As my surprise birthday party carried on I couldn’t help but fall quiet and watch everything unfold. We didn’t need the T.V. or music to entertain us. Instead we sat around my couch, just, talking. Okay fine, shouting, but still, you get the idea!
“You alright?” The blond haired teen with crystal blue eyes next to me asked. “You’re getting kind of spacey.”
“I’m fine.” I forced a smile and pulled myself back into reality. “Just still a little surprised is all.”
“It’s been a good three hours.” Charlotte pointed out with a skeptical look.
“I know, but, I’ve never had something like this happen to me before.” I shrugged as a light blush began on my face. “I guess I’m just trying to appreciate it is all.”
“Call me crazy, but the best way to do that might be by staying right here in the moment not up in outer space.” Dizzy began to tease.
“I’m not up in space.” I hid a smile as our eyes connected. “That doesn’t even make sense!”
“Cut him a some slack.” Ky tried to defend. “How would you like it if we all hid in your house?”
“Depends on where in my house.” He playfully winked towards Ky. “The kitchen, kind of bored, but now my bedroom,”
“Dizzy.” I warned as Adam rolled his eyes from across the couch.
“Yes, space cadet?” His smirk grew wider as he turned back to me.
I let out a deep breath and looked towards Charlotte for help but only got a shake of her head. “That’s your boyfriend. It’s up to you to control him.”
I noticed Ky’s face change as he heard those words. In his world we were still just fooling around with one another, but now, now he knows its official. “I know, but a little help is always nice.” I began before forcing eye contact with Ky. “How’d you put up with him for so long?”
“A lot of Advil.” He teased with a fake smile. “But in a way it’s nice, sure, he turns everything into a joke, but at least you know he’s always being genuine. He doesn’t hide much.”
“Aside from his art.” I pressured, looking back towards the teen next to me. As our eyes connected he quickly raised his eye brows twice and let his smile turn sincere.
“You are my Art.” He let out, drawing a groan from the group. “Get it, because your name is Arthur?”
“And with that, I’m out.” Charlotte announced as she rose to her feet.
“No!” I whined, I went to stand up but Dizzy grabbed me and held me before I could.
“It’s a school night.” She reminded me. “And don’t you have your first baseball game tomorrow?”
“Maybe.” I mumbled, looking over to Ky who had now joined Charlotte in standing. “You can’t leave too!” I protested.
“Sorry, but she’s got a point.” He shrugged.
“Don’t worry Art, I’m still here.” Dizzy continued to joke.
“Don’t call me that.” I warned as I tried to manage a serious look.
“Sorry, I know you prefer space cadet.” He giggled as I pulled away from him and stood up.
“You guys are leaving me with this.” I pointed out as I hugged Charlotte and Ky goodbye.
“Didn’t make you date him!” Charlotte playfully yelped as they quickly made their escape and I fell back down into my seat.
“Adam,” Dizzy began, shifting his attention to the only other person left in the room.
“If you want to sleep over, you can sleep on the couch.” Adam cut off, not even bothering to hear what else Dizzy had to say. “And I’m only making an exception because it’s Artie’s birthday.”
“Really?” I excitedly asked, nearly jumping right back out of my seat.
“Yes, but this is one time only.” He warned as he stood up.
“But what if the couch gets lonely?” Dizzy whined drawing a strict look from Adam.
“Don’t push it!” I scolded Dizzy, turning back towards my Uncle. “Thank you!”
“Thanks.” Dizzy echoed as their eyes locked.
“Don’t even think about sneaking up to his room either.” He continued in the strictest voice he could manage. “I get up before the sun, so I’ll know who’s sleeping where.”
“Alright, alright, message received.” Dizzy sighed as Adam headed towards the stairs.
“Good night boys, I’ll see you at your game Artie.” Adam forced a tired smile.
“Thank you.” I accepted, mirroring the smile on his face.
“Happy Birthday buddy.” He forced out once more before disappearing up the stairs.
“I thought he’d never leave!” Dizzy teased in a loud voice.
“It’s just us. You can drop the act now.” I offered, more for my sake than his.
“Sure thing Art.” His smile grew as he rose to his feet.
“I’m serious, don’t call me that.” I exhaled, watching him walk around the couch and to his backpack.
“Sorry, I know, I know, its space cadet.” He continued, digging deep into his bag.
“That joke’s overplayed now, and it wasn’t even that funny in the first place, Ryan.” I played along, as he let out an exaggerated breath at my words.
“Ouch.” He let out. “You hit hard Artie Price, I don’t even know if I want to give this to you now.” He shrugged, showing off a gift wrapped rectangle in his hands.
“I warned you.” I smiled once more as he took his seat. “I understand if you want to break up with me.”
“You’re not getting rid of me that easy.” He giggled, but hesitated as he went to hand me his gift.
“You actually don’t want to give it to me!” I shouted, figuring he was turning the joke into a game.
“No, I, it’s not like that.” He began to stutter, still not handing it over.
“Then what’s it like?” I provoked in a flirtatious voice.
“It’s like, you’ve never seen any of my real art and maybe, maybe I am ready to show you it.” He exhaled, finally handing it over and lightly kissing me on the cheek. “Happy Birthday Artie.”
I took a deep breath, but as I went to open the gift I was surprised to feel Dizzy’s nerves spread to me. “I didn’t have long to work on it,” He suddenly began to defend, before I could even see it. “and I usually only work with spray paint. Pencil drawings, they’re just something I do for fun. I don’t even show them to people, let alone give them as gifts.”
As I finally began to pull at the paper he quickly leaned over once again. “Plus, I didn’t have any references. I had to work completely off memory. I, you can even ask Charlotte, that’s not an easy thing to do.” He continued to ramble. “Not that I’m trying to pat myself on the back or anything here, just, just trying to explain why it’s not that good.”
As I finally ripped the paper away I found a black picture frame that held a drawing which froze my heart. Dizzy continued to speak, “That sounds like an excuse, well, I guess it is an excuse. Maybe I’m not that good is what I’m trying to say.I guess.”
“Stop talking.” I finally forced out, unable to remove my eyes from a drawing of my mother hugging me. My head was laying on her shoulder as she was pulling me in close.
“I’m sorry,” He anxiously began as he saw the first tear drop fall from my eyes. “I was worried it’d be too soon, and maybe, maybe I didn’t know you well enough to draw that. But I could tell how much she meant to you and I figured you didn’t have enough pictures with her.” He gulped. “Plus I meant it when I said she was beautiful, and I like drawing beautiful people. I actually have a few sketches of you from the bridge when we first met, maybe that sounds creepy. I-I’ll stop talking now.”
“Dizzy,” I finally managed, trying my hardest to stop my tears. “this, this is the most meaningful gifts anyone’s ever given me.
“You don’t have to be nice.” He sighed, staring down at his feet.
“I’m not, I just,” I paused before reaching out and forcing his head up. “I need you to stop doubting yourself for a second, and just, Thank you!” I exhaled, putting the picture down and pulling him in close.
“Of course.” He replied, caught off guard by my reaction.
“And for the record, you’re a great artist.” I encouraged. “I’d love to see those other sketches of me one of these days.”
As he heard those words I felt him pull me in even tighter. There wasn’t much more that needed to be said that night. We just enjoyed each other’s company, until finally we both passed out on the couch.
“Come on,” I heard a tired voice sigh as I was shaken awake. “you don’t have to wake up, you just have to get to your bed.”
“What?” I groaned as I finally began to open my eyes.
“You guys fell asleep on the couch I guess,” Adam sighed, taking another look at both me and Dizzy. “but I get the feeling you’d be a lot more comfortable in your bed.”
“What time is it?” I complained, forcing myself up to my feet and grabbing the picture off the coffee table.
“A little after five, you still have a couple more hours to sleep.” He explained, helping lead me up to my room. “In an actual bed this time, your body will thank you.”
“You couldn’t’ve just let me sleep?” I whined. “You never said I couldn’t spend the night on the couch.”
“If I don’t start enforcing rules now, your boyfriend will never take them seriously.” Adam warned as we finally reached my room.
“Fine.” I accepted, knowing he had a point. Adam watched closely as I placed the frame on my nightstand before crawling into bed.
“Where’d you get that?” He asked, taking a long look at it.
“Dizzy drew it for my birthday.” I forced out in a tired breath.
“It, it’s really nice.” Adam began to smile. “Dizzy, he, well, you’ve found a good one.”
“Then maybe next time you can just let us sleep in a bed!” I protested, too tired to watch my words.
“We’ll talk about that when you turn eighteen.” He laughed, before starting to shut the door. “Now go back to sleep, I’ll see you after school.”
“Yeah, yeah.” I muttered before closing my eyes and letting myself slowly fade back into unconsciousness.
This time when I was woken up it was because Dizzy had jumped into my bed.
“Good morning!” He shouted, already awake and ready to go.
I let out a long groan before feeling him crawl on top of me. “Adam woke me up at like five and forced me to come upstairs.”
“Was he pissed?” Dizzy asked, pulling back until he got his answer.
“Not really.” I swayed my head. “I think he just wanted to make a point.”
“Well that’s stupid.” Dizzy teased before starting to shake the mattress around me. “Either way it’s time to wake up!”
“Stop.” I complained as he began to laugh. “How do you have this much energy already?”
“Cocaine.” He shrugged with a smile.
“Not funny.” I rolled my eyes. “But, maybe we should put that energy to good use.”
“Yeah?” His smile began to grow.
“Yeah, otherwise you won’t be able to pay attention in class.” I continued to provoke him.
“Can’t argue with that.” He giggled, and just like that our morning took a more, excited, turn.
I never imagine this would’ve been me, staying in bed late to mess around with the person I was dating. But I’ve grown a lot this past month! For better or for worse, this is me now. I bend some rules and try to have some fun, is that such a crime?
That is, until I realized we were going to be late for school! Dizzy tried his hardest to calm me down, but I could tell he kind of enjoyed watching me freak out. It was his chance to take care of me, to show me he’s got my back.
When we got to school the back doors were locked, but he texted Ky and just like that we were in the building.
“Mr. Iwata,” Mrs. Mowry began as she shot us a skeptical look. “you went to the bathroom and found Mr. Price and Mr. Armstrong there?”
“Well Dizzy fell in and Artie was just trying to help him out, thank God I came along to help.” Ky joked, drawing laughter from the class.
“Ky!” Mrs. Mowry scolded, shocked at his joke.
“Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.” Ky sighed.
“This is your second time in two weeks being late.” Mrs. Mowry began.
“It’s my fault, Dizzy came to pick me up this morning, but I accidently slept past my alarms.” I suddenly interrupted. “He was just being a good friend.”
Mrs. Mowry watching me closely as I tried my hardest to match my words with the expression on my face. She took a breath before quietly nodding her head. “I’ll let it go this time for your honesty, but next time it’s detentions for all three of you, understood?.”
“Yes Ma’am.” I quickly accepted. “Thank you.”
“Thank you.” Dizzy and Ky echoed.
“I totally had it taken care of.” Dizzy whispered as we took our seats.
“Then why didn’t you say something?” I teased.
“Wanted to see what would happen.” He shrugged.
“Sure.” Ky rolled his eyes. “You’re lucky Artie spoke up, or I totally would’ve kicked your ass.”
Dizzy nodded his head and glanced over to me. “You’ve become quite the trouble maker, haven’t you?”
“I’m just full of surprises.” I shrugged before Charlotte shot us all a serious look.
“Would you three shut up before you get in even more trouble!” She scolded. “It’s like you’re trying to get detention!”
“Sorry.” We all mumbled as she forced us back in line.
The rest of the day we made sure to keep our heads down the best we could. I don’t know if it was our early morning activities, or the fact that Iwas the one that saved us from detention, but Dizzy seemed a lot more into me than usual. Not that I’m complaining!
It’s nice to have his attention. The guy who amuses everyone, all to myself. Maybe that’s why we get along so well. He likes to put on a show and well, I like to watch. But when school ended we found ourselves in two opposite roles. He was in the bleachers, eagerly waiting for the game to start while me, I was in the dugout, trying my hardest to keep my lunch down.
“Don’t look so nervous Artie.” One of the guys tried to comfort. “You’ve been practicing with us for weeks. You’re ready for the season.”
“I know.” I forced a nod.
“Then show us.” Jose spoke up from the other side of the dugout. “Like we keep telling you, this is all for fun. We’re usually the worst team in the High School league anyway, so just enjoy getting to play.”
“I-I kind of want to win though.” I nervously spoke up.
“Then lead us there.” Jose encouraged, waiving the rest of the team to take the field.
I followed his instructions and found my spot between second and third base. I could feel my heart racing in my chest the whole half inning but did my best to make the plays I could. I was even able to manage an assist on one of the outs.
“Alright kid, you lead off.” Jose began as we changed innings. “Just have fun with it. You’re a smart player. Use that to your advantage. No one’s expecting Babe Ruth to show up at the plate.”
I forced a smile and grabbed my bat and helmet before heading towards the plate. It took everything in me to keep a straight face as I heard my name over the loudspeaker followed by a country song the team had picked out for my walk up.
Once more my heart began to race in my chest, but I did everything I could to stay focused. I wouldn’t call my first at bat good by any means, but before I knew it I found myself in a full count. I tried my hardest to focus, but as a breaking ball came in, I panicked and took an errant swing.
Yet before the Ump could even make a call I noticed the ball bounce down into the dirt before the catcher’s glove and started to run. Everyone watched me in confusion until finally the pitcher started to scream at his catcher, causing him to bobble the dropped ball even more! It was still close, but I made it! Leaving some of the crowd confused at the play.
“Now that’s what I’m talking about.” The first base coach laughed as I tried to catch my breath. “I knew you were a grinder Artie.”
“I shouldn’t’ve swung at that.” I shook my head.
“Forget about that.” Coach dismissed. “The important thing is you hustled your ass off after making a mistake. You made a smart hardworking play. Exactly what I would expect from a Texas baseball player.” He encouraged drawing a proud smile from my face. “I wouldn’t want any other at bat to start the season. Keep setting the bar like that and you’re going to go far kid.”
I nodded and let my smile fade as I began to focus on the next at bat. Every now and again I would look over to Adam, Artie, Ky and Charlotte for support, but for the most part I tried to keep my eyes on the game.
I wouldn’t say it was the best game I’d ever played, but I made sure to work my ass off every chance I could. I want to make a name for myself on this team. I want everyone to look at me the way our first base coach did when I got there. For everyone to know I don’t let up until the game is over.
We wound up losing by a run, but I could tell the attitude in the dugout was changing. I could tell things were taking a more serious turn.
“You weren’t kidding when you said you wanted to win.” Jose began as we threw our bags over our shoulders.
“Nope.” I shook my head as he took a long look at my dirt stained uniform.
“Good,” He nodded his head. “we’ve needed that attitude around here. Your hard work keeps everyone accountable.
“I don’t know about that.” I nervously laughed. “I just…” I paused, not knowing what to say.
“You just don’t quit all game. It’s annoying.” He teased. “But as long as you don’t take any breaks, no one else will.”
“Oh,” I exhaled, trying to hide another proud smile. “well I wouldn’t expect any breaks soon.”
“I don’t.” He laughed as I noticed my group of friends starting to approach. “You’ve got a good attitude Artie. You’re going to be one hell of a leader one day.”
“I um, I don’t know…” I began but he kept walking as my friends stopped me in my tracks.
“That was amazing!” Charlotte shouted as she gave me a quick hug. “You were so good!”
“My little baseball player.” Dizzy teased, quickly swapping places with her as she let me go. “Ew! You’re all dirty and sweaty!”
“Good game man.” Ky encouraged, ignoring Dizzy’s words.
I nodded and let them keep talking about the game, but noticed Adam keeping his distance from the group. “Excuse me.” I slipped away as their conversation drifted from baseball.
“What’d you think?” I nervously asked as I walked up to Adam.
“Good, really good.” Adam nodded his head.
“You okay?” I pried, noticing how odd he was acting.
“Yeah.” He answered, falling distant once more.
“You don’t have to come to games if you don’t want to.” I forced out, not knowing how to take his behavior.
“It’s not that.” He shook his head.
“Oh.” I exhaled. “Then um, what is it?”
He shrugged his shoulders but forced himself to look into my eyes. “I, I’m proud of you. I know Sarah would be too, you have her spirit, you know that?”
“Oh.” I repeated. “I just played the way she raised me to.”
“It showed.” He tried to encourage but as he fell quiet once more I shot him a strange look. “I’m being weird, aren’t I?”
“Oh yeah.” I finally began to smile.
“I’m sorry, I just, I’m so proud of the way you played today Artie.” He shook his head. “And I, I’m trying to find the right words to make you understand that. But my Dad, he, I just never had a good example of how to show that I guess.”
“I think I understand.” I nodded.
“I really really hope you do.” Adam forced out. “Because I, I’ve never been so proud of anything in my life. Not even my own business! You just, you kicked ass! It’s like every day you find a new way to surprise me. I know I’ve said it before, but I’m so lucky to have you living with me.”
“I’m so lucky you took me in.” I let out, before forcing a hug.
At first he wasn’t sure about the public affection, but gave in and hugged me back. I really do understand what he was trying to say. It’s hard enough for us to show affection inside the privacy of our own home, let alone in public!
His Dad never told him he was proud, kissed him goodnight, or gave him hugs. But Adam, he wants to be different than that, he just doesn’t fully know how. But even then, he’s doing a great job. His lack of words, well that told me all I needed to know about what he was thinking. The conversation about Sadie’s call can wait until tomorrow.
Tonight, well I want to help Adam understand I hear him loud and clear.
Sorry for the lengthy gap between chapters! Life got a little hectic. That with a case of writer's block put me in a rough spot. I knew I could not write with the same quality you guys deserve so I gave it some time. Chapters will be more frequent from now on (most likely 1 per week, but that will pick up at some point soon). Thank you for your patience!