"Okay, I think I've got everyone's money. Are you finally going to book the place today?" Patrick asked me in between second and third period.
"Yeah for sure," I replied as I tried to stuff my running shoes into our large, shared locker. "Can you grab that bag up there please? I'm struggling here."
Patrick snickered as he easily reached the bag on our top shelf. "I don't know why you keep throwing things up there when you can't reach them."
"Well in my dress shoes it's no problem, but as you can see I'm kinda barefoot at the moment."
"You mean your ridiculous Spice Girl platform shoes?" Another snicker. "Whatever. Just book it and give me the details ASAP."
"Yes, sir!" I saluted to Patrick. "Stop worrying already. All week you ask me the same question every day. No one else will book that place, I promise you."
"Emma, only I tell people not to worry. Your job is just to get it done," Patrick responded with a familiar smile spreading across his face as he walked away, knowing his black and white statements always pushed a button of mine.
I rolled my eyes and shook my head in annoyance but secretly smiled as my wavy, auburn hair fell over my face.
Patrick was the first friend I ever made in high school. Back in 1999 we met in homeroom as his surname followed mine on the alphabetical list. This meant we were assigned lockers side by side and for the first few months I thought I would kill him.
Grade 9's got the third floor lockers which were so skinny that you could barely fit two textbooks side by side within them. When you opened them all the way, the door completely covered the locker to the right of them. You always hoped you'd get a courteous locker neighbour. Day after day, Patrick would wait for an opportune moment to annoy the heck out of me. He was one of the hundreds of kids that was bussed to and from school which he used to his advantage at the end of each day.
"Patrick! What the hell!" I would yell at him as he flung his locker door open.
"What?!" Patrick would respond in mock defence, "I need to catch my bus!"
"That doesn't mean you need to open your locker door all the way. You can still get your shit out without blocking mine!"
"You walk home. You can leave at any time. I need to get out of here now."
"Just because I walk home doesn't mean I have to wait around for you to finish whatever you're doing!" I would spit back whilst trying to pry his locker door away from mine, always to no avail against his lanky forearm that held the door firmly in place.
He's totally got Only-Child Syndrome, I remember thinking during our daily squabbles. While fourteen-year-old me tried to hate him, I couldn't deny I was loving this sort of new attention. My closest friends from elementary school (who were mostly male) always made me feel like one of the guys and nothing more, which was totally cool. I knew my place with them. Patrick, however, teased me like a little sister but was also interested in spending lots of time with just me which left me wondering if this was how real boyfriend-girlfriend relationships started. He was the strong and silent type which always left me questioning some of his actions but I knew we shared a special connection. Even if we didn't quite know how to define it.
Here we were, four years later, still just friends and nothing more. I think this bothered our friends more than it bothered us. We had developed a tight knit group that constantly teased our bickering ways and asked when the hell we were just going to start dating already. We always brushed off the notion because that sort of chemistry just wasn't there. Graduation was less than a month away and I was sure if anything was going to happen, it would have damn well happened already.
I made it to my third period World Studies class just as Mr. Bortello was closing the door. I scurried over to my desk next to Andrew and tucked my kilt under my legs as I sat down quickly. He gave me a smile and waited until Mr. Bortello had allowed us to partner up for an assignment to begin talking about something that had nothing to do with the assignment whatsoever.
"I hear everyone's put in for the deposit. Is the cottage booked yet?
"I was literally just talking about this with Patrick," I responded while pretending to go over Andrew's notes, "and I'll book the place tonight just so people can stop asking me."
"Sorry," he said through a short laugh, "I just didn't think it was going to happen. For sure thought some people would back out once they had to come up with the money."
"I know, I seriously can't believe we're going to have twenty people staying in this cottage. Who needs to follow the ginos to Wasaga Beach when you can get a place like this after prom? Best idea ever."
"Until something breaks,"Andrew stated. "Are you sure you want to put this place on your credit card?"
"Don't worry," I responded calmly, "I know where everyone lives. They break something, I break them."
"Cool,"Andrew smiled at that. "How many bedrooms again?"
"Umm, I think five plus two big living rooms and a dining room."
"Who do you think you'll share a bed with?"
"I dunno, probably Patrick or Erica."
"Sleep with Patrick."
"ANDREW!" I whispered loudly as Mr. Bortello glanced over at us again.
"What?! I just meant sleep in the same bed as him, where is your mind at?" He asked teasingly.
I narrowed my eyes at him, "You know what you meant. And it's not happening."
"Why not? You've slept with like three guys already, what's one more?"
"Umm, maybe because Patrick doesn't want to sleep with me and I don't want to sleep with him."
"Pretty sure he'd sleep with you if you made the first move,"Andrew leaned back confidently in his chair. "He's never going to make the first move. He's too shy for that."
"Andrew, I don't like him! So this stuff doesn't matter at all!"
"Sure you don't."Andrew said, still rocking back on his chair.
"You know it's not like that with us," I said, exasperated. "I wish people would just get that already. Why can't me and Patrick just be friends like you and I are? What's so wrong about that?"
"Nothing. Nothing at all, my dear," Andrew sat forward and pulled his notes up. "Shall we?"
We eventually completed our joint assignment and used the rest of class time to "work on our other studies" which is code for gossip or do as little of anything as possible. Andrew and I continued talking about who we thought would be pairing up at the cottage, who would go in who's car, who might hook up… The bell sounded and I was off to enjoy my spare by heading home early. I headed back to my locker and took my time sorting my things out. I left a note for Patrick to call me later so we could discuss the final details of the cottage and was immediately left thinking about how big the beds were, how they were arranged in the room, and what I should bring to sleep in if Patrick and I were going to share a bed.
Damn you, Andrew....