It was exactly seven o'clock when I pulled into the high school parking lot. I parked my car and then headed over to the aquatic center where the swim meet was underway. Once inside, I found Jake and Ashley sitting in the stands.
"Dude, just in time," said Jake as he moved over a bit to make space for me.
"Uh, yeah, I got held up," I said as I sat down. "So where is Zac?" I added quickly.
"Lane 6. What do you mean you got held up?"
"Oh, I see him," I said recognizing Zac's short bleached hair.
I was saved from further interrogation as the announcer started to call out the names of the swimmers. We gave a little cheer when they announced Zac's name. As I watched Zac adjust his goggles and step up onto the starting block, thoughts about the day raced through my mind. Many things had happened in the past couple of hours. I had asked out Rachel Fisher who was the one of the hottest girls in school. I had also met Colin Stone who intrigued me in some unknown way. There was something about him. I watched the swimmers getting into position as I tried to think. There was something about him. Then just as the starting whistle went off, the answer hit me.
"Fuck!" I said aloud as the realization dawned.
"Yeah, look at him go! He is so awesome!" yelled Ashley.
Ashley's exclamation broke me from my thoughts and I turned my attention to the race. Zac had gained the lead and had left the competition behind. He zoomed through the water towards the end. Cheers and applause broke out as Zac reached the finish. We jumped up and cheered along with everyone else but maybe a bit louder. Zac pushed up his goggles and after seeing his time, he pumped his fist in victory.
"Yay! Let's go down and congratulate him," said Ashley excitedly as the cheers and applause slowed down.
I followed Ashley and Jake down to the pool area where the swimmers and fans were milling around. Zac was talking excitedly to his parents. When he saw us, he left them and walked over to us.
"Hey guys! Thanks for making it out here!" said Zac.
"That was awesome, Zac!" exclaimed Ashley as she hugged Zac.
"Yeah, dude, great job," said Jake, patting Zac on the back.
"No surprise, right?" I said smiling. "You are amazing."
Zac looked at me and smiled even more.
"Thanks, guys," said Zac still smiling. "It means a lot."
"That's what we are here for," said Jake laughing.
"Yeah, we are really proud of you," I added.
"Thanks," said Zac looking back at me and smiling. "Well I expect my parents are waiting for me, so I guess I will see you guys later."
We said goodbye and then walked out to the parking lot talking excitedly about Zac's performance. As I remembered Zac smiling at me, I remembered the realization from before, the smile from my face disappeared, and I grew quiet. Jake and Ashley soon noticed that I wasn't talking or smiling which was always a clear sign that something was wrong with me. As we reached my car, they both cornered me.
"Okay, something is up. Spill!" said Ashley.
I looked at both of them as they both waited for me to speak. They wanted answers but I wasn't sure if I wanted to tell them.
"Do you guys want to get dinner?" I asked trying to stall.
"Sure, but you have to tell us what's wrong," said Jake.
I let out a sigh.
"Okay, get in," I said unlocking my car.
I knew I was not going to be able to get away without telling them. I had never been able to hide anything from them and therefore, they basically knew everything about me. I would just have to tell them and hear what they thought. Usually they were able to help me out if I had a problem but this time, it was a bit more complicated...
We soon reached the local pizza parlor. This place had been our favorite hangout since Jake and I had found this place in the eighth grade. This place had come to hold many memories of great times spent together. This time, we had come here on a more serious note than we usually did. We had come to discuss my dilemma. The little dilemma I had created for myself.
"We'll have a large pepperoni pizza and three cokes," Jake told the waitress who came by to get our order after we sat down in our favorite booth.
"Okay, it will probably be fifteen minutes," said the waitress before walking away.
After she left, Jake and Ashley turned towards me expectantly. I nervously tapped the table with my finger.
"Okay, I think I have something to tell you guys," I started.
I looked at Jake and Ashley who just looked at me and nodded.
"So as you probably have already heard, I asked Rachel out to dinner and a movie after school and she said yes.
"Yeah, congrats," said Jake happily.
"Well, I hope this will calm her down," said Ashley. "She has been kind of hung up on you for the past few weeks."
"More like months," said Jake laughing. "So what's the problem?"
I looked at him. He was looking at me intently. I took a breath and continued.
"Well, I kind of met this guy when I was dropping off my sister at her friend's house... and... and... I think I kind of like him."
There was silence. I looked at Jake and Ashley. Jake opened his mouth to say something but then closed it.
"What do you mean you like him?" asked Ashley. "You can't be serious."
"I think I am serious. I just saw him and I couldn't help it. There is just something about him."
"Dude, what about Rachel?" Jake asked.
"Well, I like her too but I don't feel anything special towards her like I felt when I saw this guy. It's kind of hard to explain."
"So you think you really like this guy?" asked Jake.
"I think so. He just seems so interesting. Of course, I have no idea if he feels the same way but I only met him today. I think I have to get to know him better first."
"So are you going to still go out with her?" asked Jake.
"I don't think so. It wouldn't be right."
"Dude, she is not going to be happy with that."
"Well, it's better to stop now than later."
"True, but she will still be really upset. She was so excited that you finally asked her out. She must have spent two hours talking to Ashley about how you asked her out and about your date on Friday," said Jake laughing.
I laughed too and turned to look at Ashley who wasn't laughing and had troubled look on her face.
"But Kyle, you can't do this," Ashley said.
"Why can't he? He likes a guy and he is going to try his luck," said Jake smiling. "I don't even see why he was so troubled by it either."
I however knew what Ashley was talking about and it was what had been troubling me and causing the whole dilemma.
"What about Scott?" Ashley softly said.
To be continued...
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