The Indescribable Relationship
1. Jens Unrelated Brother
3:25 p.m. on the dot. He was never late. It was time to go to another day of practice; another boring day of the same routine. But today was different. Jens usual ride to practice, my friends brother was busy so he couldnt take her today. Usually she would head over to his silver 1998 Civic that was parked in a dirt parking lot a block off campus. Today Jen needed to find her own ride so she asked Andrew, her buddy, to give her a ride.
As Andrew came towards Jen to tell her he was leaving, he immediately locked her under his arm and gave her the worst knucklehead sandwich imaginable. His knuckles messed up her hair, and made her head itchy. Andrew was not done after knuckling Jens head. He began walking to his car with her head still locked under his arm. She could not tell where she was walking, and told him she was going to fall. "Aww okay," he said as he released Jens head. He quickly flipped her hair over her head so it was all in Jens face. She looked like cousin It from the Addams family. Jens hair was pretty long so it was really messed up when he was done. "Ha ha! Leave it like that. Thats hilarious!" he yelled. They both started laughing as they neared his car.
That was only one out of the many fun times Andrew and Jen shared together. Whenever they were together, they always had fun, and always ended up laughing. Jen has always thought of Andrew as a close friend, but never thought about how close they really were until that most recent knuckle sandwich. Now she was beginning to see him more as an older brotherly type friend, and though he saw her as a younger sister.
Andrew seemed to always find a way to pick on Jen, but in a fun way of course. She got about three knucklehead sandwiches a week from him. They were not the sissy types either. They were the ones a brother gave to his sister; long, hard, and messy with the hair.
Andrew also looked out for Jen as an older brother would. He was always watching her back, and making sure she stayed out of trouble.
A recent boyfriend Jen had, made Andrew a little uneasy. Andrew did not trust him that much. Andrew would always ask if everything was going okay, and to be careful. Since they broke up, she still saw him at kayaking races because he also kayaked. Andrew, who was also there, kept an eye on him. One day before the race he asked jokingly, " So Alli, do you want me to flip his kayak for you?" It was just another comment he always made. Sometimes she did not always think he was always joking.
Also like many older brothers, he was much more cautious of his driving when Jen was in the car. From what other guy friends say, he sped a little and made a few risky moves. When Jen was in the car, he never blasted the music, sped, or cut anyone off. "Seatbelt," he always commanded before he started the car. He also made sure that Jen had a ride home after kayaking practice everyday. She always wondered what he would do if she didnt, even though she lived in a completely different area. He always looked out for her in so many ways.
Besides just being the brotherly type, he was an awesome friend. Maybe it was only because he was a guy.
Many of Jens friends and other people would tell them that they looked like they were boyfriend and girlfriend. When people found out that they were not, they told them they should. Jen found that funny. The thing was, they do not like each other in that way. They were just friends as Jen saw it.
Now, after the knucklehead sandwich and car ride, Jen saw Andrew differently. She realized he was her unrelated brother, and that she was his little sister that he looked out for.
2. Like Peas in a Pod
After a hard day at practice Sally, Jess, and Jen boarded the bus to go back to school. As usual, they each took their own separate seat, but Jen was extra careful to make sure no one sat next to her yet. Her head dodged and swerved to see when the guys paddling team would be heading back on the bus. At first, she didnt see him coming. Jen waited and got a little nervous thinking he might have caught a ride back with someone else, and would not get on the bus. Still, she waited and watched for him. Finally, the last two guys to board the bus were Kani and Andrew. Jens worry dropped, but nervousness built in her to see where he would sit. As Andrew boarded the bus, he followed Kani past Jens seat and dropped his paddle two rows behind her. A rush of surprise rushed on her as he passed. He always sat by her; always. She should have known that he was not going to stay back there forever though. In a matter of seconds, he slid in next to Jen without saying anything. Nothing needed to be said; it was a given he would sit next to her, and Jen figured that anyway.
They sat and talked as usual as they always did up until he mentioned a party from the previous year. "Hey do you know what Emma is gonna do for her 16th birthday party this year?" he asked in more serious tone than usual.
"Nah, I dunno. She said she was stuck on ideas of what to do. Everything has been done already, and she doesnt want to do the same thing as everybody else," replied Jen still wondering why he was asking. Her head turned toward him to see if she could read his face. Jen could always read Andrew no matter how hard he tried to hide it.
"Remember last year at her party you were all dancing with Mike and everything? He thought he was gonna hook up with you. That was so funny. We were in the car and he was telling me how he was gonna call you and hook up."
"Yeah well he didnt get it," she said. Her shoulders shrugged and gave a grin.
"Hey can you massage my back?" He asked more as a statement than a question. Andrew had already turned around ready. As she massaged his back, Sally and Jess grinned at Jen seeing how comfortable Jen and Andrew felt with each other.
"Hey Jen? What do you want to be after college?" he asked in a serious tone.
"I have no clue. Definitely not a lawyer or a teacher. Id get too frustrated at the kids, and I think Id yell at them too much. Im thinking maybe pharmaceuticals," she replied shyly. Jen had never told anyone that before. She only let Andrew in on it.
"Why? Cuz you make a lot of money?" he teased.
"Well," she started, "Yeah pretty much, and I think I can stand the chemistry." She didnt really know what kind of answer she was telling him. She wouldnt have let anyone else know about that. Jen felt shamed of revealing she did want to make a good amount of money later in life, and did not want people thinking of her as shallow.
"Jen." He slowly turned to her and looked her in the eye the way her father did. "It would be stupid for you to do that. Even if you did do that, you might still not be happy. No money is worth that." Jen sat amazed. Andrew never was that serious. Around most people, he was a jokester, but there was something about Jen that brings that hidden wisdom out of him. There was also something about Andrew that made Jen tell him what she really wanted to be and the real reason for it.
For the rest of the bus ride back, the two of them sat talking more about things they would never talk to anyone else about. They teased each other about relationships and past memories when they were in the sixth grade together. Sixth grade was the year the two of them met each other. The closer connection Jen and Andrew were building together made Jen realize that there was always something special between Andrew and Jen that she never saw before. They always felt at ease with each other, and their personalities, although different, meshed so well together as best friends.
The whole bus ride, Sally had been watching Jen and Andrew. She saw the facial expressions Jen never let out in public. The only time Jen felt comfortable enough to do that was when she was around Andrew. When they got off the bus, and Sally, Jess, and Jen walked back to the cars, Sally and Jess talked about school while Jen looked back to see if Andrew was still behind him. He wasnt. Jen kept walking with Sally and Jess thinking how Andrew and her self fit so well together, almost like peas in a pod.
Jen stood and thought for a second as the other two kept going. Then she started walking again and said under her breath to herself," Yup, I guess we are like peas in a pod."
3. Going on the Date
Jen had been home all day lazing around the house. Her homework was not done, her room was still a pigsty, and she had not even put on her contacts. It was just one of those days when she just felt like doing absolutely nothing. After all, it was Saturday. It was 6:30p.m, and Jen was about to settle down for another episode of Friends when the phone woke her from dozing off. She stumbled to the phone in time to catch it on the third ring. "Hello?" Her voice was tired and groggy, but she tried to cover it up and sound cheery in case it was an important call for her dad. Instead was what she thought was not going to happen this weekend.
"Um hi. Is Jen there?" Andrews voice was monotone, but one more move, and it would have cracked.
"This is Jen." She glanced at the caller ID, and saw Andrews last name with his house number underneath. Jen did not really need to check. She knew who it was anyway.
"Oh hi. Uh are you still free tonight?" The well-rehearsed lines came out without a problem, but almost too well. He was so concentrated on not messing up his line, that it did not sound natural. His voice was like a robot, and what has posed to be a question really ended up being a statement.
"Um yeah I think I am." Her mind was playing games with her. I always talk to him. Why am I having such a hard time talking to him now on the phone? I never have a hard time talking to him, she thought, as there was an awkward silence between the two. "Hold on a sec. Let me make sure I can go." She was off the phone for about a minute asking her mom, and also debating with herself if she should go or not. She could not say no because it would crush him, and she was curious to see how it might go. "Hello? Yeah I can go."
"So do you want to see Orange County at 7:40?" Gradually his voice became less tense.
Orange County? That movie actually sounded pretty stupid to Jen when she saw the previews. It was not one she would have picked, but hey she figured; humor him. What if he really wanted to see it? Should I say anything she thought.
"Sounds great. Where are we gonna see it?" Well, she did not want to see that particular movie, but it was a guy movie and she did not want to seem picky.
"I guess Koko Marina." The five second pause had made Jen feel uncomfortable. "So I guess I will pick you up at 7:20. Is that okay?" His words came out in one long babble, which she barely understood.
"Okay. Thats great," Jen answered; sounding more excited than she wanted to.
"Okay then." There was another odd pause where they both knew it was time to end the conversation. "Bye." The two of them hung up not knowing really what had just happened. Jen had to run and jump in the shower, put on her contacts, dry her hair and get ready in less then fifty minutes. As she got ready, her stomach turned.
Some how when Andrew pulled into the driveway at 7:25, she was ready to go. Hes late. Hey leave him alone; hes a guy and the boy doesnt wear a watch, she thought as she opened the door to his rustic car.
"Hey." Jen flashed a casual smile to him as she stepped in the front seat of his car. It smelled funny to her, like an old car.
"Hey." The smile Andrew gave back to Jen was much more sincere than hers was. "So what did you do today?" He was searching for something to talk about, but Jen did not mind as long as they were talking.
"Well I did homework and stuff, but mostly I slept." She could not tell him the truth that she had been a lazy bum all day long. It had to seem like she had some kind of life, and did not appear as boring as she saw herself as being. "So how was practice yesterday?" She turned her head and smiled looking at Andrew knowing that he had not even gone to practice yesterday either. Both of them had paddling.
"It was so hard. Coach made us do so many drills, and he kept yelling at us that we werent working hard enough." Bursts of laughter shot out of both of them as they finally had laughed with each other after a long time. The ease of tension loosened both of them as they both began to talk again as usual about practice, school, and just nothing in particular.
It had only been five minutes since they left her house. When they were looking for a place to park, the laughing continued as he turned right on a no right turn sign. After pulling into a stall and locking the doors, the laughter died and silence took over the conversation all the way in until they got seated in the theater. When they walked into the theater, there were only eight other people inside. Jen did not know if she was relieved or even more nervous than before. She followed Andrew to the middle of the theater and sat where they were not sitting far form everyone nor very close.
Since Andrew had been a little late, they did not have to wait long before the previews began and the lights dimmed. From the moment the lights went down to the moment the lights came back on after the movie, they were silent. The only thing said during the movie was in the middle when Andrew leaned toward her and whispered, "Even if that did happen, I would still never do that to someone." All Jen responded was a small smile and slight laugh. The only other thing that happened was an occasional shift of sitting position where he moved his arm closer to Jens on the armrest. Jen did not move at all. She sat like a doll figure poised to watch a movie. She wanted to talk to him, but was too nervous she would talk too loud or say something dumb.
When the movie ended, they stood up to stretch for a moment and headed out. As Jen stood in the aisle waiting to get out, Andrew walked up behind her and playfully tickled her back. Being a very ticklish girl, she jumped in surprise. She turned around to face him, smiled, and laughed as they do at school. Finally the awkwardness was over and they walked out talking again.
As Andrew drove Jen home, she thought about why she had been so silent. Surprisingly Andrew blurted out, "You know, Im not very good at planning all this date stuff. Once we see the movie or finish the event, I just take her home. I dont really know what to do."
Jen did not know how to respond. He caught her off guard so she said to him exactly what was passing through her head. "Hey dont worry bout it," she replied as though it meant nothing to her, and it really did not because structured dates did not make sense to Jen anyway. When they reached her house, she gave him a quick thank you and walked up the stairs to her house.
She later asked herself why she had not said anything else to him before she left. Jen figured out that for now, they would be better off as friends. Since she only felt comfortable with him when they were not on the date she knew it was a friendship only feeling, but who knows? Maybe later it could be something totally different. She still wondered what Andrew thought about the whole thing, but she never knew. Jen wondered if she ever would. She would find out on Valentines Day.
4. Talking Again
"Yeah, so I was really bummed out about that so I was gonna- Ugh! Hey Andrew." Jen fell under his arms as Andrew playfully hit her stomach and pulled her in to him for a big hug. The two of them stood that way for a few seconds longer than most hugs people gave. Jen was savoring that moment she had with him. It had been almost two weeks since they had actually talked with each other. I could tell it was an unusual two weeks for Jen. She would constantly talk about him when we were working out. It was never a conscious effort to talk about him, but she would fit in ways to add him in. She never realized she was doing it. Usually the two of them talk all the time and have fun together.
"Hey Jen, hey Andrew," I said as I conveniently placed myself apart, but in earshot of them.
"Oh hey Nat" Jen gave me a split smile and immediately turned back to Andrew. I heard them as they talked about what Jen got for Christmas.
"You get anything good for Christmas?" he nonchalantly asked her. He had sat down on the green bench and looked her in the eyes, which were glancing down at her feet.
"Yeah," she slowly responded. A huge grin ran across her face, and she began to twirl her shirt as she always has when she was nervous. "Guess what I got. It was a really good thing."
"Ok. Umm a new surfboard?" he asked in interest. He really seemed rapturous at just talking to Jen again.
"Nope. Hey you know Im not good enough to have my own board anyway." She shot him a look in his eyes that said you know me better than that. "Its better than that." She slyly turned her body toward him to face him, and glanced at Andrew in his eyes. He looked back at her and just sat for a couple seconds. I could tell by the way Jen was looking at him that she had feelings for him that were deeper and more complex than words can describe. Her eyes were moving constantly and she rarely glanced at him. The only time I have ever seen her do that before was when she lies, but she was not lying now.
"Did your dad buy you a one-man canoe?!" he yelled. His eyes widened in shock, and he threw up his arms as though announcing something thinking she was going to say yes. I was trying to hold it in as best I could not blurt it out since I already knew.
"Nope, better." The grin on Jens face only got bigger.
"Dont tell me he got you a racing kayak for next season!" Andrew moved closer to Jen. Right as he did that, Jens eyes started darting around the ground in nervousness, but at the same time she was trying to hold in a smile. She only managed to let out a tiny grin, but Andrew didnt see that because she bent her head down making sure Andrew would not notice her excitement.
"Nope, better," Jen said again. She was so excited she could not help but unleash that beautiful smile that I tease her about because its so big.
"Oh I give up! A car! Oh I dont know" His hands flew over his head. Andrew broke his nervousness by going back to clowning around as usual. His hands shook through his head making his dirty blond hair stand out in all directions to be noticed. He was joking when he yelled out car. Jen only stood there and smiled straight at him. It took a few seconds before he knew what happened. That type of silence from Jen meant only one thing. "Oh my God! You did get a new car didnt you! You dont even have your license yet! What kind?" Andrew was still in shock that his joke turned out to be the truth. His hands were still rummaging through his hair.
"A 2002 Frontier truck."
"Thats even better. You know how much I want a truck? I cant believe you got one. Hey now you can take me to the beach with my new surfboard." He nudged Jens side with his elbows, and twitched his eyebrows as he moved even closer to her until their arms were slightly touching.
I could see Jens as well as Andrews uneasiness build as the two of them just sat there together without talking. After around thirty seconds, which seemed like minutes to the two of them, Jen finally decided to say something. "Oh my God. What time is it?"
"Uhh, its almost 1:30. Why? Do you have to go to class?" Andrew getting the hint and also feeling the uneasiness, understood why she was ending the talk.
"Yeah, I have chem. You have class?"
"Nah. Well Ill see you at practice. Bye."
"Bye." Jen sat there for a little bit as Andrew got up and left. I went over to her to go to class with her. She was looking at her feet, but she was thinking about something.
"So, what was that all about?" I asked pretending I never heard a word.
"Oh Ill tell you later, its a long story Nat."
"Thats not fair! You have to tell your best friend! Come on!"
"Ok later," she replied back. When we began walking to class, Jen had a grin on her face, and by the time we got to class, she had the largest smile that no one could turn upside down.
4. The First Date
"Hey Jen, tell me when youre going to class okay?" All the sophomores cluttered together under the locker rooms trying to stay warm, and wait out the whipping rain. Jens hair was sopping wet as she hurried down the ramp. Andrew had to take a double take to see that it was Jen who had the wet hair.
"Well, what time is it? Is it time to go already?" It had taken Jen by surprise that Andrew wanted her to wait for him. Normally they would just go, and not even talk before class. Even when it was a good time to talk, they always seemed to pass up that chance. They were both unsure of when to talk, for how long, and what to say even though they were close friends. "Its ten twenty five already you know."
"Oh okay." The two of them headed out towards class in the clearing sky. Jens eyes darted along the path; confused yet interested why he was walking with her. Her arms clung to the long straps of her blue backpack, which she always hung on to when she was nervous. Andrews eyes kept straight ahead with his lips pursed together almost looking as if he was angry. "Where is your homeroom anyway?" he asked as if he had been planning the question in advance.
"Its in the science center all the way up on the second floor. Its so far away, and I hate walking up there," Jen expressed in a matter of fact tone of voice. Her hands were still glued to her backpack straps like a life vest. After an awkward silence, Jen asked nonchalantly, "Wheres your homeroom?" This time she turned her head to him, and tried to make eye contact with him, but it did not work. Quickly she turned back her head as though she had not done anything at all.
"Its in Pauahi." As soon as he said that, his eyes slightly widened knowing that Jen was going to wonder why he was walking with her. Now, more than ever, he held his head stiffly forward, not moving a muscle.
What in the world is he doing walking me to class? He never does that, and its so far away from his class. Is he planning something? Is he just being nice? Isnt he going to be late for his own class? That one small response made a lot thoughts and questions race through her head. This only made her even more nervous and cling to her bag even tighter. She even began to swing it harder as they walked along.
"Hey, are you gonna be free this weekend?" Andrew pounced the question on her as if he were asking her any other question. Jen could tell he had been planning the question, and was waiting for the right time to ask her. Jen was more than flabbergasted when he asked her. She took a few seconds to gather in her head what he said. She snapped her head to him in a scared manner, and Andrew glanced at her through the corner of his eyes to see her reaction and wait for and answer.
"Umm Yeah I think Im free. Oh wait except for Saturday night and early morning because I have practice at 7:30, and I have to work Body Painting at the last shift for carnival. But other than that, yeah I guess Im free." Her tone of voice came out smoother and more relaxed than she had anticipated. She felt quite proud that she didnt stutter or sound too stupid. There was an unsaid "why?" at the end of her question that Andrew picked up on.
"Cuz I was wondering if you like wanted to do something like go see a movie or something." Finally he turned his head to see a reaction.
Jen did not know what to think. She liked Andrew, but enough to go on a date with him? Well she did like him at least as her closest guy friend, and she would have felt like a cruel person if she told him no. She thought, What the heck, Ill give it a chance. However, all this thinking did not really occur until after she replied. She just answered him without thinking. "Sure. That sounds like fun." She tried to sound sure of herself and cheery when actually she was more nervous than anything. Jen did not know why, but suddenly she felt uncomfortable around him; almost as though she did not really know him.
"Alrighty then, so Ill just call you then." He put the shaka phone to his ear showing the motion of phone. He was trying to hold back a smile, but a grin slipped out to Jens eyes. Right as they finished talking, they reached the bottom of the stairs to Jens class. "Okay so Ill call you. See ya." He put his hand on her head and shook her hair until it was messy, and walked away briskly. As Jen climbed the stairs, her face was forthright until she turned the corner where she cracked the largest smile and giggled a little. Making sure no one heard her make that girlish giggle, she kept going up the stairs. Her stomach did a little dance, and she finally walked into her class.
5. Valentine's Day
February 14. It is the worst day of the year according to Jen who had not had a valentine since 8th grade, but that never counted to her because neither her nor her valentine at the time really understood the day and what it meant. From that day on, she never really thought much about that day. She never wore pink or red, never gave out chocolate hearts, and always felt depressed when she saw so many of her friends walking around with the beautiful roses they received from boyfriends and secret admirers. Jen never received any of those things.
Even though there was definitely something happening between Jen and Andrew, Jen was not expecting anything from him. Andrew was just not the type of guy who would have a valentine, and if he did have a special someone, he still would not do anything special. He just liked to pass over the day as Jen had, but this year would be different for both of them.
Jens least favorite day had arrived and the campus grounds were floating with people in red and pink. Bouquets of roses were held proudly in the hands of those who had a valentine. Today Jen had come to school in her most comfortable jeans and a brown shirt. She had not meant to wear brown, but that was what came out of her closet first. That day, Andrew wore a pair khaki pants and a white shirt with a simple surfing logo and slippers as usual. Neither was in the valentine spirit.
During the night before, Jen had dreamed about a secret admirer sending her a large set of a dozen roses with a little note attached to it. She dreamed this every year, but it never happened. By some reason, Jen thought Andrew might do something. After all, it had only been a week since they had gone to the movies together. As soon as that thought entered her head, she then thought if maybe he did do something, it might be for all his friends who are girls; like a card or something. Maybe it would be a gift saying they were friends because after the date, he did not like her the way he used to. On the other hand, maybe he would surprise her with roses because he realized he really did like her. Jen was working herself into a tizzy until she brought herself back to Earth. "This is Andrew," she thought. "Andrews not the type of guy to go giving roses to girls. Hell probably just avoid me today since we both dont know if were just friends or more. Well if hes confused, hell just ignore me today as he usually does when he doesnt know what to do." By setting things straight in her head, Jen prepared herself again for another year of nothing on Valentines Day.
Today was the one day in their schedule where they had a class together, but it was not until the late morning when he saw her. All throughout the day before the class together, Andrew would see Jen, but he wold stay pretty far from her, and avoid eye contact. Finally when the time came for the two of them to have class together, Jen had fully convinced herself that nothing would happen. She decided to not make a special effort to talk to him, but if the opportunity arose, she would.
Jen walked into the class first. There were only five of the nineteen people in class already there. Jen sat talking to her friends about plans they had for the weekend when Andrew walked through the door without Jen noticing him. She was still talking to her friends when Andrew walked right up to her and handed her a card and said, "Happy Valentines Day." His face was straight. He had not even cracked a smile. It seemed all so strange to Jen because he treated the card like homework being handed into a teacher. Andrew just handed her the card and said it to her.
Jen was dumbfounded. All that time she had taken convincing herself she was not going to get anything, she had been wrong. For a moment she just sat and stared at Andrew to see if he was joking or something, but he was not. A slow but steady smile leaked out onto her face. She tried to hide how surprised she was by quickly saying something to him. "Oh thanks Andrew." Andrew bent down and gave Jen a hug that felt so real it rushed through her like a bolt of energy. It was a hug she had not gotten from him in weeks. She never realized how much she missed his bear hugs before all the feelings arose. As soon as he let her go she saw the expression on his face. He too had felt what was there. She saw he was almost torn apart knowing that the one hug was full of a tight friendship, and not a romance. Looking at Jen one last time, he walked to the other end of the room where he sat in a chair in the corner, just sitting, and looking at the wall across. All her friends stared at her with curious grins on their faces, but Jen quickly tucked the card into her bag, and carried on as if nothing had happened.
It was not until her lunch break when Jen decided to open the card. She had waited until no one was around her. As she peeled the envelope open she took a guess what the card said. Perhaps it would say something about the date they went on, or maybe he wanted to try dating. As she pulled out the card, she was surprised at the picture on the front. It was a painting by a famous artist. She did not know whom, but she could recognize that it was a popular piece. Inside the card his sentences went straight across the card unlike most guys who write so sloppily. It was in red ink and spaced evenly between each line. The letter read how maybe the romance may never work, but who knows what could happen. He also said that no matter what happens between them, he is glad he got to know such a great person. Jen stood stunned with her hands on the card. All this time she never knew what she felt or what she wanted between her and Andrew, but somehow he placed them all in words, and put them right in front of her. Too thrilled by what he had written her, she had to keep it to herself. It was far to special to share even with her best friends. She tucked the card deep into her bag, and walked off to lunch with her friends as they had just begun to walk towards her.
6. A Watching Eye
"Eh Jen, I just broke with her." Danny was walking towards Jen with his gangly arms straightened at his side. When he reached her, he stood close to her so no one else could hear them. "I know I did the right thing, but why do I still feel so bad? I mean " He stopped and let out a slight sigh as his eyes closed for a second. "You should have seen the look on her face when I told her."
Jen just stood a moment looking into the eyes of her brother. They were not blood brother and sister, but that is how their friendship was molded. Dannys eyes were wide open searching for a response out of Jen, whom he always talked to.
"What happened? What did you say to her?" Jens voice was soft; almost a whisper. She was not excited to know what happened, but instead concerned why he felt so bad. Her head tilted to the side, and her eyebrows curved up trying understand the pain in Dannys face.
"Well, it was just like ten minutes ago. I found her after her last class and started walking with her up around here. We were just talking about nothing when until we hit an awkward silence. I knew I had to do it. I told her that we havent been talking that much and that it wasnt fair to her that I wasnt always with so we would be better off as good friends. She kinda stopped and just agreed with me, but I knew she was hurt. She even tried to smile to tell me it was okay, but I could tell it was different." Danny was still distressed. He stood waiting for Jen to make him feel better.
"What do you mean better off as friends? I thought you really liked her." Masses of people were walking by them as they continued to talk. The two of them stood in the center of campus oblivious of everyone. Their eyes never left each other the entire time.
Dannys arms moved for the first time since they had started talking. They lifted only a little, but it was enough for Jen to know he was feeling better already just talking to her about it. "Well I couldnt tell her the truth," Danny explained knowing what was coming.
"What do you mean you couldnt tell her the truth?" she questioned. Jens voice was getting louder, and the look into his eyes became a glare. "You of all people. Youre the one always telling me to tell Andrew the truth, and look what you do. Why? Why cant you tell her the truth? What is the TRUTH Danny?" Her hands were on her hips, and the eyebrows went back up but this time it was a Im waiting for an answer and it better be good look.
"Well frankly, I figured out I wasnt going to get any play. I mean I liked her and all, but when I knew I was not gonna get any I just lost interest I guess. I still feel really bad about it and I know thats a really stupid thing to do, but I couldnt tell her the truth." Danny stepped back for he knew Jen was pissed.
Jens mouth opened ready to say something, but nothing came out. Her eyes just widened larger than Danny had ever seen. Her hand raised to head level with her mouth still open, but still nothing came out. Finally after a couple of seconds, her hand came down, and her head looked at the ground. "Danny," she said softly. As she said it, her eyes traveled from the ground up to Dannys eyes. She just stood there. Nothing else needed to be said. Danny knew well enough what that meant when she said his name that way. The disappointment in her voice hit him like a ton of bricks, which he hated to see.
Danny and Jen, still in the exact same position as they were when Danny first walked up to her, just stood there. By now it was just the two of them standing having a conversation together without words. There were no words for what they were sharing. By their eyes, Jen let him know she may never have the same respect for him that she used to have. Regret of doing that and also telling Jen about him came through his eyes as they got larger. After a minute or so of conversing, they went back to talking about other things.
"So whats going on with you and Andrew?" Danny asked.
Jen took a big sigh. "I dont know whats going on. Im confused beyond belief. He doesnt talk to me, and I dont know why. I dont talk to him because it seems like he always walks away from me. Its just really strange now, and ugh! I dont know." Jens arms were flailing above her head and her eyes went darting everywhere until she saw something, and stopped. Danny knew not to ask any more about it. Danny turned around to look at what Jen had stopped so suddenly to look at. She quickly flipped her head back to Danny. "Umm . So uhh hows basketball?" She tried to make it look like she was talking about nothing to Danny, but it was no use. Andrew had been at a bench about one hundred feet away. He was watching them the entire time because when Jen looked over, he was startled that she noticed him. Andrew was not smiling at all. His lips were pursed together, and his head was focused in on Danny and Jen. Jen just stopped talking and stood there as Andrew got up and began walking towards the two of them.
Jens eyes darted crazily around the ground as Danny tried to figure out what was going on. Her fingers began twiddling her workout shirt at her side as she waited for Andrews approach.
7. A Little Orange Flower
"You look very nice Jen," Danny smirked as he walked down the crumbling cement stairs to his silver Xterra where Jen was waiting. The wind blew the bottom of her dark blue skirt just enough for her to have to hold it down.
"Thanks. My mom made my skirt," she quietly said. "Oh hey Jason!" Jens eyes came to attention seeing Jason follow Danny down to the car. I didnt know Jason was coming, she thought to herself.
"You know you could have come up to the door and told us you were here instead of just waiting down here you know." Danny walked straight up to Jens face and glared at her. He stepped back after a moment and flashed her a big smile.
Jen raised her eyebrows and looked up the stairs. She stared at the winding stairs, back to Danny and simply stated, "No." Jen gave Danny a You really think I was going to walk up those stairs in this skirt? You have got to be kidding me, type of look.
On the way to the party, Jason sat in the back seat talking pointlessly about some kind of riff that had gone on earlier that week, while Danny questioned and analyzed Jens day. He also tried to convince her how good a driver he was even though he had just gotten his license after failing a first time.
"I really am a good driver. You can trust me Jen." He reached over and rested his hand on her shoulder and smiled. Immediately, but discreetly, Jen backed away from his touch. It was a gut reaction, but she didnt know why she had done it. She just sat on the complete opposite side of the car staring out the window thinking of why she pulled away from his touch. Hes one of my best friends. Why did I do that? It was weird. That touch wasnt right. It didnt mean just friends. She questioned herself silently while Danny went on talking, but all Jen could hear was a buzz in her ear. It was not until Danny mentioned another person that she came out of her thoughts.
"Oh yeah I forgot to tell you, we have to pick up Andrew on the way. Hes in Kaimuki." Dannys voice trailed off as though he wished he had not mentioned Andrews name at all.
"What?" Jens head flipped to Danny.
"We have to get Andrew. I guess I forgot to tell you." Danny shrugged his shoulders and looked out his left window. His jumpy spirit had drained from his body and was now a slump driving the car, and not talking. Suddenly, he took a sharp turn and did not say anything about it. No sorry, no nothing about the sharp turn came from him. The speedometer pointer gradually rose more and more, as the grip on the wheel became more clenched. The three of them in the Xterra fled to the back of Kaimuki. They passed the ghetto area, and headed toward the turn point when Jen saw him. He was walking along the sidewalk as the sun beamed of his beach- blond hair. With a bare chest and shirt in hand, he raised his hand while Jen watched Danny speed straight past Andrew. He kept going until he decided to turn around and get him. All the while the car was silent, but Jen could feel the anger from Danny. She stayed quiet to make sure Danny did not lash out at her. Finally, Danny slowed down enough for Andrew to get in.
"Hi Andrew," said Danny in a flat voice. "Hurry up and shut the door." Andrew climbed in the back seat directly behind Jen.
"Hi Jen." He got settled in the seat and leaned over to Jen. A small orange flower Jen had never seen before appeared in front of her. "I saw it and had to pick it for you. I just thought it was nice." Jen sat astonished. She stared at the small flower that had the most beautiful arrangement of yellow through orange shaded petals. A thrill ran through her, and she quietly said thank you. She sat silent for a while, and turned to the window so no one could see her face. She squeezed her eyes closed and smiled out the window thinking about the flower that he just gave her. She held the flower with both hands and kept staring at it until they reached the party. All during the ride there, Jen sat quiet in the front, and Andrew went on talking to everyone in the vehicle except Jen.
"Hey Jason, are you gonna paddle this summer with Danny and I? You gotta; its so much fun." Andrew quickly to the subject off the flower before any of the other guys thought about what was going on.
"Uh I dunno yet. Maybe," replied Jason in a confused tone.
"Oh Danny, what did you guys do in practice today? Did I miss anything good?" Andrew asked.
"Nah nothing much, but Andrew come on man, you have to stop skipping practice all the time. You never know whats going on when you do come." Danny sounded like an older cousin scolding his younger cousin.
The conversation stayed that way the entire ride there. Simple small talk about the day and sports, but none of the conversation included Jen. The guys, especially Andrew was completely ignoring her, but Jen did not really mind. She was still thinking about the flower.
As soon as Danny pulled up, Andrew hopped out of the car while it was still slowing down. He just started walking to the door without saying a word to anyone. There was no thank you or anything. He left Jen sitting in the car, a bit hurt he was randomly walking away. Jason left the car soon enough and caught up with Andrew while Jen waited a bit for Danny. Suddenly, she too got out of the car and began walking behind Jason and Andrew. When Jen was pacing around ten feet behind him, Andrew quickly turned his head and saw Jen walking, alone. His head turned back completely ignoring her. She kept walking alone with her eyes full of hurt fixed on the back of his neck. Wondering why he was walking so fast, she dropped her pace and froze in the middle of the road. She stood for a moment; arms dead at her side and, eyes fallen to the cooling late afternoon asphalt. The orange flower dropped from her hand on to the ground. Slowly she picked it up deciding if she should hold on to it or not. She held on to it, but in a lose grasp. Bewildered by his actions, she walked again, but this time without the cheery bounce she normally walked with. Strolling with her eyes on the ground, she headed into the party.
Danny never did catch up with her, which added to her confusion. As she entered the dark room with fast lights, she had no desire to party anymore. Saying a casual hello to friends who past, she made her way to a row of empty chairs. Jen had not even noticed anyone else there. Her mind was off picking at the possible explanations of Andrews confusing behavior. The flower still in a lose grasp, she once more held it with two hands and put it to her nose. There was no smell; only a beautiful flower with no inner fragrance. Carefully she placed it in the side pocket of her purse, and sat watching her friends dance.
About an hour had gone by when Danielle yanked her unexpectedly onto the dance floor. Jens purse fell back on the chair as she was led into the mob of dancers. She kept to the beat while occasionally smiling at her friend Danielle. Jen had just about had enough, and was ready to go sit down again when she felt someone dancing behind her. She turned around to tell that person to back up when her heart skipped a beat in surprise. Andrew was gleaming, and dancing full of spirit right behind her, but she had no idea why he was dancing with her after the way he had been ignoring her. However, Jen would find out what was going on soon enough.
9. The Party
Strobe lights illuminated the crowd, and a black light made everything in the room white glow. The smell of fresh air blew into the crowd pushing away the odor of three hundred crammed people moving in their eight-inch dance space. Andrew stayed on the outskirts of the mob occasionally moving to the beat while talking to Kelsy about the monstrous south shore swell expected the next day. It had not even been five minutes until Chris, Kelsys new boyfriend, pulled Kelsy into the dancing mob, leaving Andrew alone. Not wanting to be seen alone, he quickly joined Danny and some other friends he spotted nearby. When a techno beat came on, Andrew dashed to an empty space and began twisting his arms and moving his feet to imitate the techno people who wave lights in their hands. A small crowd of guys gathered around him laughing at his comedic interpretation. After the music stopped, and the crowd of guys went back to dancing, and Andrew took a seat in a row of empty chairs shoved off to the side. As he sat, he saw someones purse lying on the floor next to him. He picked it up, and put it on the chair when he saw an orange flower tucked in a side pocket. It was the same flower he had given to Jen earlier that day. Now, the flower was smashed and dying in her purse. It no longer had the fullness or color it had before when he gave it to her. He took the flower out, tried to unwrinkle the petals, which were stuck together, and placed it on top her purse. He sat there with his hands down on his chair, and his eyes staring blankly into the flashing crowd of people.
Meanwhile, Jen was being crushed in the center of the mob while the music blared out of the speakers. Her friends surrounded her and danced while she barely moved. Sometimes she would just stand there and watch her friends. "Im super hot you guys. Im going to go cool off," she yelled so that her friends could hear her. She fanned herself with her hand and held up her hair so her neck could cool.
"Okay, yeah Im really sweaty. Well come back in five minutes." Jen and Jess shoved their way past sweaty bodies trying to get out. "Ow! That hurt!" screamed Jess to a guy who had accidentally hit her in the face. Not getting an apology, she whacked the guy in the back and moved on. "Idiot," she hissed. Finally they got to open air where the two of them put up their hair and got some water. Jen began scanning the room for Andrew. Not expecting Andrew to be sitting, she did not bother looking at the chairs. "Who are you looking for?" Jess asked while fanning herself.
"Oh Im looking for Danny. I need to tell him I dont need a ride home." She completely lied to one of her best friends. All along she never told anybody about what was going on between her and Andrew. Jen liked it that way; nobody knowing meant nobody judging her about it.
"Just find him later Jen," scolded Jess who was too much into a party mood to notice anything different about her friend. She grabbed Jens arm and pulled her back to the crowd when suddenly Jen jumped forward in surprise. She whipped around to see who had tickled her, but she already knew. Andrew was the only person who snuck up and tickled her waist just by poking her.
"Hey!" Jen was more relieved than anything else to see him. Now she knew he was acting normal again to her. She picked up the puakenikeni lei he was wearing, closed her eyes, and inhaled the fragrance. "I love that smell."
"Smells good, yeah?" he asked as he took a whiff of it too. He smiled at her softly and was just about to say something else when Jess grabbed her arm.
"Come on Jen. Lets dance again!" Jess whined as Jen shrugged her shoulders at Andrew who soon disappeared behind the crowd of people she was being sucked back into.
While she was being smashed once again between sweaty bodies, Jess stopped dancing, looked at her and shouted in her face, "You really need to dance, Jen," and went on dancing. Still thinking about the friendly smile from Andrew she started moving to the beat, but not much. She wondered where he was now. She new she would not find him in the crowd because he always wanted to be different from everybody. He never wanted to blend in unlike Jen who liked to blend in even though she hated to admit it. Another song like all the other booty music songs started when she felt someone dancing with her. She looked to the side to tell him to move over when she shockingly found Andrew dancing next to her. Too surprised to say anything, and not knowing what else to do, she danced with him. Andrew had not even said anything. He just kept dancing as well. Even though Jen was getting very hot, she kept dancing. She was hoping he would want to take a breath of fresh air, but she had no such luck. As they were dancing, Andrew could not see Jens face, and she was relieved for that. She knew she had a puzzled look on her face since she was trying so hard to figure out what had brought him to blend in for a while and dance with her.
Finally after five songs, Andrew asked if she wanted to get a drink. She was pleased he did not yell in her ear. "Yeah, Im getting kinda hot," she admitted to him. Relieved to catch a breather, she followed him out of the crowd.
As the two of them grabbed a refresher, they stood in an awkward silence for a moment. Both of them kept trying to look occupied by their drinks to they would not have to say anything. All the while, Andrews eyes kept looking around, and especially kept his eyes away from Jen. Finally Andrew said very quickly, "Jen I got to tell you something. It will only take a minute. You want to go sit down?" It sounded like one big mumble to her. He had said it so fast that Jen almost had to ask him to repeat it.
Completely confused and scared as to what he had to tell her, she replied, "Sure!" in the most cheery voice she could. She did not want him to notice how scared she was. As the two of them walked to the chairs, Jen tried to think of anything he might have to say to her, but she could think of nothing. The condensation from her cup, mixed with nerves, almost caused her to spill her drink.
Andrew held his drink with both hands, and stared into his cup. "Remember when we went to see that movie together? And I told you Id call you later? Well Im really sorry I didnt. I mean I did, but then you werent home so I didnt call back. I dont know why, but I should have. Sorry bout that." He glanced at Jen for a reaction and quickly went back to examining his cup.
That was it! Jen thought to herself. Thats all? Just because he didnt call me?! Oh my God! Thats so sweet! I didnt even care about that. "Andrew dont worry about it. Seriously, its okay." She smiled to let him know she was fine with it. She set her drink down as her nerves calmed.
"Well someone told me you got all confused about it, and that you didnt know what was going on. I meant to call you but I didnt." This time he spoke looking at her. She could see he was trying to tell her something.
"Oh dont worry about it," she repeated. He was right. She forgot she had felt confused and had told Danny about it, which was a mistake since he never kept his mouth shut. He was the only person she talked to about Andrew, and even then he heard only a few things. "Its okay," she said again.
"No its not Jen." He shook his head trying to get her to understand. "I feel really bad about it. Look Jen, I like you." He paused for a moment just looking back at his cup. He took a deep breath. "I mean I really like you Jen." This time he looked at her. Jen froze. She had no idea what to say. Did he really say that? Not knowing how to respond she too stared into her cup. Stalling, she took another sip. A terrible feeling came over her. She didnt like him the same way. Sure she like him, but in a best friend type of way.
She stared at the floor without words. The cup she had been holding so tightly had lost her grip, and was beginning to spill onto the floor without her noticing.
"Whoa. Watch out there Jen. Youre losing your drink there." Relieved that the tension had been broken, Andrew willingly turned the conversation subject to the drink. Jen on the other hand was completely embarrassed she had spilled her drink. There were even wet drops on the bottom of her skirt.
"Oh crap!" she said louder than she had meant. Quickly she looked up at Andrew to see what his reaction was. Usually Jen never said anything like that without thinking. It had just come out that way.
"Here," Andrew stated, "Give me your cup and wait right here. Watch out for the puddle." Behavior that Jen had never seen before from Andrew began to emerge. Taking her trash? Telling her what to do? Not accustomed to this, Jen did as he told her mainly because she was curious to find out what was going to happen. As she waited by the puddle she had clumsily made, embarrassment swept through her again. Uncomfortable of standing alone with a wet skirt, she hoped Andrew would hurry up and return. Soon enough he did, but with more than just himself. In his left hand he held a wad of napkins squished in his tense grip, and another drink in his right hand. "I thought you wanted another drink." He handed her the drink, and did not let go until he was sure Jen had it in a good grip. He also watched her eyes making sure she was not going to spill it again from her nerves. As she set it back down on the table beside her, Andrew bent down and began to clean up the spill for Jen.
"Andrew you really dont have to clean that up you know. Here, let me do it. Im the one who spilled it." She bent down and began to help Andrew place the napkins over the puddle of juice.
"Jen." Andrew stopped Jen by taking hold of her hand. "Its okay. Im almost done anyway. Dont worry about it." Jen slowly stood up still looking at Andrew. She watched him bend down again and wipe the floor. It took her a lot of will not to help him again. She felt terrible having Andrew clean it up for her. He walked to the trash bin and threw it away.
"Thanks Andrew. You really didnt have to do that for me. I was-"
"Jen." Again Andrew grabbed both her hands. He pulled her a little closer to him and told her, "ITS OKAY. Dont worry about it anymore." This time his voice was stern. By the look in his eyes, Jen knew he truly meant it. She realized something she had never realized before. Finally she appreciated Andrew for his friendship, and always taking care of her especially when she was flustered.
The two of them stood on the side once again in silence, but this time it was not awkward. Jen stood next to him almost wanting to tell him how she appreciated him, but something held her back. Slowly she turned her head towards him, and looked at him. She kept looking at him until they were looking at each other. Simultaneously, they simply smiled at one another. Their looks were filled with a thousand words of years of friendship.
It was the end of the party, and everyone began walking back to their cars. There were hundreds of people at the party, yet Jen and Andrew stayed together as everyone began to leave. They did not talk all the way until Jen reached her car.
"Well heres my car." She stood there clueless on what to say to Andrew. She did not stand there for long though.
"Okay. Well Ill see you later then, okay?" He stood contemplating something, but Jen could not figure out what it was.
"Yeah. Bye." Jen gave him a smile and was just about to walk away when Andrew hugged her and gave her the softest kiss on her forehead. He stepped back, smiled and walked away to his car before driving back on the dark windy road home. This time Jen was not surprised, but instead content. After all the times they had been through together, they had finally met on an equal level as the closest kind of friends there are.