The breakup scene from a supposedly fake relationship:
We need to talk,” Luke told me. A classic break up line. He couldn’t even be creative about it?
“I don’t have time,” I said, shutting my locker and walking away. A small, stupid part of me actually wanted him to let me walk away, wanted this charade between us to continue.
“Yeah, you never seem to have enough time for me,” he told my retreating back.
I spun around dramatically, intending to add flair to this scene. “We’re going to do this here?” I asked skeptically like we shouldn’t do this in public, but I raised my voice to catch more attention.
“We have to do this here because you’ve been avoiding me for days.” He sounded annoyed and I wondered if it was genuine. I had been avoiding him.
“You’re being dramatic,” I scolded.
“I’m the dramatic one?” He scoffed. “You love being the center of attention.” We were definitely the center of attention now: a crowd of eager onlookers had formed around us. Some looked uncomfortable while others were enjoying this, but they all seemed interested. I saw our friends Alicia and Lydia among the rest.
“Says the guy who is literally at the center of every baseball game,” I retorted.
“I’m the pitcher,” he said, exasperated, and a few of the guys on his team nodded at that.
“Don’t bring the bedroom into this!” I couldn’t help it.
Luke’s expression went confused for a second, trying to figure that out while the crowd murmured. I probably lost most of them with that one, but I had to fight a grin as I watched Alicia and Lydia dissolving into laughter and trying to hide it, turning towards each other and giggling helplessly.
Thrown off track, Luke went in a different direction. “I know what’s really going on here. Do you think I’m an idiot?”
I raised one eyebrow. “You want me to answer that?”
“You’re interested in him,” Luke spat out. I regretted not coming up with a plan. I hadn’t known the reason he’d give for our breakup.
“You’re jealous?” I asked, trying not to fidget.
“Hard not to be when my boyfriend is checking out someone else every time I turn around.”
There were a few football players in the crowd who had been watching in horror, unable to look away, but now they nodded after what Luke said. Luke was already more popular than me and better looking, and I was the cheating partner. He’d win our breakup.
It shouldn’t matter. I should just get this over with but I wanted something. I wanted to win. He was going back to being straight and likable, and I’d be the gay cheater whose social status plummeted impossibly lower. And everyone would wonder how I could be dumb enough to cheat on the captain of the baseball team when I was lucky to have him in the first place.
Luke smiled and started to turn away. Nope, he wasn’t going to leave me here humiliated and alone. “I’m sorry,” I started and he paused, looking unsure about whether he should trust the apology. Good instincts. “But maybe I have a problem being a phase for you.”
There were gasps.
“Dude, what?” he said quietly, just to me.
I kept talking. “You’re more comfortable dating girls and you know it.”
“I’m not the only one looking elsewhere.” I pointed to Lydia, feeling a little bad about dragging her into this.
“Hey, that’s not fair,” Luke tried. “She doesn’t mean anything to me.”
Lydia had an untapped talent for dramatics. She jumped in at that. “How can you say that?” she gasped. “You told me you loved me!” She inserted herself between us for a second and slapped Luke across the face. She stared me down fiercely for a few seconds, then grinned saucily and stormed off while the crowd parted to let her through.
“You got so caught up in having a boyfriend, but you spent no time actually being in this relationship. I need more,” I said bravely, pretending that I was fighting back tears.
“Don’t do that. You’re not into me. That’s what this is really about,” Luke said weakly, trying to get the power back. It was the wrong thing to say.
“Shouldn’t I be saying that to you?”
Luke’s face went through a series of emotions too fast for me to interpret. Man, he really was a better actor than I thought, but my heart hammered in my chest too hard to pay attention. Tears welled up in my eyes, no longer fake.
“I think we need to break up,” he said quietly.
“I don’t think so.” His eyes widened. I thought I heard people gasp again. “I know it,” I said, head held high. “We’re over.”
People cleared the way to let me through. I think a couple people even applauded. I just kept my eyes ahead and concentrated on walking down the hall and out of Luke’s life.
Our relationship had been fake, but that breakup seemed real.
This is an excerpt from One Little Word,