Lizzy Bright was one of those girls that was so beautiful your jaw actually dropped. She was worth punching your best friend in the nose just to say hello. She was the kind of girl you wished you went to preschool with, just to say you kissed her one day on the playground. Then there was me, Chase Donovin, was the nobody Boy Scout that watched Lizzy Bright from the sidelines. And man, if you saw her, you too would be watching from the sidelines scared as shit to talk to her. Why? Simple. She was Lizzy Bright.
May 1st, 2008
I found myself on the door steps of Lizzy Bright’s door stocked with my troop’s popcorn. Today was the day that I would get a patch on my banner that only I knew about. It would be the, “congratulations you talked to not just a girl, but Lizzy Bright” badge. I stood shaking in front of their cherry red door, hesitant to knock. But by the grace of above, I managed to thump my pudgy knuckles against the smooth surface. Mrs. Bright, accessorized with an apron tied around her petite frame, opened the door. Her voice was sickly sweet, dripping with kindness, "Well hello Chase, are you selling popcorn for your troop? Your mom called and mentioned something about it."
I would of been able to pitch her my award winning speech, but right as I opened my mouth, 8 year old Lizzy Bright came running to her mom. She flashed a grin exposing the space where a front tooth would eventually mature. Mrs. Bright turned to face her energetic daughter, “Lizzy want to go grab my purse for me?” She nodded fiercely at her mother and took off at full speed back into the house.
My heart became a drum line in my chest. My palms started sweating so badly that I was rubbing them against my khakis. Red crept up into my cheeks. Was this what love feels like? A syrupy texture developed in my mouth as my stomach began to roll with pride and a little bit of lunch. My legs began to turn to jello and every piece of my insides turned into a swarm of butterflies. Then, I, Chase Donovin, threw up butterflies, right all over Mrs. Bright's cherry red door. Sent home armed with nothing but the unsold popcorn and a nasty case of something more than a love bug, I spent the entire next week laying in bed dreaming about when I would get to see Lizzy Bright again.
Breaking the Stillness
Following the popcorn incident, we became quick friends welded together at the hip. As time passed, our friendship pretty much got dumped into a shoe box with the rest of her middle school cheer memorabilia. She became fixated to her knight in a football jersey, Jaxson. I was gifted her presence in my calculus class where, if it was a good day, she might even interact with me. Trust me when I say this didn’t happen often. You might have heard the classic stories of the geek and the prom queen coming together, this isn’t like one of those. Lizzy had risen to a pedestal that can only be compared to that of Dolly Parton in the 80s, legendary. Which meant, I had even less of a shot at her. To fully grasp my dire case of loserdom, there are some things one should know about Catholic high schools in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They aren't like your run of the mill schools. They are cut throat and exploding with vicious teenagers stocked with their parents blue collar to blue diamonds cash. Self identified by a specific variation of green plaid, we are often placed on a broad spectrum. Let me break down the food chain for you.
The Midtowners are special breed of ass holes derived from parents whose sole jobs are: cleaning teeth, fixing boobs, drilling oil, and playing tennis at Southern Hills Country Club. The daughters of these usually fall under one category: smart, silver cross around their neck, well manicured nails, and ultra short school skirts. Lizzy bright can be found in this category. Then you have the sons of black gold. They are groomed to drive black massive trucks while wearing our Ralph Lauren oxfords unbuttoned, showing off our white undershirt. In these teenage boy's heads, there are really only a few things: hunting, fishing, cowboy boots, and football. No worries, unlike Jaxson, I am not your stereotypical Oklahoma male, I don't like to fish.
Oklahoma is actually a great place full of great people, just look at Lizzy Bright. And look at me. I'm slightly tolerable. And then there was Joe, the strangest human being you have ever met. Joe was a funny looking guy. He had shocks of orange hair that had a tendency to shoot off in different directions gifting him with a look similar to that of a hedgehog. His shoulders were stuck in a slumped position, most likely due to his very vertical body fighting gravity. Contrary to his shocking hair and psychedelic array of freckles, his persona was actually quite calm, given that you didn’t piss him off.
That Friday, we were stopped abruptly by Mr. Jenson. He was our AP Biology teacher that looked similar to a turtle. He could always be caught wearing a variation of a blue rugby shirt, kakihs, and a generous dusting of chalk. Mr. Jenson’s name itself sounded like it belonged in some bad Scooby Doo episode. He was the actual worst.
“Excuse me, Joe and Chase can I see you for a moment?" Jenson gurgled.
Joe mumbled something under his breath. I only assumed it was something profane. As if choreographed, we turned around with a smile and an excuse for whatever he was writing us up for.
"Yes?" I forced through a toothy grin.
"You two will be serving detention today and tomorrow. Maybe, your pink slip will remind you that tardiness is not acceptable. Neither, is calling your teacher a 'point nazi'. I don't want to hear your excuses. Both of you have already run out of extended family to hypothetically kill off or dogs to suddenly rush to the vet," with that, he smiled in a manner only to be described as the Grinch's evil snicker.
The bells sounded, forcing us to move along. “My mom is actually going to kill me. I mean seriously! If I keep detention up at this rate I’ll be lucky if I make it to Tulsa Welding School,” Joe haphazardly shoved the slip into his denim pocket.
“If you think you are screwed, imagine having Mama Donvoin coming down at you will full furry. Ain’t pretty,” I took a gentler approach and folded it up into quarters then neatly tucked it into a pocket of my backpack. Lizzy Bright and Jaxson were in the middle of the hall yelling at each other.
“Uh oh, looks like Cascia’s favorite couple is arguing again. I wonder what it’s about this time. Miss Lizzy is probably upset cause Jockstrap got the wrong tie for prom,” Joe snorted out of his nose.
“Lizzy isn’t like that,” I brushed off the comment.
“Dude, Lizzy is exactly like that. You act like you know her on this deep level because y'all were childhood buddies but, people change. Lizzy is no exception,” Joe rubbed his finger against his nose and then took a small tin of chewing tobacco out of his pocket.
“That is so gross,” Joe shoved into his mouth.
As I turned away from him, I noticed Jaxson snatching Lizzy's wrist. He held her so close and so intently it caused a shiver of fear to run through my spine. No one deserves to be treated like that.
Before I knew what my feet were doing, I walked up to Jaxson, "Hey dude. Why don't you chill out for a second?”
"This isn't any of your business."
"Chase just let it go," Lizzy looked at me desperately. Unfortunately, I was too stubborn to say no.
"Well, you kind of made it my business when you became the wall between me and leaving for the day. So, if you could at least move to the side and let go of Lizzy that would be great,” I stood with Joe behind me.
“Dude cut it out,” Joe whispered like a second conscience.
"Listen shit head can't you just go around like a normal person,” Jaxson tightened his grip on to Lizzy.
My face turned to stone, "Listen shit head. Let go of the girl and let us through. Do I need to dumb it down for you or does your negative I.Q. compute?"
I felt it. Pops of energy rushed through my veins. I was getting cocky. I felt empowered and like I could take on the world. My chest puffed up in pride. Every nerve ending in my body felt as if it were the fourth of July. Tired of my shit, Jaxson punched me; that ass hole. Joe stepped in and pulled me away from Jaxson. I rubbed my eyes with the palm of my hand and looked up to see the football coach and other faculty trying to break up the growing crowd leaking from the hallways. Lizzy Bright dashed off towards the girls bathroom while Joe kept me standing.
“Dude what the actual fuck were you thinking?” Joe rolled his eyes and adjusted holding my weight.
I was fine. My head just hurt.
“I wasn’t thinking,” I smiled at him.
“Yeah no fucking shit,” Joe rubbed my head like I was a little kid.
"Hey you okay?" Lizzy Bright came into my field of vision.
She held up a paper towel and gave it over to Joe who wasn’t very gentile about slapping it over a small cut on my cheek bone. I wasn't sure if it was Lizzy Bright that was making my head spin or getting sucker punched by a guy who won bodybuilding competitions.
She looked up at Joe after me not responding for a bit, “Is he okay?”
Joe gave me a nudge.
"Yeah, yeah. I’m fine. Totally...fine,” my breath began to calm and the wobbling started to finally still.
She looked at me with her big brown eyes. For the record, I hate the word "fine". You wear it on your sleeve in hopes that you come off as the "chill laid back guy that can brush off anything". You glaze it over yourself to appear "normal" and "put together", even when you are screaming and crying on the inside.
“I’ll see you around Chase,” she smiled as I was picked up by the residential adults and hauled off to the nurse's office.
My mom was called. Of course, she was pissed because she had to leave work. The car ride back was silent. So was me walking, grounded, upstairs to my room. I laid down on my bed in the comforting absence of noise. The annoying vibration of a text message broke the stilled sound waves.
"Hey, I just wanted to thank you again," -Lizzy Bright
There she goes, breaking the stillness, yet again.
Shoving a poptart into my mouth, I ran out the door to seek my fate. That sounds a little dramatic. It can be more accurately described as me inhaling breakfast since I was running late and I can’t afford another detention, especially since I would be running late for detention. I pulled my truck into its designated parking slot, 63. I ran into the cafeteria, panting from the ten foot jog. The detention warden stood guard and checked me in. I went to a familiar round table and pulled out some homework. My eyes threatened to close and my mind started to wander off when I reached King Louis in AP European History. I nodded back to life when a book slapped against the table.
My eyes followed the owner of the book to see none other than Jaxson. He slumped into the chair across from me. His demeanor said, “Fuck with me. I dare you.”. I could feel my pulse quicken and I quickly reverted to that little kid with the sweaty palms.
Jaxson leaned over the table and unwrapped a piece of gum, “What’s your problem?”.
He plopped it into his mouth and leaned back into the chair. To think, we used to be chubby kids together. Yep, Jaxson used to be a Boy Scout with me. I have pictures to prove it.
Jaxson stretched his thick arms above his head reminding me that he was not the chubby boy I once knew.
He gave me a weird look, “Stop staring or you are going to go through round two. Or is it that you just have a crush on me? Honestly that makes a lot of sense. I mean, why else would you be jealous of me? It’s okay sport. No hard feelings.”
He let out a laughed.
I rolled my eyes.
“Oh wait, nope it’s not me is it,” he lurched over the table again, “You have a thing for Liz.” He lowered his voice, “That is probably the most pathetic thing I have ever seen.”
I put up my AP Euro binder to hide my face which had turned a brighter red than the door of Lizzy Bright house. I wanted to cry and throw up at the same time. What can I say? I’m sensitive.
I pulled out my journal from my bag. It was nothing special and not necessarily a journal. I only call it that since I found it in the journal section at our local Barnes and Nobles. It was a black mini notebook. The edges were curled from frequent use and there was some sort of coffee or food permanently embedded into at least 85% of the pages. Ever since I can remember, I’ve used list making as a way to relax for all of life’s anxieties. Today’s anxieties included, but not exclusive to:
- Lizzy Bright finding out if she knew that I liked her
- Lizzy Bright finding out from Jaxson
- Lizzy Bright finding out from anyone else
- AP Euro test on King Louis
- You left off at the sun king part
- Thank God Christmas Break was almost here
The warden sanctioned us to leave from the prisons of the round table and go free into the hell of high school. I was twisting in the combination to my locker thinking about my little list. Maybe one day I’ll actually accomplish one of the bullet points. Probably not. My class was filled to the brim and Joe sat near the back waving me down with a saved seat. His shit was already sprawled over his desk and onto mine. Joe wasn’t a super organized sort of person. Smart, kind, and hilarious but, neat? No.
“Hey dude,” I plopped into the red desk.
Joe passed me a familiar cup of coffee from Quick Trip, “How was detention? I have mine after school.”
“I mean I got some studying done and was reminded yet again that Jaxson is an ass,”
“Well, sounds like a delightful way to start your morning!”
The teacher climbed to his podium and began the lecture. I scribbled notes as fast as I could, occasionally missing an article or misspelling a word here and there. A ripped piece of paper, marked with red sharpie, slipped onto my desk.
I heard you fought Jaxson! He deserved it tbh. -BH
I looked up to see who sent it my way. No one’s subtle glass claimed the note. I scribbled a quick side chat on the margins for Joe .
Who is this from?
Joe looked at me like I was an idiot.
Do I look like I fucking know how to decifer handwriting? Also, this isn’t middle school. Stop passing notes.
I read Joe’s response and crumbled it into my pocket to join Taco Bell receipts and straw debris. The bell rung telling us to leave the class.
“I’m just curious!” I walked down the hall with Joe at my heels.
“Dude it was a note. Drop it,” Joe sped past me.
“You aren’t a little curious as to who BH is? I mean what if it’s a hot chick or like a popular kid?”
“It was probably Blane Harris from band. He sits two seats up from you,” Joe held the door to the classroom open.
“I guess that makes more sense,” my shoulders rolled forward in disappointment.
“Like I said dude, let it go,” Joe gave my arm a light nudge.
And just like that, the day continued like normal.