Status: In progress


Chapter 5

“Mary Whatever-Your-Fake-Middle-Name-Is Davis.” I close my locker door to see Jayesh walking toward me in the hallway. He has the stupid grin on his face that I’ve grown so fond of. I haven’t seen him since our Bible Study the night before when I decided that I might sort of kind of in a way maybe like him. And I remember this as I lean against my locker as my pasty cheeks grow as red as my hair.

“What’s up, Jayesh?” That’s nonchalant, right? What’s up?

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I stand up straighter thinking the worst. My heart starts to race as I wonder how he could’ve found out. I haven’t even had time to digest my feelings my self much less talk to any of my friends about it. “I think it’s great! Brad texted me and said you called him and were wanting to go on the mission trip. It’s going to be awesome!”

“Oh,” I start, trying to register everything that’s been said. “Oh! Right. The trip. Yeah. It’s going to be rad.” Jayesh laughs.

“Rad? Are we in the seventies, Davis?”

“Um,” I begin sarcastically, “I rather like the word rad. I like older things. Like the name Mary and old-style dresses.” I use my free hand that’s not holding my books to gesture down at my yellow dress that very well looks like it could be worn by a mother in the mid-1960’s. “I think it gives me a unique quality.”

“Well, I must say, Davis, the dresses suit you.” And my cheeks begin to heat up again, and I’m sure my foundation can barely hide the red glow that must be emitting from them. “Well, I’ve gotta go to Spanish. See ya, around, Davis.”

“Yeah,” I said as I try to calm my heart rate. “Bye.” I lean against my locker again as I gather the strength to walk and simultaneously realize how embarrassing that might have been. I slowly make my way to my chemistry class where Kale and Carly sit behind me. “What’s up, guys?” I say to them as I set my books down on the table in front of my chair. I turn around to look at Carly with her head on her desk. This is strange as she’s usually pretty peppy. “Carly? What’s wrong?” I can hardly hear as she mumbles something into her arms. “What? I couldn’t understand you.”

“I said I’m gonna die,” she says morbidly as she brings her head up just enough to speak and set it back down again. I look at Kale with a questioning look, my eyebrows raised, silently telling him to explain.

After a sigh, and not even looking up from his cell phone, Kale says, “Carly likes Jayesh, and she really wants to tell him, but she doesn’t know how because she’s embarrassed and she’s never had a boyfriend before.”

“Oh,” I say.

“Oh?” Carly says, whipping her head up and leaning back against her chair. “He tells you I like someone. I, one of your very best friends who has never liked a boy enough to freak out about, like someone, and all you can say is, ‘Oh?’”

What else could I say? She likes Jayesh. But I realized not a full day ago that I might like Jayesh. Maybe. How do I tell her this? Do I tell her this? What do I say?

“I mean,” I start. “That’s great!” That’s great? How is it great? “I think you guys would be great together.” Why am I talking? “I mean, you’re super pretty, and guys like you.” This is going to be a disaster for me, I just know it. “Just take a chance.” Stop it, Mary. Just stop.

“Really?” Carly says as she looks at me hopefully. “You think if I asked him out he’d say yes?”

“Duh,” Kale interjects. “I mean, you’re a cheerleader, you can sing like it’s nobody’s business, and you’re super hot. If he said no, he’d might be gay, and I am definitely not getting a gay-guy vibe from him.”

“Since when do you have gay-dar?” Caroline asks.

“I’ve always had gay-dar,” Kale replies. We silently look at him waiting for him to explain. “Look, Jayesh is nice, and he takes care of himself, but not too much, you know? Like, he dresses nice, but not gay nice. And he’s hygienic. But not gay hygienic. I mean, he bites his nails. They’re super jagged. Now name one gay person who bites their nails.” And we continue to stare at him silently. “Exactly.”

“Anyway,” I say, bringing the conversation back to Carly. “He’d be an idiot to say no.”

“I think I’ll do it,” she says. “Mary, would you be there with me? I think I need support.”

“Sure, Carly,” I say, wondering why I’m such a good friend.


“You’ve got this, Carly,” B says as Carly works up the courage to talk to the boy we she likes. B, Carly, Kale, and I are standing outside of the cafeteria looking in the window where Jayesh is seated next to Michael.

“Do it or don’t,” Kale says. “Either way, we can’t stand here looking at him through a window. We’re not stalkers.” He gets out his phone and taps a few times. Carly looks back and notices it.

“What are you doing?” she asks frantically. He doesn’t answer. “Kale! What are you doing?”

Kale holds his finger up, telling her to wait. “Annnnnd, send.” We all know what’s happened. Nobody has to say it. We turn to look back through the window to see Jayesh take out his phone.

“What do you think he’s gonna say?” I ask, genuinely interested. Part of me wants him to like Carly. Carly is literally the sweetest person I’ve ever met, and she definitely deserves to get anything she wants. But on the other hand, it’s Jayesh. But the more I think about it, the more I mentally slap myself because I’ve liked him for, what, a day? Get a grip, Mary.

“He’s smiling,” Carly says with a breathy voice. “He’s smiling! What do you think that means?” My heart rate begins to speed as I think about it. Jayesh always smiles. But the smile I see through the cafeteria window is different. It’s a smile I’ve never seen on Jayesh’s face before. A crooked smile with no teeth.

I hear a vibration, and Carly gets her phone out of the back pocket of her jeans. She reads silently before she slowly starts to smile. “He asked me if I want to go out for pizza. What do I say?”

“What about yes, you dolt?” Kale says.

“Duh, Kale,” Carly replies. "How do I say yes? Emoji? No emoji? And how do I word it? I can’t just say yes. It makes it sound like I don’t really care.”

“Give me your phone,” I say before I can stop myself. She willingly hands it to me as I begin to read what he said.

Jayesh: Hey! So, I was wondering if you wanted to go somewhere for dinner tonight? Just us two? Maybe pizza at Rolando’s?

As I read, small tears formed in my eyes that I blinked away before anyone saw. That first word. Hey-exclamation-point. He was excited to be talking to her. And the fact that everything else in his message was a question. He’s hoping she’ll say yes. I try to put all of that in the back of my mind as I begin to type.

Me: Definitely! I can’t wait. Pick me up at six?

We silently waited for a response.

Jayesh: Perfect! See ya then!

I hand Carly’s phone back to her as she reads the short conversation. “Oh, thank you, Mary!” She gives me a tight hug. “Thank you so much. It’s perfect! Short, and not too desperate, and it shows him I’m excited. And I definitely am. You’re the best!”

“Right,” Kale says. “Now that we missed pretty much all of lunch staring at the dude, I’m starving. You owe me snacks right after school, Carly.”

“Gotcha, Kale,” Carly replies, unable to take her eyes away from her phone as she reads the messages over and over. And for some reason, I can’t stop watching her read. Read the text message I feel should have been for me. If I had known all it would take is Kale to send a text to him for me, that would have been it. I would be going on a pizza date with Jayesh tonight instead of Carly. I would be the one re-reading a text from him over and over again, probably going over in my head what I would wear tonight.

But I’m not. Carly is.

The school bell signaling the end of lunch takes me out of my trance. I head down the hallway with B and sit in my seat watching the door, waiting for Jayesh to come in and sit down. When he walks through the door, he has the same goofy Jayesh smile on his face as always.

“Hey, Davis,” he says as he sits down in his seat behind me. “Where were you at lunch?” He looks over at B. “Where were all of you guys? It was just me and Michael. Not that I don’t enjoy Michael’s company, but he’s a bit of a talker. Especially when it’s just the two of us.”

“We had some homework to finish,” I say, trying to cover for Carly. “Sorry about Michael. We’ll be there tomorrow.”

“Cool,” Jayesh replies, apparently not giving it much thought at all. “So, Davis,” Jayesh whispers to me as our new STD explains what we’re supposed to be doing today. “Can I talk to you after class? At my locker?”

“Sure,” I say as my heart starts pounding fast for what feels like the thousandth time today. You can’t do that. Not to someone like me. You can’t tell someone you want to talk to them and then give them no indication as to what it’s about.

English went on. Forty-five minutes of sitting in my desk not being able to focus on whatever it is Jayesh wants. Finally, after what feels like forever, the bell rings and I follow Jayesh out into the hallway and to his locker.

“What’s up?” I say as I lean against the locker next to his, trying to seem like I’m not bothered by anything.

“Carly and I are going out on a date,” he says, getting straight to the point.

“Oh,” I say, trying to contort my face into an expression that shows I had no idea. “You and Carly. Do you like her?” Why did I ask that? What made me ask this question? I know I’m just going to be freaking out for the next point-three seconds until he answers my question.

“Yeah,” Jayesh says as my face begin to burn and tears of embarrassment pool up into my eyes. Embarrassment from thinking he’d ever like me. Embarrassment from being jealous of one of my best friends. Jayesh doesn’t look at me. He takes some books out of his bag as he talks and stuffs them into his locker. As he begins taking other books out and putting them into his bag he says, “I mean, I never really thought about her like that until she texted her today. Then I got to really thinking. She’s nice. She’s pretty. She’s smart and talented. What’s not to like? And I wanted to talk to you about it because you’re pretty much my best friend here, and I just wanted your opinion, I guess? I mean, I just moved here, so -- Davis? Are you okay?” I realize then I had begun staring at the floor during some point of this conversation. I also realize the tears had started to spill over onto my cheeks.

“Yeah!” I say a little too enthusiastically as I wipe my face. “I’m gonna be late for class. I’ll see you later.” I walk past him, and just as I get a couple of lockers over, I turn back around to see him looking at me with a concerned expression, his permanent smile gone. “I’m excited for you and Carly. Really.” I use his small smile and his silence to take my opportunity to leave. And as I walk to my next class, I scold myself for being so childish. Carly really does deserve to be happy. Even if it is with the only boy I’ve had feelings for in a while.