"It feels like you don't care about me, Ollie. I don't know if I can continue this relationship with it feeling so one-sided like this." Avery grumbled, moving her hair behind her ear with a swift tuck. She gave her head a malicious twist and crossed her arms. They had been standing on the campus steps for about fifteen minutes after class, attempting to talk out a recurring issue. As the conversation went on, the sky grew darker, and the light posts lit up. The crowds of students slowly got smaller and smaller, until just a few passerby remain.
"I can understand that, but, honey why don't we just talk about it?" Oliver furrowed his brows.
"No! No. You always say were gonna talk about it, you always tell me we're gonna work it out. It just doesn't feel like you actually want to."
"Of course I want to! It's just kind of hard." A quiet chuckle was heard from the group of guys by the lamp posts, which Ollie shrugged off.
"Well, when it becomes easier for you, you're welcome to give me a call, but right now I don't think I could work this out with you. Good luck Ollie.." With a seemingly broken smile, Avery made her way around Oliver, walking forwards, and not looking back.
There was a tight, heavy feeling in Oliver's stomach, as if he'd swallowed a weight. As if the guilt from the break-up wasn't that bad, the guys under the lamp posts started approaching. After the light started to hit their faces, it was clear that it was the University basketball team, having stayed late to play leisurely.
"Sorry about your lady friend, man... but you can't blame her," one of them chirped, "I mean... look at you."
The group of about 8 guys burst into a fit of laughter, a slap on the knee could be heard as well. Ollie stood still, until he lifted his head and turned to walk away. A quick tug on the back of his shirt led him to turn around, his eyes meeting level with the chin of one of the basket-ball players, he was built well, and he smelled like a locker-room. Oliver's face slightly warmed up as he tilted his head slightly upwards to look this guy in the eyes, making out that this man was Holden Briggs, the basketball teams center player.
"You just gonna walk away? That quickly? Already? We thought you were stickin' around." Holden chuckled. He stood eerily close to Oliver's face, a shit eating grin smeared across his five o'clock shadow. Oliver felt his knees weaken, the thought of a possible mugging, triggering his fight-or-flight reflexes. His head stayed down, and he felt his breath begin to shake.
"Fucking pathetic, lets go guys, this is a waste of our time." He spat, leading the group back towards the dark basketball court, only lit up by two posts.
Oliver took a deep breath, and made his way back home, as quickly as he could.
The crisp September air mixed with the beams of the warm sun on the carpet woke Oliver up gently. No texts from Avery. It seems she'd went home and meant it. The rest of the times she's threatened to break up with Oliver, she begs for him back by the next morning, claiming it was a mistake and she needs him. Since the eleventh grade in their senior year, they've been awkwardly together, a wholesome pairing that no one thought would go that far. Until it did, and they spent the next 3 years together, seemingly on and off about every 6 months.
That day in homeroom, Avery wasn't there. Nor was she in math, or the lunch hall at noon. The more Oliver looked around, the more it seemed as though Avery maybe just wanted him to disappear. Maybe she wanted to disappear. The heavy feeling in Oliver's stomach was getting heavier, although it wasn't a pain that was unbearable. Deciding it would just be easier to let her go, Oliver headed to one of his safer spots on campus that could always relax him, room 205. It was a coat closet that had been abandoned after the new wing of the school was built. Second floor right next to the gymnasium. They had a nice radio with all of the good CD's that Oliver listened to at home.
Oliver reached the door of room 205, leaning slightly into the door before he opened it, whooshing open into a dimly lit room. The loud noise seemed to have alert someone in the room, as a heavy amount of whispering and shuffling was heard.
"Hello?" Oliver said softly into the room, taking a couple steps forward. He skimmed the room, seeing the familiar CDs and shelves of magazines, and little trinkets he'd set there years ago. He scanned his eyes across the right side of the room, seeing soft, blue eyes, just like Avery's.
"Avery? Is that you?" He said, a little bit louder.
"Heeyy, Olliepop! What'cha doin' in here?" She asked, fixing the hem of her shirt, which was twisted around her neck and shoulders.
"Olliepop? I don't- just. Listen, what are you doing in here? Is someone in here with you?" Oliver asked, standing on his toes to look around the girl in front of him, proving himself correct.
"Avery, you couldn't wait a day?" Suddenly the tight feeling in his stomach became as heavy as a glacier, burning like a forest fire.
"You think this only happened once, Olliepop?" The voice from behind Avery perked up, sounding extremely familiar. The same grasp in the inflection, the same cocky attitude.
"Holden?" Oliver said, the forest fire burning a brighter fire after hearing that voice, "Avery I- dude. What the fuck?"
Holden stood up straight, after being noticed, his tan skin more noticeable under the light of the hallway. Suddenly he smelled of cheap wine and dryer sheets, slight hint of cigarette. His smell seemed to be less appealing than the last time.
"You'd better leave this lady alone, yeah? I think she's made her decision." He muttered, looking smugly at Avery, who only shyly smiled in return, feeling shameful in front of Oliver.
Oliver was angry, but he didn't know where this anger was directed. He was angry, but not at Avery. She could do whatever she wanted, he wasn't jealous of Holden for what was happening. He was angry at himself, for not being able to take better care of Avery, for letting her down and not being the best he could be, he was mad at himself for losing at a game he was playing for years with her. At least that's how it felt to him. He was angry with Holden? Holden was rude and cocky, of course he was mad at Holden. It had to be Holden. Holden was dangling an important person above his head, an although Oliver was no longer allowed to think of her as his girlfriend, he still held her close enough to his heart that he felt strongly about someone else holding her that way. Right??
The next few weeks felt torturous, he passed by Avery and Holden in the hallways, the basketball team was relentless with their bullying and teasing, and Avery's friends are giving Oliver dirty looks and spreading unnecessary rumors.
'What are we, in middle school?' Oliver thought.
It came to the point where Oliver entering the cafeteria hall was an open invitation to smear food all over Oliver's shirt, or throw their milk at him, leaving it to sadly drip off of his clothes onto the tiles on the floor. Day after day of relentless teasing, whispering, rotten milk, locker bugs, it became unbearable to him.