Better off Not Knowing
By Mariana Hernandez
Johana and Mariana had finally purchased their tickets after waiting in line for so long. As they walked through the gate to enter the football game, the chords of the national anthem were being composed from the field. It was the final and biggest game of the season. The crowds from the visitor's side reflected bright greens and golds in contrast with the dark sky. The girls found seats at the far side of the bleachers and sat down with a group of friends.
"This is going to be one exciting game!" Johana said throwing her hands up in the air.
"Yes it is!" Mariana laughed in agreement.
Johana's phone began to vibrate. It was Ray. "Are you at the game?"
She rapidly opened the text, shifting her phone to her right side in order to avoid the risk of Mariana catching a glimpse of who was texting her. Johana knew how Mariana felt about Ray. Johana quickly tapped the keys and hit send, "Yeah I just got here."
Someone tapped Johana on the shoulder. "Come with me to buy a slushy," Elmer said grabbing a lock of Johana's hair and twirling it around his finger.
"Ok let's go. I'll be back, Mariana."
"Ok, be back soon."
The concession stand was nearly empty. A few people stood near, revealed only by the dim light illuminating their bodies. Some were leaning against the wall, hands securely tucked in their pockets, deep into their conversations.
Elmer stepped up, leaned forward, and spoke into the window asking for his drink.
Johana stood behind him looking at her reflection in the darkened glass window, fixing her hair.
The sudden vibration of her phone caused her to jump.
"I just saw you!" Ray's text read.
"Yes! Come over to where I'm sitting."
Johana remained looking at the text until she finally responded simply, "Ok."
Would Mariana notice she didn't come back? She wouldn't be gone long, just a few minutes.
Johana and Elmer were heading back to the bleachers, Elmer slurping on his slushy through the straw when Johana said, "Go on ahead, I'll be back."
"Where are you going?"
"I'm going with Ray real quick."
Elmer shrugged. As he was turning to leave, Johana lightly tapped his shoulder, "Hey," she said, "don't tell Mariana."
Johana walked up the steps of the bleachers turning her head from right to left, her eyes scatter searching for Ray. She spotted him in the middle of the crowd with a couple of friends.
"Hey!" Ray shouted. "Johana!" as he waved his hand in the air.
"Who did you come with?"
"With Mariana. So I'm going to have to leave soon."
His eyebrows narrowed. "Are you serious? If you don't want to be here just say so."
"Come on. That's not what—"
She managed to catch the eyes of a few people around her that were staring. She stood up and walked down the steps. Did she say something wrong? Why was he acting like this?
Well, he always acts like this.
As she walked towards her seat, her eyes met with Mariana's, whose eyes were following Johana, her face emotionless. Only a few seconds after Johana had sat down, Mariana said, "I'm hungry. I'm going to go buy some nachos." She stood up, turning her back toward Johana, walking away slowly.
"I'll go with you!"
Johana's sudden offer made Mariana stop, but she did not turn. She remained with her back to Johana long enough for her friend to catch up, and then after a few seconds she began to walk again.
They headed towards the concession stand where it was no longer lonely. Now groups of people surrounded the stand and were waiting in line.
"Where did you go just now?” Mariana's voice was demanding and serious. “You didn't come back with Elmer."
"Oh," Johana looked at the ground, trying to grasp onto the first words she could think of. "My cousin kept calling me over from the bleachers so I went to go see what she wanted." She has just lied to Mariana, to her best friend. It was for the best though. She was better off if she didn't know.
Johana noticed that Mariana began to walk a little faster. She was a few paces ahead of her pushing past strangers as if they blocked her way. Johana began to get an uneasy feeling, but she couldn't figure out what was making her feel this way. Maybe it was the way Ray had reacted towards her, Johana thought. She knew just the thing to do. She would buy him nachos and a drink. That would surely make amends.
They waited in line for what seemed like hours. When they finally bought their food, they headed back. Johana realized that Mariana hadn't spoken so much as a sentence while they had been in line. All she got were light subtle smiles whenever she made eye contact with her, as if she was saying, "Nothing's wrong. I'm fine."
Johana was reluctant to say anything, but as they approached the stands, she finally said, "Wait,” as she raised the nachos and PowerAde, “I'm going to give this to someone."
She saw Mariana's eyes narrow. "Who?" she asked. "Is it Ray?” She wouldn't even let Johana explain herself, "It is, isn't it!"
She scoffed, "I can't believe you're talking to him!"
"Why are you getting mad at me?" Johana could hear the desperation in her own voice.
"Do you seriously have to ask that?" Mariana rolled her eyes, "You know I don't like him! It's like you have no consideration of my thoughts or feelings."
"But...” Johana cried, “you know I do!"
"Well you need to figure out what you're doing here,” said Mariana, “because it's either me or him." Then she walked away before Johana could say another word.