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Evenings With Darrick
"I never thought it would be like this."
"He just had this spark about him, Darrick. I don't know what else to tell you."
We sat there, underneath the stars, watching the smoke dissipate into the night air. Darrick was trying desperately to avert his eyes.
"That's not really how you should lay it on someone," he tried to reason.
"Darrick..," I started, but then my voice trailed off into silence. "I'm sorry."
"You don't seem sorry, Fin. You really don't."
What else was I supposed to do? Fall on my knees and beg for forgiveness? That wasn't going to happen.
"Why don't you just go spend time with Ike? You seem to favor him anyway," he retorted, wringing his hands and staring into space.
"Maybe I will," I stuttered, "And-and you should grow up. You should."
And then he just looked at me. His eyes were cold and empty. Lifeless.
So I stood and turned my back, but felt a hand cup my shoulder.
"I'll never grow up, Fin."
And that was all.
The next day I greeted Ike with an unsure smile. It wasn't really meant to be that way, but it turned out to be. He mirrored it and asked what was wrong.
My mouth went on and on about some made-up story about my failed haircut, but all my heart could do was think about Darrick.
That night I went home and immediately went to my room. My window seat called my name so I plodded over and laid down. I clutched a blanket up to my neck and eventually fell asleep.
I woke with a start and stared outside. What the heck was that?
What the heck?
Pressing my forehead against the glass, I peered down. I couldn't see far enough so I popped the window open and leaned my head out.
"What the heck do you think you're doing?" I called, somewhat oblivious to what I was doing.
"Why are you up?" shouted an all-too-familiar voice.
I pressed the palm of my head against my forehead.
"Darrick, please. What do you want?"
"Come down, Fin, please."
"Yes?" I asked, somewhat annoyed, running my hand through my ratty hair.
"I just wanted to say I'm sorry for being so immature. You were right; I need to grow up," he said, twisting his fingers.
Where did this come from?
"Thank you for apologizing," I said, sort of awkwardly abrupt.
"Yes," he said, furrowing his eyebrows, "I just didn't - don't - understand why you so suddenly were interested in Ike. One minute, we are a happy couple. Or at least I thought so. The next, you've shut me out and become obsessed with the big-name football star."
I stood silently, my hand paused in my hair and my chin trembling. I had no words for him.
"Honestly, Fin, I didn't think you were that kind of girl."
"What do you mean by that?" I asked quietly.
"Someone who would... who would jump so quickly from guy to guy. Or even fall for the football star," he threw his arms up, "I literally cannot see that."
"I'm sorry, Darrick. I didn't know what I was doing."
"I wish I could believe your apology, Fin," he interrupted, "But it really doesn't seem sincere. Let's talk another time."
And with that, he was gone again.
The next morning I awoke with a headache and a shiver. Two red pills slunk down my throat, followed by a gulp of water, and I was off to school.
"Did you hear about Ike and his new girlfriend?"
"No, what happened? I thought he was still with Ally!"
The nasally, high-pitched voices faded away with my footsteps. On my way to English, I stared at my shoes, hoping that my half-untied shoelace could stay intact until I reached the door. Instead, I ran straight into Ike.
"Hey cutie," he said cheerfully, "Feeling okay?"
"Yeah, I'm good," I said, pushing past him.
"Whoa, whoa, Fin, what's going on?" He paused, raising his eyebrows, "Is it your time - "
"No, Ike! Gosh," I snapped, maybe a little too harshly.
"Oh, well. Hey, um, Fin, can we talk after school?"
"Great. I'll meet you by the north parking lot," he half-smiled, "See you then."
"Fin, you've been sort of... stressed out the last couple days. Is there something wrong?" Ike asked carefully, trying to avoid upsetting me further.
Pressing my hand against my forehead, I mumbled, "I would like to break up, Ike."
He closed his eyes slowly and then opened them. "Okay," he replied.
Watching the sun set had always relaxed me even when things in my world felt like they were going to implode. So that's what I found myself doing the night after I broke up with Ike.
"I heard about you and Ike," Darrick said behind me.
How did I know he would show up?
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"No, you're not, Darrick."
"Well..." He said, trying to make a joke. I just ignored him.
"I'm not interested in getting back together," I said simply.
"I didn't even say anything."
Another night passed, as did another school day. Evening wound its way around and I was talking with Darrick again.
"You know, Fin, you're not the only one with problems."
"Seriously, Fin. There are people very close to you who are struggling."
"Darrick, I am not interested. How many times do I have to say that?"
"No," he said, a hurt look in his eyes, "You don't get it."
"My dad," he choked, "He - he had a stroke. Today. While I was at school."
My hand was paused in midair, halfway to running its way through my hair.
"He can't even talk to me, Fin," his voice was garbled and broken, "I can't even talk to him!"
"Darrick...," I began, terribly unsure, "I'm really sorry about your dad."
"Thank you. Goodnight," he said, wiping his face.
The next evening, I waited for Darrick on my porch.
"Hey," he said, trying to smile. I could tell it was hard.
"Come here." I opened my arms and offered a hug. He accepted and we stood like that, all tangled up, for probably five straight minutes.
"Thanks," he whispered.
"Don't," I said shortly, "I have some things I need to say."
"I'm sorry for leaving you so suddenly. I'm sorry for abandoning you for some heartless guy like Ike. Honestly, Darrick. I thought he cared, but when I broke up with him, he just walked away twirling his keys. He didn't even care, and I fell for his sinister trick. That's what I'm mostly sorry about.
"But I'm also sorry for being so curt and just a jerk. I assumed you were trying to woo me when you were just looking for a friend. I wish I could've been there more for you.
"If I could redo everything from the past few days, I would. That's one offer I wouldn't pass up."
I stood there silently with a clean heart buried somewhere inside me.
Darrick only offered a minuscule smile, and pulled me into another hug.
"So Fin, now that you've apologized, are you interested?"
"Darrick..." I warned.
"I'm just joking, Fin," he laughed, and with a wink, he said, "You don't have to be so harsh."
"Yeah, I think I got that."
By this time, the moon was already near its peak. So, we sat there, underneath the stars, watching the smoke dissipate into the night air.