Chapter 50


Well, I’m in shock at the moment. I am, basically, a blender of different emotions right now. Sad, relieved, worried, lost, happy, and, mostly, confused as to what to do now.

I got a note from Jamie to expect a call from Marie this afternoon after school, which I thought was bizarre. Jamie didn’t look like himself either, he looked, kind of, shy about giving me the message, almost like he felt ashamed or bad in some other way for having to do it.  He did this around lunchtime and so the rest of my day, which was pretty empty since a lot of my classes were winding down, was taken up worrying about what this call was going to be all about.

So, when I came home I expected to have to wait most of the afternoon and evening away waiting for Marie to call, but, I didn’t have to wait long.  I forget she knows my routine better than I do by now and I am really stupidly predictable being the creature of habit that I am. So, about fifteen minutes after I’d gotten home the phone rang and I was on it faster than ‘a duck on a junebug’ as my uncle would say.

Marie came on with a really deep sigh and said, like: “Hi-ii.”

It was a weird ‘hi’ coming from her because it was quiet and almost like it was taking all her strength to say just that. I was instantly concerned! Was she sick? Was she in the hospital? Did one of those bitches at school sucker-punch her somehow? What was I dealing with here? All of these thoughts ran through my fool head just from that simple sad ‘hi’.

“What’s up, Marie? You sound like you’ve had a bad day.” I asked, not being really sure that I wanted the answer or not.

Another long sigh and a ‘pregnant pause’ as they say in storybooks.  I waited for it since I didn’t want to push her and make her feel worse than she already did.

Then she said, “I just wanted to call and say . . . I really like you, ya know? I . . . really do, Brandon!” She said this with what sounded like a choke of tears in her throat which made me feel nervous for her and for me. Was this going to be a ‘mushy lovey-dovey’ thing that I was going to have to respond to somehow or was this going somewhere else? This did not turn out to be a comfortable phone call just like I was worried it wouldn’t be.

“Just, like, um . . . wanted to say that, kay?” Marie was starting to really worry me now.

“Uh, ok. Thanks! I like you a lot . . . t-too . . . Marie. But, you sound like something is wrong. Is there?”  I stuttered.

Then I heard the squeak of a small sob come from the other end of the phone and it made my heart sink. Was she sick? Did someone in her family just die? Oh GOD! Was it CHANDLER? I felt a shiver like ice go down my spine and goose-bumps raise on my skin at that thought! Not Chandler!

“No . . . nothing really, bad . . . exactly. It is supposed to be, kinda . . . good . . . I guess.” She said after a couple of sniffles. I felt myself come down off the ceiling with that. At least she wouldn’t say anything like that if someone like Chandler was dead or hurt or anything!

“So, why are you crying, Sweetie?” I heard the tenderness in my voice because it was real. I really feel something for Marie, I just . . . can’t place what kind of something it is! It’s not love-love like I might be developing for Chandler or Billy.  It is very deep though. She is, at least, a dear friend and she has given me so much these past few months, not the least of which was hope that I might be able to make myself un-gay somehow.

She sniffed and seemed to straighten up a bit, like she was steeling herself for something, “I have to go away, Brandon. I’ve been accepted to a few private prep schools around . . . um . . . the country.  We’ll, um, be touring some, but all of them are pretty far away, so . . .” she said trailing off.

“So, will you be living there and stuff?” I asked.

“Yeah. They’ll be boarding schools. Mom and Pop want this for me. They say that with my, um . . . gifts . . . that I need something our local High Schools just don’t have, I guess.  These schools have pathways to the Ivy League colleges, so . . .” Marie continued. She sounded so sad and unsure about the whole thing. I wonder if it was really her choice to go or if her folks were insisting! I know my Dad thought I might do well in an academy somewhere, but . . . we just don’t have the money and yet we have too much money to qualify for financial aid to these places so . . . here I am going to our stupid High School here in town.  I know that Marie’s folks are pretty well off, but I also think Marie might qualify for some kind of assistance being that she is in the top 1 percent of smart kids in this area.  I know she’s smarter than all of us put together! I think it would be a great idea for her to get as much good schooling as she could and become the phenomenon that I know she’s probably going to become one day like President Cross or something!

“Do you want this for you?” I asked the seemingly obvious question in all this, though. This was Marie’s life after all! She should have a say if she wants to go or not.

“Part of me knows it is for the best and that it will open up a future for me, but at the same time . . . I’ll miss so much here! My family, my friends, . . . you! I mean, I’ll be able to visit on vacations and holidays and stuff, but . . . it just isn’t the same, you know?”  She was unsure, but then I knew for certain that this High School here wouldn’t be very good for her. There are far too many idiots as students and as administrators to make our school good enough for someone like Marie. We wouldn’t loose touch anyways! We have email and phones and stuff!

“It may seem like forever, but it would only be three years there. More than likely we’re all going to still be here when you come home, so . . . I think you should go for it! This is your chance! You’re . . . special Marie! You deserve so much more than this town can give you!  I’ll miss you, sure, and I know you’ll miss me, but after a while I know you’ll be RULING that school within a year! You’ll have every cute guy there eating right out of your hand!”  I wanted to encourage her! It was true, I couldn’t see this small town doing much for her. Chandler escaped to Art School, Jamie might very well get a football scholarship to the University of Illinois so he’d be ok. But, Marie . . . she’s meant for bigger things! I can feel it!

“Besides, when you become President of the US someday, I want on your Cabinet!”  I teased which got her to giggling which, I hope, broke the tension in her.

“You think I should try it then, despite the fact we’ll be, um, like separated?” Marie asked in a low hesitant voice.

“We won’t be separated if we keep in contact. I really expect you to send me daily reports on all the sights and sounds of being in a snotty upper-class prep school!” We both giggled.

“So, you’re not mad or sad or anything?” She asked. I felt it as a test of my true feelings, so I was honest.

“How could I be mad at you getting a crack at something great like this! Sad? Yeah. I’ll miss you, Marie, but I’ll also feel bad if you don’t, at least, try this out and see if you can do it! Especially on account of me, or whatever! I’d never want to hold you back or anything!”  I said.

“You . . . you’re the special gifted one, Brandon Temple! You are the sweetest boy in the world! You know that right?” She said that with such feeling that I found my emotions well up in me so much I could hardly talk!

“Oh, uh. Heh . . . If you say so.” Lame!

“I know so! ~sigh~” She said with a quiet affection that really put goose-bumps back on my skin but for different reasons than before!

“Well, maybe we can talk some more about this and stuff, but I’ve got to help Mom with dinner so . . .” Marie seemed like she didn’t want to get off the phone, but I know I had to because this was affecting me more than I thought it would.

“. . . I have to too.  So, sure. We’ll get together soon. Kay?” I said.

“Kay.  ~kiss~” and then the receiver buzzed as she hung up.

Wow . . .

So, now you can see why I’m in a fumble-funk at the moment.

I wish I could do something with all this emotional energy like talk to Billy again or something! I probably wouldn’t talk too much about Marie, but I know he’d be able to sooth me. I wondered if I should call him, but I figured it would be weird doing it out of the blue. I also didn’t trust myself tonight with what I might do or say. I might have actually come out to him or something horrible like that. So, maybe it was for the best that I just let things go for tonight. I told my Dad who was sad to hear it, but glad for Marie and her opportunity. He figured that if we had anything real going on that it wouldn’t fade just from this, but if it was just a case of ‘puppy love’ then it would fade and I would get over her in time.

That is where the relief comes in. Fortunately, for me anyway, I just don’t . . . have those deep feelings like I think my Dad thinks I have for Marie. I will miss her, sure, but . . . my heart isn’t breaking over her either.  I have the same feeling when I have to say goodbye to Cedrick when leaving London when we visit. I’ll miss him, but my heart doesn’t break to pieces at the thought of not being able to see him again for a while. I know we’ll talk and have fun online with the games and email and PMs and stuff. I don’t need him to be physically there to be my friend. Just knowing he’s out there and that I can chat with him from time to time is enough for me and for him. It’s the same with Marie.

I’m just not in love with her. Try as I might, I just can’t force it to happen. The yearning for her isn’t there. My reaction to Chandler’s possibly being hurt was much more telling.  Him I would feel very bad if I didn’t get to see him in the flesh at least once in a while! It is the same with Billy!

I really wish I could talk to Billy! I should call . . . but, again no. I don’t want to make things weird between us. I could do that so easily tonight.

I’ll just sleep on it.

This is mix-master Brandon, mixed up like a 7/11 Slurpee.

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