This story is by Tiffany Wright and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Kathy Garcia was nosing around the living room of the lodge, looking for an outlet to charge her phone with, when she nearly threw up.
The nausea came from terror, panic and excitement, and this cocktail of emotions hit because she saw Savian Fletcher in the forefront of the living room, sprawled on a cushy couch and mashing his thumbs against the buttons of an old Gameboy. He didn’t notice Kathy enter.
Kathy let her shock absorb until it was replaced with a nervous euphoria. Savian Fletcher’s neck-long, wavy hair was sprawled so flawlessly against the couch pillow, and even in his casual wear, when he wasn’t in a suit delivering a breathtaking viola solo for the world to witness, he looked beautiful with his shapely nose and piercing green eyes. No, beautiful was an understatement – his good looks coupled with his musical talent made him Apollo reincarnate.
She tiptoed towards him and in a quick, giddy gesture slid her hands over his eyes. Savian startled, groped at her hands, and peeled them off as he turned towards her with shining eyes.
“Hey, you,” he said, half-laughing and swatting at her hands in a playful jest. “What are you up to?”
“Oh,” she bantered, “I’ve been looking for an outlet to charge my phone with, but I guess I found you instead.” Then she cupped his face between her hands and leaned in to lock lips with his, a dose of euphoria erupting all over her body at contact…
No, she didn’t. A floorboard creaked under her feet and Savian jerked his head towards the source of the noise.
“Oh, what’s up,” he said. He gave her a smile, but it was tight-lipped. Or was it? Kathy, who scrutinized every minuscule detail about Savian, couldn’t be sure. Freshman year they confessed a mutual interest in each other. They both agreed to pursue a real relationship after they moved on from high school’s superficial teen romances and plethora of music lessons and homework. In sophomore year they drifted as the school’s raucous social scene overwhelmed Kathy’s shy, insecure persona while Savian blossomed in confidence and popularity and the girls became visibly charmed by his looks and musical skills. In junior year, Kathy was accepted into the Santa Rose Symphony Youth Orchestra, her dream come true, as a violinist to tour and perform in the wintry venues of Montana with Savian and other talented musicians. She and Savian were now in closer proximity to each other as they played off each other in the orchestra.
But did he remain true to their “promise”, as they called it, from freshman year? He never gave her any signs outside of small talk or a congratulatory remark after each performance. Did he have any dates since sophomore year? He never bragged about a girlfriend, but again, there were all those girls! But now that she wound up here with him – well, time to pin him down, as much as Savian’s aura intimidated her tremendously.
Kathy thought of delivering her pick-up line, but her throat dried up. She perched on the edge of the couch instead.
“Are you okay?” Savian asked her after an awkward silence. He didn’t take his eyes off the Gameboy.
Kathy was too busy racking up mental energy to answer.
“Don’t take this personally,” she murmured, and gripped his shoulder. Now or never.
Kathy leaned in.
The kiss wasn’t that slow, juicy, romantic gesture intimate enough to imprint onto another soul. In her extreme agitation, she landed him a quick, dry peck on the spot between the cheek and jawline. As soon as the deed was done, she cursed herself for being too nervous to enjoy the moment more. With her throbbing heart up her mouth, she awaited his reaction.
Savian stopped his playing and touched the place where she kissed him.
“I can’t date you,” he said to her in a calm, constrained voice.
Kathy’s stomach felt like it dropped out of her bottom. She wanted to demand answers upon answers from him. Instead, she squeaked, “Why not?”
Savian straightened himself upright. “First off, I want to establish that we’re still friends.”
As though you paid enough attention to be my friend lately, Kathy thought. Kathy gripped his other shoulder and leaned forward.
“We can be whatever you want it to be,” Kathy said, aware of how much her voice trembled. “Savian, I love you. I loved you ever since freshman year. You’re like Apollo to me…or something! Doesn’t this mean anything to you? You made a promise!” She took in a shaky breath before continuing. “And I promised! And I’ll make those females wish they never dallied with you! Let that sink in to your head, dumbass. Okay?!” Kathy stopped herself before she could run her mouth any further. Her hands slid down to his chest. She had one more shot.
She leaned in again, straight and true, towards the mouth. Savian’s held up his finger right between her mouth and his, stopping her.
“I can’t date you,” he repeated more firmly.He nudged her back. “I, uh, had some encounters.”
Kathy stared in disbelief. “Are you telling me you dated other girls!?”
“Wait. So…a player?”
“Dude, I thought that was obvious.”
“Why? I thought all that talk about banging the soccer players was just…you know…talk! And not – and not…God, you’re a goddamn Chad,” Kathy finished lamely, swinging her feet against the floor in distress.
“Please.” Savian rolled his eyes. “I’m the Chad when you’re the one posting photos on Instagram playing hockey-sticks with two guys’ tonsils last year?” He put on a high-pitched voice. “’I love my bae soooo much!’ ‘I’m so lucky I got Jeremy to go to Homecoming with me.’ Double standards. Geez!”
“But I was insecure! Because of you!” She burst out. “When I saw you with – with those girls at your lockers – and you were flirting with them! – it was painful. It was pitiful, Savian! And I thought, ‘Since you got all the girls, why not practice with Jeremy first?’ He was desperate, anyways.”
“Oh, so just saying hi was enough to make you jealous, huh?.”
“You were flirting!”
“Yeah, and you whored yourself out to Jeremy! And Vinnie, too!” he exploded. “That was before any ‘player’ stuff, okay?”
“To hell with before!” Kathy snapped. “I wanted you and only you! But I didn’t feel ready for you, Savian! I – I …” Hot tears spilled down her cheeks and she shook.
“You know, you’re right,” Savian finally spoke up. “My standards were too high for you. Thanks for showing me that, I guess.”
“You know, I could say the same thing about you.”
“That makes the both of us, then,” Savian said. “By the way, I’ve seen how you look at me. When I play the Teleman Viola Concerto in G, you look at me like I’m – like Apollo, is that what you said? But my viola is a metaphor to the ideal version of me. I’m not. Our freshman commitment wasn’t, either. I haven’t been honest about my intentions with other girls.”
“You’re being honest with me, now,” Kathy pointed out.
“Because I’m honest with friends, not people I have a one-night stand with,” Savian countered.
Both relapsed into silence again. Kathy suddenly felt very self-conscious – and very stupid.
“But do you love me?” Kathy whispered.
“I can’t really say. I’ve given my heart to most of the girls in my grade.”
“What are you going to do now?”
“Well, someone’s got to keep up their popularity status.”
“You’re better than that! You can still be in a relationship and not objectify people,” Kathy pointed out.
“Not like I have a choice,” Savian said in a final tone. He looked over at her. “The girls don’t call me ‘The School Player’ for nothing. And, you know, I kinda like where I’m at. But why does that matter to you? You know you don’t want to date me anyways. And I don’t want to break my friend’s heart even further. Now do you get it?”
Kathy numbly nodded.
So you’re still blaming me for where you are today? Kathy thought. She was suddenly racked with guilt. Her stomach riled with disgust, and the little bit of infatuation she had left already sapped away. Sensing that she could say nothing more, she stood up and trudged towards the door. A lot of crying into pillows, heartbreak, self-blame would follow up, she knew. But damned if they weren’t still friends. Or were they?
He looked over at her.
“Nothing personal, okay?”
“I didn’t say it was personal,” he said lightly.
“Please…let’s just keep this between you and me.”
“Yes?” Kathy looked over at Savian.
“Actually, you wanna make out?”
“I’m kidding!” He flashed her a serene smirk, the same smirk layered with a history behind all the girls he played – and the viola after mastering a particularly difficult solo piece. “Between you and me, then.”