The Black Hole

Listen to Patience Wallace read her story:

I was twelve years old and had just been rejected by my crush, Darius, when this other boy at our table, Evan, asks, “Will you go out with me?” He’s looking at me, this pale boy with eyes like a galaxy, full of swirls of gray, blue, green, and flashes of brown. I stare at the table, unable to face him. I automatically think he’s talking to Aaliyah, since she spends more time with him after school, way more than I do. My friends, Monet and Aaliyah, seem as surprised as I am.

“What?” My voice is breathless as the noise of the lunchroom fades into the background.

“Me?” Monet asks.

He gives her a strange look. “No, not you. Patience.”

I’m remembering how the other day he’d asked us who we found most attractive at school, and like an idiot, I said him.

“Well, what do you have to say?” His hands start to clench, he’s impatient. Everyone at the table knows I can’t say no, it’d be a death sentence, in a literal way.

“Don’t feel pressured to do anything,” Monet whispers, staring at the floor as if a message is scrawled there. There’s probably something down there, a picture of a penis or some vulgar cuss word. I feel her hand on my arm, but I keep looking at the lunch table.

“I’ll think about it,” I squeak.

His hands drop dramatically to the table. Both arms are full of white scars from where he plays tic-tac-toe with a razor. When I meet his gaze, he’s frowning, a hint of anger flashing in his eyes. They suck me in like a black hole; I’m trapped by their terrifying beauty. He looks at me as if he’s already won.

“Well, I expect an answer by the end of the day. I want you to really think about it.”

I nod, my ears roaring. I smile at him. He is my friend, after all. I want him to be happy. “Well, don’t get too depressed and start cutting before I tell you, okay?”

“I can’t guarantee that.”

“Please? For me?”

“I’ll try, I’ll do anything for you. Now, the issue with Darius, you said he hurt you?”

It’s five o’clock, I’m sitting at home in shock; I can’t get the scene out of my head. He said he’d set Darius straight. I didn’t know what he meant. But when I saw the fury in his eyes, I thought he was going to kill him. Monet is messaging me like crazy, telling me I don’t have to date him, I could say no. He's spammed me with emails asking if I've made my decision, saying how he loves and cares for me.

He also mentions he might slit his wrists if I say no.

I can’t tell him no even if I wanted to. We’ve been good friends all year. He’s showered me in Hershey kisses and affection, and I’ve shined in his praise. But I’ve spent so much time trying to keep him from hating himself, keep him from cutting, keep him from dying. I’m already exhausted.

“I’ll date you,” I reply to his message.

Read the other prize-winning works from the Fifth Annual “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest: