I awoke to find Brite sleeping peacefully next to me to my right while I saw Mya huddled up on my left, snuggling up to my side. As my eyes slowly adjusted to the light that was still on – really, people? Do you not care about the electricity bill? – I could feel my heart slow down. I stared up at the gray ceiling, trying to access what just happened to me.
To be honest, I’m really starting to get sick of all the seizures and daydreams that have been happening to me lately. And it seems like all this stuff happened after I confessed my love to Dre, and things began to fall apart. I knew that they couldn’t all be related to that, so why was all this happening now? And what was up with that mermaid and the octopus lady? It’s just that everything seemed so real, in fact, I could slightly feel my chest still aching from all the coughing.
My eyes flew open even wider with alarm as I sat up in shock.
Had I just died in my dream?
“I need to talk to Dre, now,” I whispered fiercely under my breath. I didn’t care what he was doing, or where, but I knew that I needed to talk to him.
I looked to Brite, her light blonde hair creating what looked like a little halo revolving around her face. I then turned to Mya, her dark hair that was identical to mine, and felt a shiver of fear run up my spine. If I didn’t stop with this whole seizure epidemic, Mom and Dad would probably be forced to send me to a mental hospital. And what would that solve? Absolutely nothing.
“Melly,” Mya mumbled under her breath restlessly and snuggled closer to my side. It sent a flood of warmth through my heart and I bent down to kiss her on her cheek. I didn’t want to leave her, but I needed to see Dre. Soon.
I carefully lifted myself off the bed and scooted the seemingly knocked-out Mya closer to Brite so that she wouldn’t awake. I quickly brushed out my wavy hair in the bathroom and went upstairs to check on Mom. Quietly creeping up the stairs so that they wouldn’t creak, I went onto the first floor and down the hallway to check on Marshall first.
Since my entire family – including me – can sleep through a tornado, I didn’t have to be as gentle as I opened up Marshall’s door. I peeked around the corner to find Marshall sleeping peacefully on his bed. I crept to his T.V. and turned it off so that it wasn’t on Comedy Central anymore. As I turned to leave, I finally noticed the lump lying underneath the covers besides Marshall.
I put my hand to my mouth so that I wouldn’t gasp out loud. Lying next to Marshall was Luna Chambers, Marshall’s girlfriend before Criss. I felt a smile creep across my face and I sighed happily at the sight of them sleeping on his bed. Sure, he probably creeped in through his bedroom window with her and had sex since Mom and Dad don’t trust Marshall that much with girls anymore, but it was still so sweet that they had gotten back together.
About two years before Marshall dated Criss, when he was in ninth grade, he asked out Luna, the girl who was in his homeroom. Right off the bat, they were completely heads-over-heels for each other and Marshall immediately introduced her to us. I was really happy for them since they seemed to want to be with each other all the time and they were just so happy together. But then, one day, their dreams were shattered.
I had come down to my room to go watch TMZ on T.V. (Oh Harvey Levin, you’re too hilarious for your own good) when I found Marshall ripping everything to shreds, excluding my bed. I asked him what was wrong, and I could see the anger in his eyes. He was livid, his dark brown eyes that usually looked black almost seemed to have a red tint in them, he was so livid.
“Dude, Marshall, calm down,” I had to piggyback him just so that he would calm down. “Hey, hey, can you tell me w hat’s wrong, dude?”
He dragged his palms across his face and ran them back through his hair. “I, I just,” He struggled for words, the anger confusing his brain.
“Calm down,” I assured him as I rubbed his back. “Breathe.”
He breathed in heavily through his nose and then sighed. “Look at this.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, blue velvet box.
My eyes widened with such an intensity that it sent a burning sensation through my eyes. I could literally feel my jaw unhinge and it cracked in protest. “Y-you bought Luna a…ring?” I gasped. My fingers scrambled hurriedly to open the box, and my neck drooped in surprise.
It was a beautiful ring – beautiful enough that it didn’t seem like Marshall could afford it – with a blood-red ruby in the center. It was intertwined in a silver encasing, as the lights glinted, shimmering in the light.
“H-how did you…I mean, how could you even afford this?” I yelled, staring at him with open shock.
Marshall tugged on his black stud earring nervously, his fingers intertwined with each other between his legs. “I’ve been saving some money since the third grade. It took half of that money to buy the ring,” He admitted, his eyes closed shut.
“Wow,” I breathed. “That must have been a shitload of money.” I joked, but he didn’t even look up at me.
“Hey, everything’s alright. You can tell me, Marshall. I promise, you’ll feel better,” I wrapped my arm around his shoulder, snuggling his face to my own. It was always hard to reassure someone like Marshall; who’s exactly like Dad, unemotional and completely unsentimental.
Marshall sighed again, and he finally opened his tired-looking eyes to mine. “Well, I asked Luna to elope with me—,”
“To where?!” I yelled, accidentally interrupting him. “Where would you guys go?”
He looked up begrudgingly at me, and continued on. “We decided during Spring Break – you know, in two weeks – to run off to the church over in Springfield and get married, since you only have to be 16 to get married there,”
“Wait, wait, wait,” I interrupted him again. “But you’re only 16.”
Marshall raised his eyebrow at me doubtfully. “Really, I couldn’t pass for 16? Mel, I look like I’m in my early 20’s.”
That was actually the truth. Marshall actually had to shave everyday. Dre said he envied that about Marshall; he only had to shave every week.
“Yeah, I guess I hadn’t thought of that,” I said, sounding crestfallen.
“Anyways, I wanted her to elope with me, but, she just said no,” Marshall’s voice turned to a whisper. “She said that she didn’t want to commit to someone when she had ‘the rest of her life’ ahead of her.” He paused as his eyes seemed to look away to a far distance.
“She said that she loved me, and that she wanted to stay with me; just not get married.” He said.
I looked up at him, my eyes surprisingly feeling a little wet. I wiped the edge of my eyelids to keep them from spilling over. “So…what did you say?”
He swallowed as he looked back up into my eyes again, his Adam’s apple bobbing and his eyes looking just as red as mine. “I told her that I didn’t want to see her anymore. I broke up with her.”
“Oh Marshall,” I sighed as the tears finally spilled out. I collapsed into his arms and was surprised when he silently cried on my shoulder while they uncontrollably shook.
“She’s moving to Detroit,” He managed to say. “With her dad.”
I pulled back from Marshall and stroked his face with my thumb. “Marshall, that’s horrible.” Everything with Luna seemed so real and long-lasting. I didn’t ever think that they would have broken up.
“You wanna sleep on the couch tonight?” I asked him, referring to when we were little kids. When we were little, I used to sleep in the big chair and he slept on the couch. We would watch movies on T.V. all night until one of us fell asleep. Those were the days before Marshal had anger management problems, before Criss and all her obsessive weed-smoking shit.
“Yeah, what the hell.” He said gruff, his voice back to normal instead of a soft whisper. We grabbed the comforter off my bed and walked up the stairs together, each leaning on each other’s shoulders.
I smiled, remembering that moment I had shared with Marshall. Sure, it was a really bad time for him, but I found out that Marshall still had that other side of him. The one that could be gentler, the one he exercised out on Luna. Criss definitely encouraged the anger side of him.
Smiling again as Luna scooted closer to Marshall, I crept back out of his bedroom and walked down the hall past Mya’s bedroom and the bathroom to my parent’s room. I had to be careful opening the door, since it seemed like my mom only needed three hours of sleep to be fully charged. I peeked around the corner like I had in Marshall’s room, and saw Mom sleeping quietly on her bed. I walked right next to her, and bent down to kiss her on the cheek.
Now speed-walking, I hurried to the bathroom near the living room. I closed the door behind me, and slowly opened the window so that it wouldn’t creak. Because of the squeaking sound it made, Marshall was caught sneaking out just a few months ago with Criss. I hiked my feet up against the wall with a tight grip on the window ledge. I finally slung my legs outside – which involved a quite colorful string of profanities, I might add – and switched my right had to the ledge of the window on the outside. I slipped my other beside it, so I was able to close the window shut from the outside.
Feeling the soft grass beneath my shoes, I took in a deep breath of the outdoors-y air. Since I had hydrophobia, my dad thought I would be more of an outdoors person, but that didn’t happen, either. I’m kinda clumsy (okay, extremely) and prone to falling into poison ivy or tripping over a snake. I turned to the sidewalk and began walking south towards Dre’s house.
I have to admit, if I had never developed a crush on Dre, we probably still would have been friends. He’s just so caring for me, and he’s always there if Brite can’t be. Sometimes though, I wonder about him. How can he be so nice and caring when he had to grow up getting beat by his mother’s multiple boyfriends? And how can he be just fine and dandy when his mother is in rehab right at this moment, and he has to deal with Derek all on his own? I mean, if that was me, I probably would have ran away by now.
I smiled as I began to remember the day I had met Dre. In the sixth grade in Advisory, I was assigned to show him around the school that morning. I was completely nervous around him, so my spazzy side was definitely apparent towards Dre.
“Melita! Could you be a dear and come here?” Mrs. Copperfield called cheerfully from the front of the classroom.
I sighed, because even though she has the same last name as David Copperfield, she’s definitely not as funny. Slowly rolling my eyes, I got up from my desk in the faraway corner and trudged up to Mrs. Copperfield. I saw Lynne Davis and her friend Kirsten giggle as I walked by them. I bit my lip to say some snarky retort and going repeatedly ape-shit on their asses.
“Yeah, Mrs. Copperfield?” I answered warily as I finally made my way up there.
You see, this is what happens when there aren’t any of your friends in advisory: you go insane. Then, you start to really hate school. So then you get into fights. And once you get into fights, you become labeled as a “delinquent”. And then no one cares about you or your future. And then you drop out of school in the ninth grade. Then you run away from home because you’re ashamed that you disgraced the family name. Then, because you need money to get food, you get a job at McDonald’s, but it doesn’t pay enough. So then you become a hobo and have to live on the streets because you’re broke as fuck. Then, to make more money, you sell drugs and become really rich. But then you try the drugs you were originally selling and get addicted to them. Then you get poor again because you spent all your money on drugs. Then, since you’re so desperate for drugs, you give away blood and “other things” to get more money. But then you don’t have enough money to get the real stuff so you get the synthetic stuff, which makes you OD. And then, you die from the OD and no one comes to your funeral because no one remembers you. And you die, just because you didn’t have any friends in advisory. Thanks, Mrs. Copperfield.
She smiled her overly cheerful smile at me, her bright yellow clothes blinding me as I tried not to be blinded by her extremely white teeth. I mean, how could someone be this cheerful all the time? It was unnatural.
“Well, we have a new student arriving in our school. His name is…,” She trailed off as she bent down to grab a file out of her desk. I tried not to notice that her butt was just as perky as she was. “Oh, here it is! Look’s like his name is, Andre Young,” She giggled a little – an actual giggle – and smiled at me. “Are you at all related?”
I shook my head. “No. I’ve never heard of him.”
“Oh, just thought it would be a cool cowinky-dink,” She said, and resisted the urge to slap the shit out of her. “Anyways,” She said, totally oblivious to my thoughts, “They said that he should be coming today. And— oh, speak of the devil!” She said, her eyes fixated on something behind my head.
I slowly turned around to see who I would have to tool around, but then, I felt a sudden fluttering in my chest. My mouth became dry, and I realized with a start that my heart had skipped a beat. And, for good reason. Because Andre…well, he was more than just some ordinary sixth grader. No, he was something special.
He had short, wavy black hair that was somewhat wet, since he had probably just taken a shower. He was wearing a plain black T-shirt, which revealed the long scar crawling up his arm. He had on black and white basketball shorts, with a Nike swish on them. I swear, time actually slowed while he walked towards me. I could see his long dark eyelashes that framed his eyes slowly touch his face as he blinked.
I wasn’t the only one who was stunned. Just about everyone was taken back by him – even the guys – and I was pretty sure he all thought we were freaks, the way we were gaping at him. He looked around a little warily and his eyes rested on me. I finally got over my weird, jittery, panic attack-prone nerves and smiled reassuringly at him. I felt my heart painfully skip another beat as he smiled back at me.
“Hey,” He greeted me once he finally reached Mrs. Copperfield’s desk. Once everyone noticed that he was talking to me (the anti-social loner) there was a collective tone and they turned away.
“Hi,” I said shyly, feeling my cheeks heat up immediately.
“Andre!” Mrs. Copperfield said excitedly, like she known him for years. She hugged him, and he looked a little confused at first, but didn’t oblige. “I’m greatly excited that you are joining our classroom!”
“Um, thanks for letting me join,” He joked back, giving her a little half smile/smirk. I felt myself get even more nervous as he directed the smile towards me, and raised his eyebrow towards Mrs. Copperfield.
“Well, Andre, if that what’s you like to be called. Actually, what do you prefer? Andre, Andy, Dre, Andy-D, Dr. Dre, like the rapper/producer?” She babbled on and on, and I felt the slapping urge creep itself up my spine again.
“Uh, just Dre is fine.” He said simply as he put his hand into his pocket.
“Well, here’s your schedule,” She said, handing him a paper from the folder she took out of her filing cabinet. “And this is Melita Young – ha, yes I know, you guys have the same last name. Exciting! – and she will help you around school today,” She turned to me. “Now, Melita, I know that many of this girls in this classroom have noticed that Mr. Young is very attractive, and are very jealous to be in your position right now. But I need you to keep your hands off of him – for now – and then you guys can do whatever you want. Outside of school.” Mrs. Copperfield said to me, earning a weird look from Dre and an eyebrow raise from Drew (the boy Drew) Majors, who was looking at our conversation.
I felt my cheeks heat up even more, and I bent my head down a little so that my black curtain of hair covered some of my face. “Uh, okay Mrs. Copperfield.”
She smiled and put her hands on the small of me and Dre’s back and led us to the door. “Alright Melita, why don’t you show Dre around school, okay?” She smiled genuinely, and then I felt a little bad for wanting to hit her. Mrs. Copperfield couldn’t help the fact that she’s freaking crazy.
Mrs. Copperfield gently nudged us outside the classroom and closed the door behind us. Huh. Shut out of my advisory by my own advisor. How interesting. I snuck a glance up at Dre – since my curtain of hair was still kinda blocking my vision of him – and saw him looking down at me (he’s ten inches taller than me) smiling.
“Hey,” He said again, that irresistible half smirk still on his face. “So, your name is Melita? I like that,”
Despite my overwhelming feeling of nervousness, I felt at ease with him there. “Actually, I go by Mel,” I said, hating the sound of him calling me by my full name. “Only my grandma calls me Melita, and that’s because she doesn’t even like me.” I admitted.
To my surprise, he laughed and his smile grew even wider. “Nice,” He complimented. He jerked his thumb back in the direction of Mrs. Copperfield’s room. “I’m Andre, but I go by Dre. You know, but she established that after she put me into a bear hug.”
I nodded and laughed. “Yeah, Mrs. Copperfield does that to everyone,” There was a slight pause as I thought of what else to say. “So, what’s your first class? I’ll show you there.”
He fished out his schedule from his back pocket, and my eyes locked onto his ass. Was it completely wrong of me to be checking him out? Yeah. But did I care? Hell no. My eyes widened at the sight of him, and I turned away nervously so that I wouldn’t bring him down to the floor with me right then and there.
“Formal geometry,” He said, oblivious to the fact that I had been EYEING HIS ASS.
“Uh, okay,” I said, my gaze still wandering to his backside. Keep your thoughts in check, Mel. I reminded myself. “I’ll show you.”
I thought the walk to class would be awkward and full of silence, but Dre was apparently comfortable with me. I tried hard – really, really hard not to stare anywhere besides his eyes – but it was still difficult to do. Why did he just have to be so hot? I swear, it almost felt like a dream for me.
“So, did you grow up here in Baltimore?” He said, stopping me from thinking about what he looked like with no clothes on. I really needed to get my head out of the gutter.
“Uh, yeah,” I said, a little uneasily. “My dad’s from Baltimore, but my mom’s originally from Houston,” I looked at him hesitantly, and he was smiling at me, that same half-smirk that made him look so genuinely happy.
“So, where you from?” I asked. His dark brown eyes locked onto mine, and he paused for a second, not answering me.
“Oh, sorry!” I could already feel my neck heating up. “Is that something really personal? I’m sorry, I didn’t even think…”
“No, it’s okay,” He said, rubbing the back of his neck with his head. His eyes dropped to the floor and stayed away from my face. “It’s just…I wouldn’t expect a lot of people here to get what I’m saying, if you understand that?” He finally turned to me, and I could see that his eyes suddenly seemed very tired and a lot older than he was.
“I think…I understand what you’re saying,” I said, thinking it through. “A lot of kids here don’t know what it’s like to have…nothing.” I said simply.
He nodded. “Yeah, that’s kind of what I’m getting at.” He took another deep breath and then slowly exhaled. “I grew up in California, Illinois, Michigan, and now Maryland,”
I nodded at him, and he continued. “In California, I grew up in…South Central L.A.” He said slowly, and raised his eyebrow at me.
South Central L.A.? Then, I thought about it for a second, and I finally got what he was really saying. I raised my eyebrow back at him and whispered (trying not to have a heart attack when he leaned in to hear me), “…near Compton?” He nodded, and then stared at me to gauge my reaction.
Even though I was extremely nervous around this seriously hot-looking guy, I didn’t feel any of that nervousness when I said this, “Yeah, so what? What’s the big deal?”
“Well, don’t you care? Aren’t you gonna look down on me, call me a hood rat or something, and then never talk to me again?” He said, and I could tell he actually thought I would do something like that.
“No, of course not!” I exclaimed, getting a strange look from a seventh grader coming in to school late. “Why would that matter to me? It doesn’t define who you are. It’s just where you’re from.”
He smiled at me, a real genuine smile, and made my heart almost break in half. He was just too lovely for his own good. “You know what, Mel? I think we’re going to get along real well.”
I smiled back at him. “Good.”
Those were the good days with Dre. That was before all this drama between us, and that was before Marshall had been dating Criss. I really should go back to Mrs. Copperfield to thank her, for letting me tour around with Dre like that. During that whole “tour” (we only went to two of his classes) I had learned a lot about Dre. Not everything, like his mom was in rehab during the time, he had just told me that she was a hard-working kind of a person who really loved him and his brother. He told me about Derek, and how he was probably the best little brother in the history of little brothers. To be honest – and not sappy – I think I fell in love with Dre a little bit that day. It wasn’t full blown, but it was definitely a start.
I stopped at the front of Dre’s house. I had only been here once, and that was because my mom had to pick Dre up for the chorus concert. And I seriously wasn’t taking no for an answer. At our school, a lot of guys thought that chorus was “gay”. Except, really, they couldn’t even say that because the majority of the gay guys at our school are way cooler than the stupid jocks. And we really needed a bass, since most the guys in our chorus opted to be tenors.
Anyways, but by the look of the house, it seemed there had been a lot of stuff happening here. Dre’s grandma died in the house, his mom almost OD’d once, and this was also the first time I realized that I was really, really in love with Dre. But there seemed to be a dark cloud hanging over my head, and I didn’t feel like going through that moment right now. It felt as though there was a black hole in the center of my chest, and it was slowly growing out of control.
I took a deep breath, and slowly walked up the porch steps. I knocked softly on the door, and waited about a minute before Derek finally answered the door.
His eyebrows shot up, making him look even more like his brother. He paused a second. “Mel…?” He said, clearly surprised. “What are you doing here?”
I expected this reaction from Derek. It had been a long time since I had seen him, so I knew he was going to be a little surprised. “Uh, is Dre here?” I said, smiling.
“Well, yeah,” He said, still looking a little stunned. It then took me a little while to realize that he wasn’t surprised because he hadn’t seen me in a long time, it was because he was checking me out! He thought I was hot!
My mouth actually dropped open as I realized. “Uh, I’m going to go inside now.” I said, and was shocked when he actually watched me walk inside the house.
The place hadn’t changed since that night Mom picked up Dre. The couches were in the exact place they had been in, the kitchen was exactly the same (unlike most guys, Dre cleans his dishes right after he uses them, something I’m way too lazy to ever do), and I’m sure that the room Dre shared with Derek probably looked the same, too. I guess that’s kind of why I like Dre so much. He doesn’t need to change every five seconds, he’s cool the way he is. Just the way I like him.
“Dre’s in our room,” Derek said, eyeing me nervously.
“Oh. Cool,” I said, feeling suddenly very awkward. “So…how’s school?”
Derek gave me a look that said, ‘really?’ “Mel, you don’t have to make conversation with me. I know that you came here to see Dre.” He said blatantly.
“Thanks, D!” I thanked him as I gave him a little peck on the cheek. I waved goodbye, even though I was just going to his room.
I rounded the corner and paused outside the painted white wooden door that led to Dre’s and Derek’s room. Just beyond that door, was Dre. Dre, the love of my life. Dre, the boy who seems to amaze me by something each and every day. Dre, the boy who every guy should admire to be. So perfect in all ways, so why should I even try to be with him? Why did we even become friends in the first place, if I could never live up to his perfect figure?
“My perfect figure?” He echoed my thoughts, making me spin around on my ankle and have a heart attack.
“D-did I say that out loud?” I said, only now noticing that Dre was standing behind me.
With only shorts on.
With his hair all wet and cute.
I mean, but you could you blame me? It’s not like ogle guys all the time, hell, I’m not even that fond of six packs and that’s what all these other girls talk about all day. So, I think I deserve a break, because I have never been attracted to someone as much as I have with Dre. Seriously, not even the rapper Drake could stray me away from Dre. Not even close.
To my surprise, it was Dre’s face that blushed. He looked away from my face and down at the floor. “Uh, yeah. I uh, yeah, you said it out loud.”
I forced my eyes to focus on anything but Dre. “So, I uh, c-came here to…” I heard myself trail off as my eyes rested on his. His somewhat-light and somewhat-dark eyes always seemed to calm, rested, as opposed to my panic attack stricken eyes. I know I had already said that we didn’t belong together, but don’t opposite attract sometimes?
“You came here too?” He asked, looking at me expectantly. “What did you want to talk about, Mel?”
My face crumpled up like I was going to cry, and I felt my hand run through my hair. There was a wetness in my eyes, but I didn’t let them flow out of my eyes. Instead, I walked closer to Dre and held his hands in mine. His raised his eyebrows in surprise, since he still wasn’t used to me crying, but he didn’t say anything. That was another thing about Dre; he was patient while I was the exact opposite.
“I love you too much,” I started out, still looking straight into his eyes. “But you keep so many secrets from my, and it’s just so hard…” I struggled for words. “But there are some things going on with me right now, and I think you know what’s going on. Can’t you just tell me?” I was almost begging now, most of my self-respect gone. I knew that Dre wouldn’t try to take advantage, though. He knew better than that.
It took him a second, with both of our hands clasped in each other’s. The whole time, I kept the tears in, and neither of us even flinched when Derek said he was going over to Eric’s house. It took him long enough that I started to regret even coming here, but I quickly squashed that idea.
He finally gave me one, quick nod. I knew he wasn’t exactly answering my question, but it was a sign that everything was okay. “I love you too.” He whispered so quietly that I almost didn’t hear him.
I let the tears in my eyes go then. “Good,” I whispered back. Upon seeing me crying, he picked me up so that one of his hands was tangled in my hair while his other hand gripped my waist so that I could halfway wrap my legs around his waist.
I guess this time, the kissing was more intense and passionate than the first other two times. We weren’t holding back anymore, and it was just…amazing. I was so caught up in the moment with all these emotions going through me, it just made everything between us even better.
Dre was just equally emotional, and I was surprised to find that there were tears running down his cheeks too. Our tears mixed together on our cheeks, almost binding us together as one. He surprised me once again when he stopped – tugging my lip with his teeth in the process – and there was a certain glint in his eyes. He was asking something, but not verbally. I don’t know how, but I knew what he was asking me right away. I gave him one single nod like he had done to me, and my hand reached behind my back to twist open the doorknob.
He walked in hurriedly, our kissing resuming from our stopping position, and closed the door behind him. Neither of us hesitated when he took me to his bed and laid me on top. He quickly stripped off my clothes as I did the same to him, and we didn’t look back.
Instead, I let life happen.