I’m speechless. The man who I have been crushing on forever is standing in my doorway holding my journal. This journal is supposed to be used by everyone as a way to record our voyage. The fact that Pia would go so low as to steal something so personal just to get back at me blows my fucking mind. I can’t believe her right now.
“Spit it out,” Jax states, “The things that are in this journal I don’t understand them. Is this some kind of joke or something?”
“It’s not a joke Jax.”
Jax just sits there. He looks at his hands for a minute. He’s not responding. Why the fuck isn’t he saying anything? Why the fuck isn’t he responding to me at all?
I don’t know how to take this.
I’m scared. I’m antsy.
Just at that moment I see someone else walk up to us. It’s Kaysha. She is standing there at the door clearly coming to either see Jae Jae or I. She looks at Jax and I in the threshold. She doesn’t seem to realize how strange things are right now.
Kaysha smiles, “Jax Christopher. I know we haven’t been properly introduced or something but I used to love…love love your music when you were a kid. I had my poster on your wall. Um…sorry guys. I’m being rude. Am I interrupting anything here?”
The whole time Kaysha was talking Jax is just looking down. It’s the first time ever that he isn’t making eye contact with me. It’s almost like he’s lost and confused. It’s like we’ve traded places. Here I am searching his face and expressions for answers and he’s fumbling around glaring at the floor.
“I don’t know…is she?” I ask.
Jax doesn’t respond.
“Um…I can give you guys space. I feel like I just walked into something.”
As if it’s not awkward enough Jae Jae joins us at the door, “Kaysha. I think you should give them some time to talk.
“Actually no. I’m good,” Jax says all of a sudden, “We don’t need to talk about it.”
“Yes we do,” I respond, “Please give us space.
Jax stops them before they can leave, “No. It’s ok. I was just leaving. I told you Mario. I’m good right now…”
Fuck. My heart drops.
“Well I’m not,” I tell Jax at that moment, “I’ve had a crush on you since the day I’ve met you Jax. Everything that I wrote in that journal was the truth. And when I’m around you it starts all over again. I’m probably just a number to you. One of your many adoring fans. And I’m ok because honestly Jax I’m sitting here among the stars and you’re the biggest one to me.”
Kaysha just stands there with her mouth wide open. She is just staring at me. Jax isn’t responding. He’s acting like he doesn’t see me. He’s acting like he’d rather be anywhere else in the world right now but here with me. I can’t take this. I can’t fucking take how awkward this shit is.
“Are you sure?” Jae Jae asks him.
“We can give you guys some time to talk if…um…” Kaysha states.
“He said what he had to say. I was just returning something…” Jax states.
Jax leans over at that moment and he hands my journal to me. I look at my journal. This has to be the worst day of my life. This has to be the most awkward thing I’ve ever experienced. Jax turns and walks away. I’m left just feeling…stupid.
And it’s not even that. The awkward tension leaves Jax and Kaysha just sitting there looking back at me.
“You have some explaining to do,” Kaysha states.
“So you are gay?”
“You have a crush on Jax Christopher?”
“His girlfriend Pia suspected it and stole your journal to give it to him?”
“Bambi is blackmailing you because you were having sex with Dre? But Dre is dating someone else as well.”
I nod. I’m explaining everything to Jae Jae and Kaysha. Jae Jae is kind of trying to respect my privacy but I can’t say the same thing for Kaysha.
“Damn I LOVE to see you and Dre going at it. That’s sexy,” Kaysha responds.
“That’s your response?”
Jae Jae steps in, “What Kaysha means to say is that we’re you’re friends. We support you. No matter what. I mean when we first met you caught me with my dick in my hand and you blew it off like it was nothing. And this is nothing. It’s just who you are. Don’t be ashamed of it.”
I’m surprised this is coming from Jae Jae. As he sits there and tells me this I’m on the verge of tears really. I’ve never spoken openly about my sexuality to anyone except Dre really and Dre was the most secretive person in the world so it didn’t help.
“I’m with Jae Jae, you should tell everyone,” Kaysha responds, “Why play this game with Bambi? If people choose not to be your friend because you’re gay they were never your friends to begin with. Lose them…and find yourself.”
“Damn Kaysha that was deep,” I say, kind of shocked.
“I know…what the fuck,” Kaysha responds, “Been spending too much time looking at stars.”
Jae Jae rubs my back, “Look man. I need to apologize for going off on you when I thought you were selling out to money. I kind of understand it now. I mean it can’t be easy living a lie. You were just doing what you thought was right.”
“It’s not even about me. It’s about Dre more. I just don’t want anyone to find out his little secret.”
“I mean when are you going to stop worrying about him and start worrying about you…” Kaysha asks me.
I shrug, “Harder said than done girl.”
Jae Jae shrugs, “You are a caring guy. That’s what makes you special. You think about others. Don’t lose that. But be careful too. I mean Dre and Jax seem shady in my opinion.”
“You can’t really put that on Jax. You kind of just sprung it on him,” Kaysha argues, “How did you expect him to react?”
“In a better way then just walking away,” Jae Jae states.
“Maybe he’s straight,” Kaysha responds, “What would you do Jae Jae, if some guy had a crush on you. How would you react?”
Jae Jae sits there for a minute and thinks.
“Shit…maybe you’re right.”
Kaysha shrugs, “Give Jax some time. Sexuality isn’t a one way way street. Maybe he’ll come around. Even if it’s just as friends…”
I nod. I know they are just trying to make me feel better but truthfully I’m scared. I have a feeling things have changed for Jax and I but I’m not sure if it’s changed in the best way…
Days turn to weeks. I spend a lot of time in the Ecosystem module. It’s the best place to be alone and kind of feel like you are back on Earth. The artificial lighting in this module makes you feel like you are actually on Earth. There are tons of plants in the greenhouse and this module is also where a lot of the water is generated. The plants in this huge module help create oxygen for the entire ship which is definitely needed. I spend my time just looking at the flowers though taking it all in and just kind of hiding away.
“There you are…I’ve been looking everywhere for you…”
It’s Bambi. I should have known.
“We have to get to the top of the ship. They are going to announce who made it to go on Mars.”
“Bambi do you even attend classes?”
“Of course not, I don’t want to go to a dirty planet anyway,” Bambi makes it clear, “But this is what you want isn’t it.”
“Wait so you actually care?”
Bambi rolls her eyes, “Don’t get soft on me right now. I just want to cheer you on like a good girlfriend should once you get named to go down to Mars.”
“It’s not guaranteed.”
“Bullshit. Everyone knows you’re like the smartest person on this damn space station,” Bambi replies, “You know everything there is to know about this space bullshit. So you’ll make it. Do you want to go hear your name get called or no?”
Bambi grabs my hand. Whether she wanted to admit it or not she was getting soft on me. She was beginning to like me. At first she would only want to hang around to put on her little charade but soon she started asking me to come to her room and teach her how to cook when I didn’t have the time. She would do random little things just to hang out with me. Of course the time Bambi was spending with me was really probably killing Pia. Pia and Bambi weren’t frienemies anymore…they were just STRAIGHT UP enemies.
We get to the top of the module and all of a sudden I see him. Jax.
He’s sitting there next to Pia, Chyna and Greg.
“Well look who it is,” Pia said rolling her eyes.
“Attention, I love it,” Bambi smiles back at Pia but then I’m used to it.
“You look amazing today Bambi,” Chyna states, clearly starting her normal ass kissing routine as soon as she saw us walk over, “You look good too Mario. Don’t they look good?”
Chyna is looking over at Jax. Jax looks me up and down. He doesn’t say a word. He stares back at the floor after a few seconds. This is so unlike Jax but it’s been like this every time we’ve been around each other. It’s been weeks since he read my journal and we’ve been avoiding each other like the plague. We don’t even sit next to each other in Astrology class anymore. Dre took it upon himself to sit next to me in class all of a sudden. I’m assuming he thinks he’s cock-blocking or something but truth is Jax has been avoiding me regardless. Jax probably would thank Dre for cock-blocking at this point.
Greg laughs, “Right Ken and Barbie over here.”
Pia rolls her eyes, “Greg shut up. Everyone knows me and Jax are Ken and Barbie.”
“Really? I could have sworn Ken and Barbie were a couple,” Bambi snaps back at Pia.
“And I didn’t know Barbie wore cheap Malaysian weaves,” Pia snapped back.
Pia rolls her fingers through her hair giving it a tight hard pull to let everyone know that she doesn’t have extensions. I have to admit Pia’s hair is amazing. The full beautiful curls let us know that she is multi-racial and exotic.
At this point shit is getting a little more the awkward. The two girls are facing off and everyone else is in the middle of it completely unsure of what to do. People are watching waiting for Mia LaPerla to come out and make her announcement but right now this was everyone’s entertainment. I had to admit I was cheering Bambi on and right now the shady lady was giving me my money’s worth.
“Really? The Barbie’s I played with always had fake hair. It never mattered. You must not have been playing with the right editions. Maybe you played with the outdated Barbies,” Bambi goes in, “But I’m sure you can relate to the old editions right? I mean…not EVERY one can stay relevant nowadays…”
“Bitch…” Pia starts off.
She doesn’t get the chance to finish. Her mother comes out. Bambi has a comfortable smile on her face though feeling that she just really went in on Pia. I can tell the awkwardness especially with the other members of the Dollhouse. For the most part they were trying to stay out of it. Pia is staring so hard at Bambi and it really seems to piss her off when Bambi walks over to me and takes my arm.
I’m so happy right now to be honest. I’m happy to see someone beat Pia at her own shady game. I’m happy to see her look humbled for once.
“The journey to Mars is going to be an amazing one,” Mia LaPerla announces to the auditorium, “Today we gather to start that journey. Please join me in congratulating the students who will be taking an expedition to Mars.”
As Captain Laperla makes her announcement names start to appear behind her. The names pop up one at a time. I clap when I notice Jax name appear. There are a couple people from my Ecosystem class that appear. I recognize a few other names but not that many. When Dre’s name appears I realize we must be close to the end of how many people going.
And then I realize that my name doesn’t get called.
It’s over. It’s fucking over.
“Wait what the fuck,” Jax states all of a sudden, “Was that some sort of mistake?”
Captain Laperla is on her podium. She looks down at that moment. I’m not the only one shocked that Jax is saying something. Pia turns over to Jax at that moment.
“Excuse me?” Captain LaPerla states.
“Mario Kane should have been called,” Jax states, “He is way smarter than me. His grades are way better. I don’t get why he wasn’t called.”
“Jax…” Pia states.
Then it hits me. Pia is upset that he’s butting in. PIA fucking did this. PIA HAD TO FUCKING DO THIS!
Captain LaPerla just looks over at the crowd, “Are you sure about that? We have a lot of competitive people.”
“His test scores should have qualified him,” a voice says, “I submitted his name to you. I personally recommended Mario Kane to go on the trip to Mars…”
I turn to the right to see my teacher…Peter. He looks just as confused as everyone else. I’m shocked that Peter is standing up to Captain LaPerla. I am even more shocked that Captain LaPerla is trying to pull this shit out of no where.
Captain LaPerla smiles shyly, “There may have been some mistake somewhere. I’m sure Mario will understand. Next time he’ll be first on the list. Everyone is excused! Have a good trip and congratulations again to everyone who made it!”
I feel like a pussy almost. For more than 100 days on this space station I’ve worked my ass off in every class just for the chance to get to Mars. I had damn near perfect grades. Now Captain LaPerla was telling me there was a mistake and I’d have to be on this space station while a shuttle goes to Mars. Is that what was going on right now?
I’m shocked. I’m hurt. I’m appalled.
I’m literally to the point where I feel like I can just break down right here in front of everyone. My heart is just beating faster and faster. I don’t know how to deal with this.
And then I see her…Pia.
She stares at me and smiles…this knowing smile.
“Well that sucks,” Pia mocks me at that moment.
It’s so clear that she has something to do with this. She isn’t hiding it. She must have her mother wrapped around her little fucking finger or something. The way Captain Laperla just dismissed me let me know that she planned this all along. THEY planned this.
And I was the one who wanted to go to Mars. I was the one who wanted to step foot on the planet. Now she was telling me another time? How many fucking times in one’s lifetime do you have the opportunity to step foot on another planet? I’d never get this experience again. I’d never get to do this again.
“That’s fucking low Pia,” Greg states.
I’m shocked when Greg of all people comes to my defense.
“Oh who the fuck are you now, Mother Theresa?” Pia asks him, “You’re sitting around using this slightly above mediocre bitch Chyna for your cum bucket. Don’t talk to me about morals.”
Pia is acting as though Chyna is not standing right beside her. She could care less at that moment.
I feel so defeated.
Bambi grabs my arm and gives me a hard whisper, “Don’t you dare break down. Mario…don’t you dare fucking break down right now…”
She’s warning me but I can’t.
I can’t do it. All of a sudden tears are coming to my fucking eyes. Everyone is looking at me. I can’t take this. I worked my FUCKING ASS off to go to Mars. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I was just cheated. I was just fucking cheated and all my work went meant nothing.
Pia finds this funny, “Wait…wait…wait…is he crying? Oh my GOD! Guys…this motherfucker is FUCKING CRYING!”
She is laughing so hard at that moment.
“Yo you’re a fucking bitch yo…” a voice says.
It’s Jax. Jax is sticking up for me.
“Excuse me?” Pia states.
“You’re a fucking hateful bitch,” Jax responds, “You can’t fuck with people’s dreams like that. Who the fuck do you think you are?”
“Jax you can’t just talk to me like that,” Pia states, “Over some random boy. That’s how you treat me.”
“Random boy? If he was so random why would you put so much energy in trying to hurt him?” Jax asked, “Random boy. Psh…all you do sit around and talk about him and Bambi all day. It’s actually REALLY fucking annoying. Random though? Bunch of bullshit. Well how about this Pia? That random boy can have my spot on the Mars shuttle.”
“No…Jax I can’t…” I butt in.
“He’s right. He can’t. It’s against the rules. He can’t go. If you give up your seat Jax you’ll be giving it up for nothing,” Pia states.
Jax is breathing heavy. He walks away at that moment. I want to thank him for even offering it to me but I know there is no way the Laperlas were going to let me take that shuttle to Mars. There was no way in hell they would let me get anywhere close to it. I’ve never seen him angry before but emotions are high right now. I’m sad as fuck and it’s useless. Everything is useless.
The lunch table later that day is more than awkward. All day random people have been coming up to me and saying how sorry they were as though I lost someone. I think people really knew that overall I deserved to be on that shuttle. Every test I took was damn near perfect. I spent so long every day just sitting in the Ecosystem module studying.
“I can’t believe she is going to get away with that,” Kaysha is stating at the table.
“When you have money you get away with a lot of shit,” Bambi responds to her, “Look at her over there. Us sitting around mopping isn’t going to help. Suck it the fuck up. Don’t give her the upper hand. Trust me…I know Pia. That’s what she wants.”
I look over at Pia as Bambi talks to me. Bambi is right. Pia is at the lunch table with the Dollhouse members and it seems like she just has this fucking smile sketched out on her fucking face. I can see Jax sitting there. He looks so…annoyed.
That’s when I notice something strange happen.
Jax gets up off the table. He gets up right from where Pia is sitting. I hear Pia look up at him and say something. She’s asking him where he’s going.
Jax doesn’t respond at that moment. He walks over to the table that I’m sitting at. Jax looks down at me at that moment. He looks down at the seat right next to me.
“You mind if I sit here?”
“Ye—-yes…” I freak out.
Jax sits at the table. I’m shocked. Jax is SITTING right next to me. It’s been so long since we even talked and now he was sitting right next to me. He was supporting me against Pia’s fucked up ass behavior.
Jax setting the example seems to cause Greg to get up too. Greg doesn’t just get up alone. He takes Chyna with him! He brings them to our table and the two sit down with us.
At this point I look over at Pia’s table.
She’s sitting alone…
She’s completely alone…
And for the first time in her life I think she realizes that being exclusive and having her exclusive little club won’t mean much if you couldn’t get a single other person who wants to be a part of it.
The next day Jax comes back to sit at our table and the day after that. We don’t talk much besides little small talk around the table. Mostly it’s Kaysha acting star struck that she’s sitting around a lot of the people that she used to idolize. Luckily Kaysha isn’t embarrassing me too much. They actually seem to like it. Chyna doesn’t feel like she is the unpopular one anymore and Greg loves to boost his ego.
By the third day I’m amazed at the conversation that is actually happening around the table. We aren’t sitting there awkwardly walking around pins and needles like we did at the Dollhouse table with Pia. There is actual conversation happening.
“I just never found space interesting,” Bambi is telling everyone at the table.
“So you are on a space ship but you never found it interesting?” Jae Jae asks her.
“I mean it’s a bunch of black stuff. And far away stars. We’ve already explored our galaxy. The real mysteries are far away and we’d never be able to get to them,” Bambi responds, “So what’s the point?”
Chyna nods, “I’m with Bambi. It would be interesting to go somewhere else. To really explore. But we’d never be able to get there…”
Jax is staring at me. He’s staring at me like he used to back in the day. I don’t dare to look back at him. My heart is beating so fucking fast. He’s biting on his lips and I can feel his eyes just grinding into me. He’s sitting right to my side.
“What do you think? You probably know more than we do?” Jax asks me.
“There is a way, theoretically of course,” I state.
Jax and I stare at each other. Fuck I can’t take his brown eyes. I can’t take him biting on his lip. I just want to reach over and bite on his lower lip for him.
“Are you for real?” Greg asked, “You bullshitting.”
I shake my head at that moment, “I’m dead serious. It’s a worm hole. It’s sort of like a bridge between space.”
“Impossible,” Jae Jae responds, “I’ve heard about that. It’s impossible.”
“Not really,” I respond, “A wormhole is a theoretical passage through space-time that could create shortcuts for long journeys across the universe. Wormholes are predicted by the theory of general relativity. Of course no wormhole has opened up in our galaxy. But with the right technologyy one day we may be able to create one. But of course there are dangers. Wormholes bring with them the dangers of sudden collapse, high radiation and dangerous contact with exotic matter.”
“You’re so fucking smart man,” Jax smiles at me, “Exactly why you should be going to Mars…”
“Your girlfriend fucked that up for him Jax,” Bambi responds.
“That’s not my girlfriend…” Jax quickly retorts before anyone could think otherwise.
Jax says it forcefully. It’s clear that he’s feeling some type of way. I think right now everyone feels some type of way.
“Speak of the devil,” Kaysha whispers across the table, “Literally.”
I notice that Pia has walked over to us at that moment. She is standing there. After three days of sitting at a table by herself I have to admit Pia looks a little humble.
She is just kind of standing there.
“You guys mind if I uh…join you?”
Bambi gives Pia a hard look, “Girl no. Bitch kill yo’self…”
There is laughter across the table. Pia just turns around at that moment and I see her walk away. It’s clear she’s upet. It’s clear she’s bothered.
Her plan to be shady as fuck and play me backfired on her completely. Bambi doesn’t hold back on waiting for an opportunity to embarrass the fuck out of Pia either. I can see Pia is embarrassed too. The rolling laughter chases her down the cafteria until she is out of there.
Pia stops coming to the lunch room all together. It’s clear she doesn’t really have any other friends. It’s no point of having her exclusive table that everyone was afraid to approach if she was the only one sitting at the fucking table.
But it’s also getting clear that Pia is getting angry and a little nervous for attention. I see her staring at me all the time in the most creepy fucking way.
It’s on Sunday that she’s actually waiting for me outside of my room.
“You think you got one over on me don’t you?”
I almost jump out of my fucking skin when I see her standing against the wall. The bitch is just standing there with her hands crossed looking at me. I was beginning to kind of feel sorry for her but the shady look on her face pulls me back into that resentment that I had for her.
“Listen I have nothing to say to you.”
“You were my friend. I let you sit at MY table. I let you on MY mother’s space station and you turn EVERYONE against me?” Pia asks at that moment.
The nerve of this girl. She is saying all these things like she had a hand in them. It was as though she is trying to tell me she went to the depths of Compton and gave me all these opportunities. I was starting to realize that maybe Pia was crazy. Maybe she had some type of mental issues.
She is standing there looking like she is about to CRY. She is looking me dead in my eyes with tears in hers. The same tears that she was making fun of me about.
“Excuse me? I know you aren’t about to play the victim.”
“You are ruining my life all all because I won’t let you want to walk on a dirty planet.”
“First off I didn’t ruin anything. People are seeing your true colors and they are numerous shades of black,” I explain to her, “Secondly you started this off when you stole my journal.”
“Stole your journal?” Pia asks.
“Oh now you’re a liar too.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. What journal?” Pia asks.
“You stole my journal and you gave it Jax.”
“Um…no…I really didn’t.”
“So when you were in my room.”
“That wasn’t my idea to go to your room. Chyna wanted to go to your room. I was just checking if Jax was there. That was Chyna’s idea…Chyna wanted…that fucking bitch…”
Pia is pissed at something at that moment.
“Are you trying to say Chyna stole my journal and left it for Jax?” I ask.
“Of course she did. And guess who pulled her little fucking strings to make her do it. One fucking guess.”
To read the next chapter go to www.crushedcrown.com