Paper Walls - 5. Chapter 5
The next week doesn’t go by as quickly as I would like; it still seems like most of the team resents me. I mean, none of them are hostile towards me, but they don’t go out of their way to talk to me. Which really sucks if I can be honest, but I never let it show. Shawn actually does talk to me a lot, and I can tell other players want to as well, but they just don’t know how to approach me.
As usual, I’m the last one left in the locker room waiting for my dad., Shawn has long since gone; he had to go to work tonight, so I couldn't hang out with him. Today was our last practice before school. That means I will just be relaxing tomorrow since we will be in full pads on Monday.
I think I am the last one left, until I see Garret walk through the locker room. My heart speeds up a little bit with apprehension. He hasn't spoken one word to me since the incident in the weight room. I pull my knees to my chest and focus on my phone, as he digs through his locker. He slams it shut and I wince; he finally looks over at me.
"Your still here, superstar?" he asks.
I hate that stupid nickname. "Yeah," I say. "Why are you still here?"
"Waiting on my little brother," he says, sitting down at his locker, which is, sadly, right across from me.
I fiddle with my phone. I wish Jeremy would just text me back. I can feel Garrett's eyes on me and I don't like it. He makes me uneasy. "You and Shawn are pretty tight, huh?" he asks.
I shrug my shoulders. "I guess so. I mean, he is the only friend I have."
He nods like he understands. "So you're not trying to take the QB position from him."
I roll my eyes,."No, I already told you that. Why do you hate me?" I ask bluntly.
I can tell this catches him off guard. "I don't hate you. Look man, it's just, you’re not personal with anyone, you don't talk to anyone. No one understands what your deal is."
"It's hard to strike up a conversation with people you don't know," I tell him.
"Have you tried to get to know any of us?"
"Yeah, last time I did, I ended up with a weight lifting bar on my chest," I snap back.
He flinches. "Yeah, wasn't my brightest moment."
"Plus, it's not like any of you have gone out of your way to even talk to me. I am not stupid, Garret. You haven't liked me since I got here. I know you and Shawn are best friends, that's cool. I am not replacing him as QB, and I am not replacing you as his best friend, so you can relax about that. Stop being so paranoid."
He just gives me this wild look. "You are such a tool."
"Only when I need to be," I retort.
He laughs out loud on this. "You're not so bad, superstar," he says, smiling.
I smile a back a little at him. "You’re kind of weird," I tell him.
He shrugs his shoulders. "So answer me, are you human?"
I cock my head at him. "What do you mean?"
"Dude, you whipped my ass on the suicide drills, and Shawn said you did a lot of up-downs."
I just shrug my shoulders. "Suicide drills aren't that hard. Plus, I have been doing them for years. Like I told Shawn, I get up and run every morning."
"Dude, do you ever just not think about football?"
"Running isn't for football, it's for myself. I like to run, plus it keeps my anxiety in check," I tell him.
"You get anxiety?" he asks, looking at me skeptically.
I shrug my shoulders. "I guess, but running helps me relax."
"Well, when I need to relax, I rub one out, or play some video games," he says, laughing.
I go bright red at the sound of that, and he laughs even harder. "To each their own," I tell him.
He laughs harder, "You are something else, dude." He looks at his phone. "Okay, well, my brother is waiting in the parking lot. I guess I will see you Monday."
"Yeah, I guess so," I tell him.
I watch him leave the locker room. I want to tell him thank you for even talking to me, but I figure that’s just stupid. I feel dumb for even thinking of saying that. I pick up my phone as it starts to ring.
"Jeremy?" I ask.
"Hey, man, what's up, how are you?"
"I'm okay," I tell him.
"Yeah, okay, you don't sound like it at all," he says.
That's why I miss him so much. He knows me so well. "I just miss you, man."
"What's wrong, Rye?"
Hearing him call me that makes my stomach clench. "I just home, you, and our friends. No one likes me here, plus I miss playing. I am pretty damn sure I am just going to be benched the whole season.
He sighs. "Nah, man, I am sure you will get to play some.
"It's not looking like it, Jer. Dad is set on having Shawn, and that's it. Am I really that bad at making friends?" I ask him.
He laughs on the other end of the phone. "You always had me, Rye, and we didn't need a lot of friends, but yeah, you're a bit awkward with your whole football stuff. But once you get comfortable, you will be good, man."
I let out a sigh. "You're probably right, but I wish you were here, man."
"Ryder, you have to get over this, man. You would've only been around me for one more year, and then I'd be leaving for college," he says firmly.
I mutter something in Russian, hoping he doesn't hear me. "I got pieces of that, Ryder. You know I'm right. Besides, dude, just think. I will be going to college in Austin! I will see you all the time!"
"That actually makes me happy," I tell him.
"Okay, man, I am going to go shower. I have a date tonight!" he says, with a suggestive tone in his voice.
"Who is she?"
"You don't know her, buddy. She just moved to town."
"Oh, okay....hey, Jeremy."
"Yeah, man," he says.
"I love you..."
"I love you too, goofball. Don’t worry. Things will look up soon, I promise."
I wait a few more minutes, and my dad finally comes out of his office. "You ready to head out?"
"Yes!" I tell him.
He chuckles. "Come on, boy."
We get into the vehicle, and I put my phone in my pocket. Dad isn't big on having phones out when it's just me and him. "You ready for school Monday?"
"Not really, I am kind of nervous," I admit.
"How come?" he asks.
"New school, and I don't have Jeremy here, either."
"You don't need Jeremy to have a good year, son. What is really bothering you?"
"The fact I'm gay...and adopted at that, plus no one on the team hardly talks to me as it is, and when you throw in those factors, it’s social suicide."
"Ryder, now you are being dramatic. You know I will take care of anyone that has a problem with your being gay. You don't have to tell anyone you are adopted. Just because your mother didn't give birth to you doesn't mean we love you any differently. You are our son."
"Thanks, Dad. I'm just nervous about a new school. I have known all my other friends since I first started school," I tell him.
"How have you been sleeping? Any nightmares? I know you had one the other night, no sense in denying it. Do you think we need to set up a meeting with a therapist?"
"They aren't as intense as they were when we first moved here, and no, I don't want to just yet. Dad, why am I having nightmares again? I don't remember much from when I was in the orphanage, or anything. I just remember getting off this plane and you were the first person I saw," I tell him, avoiding his gaze, because I just lied to him, and if he looks me in the eye, he will know.
"I don't have the answers to that, buddy. I wish I did. Look you don't need to know anything that happened when you were in Russia. What matters is, you're here safe, and loved. I will talk to your mother, and see if she thinks you need to see a therapist or we should wait a little longer," he says.
"But you just asked me if I wanted to!" I say.
"I wanted your input and I have it now. Your mother and I will need to discuss this, though," he says.
I don't say anything else because I am getting annoyed at this, and if I do say something, I will get in trouble.
We don't say anything for the next few miles. "I think your mom wants to take you clothes shopping."
"I don't really need any," I tell Dad.
"Just amuse her, Son. She wants to spend time with you, and pretty soon you won't have the time for her."
"Kind of like how you and I never have time," I say.
I know that was a low blow, and he doesn't say anything. I know he wants to, but he doesn't. I can't see his face behind his sunglasses. It drives me insane he can be so emotionally distant.
We pull into the driveway, and I go to get out, but he stops me. "Son, I know this has been a hard move for you. I do apologize for that, but it was necessary. I promise we will have some bonding time soon."
I shake his hand, and he lets go quickly. "Okay," I tell him.
He gets out and walks to my side of the car, "Come here."
I get out of the car and he pulls me into a hug. "I love you, Ryder. You’re always my number one, no matter what."
Hope you all enjoy this chapter as well, thank you all so much for the support! Also this will be the last short chapter!
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