Hey, ya’ll! Welcome to Simply Paradise & Haven.
Here’s the final piece of Gus and the Class Bully. I think it’s not quite the usual happy ending but it’s not a sad ending.
Theodore Black yawned as he pulled his car into the parking lot of the local high school where he was a coach. He tried to focus on the day ahead but all he could think of was that night. He couldn’t believe it’d been 10 years since he’d graduated high school. If you’d asked him 10 years before, he would never have expected to work at a high school. When he walked off the campus after graduation, he’d planned to never step foot on a school campus again. Especially after what he’d done in junior year to his old friend.
But that had changed him and when he’d graduated high school, he’d gone to college for exercise science, planning on becoming a coach for young men, wanting to do something to prevent what had happened to Gus at the hands of his friends and himself. He simply hadn’t expected to be at a high school. He was careful, however, to not be at his former high school. With some time and distance, he’d realized Gus vanishing wasn’t entirely on him or his classmates, though he certainly wasn’t diminishing their roles. The teachers had never done anything, if anything, they’d added to it. So, he refused to return.
That evening, Theodore walked into the gymnasium, feeling a pit form in his stomach. He hadn’t seen anyone from his high school beyond social media in the last 8 years.
The pit only grew bigger as he noticed the cat got the cream look on the face of the woman at the check in desk. He recognized her, Ella Gordon, former head cheerleader. But he didn’t know why she would be so gleeful, according to her FB profile, she’d just gone through a divorce.
She saw him, recognizing Theodore Black, former quarterback, and knew the pieces had just come together.
He signed in before heading deeper into the gym.
Theodore turned, holding a plastic glass with white wine, before the cup fell out of his sudden slack fingers. He stared, blue eyes glassy, skin clammy and suddenly pale. It’d been years, but he would know him anywhere. Standing just a few feet from him was Gus Maxwell. Black hair now long and tied in the back, green eyes bright even as he stood by the punch table, observing the crowd, Gus looked great.
Green and blue eyes met, immediate recognition sparking.
Theodore cautiously stepped towards Gus. When he didn’t step back, Theodore approached him, coming within conversation range.
An awkward silence covered the two men.
Theodore finally broke it.
“How have you been?”
“I’ve been doing well. I just finished an indie film.”
“A film, oh, you’re a director?”
“No, I’m a filmmaker. I started out shooting pictures but then discovered film. I attended film school, learning everything that’s needed to run the cameras that film the movies everyone watches. Then I’ve worked hard but now I have regular projects coming in, still shooting portraits and the like on the side.”
Gus gestured to the clearly expensive camera pack hanging across his body before asking, “What do you do?”
“I’m a coach, actually. I coach boys’ basketball and soccer at La Granger High School in La Granger, a few hours east of here.”
Gus was clearly surprised.
“You’re a coach?”
Theodore hesitated before being truthful.
“I studied exercise science with the idea of being a coach to prevent what those old friends and I did. I hadn’t expected to be at a high school but that’s just how the cards fell.”
“To prevent what you and your old friends did?”
Gus had inferred that what Theodore was talking about was him disappearing but wanted Theodore to say it.
“The way we bullied you, along with the entire class and the teachers, to the point of breaking down in the middle of the halls and vanishing. I’m sorry.”
Gus was surprised. When he’d received an invitation to the ten-year reunion despite not having graduated with the class, he’d come just to see how everyone was doing. He had hoped to not run into Theodore and had never expected an apology from him.
Tension flowed out of Theodore he hadn’t even realized he was carrying.
They spent a few hours chatting with each other and with other former classmates.
At the end of the night, Theodore parted ways with Gus, not to see him in person again for several years. He friended him on social media, being accepted, but that was the extent of it. But at least the guilt from 11 years before was assuaged and he was actively working to prevent it from happening again.
Gus accepted Theodore’s friend request and saw him follow him on a couple of platforms. But while he’d accepted his apology, that didn’t mean he wanted to be buddy buddy with him. Their old friendship was long cold, and he doubted it could ever be reignited. But at least his primary bully had finally apologized. The pain he’d been carrying all these years even as he’d grown more and more successful in his passion was finally soothed.
I think this is kind of a realistic ending. You’ll notice Gus accepted Theodore’s apology but he never said it was okay or that he forgave him. That doesn’t mean that Gus hasn’t forgiven him but it’s never okay to do to someone what Theodore and the rest of the class did to Gus.
The rest of February, I’ll be writing a short story to do with the theme of hte month which is romance. Partially because of Valentine’s Day but also because the novel idea that I’ll be writing next month is my first romance. I’ve written, as of yet unpublished, novels with relationships and some romance but this one it’ll be one of hte primary plots. So that’s something new.
‘Til Next Time!
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