Author’s Note: This was supposed to be a Flash Fiction entry, but once I started writing the story it became so much more than a flash fiction piece. The word count climbed quicker than I was typing, it seemed! 700, 1100, 2600, 3400, 4500, 5000! It just kept climbing up and up until when I finished I realized I had more of a short story than a flash fiction piece. Regardless of length, I hope that you find time to enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
So this week’s prompt actually came from Propmts’N’Stuff from Tumblr. You can visit the blog here! When you see the prompt and then read the story, you will note that I did take some liberties – but the general concept is very much the same. I’m in love with the story, really. I’m such a sucker for fluffy and innocent romances.
Prompt: Person A is the quiet kid in class who never really says anything and B is the rowdy and rambunctious one.They sit next to eachother and B is constantly trying to get A to talk or say something.A mostly ignores them but one day they just suddenly turn to B and say,“I like you, you’re loud and really fucking annoying, but I like you.”
B reacts by screaming and cheering for A before being scolded and the both of them sent to the office.
Carson sits in the back of the classroom not out social anxiety – not out of lacking intelligence – and not even because of alphabetical seating arrangement. No, Carson sits in the back because it’s quieter in the back. High School is funny that way, one must suppose, because all through junior high the quiet kids are in back of the room passing notes and laughing at the teacher. As punishment, teachers moved those loud and rowdy kids to the front of the classroom.
In high school, that changes. The loud kids are in the front of the classroom participating in random conversations to keep the lesson plan very specifically off course. And, naturally, the teachers go along with it because it makes their dull job more exciting. Besides, it gives them the opportunity to give actual advice outside of their chosen subject. As such, Carson likes to sit in the back of the classroom to avoid getting caught up in the nonsense. Carson likes to think that he’s got all the answers and that he’s above needless socializing.
In contrast to obsessively quiet Carson, mapping out his entire life on the loose leaf pages of a battered binder, there’s Flynn. Flynn is star of the basketball team with mediocre grades that correlate perfectly with a booming social life. Known as the class clown, Flynn has always sat at the back of the room waiting to call people out for their silly mistakes and flubs. Every so often, a piece of wisdom falls out of his mouth. Regardless of how smart it is – it’s also presented in the form of a joke. Flynn is the sort of guy that just makes people smile on and off the court. Everyone likes Flynn.
Including Carson, actually. For a long time, too.
Carson has always had a crush on Flynn. They sat together on the bus throughout most of elementary school – and it was for only one reason. They were both shuttle bus kids. All that meant was that they had to switch busses at the high school drop off so that they could get to the elementary school of their parent’s choice. There were tons of shuttle bus kids but they were the only two from their neighborhood, so Carson and Flynn stuck together right up to junior high. That’s when they drifted away from casual bus friends to complete strangers.
That’s when Carson became a bit of a valedictorian-to-be and Flynn became an NBA-wannabe. They fit their roles perfectly today, and therefore rarely every talk to each other outside of forced interactions during class when they’re inevitably paired together… You know, because Flynn sits right next to Carson in the corner.
“Alright, time to break into your assigned pairs. I want you to complete the vocabulary exercise for the Grecian era for tomorrow.” Miss Violet dismisses the class to work freely for the remainder of the period. It’s a great way to end the school day. Naturally, things get louder instantly. Best friends are pairing up, and even grouping up so that the hard workers get the vocabulary assignment finished in one sitting together while the lazier partners gossip about the upcoming sweetheart dance.
Flynn pushes his desk directly into Carson’s with a dramatic clang! that makes everyone in the room uncomfortable; “Sorry, I guess I didn’t realize this isn’t a football class. My bad!” His voice booms so suddenly that Carson flinches. Also, the joke was really bad. The teacher waves her hand at him absently, used to his antics after nearly two months of his nonsense. Most other students forget about it instantly, others rubbing their ears for a maximum of two minutes tops. After five minutes, Carson is able to get both books onto the right page.
“So whaddaya want me to do, boss?” He always calls Carson ‘boss’ as though it’s supposed to be a comical representation of the imbalance of intelligence between them. A lot of people would probably kill to have Carson as their partner. Having a straight-A student helping on homework assignments is basically a guaranteed pass for the class, after all. Flynn plays it like he doesn’t care, though. To him it’s just another homework assignment with another person in the room.
“Do what you always do, but maybe a little quieter.” Carson remarks passively. His hands move quickly to take notes of all of the words. His preferred method is to make a word bank and then define them. It was easier than flipping back and forth between the Chapter Review section and the actual chapter itself. Even Flynn saw the logic in that process.
Flynn laughs loudly, “You’re such a joker, Carson. These dupes don’t even realize what a comic you are – can you believe it?” Soon after his hand slaps Caron’s back heavily. Once again it captures the attention of most of the people in the classroom. Miss Violet arches a brow at Flynn. It’s her warning that one more outburst could land him in detention or the office, whichever is more appealing five minutes later when he gets riled up again with all his unused energy. Carson almost believes that all athletes exhibit ADHD symptoms in the classrooms.
“Really, Flynn, I’d really appreciate if you’d either help quietly – or not care quietly.” The request doesn’t fall on deaf ears. Immediately after that, Flynn starts doodling stratagems for the basketball team in his notebook. This allows him to appear productive to the teacher without compromising Carson’s focus. Gratitude wells up very slowly, as in the past Flynn has failed his mission to remain quiet – every -single – time.
And his failure starts when he starts prodding Carson to make conversation; “What have you been up to, dude? I don’t ride the bus anymore so I have no idea what you’re doing these days.” Carson’s eyes don’t move much, but he lifts his gaze to Flynn’s book just to see how interested in the question he actually is right now. Once he deems the question to be more habitual than participatory, Carson flips the pages of both books.
Theoretically, if Carson didn’t response then the question would basically not have existed. Isn’t that what most parents teach kids? If you ignore it long enough then it goes away – which is absolutely horrible advice, by the way. So that’s what Carson does, and at first it does really work. Flynn keeps doodling away, occasionally sneaking a peak at his cell phone. The quiet lasts longer than Carson expects and everything seems to going very well.
Until, of course, Flynn nudges Carson and makes him mess up what he was writing; “Hey, you didn’t answer my question. That’s rude as hell, man.”
Carson straightens in his seat and twists so that he’s fully facing Flynn, “I don’t have any clue what it is you want from me. I’m doing the assignment. I’m getting perfect scores. What more could you need from me? A conversation? That seems pretty useless in this scenario. All I’m asking for is quiet, Flynn, some peace and quiet.”
“Bro, calm down, bro.” Flynn laughs. Everyone turns their heads again. Miss Violet stands this time and walks over to their desks mashed together in the corner – pretty well offset from the rest of the classroom.
Her arms cross as she silently assesses the situation. Caron is facing Flynn who has his shoulders pre-shrugged out of habit. Eyes sweep across the books and the pages. She scoffs at the obvious signs of Flynn’s laziness. Miss Violet expects nothing less from him, and drops only her right arm for the sole purpose of propping it onto her hip. The other eventually lifts to brush her unnaturally blonde hair away from her forehead in frustration; “Just work quietly. If I have to say anything again you’ll both be sent to the office for the rest of the day.”
Clearly she’s having a bad day. That explains the vocabulary review assignment instead of a lecture…
Flynn salutes her before she leaves but turns directly to Carson with a sideways grin adorning his thin, rebellious lips. He’s been to the office a good many times. Threatening him with a trip to the office is hardly a big deal anymore. Even detention doesn’t deter him from goofing off. Carson lets a frown etch into his features so that it matches his entire mood.
“Maybe do some work today, Flynn. Having to try at something might be a nice change of pace. Do the last line of words, yeah?” Carson repositions himself to sit at his desk properly as just assumes that Flynn is going to listen to instruction. Being on the basketball team does require him to listen the direction of his coach so the concept didn’t seem too far fetched at the moment.
Carson’s mistake was believing that Flynn would recognize him as any kind of superior academically. That’s not what happens, though, because within minutes Flynn is messing with Carson’s book. He turns pages, folds pages, makes stray pencil marks on pages – and any other number of things that he thinks of along the way just to piss off Carson.
It takes almost fifteen minutes but in the end Carson slams his hands into his thighs and turns his chin towards Flynn; “I don’t do jack shit, Flynn. I wake up. I come to school. I check my homework before class. I go home. I do my homework. I eat dinner. I check my homework. I shower. Then I go to bed just to repeat it four more times. I spend all weekend at home playing video games, and then on Sunday I go to church and pray to God I won’t punch you square in the face when you inevitably irritate me during history all week.”
Flynn appears impressed, even nodding his head with approval; “I’d love to see you try to punch me. I’m twice your size, bro.”
Carson is amazed by this response without any justifiable reason. This is exactly the kind of thing a jock says to a nerd who is elegantly proving a point. Flynn wanted to know what Carson was doing these days, but it should have been obvious simply by his academic achievements. Advanced Placement courses, honor roll every grading period, National Honors Society, and more! What else could Carson be doing if not just focusing on school and maintaining emotional clarity to handle the burden of so much homework?
The answer is literally nothing. Carson doesn’t even have a part-time job.
“Just shut your mouth, Flynn, and do your share of the damn work.” The sigh that forms into a spoken thought is a little more than exasperated. It sounds a little bit like disappointment, too. Every so often Carson wonders what it is about Flynn that sometimes leaves him gawking in the hallways or cafeteria. Luckily, he has few friends that question his apparent spaciness. Most people assume he’s thinking about an answer to a homework problem he skipped over in class. Generally speaking, that’s the sad truth. Other times, though, really he’s just staring off in Flynn’s general direction – the way all people do when affected by a crush.
“You’re a liar. You go to the basketball games. You’re always sitting in the back row of ‘B’ section.” Flynn chuckles, thinking he’s outsmarted his partner. Okay, so admittedly Carson does attend all of the basketball games. His little sister likes to go so he always offers to bring her in, even if only so he can feign a social life. Some of his other friends are at the game, too, to destress from the school week. Also, honor roll students get free popcorn. Who doesn’t like free popcorn?
Carson lets out another sigh loaded with shame and acceptance; “That would be a true statement. Congratulations. You’re not just Brawn, after all.”
Sassiness doesn’t bode well for him; “So why is Brains is in the regular history class? Don’t you take all advanced placement and college prep classes?” Flynn goes for the big guns straight away. Carson is almost taken aback by the true inquiry of his observation. Not only does his childhood bus companion actually know precisely where he sits during basketball games, but he has actively noticed that Carson opted for a regular history class when there was an honors option.
“There was not a significant difference between the honors option and the regular option except where workload was concerned. I had A.P chem and A.P lit this semester already, so in the absence of wasting a credit opportunity on a study hall – I opted for a regular history class instead.” This sounds viable. There is no reason for Flynn to question it. Of course, there really is no reason to question it at all. Carson really did decide that a regular class was a better use of his time over study hall – and the idea of three advanced courses seemed almost overwhelming considering that he’s doing his second round of S.A.T. testing in December. It was the truth. Besides that – there was no possible way that Carson could have ever expected, let alone predicted, that he’d end up in a class with Flynn.
Time moves quicker after Flynn voluntarily sits in silence. He appears to be satisfied with the explanation. He’s gone back to sketching possible basketball plays. Miss Violet occasionally glances up to see if the pair is working quietly now. As it continues to appear that they are doing as she asked, she pays less and less attention to the corner of the classroom. Thinking that he’s made it out of the woods, Carson is able to get a lot of work done. So much, in fact, that he finishes the vocabulary assignment with ten minutes left in class.
Satisfied with his work, Carson begins to scrawl both names on the paper carefully at the top.
“If you have nothing going on in your life then I must be the best part of your week. You want to punch me in the face because I’m so exciting and it makes you jealous.” The need for this conclusion to be shared aloud is nonexistent. Flynn positions himself in a bit of an angular slouch. He does it in such a way that he can still see Carson but also conceal his cheeky little grin. Always playing the pest…
Carson weighs the options he has at that moment. Should he explain that someone needs to punch him because he is pompous as hell? Should he detail the fact that Flynn’s frequent goofing off in class are cries for attention? Should he question what Flynn is trying to accomplish by being extra annoying today? Or should Carson just lay him out – just deck him to get it over with so that Flynn never tries to piss him off again?
“Yeah, you’re the best part of my week, Flynn. I like you so much I can’t contain myself and my need to punch you is masking my secret need to kiss your goddamn face because you’re so fucking cool, bro. So fucking cool, bro!” This was not the initial plan. Carson was going for sarcastic, which he does achieve, but his whisper turns into more of a shout. It is without question that when he finishes his sentence there’ll be a slip to go to the office – so he’s packing all of his stuff before Miss Violet can even make it to her feet.
Flynn, on the other hand, is sitting in his seat completely dumbfounded – laughing only to cover his shock; “I’ll see you in the office, man!” The sentence is squeaky through his laughter. Well, it’s squeaky through all of the laughter. A lot of people are stunned by Carson’s outburst. Other’s are amused. Really, though, the approval of the room outweighs the upset. Without formal dismissal, Carson walks down to the office in a flourish of confidence and regret – an unlikely pair.
Nobody questions Carson when he enters the office, assuming he’s there to get copies or to do a mail pick up for a teacher. They’re surely suspicious when he simply takes a seat and starts nervously tapping his feet. None of the aides or administrators even piece together what might be happening when Miss Violet and Flynn walk in together. It takes a few minutes of explanation before there are nods of understanding. Before leaving the office, right before the bell rings, Miss Violet pivots on her heel and points at the boys – “You two are in detention today, as well as for the rest of the week! I expect better behavior tomorrow!”
Everyone starts bustling in the halls when the dismissal bell rings. Once things do calm down, the receptionist escorts the pair of them down to the detention classroom in the center of the building that doubles as the in-school suspension classroom as well. There are a dozen other kids that are presumably regulars. Flynn is welcomed cheerily while Carson most evokes cocked heads and rumpled brows. Even the supervising teacher asks whether or not Caron’s presence is a mistake.
The receptionist simply declares, “He had a swearing outburst in class today,” before clopping off in her clunky heels. Some of the regulars hoot and holler their approval, but the excitement is quelled by the ringing of an antique bell by the supervising teacher. Rules of detention are reviewed for the “newbie” and then the one-hour punishment begins. Carson didn’t have the opportunity to collect his belongings from his locker so he’s stuck with his finished assignment and book. With a gasp of desperation, Carson simply cracks open his history book and begins to re-read the chapter on the Grecian era.
When detention somehow ends through the time-space continuum that makes time move slower, Carson is the last to leave. His sluggish movements are clearly a side effect of his poor judgment. He didn’t need to flip out on Flynn that way. Of course, he’s not making going to make an effort to apologize to him now. Actually, he’s not sure he really needs to apologize to Flynn so much as Miss Violet.
Carson makes it to his locker on the other side of the school while trying to figure out the best way to get home. His parents are working for at least and hour or two longer, if he’s lucky. He could walk home since it’s not too cool out yet, but that would be quite the walk. He’d be tired the next day – let alone if he did that all week. Maybe one of his friends could swing back into town to give him a ride. He had some cash that he could slide them for the extra gas. If that’s the case, though, he could always call a taxi. Carson nixes the idea and runs through his friends list in his head. He believes that Charlie probably is the best option. Doubling back isn’t too much trouble and Carson’s place isn’t too far out of the way for him on the way back home. It would be the best scenario.
Carson pretends not to hear anyone. He should have stuck with this gameplay all along. Opening his locker is swift and effortless. Moving books from his back is not as easy, but he gets it done before the voice ever shouts out a second time; “HEY!”
This time the shout is aggressive. Hoping to move past whatever conversation is about to happen, Carson speed walks in the opposite direction. He does this in spite of the fact that he clearly has no actual plan in place at the present, but he has to do it confidently or it will never be convincing.
“I know you don’t have a ride, dude. You ride the bus. You’ve always rode the bus to school. Your parents go to work at, like, six in the morning. They’re both working in the hospital so I know it’s late nights too.” Unfortunately, Flynn is way more observant that Carson gave him credit for earlier. So maybe he notices more than a couple of tiny things that are also sort of obvious. This is one that everyone could know, but it is more likely only friends would pay that close attention to parents’ work schedule.
So Carson spins and waves his arms around; “Just leave me alone. Your constant nagging and screwing around landed us both in detention. This is the first disciplinary action taken on me in my entire school career. I’d rather it stop there, if you don’t mind.” His tone of voice is about as convincing as his stomping off. More than anything he just sounds tired and cranky. It’s more akin to a toddler throwing a fit about nap time than it is a teenager who is fed up with someone he is inefficiently trying to ignore.
“Then let me give you a ride home. I’ll give you a ride for the rest of the week if you want as payback for being a dick.” Flynn’s floppy hair sits in a mess but does nothing in favor of Carson turning down the offer. Not only does it make him even more handsome, but it really highlights Flynn’s apologetic expression. He genuinely wants to make up for the fact that they’re both being punished as the result of his pestering.
Carson ponders the idea of being alone in the car with Flynn. Considering what he said in the classroom, someone is going to ask questions sometime. Maybe it’ll be some other students – and maybe it’ll only be towards Flynn. At any rate, rumors about Carson being homosexual will flourish within hours and be at full force throughout the student body by tomorrow. Of course, the rumors wouldn’t completely false. Regardless, even if he nabs valedictorian for his graduating class nobody will remember it at all. He’ll only be known for his homoerotic outburst at Flynn.
“Fine.” Carson accepts the ride and the two of them head towards the parking lot. The sound of their feet fill the lacking conversation. The only thing that gets spoken is the convenience of it, anyway, since Flynn has to pass Carson’s house anyway. When Flynn stopped riding the bus in ninth grade, it had always been Carson’s belief that Flynn moved. They live on opposite sides of the subdivision so it would have been easy for Flynn to move without Carson noticing. His crush on the guy didn’t make him any more attentive than he’d ever been before their drifting.
If anything, Flynn knew more about Carson than Carson knew about Flynn.
Flynn insists that Carson throw his stuff in the trunk. He drives a silver Honda Civic that has clearly seen better days. The floor in the back is littered with trash and sports magazines – and a few too many tissues for Carson’s comfort. It’s this detail that ultimately assures him the trunk was the safest place for his belongings.
Within minutes of driving, Flynn decides that instead of listening to music the best option is talk; “I know I’m always irritating you. I’m sorry. I don’t know when enough is enough. My mom says I’ll get myself into trouble with my loud mouth.” Even admitting his flaws brings a smile to this guy’s face. He’s always been that way, though. In third grade when they first started getting actual letter grades there was this one time Carson missed one question but it was the only question that Flynn got correct on his test. Flynn smiled the whole ride home knowing he’d get his behind whacked for failing. He was proud of the fact that he knew even just one little thing that Carson didn’t know.
That’s probably when Carson first started liking him differently than he liked the other kids. Someone that could find joy in just about anything was someone worth keeping around. Carson just never was the type to fight for friendship the way he fought for grades. That’s just who he was, apparently.
“That may be true, but you’ll be a famous basketball player someday. Nobody will care was comes out of your mouth as long as you show up to play on the court.” The reply is enabling at the very least, if not even encouraging. Carson certainly isn’t feeling guilty about yelling at Flynn back at school – but he didn’t want to act as though it were as good as a prank either. It was definitely not a prank.
Flynn glances over at Carson quickly but turns his attention promptly back to the road. For the spontaneous personality he harbors he sure is a steady driver; “I don’t know that that is true. No college is going to want me if I keep getting into trouble. Being the best part of your week doesn’t negate the fact that I’m still an class-clowning-off ass hole.”
Carson can’t help but let out a throaty chuckle. He isn’t even sure if ‘throaty’ is the best way to describe the gurgle that escapes his mouth in a giggly sort of tone. If he had to define his mood he wouldn’t describe is as amused, or appeased, or even impressed. Mostly he’s just annoyed; “I was just trying to make you feel like a jerk back there.”
Needless to say, he’s not good at pretending it’s the truth.
“I don’t think you were, dude.” Flynn doesn’t react in a very Flynn way. His smirk is light and his laugh is airy. The look in his eyes as he watches the road turns from bright to glossy. Carson even detects a tiny bit of hope.
Or maybe he just wants to see hope?
“Okay, so maybe you’re loud and annoying. Maybe you’re irritating as hell and one of the laziest partners a person could have in class, but maybe you’re right. Maybe I wasn’t joking back there. As fucking obnoxious as you can be – I actually like you.” This doesn’t prove anything, really. Saying ‘I like you’ to someone doesn’t have to mean that those feelings are romantic or sexual or both – it could also be friendly. It could be an approval, even. It doesn’t have to mean anything significant.
But Flynn seems to know that it does, “That freak out seems worth it now, doesn’t it? You have your feelings off your chest and I have you in my car. It all worked out.”
“Well, that sounds kind of serial killer-y…” Carson comments as he moves a little closer to the window. Obviously, it’s just a show. Everything he’s done in the last two hours has been a play on what Flynn has already done. In some ways, he feels like a switch has been flipped. He never used to bend to Flynn’s will like this – even when they were friends. Yet at the same time, Carson knows that it is more or less that fact that he didn’t have to ever bend. He’s always complimented whatever Flynn was doing at the time.
As kids when Flynn would be loud, Carson would try to calm him down. If Flynn packed his own lunch full of candy, Carson would swap his extra sandwich out for one baggie of Tootsie Rolls and Jolly Ranchers. Their partnership always balanced itself out, whether by Carson’s intentional action or the natural bond between the two of them.
Flynn shrugs his shoulders; “I don’t mean it to sound psychotic. I just mean that you finally admitted that you like me and I finally have a chance to tell you that it’s cool.”
Carson, considering himself a progressive guy, is stunned. He isn’t so shocked he can’t speak, though; “I didn’t realize I needed your permission before having feelings for you just because you’re some high-and-mighty male. Should I submit my request in writing?”
This sets both of them off giggling half-heartedly, though. The tension in the car is a testament of the time they’ve spent apart, but the level of comfort with the awkwardness proves that they never could have been apart too long. Whatever they shared as kids never dissipated.
“It’s cool because I like you too, bro. Life started happening and we went different ways. There are some things you don’t forget completely, though. Not even if you want to…” Flynn’s implications are obviously that there had been some feelings on his end as well – perhaps the entire time. Feelings that he wanted to forget, or pushed aside because there were more important things. Feelings that he suppressed in the same way that Carson tucked his crush into a special place in the back of his head. It was something neither of them really thought would become a thing.
Everyone has a crush like that, though. It’s not like it was painful pining. It’s not like it was life-altering unrequited love. To both of them, as it seems, it was just a crush on someone who was never really there but never really gone. Carson waits to reply because he is still trying to discern what is the best way to ask whether or not this conversation will change things.
He wants to ask what’s next, then, but he can’t bring himself to do it. Instead he sits in the passenger seat just reeling on the new information. The sun rose today. Carson got his sister out of bed and made her waffles for breakfast. He packed his bag with a cereal bar in his hand and cellphone in the other – playing his favorite roleplaying game on the market. Classes went as usual and everything was as predictable as it was the day before, as the week before, as the months before, and so on. Nothing about today felt significant.
And yet, somehow it was a day that Carson knows he will never forget. It is a day filled with so many surprises that he truly is speechless. The only thing he can manage now is a smile with his head resting against the glass, just like he used to do in elementary school when Flynn insisted on the aisle seat.
When they make it to Carson’s house – a location that Flynn apparently has kept locked away in his memory – neither of the boys move quickly to get out. When Carson asks for him to pop the trunk, though, Flynn enthusiastically offers to get out and walk him to the door. It gives them a few more minutes of indecision, especially when Carson drags his feet a little more than usual to go inside.
“Thanks for the ride.” Carson manages as his land lands on the doorknob; “Guess I’ll see you same time tomorrow.”
Flynn looks around with hands stuffed in his pockets, a mocking look of surprise on his face. When his brows soften a bit, his serious side shows a bit, “I kind of thought you’d invite me to stay for dinner. We didn’t really finish our conversation.”
The pause is brief, but he makes sure there’s no way that Carson could have responded; “Plus I could probably use the help on my homework.”
Well, these things have a way of working out exactly the way they should, don’t they? Carson opens the front door and happily announces that he has company. His sister tries to question it but as smoothly as he found a way to stick around, he found a way to shut her up; “Can’t a guy have his boyfriend over without being interrogated? It’s a study date, kid.”
A study date indeed.