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Chapter 9 - take it or leave it

Jun. 29th, 2006 10:20 pm Chapter 9

Worn out from the flight, Mary, Emma and I all fell asleep pretty quickly. 
The next day while we were all down at the beach, I kept my distance from Jeff. I figured that if I just gave him some time to mellow out, things would get better. Nicole and I spent the day together, knee deep in the ocean picking out rocks and shells. We even caught a couple of small fish in our hands, but we let them go.
 When we all took a break for lunch, Nicole and I looked around for Jeff. We saw that he was sitting at a table with Emily, the girl I had been next to on the plane, and Ben, one of the guys he had been sitting between on the flight down. We decided it was safe to go sit with him, since there were a few “new” people over there, too. 
“Hey,” Jeff said to Nicole and me as we approached the table. 
“Hey, you,” I replied as I pulled out the seat next to him so that I could sit down. “How was your day?” I asked, rubbing his back the way I usually did. 
“Don’t touch me,” Jeff complained as he wiggled under my hands. 
“Sorry,” I replied, putting my hands in my lap. “But how was your day?” I asked again. 
“Good,” Jeff replied. 
“Did you find anything interesting?” I questioned. 
“Seaweed!” Ben exclaimed with a laugh. 
“Yeah,” Jeff agreed, also laughing, “lots of seaweed.” 
Everyone was silent for a minute before Jeff opened his mouth again. “Did you two spend the whole day together?” he asked, looking towards Nicole and me. 
“Yeah,” Nicole replied. 
“I thought we were making new friends,” Jeff said, sounding a little annoyed. 
“We did make a new friend!” Nicole exclaimed. 
“Well where is she?” Jeff asked. 
Nicole and I both looked around for Laura. Noticing that she was sitting alone on the other side of the room, I stood up to go see if she wanted to join us. “She’s right over there,” I told him. “Just a minute, I’ll go get her.” 
About a minute later I returned to the table with Laura by my side. I noticed that Jeff had moved and was now at the seat directly opposite from where I was sitting, rather than right next to me like he had been. “Jeff, Emily, Ben…” I interrupted, “this is Laura. She’s from Stanville,” I explained. 
“Hi,” Laura said quietly as she sat down in the empty seat next to me where Jeff had been. 
“Who did you hang out with today?” I asked her. 
“Nobody,” Laura replied. 
“Oh! That’s not good!” Nicole exclaimed. 
“You shouldn’t be by yourself! Come hang out with us for the rest of the day!” 
“Okay,” Laura agreed. 
“Sorry we didn’t think about that earlier,” I apologized. “We didn’t mean to leave you out.” 
“It’s okay,” Laura replied, a small smile growing on her face. 
I looked across the table and noticed that Jeff was totally engaged in a conversation with Emily and Ben. I threw my napkin at his face to get his attention. It hit him square on the forehead, and he looked across the table at me. “What was that for?” he asked. 
“What are you doing this afternoon?” I asked him. 
“We’re going into the city,” he informed me.
 “Who’s ‘we’?” I asked. 
“Emily, Ben and I,” he explained. 
“Oh, okay… I was kinda gonna ask you if you wanted to go into the city with me and do some shopping… but if you’ve already got plans…” I said. 
“Ugh. Anna…” he said, sounding disappointed. 
“You don’t have to go with me,” I said. “I’m sure I can find somebody else to go with.” 
“No, I’ll go with you,” he said with a sigh. 
“Well, Ben and Emily can come with us if they want. And Nicole and Laura, too…” I offered. 
“No,” Jeff said. “Let’s just go alone.” 
“If you say so,” I replied before Jeff turned his attention back to his conversation with Ben and Emily. The six of us all talked as we ate our lunch of chicken fingers and French fries. When we were all finished, we got back to work – Jeff, Emily and Ben went to one end of the beach while Laura, Nicole and I went the opposite way. 
“I don’t know what his problem is,” I complained to both of them as we looked for a spot to drop our stuff and start working.
“What do you mean?” Nicole asked. 
“He just seems like he’s so mad at me,” I explained. “I don’t understand why. I didn’t do anything to him…” 
“Maybe he’s still tired,” Nicole offered. 
“That’s no excuse to treat me like crap,” I said, growing angry. “He yells at me when I touch him and he doesn’t want to spend any time with me at all. He acts like I’m ruining his entire life just by being on this trip with him.” 
“Oh, Anna,” Nicole said. “Don’t say that. He’s glad you’re here. We’re both glad you’re here!” she assured me. 
“Thanks Nicole… but I don’t know. Maybe you should just speak for yourself… When we were at the airport yesterday, Jeff actually asked me why I had to come on this trip. It’s like he thinks he owns it or something. Like I’m intruding on ‘his thing’,” I told her. 
“Do you want me to talk to him?” Nicole asked. 
“It’s up to you… I don’t know how much good it would do,” I replied, “but I guess it’s worth a try.” 
For the next few hours I focused my attention on getting work done with Nicole and Laura. We walked around and cleaned up the beach – it was amazing some of the things that we found. It was almost as if people just dumped their trash on the beach and left. We worked until we noticed that the sun was starting to set. 
After I went up to my room and changed, I walked up the stairs to Jeff’s room and knocked on the door. Ben answered it. “I didn’t know you guys were roommates!” I said. 
“Oh, we’re not,” Ben explained. “We were just hanging out,” he said, motioning for me to come into the room. 
“Oh, I can’t come in,” I said. “We’re supposed to be setting an example,” I told him, purposely loud enough for Jeff to hear
“Yeah, whatever,” Jeff called back. 
I peered into the room and noticed that Emily was sitting on the edge of one of the beds. “How long have you been in there?” I asked her. 
“An hour or two,” she told me. 
“Be careful…” I warned. “The leaders like to do random room checks to make sure people are following the rules.” 
“Oh, come on, Anna,” Jeff said from the bathroom where he was changing and doing his hair. 
“I didn’t even think about the fact that I’m not supposed to be in here…” Emily said, standing up and walking towards the door. “I should probably go back to my room, anyway. I’ve got some stuff to do.” 
“Aww, don’t leave!” Jeff called out. 
“I’ll see you later,” Emily said with a laugh as she walked out the door and down the hallway. 
“Are you almost ready?” I asked Jeff. 
“Yeah, yeah… hang on,” he said, still in the bathroom. I stood in the doorway and chit-chatted with Ben for a while as we waited for Jeff to finish in the bathroom. About five minutes later, he walked out into the bedroom wearing his new shirt – the one with the rainbow colored stripes. 
“You’re wearing that out tonight?” I asked with a sigh.
 “Yeah, why not?” Jeff replied. “What’s wrong with it?” 
“Yeah! I like it!” Ben agreed. 
“Whatever,” I said, shooting Jeff a disgusted look. I examined him and noticed that he was wearing the ring and the rainbow wristband – the ones the he said belonged to Brandon. “You never gave Brandon’s stuff back to him?” I pointed out. 
“What?” Jeff asked. “Oh… you mean the wristband and stuff…?” 
“Yeah. I thought you said those were Brandon’s.” 
“Yeah,” Jeff explained. “I couldn’t get a hold of him to give them back.” 
“So you brought them with you?” I asked.
 “Yeah, why not? They go with my shirt!” he exclaimed with a laugh. 
“Whatever…” I said again, letting out another sigh. 
“Let’s just go.” 
“Okay,” Jeff agreed as he slipped on a pair of black flip flops. 
“Are you sure you want to wear those? It’s kind of a long walk to the city,” I told him.
“Well I’m not gonna wear those…” he commented, pointing at the dirty, worn out pair of tennis shoes that had been thrown into the corner of the room. 
“Why not?” I asked. “They would be more comfortable.” 
“Uh… they don’t go with my outfit,” Jeff explained. 
“Whatever makes you happy,” I said, deciding that it would be better to just give up. 
Jeff and I walked out the door and left Ben alone in the room. As soon as I knew that we were out of sight of everybody, I reached down to hold Jeff’s hand. 
“Anna!” Jeff scolded. 
“What? Jeff… there isn’t even anybody around!” I exclaimed.
 “I don’t care,” he said coldly.
 “What is your problem?” I asked. 
“Nothing,” he replied. “Why don’t we just act like we’re not dating this week, okay? It will make everything easier.” 
“What?!” I asked, shocked at what he had just said. “Why would we do that?” 
“It’ll make it easier for you to stop touching me, if we pretend like we’re not dating,” he explained. “As soon as we leave Florida we’ll be back together again,” he said. 
“No,” I protested. “I think that’s a terrible idea. You haven’t even told anybody that we’re together, have you?” I asked him.
“No. Why would I do that?” he asked. 
“…because we are?” 
“But so what? What do you want me to do? Introduce myself to people and say ‘Hi. My name is Jeff, and Anna is my girlfriend and I love her with all of my heart, even though she’s psychotic and possessive and won’t leave me alone’?,” he teased with a laugh. 
“That’s not funny,” I said. “And I’m not psychotic and possessive.” 
“If you say so,” Jeff said. 
“Whatever,” I replied. “As far as I’m concerned, we’re just as ‘together’ while we’re on this trip as we would be if we weren’t. I don’t see why that’s such a problem for you.” 
“It’s a problem because you don’t want me to make other friends,” he explained. “I had so much fun last year when you didn’t come, because I didn’t have to worry about making you mad. I could talk to whoever I wanted to, and I didn’t have to worry about you being jealous.” 
“Oh,” I said. “So it was more fun without me, was it? You didn’t miss me at all, did you?” 
“Of course I missed you!” he exclaimed. “That’s why I called you three times!” 
“But you just said that it was more fun without me,” I pointed out. 
“It was, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t miss you. Anna, I like being around you when it’s just the two of us. But you are impossible to be with around other people. You get upset if I even talk to anybody else.” 
“Not anymore, I don’t,” I said. “I know I used to… but you haven’t even given me a chance to change. I’m only mad at you now because you’re being a jerk,” I said. “If you could make other friends and still treat me like a human being, it would be another story.” 
“Fine, Anna. We’ll see. Prove to me that you’re not going to be a annoying and jealous when I make other friends,” he challenged. 
“Alright. I will,” I agreed. “But for now, can we just forget about everything else and have fun?” I asked. “Let’s do some shopping!” 
“Sounds good,” Jeff replied. We walked next to each other in silence for a few minutes before Jeff got excited and started pointing towards a shop on our left. “Do you remember that place?” he asked me. 
“Am I supposed to?” I asked. 
“Yes… Anna! Remember? The ice cream store?” 
“Oh my gosh! Yeah! Of course I remember that!” I exclaimed. The trip Jeff and I had taken two years ago followed a different order than what we were following this year. The beach we were at today was actually the one we had been at on the final day of our previous trip. Jeff and I had gone for a walk alone on our last night together two years ago. It was the first time we had ever been completely alone with each other. We had shared a huge cone full of Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream. 
Jeff led me into the ice cream shop and walked up to the counter. “We’ll have an extra large waffle cone with three scoops of Mackinac Island Fudge,” he ordered, looking back at me with a smile. 
“That’ll be $3.50,” the girl behind the counter replied, and Jeff handed her the money. The same girl scooped up the ice cream and handed the cone to us over the counter. 
Jeff and I sat in the table in the back corner of the room – the same table we sat at two years ago. I couldn’t stop smiling. “What’s that big grin on your face for?” Jeff asked. 
“Nothing. I’m just happy,” I replied.
“Because I’m here with you,” I answered. 
“Is that okay?” 
“I guess so,” Jeff replied. 
We sat and talked as we quickly finished off the ice cream. 
“Still no touching?” I asked after Jeff swallowed the last bite of waffle cone. 
“Well, not now!” Jeff replied. “Your hands are all sticky!” 
“Aww… well… what if I go wash ‘em?” I asked. 
“No… we should probably get back to the hotel…” Jeff decided.
 “Alright,” I agreed with a hint of sadness growing in my voice. We both went back to the bathroom and washed our hands before we left the shop to go back to the hotel. On the walk back, I made one last attempt at trying to hold Jeff’s hand. As soon as he felt my fingers brush his, he quickly shoved his hand in his pocket. 
“Aww… please, Jeff? Just for a few minutes?” I begged. 
“No, Anna. People might see us,” he said. “I don’t get it,” I replied. 
“We were having so much fun at the ice cream shop… that was really kind of romantic of you to remember that we ate there… to order the exact same thing we ate last time…” I said. 
“Oh well,” Jeff said, walking faster with his hand still in his pocket. We walked the rest of the way to the hotel in silence. 
“Do you know what time we’re supposed to be on the bus?” I asked him as we got on the elevator. 
“7:30” Jeff replied. “The next beach is only like, an hour away,” he explained. 
“Okay,” I replied, looking at my watch and noticing that it was already 6:00. The elevator made a dinging noise and came to a stop at my floor. I started to walk out of the elevator, and Jeff didn’t follow behind me. 
“You’re not going to walk me to my room?” I asked. 
“Do you need me to?” Jeff replied. 
“I guess not…” I said. “Can I at least get a hug then? There’s nobody around to see us…” I pleaded. 
“Yeah, yeah…” Jeff said, quickly wrapping his arms around me. “I’ll see you later.” 
“Alright,” I replied, stepping off the elevator. “Have fun packing,” I called out to him as the doors closed behind me. I walked into my room, pulled the door shut and let out a sigh. 
“What’s up?” Mary asked. She was sitting on the floor in front of her suitcase, repacking her things and getting ready to move on to the next hotel. 
“I just got back from hanging out with Jeff… we walked around down town and went and got some ice cream,” I replied.
“Oh, that sounds like fun!” Mary said. 
“Yeah, it was for a while…” I said. 
“What do you mean?” Mary asked. 
“Eating ice cream was fun… he took me to the exact same place we went two years ago… ordered the exact same thing we ate before… it was cute,” I explained. 
“Aww!” Mary said. “I wish I had a boyfriend like that!” 
“No you don’t…” I said. “That’s the only good thing I can say for the night… the whole way there and back he was weird. I don’t know what his problem is.” 
“What do you mean by ‘weird’?” Mary asked. 
“While we were walking there, he actually said that he thinks we should ‘break up’ for this week, and then get back together when the trip is over… he thinks that I’m psychotic and possessive and don’t want him to make any friends…” I told her.
“What? No you’re not!” Mary exclaimed. “I hung out with you guys all last night and couldn’t even tell that you two were a couple! That’s not being possessive at all…” she said. 
“I know. I’ve been trying really hard to give him some space. I know he wants to make other friends. He was hanging out with Ben and Emily in his room before he and I went out,” I told her. 
“Emily was in his room?” Mary asked. 
“Yeah, I know… I don’t think she even realized she wasn’t supposed to be in there. She left right away once I said something about it,” I explained. 
“Oh, okay,” Mary said. “Well, don’t worry about him. I’m sure things will get better when this week is over… you guys will go home and everything will go right back to normal,” she assured me. “But in the meantime, if you need somebody to hang out with I’m always here!” she offered. 
“Thanks, Mary,” I said with a smile. 
“I’m here for you too!” Emma called out from the bathroom. 
“I didn’t even know you were in there!” I called back with a laugh. “And thanks! I’ll definitely take you both up on that,” I said. “I’m really glad that Nicole is here to keep me company… but I do agree with Jeff that all three of us need to make new friends. Everybody on this trip seems so cool… I wouldn’t want to miss out on it just because my boyfriend is being stupid!”

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