Unwritten Rules Chapter 4: "Some Days"

There were a few days that I spent with Sam at her house. She lived in a medium-sized duplex located on Fairchild Air Force Base along with her parents and her older brother, James. James was two years older than me and he was the stereotypical older brother who thought the worst about any boy dating his sister. He never actually said it, but at the times when Sam and I were sitting together in her room, he would walk by (the door was always open) and give me “the look” that says, in the flashing of a blink: “I will tolerate you being with my sister. Yes, we go to the same church but I solemnly swear to you on a stack of Bibles and my life that if you do anything to hurt, distress, cause pain, suffering, grief, misery, anguish, agony, trauma, woe, sadness or sorrow to her, I will personally kill you twelve times over. Other than that, we’re cool.”

A light kiss is all we ever did. I'd be lying if I said I never thought of doing more...but, there were a lot of reasons I never did:
One, yes, James would kill me. Two, I didn't have a license during most of our relationship so I could never drive us anywhere. Three, James would kill me, dig me up, somehow revive my corpse and then kill me again. I also didn't really know what do. To base a further relationship on what others said would have me looking back at a steel toilet in a cell. I fought back the urges, a lot. There was not a day that went by that I wanted to tell her that she was the one for me that I wanted to be with her forever. I never did though...as something told me to wait. Nothing more than that. No further explanations. The teenage hormones were probably screaming out in her too...but I ignored them...or I was just completely clueless to listen.

IV. Some Days

"Do you have a question?
What don’t you understand?
May I be of assistance?
What is the question of the land?
What is love…and will it come to me?
What is joy….why can’t I see?
Does the Lord let me know, oh when will he show?
Oh when will I know, what is love?"

Renee had given me the short poem Rebekah wrote. It was eight lines of questions. I would be a bit big-headed to think that it was solely about me. This would be like going to a rock concert and assuming that the singer was speaking directly to me and only me...and that she was secretly telling me to kill the President for her.

It would seem though, she was asking the same questions I was....yeah, mine were about her but it looked like we were both wondering about the world we lived in and life in general. She was asking God the same questions that I never would, for fear that I wouldn't like the answer or that I would never hear or understand the answer--even if it was standing before me, in blue jeans, a light sweater, glasses and had long, red hair.
I had a few options at this time:
-Answer the poem.
-Just give it back to Renee.
-Never give it back...but Renee would tell her that I had it, so I had to respond somehow.

I would love to say that I had a dream where the answers came to me on a set of stone tablets, a ghostly wolf, or a glowing gold plate...but, my dreams were like they were every night: ones that I couldn't remember when I woke up.
I was waiting for Jason as he drove the car up the hill to the driveway—which was new, as he usually had to honk the horn a few times for me to come outside.

“Twilight Zone, there, Strad.”
“Yeah, I need to bounce a few things off you.”
I opened the door of the passenger side and got in.
“What’s the question?”
“Two things…and neither of them can leave the sanctuary of this car.”
“What'cha got?”
Jason threw the gearshift into reverse and backed out without looking in his mirrors or behind him.
“Nick’s gay.”
“Yeah, I know. You mean you didn’t”
At that point, Jason confirmed that I really needed to pay more attention to my fellow students.
“Okay and have you heard anyone talk about him?”
“Not enough time to list everyone.”
We drove down the hill and onto the rocky country road,
“What do they say?”
“I’m afraid your virgin ears would spontaneously combust hearing it. You’re making it seem like it’s a big deal."
"I personally don’t care if he is. Do you?”
"Nope."
“I mean, people can be whatever they want to be. If he wants to be a fire truck-"
“Cut to the chase, Strad.”
“I, I mean, if he wants to kiss a guy at school, it should be okay.”
“No one needs to see two dudes kissing in the hall. Two chicks, however, that’s hot. What’s the second thing?”
“Does Jeannie have a sister?”
“Yeah, umm…Becky, I think that’s her name.”
“High school?”
“No, eighth grader. Why?”

I desperately attempted to hide ANY reaction to that news. Eighth? That was the equivocally of being told something costs "two ninety-nine" and they mean two hundred and ninety-nine THOUSAND, not under three bucks.

The smart thing was to feign any reaction. And. Go. On: “Something Jeannie was talking about…didn’t want to ask her directly though.”
“She’s the secretary. Don’t you talk to her about everything?”
“Certain subjects are off-limits.”
“Like having a gay vice-president?”
“That’s not the issue.”
“Then what is?”
“That’s what I’m trying to find out. It’s like I’m the definition of intolerance or something. I haven’t said anything about him or to him.”
"Are we talking about Jeannie's sister or Nick? Because I'm confused now."
"Never mind, I think I got it. I can deal with this."
"With Nick? What's there to deal with?"
"Something's really bothering him."
"He's always been that way."
"I mean to the point of going unhinged."
"That's what I meant too."
"Has anyone ever fought with him?"
"No one would try. He's a fighter."
"So they're all talk and no action?"
"Yep."
"That's usually worse."

I continued with light banter with Jason through the rest of the drive to school but the damage to my heart had occurred. I mean, I had placed so much emotion into this girl even though I barely knew her. Sure, we had some small talk that no one else ever really gets into unless they're either already in a relationship or are counseling someone at seventy-five dollars an hour.
Considering my age of seventeen...I would be...maybe, about three years older than her and she was in junior high...a clear violation of the unwritten rule of keeping your love life within the high school and above. If she was a freshman and I was a senior, it would fall within the boundary.

While someone once said "rules are meant to be broken", I wasn't ready to challenge this one any more than dealing with the situation with Nick...and that depressed me further. I had written a reply to her poem and now it would have to be a soulless reply: I could write the perfect ballad, but I'd have to dismiss it as "just words on a page. Try not to read too deep."

I walked into the high school to see Renee standing in the front of the hall. Clearly a bad omen...as I hadn't yet changed one word of the poem.
"She really wants me to give it back to her....I told her I left it in my gym locker and..."
"No problem," I answered as I could feel the eyes of everyone looking at me as if I was in the process of dealing drugs to someone as I handed the quad folded-over note and a simple, folded over piece of notebook paper.

If ever there was a chorus of angels or a theatre full of people who screamed "don't do that!" to the screen and they could give me direction....the best time would have been at that moment.

My eyes watched the folded page as I handed it over to Renee. Time was standing still...no, it was my heart racing and my armpits beginning to flood with sweat. Once she had it in her hand it was over so I had three seconds...
Three seconds to decide if I really wanted to this.
Two seconds to determine if this was good idea.
One point five seconds to really wonder if this would be a good thing and if I was doing this out of actual feelings of endearment or to silence a voice of doubt...a voice that sounded a lot like Sam's...
One second to ponder if the poem actually made any sense or if it was written in a sloppily, Fortune cookie-ish style soaked heavily in the essence of Kenny G.

Time was up as the paper was now in her hand.
"Can I read it?" She asked.
"If you want to."
"No, I'll let her read it first."
I nodded as I looked down the hall--no one was looking...no one except for Jeannie.
"Hey, Renee!"
"Hey Jeannie!" Renee then turned to me. "Gotta go!"
"Thank you," I replied as Jeannie...and her shadow..., I mean, Paul, walked up.
"You know Renee?"
"We've talked a few times when I've been up in the elementary building for Mrs. Jantz."
"She's a good friend of my sister's," Jeannie looked to Paul as she spoke. I suppose there was more to talk about to each other than your sister's friends...such as why they were in the high school talking to me. I hoped that she would not ask the question.
"See you later, Eric."

They both tuned and walked away...and as much as I felt like flying or fainting at that time, I think I held it together as I walked to my locker without another thought until third period.

Mrs. Jantz went over yet another set of workbooks, "might as get them all done," was her motto as she handed over several pages ear marked with what sections needed to go where and how this book needed to be double-spaced while another one had to be upside-down, sideways and every which way but loose...

No, that was how my head feeling because I had to go up to the grade school building and I would have to answer for my crimes of writing bad poetry and receiving the wrong signals. It was my own fault if anything would occur though. But maybe there was a silver lining or two...or maybe just one: She would see it as a simple answer call to the poem, a collaboration of sorts...a Sherlock and Watson or Benny & Clyde...Chocolate and peanut butter...You know, a business relationship, devoid of feelings except to finish the work.
I entered the grade school from the far side of the building. If anyone was looking for me, they would miss out as I used an alternate door to the copy room. My very own "Metal Gear" stealth mission: avoid anyone who looked like a junior high student. Keep out of sight of teachers who knew me and would say "Hi, Eric," and blow my cover.

The copy room door closed with a satisfying "click" and I was alone with only the humming chorus of three large-scale electro-static toner laser copiers. I started my work with copying and collating.

Do you have a question?
What don’t you understand?
May I be of assistance?
What is the question of the land?
What is love…and will it come to me?
What is joy….why can’t I see?
Does the Lord let me know, oh when will he show?
Oh when will I know, what is love?"

Let us find the the answers,
To these riddles that we see
Let's study the puzzles
That frighten you and me
It is patient and kind, and it's there for you.
It's a well-spring within, where peaceful waters flow.
He gives us answers in the dark, so we'll hear with our heart
And he let's us know, what is love.

It wasn't my best work, I admit I had written better. I had once written an acrostic that went diagonal--there was a hidden phrase that started with the first letter of first line and then the second letter of the second line and so on. It was quite a sample of ee cummings-inspired writing and when I gave it to Sam she didn't see the acrostic and she lost the poem five minutes after I gave it to her. It was raining and windy and we weren't on the best of speaking terms. Yes, I wish I had kept a copy of the work, but--
“Eric?”
I looked up from the plethora of printed pages before to see Rebekah standing in the doorway. My eyes were saucers; a deer trapped in headlights expression was on my face and I had to wonder what the medical odds were for a generally healthy teenager to crumple to the floor from a heart attack.
“Yes?”
“Can I ask you a question?” She didn't ask me a question, it was more like a declaration that she was going to say something. I accepted the fact that she would not accept no as answer, so I answered with: “Sure.”
"Did Renee give you my poem?"
"Yes."
The door closed behind her.
"And did you write this?" She asked while holding the unfolded page.
I was never good at reading faces. "It needed an answer."
“You don't hide feelings very well, do you?”
“I’ve been told that by a few people,” I replied as I tried to avoid eye contact.
"So, you liked it?"
"Yes, it has a lot of promise. What made you think of it?"
"I don't know. I'd love to say I could write about fluffy little bunnies or the bright sunshine but...but that's not how I've felt lately."
"I know the feeling."
"What makes you write?"
"Well, for a while it's been pain; desolation...maybe the loss of a kitten or a bad grade. But now I'd like to say, you."

All of the sounds in the room abruptly stopped. The harmonic hum of the copiers silenced; the dripping of the faucet in the sink ceased; and my brain shortened out. I had hoped I wasn't standing there for too long looking slack-jawed with glazed eyes. I also hoped that I had not mis-interpreted any signals.
"I do?"
"Since the other day, yes,".I answered as I tried to reign in all of the thoughts running through my head: the ones ranging from a complete denial this was happening to where we would go on a potential honeymoon.
"I was hoping you'd notice."
"I noticed, but, I wasn't sure."
"Still hurting?" She asked as she walked to the table in front of my toner-scented stacks.
"It's like getting stung of a bee or falling off an out-of-control bike. It leaves a mark."
"But if you never get back up?"
I nodded in reply.
"So, you can't ever block it out?"
"We wouldn't be human if we just let it all go, would we?"
"I'd love to forget about a lot of things...things I've failed to do."
"Like what?"
She looked down to the floor and sighed. I almost wanted to take my question back.
"I used to cut myself. I'd wear long sweaters and shirts to hide the marks,"
"Why?"
"I think you know the answer. You've probably asked the same questions too."
"Why am I alive when I feel so empty inside?"
"That's another one." She replied with a bit of surprise in her eyes.
"Can I do it without leaving a mess? Just vanish and no one would have to worry?"
"No, I mean--"
"Why do I feel alone when there's hundreds of people around me?"
"That's the one," she answered with a slight smile. "I don't feel that alone now."
"Me neither."

I walked back to the high school with even more conflicted emotions that I came up there with. for every good thought, there were several negatives…and they all involved on how could avoid everything becoming like what happened with Samantha. I couldn’t make a vow, because I was never exactly sure what had happened to cause the rift between us. I had a good feeling that it was my fault though. It was the same feeling I got with I stepped into the school and into an on-going fight between Nick and Paul.

“Come at me, fag!”
The two circled around each other in the hall outside of the gym; apparently they had just gotten out of P.E. There was a small crowd gathered. The only things missing were cheerleaders, popcorn and the pep band.
“Don’t look at me like that.” Paul taunted.
“I wouldn’t want to!"
“C’mon, pussy, let’s go.”
Paul threw several fake punches; attempting to get Nick to strike the first blow.
It was supposed to be the stereotypical high school fight: no one ever really threw a punch, just a lot of grappling. However, in this case, I had a feeling that Nick was about to blow off more than a little steam.
I stepped in between them.
“Nick, not worth it. Think about it.”
“This your boyfriend?”
“Look at me, not him!” I yelled.
Nick’s eyes lost the firey glaze they had.
“Meet me in the library. You should go now.”
“Don’t listen to him, you want this, don’t cha?” Paul yelled over my head.
I turned my head towards Paul; trying to understand exactly what Jeannie saw in this guy. “Will you please, just shut up?”
Nick walked down the hall just as just about every teacher came running to our location
“You’re pathetic,” Paul said to me.
I didn’t reply.
“No wonder your girlfriend broke up with you.”
I wasn’t really sure if he actually said that or not as the adrenaline in my body was winding down and the deep down depressive demons took over my thought process.
What had I done?

Some Days



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