My main writing project at the moment is a young adult novel about a fictionalized Basque American folk dancing group. Every Friday, I post excerpts from my novel draft. Get caught up on the last installment here.
“Why don’t you have any friends?” Brigitte’s tone conveyed a deep concern.
Patrick furrowed his eyebrows in confusion and let out a soft, nervous laugh. “What do you mean?”
“Wow, that came out wrong. I’m sorry,” Brigitte quickly apologized, her face flushing a deep red. “I just mean that you get along with everyone and you’re super outgoing, but it doesn’t seem like you have many actual friends.” Patrick’s expression went blank, and Brigitte worried she had lost him. “I mean, you hang out with people, don’t get me wrong; it just doesn’t seem like you’re very close with any of them.”
Patrick sat in silence for a long while, looking out the windshield into the half empty parking lot. He squinted a bit due to the sunshine’s reflection on a nearby sedan, the only car near them at this point. The lot had cleared out in the time they had been sitting there. It was nearly three o’clock, long past the lunch rush.
“Yeah, I guess that’s true,” he finally mustered, dropping his gaze to his hands. “But Daniel’s my buddy. He’s really the only guy I trust.”
“What’s that about?” prodded Brigitte. “Didn’t you used to have more friends?” She searched his face for the answer but could not read his expression. His eyes darted around the cab of the truck nervously, as if he desperately wanted to escape the discussion. Yet he sat still.
“I did have a buddy all throughout elementary school—Jack Sanders. Once we got to middle school though, things changed. He started hanging out with these other kids, the popular crowd, you know. Completely left me behind, like I didn’t even exist. He acted like we were never friends.”
“I’m sorry. That’s really rough,” Brigitte sympathized. On the one hand, her heart went out to Patrick as someone who had also experienced the sting of rejection, but on the other she was thrilled by his response. This was the most information about him he had ever shared with her. This was deep and this was real. He was sharing his problems. He was vulnerable.
“It’s okay. What can you do, right?” Patrick shrugged off her sympathy. “That just sucked, so I decided to never let that happen again.”
“It’s not like it was your fault though.”
“No,” he agreed. “But I let myself think he was my friend. So now I just have lots of buddies, guys I can hang out with, have a good time. But if one of them gets busy or finds new friends, it’s not a big deal.”
Brigitte’s heart leaped at the breakthrough. She was beginning to understand a little bit more about this boy who had intrigued her for so many years. But the more she learned, the more she wanted to know. She felt sad for him. It did not seem to her that removing oneself from the possibility of friendship with others was the way to go, even with his sad tale about Jack Sanders.
“I guess that makes sense,” replied Brigitte with reserved approval. She was not about to tell him she thought that was a very sad way to live. “Something similar happened to me when I got to high school. One of my best friends from camp–well, you know her. Frankie from Salt Lake.”
“Oh yeah. That was the girl who got left behind at the water park during Reno camp, right?”
“Yup. That was her,” nodded Brigitte. “Anyway, we kept in really close touch after that camp. Called each other once a week and talked for hours. But then once freshman year started, she stopped calling, stopped texting, didn’t return any of my calls. Totally fell of the grid, like she was stonewalling me. And I had no idea why.”
“People suck,” Patrick declared matter-of-factly. He took the straw out of his empty cup and chewed the end of it. The red and yellow striped plastic tube stuck out of his mouth like a farmer’s stalk of hay.
Brigitte beamed at how simply Patrick summarized it all, yet she recognized the blanket statement as an attempt to end the personal nature in which the conversation had turned. His reluctance to talk about anything of importance amused her now that she had small piece of privileged information. She wondered if Daniel knew about Jack Sanders.
Patrick pointed out the time.
“When did it get so late?” Brigitte exclaimed in surprise.
“I know. Time flies,” Patrick remarked. “I should be getting home though.”
“Yeah, me too.” Brigitte felt like she could sit with him for many more hours, but she was not going to be one of those needy people. She recognized that Patrick probably had other, better things to move on to.
“See you next weekend.” Patrick leaned in for a hug, and they embraced in one of those awkward seated car hugs. Despite the odd angle, Brigitte was ecstatic. It felt like an act of charity for him to hug her—one that she wholeheartedly welcomed and appreciated. It was the perfect end to their illuminating conversation.
“Definitely.” They pulled away, and Brigitte dug through her bag for her car keys. As she held the handle to open the door, she turned to remind him to watch her show on Wednesday night. He smiled and assured her he would tune in.
© 2013 Anne Marie Chiramberro All Rights Reserved