Chapter 1: Love Changes Everything
I walked down the hall with my friends Patrix, Monica and Resheeda. It was my first year and already I had run into my closest friends. We hung tight. I never knew that friendship so great could last so long. It seemed that I had known them forever. Wherever I was you saw them and we always had a melodic flow about us. That day I thought on how lucky I was to have such friends. I had friends that looked out for me and kept me up on game; my thoughts were suddenly interrupted by someone playing their radio in the hall, a song called I proceed by: Ciara. We danced and the crowd enveloped us. As I lead my crew in the dance I saw these fellas come ’in through. I was unimpressed by all the guys accept for one that stood in the back, he was someone I hadn’t seen in years. I caught his eye and he tapped one of his friends, soon the entire crew stared at me as I freaked the floor.
When we danced our souls were intertwined and our glory was professed. Though each of us had different majors we all shared one thing, love. No matter what happened we had love for one another. It’s a CSA thing.
This school we attended was called the of the Arts; here you were who you wanted to be. We didn’t just think outside of the box, we were the box. We were the outline for the other teens; we set trends and made waves when we professed our deepest desires, hopes, dreams and ideologies. We demolished the boundaries we faced and killed the competition of other schools.
When the song ended we all took a bow and the crowd left as the bell rung. My friends talked as I looked across the hall at Nick, his friends were still standing there. Nick was a light skinned stallion with muscular arms. I couldn’t help but notice his low cut brush waves and his hard carved, board wash biceps. He looked me in the eyes as his friend Tyrell whispered in his ear. The next thing I knew they walked over to me and Tyrell said, “Girl you was look’ n sexy as hell when you was dance’ n.”
“Thanks” I replied.
“So, uh, can I get your number or someth’ n so we can get to know each other and what not?”
“Look, you’re cute but I’m just not interested. “ I said
“Come on” he said in disappointment.
When Tyrell walked away Nick approached me. “Hey Toni”
“Hi Nick” I replied.
“I like that outfit, its gangsta” He said as his eyes searched my clothes.
I smiled and said, “Thank you”
“Girl it’s been so long, I ain’t seen you since sixth grade.”
I looked at his finely trimmed hair and I said, “Did you cut your hair?”
He looked at me and softly said, “Yea”
“It looks nice”
He smiled and that’s when I knew I made him feel good. Though we had a checkered past of being childhood enemies. We began to grow up and as we grew so did our feelings for each other.
“Thanks. So, how you been?” he said.
“I been good and you?”
“I’m good, you know me. I be on that kryptonite.” He said.
I laughed and said “You are still the little boy I knew in second grade. You just don’t change, do you?”
We exchanged smiles, and then he said, “What’s your major?”
“Visual art” I replied.
“Me too, we gone have all the same classes together” he said excitedly.
I crossed my arms and said, “This ought to be interesting, know’ in you; you don’t do none of your work and somehow you manage to pass.”
“I think they like me.”
“I don’t see why, you don’t do noth’ n but act a fool” I replied.
“I’m raw doe and I’m entertaining.” He said.
“You a mess, that’s what you are.”
“You jus’ mad cause’ you not funny like me.” He smiled.
“But I do my work, and that’s what school is all about.”
“That’s true. I gotta admit, even in fifth grade you always had all the answers. Girl everything you did was gangsta. I cheated off’ a you all the time.”
“Interesting” I said.
“Honestly, you were always a little smarter than me”
“So I’m better than you” I smiled devilishly.
“nah, cause’ see, I got the jokes.”
“Whatever” I poked him in the chest.
“you jus’ mad cause’ you over there look’ in like a warehouse” he said.
“Shut up” I punched him.
We play hit each other for a few minutes then I looked at my cell phone and I realized that I was running late to Mr. Kent’s class so I said, “Nick, I gotta go.” I turned to walk to my class and he said, “It’s on Toni”
I twisted the doorknob and I prayed that Mr. Kent wouldn’t put me on front-street for being so late.
I sat behind Toni, passed her a note, it read: Will you go out with me? She read it and folded it up and laid it on her desk.
“So you go with Tyrell now?” Sean said.
“Hell naw, don’t play me” she yelled and the whole class laughed and I gave her a look of embarrassment.
“I poured my heart out to you, and now you just gone play me like dat’? Okay, well now there’s no get’ n wit’ me”
Mr. then said, “I’m waiting Mr. Jackson”
“what you wait’ n on me for” I said. I mean, what right did he have to come at me like that? He don’t know me!
“Because you’re holding up my class with all of this foolishness” silence entered the room, “now, write the quick write.” Mr. said.
We wrote our quick writes, ten minutes later he said, “Who would like to go first.”
I raised my hand and said “I was wit’ this girl and she say, ‘Rell, Rell, you love me right?’ and I said, ‘naw girl, I don’t love you I love my mama’. So to me love is my life.”
“Who wants to go next?” Mr. said.
Toni raised her hand and she read her paper, “If he stops fighting for me because trouble comes..... Then he isn’t worthy of my love because he can’t endure what my love entails. He must be able to withstand the effects of my short comings. Neither one of us is perfect, we’re both human. I don’t expect that he will do no wrong and that he’ll never hurt me, but I would like to know that I’m not wasting my time with him. He’s gotta show me how he feels about me. Out of all the guys I can have... why should I be with him? Is he willing to stick it out with me and remedy the hurtles we’ll face? All I ask is that he be my man, so that I can love him without holding back. He can’t just say that he loves me and expect me to accept it, that’s not a realistic thing to ask of me. Many guys have said that they love me, but I’m a visual person. Actions speak louder than words. The fate of our relationship depends on him.”
Mr. ’s eye brows arched and he said, “Ms. Reid has set a very high standard, would anyone care to try and meet this standard?” everyone was silent.
I stood at the bus stop. I looked down the street and the bus hadn’t come yet so I waited as I took time for thought. Nick entered my mind and I found myself day dreaming, thinking of him as if what we shared was the most important thing in my world. A hand grabbed my shoulder and I turned around in fear and there he was; Nick stood there laughing. I smiled and I said, “You scared the hell outta me” I put my hand on my chest and breathed. He put his hands in his pockets and teetered forward and backward.
“So where you go’ n?” he said.
“Home…and you” I replied.
“I’m gonna go over to tower city with my friends. You wanna come?” he asked.
“I got a lot of homework...”
“Come on, now, you know you ain’t got noth’ n to do.” He said.
I laughed because I knew he was right on target, I was just nervous and I didn’t wanna get in trouble with my mom. He laughed with me and I felt better about it.
“My mom will flip.” I said.
“Just tell her you’re go’ n to tower city with some friends. You won’t be gone that long.” He replied.
I pulled out my cell phone and I dialed my mother’s number, I said, “Mom, my friends wanna go to tower city, can I go?”
“Who you go’ n with?” she said quizzically.
I nervously said, “Resheeda and Monica”
To my surprise she said, “Oh okay, be home by seven, call me when you get home.”
I smiled and I looked at Nick, he smiled. “Alright mom, I love you! Bye!” I hung up the phone and Tyrell was standing beside Nick.
“Wasup Nick?” Tyrell said as he gave Nick dap.
“Noth’ n much, jus’ chill’ n” Nick replied.
Tyrell’s eyes wandered down my body as a smile played upon his face. Tyrell licked his lips at me and put his hand on his chin. I sneered at him and a devilish grin appeared.
The bus came and we all got on. I sat down and Nick stood by me, his hand was on the rail.
“So... do you like me?” Nick said to me.
I laughed at him because he just didn’t seem like he wanted to waste any time.
“I see. That’s a yes?” he said.
“Now don’t put words in my mouth, I ain’t say I liked you.” I said as I crossed my arms.
“But you didn’t say you don’t.” he looked into my eyes and sat down beside me as he moved in on my face. “You want me” he said smoothly with swagger in his voice.
“Whatever” I said as I looked away. “How do you know” I said.
He turned my head and touched my chin and said softly, “Cause’ I can tell”
Tyrell burst his head between us and said, “come on, this is our stop” he walked off the bus and we followed him into tower city.
She saw a beautiful necklace in Macey’s that she just had to have. I know because I saw the glimmer in her eyes. She walked over to it and stared intently. I walked over to Tyrell and I gazed at Toni in the window. I said, “Tyrell, I been talk’ n to Toni and I got a good feel’ n about her. I think she’s what I been look’ n for.”
“Yea, but isn’t she a little too big?” He said.
“I think she’s sexy as hell!” I said.
Tyrell laughed “And she is. She just... doesn’t look right with you.”
“Aw man, come on” I replied.
“And you know Toni ain’t give’ n up the skins. You need someone who will.”
“But I really like her.” I said.
He put his hand on my shoulder, “Hey, I’m just try’na help you. I know what you need and she ain’t it.”
I walked towards Macey’s. Tyrell shouted out to me, “Aye, Nick”
I turned around and he softly said, “Let her down easy.”
I turned to Toni and I entered the store. Tyrell and the guys walked on without me. At that moment I wondered if he was really my friend. He was so against the idea of me having the prettiest girl in school. Could he just be saying things because he really wants her for himself, or is he being a good friend?
She had the necklace in her hand, she looked at me and she said, “I like this”
I looked at it and said, “How much is it?”
“Six eighty-five, why?” she said.
I looked back for a second; I didn’t want Tyrell and the guys to see me. I quickly grabbed the necklace and took it to the cashier. I whipped out a ten dollar bill and I got some change back. The cashier put the necklace in the bag and handed it to me, I handed the bag to Toni.
“You don’t have to...”
“But I want to. Toni all you have to do is ask me to jump and all I’ll say is, how high. Isn’t that what friends do for friends?” I replied.
“Now put it on, I wanna see how it looks on you”
She put the necklace on and she said, “How I look?”
“Perfect” I replied.
“Really?” she said in shock.
“Yea” I said softly.
Soon I heard her stomach grumble. She put her hand on her stomach and said, “I’ve got the munchies”
We walked over to the food court. “I’ll be right back.” I said and I walked over to McDonald’s. When I came back to the table I handed Toni her fries and sandwich. I sat down on the opposite side of the table.
“I got the crispy chicken sandwich cause’ I know how much you like it.” I said.
“I didn’t know you knew I preferred chicken.” She replied.
“There are a lot of things about you I know, that you don’t know I know.” I said.
I pulled my big Mac and fries out; I spread his gums to bite the sandwich. She tapped me on my shoulder.
“Oh I almost forgot” I put the sandwich down and we held hands and bowed our heads, I said, “Jesus wept” I rubbed my hands together and bit into my burger. She elegantly laughed; I put a fry in my mouth and pretended to smoke it. She cracked up the whole time. When we were done eating we held hands and she looked deep into my eyes. For that moment I felt that she was my world, my everything.
“I never did get your number.” I said.
She leaned into me and whispered in my ear, “587- 3300”
I hurriedly pulled out a pen and wrote the number on a napkin. “587...33...00, is that right?” I repeated.
“Yes” she replied.
She looked at her cell phone and said, “I really have to be getting home now.”
“Alright, well I had fun kick’ in it wit’ you” I gave her dap and I said, “It’s on, Toni”
She left and all I could do was gawk at her.
By the time I got home it was six fifty p.m. I picked up the phone and I called my mom and I said, “Ma, I’m home.”
“Did you do your homework?”
“I didn’t have any” I lied.
“Okay, I’ll see you in the morning.” She said.
I hung up. I went up-stairs and got ready for bed. I was full from my lunch with Nick so I went to bed. That night all I could think about was Nick. He ran through my mind like a freight train.
The next day I ran into my friends in the hall. We sat in the stairwell.
“I really like Nick” I said.
“I don’t see why” Resheeda said.
“So far he’s got what I’ve been looking for in a boyfriend”
“You are too pretty for him and you can do way better than that.” Monica said.
“He’s the one, I know it.” I said as I looked at the morning sun, hope in my eyes.
The bell rang and we went to class. In class we began to work on Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. Tyrell and I were in a group together. I couldn’t stand him, but nonetheless I dealt with him.
Meanwhile, Nick and I dated and before long we were boyfriend and girlfriend. The first few months were wonderful and then suddenly he started hang’ n with his friends more than he hung with me. I had let him meet my mother and everything. I was so disappointed in him.