Tongue Tied

June 20, 2017

1.

 

My name is Timothy Green. Yes, just like the movie, The Odd Life of Timothy Green; but not like Sutter Keely, whose opening line I just stole: “My name is Sutter Keely!”

 

Also, I’m not an alcoholic like Sutter is.

 

Life is really like one big movie. Short moments we wish to speed by with. Long moments we sometimes forget about.

 

And in my movie, this is how it would go: Actor…uh, me…clears his throat…

 

From the black, screen, we hear some scribble scrabbles against a hard surface…

 

Okay, Timothy, just keep it simple.

 

Ladies and gentlemen and everyone who’s 4’11 or shorter, my name is Timothy Green (in case you forgot it the first time). I’m 4’11, aka “a shawdy,” as Lisa the random chick in my class calls me. Shawdy means “short,” in case you were wondering. I eat my carrots and broccoli like no other kid—no seriously, I think I’m the only one who likes fruits and veggies? I even prefer H20 over soda pop—

 

“Damn it, Dexter!” I nearly collapse out of my spinning red chair because Dexter my pet beagle is licking my toes—no, not Dexter the serial killer from that show, which mom screams at me to never watch whenever I try to stream it on Netflix. Yet, I’ve seen American Beauty and House of Cards with her a gazillion times, because Space is da man! Seriously, if I ever meet Kevin Spacey aka Lester Burnham aka F.U. (Frank Underwood!), I might faint and then die. Or, I’ll just run up to him and scream, “DAD!”

 

Mom hates when I say that last part, but dad just laughs at me.

 

“Dexter, no!” I yank my Star Wars pillow away from him. Dexter was just…playing with it. Oh, man…not on Yoda’s face. Gross!

 

MY NAME is Timothy Green and tomorrow I am going to ask out the girl of my dreams. There…I said it.

 

The proof?

 

Dear Anastasia,

 

Okay, so that is all I got down on the lined piece of paper in front of me. I only use college ruled paper because I HATE those wide pages; nobody else uses them. The first week of school, he and his friends didn’t like when I was using the wider pieces of paper. They even called me a—

 

Oh man, I can’t say it. I look over my shoulder—good, no one is around.

 

Jasper and his friends called me a pussy, which my mom tells me to never EVA EVA EVA say…again. But I didn’t say it—stupid Jasper and his stupid friends did! Mom even washed my mouth out with soap and by that, I mean…no TV for a week.

 

“Shitake mushrooms,” I whisper to myself, dropping my number two pencil onto the desk. Man, I don’t even know what else to write. I mean how the heck am I supposed to write this note and hand it over to…Anastasia?

 

The love of my life. Perfect hair. Perfect eyes. Perfect smile. Perfect...

 

KNOCK. KNOCK, if the door would talk.

 

“Timothy, what are—”

 

“DON’T come in here, mom!” My back is already pressed against the door, wiping the sweat off from the corners of my face. Did I mention my pizza face? At least…that’s what Jasper calls it.

 

“Is Dexter with you?”

 

“Yes! Dexter Charles Manson Jim Jones is with me.” Mom really hates his full name, but dad says it’s genius.

 

“I said Dexter,’ she barks back—see, I told yah she hates it. “God, you need to stop watching the History channel late at night.”

 

“It’s educational though”

 

“Um, okkkkaaaaayyyyyy.” She chuckles. “Well, you need to turn in soon. It’s already nine o’clock—”

 

Yeah, I just usually tune her out. I get it, I get it: lights out by nine blah blah blah blah BLAH WAH WAH WAH.

 

But I can’t just turn in already! My eyes have been burning for the past hour and a half, writing this note to the love of my LIFE. Get yo social skills down, mom.

 

“Love of your life?”

 

Damn it. I say my thoughts aloud too much.

 

“I’m, uh, reciting…We have a presentation tomorrow for Mr. Fletcher.”

 

“Ten more minutes, Timothy.” And I hear her feet tip toe away—she’s probably waiting to see if I talk to myself again. I really need to stop doing that.

 

I approach my desk, after lowering to the floor to peek through that small gap between the bottom of my door and the floor: good, no sign of mom. That woman can be so in yo face…

 

Oh, man…

 

Those big bold letters with my love’s name keeps staring right at me. I know, note! Sheesh, I’ll finish ya. Ugh! I don’t know what to do here…

 

Okay, breathe. We’ll just walk back over. Check. Sit. Good boy! Okay, now…pick up the pencil…

 

Really, you’re not even trying—

 

“Alright, shut up, Inner Me!”

 

Inner Me is this annoying voice inside of my head; whenever something good happens, he always has something bad to say. I hate him; why can’t he turn the bad into good?

 

I wrap my fingers around the middle of the pencil. But I end up gnawing onto the center of it, my teeth tasting its yellow wooden design, like a squirrel. I don’t…I can’t…

 

I just CAN’T DO THIS!

 

I close my eyes to breathe one last time…

 

She doesn’t know you even exist.

 

Dang it, Inner Me!

 

But, he’s right…

 

If Anastasia only knew that I even existed, then maybe…just maybe…writing this note to her wouldn’t be so hard. This is impossible. Ugh!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

I slam my head down onto the desk, “Owe!”

 

“Timothy! Bed!”

 

“Okay, mom,” I do my best Yoda gibberish since Yoda on my bed comforter is starring right back at me.

 

 

2.

 

I sit alone, clutching onto a small box of chocolates that I am even asking myself, WHY?!

 

I woke up this morning, all hyped because I had a dream last night of Ana (no…not that kind of dream), where she and I spoke for the first time. I was all hyper like I drank ten cups of coffee (or cappuccino, if you a fancy, huh—hint my Drake reference ;).

 

Anyway…

 

Drum roll please…

 

I finished…the note!

 

Okay, maybe I should clear the air by saying that this isn’t some sad sap story about how I’m into the popular mean girl blah blah blah Mean Girls stuff. Even though that was a good movie.

 

I hear them giggling, even from afar (480 inches away, not like I’ve counted since we started class a month ago) …

 

Ana talks with her two bubble head friends, but my eyes stay on my love…She is so BEAUTIFUL, wearing a pink shirt with those ruffles on the sleeves, which mom wears to her office job—you know, Ruffles like the chips. Oh, look…she has a pink headband on too. God...I just…

 

“Love her…”

 

Fauck! I gotta stop doing that. I triple take over my boney shoulder: good, nobody sees or notices me.

 

HA HA universe…I would be standing under the tree branches too?! What kind is that…oak?

 

My eyes return to Ana…

 

Who wouldn’t want to tell her that she’s just so…perfect?! ME ME ME! I DO I DO! I WILL! I WILL! WOOHOO!!!!!!

 

My shoulders stand taller as I breathe and breathe—cough attack. I turn to cough and luckily there’s no spit up or anything like last time…

 

The last time I was supposed to ask her out, I threw up.

 

Crap. I see Ana and her trolls glancing my way. And keeping your head and body arched over the plants doesn’t help you either. Stand taller!

 

Shut. Up. Inner Me.

 

My fingers start shaking again and they tighten around the red velvet colored envelope…the note for her, my love.

 

Why, just WHY are you sitting over here, Timothy, and doing NOTHING?

 

 

No, seriously, I’m asking you.

 

Inner Me…

 

Gawd, I’m such a puss…eeee. I can’t even stand up to, uh, myself. Wait, is that even accurate?

 

“Come on, Ana!” I don’t even need to spin around to see who that is, because that’s Lassie’s squeaky, high pitched voice; and not the good kind like an opera singer. “You’ll do so great!”

 

“Yeah, tots, because even Mr. Fletcher says that you’re one of the best.” I’ve always been curious why Emmy (yes, Emmy, not Emma or Emily) sounds like an old man. Okay, not an old man, but one of those “Hey-yeah doll” sort of older looking—okay old, just call them old, Timothy—women who probably smokes and drinks coffee with cigarettes.

 

I wince at the sight. Smoking is bad! Say no kiddos.

 

I finally sit back down on the brick wall bench. It’s only a foot from the cement, but it’s comfy for my tushy—

 

Oh, my GOD!

 

Ana is lookin’ at, what appears to be, a script in her hands. She’s reciting lines…to herself. YES! See, mom—talking to yourself isn’t weird! Oh, Ana…my beautiful beautiful smart girl—

 

“Drool, much!”

 

Kasey is the tall girl in the class; she looks like that tall booger…crap, what’s his name—oh! Gumby. Yeah, she looks like him. I know, it’s a harsh comparison, but hear me out first: Kasey still holds her anger towards me ever since she’d tripped over my Jansport backpack last week in class. It wasn’t my fault either because I was getting up to leave and, well, I said I was sorry but ugh…Why do people suck?

 

Kasey snaps her head around and her neck follows like a slithery snake. She walks away and goes straight for the glass doors of the building. Loner…

 

But, here I’m…still sitting…alone. Ironic, right?

 

“I know,” I hear Ana say…well, if you lean in close enough, you can read her lips…those beautiful, perfectly shaped round pink lips—I nearly slide off the bricks, which hurts my bum. “I’m just nervous. That’s all.”

 

Why? She’s one of the best in the class though…

 

Oh my god…I should go tell her that! An excuse! An excuse! Woohoo!!!

 

Inner Me even bounces off the walls.

 

Oh-kay…here it goes.

 

Jeez, Timmy…Get a hold of yourself.

 

I’m tryin’, Inner Me! Get out of my HEAD!

 

I take a deep breath and rise, and quickly catch my balance because my knees start to shake.

 

“Hey Ana,” I say under my breath and take my first step forward—

 

“For me?! You shouldn’t have, Green!”

 

Oh, fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu—

 

Jasper Blue….ugh! Argh! Why? Why? WHY!

3.

 

Jasper and his circle of—one, two, three, four—friends get to me before I have the chance to RUN. Jasper reaches for the box of chocolates—

 

“Hey!”

 

“Hey,” one of them mocks my whiny voice, which I HATE. Mom says it’s because I’m her wittle baby. I can’t hate the woman; she did take me to the midnight showing of Da-da-da-da-da! Ba-ba-ba-ba—Star Wars.

 

“Thank you,” Jasper says, almost singing it too

 

Yet again, Jasper wins again—he even has on a Slipknot T-shirt; and my mom goes on and on how I’m too little and young and blah blah to go see them because I will get squished in the mosh pit of headbangers awesome metal heads. I’m far from it—I have short brown hair. I don’t think Jasper’s shirt is cool because it’s NOT! It’s hideous on him, but I’d rock it!

 

But again…

 

One more point for this asshole—don’t do that, I can see you all glaring at me, but I heard it in a movie once/twice. I don’t care. It’s my thoughts, so I’ll say it all I want: asshole asshole ASSHOLE!

 

I watch Jasper and each of his Hooligans take a piece of chocolate from the box that my mom paid $5.95 for…man.

 

“Those are mine.” Shut up, Me.

 

A smile plasters across Jasper’s pimply face and MAN…it’s creepy! He looks like the Joker, but the kind that puts Mr. Nicholson, Heath Ledger, and Jared Leto to SHAME! Ewe, why isn’t his creeper going away? He looks like a glass doll.

 

“Yeah?” his ugly voice tunes me back in. “Well, now, they’re MINE.”

 

And FREEZE. In my movie, I would call cut on that ugly face of Jasper’s as he is in the middle of chewing. Hahaha FAT BOY!

 

As you probably know: Jasper Blue is your typical bully. Angry at everything. Angry at life. Probably angry that he has yet to kiss a girl—

 

HAHA! Suck it! LOSER!

 

At least, my first kiss was with Amy Chester. Kindergarten recess—crap, do NOT tell my mom that; dad says that I’ll break her little heart because I’ll always be her baby and she’ll always be the number one lady in my life. She is, but dang mom needs to stop kissing my cheek and leaving that gross lipstick mark on me. Dad is a different story. When I told him about Amy, he took me to In-N-Out, after picking me up from school. He’d noticed that sticky stuff from Amy’s lip gloss on my mouth. My pops thought it was sweat, until he’d also noticed how RED my bottom lip was.

 

He was cool about it and even bumped fists with me. My pop’s is dope!

 

According to my mom, Jasper is the kind of kid who’s just jealous of me, but that’s just parents being nice to their kids. I know: I’m not or ever have been part of the “cool kid’s club.” It also doesn’t help that our last names sound similar too—green and blue. God, no wonder why Jasper hates me...I have a cooler last name. Suck it!

 

In my mind, my brain is scribbling out awesome Devil horns on top of Jasper’s egg-shaped head. HA.

 

“Mmmm—”

 

Ah, man GROSS. He licks his lips and saliva…It’s everywhere, just everywhere on his mouth.

 

“Thanks Timmy,” Jasper spits through the crumbs that spills out of his mouth and not on his clothes. Really, I want to shout at the sky.

 

“Timmy!” his Hooligan Friend One says like Timmy from South Park. I’ve seen an episode or two. Mom lost her cool when Cartman, the fat boy, sang “Blame Canada” song. LOL…she nearly fell off the couch when Cartman started screaming how Kyle’s mom was a big fat bit—

 

And away she goes!

 

From the corner of my eye, I see Ana following her friends through the double glass doors of our school. Then…her head turns. My pulse quickens, throbbing from my wrists and to the center of my head, just above my nose. She looks at…me…and…and SMILES: it is a sad one because one of the Hooligans gives me a wet willy and I flinch but, other than that, who cares!

 

Holy moly! She’d looked at ME.

 

“Ugh,” Hooligan Friend Two drives my attention back to HIM and the other IDIOTS, “this midget is creepin’ me out, smiling at me like he’s in love—”

 

“What?!” My cheeks fire up. “I’m not in love with you!”

 

“Little Timmy sitting in a tree.” And there goes Hooligan Friend Three.

 

Number Two (HAHA) throws his candy at the ground and so does everyone else.

 

“Come on, Jasper,” Number Three (BAHAHA) says. “We should get to class.”

 

Yeah, get to class bleh bleh bleh (I am secretly flipping him off…in my mind). But instead, Jasper does not move or make a sound. He just smiles as his eyes zero in on something in my hands. Oh, fuc—

 

He yanks the note out of my hands. I’m shocked that it did not rip. Motherfu—

 

“Jasper, no!”

 

“Almost forgot my note!” And he tosses his head back in one of those mu-hahaha laughs. Dang it! “It’s not very nice to keep gifts from your sweet sweet secret valentine, Timmy.”

 

“Jasper—please, DON’T!”

 

Too late. Jasper and his pausey bounce, distancing further away…opening the note. “Timmy!”

 

My throat tightens. My feet seem glued to the cement. I can’t move. I can’t see, but I know that my pupils are all big like a bug’s. It looks like I’m on something, as if I’d sniffed some glue or however The Ramones had sung it in that song of theirs.

 

Crap crap CRAP!

 

Freakin’ A…

 

 

Jasper and his IDIOTS are officially out of my sight. Oh, fu—

 

“—udge!”

4.

 

I sit in the back of our class, unable to find a comfortable position to stay in. I keep moving and slide my leg up, then to the side, and down. Okay…there. This one sort of works; God, I don’t even want to know how I look right now—

 

“Owe!” Kasey shoots a glare at me. Of course out of all people, I would be sitting directly behind her (middle finger in the air…okay, really it’s just in my mind).

 

“Sorry,” I mutter back.

 

Yeah, I know. I could’ve ditched class and yada yada yada. But, I like this one. My teacher is really cool—

 

Oh, man! Jasper and his crew are looking right at me, smiling and chuckling. Jasper even waves the note…

 

Oh…That big ol’ tease!

 

I guess I could’ve listened to my dad’s advice a few days ago, after Jasper had called me a “shrimp size child.,” whatever that means. Man…that Jasper Blue is nothing but a little—

 

“Pussy.”

 

And Hooligan Asshole Four waves the note at me and then towards—

 

NO!

 

I see Ana in the front row, sitting between her annoying friends, reciting her lines to herself…Oh thank HEAVENS!

 

Really, Heavens?

 

At this exact moment, I’m the little pussy. Cue air quotes around my dumb head, “EPIC FAIL.”

 

“Good mornin’ everyone!”

 

“Good morning, Mr. Fletcher!”

 

Mr. Fletcher runs into the room and jumps on stage like the rockstar/badass he is. The entire class stands too, and gives one of those baseball crowd waves. Fletcher bows, all smiles. “Oh, please! Stop. You’re all too kind. Too kind!”

 

But he deserves it. Fletcher the Dog…Man the Dog…Fletchy the Fletch…

 

Yeah, he and I aren’t that close. But every day after class, he tries to talk to me, asking how my day is and etcetera.

 

Mr. Fletcher scans the room and I notice the red and pink theme that is going on in today’s clothing as well. SWEET! For once, I got the memo and wore the right color (last year on Valentine’s Day, I had on a black T-shirt). Today, I have on my red baseball T-shirt ^_^

 

“Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!” Mr. Fletcher clasps his hands together like Ana does whenever she receives a standing ovation or positive feedback on her performances. She deserves it too because she is just so perfect perfect—

 

“Now, who wants to go first?”

 

Everyone’s, but my hand, goes up. No thank you…you kind sir you…you sly dog—

 

Shut up, Timmy!

 

GREAT. Inner Me is possessed by Jasper.

5.

 

Want to hear another cliché?

 

Mr. Fletcher is my acting teacher. This is my after school acting class. My awkwardness and shyness was never “normal” in my parents’ eyes. So, their solution: acting classes three days a week.

 

I’m a walking cliché—yeah, a walking shrimp size child—

 

Shut. Up. Inner. Me.

 

Trust me, I’m not too happy about this whole acting thing either. Hint: me sitting in the back, slowly sinking lower and lower in my chair. I cringe as I watch two of my classmates perform a scene from Dr. Seuss’ Hornet Hears a Who. We all watch the tall girl talk in some weird accent as the bird, her best impersonation of a bird. The taller boy speaks…yeah, he is just bad.

 

Acting is for morons.

 

“Young talent,” I suppose you can call them. But let’s face it: most of them are soon-to-be divas on a bad case of reality TV.

 

The roar of clapping pulls me back in. Mr. Fletcher bounces up from his chair, which is practically on the stage itself. “Bravo! Bravo!” He waves his arms around, which encourages the entire class to stomp their feet onto the floor and do a crappy/out-of-tune rock out to Queen’s “We Will Rock You!”

 

“Gracias! Gracias!’ Fletcher bows as the two classmates on stage return to their seats in the second row…behind Ana…

 

GULP.

 

You gotta admit, it’s tough to hate on a cool dude like Mr. Fletcher.

 

“You all inspire me!”

 

Yeah…that was a bit too much. God, I hope this isn’t going to be one of those cheesy Lifetime stories about the inspirational teacher...

 

“Just extraordinary you two!” And there goes another over-the-top tone by Fletcher.

 

Crap.

 

“Now, who’s next?” Fletcher faces us, standing taller, shoulders up. I stare down at the ground and notice how Kasey’s shoes have some dog doodoo on the bottoms (or, at least she smells like it—HAHA!).

 

Gross!

 

“Ah, Mr. Green!”

 

Wha-wha-WHAT?

 

My eyes shoot right up to Fletcher and dang it…here, he comes.

 

“Care to showcase your piece for this week’s theme of Valentine’s Day.”

 

Shoot me.

 

“Um...I, um...”

 

Why? Why? WHY? Are you looking at ANA?!

 

Her eyes already find mine—

 

Timothy! LOOK AWAY!

 

Crap. Crap. CRAP! I CAN’T!

 

“I, um...”

 

No! No! No! Talk. TALK you idiot!

 

Someone makes a farting sound and the entire class bursts out laughing. It only takes a moment of searching until I spy with my little eye…Jasper Blue. GAH!!!!!!! I HATE HIM!!!!!

 

Mr. Fletcher kneels next to me, because my face must be burning red hot tamales. Jesus, it is hot in here! And not the Nelly version either.

 

“Did you prepare at all for the assignment?” Fletcher’s voice lowers; you know, one of those he knows what my answer will be but he’s still going to ask. I shake my head anyway. “Would you like to take a few minutes to practice?”

 

No, sir!

 

I shake my head and if I do it slower this time…I might just blend into my burgundy chair and become invisible. “I think,” my voice shakes. “I’ll just sit this one out.”

 

Fletcher’s smile says differently. He rises and then turns towards—

 

“Ana?”

 

Oh, FUUUUUUUUU—

 

“Ana?”

 

—uuuudge!

 

“Yes, Mr. Fletcher,” she answers right away; nearly fumbling to her feet. Awe…she’s nervous. But why though…?

 

“Would you mind reading lines with Timothy here?”

 

Holy...

 

“You could read from the script,” Fletch the Sly Dog says to me. Then, he faces the class and claps. “Chop! Chop!”

 

…shiitake mushroom!

6.

 

Oh. My. God…

 

Ana is only inches from me. No joke. No joke. Holy crap! Okay, just breathe….

 

God, just look at her...flipping to the next page of her script; her hands are shaky a bit too.

 

Whoa.

 

Was that a smile? It was…It was? It WAS! YAY! She just smiled at me. ME. Go Timmy! Go Timmy! Give me a T-I-M-O-T-H-Y!

 

I remove the manic smile from my face, especially when I see Jasper and his friends chucklin’ at me. Oh, man…

 

My hands sweat and I slide and then wipe them onto my Levi’s. Breathe…

 

Mr. Fletcher tilts to the edge of his seat. “Whenever you’re ready,” he tells us and then sets his chin on top of his curled fingers like a mini Michelangelo.

 

Ana starts to speak and everything just drains from my ears. I give my burning red ear a scratch, avoiding the temptation to ram my finger in there and get out whatever is clogging it up. It’s not wax, but this ringing sound that grows louder and louder—

 

Ah! What the heck is that sound? How do I stop it?

 

Ana glances at me every so often as she speaks…those lips go up and down, but I cannot hear anything other than the background noise of a distant refrigerator humming and the page of her script turning. Oh, fu—

 

I forgot. I’m playing Simba in this skit. Crap! My eyes scan quickly, but ugh I’m on the wrong page; or maybe just the wrong passage. Crap. Crap CRAP!

 

“Timothy?” Fletcher says, but before I respond—

 

“Oh, Ana! Oh, Ana!”

 

Ana stops reading. All the attention goes straight to…Jasper, who jumps up onto his chair with his arms spread wide open like an Eagle in the sky; more like an Eagle in the flaming flames of HELL.

 

“Tis’ I my love!”

 

Okay…so, he is kind of good—he’s the only guy who can do a spot on British accent. But every other British actor is better than him…

 

His performance gets a roar of laughter from the class, except from Ana; her bottom lip hangs open in shock and even...embarrassment like she wants to cry. The tears are already there, but not the actual streaming.

 

Jasper Stupid Blue. He made my lady upset. Son of bit—

 

“I love thee from the bottom of my heart!”

 

Uh, what?

 

I stare right back at Jasper. Our eyes meet, brown to red (okay so his eyes aren’t red, but they should BE!). Everything falls into slow motion on my end as he goes on, “Farewell my love, tis’ I—”

 

“Timothy Green,” his ring of hooligans chimes in like a musical, also standing on top of their chairs.

 

“Timmy!”

 

The band of hooligans take a bow to the clapping from the other meanies in the class. I hear giggling and immediately notice one of Ana’s friends—I can’t remember their names at this moment—standing up to pass over—

 

Oh, NO: the note!

 

“Timothy!” Mr. Fletcher calls after me, but I only pick up speed and run out of there. I allow the door to hit me on the way out—

 

Crap! That really does hurt my tushy.

7.

 

Off the millionth door knock, Fletcher repeats himself, “Hey, buddy?”

 

Oh, so now we’re friends…

 

“You ever going to come outta there?”

 

I can smell Fletcher’s old spice cologne from insides of the bathroom. My throat tightens from swallowing down the words, not to mention that I can’t move. My feet refuse to do so, as if I’m sinking down in quick sand. “Is everyone gone?” I manage to ask—what could possibly be a gazillion hours later. I wouldn’t know. The bathroom has no windows; day is night and night is day.

 

“Everyone is still in class,” he tells me and I can sense the dread rising in him too; he has that worried grown up tone, like someone had just died. “Class isn’t over for a few more minutes.”

 

Now, I feel bad. After a moment, my hands latch a hold of the cold doorknob but first, the lock. The bolt gives a click click and soon, I slowly push open the door. There’s no door spring squeaking.

 

“Hey there, buddy.” Mr. Fletcher takes a step back, directly underneath one of the fluorescent ceiling lights. His voice is soft and careful. My eyes burn up more than ever...

 

I don’t want to know how I look right now.

 

“That bad, huh,” Fletcher goes on per usual because of the rise of concern filling up his tone.

 

I can already sense the eyes of nosey bypassers on me, probably wondering how much of a pussy I am. Real men never cry, only boys. Jasper said that to me once.

 

“Want to talk about it?” he asks after a long awkward and slightly weird pause that floats between us in the air.

 

Oh, no... this IS the sympathetic teacher Lifetime storyline. Damn it, cue the tears because I choke back a sob.

 

Oh, man! Get it together, Timmy!

 

“I hate…I hate…”

 

But all I do is stare down at the floor. My legs feel heavier and I just want to plank straight through the black marble floor and sink into my own deep, deep blue sea. Just if Jaws isn’t there. That is the shark’s name, right?

 

“I know,” Fletcher interjects Inner Me. “Between you and I…” He leans back against the wall and lowers to mock my small stature. “…the guy could use a dose of his own reality, if you know what I mean.”

 

Uh, what?

 

My eyes find his. He gives a smile, not one of those Happy Meal mannequin looking ones, but the small kind aka our understanding of their being a secret code. Only, I don’t know what exactly our code is—is it possible to be on different pages?

 

For starters, I have short boy hair and Fletcher looks like Leo from That 70s Show—dad calls them hippies; mom calls them whack jobs.

 

“Let’s get back to class,” he tells me.

 

I follow his lead.

8.

 

“Alright, everybody!” Fletcher makes his announcement as he and I—

 

Yeah, NOPE!

 

I turn around as soon as all their eyes settle upon me, but Fletcher gives the back of my shirt a tug and, now, I’m the pussy who’s being taken back to his seat. “You’ll be fine,” he whispers to me, before returning to the front of the class.

 

I keep my head down and, although, I can’t see them, I can hear it all—the chatty whispers…Why are those always the loudest? Like I’m right here…I can HEAR YOU.

 

“Timmy!”

 

Oh, great! Just give all the laughter and popularity to Bozo the Clown, shaming us all with a cheap and God awful take on South Park. My dearest apologizes to Matt and Trey! Whatever. I’ll just sit here all by myself and avoid everyone’s attention; including…hers.

 

“Alright! Settle on down. Everyone, take your seats.”

 

I catch a quick flash of Fletcher’s eyes on me since I force myself to sneak a glance at him. He bobs his head at me, smiling small. Okay, am I missing something now? Just then, Fletcher’s eyes switch over to the left side of the room, aka his right: Jasper and his hooligans in the first two rows.

 

Oh….

 

Fletcher’s eyes return to my other classmates, but he does shoot over one of those looks at me beforehand. Jasper…

 

And something…just takes over me. First, my hands release the edge of my seat and then…curl into fists. What the fu…What is this?

 

Kasey giggles and rolls her eyes at me before she turns back around to her loner self. She doesn’t have to say it—I can see it on her and Jasper and the Hooligans’ faces: What a weirdo!

 

Well, that’s it! Timothy Green may be a weirdo—

 

“Ah, Jasper!”

 

“Yes, Mr. Fletcher, sir!”

 

Really! An army salute and all?!

 

KISS ASS.

 

Do something, Timothy…

 

“Since you’re extra chatty today—”

 

A, of course! Jasper is already on his feet. That’s IT.

 

I ping up like a gofer coming out of its hole.

 

The ooooos and ahhhhhs arrive by the time I reach the front of the stage…I beat Jasper there. Slow poke! Fletcher smiles at me, as I make a detour and approach the oversized white board that is next to the steps, leading up to the black box stage.

 

“Um,” that tick says, “your name’s not Jasper.”

 

“And thank god for that.” It just rolls on out.

 

Wow, now I’m even amazed. That was NOT supposed to be said aloud…Okay, focus. I grab one of the markers and uncap that sucker! Screw it, I’m already in all this way and it’s too late to pull on out. Ha!

 

Uh…nevermind.

 

“Mr. Fletcher?” Jasper’s voice jumps ten octaves higher. “Mr. Fletcher?”

 

I really don’t know if Fletcher answers him back or not because I go big and gold with the green marker all over the whiteboard. Screw it. I would like to think this one has everyone on the edge of their seats, as if they’re atop a roller coaster drop—

 

And done! Wala!

 

I drop the pen. It all goes slow as it hits the floor—pop pop. I step aside to face them all…

 

Mouths drop and everything goes still and silent. Crap. My chest begins to hurt a bit since my heart beats faster and OUCH! God, that hurts. My hands are sweaty again and I feel that tight glob in my throat, but I don’t want to try and cough because well…

 

They’re going to all laugh at you.

 

And they do, starting with Jasper and his evil cackle and the wannabe Timmy and just…all of them. My cheeks burn up again. Fletcher approaches me and before he reaches center stage—

 

“Oh. My. God!” Emmy screams louder, but that’s just her natural volume anyway. “He’s…He’s…”

 

“Awe!” Lassie squeals and bounces up to her feet. “Your sweet little valentine, Anastasia!”

 

The white board speaks for itself:

 

Will you be my valentine, Anastasia?

 

There are more “oooos” from some of my classmates, including one of those “And that’s the way/Uh/Huh/Uh/Huh/I/Like/It.” And of course, “UH/Me So horn—”

 

“Cool it,” Fletcher warns them with that look; the one nobody ever wants from Fletch the Dog. It’s hard to piss him off.

 

I should stop calling him that.

 

Suddenly, I find her because she stands up. Ana glances up from the note—my note—to…holy sh— ME. Her eyes lock with mine, time warping us into our own world for a moment and gawd! I wish there are other words to explain it. It’s something that you just feel, starting in the bones. It puts a stop to the shakiness of my two boxing glove hands because my fingers finally uncurl.

 

“You’re Timothy,” she says, not asks.

 

“Yeah, wittle Timothy Green,” Jasper cackles.

 

“Thank you,” her soothing voices keeps me from lunging at Jasper. “I really liked your note. Short, but it was sweet.” And she smiles at me AGAIN. I can’t help but feel the same way because my cheeks spread back into what Jasper will probably comment later. Instead, the room fills up with a solo clap—

 

We all look and see the kid in a purple hoodie rising in the fourth row, closest to the wall. He claps even louder and whistles and shouts, “Bravo! Bravo!”

 

Then, a few other nice kids join in like a choir at a rock show. Wha-wha-what? Before I slip deeper into my state of confusion—

 

“Seriously!” Jasper’s high-pitched tone pulls my attention over to him momentarily. He scans around, all pissy cat. “His note isn’t even that original!

 

And cue the freeze frame on that weird look on Jasper: his bottom lip in the middle of a quiver: it looks like he is being cut short from eating the last slice of pizza. A starving moment for him.

 

It would later come to my knowledge that Jasper Blue was one jealous kissless, never-had-a-girlfriend dude and the reason why he hated my guts so much was because I had what he was always too scared of to pursue. Now, this is the part where we would cut over to what Jasper’s big brown eyes are on: Ana.

 

It’s weird to see the redness travel all the way around Jasper’s face. I actually feel a bit bad for the guy. Nobody, regardless of who they are, should never be on the spot like that; let alone in front of the girl they digga digga dig (okay last one with that).

 

“But, but Mr. Fletcher—”

 

“Alright, Jasper.” Mr. Fletcher gives me a wink with the eye further away from the class (his right). He ascends to his feet and faces us all. “You’re turn to perform.”

 

Jasper’s mouth dangles open like a squeaky door. Okay, so I’m still a sucker and take a step forward. “Hey, Jasper—”

 

But “Timmy” tries to whisper something into his ear and Jasper just loses it. “Don’t touch me faggot!”

 

“JASPER!” Fletcher bolts over to him to get on his case about it.

 

“What?! Timothy Green is nothing but a—”

 

A pen drops somewhere and the class goes silent again. Jasper is redder than ever, not gory red but the nosebleed kind.

 

I see Ana…and she has been watching me. We only have eyes for each other as Jasper moves around the class, away from Fletcher for his real act: being an—forgive me mom—asshole.

 

Jasper’s voice croaks at one point because suddenly…he can’t talk. He gets all tongue tied, unable to wrestle out the rants and more of the “Timothy is a pussy” blah blah blah big talk. I do hear Fletcher say how he is getting Nancy…the other acting school teacher, who most of the kids call a b**ch because she gossips about everyone behind their backs. Man, this school is f***ed up.

 

Sorry, mom…

 

It’s my last chance, especially when Fletcher dodges by us, yelling at: “Jasper!”

 

Jasper bolts right through the door, not literally but it’s more Tasmanian Devil without that black smoke following him. Anyway, Jasper’s big exit gets a few roots and hollers. “Uh, everyone!” Fletcher somehow manages to shout over the chaos. “Just study your scenes!” And, Fletcher out—mic drop, if there was one.

 

I nearly collide into her because of this tornado effect that Jasper has on everyone; Ana’s back is finally towards the whiny Lassie and Emmy because their hairdos are ruined by the “immature stupid little boys like Jasper and Timothy”—aka ME.

 

“Hey!” Ana shoots them a glare over her shoulder; their faces are priceless as soon as my love faces me AGAIN. Whoa. She…She dissed them with one of those silent, “SHUT UP.” What a babe.

 

“Uh, hi...” I finally say.

 

“Hi,” she says and her eyes narrow to the floor; she brushes a fallen strip of hair behind her ear. The right ear. Her top teeth keep nimblin’ down onto her bottom lip, and I notice for the first time too: her cheeks and nose brighten up with a multi-color wheel of reds and pinks.

 

She’s nervous. HOLY FU—

 

“I’m Timothy.”

 

Finally, her eyes relocate with mine. I smile, and so does she. Her shoulders go back as she stands taller. “Ana.”

 

She smiles. I smile.

 

She never breaks focus.

 

And neither do I.

 

 

Tomorrow will be eight years since I had asked out the girl of my dreams.

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