close and whispered in my ear, “If I told you, then I’d have to kill ya’” He leaned back smiling. I rolled my eyes at him and smiled back. “Come on. It’s about time you had a proper night out on the town.”