……3 years later……
"How could I let this happen?…I know, I understand, but…dad I don't…sure…I'll be here." Troy exclaimed into the telephone.
"Troy, I don't want you to end up like me, okay? I want the best for you. You're a great basketball player…I don't want that to go to waste." Mr. Bolton explained on the other end.
"Whatever." Troy answered, immediately hanging up. He ran his fingers through his chestnut brown hair as his ocean blue eyes fell upon the ruby stone in his high school ring.
Everything was so easy back home, so familiar and simple. What happened in between? He thought furiously. Ever since he had arrived at Duke University, it had all been about basketball and grades twenty-four seven.
No grades…it didn't matter then. I could play basketball and then go out with Gabriella anytime I wanted. But, Gabi. Her face had immediately popped into his head…everything from her dark brown, curly hair and teddy bear brown eyes to her sparkling white smile.
Stop it…it's over…give it up!" he shuddered. "She's moved on by now." And it was probably true, they had broken up 2 years ago….it was impossible that she still had feelings for him.
His vision suddenly became blurred with Blue Devil paraphernalia, which was plastered all over the living room walls from all different years.
"Hey…you up for a little bar outing?" Chad yelled from his room door. He was changing his shirt from a tee to a nice polo. That was probably Taylor's influence, who was sitting on a bar stool in the kitchen.
"Not really. Sorry." Troy replied, plopping himself down onto the couch after acknowledging her. He sat there in silence for a minute, reviewing his conversation with his father. Finally, he broke the silence with the sound of a referee whistle from the TV. Maryland vs. West Virginia….he didn't care, as long as it wasn't him playing.
"Whoa…did you just turn down a beer offer? Are you okay?" Chad said shocked and in response, Troy nodded. "Alright. Well, I hope you're not sick. See ya." He grabbed Taylor around the waist and slammed the door shut behind them.
"I want you to bring up your grades and if you don't…I-I'll pull you off the team. Do you understand me, Troy?" His father had screamed into the phone earlier that day, acting as if Troy was still a child. Since when did he care about grades? Never. And now….it was just stupid.
Troy sat there, watching players rush up and down the court for an hour and got pretty tired of it. He quickly shut the TV off and stormed into his room, throwing himself onto his bed, only to land on the East High High School yearbook of 2008. He opened it and gazed at all the messages people had written in all sorts of places; along the binding, near their pictures, and some had even written a whole page. He though that reading them would actually help him feel better, which was a lie.
"Troy, nice game. Congratulations on winning the championship and the lead role in the play. If you need any practice, for whatever reason, you know where to find me (at Jason's! HaHa.) Just kidding…I'll be there for you. I had fun this year, thanks to you and I'll see you around. Good luck at Duke."
Troy smiled as he read Kelsi's message…it was true, though. They skipped class all the time to rehearse for the play, meaning he would sing and she would play the piano and watch him soar through the room with a drum mallet as a microphone. Wow…was I dumb back then.
"Hey. Wow, I never thought that we wouldn't last through senior year, but I was wrong. I know you've found "the one" for you and I'm really happy for you…really. It hasn't been easy for me seeing you with another girl, but I'll be okay. I'm really strong and I'll bounce back really quick. So…Mr. Championship, don't be a stranger, okay? You know I won't. See you soon. Love you.
How could he forget Sharpay Evans? She had had a crush on him since kindergarten and had finally given into temptation in seventh grade. And her twin brother, Ryan, had become one of Troy's really good friends, even though Sharpay had followed him everywhere. By saying "the one", she was talking about Gabriella, but that had obviously not worked out. And then he came around Gabriella's long message.
"Hey babe. I don't really know what to say, well I don't know what to say in here that people can actually read. And looking back at that, it doesn't make any sense. Anyway, you have made my life so…so…spectacular ever since we met. Thank you. I love spending every minute with you and having you hold me in your arms makes me feel amazing, almost like nothing can destroy us.
You are an amazing guy, Troy, and don't start getting all "I'm Mr. Macho." okay? I know you too well. I just wonder sometimes what life would've been if we hadn't met at the ski lodge and then if I hadn't moved here. It would've been so different…like crazy different. But, I don't want to talk about that because I can't imagine a life without you. I love you sooooooooo much!
Tears stung Troy's cheeks as he read his ex-girlfriend's message, remembering he was the reason for their break-up. He had remembered every waking hour that he had spent with Gabi; everything they did and said, even to the detail of their clothes.
"Gabi, we need to talk." Troy breathed into her hair, directly after junior year had ended. She looked up with her brown eyes and pressed her lips against his, slowly sweeping her hands against his body. She pulled them both down onto his bed with him on top of her. They kissed as though they were never going to see each other again, which was ironically true. Troy pulled away unwillingly and caressed Gabriella's face with his right hand.
"Don't stop. Please. Can't your news wait until later?" she asked softly, placing her hands around his neck to reel him in closer. "I just want you to stay with me…and nothing can ever hurt us."
"No. We really need to talk. Just listen okay?" he began, staring deep into her gaze.. "Look, I think that we need to, you know, see other people. Just for a little bit. I just…I don't feel the spark anymore." By then, Gabriella had turned her head so she was facing the big window that overlooked the river. Her tear stained cheeks had placed an everlasting picture in Troy's mind of how much he had hurt her.
"Fine. I'll let myself out." she said, pushing Troy to the ground and then storming out of the room, crying.
The end of their relationship was so bitter and nasty, that it had reminded Troy of a horror movie. He never ever wanted to hurt Gabi the way he did, he loved her too much. But the reason for the separation was beyond his imagination or his being. He just wished that they would've left things differently, at least to the point that they were still friends instead of people who didn't talk anymore.
Troy grabbed the phone to call her, just to make sure she was okay with their whole situation. What would I say? 'Hi Gabi, it's me Troy. I just wanted to see if you were okay considering the break-up 2 years ago.' Yeah, that would go over real nice. She'd probably hang up on me when I said my name, let alone not even answer it.
He turned his stereo on to some Spanish rap music and not understanding a word the guy had been saying, left it there and didn't bother to change it. Memories filled his head in a flash, blacking out all sound surrounding him….memories of times with Gabriella and the gang had never left him.
Troy grabbed Gabriella's hand and pulled her away from her locker. "Come with me." he mouthed as he led her away quickly.
"Troy, come on, the bell's gonna ring…we'll be late for class." Gabi laughed, following Troy into a dark room, which happened to be one of the backstage dressing rooms. "Troy, what are we doing in here?"
"Shh. Don't worry, nobody comes in here." he whispered in her ear as he slowly started kissing her neck. Being with her had made Troy feel like a better person and he didn't want that to fade out. As he moved his lips to her mouth, she pulled away suddenly, taking all the breath from his lungs.
"Troy, we need to get to class." she replied with worry in her eyes. She turned her back, starting to head out the door, when he grabbed her arm and pushed her up against his body.
"Please don't go. Not just yet." he said in between kisses. Passionate, long moments of silence bounced off the walls, creating a romantic mood amongst the couple. "I love you, Gabi." And without hesitation, she responded with an "I love you too."