It all started with an introduction, albeit an awkward one. No he didn't walk up to me and say hello. It was August 25th, the first day of school. It was second period, my second high school class in the history of my life. It was a geology class; I sat in the middle of the class, not by choice though. By the time I had trekked across campus from the first class the front seats and the back seats had all been filled so I slid into a nondescript middle seat.
Our teacher was one that believed everyone in standing up and having them tell something about themselves. All I ever said was, 'I'm Hazel, and I like music and writing'. So we all went through the motions. I saw kids from my old school, none of them too close of friends, but it was mostly kids I didn't know. And everyone went around and said things about themselves. How boring. It circled around the class. Eventually it got to the guy three seats to my left. He stood up awkwardly like he wasn't used to his body. I assume he had just gone through a growth spurt. But he stood and said in a higher pitched voice, "I'm Harry. I like music." he flipped his longish brown hair out of his eyes and sat. If it had been blonde I'd of assumed his name was Justin.
I don't know why but he left a bad taste in my mouth. I felt dread filling my stomach just knowing that the universe would force me to be his lab partner for life or something. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Finally the self-talk train made its way to me. I stood and murmured, "I'm Hazel and I like music." I sat down as quickly as I could, hating talking in front of people. The class went through the usual motions of filling out paperwork, pretending to care about the syllabus, and try to survive classes middle school never actually prepare you for.
Soon that first day faded into the first week. We had our groups if friends starting to form, lab groups together, and math tests already failed. In geology class I was in-group six. The Justin Bieber look-a-like was in the same group as me along with two other kids. He's the only one I'd suspect will help me with the work, the other two are complete wastes of space.
The first few weeks of high school were normal, I got lost a few times, joined the debate team, tried to make new friends, and not get scared by the twelve foot tall seniors. I'd come to the conclusion that I'd just make my way through high school, my best friend and I had no classes together, so I'd just slide by. Now I wish I would have, but I didn't.
It started with a kiss, not a literal kiss, a fake kiss. Harry walked up to me while I was working on my piece. "Hey Hazel?"
"Yeah?" I say as I look up from my work, tugging a headphone out of my ear.
"Can you help me with my speech? Everyone else is busy. Can you read over it?" I Nod.
"I can." I say as he sits down at the library table with me. He hands me his piece and start reading. I start reading his speech as I bob my head along with the music.
"What are you listening to?" he asks me after a few moments. I tell him the band and he says he's never heard of them.
"Wanna listen with me?" I asked him. He nodded and took the other headphone. He listened along for a few moments before and smiles. "That's really good. Who is it?"
"Screaming Silence." I smile.
"Never heard of them but they're really good."
"You wouldn't have. They're a really new local band."
"How'd you find them?"
"A few friends and I run a blog about local bands in the cities we live in."
"Really? What's it called?" I give him the blog address and we go back to listening to music. As I read his speech he talks about the milestones of life one of those being a person's first kiss. I finish and give it back to him.
"It's good." I say.
"Thanks." He smiles at me. And that's how our friendship started, with me editing a scene with a fake kiss.
He was whining for a chicken sandwich, his dad hadn't given him any money. We were sitting with some of our other debate friends during lunch at a tournament. I always packed my lunch so I sat munching on my wheat thins and humus listening to him complain while everyone else ate. After a moment of thought I got up, using the excuse of bathroom and I went and bought him the sandwich. When I came back he said,
"Why'd you get that?"
"I got it for you. You're hungry so why not?" He smiled at me and said,
"Thanks Hazy." I feigned anger and replied,
"Don't call me Hazy." He laughed and took his sandwich. After taking a bite (swallowing half of it in one bite) said,
"Fine, and thanks." I smiled and sat back down. He tried to hug me and I pulled away.
"Sorry, all you get is an awkward side hug."
It continued with an argument of hugs, more specifically hugging techniques. I'm not a hugging type of person, it's just never been me, at least not since I was six years old. The closest I get to giving a hug is standing beside someone and awkwardly wrapping my arm around someone. Harry wasn't a fan of the hugs I would give. He was a hugger, the type to have your head on his chest, his arms around your, yours around his. It was probably our first fight, barely a few weeks into our friendship.
We were hanging out with friends at the mall, not one of those gigantic strip malls with no soul. We were at a small one that would be considered unhip or uncool. Evelyn, Tyler, Harry, and I were eating pretzels from a small pretzel shop and Harry accidentally squirted mustard on my shirt. After I finished gripping about it he tried to give me a Harry hug.
"Harry stop." I whine like I always do. But today it was different.
"Hazel would you just let me hug you dammit." he snapped slightly. I pulled from under his arm, slightly miffed at him. The rest of the day we didn't really talk to each other, we talked around each other. Allie and Will faded off around two, they got tired of us. So Harry and I were sitting around in the bookstore, both frowning.
"Haze?" He said and I looked up from the book I was 'skimming'.
"I'm sorry for trying to make you hug me. It wasn't cool."
"It's fine. I'm overly sensitive sometimes."
"Ok but I'm still sorry." he says. I turn and give him a hug. A Nicky hug. He's so surprised he doesn't hug me back for a second, but after that second he hugs me back. It was then we became for real best friends. For months everything was ok.
He jumped on my back on October 30th. Every year near Halloween a company sets up their haunted maze for people to try and find their way through. We all know how this works. Haunted maze equals shit popping out at you and that's something I hate.
Harry asked me if I wanted to go with him and a few of his friends. Having nothing to do that night I agreed. His dad picked me up, and my mom would drop me off. So after his dad picked me up and dropped we got dropped off we waited for his friends. Five minutes, no one should up. Ten minutes, Harry starts getting annoyed. Fifteen minutes, he says we should just start the maze. I agree and we start.
The sun is setting and I'm already shivering. "Cold Hazel?" I nod. "How are you already cold we're five minutes in- Ahhhh!" He screams as a skeleton jumps out in front of us. He jumps behind me and grabs my hood. I start laughing, as does Mr. Skeleton. He slides back into his hiding spot as Harry and I walk past.
"Making fun of me," I miff at him, "at least I'm not jumping on your back." He pushes me playfully as another person jumps out from the shadows eliciting another scream from Harry.
And that's how the night goes. Harry spends the entire evening with his face in my hood. We make it through the maze about eleven pm. At the end there were booths for food and stuff set up for us geniuses (genii?) that were able to make it out. Harry and I went through a few booths, him taking free samples at each and having me grab some for him. Just a note, Harry and eating is something you don't get in the way of, ever; even if you feel like it's morally wrong (geez how much have my morals changed in two years, fuck… too much foreshadowing) to take more than one free sample.
"Geez dude keep eating like that no girl is ever gonna want to date you." I say as he eats his tenth or eleventh sample of Cinnabon. He shrugs. "Well there has to be some girl you like and no girl would date you if you're the equivalent of a whale."
"Well the girl I like is too nice to discriminate like that." He shoots back instantly clamping his mouth shut. Whenever this topic comes up, he always shuts it down just as quick.
"So since we're on the subject who is it? I'm great at making relationships work between people. I'm an awesome matchmaker." I boast. He puts his hands in his pockets.
"Isn't time for your mom to pick us up?" I look at my watch and nod. We start walking out of the food area to the parking lot.
"Don't change the subject Harry. Just tell me, I'd never tell the chick." He stays quiet for a extended minute before saying,
"Just a girl in our um… gym class."
"Oh! Who? Julie?" He shakes his head. "Danielle?" He shakes his head again. "Kennedy? Lola? Kisha? Marie? Oh come on who?!"
"No one Haze, let it go Jesus…" He grumbles at me as I dreg through my mind for more girls in our gym class. There are only three more in there. Noel, Harriet, and me. "Harriet?"
"No Hazel drop it." He looks away and I keep giving him a look. Now I realize that odd feeling in my stomach wasn't knowing it was Noel, a feeling of superiority gained from dragging the answer from Harry; now I know it was because it was a prelude to the feeling of slimy worms I'd feel till eleventh grade.
"Noel?" He stops walking and I stop too. Harry faces me and his mouth moves to form words. The first handful are silent, no sound except of the air moving in and out of him I can't hear, but know is there, over the sounds of the maze behind us.
"Uh yeah ok. Jesus Hazel was it that big of a deal?"
I start walking and say simply, "Because I'm nosy." He rolls his eyes exasperatedly at me.
"You are something Haze, you really are."
"I'll take that as a compliment." I reply.
"You should." He says sardonically.
"Screw you." I laugh as he reaches over to hug me.
The next Monday when we came to class and I sit in geology talking to Mickey about my weekend. I tell her about the whole maze thing and when Harry and I left the maze. When I get to that part she smiles knowingly about something I don't. When I ask what the smile is for she says,
"Aw it's so cute, a boy has a crush on Hazel." She raises her pitch to a high pitched squeak meant to sound cute, but giving this tone is being used on me is just annoying.
"Shut up no he doesn't." I defend friendship and myself as Harry walks over. "Hey Harry."
"Hey Haze, hey Mickey." He says as he goes into how he spent Sunday playing some videogame. We zone him out and Mickey says quietly to me,
"Ask him about Noel again and see if he negates himself." I nod ready to prove my point and say,
"So Harry I was telling Mickey about how you like Noel." Two possibilities: One, he freaks out at me for telling someone, proving my point. Two, he has no clue what I'm talking about, proving Mickey's point.
"What in the hell are you talking about?" He stops his previous train of talk to respond to me. "I don't like Noel. Who told you that?" He sounds genuinely unknowing that he has just completely negated himself. I raise an eyebrow and turn away to ignore him.
I know exactly what look he had on his face, I've seen that same disappointed sad face on him more times than I care to. But at the time I was mad, mad that he lied. Harry tries to get my attention all class, but my anger is stronger than my willpower. Even then I had no willpower to ignore him; I still, to this day have that problem.
"Hazel did I do something?" He asks in the ten minutes before class ends. I've been talking softly with Mickey the duration of our class to get some idea of what just happened.
"No." I say, my anger subsided.
"Really. I just uh, had a fight with my parents last night." I fib. I did in actuality have an argument with my parents but nothing major enough to effect me.
"Oh. I'm sorry Haze." He says hugging me. I lightly hug him back.
"Haze I'm sorry I didn't answer you last night." Mickey says as she packs up, helping to solidify my white lie.
"You called Mickey last night?" I nod as I pack my bag up. "Well you know that you can call me anytime you need anything right?"
I looked up at him. That was the first time anyone had ever said that to me. "Really?"
"Of course. You're my friend." He smiles at me. That's the smile I've always loved seeing. It's one of just happiness, there's nothing there but happiness. I don't get to see it that often, but it's something that improves my day, even if the smile isn't for me or because of me. Those smiles of Harry's have made me turn my personal mission in life to get him to make that smile as often as possible.
"Thanks Harry." I smile happily. "You know you're the first person to ever tell me that."
"Really?" I nod. "I'm glad Haze. I'll see you in fourth period."
"Bye." I say as we walk down opposite ends of the hallway. I sit down beside Evelyn and we catch up on our weekends. And once that avenue exhausts itself we talk about what we're gonna do in November and December over the breaks we have.
A month passed by in the same comfortable rut. No problems or lies; just chill and preparing for debate. Meetings every Tuesday and Thursday. Then, it began with a text.