Face it, it sucks when someone's after your special someone. Inspired by a true story.
My heart’s thrashing against my ribcage and I can barely hear my own gasps as everyone around us cheers- Reed lunges at me with flailing fists and we end on the cold marble trying to grapple each other’s necks- ‘Nail him!’ Diaz keeps shouting while Spectre towers over like a cold referee. Blood appears- whose is it? All I know is that one of us isn’t dead yet- somehow we’re back on our feet and fenced in by a ring of students- over Reed’s heaving shoulders I can see the very reason why this fight happened- and she lets out an gasp that I can’t hear as Reed’s collarbone crumbles underneath my fist…
Guys are dumbasses. I’ll give you that. Sometimes it’s all the testosterone pulsing in us, sometimes we just plain want to show off our incredible ability to jump off the school roof into a dumpster and walk off scot free. But the worst things happen in competition. I ain’t talking about football, I mean when two guys go for the same girl. It’s like two dogs tearing each other up over a T-bone… Shit happens. Why? Because guys are dumbasses.
Something goes wrong every year at Chrenshaw High, something goes wrong everyday with the crowd I hang with… and having the mindset that we’re tough guys, we think we’re always right. That we’re invincible, that life is only worth living with a shot of adrenaline a day and an old fashioned fist fight every now and than.
I can feel the sentimental tear already.
Her name… well on the first day of my 11th year, most of my buddies stayed in the slack classes and incredible- I land myself a seat in the smart class, in the very back row where I won’t get ogled at by the smart, rich people who can fucking afford their own textbooks, fancy calculators and… goddamn, first day of school clothes. And here I am, wearing my dad’s work jeans and a dirty tank top… and squashed right in between glam girl whose texting underneath the desk and a couple of the goddamned player kids talking loudly about who they scored with over the summer.
Than she walks in- no, not just into the room- into my life- long, glossy red hair flowing over her shoulders, a face that God must’ve sculpted himself and a smile- a flipping smile on the very first day of school and she sits right across the room, second row. Something clicks inside of me… hell that’s it, someone else can have this seat.
I tell you if a guy approaches a beautiful woman- either he’s thinking about how to get into her pants, or he’s dead scared he’ll say something stupid, his voice will crack, or he’ll… no shut up Lance, your almost there, she’s busy talking to the tall guy in the next seat… wait…
She smiles at me, and I swear the moment that warm, beautiful smile washed over me I got hooked. Screw boobs and butts, that smile of hers seared into my memory like a hot iron.
“I’d like everyone in their seat please.” The goddamned teacher interrupts, staring straight at me. Fuck, everyone’s found a seat and here I am standing alone right in front of my new crush like a goddamn moron. The tall kid my crush was talking to leans back in his chair and gives me the kind of smug smile someone gives when they want to get punched in the face.
“Robert, Cox.” The teacher grumbles, taking out an attendance list without even bothering to introduce herself.
Checkmark. “Selena, Johnson.”
Glam girl actually looks up from her cellphone. “Here.”
More checkmarks on the attendance list.
“Yeah I’m here.” The smug kid says, still propped back on his chair. One side glance and I swear he winked at the cute girl behind me and shot me a look at the same time.
A shadow of an arm creeps up on my desk. “Here Mrs.” Chelsea says in a sweet sing-song voice.
“Anyone I miss?” The teacher continues gruffly. “Do we have a Lance Martinez?”
How dare she… Chelsea politely addresses the teacher and she just blows it right off.
“No Lance Martinez?”
“Oh wait, wait, wait… I’m right here.” I stutter over a few giggles.
“Better pay attention if you want to pass my class.” The teacher grumbled irritably, scratching out what must’ve been a red ‘X’ next to my name. “And maybe dress more like your ready to be educated.” More laughter from the class. First impressions… what a joke. What a fucking joke.
A soft, gentle hand taps me in the shoulder. “It’s alright.” Chelsea whispers softly to my ear. “I don’t bother with first day of school clothes either.”
She’s beaming again- like she knows that radiant smile already drives me nuts. I think my grin from talking to her was even bigger.
“Your kidding me, right?” Diaz asks in disbelief. “You’ve sat in front of Ginger-girl for the past four months, checked her out everyday and still haven’t banged her yet?”
“Her name’s Chelsea.” I said irritably. “And I keep telling you man, I’m not in this for sex, I swear I’m in love this girl!”
Maybe Spectre would’ve smiled for once if Diaz hadn’t snorted and coughed up a plume of cigarette smoke into his face.
“Anyway, here’s the deal, from what I know, Chelsea seems pretty interested in me-”
“-Cause her standard are low-”
“And I don’t know what to do. She’s nice, pretty, comes from the rich part of town, and… and…”
“What?” My buddy Aldo prompts, walking up in an expensive looking, but raggled leather jacket. “Can’t afford nuthin’ for your girl?”
“Exactly. Shit man, I’m all nice to her, remembered her birthday was exactly a week ago and spent two months saving up enough money to go get her a nice necklace from the good part of town…” I fumbled in my pocket and yanked out a beautiful necklace that shimmered in the afternoon sun.
“And?” The cigarette left Diaz’ lips.
A few words gurgled up my throat and got lost. The necklace hung limp off my hand.
“…There’s another guy who sits by her, Michael Reeds, tall, jock kid, always flirting with her, playing with her in class, and I’m about to take out the necklace when he pulls out this expensive looking Swiss watch, says he wished her a Happy Birthday and wanted to take her out to dinner or a movie sometime.”
My hands found my face and although I can’t see it, Diaz just puffs out a new plume of acrid smoke. “So what?” He asks. “You still need to show her you love her, stop cowering and give her the goddamn necklace already, you really think women want to date a wuss?”
“There’s a school dance coming up in two weeks.” Aldo added thoughtfully. “Ask this girl out.”
My heart seemed to beat faster all of a sudden. “But Reed’s already asked her out for dinner, so…”
Spectre stood straight up and didn’t even have to come close before the shadow of his Herculean body swallowed mine. “So we’ll be there for you. And if Reed’s got a problem, he can deal with it like a man.”
One week later and no bones broken- no hearts either. Everyone’s getting ready for lunch- trooping by the poster that screams ‘SPRING DANCE!” in everyone’s face- shit here comes Chelsea, can she see me? No, she’s looking at the poster- I probably balled over a few kids on my way towards the center of the hallway.
She beams at me, this time she’s wearing some new long, dangly… expensive looking earrings. Don’t think about that stuff, think about what your going to say…
“Hey Lance, what are you doing for lunch?”
Gonna try to ask you out, that’s what. “I, uh, want to ask you something, Chelse, something big.”
She looks pretty bemused. “Do you need help with that essay? It’s due today. ”
Wait, we had an essay due? Shit, shut up and think clearly. “No, something I’ve been wanting to say for a long time, Chelse.” Here goes, “Will you go to the dance with me?”
Geez, saying it felt incredibly stupid and my heart plummets into my stomach the moment she says “Oh, Lance… I think your really nice and all… but Michael’s already planning to take me out to dinner-”
“Look, look, let’s not worry about Michael Reed, just give me a chance to take you out and I can really show you how much I care about you-” Her smile melts into a grimace, “- Reed bought you that gold Swiss watch for your birthday because that’s pocket change to him, I spent two months saving up to buy you a necklace- look, I even got it here!”
Ignoring the curious stares of everyone else in the hallway, I drag the necklace out of my pocket and thrust it out to Chelsea with a quivering hand.
“Look, Lance,” She says, obviously looking uncomfortable at all the stares. “But…”
The biggest risk of my life wasn’t jumping off the school roof into a dumpster can, or even playing chicken on a railroad track, it was when impulse took over and I slipped that glittering pendant over Chelsea’s neck. She looked even more radiant with it.
I swear her face turned as red as her hair. “It’s very pretty.” She whispered, smiling shyly. “I can’t believe you went through all that just for me.”
“So will you go out with me? To the dance?”
“What the fuck are you doing?!” Reed shouts as I stagger off the ground. “This is my fucking girl!”
Spectre must’ve been watching over me the whole time, because he pops out of nowhere and grapples Reed by the neck-
“No, no!” Chelsea screams as the hallway starts to erupt.
“NO!” I bellow, and Spectre stops choking Reed, although he still pins him down.
“Let me go you fuck!” Reed spits.
Spectre stares straight into me and nods before shoving Reed onto the floor.
“You’ve got a lot of things I don’t, Reed.” I began, breathing hard. “Money, cars, chicks… but you ain’t gonna have my fucking girlfriend-” Our faces are an inch from each other. “No one cares about your fucking money, let’s settle this like men.”
A dead silence sinks into the hallway, except for Chelsea who lets out a little moan of terror.
All the past fights I’ve been through slice through my memory- grade school against a couple bullies, a fist fight with my mom’s exboyfriend, a scuffle with some twerp from another school, but this is serious, either I win this fucking fight or I don’t deserve Chelsea-
The tension snaps like a rubber band and the two of us snap up into full fighting stance, something just consumes me and I lunge out at Reed like a maniac, swinging backfists, hammers and hooks- his hands clasp around my neck and we slam into the lockers, I hear footsteps, are people running away or to the fight?- We go down on the floor – but Chelsea’s still there, watching two idiots fight over her- ‘Nail him!’ Diaz keeps shouting while Spectre towers over like a cold referee. Blood appears- whose is it? All I know is that one of us isn’t dead yet- somehow we’re back on our feet and fenced in by a ring of students- over Reed’s heaving shoulders I can still see Chelsea and she lets out an gasp that I can’t hear as Reed’s collarbone crumbles underneath my fist. He doubles over in pain and I’m right on him, his skull cracks with every alternating blow I land on him-
“Enough.” Spectre seizes me by the collar and pulls me out of harms way. There’s Reed crumpled on the ground, probably on the brink of death while Chelsea kneels by him, sobbing as a blood continues to seep through his wounds. His blood’s almost as red as Chelsea’s hair and Chelsea… she stares at me with tears streaming from her shimmering eyes… and just five minutes ago she had flashed me the beautiful smile I had fallen in love with.
I was selfish, only wanting to prove my feelings for Chelsea, never giving a second thought to what she would have to go through, what she would have to face. I felt sick at doing this to her. I wanted desperately to say ‘I’m sorry’, but my lips fused together, I couldn’t bear to see her like that.
I was expelled from Chrenshaw High on the spot and I spent five months at juvie, getting rehabilitation and mental therapy- not that I needed it, it just helped me forget about Chelsea.
By the time I was out, I had forgotten about what her smile looked like, about how good it felt to be around her or even when her birthday was. Diaz said Chelsea moved to a different school a week after the fight… and I hope that wherever that school is, a more deserving guy can get her to smile again.
People still say I’m a dumbass for fighting over a girl. I concur.