I Just Can't - A Story by Richard Norway


There he is again. I just love the way he walks, the way his hips move from side to side as he strides to wherever he’s going.’

Jerrod sat on the short concrete wall next to Kelly to finish his lunch but continued to watch the guy across the quad. It was Tyler Adams, the quarterback on the football team.

Kelly watched Jerrod, then turned her head to see who he was looking at.

“When are you going to get some balls and go over and introduce yourself?” Kelly asked scornfully.

“I can’t do that! Besides, what would I say? ‘Hey there, hunky high school quarterback.’ Or how about ‘I hear that you need help with pre-calc. You wanna come over to my house so I can tutor you?’ Yeah, right!”

“Jerrod, you are so stupid sometimes. Just walk up to him and say ‘Hi.’ That’s all it takes.”

Jerrod focused his attention across the quad again, but Tyler was gone. He let out a short love-struck sigh.

“I still don’t know what to say after that. Besides, he’s not gay. He’d probably pound the shit out of me.”

“How do you know he’s not gay? Have you asked him? Oh, that’s right. You’re too chicken to even talk to him.”

Jerrod jumped from his seat and glared at Kelly.

“That’s not fair!” he shouted and turned and walked away.


There he is again talking to Rosey. He’s always talking to her. She must be his girlfriend.’

Jerrod walked down the hall pretending that he didn’t see Tyler or Rosey when Rosey turned and looked directly at him.

Oh God. She’s looking at me. I gotta get out of here before HE looks at me!’

Just then Tyler turned and looked directly at Jerrod, his brows wrinkling ever so slightly.

As Tyler turned back to say something to Rosey, Jerrod turned and practically ran, turning into the next hall. He had to get away.


Kelly smiled as she saw Jarrod and headed for the desk next to him. Kelly sat then turned and watched Jerrod, saying nothing.

Jerrod could feel Kelly’s eyes on him, and he turned to her when he couldn’t take it any longer.

“What?” he asked. His word was heated.

“You have a crush on him,” she said, looking directly into his eyes.

“On who?”

“On Tyler. You have this major crush on him, but you’re afraid to even talk to him.”

Jerrod turned toward the front of the classroom and slunk down in his chair. He remained motionless for a moment, starring off into nothingness.

“Is it that obvious?” Jerrod finally said to the front whiteboard.

“Yeah, it is.”

Jerrod remained silent for a moment, then turned toward Kelly.

“I can’t get him out of my mind. I think about him all the time. I even dream that we’re a couple. There’s a pure white sand beach that I went to with my folks this summer, and I picture myself walking with Tyler along the water’s edge on that beach at sunset…holding hands.”

“Oh man, Jerrod. You’ve got it bad.”

“I know. But he doesn’t even know that I exist. He’s got a girlfriend so I don’t have a chance.”

“You don’t know that Rosey’s his girlfriend. Have you ever seen them holding hands, or kissing? They could just be friends, like you and me.”

“No, but....”

Kelly and Jerrod turned toward the front of the classroom as the teacher entered, then Kelly turned back toward him for a moment.

“You going to the GSA meeting after class?”

“Yeah, I’ll be there. I can’t be with Tyler so I don't have anything else to do.”


Jerrod walked into the empty classroom where the GSA meeting would be held. He was followed by Alex, the GSA president, and Ms. Marshall, the faculty advisor.

“Hey Jerrod. What’s up man?” Alex asked as he brushed past him.


“Hey, sorry, we’re late. The rest should be arriving any time now. Could you set up the cookies and sodas over there?” Alex asked, pointing to a table at the rear of the room.

“Sure, no problem.”

Jerrod turned and walked to the back of the room.

At least I won’t have to talk to anybody back here.” he thought to himself.

Just as he finished arranging the cookies, the other members of the club starting filing into the room. Jerrod knew all of them. Bobby was followed by Tim, his boyfriend then by Kelly, who winked at him as her girlfriend Bethany followed right behind her, then Tyler followed by Brett and Alicia.

TYLER! What the hell is he doing here? Oh shit! I’m trapped. Don’t look at me, please. Oh God, no. He’s looking around the room. Don’t look at me, man.’

Tyler stopped scanning the room as soon as he saw Jerrod. He was smiling slightly as he walked to the back of the room toward the table with the cookies and sodas…and Jerrod.

I knew it. Someone told him that I’ve been crushing on him and now I’m dead.’

Jerrod’s breath became rapid as doom approached him. Tyler was now standing right in front of him, looking at him.

“Hi. My name’s Tyler.” he said as he held out his hand.

“Uh, Hi. I’m Jerrod.”

“I know. Ah, I hope I’m not being too forward, but I wanted to ask you something.”

“Look, I’m sorry man. I don’t know what you’ve heard about me, but I’m really sorry.”

Tyler looked confused and he glanced around the room for a moment and then back at Jerrod.

“I really don’t know what you mean, no one’s talked to me about you. What I wanted to ask is if you’d like to go out with me sometime. Maybe grab a burger and catch a flick Saturday night? If you’re free?”