Winning Back My Juliet (or not),


Gryphus Romero started awake as a crippling mass crashed down over his body. “Get your butt outta bed lazybones! You’re gonna be late for school!” a voice sang. Grunting, he sat up and blinked blearily at his little sister. “Vi, it’s way too early for school. Why don’t you wake mom and ask her to make you some toast or something?” Violetta shook her head stubbornly, her light brown braids swinging from side to side. “Mommy already called you twice, and she told me to come up here to tell you that the bus is at the corner and you’re going to be late to school, again. She also said that she’s not going to drive you today cause you need to learn your lesson on getting up on time.” Gryphus pushed her off his stomach and went to look out his window. The yellow bus was approaching its stop on Maplewood Street, and Gryphus spun away with a loud yelp. “I’ll go tell mommy that you’re getting ready then,” Violetta said, skipping away down the stairs.

            Gryphus was the last person to run aboard the Nicholas Wintford Prep school bus, just as it pulled away from the curb. He headed for his usual seat with his best friend Damon Archipegro, but as he walked down the aisle, snickers became audible as everyone looked at him. He looked around in confusion, and said loudly, “Well we all know that I’m a riot, aren’t I? In fact, why did the skeleton go to the barbeque? He wanted a spare rib! Thank you, I’ll be here all week.” He took a bow as everybody groaned. Grinning, he dropped down in the seat next to Damon. “Dude, why were they laughing? What’d I miss?” Gryphus queried in confusion. Damon shrugged, but then he grinned at Gryphus and said loudly, “Well, they certainly weren’t laughing at your amazing sense of humor. I mean, seriously? Barbeque? That was so lame dude.” Lily Ramsey turned around in the seat in front of them. Stifling a giggle, she whispered to Gryphus, “You’re fly is open.” She couldn’t restrain her laughter when she saw Gryphus’s horrified expression. Damon laughed hysterically when Gryphus looked and quickly zipped it up again. “Shut up, you guys. It’s not that funny.” A scarlet faced Gryphus growled. “It is. IT IS!” Damon gasped uncontrollably. “You should’ve seen your face!” Gryphus slugged him in the arm and finished the bus-ride to school in red-faced silence.

            In homeroom, Gryphus slid into the seat next to Grace Tomas. She smiled at him, her dimples deepening in her cheeks. Gryphus felt his face burning; what if one of her friends had told her about what happened on the bus this morning? All she asked him was, “Hey, Gryphus. Did you see the new kid standing next to Ms. Williams?  He looks so… proper.” Gryphus turned his head away from Grace’s captivating beauty and towards their teacher. Standing next to her was a lean muscular boy with wavy black hair and dark, brooding eyes. His eyes were dark blue, like the deepest part of the ocean, which just seemed to swallow you. “Class, this is Steven. He just moved here from London, and is very happy to be here. Why don’t you tell us about yourself Steven?” Ms. Williams spoke cheerfully. He certainly doesn’t seem happy. Gryphus thought. Steven began in a voice so low, Ms. Williams, who was standing right next to him, chided him to “Speak louder Steven, so your classmates can embrace you!” Steven cleared his throat and began in a voice so smooth and charming, a few girls even sighed a bit when the first word came out. “Well, I like playing football, that’s soccer here by the way, and drawing and swimming. I heard that there’s a swimming team here so that’s cool I guess. My mum said that there was an art club here too. Can anyone show me where I may sign up?” He looked right at Grace when he said these words. Gryphus felt an untimely hatred for suave British boys with charming accents blossom in his stomach when Grace giggled and blushed prettily. Gryphus gripped his hands on the edge of his desk until his knuckles turned white, while swimming in venomous thoughts. Oh, it’s on dude. No one messes with my girl and gets away with it, even though she doesn’t know that she’s my girl yet. Still, NO ONE, especially posh British boys with charismatic accents can smile at her enthralling dimples, except ME.

            The next day, Gryphus got up early for a change. He wasn’t in a rush; after all, he was early. In fact, he was six hours early, since the bus didn’t come at one in the morning. Still, he couldn’t fall asleep. The rest of yesterday had been uneventful, as everybody only paid attention to Steven. Grace shared her textbook in math with Steven instead of her usual partner Gryphus, Damon chose Steven on his side in soccer during gym before he picked his best buddy Gryphus, and everyone else in class were just simply captivated by the enchanting boy. Gryphus gritted his teeth angrily and punched his pillow as hard as he could, while imagining Steven’s smug face upon it. Violetta shifted in her sleep next door, and Gryphus quietly crawled back to bed again. He fell asleep with a smile on his face, as he dreamed up scenes where he saved Grace’s life and she told Steven that she was Gryphus’s girl, and no one else’s.

            Everyone stared when Gryphus entered the room that morning. He had checked his fly before he had left the house, and attempted to comb his wet hair, after his shower. Damon was upon him in a flash, asking why he didn’t ride the bus that morning, but stopped short. “Dude, are you wearing cologne? And what’s with the slick hair? Do ya have a hot date or something?” Gryphus ignored his best friend, and scanned the room for Grace. He saw her, laughing at something that Steven had said in her ear. A whimper escaped his throat. He couldn’t stop it. Damon was on radar, he suddenly got it. “Oh my god, please tell me that you don’t have a crush on Grace Tomas!” he moaned. Gryphus sighed resignedly. “I can’t tell you that, dude. Sorry.” Damon groaned in protest. “You turned into one of those Romeo people haven’t you? You’ll be bringing her flowers and drawing hearts on your notebook, and oh my god, where, did I go wrong with you?” Gryphus had to laugh at his friend’s dramatic lament. Then, he saw Steven take Grace’s hand. He seemed to wither away, into a slumped figure that looked like it was holding up the weight of the sky. “A Romeo without his Juliet, as it turns out. Do me a favor and when I die, just write SUPREME IDIOT on my tombstone.”

            Gryphus spent the rest of the day staring at the back of Grace’s head, as she worked next to Steven. She’s so pretty, Gryphus thought sadly. I wore my dad’s stinky cologne for nothing. I should have known that the guy with the accent always gets the girl. Ben Franklin should’ve put that proverb in his stupid Almanac. Damon watched his friend through narrowed eyes. Gryphus was obviously smitten with Grace, but Grace liked Steven and Steven liked Grace. Gryphus is like the third point of the love triangle that didn’t have a partner. He needs something to take his mind off of girls. I can do something about that. Damon thought. The best friend always has the answer. That should be a proverb in Ben Franklin’s silly old Almanac.

            Gryphus rang the doorbell on Damon’s rickety old porch. This rustic cottage had always been like his second home, but he realized that he hadn’t spent a lot of time with his best friend for a while. Ever since seventh grade started, he had been hanging with Grace and trying to impress her. In fact, the only time he talked to Damon all day was on the bus ride to school. He felt ashamed that he had been negligent of his duties as his best friend. When Damon opened the door, Gryphus was prepared to apologize to him, but after his mouth dropped open, nothing came out. He didn’t seem capable of speech as he stared at five foot four inches tall Damon in footy pajamas patterned with red toy trains. It looked like something they had when they were in first grade, and Damon looked absolutely ridiculous in them. Still, he grinned and did a 360 so Gryphus could see how he looked from the back. “I was surprised that they still sold my size,” He explained to his dumbfounded friend. “Now come out of the cold, mom made hot chocolate, and I rented the movie Kung-Fu Panda so we can have two hours of animal action and giant bowls of extra-butter popcorn. You’re spending the night by the way; your mom already gave permission. After dinner, we can make our special hot-fudge sundaes with extra Hershey’s kisses.”  Gryphus blinked as Damon blathered on about the schedule for the rest of the night. “Damon... where in the world did you get footy pajamas your size?”

            “Wal-Mart,” was his obvious answer, as he shrugged casually. Gryphus walked into the Archipegros’ living room and blinked wildly. It was the exact same way it looked six years ago, like walking through a memory. Damon leaned against the white pleather couch and said after a moment of silence, “I remodeled it to look like our old sleepovers.” Gryphus glanced quizzically at him. “Why?” Damon sighed and looked down at his footy pajamas. “Ever since seventh grade started, you stopped hanging out with me. I know you’re sorry.” He said when Gryphus opened his mouth to apologize. “I saw that you like Grace and she’s really pretty, but I think you need a distraction from her and Steven. You’re my best friend Gryphus. You might think that you’re her Romeo and you want to win back your Juliet, who, in this case, is Grace Tomas, but you’re not. You’re not Romeo. You’re Gryphus Romero. You’re my best friend and I want this sleepover to remind you of our old days where we both were happy with just being friends with girls.” Gryphus looked around the room and all the hard work and patience that came with it. He sniffled and wiped his eyes. “You’re making me sentimental dude. Besties forever?” Damon grabbed Gryphus in a strong bear hug. “You’re the sentimental one Gryphus. Of course we’ll be besties forever.” So after three cheesy movies, five bowls of popcorn, fifteen reruns of SpongeBob Squarepants and a gargantuan chocolate sundae with all the works, Gryphus felt lighter than he’d ever felt for a long time. He didn’t need any Juliet to make him happy. Why bother winning her back when he’d never had her? Winning back my Juliet, definitely NOT!