By: kf6tac (Brian) and Jamie Sommers
Synopsis: This story is about Landon and Jamie’s budding relationship. They’ve had their first date; Landon has told her he loves her, now they have to face their friends, their family and their own fears. Written from both Landon (written in bold print by kf6tac/Brian) and Jamie’s (written in italic print by Jamie Sommers) POV.
Chapter 3: Lunch Table Seven
The cafeteria was already starting to fill up with people when we came in. I noticed that Jamie was looking around the room.
“What’s up Jamie?”
“Oh, I was just wondering where you wanted to sit…” she said, sounding a little bit uncertain.
I kissed her on the forehead and smiled. “Lunch table seven, of course? Where else would I want to go?”
She seemed a little bit surprised, but then a big smile formed across her face. She’s so pretty when she smiles. We headed on over to table seven, which was just waiting for us. I pulled Jamie’s chair out for her, and sat down at the next seat over. It felt good; the last time she and I had sat there she wasn’t exactly happy with me. I watched as she pulled her lunch out of her backpack.
“Aren’t you going to eat Landon?” she asked me when she noticed I hadn’t really moved.
“Well I actually don’t usually eat lunch… I’ll have a snack now and then, and sometimes my mom gives me a sandwich. But usually I wait ‘til I get home.”
“Landon, you really should eat something. It’s good for you. Come on.”
Then she gave me that look. You know, the one where her eyes twinkle and she kind of stares at me in a pleading way. Jamie had the most amazing way of appealing to me… first getting me to dance in public, now she was getting me to eat school lunch.
“Alright, I’ll be right back. Did you want anything?” I asked as I got up.
“Mmmmm, I’m alright Landon. Just don’t be gone too long,” she said with a smirk.
“I’ll be back as soon as I can!” I replied as I walked briskly toward the lunch line.
‘Hmmm… a little pizza sounds good about now. Yep – pizza and a Coke.’
I knew I was smiling. I just couldn't seem to help it. His words kept repeating in my head over and over again.
"You sit at lunch table seven, which isn't exactly the reject table but it's definitely inside of exile territory..."
He waved to me while he was getting his tray. 'Welcome to exile territory,' I smiled and thought, 'better be careful Landon, next thing you know you'll be volunteering to tutor on weekends.'
"All right! Spill it!"
I looked up to see Sally standing above me, just glaring down at me. "Spill what?"
"You know what." She looked over to the back of the cafeteria where Landon normally resided and said, "Why isn't Landon sitting with his friends today? Why did Belinda and Tracy try and kill you today? Why are you smiling non stop?"
I took a sip from my juice box, unable to wipe that silly grin off of my face, and just shrugged my shoulders mumbling an indistinguishable, "I don't know."
"Don't give me that Jamie. What's going on between you two?" She looked really concerned.
"Sally," I wasn't really sure what to tell her. How do you tell your friend what's going on, when you don't really know yourself?
"Landon and I...” I looked over at him again, his back was to me and he was looking up at what the school was offering for lunch today on its overhead menu. "...we're..."
She was worried he was going to hurt me, I could tell just by the look she was giving me. If only she knew the truth. The only one that really risked getting hurt if this relationship panned out, was Landon.
"We're what, Jamie? What are you and Landon?"
I just smiled at her. I didn't know what to tell her, how to phrase it. I definitely couldn't tell her I thought I loved him. I think Landon should be the first one to hear that.
Before I could even answer she said, "He's gonna hurt you, ya know? Look at what he did to Belinda and they’re friends!! Do you even know why he dumped Belinda?”
He was looking at me. I don't know how I knew--I just knew. I could feel it like fingers running across my spine.
"Jamie?? Are you even listening to me?"
Somebody tapped his shoulder and told him to move up in line. I could make out his 'Oh, right. Sorry buddy,' from where I was sitting. He just winked at me and took a few steps.
"Don't worry about me, Sally." I told her, "I know what I'm doing."
I don't think she believed me. She shook her head back and forth and said, "Look. No matter what happens--I just want you to know--I'll be there for you, okay?"
I stood up and walked over to where Landon was in line and put my hand on his elbow. “Hey. So what’re you gonna get?”
He looked at me with the most mischievous grin I'd ever seen and said, "I'd tell ya, but then I'd have to kill ya."
"Well hello, Jamie. How're you today?"
"I'm fine Mrs. Marsh and yourself?"
"Just fine thank you. What can I get for you today?"
"Oh, I brought my lunch but," I turned to look at Landon and said, "what'll you have?"
“Uhm...got any pizza?"
"I'm sorry we're out."
"Oh...how about a burger?"
"Landon," I laughed, "This isn't a restaurant," then something dawned on me. "Landon, have you ever eaten in the cafeteria?"
"No. I told you I just wait till I get home. I've never really been into all this shi...stuff before." He looked quickly towards Mrs. Marsh and said, "No offense."
"Oh, don't worry young man, none taken. But you will have to decide quickly--the natives are getting restless." She pointed out the long line of hungry students forming behind him.
"Okay...I guess I'll have... ummm..." he looked at me with pleading eyes.
"Give him the tater tot casserole, Mrs. Marsh."
"Good choice," she said as she plopped a pile of ground beef mixed with string beans and tater tots on his plate. She garnished it with a roll, some fruit and a carton of milk in lieu of a coke.
Sitting back down at our table, he picked up his fork and gave the conglomeration a questionable look.
I said a quick thanks to God for our food and said, "Go ahead and try it. It's really not that bad."
"I'm sure it's great, but...what's this white creamy stuff holding it together? Glue?"
"No," I laughed, "It's cream of mushroom soup."
"Oh." He held the fork in front of his mouth and held his breath while he shoved the culinary delight in. "Hey!" He said, with a mouthful of food, "This isn't half bad."
"See. I told you."
"Yeah, but to be on the safe side, I think I'll just pack a lunch from now on." We chuckled a bit then he asked, "So what did Sally want?"
I took a deep breath and let it out telling him. "I guess your friends aren't the only ones that aren't too happy about you and me."
"Well," he put his hand on mine, "don't worry about it. I don't care what anybody thinks about you and me except for you and me. 'kay?"
“ ‘kay." I agreed. I suppose I knew it would be like this the moment I agreed to go out with him. We were from two different sides of the track, him and I. Sure we both grew up in Beaufort, went to the same schools, we even sat next to each other in the second grade but... It's funny how two people from the same town can live in two completely different worlds. I guess I should probably find out about his world a little bit.
"Landon? Can I ask you something?"
"What happened between you and Belinda?" He just looked at me like he was dumbstruck. "Why did you break up?"
I kinda choked when Jamie asked me about Belinda. I would’ve liked to have blamed it on the funny-lookin’ tater tot casserole I had on my tray, but the stuff wasn’t actually that terrible so it wouldn’t really be fair to Mrs. Marsh. Truth be told, the whole situation with Belinda has had me walking on eggshells ever since we broke up. I never really told anyone the truth about it… and I guess Belinda had started some pretty nasty rumors to get back at me. Funny how she would start rumors on the one hand and then try to get back together with me on the other hand, all at the same time. Oh well. I just couldn’t believe that Jamie was asking me about it now.
“Well… why do you think I broke up with her?” I needed to stall… not too long, but long enough so I didn’t say something stupid.
“I haven’t the slightest clue Landon – that’s why I’m asking you. I’d like to know.”
It looked like I didn’t have all that much of a choice. She had me pretty much in a corner, and I wouldn’t be able to talk my way out of it. So much for stalling while I collected my thoughts.
“Please, Landon. I really need to know what went on.”
I gulped. I guess someone had to find out sooner or later. Better that it would be Jamie than some gossip queen. I lowered my voice a bit when I spoke.
“Honestly, Jamie? I broke up with Belinda because… well… she was way too possessive. I mean – she would barely let me talk to any other girls without getting suspicious. That and… she wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
“You mean she wanted to…” Jamie trailed off, getting the big picture here.
“Yup. I wasn’t ready for it, and she just kept pressuring me, so I eventually just broke up with her.”
“That’s not a terrible thing, Landon,” she re-assured me. “Why would people act like you did something so mean when you broke up with her?”
“Well that,” I said while looking down at the table, “that was one of Landon Carter’s more retarded moments.”
“What do you mean?”
“I wasn’t ready to sleep with Belinda, but at the same time I had this big image to keep up. You know how it was with me back then. So anyways, I stupidly decided that the best way to do this and still maintain the macho guy image was to use some lame excuse on her. I ended up telling her that I didn’t want to lose our friendship if something went wrong with the dating, you know… the same old line. I guess that got her pretty mad, ‘cause the next thing I knew there were these rumors going around about how I was such a terrible boyfriend.”
I paused for a minute as I remembered that night… and the way Belinda had reacted to my “high-quality” breakup line.
‘Look Belinda, we’ve been friends for a long time… maybe too long.’
‘What’s that supposed to mean Landon?’
‘It means that… Belinda… I think we should see other people.’
‘But Landon, I don’t want to see other people. I just want to be with you.’ She tried to convince me by brushing up against me.
‘Yeah,’ I had said, pushing her away. ‘Well maybe I want to see other people.’ I had acted so cocky when I told her that… typical. I knew she hadn’t deserved to be treated like that, but what the heck was I supposed to tell her? ‘If we stay together Belinda, we’ll eventually have sex and the idea of you being my first is just… unthinkable.’ Nope, that obviously wasn’t going to work for big-shot Landon Carter. Couldn’t tell her that I wasn’t ready to have sex. So instead she got ‘It’s my senior year – I just don’t want to be tied down.’
‘Fine,’ she said sharply, clearly disappointed. ‘Whatever.’
’Hey, Belinda,’ I said, reaching out to her as she angrily opened her front door. ‘You know we can still be friends.’
‘Sure Landon. Friends.”
I held my breath while Jamie contemplated what I had just told her. I didn’t want her to be angry with me because I was such a jerk to Belinda. Even more importantly, I didn’t want her to think that I would do it again. When she just stayed quiet, I decided to say something.
“Ummm… Jamie? You’re not angry with me are you?”
“Oh no Landon, I’m not. I’ll admit it wasn’t all that nice for you to give Belinda an excuse like that, but I’m pleasantly surprised that you chose not to sleep with her.”
“Surprised? Come on Jamie, what kind of a bad guy did you think I was?” I said to her with a grin and a hint of sarcasm in my voice.
She laughed, then said to me, “Well I didn’t think you were all that terrible… but my father… I'm not too sure about him. You know what he told me, that night you gave me the new sweater?” She looked at me with a smile.
“What did he tell you?”
“He told me that boys like you have ‘expectations’.”
She laughed again, that happy bubbling laughter that I had come to love in the past few days. “I guess it just goes to show that you can’t trust rumors. Are you going to finish your lunch? It looks like it’s getting cold.”
“Yeah, it is. I should probably finish this up.”
I swallowed a mouthful of milk out of the carton, and noticed that Jamie was again smiling at me.
“What is it?”
“You… you’ve got… milk all over your upper lip,” she finally told me, interrupted occasionally by her giggles.
I sighed to myself as I wiped the milk off my lip. I was so in love with Jamie Sullivan.
Although I was a little dismayed at the way Landon handled his breakup with Belinda, I wasn't all that shocked. He did have a reputation for being a "bad boy" but what he and what he are two different things. It never dawned on me that he would do something like that to me--it just wasn't in him. There was one thing I needed to know though--one question I had to ask.
"Landon? didn't you sleep with her?"
The look on his face when he answered me was one that will be burned in my memory forever.
"I didn't love her."
I watched as he made his way to the trash receptacle with the uneaten portion of his lunch, when I felt a hand on my shoulder. Without even looking I knew who it was.
"What do you want, Belinda?"
finish the conversation we started in gym." She looked at me with such
I started gathering up mine and Landon's things, intent on avoiding another conflict, wondering 'Will this ever end?'
"You're not going anywhere." She threw my backpack to the ground and stepped closer to me. I could hear the laughter coming from her group of friends behind me. Landon must've heard it too because he turned around to see what the commotion was. When he saw the circle of people beginning to form around Belinda, and me he dropped his tray to the ground and ran back, forcing his way through the barricade of onlookers.
"Knock it off Belinda!" He picked up my bag and grabbed his things, "Come on Jamie," he held onto my arm as if to escort me out.
"I don't get it Landon." Dean chimed in. "A few weeks ago you were standing on the front lawn making fun of her and now you're protecting her?? What the hell..."
"JUST BACK OFF DEAN!" He tried to push us through the crowd but Dean wouldn't let up.
"So that's it? You're just gonna throw away your real friends for...for...The Virgin Mary?" He paused, "Or is she?"
Landon stopped abruptly, letting our stuff drop to the ground. I knew what he was going to do and I tried to tell him to let it go, "...lets just walk away."
He shook his head and whispered to me, "This ends here."
He walked back to stand face-to-face with Dean. I was sure he was going to hit him again, but he didn't. He looked at him and said, "My real friends? That's what you think you are?" He looked around at all of them, his eyes lingering on Eric's face a little longer than the rest and said, "If you were my real friends then you'd accept her and me. You'd accept the fact that I love her and I want to be with her." There was nothing but silence through the entire lunchroom at his confession, "Yeah...that's what I thought." He turned around and walked back to me picking up our bags and holding onto my hand. He led us out onto the school's grounds leaving the group of them staring at our backs in disbelief.
As I was dumping my tray at the trashcan, I heard some sort of commotion going on behind me. I figured one of the jocks had just dumped milk all over a freshman or something, but when I turned around I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Belinda had just grabbed Jamie’s backpack out of her hands and thrown it onto the floor. That girl… she seriously just wouldn’t take no for an answer. I just dropped my tray right there on the floor and ran quickly back to Lunch Table Seven. I had to push my way through the crowd that had gathered, but that didn’t pose too much of a problem.
“Knock it off Belinda!” Didn’t that girl understand that we were totally through? What kind of sign was she looking for?
I took Jamie’s arm in my hand and started to lead her out of the room. And then Dean had to open his big mouth.
“I don’t get it Landon. A few weeks ago you were standing on the front lawn making fun of her and how you’re protecting her?? What the hell…”
The guy just didn’t know when to shut up. “JUST BACK OFF DEAN!!”
I really just wanted to leave, but Dean wouldn’t budge. What the heck did he want from us? I could tell he was just waiting for me to try and knock a few teeth loose again… only this time I was pretty sure he’d fight back.
“So that’s it? You’re just gonna throw away your real friends for… for… the Virgin Mary?” He gave Jamie another spiteful look, and then added in, “Or is she?”
That was it. Dean had gone too far this time. I thought maybe he’d get the idea that I was in love with Jamie without me having to spell it out to him letter by letter, but I guess I was wrong. I dropped our stuff on the ground, and walked over to stand face-to-face with Dean. Jamie tried to stop me, but this had to stop. I was tired of it, and I was sure that even Jamie would get tired of being bullied around sooner or later.
“My real friends?” I questioned Dean, staring right into his eyes. I hoped he could feel my glare burning into him, because this was something I wanted him to remember. “That’s what you think you are?”
I glared around the room, daring someone to speak up. I stopped when I got to Eric. He had this look on his face… he looked really shocked, confused even. I kind of felt sorry for the guy. I knew that he never really started trouble; he just followed along with the crowd. I wanted to forgive him, but I couldn’t tell if he had the guts to stop following the crowd. I didn’t know what to do for him at the moment.
“If you were my real friends then you’d accept her and me. You’d accept the fact that I love her and want to be with her.” After I had finished, I kept thinking to myself ‘Come on Eric. Say something. Do something. Don’t just stand there like the rest of them. You’re better than that, come on man!’
But he didn’t say anything. And neither did the rest of them. I guess there wasn’t much more I could do to make Eric budge. He’d just have to come to it on his own.
“Yeah… that’s what I thought.” I picked up our bags, took Jamie’s hand, and walked out of the cafeteria into the schoolyard.
“I’m so sorry about that Jamie,” I said to her after we got outside. “Those guys are a bunch of jerks. I guess Lunch Table Seven is going to be empty for awhile.”
“It’s alright, Landon. I’m used to stuff like this. Besides, the weather out here is really nice. We can always find a different place to eat.” That’s my Jamie. Always optimistic about everything.
“Yeah, I just hope they leave you alone from now on. I’d like to be there for ya all day, but … well unfortunately we don’t have every class together like I had thought.”
“I’ll be fine, Landon,” she said to me with a smile. “I think you made the point in there.”
The bell rang as we were walking along on the grass. Looking over my shoulder back to the school, I said to Jamie “Well I guess it’s time to go to English lit. We can always look for a new place to eat lunch tomorrow.” I bent down and kissed her before continuing.
“Are you ready to go back in there Landon?” she asked.
“As long as you’re with me, yeah – let’s go.”