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The symptoms are all there: inattentiveness, jitteriness, infatuation, and pure, unadulterated elation. Nothing gets this person off your mind, you just think about him or her every moment of every hour of every day. Your friends cannot stand to be around you, because “Aidan texted” or “Aidan said” or Aidan did something much less noteworthy than what you make it out to be. The disease is love. The diagnosis is smitten. There are four simple steps to falling in love, and then this person in question is taken away, like being swept off your feet. Maybe that’s where the saying came from. The first step is attraction. Not necessarily “love at first sight,” but sometimes it is. It’s turning around, and there he is. Aidan Johnson was tall, with short, brown hair, and possibly the most gorgeous, green eyes I had ever seen. But this wasn’t what I noticed about him. It was his shirt, yes, his shirt. It was one of those statement shirts: “Your village called, their idiot is missing.” It wasn’t necessarily the most witty thing you could put on a shirt, but it was witty enough to make me laugh. A laugh that was loud enough for him to hear. He looked over. I looked away. Now, I know that isn’t the most romantic thing you’ve ever heard. I walked away quickly from him. In fact, I practically ran. To both my horror and excitement, this wasn’t the last time I saw him. I walked into my Biology class. Among a class of 20 people, filled with classmates I have known all four years of high school, of course the only person is the new guy, Aidan, with his funny shirt and forest green eyes. He smiles. Braver the second time around, I smile back, only to sit next to Rachel, my friend and study buddy of two years. “Lilly! How was your summer?” she asks, the standard question. “Pretty good, I went to Yellowstone National Park,” was my response. A standard answer includes one highlight of slight interest. The conversation continues. I tell her about Yellowstone, she tells me about her family in
Florida. Every now and then, I look away to see if Aidan is looking at anyone. I see him pull out a sketchbook. I wonder what he’s drawing. Then I force myself to stop, to look at Rachel and focus on a particularly amusing story about her grandmother. Our teacher walks into the room. Mr. Abrams walks in, a stack of papers tucked under his arm. He’s an elderly man, and supposedly very strict. “AP Biology will be one of the most difficult and time consuming classes this year.” Those were the first gruffly spoken words out his mouth. It gave no hope of an easy grade. Rachel noticed this, too, as we exchanged intimidated looks with each other. I looked over at Aidan. He looked very nonchalant about it.
Chapter 1 But I’m getting ahead of myself. This story does not begin at the four steps of falling in love, but the five stages of grief. Our story begins like chick flicks and romance novels before, a single girl whose life has been altered somehow. Still, I’m getting ahead of myself. It was a summer day like any other. The warm Southern California heat set on my porch as I waited for Casey to pick me up. I hear a car drive by my house. It passes, then comes back. I look up to see Casey’s truck. “Hey!” yells Casey, thin, blonde, and excited to see me. I get in her car to find her trying to choose a radio station. “So where are we going?” “Supermarket,” I reply, “my family decided to have half the world over this weekend.” “Fun” “Yes,” my sarcasm apparent, “nothing says fun like running errands.” “At least it’s summer.” Casey says, as we drive through the streets of suburbia, with its clean, well-manicured lawns, “before our senior year.” “Before we graduate and get out of here.” I continue. “And my parents get off my back
about dating.” “Speaking of dating, how is Bryan?” Casey asked. “Good, working at summer camp,” I said. I was about to continue, then Casey pulled into the parking lot of the supermarket. “What are we getting for your parents?” “Um,” I began shuffling through my pockets, looking for a list, “soda, cheese, crackers, chips, dip” “Ok, basic party food stuff,” says Casey impatiently. In a half an hour, we were back in her car food bags in the trunk, driving back to my house. “So while your parents are having people over, what are we doing?” “First, I have to go to Bryan’s house and drop off his sweater,” I said distractedly. Thinking of Bryan made me go into a haze, the kind that lovesick puppies had. “And then?” Casey asked, clearly waiting for relief of being bored at home. “We’ll go watch a movie or something.” I said. Later that night, I knocked on his door. Bryan opened the door and smiled. Tall and somewhat gangly, his mop of curly black hair set on his face, framing brown eyes. “Hey,” he said. His smile faded as I walked in, “um, well…” “Yeah?” I looked up at him questioningly. No good news was coming from the look on that face. “We need to talk.”
Chapter 2 They say the first step to any grief was denial. Whoever “they” are, they speak the truth. However, it was a different kind of denial. When most people experience loss, they deny
It’s really just a matter of time.” I said for the umpteenth time. that maybe. you’re so funny. The words “I don’t see you the same way anymore” are burned into my brain like a phrase I was forced to memorize. I was wondering whether this was an accident. right?” I was on the phone with Casey. School begins in a week. Just the idea of “he can’t have stopped wanting me overnight” ringing through your ears. “I mean. It was moreso a denial of why. But my friends had to deal with me. I then heard a loud.” said a concerned Mara. It was her sarcastic voice. “Of course. I was wondering if it was just a mistake. just maybe he would call to take it all back. “Oh my GOSH. Casey said a “hm” in agreement. “This really sucks. I guess Mara was right. The only people who had it worse were my friends. All denial aside. “these things are always a matter of patience. She hung up and I relayed this to the next friend. “I think it’s just some time before you find someone. high-pitched laugh. I thought we were going to go to parties together. Few people understood that. obviously sick of my banter. *** A matter of time was taking longer than I thought. which happens to everyone.the truth itself. However. and then homecoming. it has to be some elaborate conspiracy. I think many people react the way I did. the government just doesn’t want you to be happy. the anger has set in. deciding between types of hi-lighters. It’s the middle of August. and a bunch of other things in the near and distant future. I was standing inside Staples. My heart almost stopped.” Casey. said in a matter of fact tone.” Sometimes I just wish someone would stop telling me things will be okay and tell me how to make them ok. She has been hearing me utter the same words for the 97th time. My case was not denial of truth. it was an awful way to begin the summer. Bryan!” I heard a girl say. I . and a little willpower. I had to deal with my boyfriend dumping me. Although my denial has passed.
and she always called. I feel my heart pounding in my head. or Regina. Wearing an olive green t shirt and jeans. wait. I looked up. the cornerstone of every relationship.” I said in hurriedly.” With that. walking away. “Lil. I need to go. or Rebecca.” I heard him say. Trust. “How’s your summer?” “Great! Absolutely amazing! Spending with it with this wonderful guy right here!” she indicated Bryan. Bryan is a common name. leaving Bryan looking at me. Roxie. Her name was Roxie.” I walked to the counter and bought my highlighters. she walked away.began to feel my blood boil. Or Roxie was an idiot. . Roxie’s high pitched voice rang through the store. It was indeed Bryan Scott. His brown eyes looked into my soul. red-headed girl I recognized from my sophomore class. high pitched voice. as if deciding would seal my destiny forever. I turned around. you could be wrong. Before he could say something. my fake voice is convincing as enthusiasm. right? “Hi. something Bryan said was always for homework. “BRYYYYYYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN” “I think she needs you. I turn around. “Lilly!” screams the same high pitched voice. he was not alone. Bryan had always claimed that Roxie was just a friend. I left the store wanting to punch someone. in an equally annoying. I’ll just let you guys talk. “Let me go look at binders. “It wasn’t that funny. Now it reminded me of the pain he has caused thus far. “Roxie! Hi!” I say. It used to drive me into a lovestruck stupor. Her classes always coordinated well with his. Her name was Rachel. I thought to myself. staring hard at the highlighters. His arm was flanked by a thin. I chose to believe the second. I knew it began with R.” Bryan said. who looked uncomfortable. I looked away. Apparently. But I don’t scream.
trying to ignore the fact I miss him. It’s the one of the worst feelings in the world.Chapter 3 Depression. It was there. Sure as hell. Except he wasn’t coming back. I also learned he was in my AP Biology class. was he? He was with whatever her name was. I later learned his name was Aidan Johnson. the dude who came up with the stages of grief. I sighed and attempted to go back to sleep. It’s the loneliness that you’re facing. School starts in a few hours. I still went. right? This is apparently the next stage in grief according to some guy. and celebrity worship. When you stare at your ceiling at the middle of the night. *** I did not want to go to school. that he’s coming back to you and that this time it will be ten times better. I wouldn’t call it love at first sight. . love is overused thanks to cheesy movies. if only for a few minutes. Because. This was saying something. Aren’t they all just some guy? Bryan. It’s three in the morning. let’s face it. Does getting over him really have to take all summer? I look at the clock. But it was attraction. the guys who write those stupid love songs I find myself listening to over and over? I stare up at the ceiling for a few minutes. especially living in the same place for thirteen years. Because standing at the other end of the hall was a guy I had never seen before. high school crushes. for at least one second. is it? Either way. A summer of waking up at noon and hanging out with your friends traded for waking up far too early and studying isn’t really a fair exchange. my life was altered. one strong enough to forget about Bryan. What a fun thought. I don’t think anybody does.
Everyone draws when they take notes. Abrams droned on about cells. who spent more time looking at each other than at Mr. That’s what he did. scribbling down a few words every now and then. tired. in more ways than one. He listened. there was the one person I did not want to sit next to. Then there was Aidan. The drawings were random. I was one of them. the person I would call for help and depend on the rest of the year. but I’m sure it was in there somewhere. And every time he doodled. it was his attitude. nor hypnotized. There were the overacheievers who hung on to Mr. One my right. drawing weird doodles on the margin. It’s not always to their looks. I looked around everyone else. and we seldom heard his voice in class. I would look around the room. The idea of attraction being the first stage of falling for someone. These were Bryan and Roxie. smiling flirtatiously. Bryan and Roxie would glance at each other. As Mr. Abrams. There were the slackers. On the other side. Bryan somehow ended up being right next to me. Abrams decided to treat us like middle schoolers and give us assigned seating. Abrams’s every word. who slept. and he would just be leaning back and listening. Abrams. He just looked laid back. His doodles were drawn on a paper folder. but to some air about them. . I found myself in an interesting position. was the person who would be my official lab partner. Jealousy may not have been an official stage of grief. really. the folder just looked cooler. but they looked almost perfect altogether on one red folder. One day.Chapter 4 It was insane. pulling my brown hair from my face and pushing up my glasses to see better. For Aidan. There was something so care-free and relaxed about him. in the case it turned up on the next test. to the point it made me sick. like the world could go on. or simply looked bored. who were challenged into the class by guidance counselours. He looked neither bored. it happened. but Aidan’s drawings were different. according to Mr. Mr.
Chapter 5 It’s funny how you can have mixed feelings about something for completely different reasons. but that works” And so begins the second step to falling in love. “See something interesting?” Aidan asked. Aidan had proven to be different yet again. and cats. An excuse to talk to him? Awesome. Funny how something small becomes this huge thing. Biology has always been one of my favorite classes. Biology class still went on.” he said. huh?” “Like cells in the human body. It was affirmation. that feeling where you can’t stop smiling. feeling like what I just said made me sound repetitive. that looks so cool. happiness. and Aidan still drew on his folder. but connected with swirls.Aidan Johnson was my lab partner. There were these things on there like globes. Bryan would always give me weird looks when I said something dorky. It looked ten times cooler up close. “I started with this guitar. But putting me in between my ex and the guy I’m too nervous to talk to was terrifying. Mr. and monograms. Abrams still droned on like a vacuum cleaner. “and then it sorta transformed into this entire folder. . “Everything is pretty interesting. These were completely random items. The idea of sitting next to Aidan was another thing.” I heard myself say. patterns.” I said. “I never thought of it that way. And lame. guitars. Him realizing I’m a total dork? Not so awesome. smiling.
this wasn’t in my head.” I said. I put up with Alex and Alex put up with me. Bryan and Roxie had reached the height of annoying. There was really no reason for us to talk after Bryan and I were over. Then he left. “why are you talking to me?” “Someone’s not in a good mood. surprised that he was there. He sat next to me one day while I was trying to do my math homework. I did know that I dwelled on being better than Roxie about something. “Nothing. *** I’ve mentioned the five stages of grief about a million times. They were never in the same order as the method itself. “What’s up?” Alex says. I have no idea why Alex decided to tell me that.” he said. but a thought shared by everyone they knew. “I was just trying to be nice. Bryan and Roxie seem to be so attached at the mouth that I wanted to say you were less awkward. nice talk. it looked like a struggle with a vacuum cleaner. For once. While Bryan and I were dating. Why would he even say that? “Ok.” he said. I also didn’t finish my math homework. according the . Bryan’s best friend had found his way to me. I also know that every time I saw Bryan and Roxie together. His name was Alex. always kind of annoying. appearing out of nowhere and unaware that I was busy. This made for a really annoying day. Besides. Roxie’s annoying friends rolled their eyes when Bryan stopped by her and kissed her in such a way. He was relatively nice guy. Bargaining is supposed to come after depression. I felt a huge hole in my stomach.Chapter 6 Have you ever thought that you would soon be getting over someone? Have you ever thought that liking someone else would mean getting over someone? Have you ever been proven horribly wrong? You can probably tell where this one is going.” “Thanks?” I said.
The ugly dress. Bryan had always told me I looked better without my glasses and with my hair down. however. Changing my looks wasn’t going to help. Maybe this could work? It didn’t work. He would have seen my blush a really crazy shade of red. To a normal person. But he didn’t even notice. “Jake dumped me” . I even straightened it. It was at these dress racks that I got a text message. I was bargaining now. But it didn’t hurt to try. Eyeshadow. However. We were at Target. My geeky glasses and messy brown ponytail stared back.” he said. But to me. or do something to my hair. He sat down next to me and smiled. pretty and thin. I got to Biology thinking about why I should really get contacts. “Who the hell would wear this?” she said. Roxie. buying a bag of chips. “Your hair looks nice. wore her hair down and never wore glasses. blush. this was just depressing. I wore my hair down. Then. I sighed.people who made the stages up. I realized that this was not my case. this would have made sense for a guy not to notice his ex (especially when he’s attached to another girl). Aidan walked in. Chapter 7 Casey was looking at the dress on the hanger. I even took out my never used makeup kit. even lip gloss. This led to us looking for similarly ugly dresses. Thank god he looked away right after. That morning. distracted Casey. not to mention a huge blow on my self esteem. It starts by looking in the mirror. I didn’t expect Bryan to take be back and dump Roxie.
her tear-stained face red and blotchy.” I said. we learned that going to college together was not an option. despite them being jerks. A few minutes later. I envied her. and that they had to break up. Jake. I had read this book so many times to the point the binding was falling off. or. *** It was a Saturday night. her voice barely audible.Our friend Mara had been with the same guy for all 3 years of high school. I shook this sentiment off. It was Aidan. watching the heart of someone breaking in front of me. “Does a guy who doesn’t see a future with you really deserve to be with you?” I asked. Casey and I had our arms around her. “we still had time!” I was standing in the corner. I realized Bryan didn’t see a future with me. Casey and I left an hour later. “It’s the beginning of senior year!” said Mara.” Mara said. “Hi” I said. but I’ll just say I’m bored” . As far as I knew. I was going to make up a lame excuse about bio homework. My friends were all busy with work. Of course he was different. Before my one year with Bryan. too? Would Aidan become another Bryan? My train of thought was broken by hysterical sobs.” After Casey said that. What about Aidan? Would Aidan become one of them. her boyfriend. comforting her. But watching one of the happiest people I knew reduced to tears erased all the jealousy. I got a call. being grounded for breaking curfew. “Jake was different. “You’re too good for Bryan. had always loved her. we sat in silence the rest of the car ride. We all think our guys are different. “Originally. Through her tears. I was reading Pride and Prejudice. And as I said this. in Casey’s case. “She’s too good for him if he was such an asshole.
calling him. and an extremely wonderful conversation later. My sarcasm usually went over people’s heads. Casey gave up and gave me a look. My friends seemed less critical about this. Whenever he did talk. “That sounds so exciting!” I said. It meant “it’s your turn. but Mara would not hear it. more than one exchange of smiles. She admitted to driving passed his house. boredom. It made me feel less nervous around him. I couldn’t stop thinking about him. there was humor in his voice. Chapter 8 It was the third step to falling for someone: thinking about them despite having a million things to think about and do.I laughed. She kept insisting that Jake was different. “It does. even calling his sister. Aidan and I had more than one two-hour conversation. I didn’t talk like this since Bryan and I broke up. I told everyone about Aidan. Casey kept arguing this. a desk job organizing files and putting them in cabinets. She was in her “denial” phase with Jake. Maybe because I was so happy about it.” I wiped the brown strands of hair from her face. Mara said she loved him. But Aidan shocked me once more. I was smitten. trying to make my sarcasm apparent. Two hours of sarcasm. Casey was telling her that Jake was stupid to let Mara go. She said that there were “other fish in the sea. too. I’m sure you envy the insane amount of paper cuts I get. too!” And so it went. . and more than one moment I couldn’t stop talking about.” I hate that phrase. Except Mara. He talked about his job. Who wants to date a fish? Why can’t I date a person? Mara didn’t listen to Casey.
The first person I told about everything. She went on to tell me their entire story: from the beginning of 9th grade Spanish. I paced around it. Neither did Aidan. Once I finished my homework. I asked my friend to hand in my homework for me and went to the nurse. Casey was just as confused as I was.“It’s too soon to let go. We sat there for a few minutes wondering why it was. Did he want me back? Was Roxie as annoying as I thought she would be? Was this all a practical joke? We managed to call Mara as well. The fact Jake sat two rows ahead of me made me angry. I went home and slept. Later. But this text message threw me a massive curveball. I sat around by my phone. I checked my phone.” It was from Bryan. for that matter. “What the hell?” were her first words. I was tired. I doubted she believed me. their first kiss at a bus stop. but I wasn’t focused on him. It was Casey. I got a text message saying. it sounded good to hear. She was doing well enough to come up with theories with us. Still. “Bio sucked without you. something I thought I’d never say. I spend the night watching my procrastination eat me alive. Chapter 9 I was baffled.” I told her as she nodded silently. But every five minutes. even read Pride and Prejudice. to the end. telling me how much she missed Jake. my phone beeped. I barely believed myself. My lack of sleep made me irritable. we’ll support you one hundred percent” Then I told her it’s going to be okay. Bryan did not call. Mara called me. *** Seven in the morning was a brutal time. English class was boring. I told her my stomach hurt. . I thought I was making progress with this Bryan thing. “But whatever you choose. Then I heard the phone ring. did my homework. The fact it was a week after their breakup and the fact Jake was flirting with some other girl in front of me made me furious.
“But what about Aidan?” Mara said, “The guy in your bio class. I’m pretty sure he likes you.” How is someone really sure about that kind of thing? I guess the thing about being book smart is that what appears obvious to some people never reached me the same way. Still, I knew I liked him. “It’s not fair to him, to like you and be easily replaced,” Mara sounded like she wasn’t talking about Aidan at all. But Mara wasn’t the type to just not tell us something, except when she really did not want to talk about it. “Mara, what’s wrong?” I asked. Did this have something to do with Jake and that girl from English? “Some girl in his math class!” Mara screeched. She was on the verge of tears. Jake must be really getting around, I thought to myself. “I’ll be over soon.” I said to her, about to grab my keys. But Mara said it didn’t matter. She said it was time to be strong. At least one of us was being strong. I then got another text message from a number I didn’t know. It said: “It’s Roxie. You’re a bitch.” What the hell?
I have to admit that I absolutely hate gossip. Everything about it sucked. You hear something that could or could not be true. You hear it from someone that could or could not be reliable. And it could or could not spread like wildfire. I walked into biology that day. The text from Roxie was still buzzing in my head. I looked up to see her and one of her friends talking animatedly. Once I walked in, they both
stopped talking and glared at me. But this is what I had heard so far: Bryan dropped out of Biology He broke up with Roxie He may or may not still like me He does not intend to actually ask me back because he’s afraid of Roxie I was still thinking about Bryan. Although he left me for some manipulative bimbo, the Bryan I used to know was stuck in my head. He used to be the person I talked to about everything. I would ramble on for five minutes straight, and he would actually listen. I would tell him about all my insecurities (all 5,734 for them), and he would listen. There wasn’t much listening anymore, and I was still too nervous around Aidan to tell him anything. I sat down next to Aidan and smiled. He was wearing a black shirt, which looked amazing with his brown hair. And his eyes. If eyes were windows to the soul, his soul was deep and moving. “I take it that one dude is gone?” he said, talking about Bryan. “Yeah, Bryan,” I said, trying not to sound upset, “he was never the academic type.” “People who sleep in class usually aren’t.” he said, looking at me, most likely expecting a laugh. I didn’t laugh. “Something wrong?” Aidan asked. “What? No, it’s just presumptive to say that.” What the hell was I saying? He wasn’t the academic type, it wasn’t presumptive, and Aidan’s right! “To each their own, I guess,” he said simply. He didn’t argue, but he still looked put off. I got home that day to a call from Bryan. “Hi, Lil” he said, trying to be casual. “Hi,” I said, trying to sound as bland and controlled as possible. “Lilly, I miss you.” He said. “Which explains why you dropped out of the one class we had together, and why you’ve
been avoiding me since I first saw you with Roxie” “She scares me, Lil” Bryan said, “and I miss those weird rants you have when you’re annoyed.” He then offered something I should have said no to. He asked to be just friends. “Sure, let’s give this a shot,” I heard myself say. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------“Lilly Warner, why?” said a flabbergasted Mara. Casey had the same reaction.
“To be perfectly honest guys, I have no clue.” I told them.
I knew exactly why I said yes. I just didn’t want to admit it. Chapter 11
It was the first weekend of October. I was swamped with homework and made possibly the dumbest decision about my personal life. I stared blankly at my math homework, wondering how calculus could ever help me. Somehow, I began thinking about Bryan, and the idea of being “just friends.” It was awful. I was still wondering how I could rationally have said yes. This entire thought process gave me a huge headache. It was a wonderful Saturday afternoon, so I put away my homework and grabbed my camera. It was time for a photo run. I gladly left my house and took the bus to the mall. There, I began taking pictures of things inside and outside the mall. My favorite things to take pictures of were trees. As I lifted my camera, trying to get a close up of a branch, I heard a voice behind me. “I thought we didn’t start plants until next semester,” It was Aidan. “I’m getting a head start,” I said, smiling. He chuckled, revealing a smile that could grace
” “Are you guys close?” I asked.” he said.” “The lack of hippies and excess of blonde bimbos?” I offered “Lack of gays and excess of Republicans. laughing. looking up at the leaves. “You’re taking pictures of trees outside of a mall?” he asked. but they’re still there. “Something wrong?” Aidan asked. hoping this list didn’t bore him to death.” I’ve heard that guys get turned off by saying stuff like this. “I’m not. “I didn’t know you were a photographer. “Where did you move from?” I asked. “I know the feeling. “you’d think moving away from your problems would solve them. “I always thought people would want to keep thoughts in their head. The people. though. and the coy pond. “I usually go to the mall to take pictures of the fountains.” “Weird expression. “San Fransisco. “Southern California is different. looking both puzzled and (hopefully) interested. those artsy sculptures donated by someone famous.” I laughed at this. “she’s older by a few years.” “Certain thoughts are worth clearing out. Aidan. as my sister says.” I said. so she’s in college back in San Fran. He looked happy talking .” he said. relationship ended badly.” He had baggage. “Stupid drama. surprised me. I sighed. however.” I said.” he said. Now was a good time as any to figure out more about an otherwise mysterious person. she wasn’t too thrilled about us moving. I didn’t expect that. not clear them out. the vibe. dealing with after effects. but it helps me clear my head. There was no need to.” He says. I pegged him as the loner type.toothpaste commercials. the weather. He certainly spent enough time alone to make that true.
but she’s my best friend. He was walking by my side.” Aidan said. but a question I asked myself as I stepped into my parking lot. stating the obvious. To my left. “Good. text message alert. I saw Bryan waving to me. “Hey. his black hair almost brown in the sun. It was from Aidan. “How are you?” asked Bryan. finally spotting the car.” I said. “It sounds cheesy to say it.” . “It was cool running into you today. “Fourth grade was awesome! Everything was so much easier.about his sister. I’ll save that for tomorrow.” I smiled. “tired. school sucks. I had proudly finished all my homework except an English essay.” “That’s young. What about you? Any shared blood? “One brother. fourth grade is a big deal to him. annoyed that I couldn’t find the thing.” I said.” I said. trying to ignore how red my face was going. Things sucked now that everyone was getting older.” I laughed. “We moved around from place to place as a kid. we’re as close as our age difference really allows. I heard my phone beep. “He’s a cool little kid.” “Sure. “Alex sorta bailed. disregarding the fact I was far from it.” Aidan said. so I always had one friend wherever I went. I thought to myself. I scanned the parking lot looking for my silver Toyota. He was right. I simply waved back. That night. he’s 9. Chapter 12 Where is my car? This wasn’t the title of a movie. can I get a ride?” has asked.
” I was still trying to analyze every piece of the puzzle when Mara called. Everything was looking up. Why couldn’t I turn it off? I pulled over to his house. He didn’t care that I was insanely jealous of his perfect. I still had a huge pile of homework. We got in the car. and until recently. or have few friends from coming here from San Fransisco. How could I forget? I wanted to turn it off. I wanted to tell Bryan to get out of the car. He could have an intense workload. but turn it on louder. Part of me was confused. I finally turned off the radio. Apparently. Mara and Jake had been together for a year. Instantly. It was so familiar. Then he took his hand off the radio knob.” he said. flashing a perfect smile at me as he closed the door. It was “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls. who went to a different school than Mara and I did. had told me he “only saw me as a friend. It happened at the end of sophomore year. This bothered me. . and drove back to my house. thin. and always changed my favorite classic rock station to one of those top 40 pop music ones. to stop driving until the song was over. was complaining about something sucking. The song came on. was finally adjusting. “Nothing. Mara was upset.“It does. just tired. He thanked me for the ride. Andrew. “What’s wrong?” asked Bryan. had his perfect girlfriend flanked on his arm.” which was true. Bryan began fumbling with the radio. crying while shoving down calorie after calorie of ice cream. Typical Mara. Casey unable to do damage control without me. Why did he care? He didn’t when I had a meltdown. Casey. pretty. model-esque girlfriend. again. sounding bubbly and energetic. the guy I had liked for a year. He was always the possessive type. The guy who was taking easy classes. “Lilly!” she said. that he said school sucked. but I wanted him to stay in. “Remember this song?” Bryan leaned back on the passenger’s side. He didn’t care when I was on Casey’s couch. this train of thought gave me an angry look on my face. Except me.
His dad loved classical rock and was always playing it on speakers at home.” it was a Friday night. I missed them a lot. “I love this song!” we both said simultaneously. Chapter 13 . Thinking about it gave me a headache. it was date after date. making him well-versed in my musical taste.” he said that night. I was crying. I thought he would roll his eyes at the sight of me and text his friends about the nerd he got set up with. the lead singer’s voice. We talked all night. He was charming and perfect. I was geeky and neurotic. We talked about books. Then the song came on. I dug my iPod out of my backpack and began to play the song. Big. When I came up to the restaurant. right?” It struck me. “Lilly. high-pitched and bubbly. We then both smiled. He smelled like cologne.“Hey. so we were wondering if you could come with us and keep Bryan company. and when he got his license. He was surprisingly an avid reader. “You know Bryan Scott. and completely out of my league. Jake’s friend Bryan just got dumped by Kelsey Galloway. it became part of my entire world at that moment. sobbing. streaming down my face. Who didn’t know Bryan Scott? He was popular.” She said this all in one fast breath. but not overdone in any way. Before I knew it. almost forgetting Jake and Mara were even there. it was the first song we listened to in his car together. Ever since then. Mara. funny. “So Jake and I already had sort of an anniversary lunch thing. I missed those days. The first thing was his he smiled. She kept talking. and we wanted to go to this restaurant and see this movie. It made me upset. I thought he would blow me off like Andrew. That was also the night of our first kiss. right after finals were over. The opening guitar part. he gave me a smile and a hug. cute. crocodile tears. I really do want you to know who I am. I was pleasantly surprised.
Despite being in my room upstairs-with the door shut.” said Violet. “you have no idea what HE’S like!” “He has issues. I think being with him would be a bad idea. My grandparents had named their two daughters. that she let her stay in the guest room.” I said. My mom had felt so bad for my cousin. A few weeks turned into a month. Her mother. they get angry and yell.” my mom said calmly.” said a deep voice. “Why is everyone yelling?” he asked. Violet. her face tear stained from crying and red from yelling. My parents were exhausted by this. usually far removed from the estrogenladen issue of relationships. My older cousin. after flowers. choosing my words carefully.I could hear everything perfectly. the tears and anger intense. ear plugs jammed into his ears. his brown eyes fixated on my face. My dad. I sat next to him on his bed as he paused his game. How do you explain things to a nine year old? “Cousin Violet and Mom don’t agree on some things. playing video games. had been living with us for about a year. “You can’t see him. She promised to stay for a few weeks. “sometimes when adults don’t agree. my aunt. My mom and her sister thought it would be a nice idea to follow the tradition with their daughters. The yelling got loud. even the occasional felon became Violet’s new love interest.” . Aunt Daisy!” continued Violet. had taken a stand. “EVERYONE has issues. kicked her out after nights of partying. I heard her stomp her feet upstairs and slam the door. I decided to go to my brother’s room. I opened the door to my 9 year old brother. Daisy and Rose. He took out the ear plugs. Everyone from travelling musicians to druggies. Violet had taken a habit of dating guys that parents would never like. Danny. Violet. This month became a year. “You have NO idea what it’s like. “You don’t get it!” yelled Violet.It started again.
Full of trivial suspense. Oh. Sis!” he said happily.” . arms crossed around her chest. “with some girl” My heart sank. “he said he knew you. You can say it over and over again. I want you to leave my room and stop stressing out my parents and scaring my brother. pulling a strand of over-processed hair.” she said. do you know some guy named Aidan?” Maybe I didn’t want her to leave my room. and he’s a musician. “He’s gorgeous! He’s funny.” “Good night.” Correction. we were talking and he said he was shopping with his sister. or when they fight. laid back.“I don’t like it when they yell. as if she knew. “They’re being totally unfair!” said Violet. like mine. but she bleached it. A musician!” Bryan plays the guitar. The little kid was my life. This was despite her parents pleas. “Neither do I. Of course the good ones are taken. she looked younger than Danny did when she was being stubborn.” said Danny. I walked into my room.” I brushed his brown hair from his eyes and kissed him on the forehead. Lilly. he’s smart.” “How did you get to the topic of me.” I felt relieved. “Later. why?” I tried to sound as relaxed about it as possible. “He stopped by the store. it’s such a cute name! You can say it over and over again. I wonder if Aidan played anything.” Her natural hair color was brown. little bro. Despite being 22. an impatient look on her face. I thought. You couldn’t really see the resemblance from far. “Anyways. This was how Violet told her stories. “And Eric. “He’s a bassist. by the way. He certainly seemed like the type that would: artistic. She was what I called a “peroxide blonde. Violet was sitting on my bed. he’s cute. rebellious. But they had the same eyes and nose. “good night. “Yeah.” Violet worked at a department store.
this friendship thing isn’t so awkward.” I said. and I said. hello. excuse me. good morning….” “All right. As I put my phone down. hi.” She said. “She’s not even pretty.“The usual. Full of hellos and excuse me’s. “asked him what school he went to.I’m going to be late. hello.” she sounded bored. whose lips were transfixed to Colin Peterson. Kelsey dropped him in two weeks. smiling. “my mom just called. it wasn’t awkward.” I heard her once say. sweetie…. he’s in my biology class. “Fine. I guess. sorry. Bryan says hello to me. like. we have a lot of work to do. His sister was back from San Fransisco. saying hello to everyone and moving through the crowd. This was added to the things Kelsey Galloway would say about me. And he said he knew you.excuse me. Awkward is when we were first dating and we ran into Kelsey Galloway. She wasn’t exactly known to be the nicest person. . “So how has your day been going?” Bryan asked. leaving the room. He was right. He said Glenbrook. Awkward was when we ran into Roxie. “his standards have seriously dropped since things didn’t work out with us. my mother’s voicemails are sent when she’s in the hallways. Chapter 14 “Hi. how are you? I’ll left money on the counter for pizza…love you!” That was the message from my mom.” “Yeah. that sounds cool.” I wanted to remind her that I was with him for a year and a half.” He said. my cousin went there.” “Busy?” he asked. excuse me. “See.
“Hey. she would come back at 11. saying “it was so boring. He then said something I didn’t expect. I’m really sorry about us. It wasn’t the level of a stare. “she’s got a meeting to go to with my dad. however. spending time with your friends. What? I stared at him. I have plans. especially in October. she said “Oh.” extending the o sound in “so. . “Tell me about it.“As usual.” I looked up. or having an unproductive night after an unproductive day. and both of them said the same thing Bryan did. doing a perfect imitation of my dad. Instead. Sometimes.” ************************************************************************ For most people. she decided to pick on her innocent. Both parents were real estate agents. I. waiting for her. Violet had no set time to come back from her party. “Hey. had one mission on Saturday night: to cover for Violet.” “Those houses don’t sell themselves!” Bryan said. Saturday night was about having fun. I would be up until 4 in the morning. sighing. Every time I would ask when she was getting back. Violet had never ended her partying ways since her parents kicked her out. Then.” Other times.” I said. knowing Sunday is there to make up for it. geeky cousin. wondering why he would be apologizing for something that happened in June.” I said. and make sure my parents were asleep so that I could let her in as quietly as possible. we looked at each other. but longer than a glance. what are you doing Saturday night?” Why was he still talking? Why wasn’t I responding? What did my face look like as these thoughts ran around in my head? “I can’t do anything on Saturday.
Walk slowly. As I had left the theater. yelling at my dashboard. “Sorry for ruining your night. He was with.” he said. . I remember Violet leaving three very angry messages. It was usually to tell me that they felt sorry for having a manipulative bitch for a cousin. “Her boyfriend is in the car. Sneaking Violet back in was a task left only to the experts. “I wasn’t doing anything. considering the more important topic at hand. She freaks out if I’m not exactly where I’m supposed to be.” “Weird?” I never got that response before. watching some chick flick that seemed worth the time. Right now. anyways. don’t make any sound. I got a call from Aidan. open your door. I walked Aidan to our front lawn. I just stayed home on a Saturday. Nonetheless. There had to be total silence. It was Aidan. It was with Casey and Mara. After a week of Violet refusing to speak to me. What was odd was not the fact that Aidan knew this without me telling him. you need to loosen up a little. I answered. “waiting for Violet is exactly what I do. “Hello?” why was he calling me? “Hey.Lilly. Five minutes later my cousin was in her bed. sound asleep.” I was confused.” I said. Despite the movie getting out at eleven. to say the least. and then leave. actually carrying. Lilly.” Loosen up? So I could lie to the people who cared about me and endanger my liver while hanging out with questionable people? I’d rather not. I decided not to ask. I opened the door. it was 3 in the morning. He knew it like he had done it before. It sounded like something you would hear out of a horror movie.” I shushed him. Still. Put her into bed. There was no need for anyone to talk at all. a passed out Violet. one time I tried to break this rule of hers and go see a movie.” “Weird. Violet needed me to do her bidding.
” he said. “We all do. He was calling. It was amazing. He was there and I was there. texting. There were no holding hands. “but that doesn’t mean we should take advantage of other people.” he began looking around the street. “but we still realize that people manipulate us. it was pure and innocent. This was my relationship with Bryan. not what makes other people happy. It’s one thing I can’t stand. doing everything that made me feel like we were still together. you keep it to yourself. If he continues to act nice in a way that makes you sick. His hands were soft. she can be a total control freak. Telling someone else to go to Hell might do the same thing. It was like we never broke up at all.“For someone so free spirited. we still don’t do anything about it. “and for all the wrong things. blurting out the first thing I could think of to defend her. Especially for someone who doesn’t deserve to be taken advantage of. But only if you say it out loud.” “Of course not. That’s what I missed the most.” “She has issues.” “I don’t think anyone likes getting taken advantage of.” I said. it was painful to remember. .” Chapter 15 There is a big difference between telling the past to go to hell and telling a person to go there instead. we both knew we weren’t together. Yet. Talking to him made me feel like none of that happened.” his tone profound.” “Maybe because it makes the person happy. The only thing was.” “Sometimes you should concentrate on what makes you happy. perfect for holding in the middle of a crazy day. Telling the past to go to hell is like letting go of some really amazing memories for the sake of your sanity.
She cited all the things I wanted to cite. Whenever I told her that I was having these issues. or call him back over and over again (despite wanting to). Neither could Mara. or about being around another girl that I felt that feeling. at the time. However. I became defensive. but Mara came in a rather close second. It’s the feeling of getting punched in the stomach. she just went on a ramble about how Bryan wasn’t worth my time. I could never achieve this. and several other people to go to Hell. Granted. He broke my heart. Not that I drove passed his house (despite wanting to). . Bryan. or hear the bubbling. The thing was. Mara had exploded. Passive aggressive people like Mara reminded me of soda cans. it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. I could easily tell Violet. It was until he said something about being single. This was something I admired about her greatly. “Why can’t I get over him? How is he over me so quickly? Why does he still talk to me? Why do I find myself driving passed his house wanting to cry?” On and on she went. I could easily tell the person who punched me to go to Hell. he made me happier than I had been for a while. Casey still maintained that Bryan was an idiot. Casey. he healed it at a time I needed it. saying all the things I wanted to say. Heather. It was also something I wish I had. Tell Jake about the problems with their relationship before it got big? Of course not. This was not the case with Bryan. she would tell us what she thought. You can shake them a lot without anything drastic happening. or getting angry for him dumping me (despite wanting to). Casey had a gift of being insanely outspoken. But tell other people her real opinion of certain things? Never. He broke up with me for no reason. But when you open the soda can. it explodes. For some reason. Sure. however. I was the worst out all three of us. You might notice some fizzing. If I was actually punched in the stomach.We were both there together. had no problem telling people to go to Hell. My situation was no different with Bryan. talking. She also said Jake was an idiot.
then yes. “Roxie.” Bryan hated smoking.“Dude. Despite Bryan’s intelligence. A few people asked if I was ok. “I pretended it didn’t bother me. knowing women was still not his strong point. Bryan regarded her smoking habit as “disgusting” and “a huge turn-off. glasses falling on the floor.” Looking cool? I laughed to myself. I wanted to choke. and ability to get women.” She said. disregarding his “turnoff. If you were less hungry. I crashed into this person. Teenage girls wanting to look cool? If cool meant sickly thin. hacking coughs that echoed through the hallway. The person picked up my glasses and handed them to me. The smell of the smoke made him nauseated. “I do. “Oh well. walking beside me. And if you ate less. “Did you know she smokes?” We both already knew this answer. there seemed to be nothing wrong with sticking your tongue down an ashtray. A thin body and perfect skin were no match for the opinions of teenage boys. “You really need to get over him. It was one of those loud. It was something I had in common with many people. you have to look cool somehow. a concerned look on his face. While were together. Cigarettes made you less hungry. you kept that perfect body that every girl in your school wanted.” I heard Casey say.” Ever notice that you don’t get over someone when a person says that? I found myself walking into class coughing loudly. She didn’t go to this school. you ate less. it seemed. do I look okay? “Dude. I chose to believe it as some weird connection between us.” I said. but whenever I gave her a hug. Everybody stared. gasping for breath.” While Bryan and Roxie were together. what happened?” I looked up to see Bryan. “Might not want to lose these things.” he said. I’m coughing up a lung. I then bumped into someone. However. It made me burst into huge fits of coughing. Literally. I knew this because everything about her look said she .” he said.
“Allison. this is Lilly. First of all.” Bryan said.” There are few things better than knowing a cute guy does not like your ex. Then it was the way she dressed. “Don’t think he likes me. touching the music note around my neck as if she had known me for years. I didn’t think someone as cool and collected as Aidan would be capable of blushing. Chapter 18 It still hadn’t hit me of how selfish I was acting. To her face. you can’t do that when you just meet someone!” I heard a voice say. I don’t think I had ever seen him embarrassed before. Maybe by a few years. while she said (quite loudly) “I can’t say hi to your friends?” “That was. Her eyebrow piercing would also land her a detention. “That Aidan guy’s a little weird. It was Aidan. grabbing his sister out of my sight.” Violet had seen them at the store.” Aidan said. uh. “I was just being friendly!” Allison said defensively.didn’t. “I’m Allison. I told Mara I was happy for . But there she was. Allison’s eyes were the exact same shade as Aidan’s. “And that necklace is really cool. yeah. in her majorly ripped jeans and tank top that showed her stomach.” she said. this is my sister Allison. please don’t do that. she looked older. interesting. and your shirt is awesome!” “Thanks!” I looked down to notice my Led Zeppelin shirt. “We should go.” he said. not a teacher way. Our school had a strict policy against showing any belly button skin or ripped jeans.” he said. “Lilly.” I said. “She seems nice. I had completely forgotten he was there. her hair the same color and slightly wavy. Allison. “Um. I began to see exactly what she meant. She said that they looked more identical up close. but with a smile to me. his face red. but in a college student way.
the part where you can’t stop thinking about the person in question. The not talking about Jake rule would technically no longer apply. candy. Halloween meant time to get costumes. mine were solid. Lots and lots of decisions. which meant a few different things. it was time to make decisions. the perfect score wasn’t my goal. Unlike most overachievers. I had taken. unlike Casey.” would be the beginning of all of Mara’s sentences. I had a teacher tell me that a kid who never did his work asked for a recommendation letter. For other high school seniors. and whatever else needed to look festive. my junior year science and English teachers were my recommendation letter “go to” people. As per SAT scores. It seemed like the fairer option. some schools like wellrounded kids. Some people were smarter about this than others. I . Other schools preferred kids who were good at something consistently. “So Jake texted me. and gotten a high enough score. writing essays. For people all across the board. As for me. She had no reason to be over him if he came back to her. This meant a huge scramble for recommendation letters. It was almost Halloween. and I was entering denial.her. Some people were guaranteed recommendation letters. Mara from her history teachers. Mara was too happy. re taken. Secretly. I shrieked with excitement when she got sent a huge “I’m sorry” bouquet from Jake. Bryan was guaranteed one from his lacrosse coach. any negative energy towards this new development had to be hidden. Since I still wasn’t entirely sure of which school would prefer. I just stayed well-rounded. However. Like most overachievers. After reading various “Tips to get into college” books. and frantically contemplating re-taking the SAT’s. I wasn’t even being suspicious of Jake. some more important than the others. this was a loss of sanity (for both Mara and myself). pumpkins. The standard date to turn in college applications was around the time of Thanksgiving. She was well entering her second phase of falling in love. To me. I wished the rule was still on.
I always stared at the prompt.” he continued. “Anyways. being the outgoing person she is. she’s here for about a week. His eyes were perfect. But her boyfriend knew where . “my sister. Both seemed like an utter waste of time to me.” I said. The prompt was a simple one: how have your surroundings changed you as a person? It was the standard prompt: vague enough to apply to anything. more to myself than to him. excited for a distraction. not to mention a cute one. And she doesn’t take advantage of being older. to tell me all the things I missed about San Fran. “Nothing. hoping the essay would simple do itself. The modern media forcing the idea of relationships on me so I suffer intense longing? Interesting. she asked me what school I went to. “She’s fine. as she needed a designated driver. He looked straight at me. but possibly inappropriate. “that your sister and you are close. and told me you went there. “How did you find my house?” “I met her at some department store. It was adorable. So what to write about? I sat in the school library staring at this prompt. spotted her at some party she dragged me to. “Hey. there.” “That would be the simple version of the story. of course. “Hi. What was I supposed to write about? My parents influencing my need to do well academically? Boring. she was staying with you and your parents. “how’s your sister?” He chuckled." I said. the essays. So what was left? The applications themselves. who had a habit of coming out of nowhere. “What?” he asked. though. It never did. And.” “That’s good.needed just enough for some college to let me in.” “Unlike your cousin?” he asked.” I said.” said Aidan.” I said. trying to cover up anything I said.
” I said. I looked up as he waved at me. “Can we change the subject?” “Sorry. I’m actually not sure. just let me know. The library door opened.” We were on the same boat. yet on the same boat. “To be honest.” he said. “it’s time to move on. sounding much more bitter about than I intended to.” Aidan said.” “Mind me asking why you guys broke up?” his voice sounded both very close and extremely far away at the same time. though.” “Neither did I. “What’s the deal with you guys?” he asked. But I do. “there’s a lot of drama behind the whole thing. hoping the prompt would inspire me to say something more explanatory.Violet lived.” he said. this time being absolutely sure. Funny how two minutes changes everything. I don’t want to talk to her because it’s just going to remind me how much I missed her. The bell rang As we both left.” “Easier said than done.” I said. on two different oceans. “If you ever need to talk.” We stared at each other for about a good minute or so. “And how is that going?” I asked. and it’s weird. I waved back. Was I still upset about what happened in June? “Funny how we think we’re over something. “I didn’t know it was that touchy of a subject. Two very different people.” I said. and we realize we aren’t” “My ex girlfriend lives back in San Fran.” I looked at the screen. I library is a weird place to have a heart to heart. completely out of the blue. “She still talks to me. He returned his book and left. he turned to me.” “She’s a party person. “I try not to think about it too much. “He’s my ex. because I miss her. Bryan had walked in.” . surprising me with a question that I didn’t entirely know the answer to.
with the most serious tone I have ever heard him use. Jake is at my house. Because I let Jake into my house. the dishonesty that occurs within that sentence made me feel uncomfortable.“Thanks. Jake invited himself into my house? Somehow. but a bit more annoying. I couldn’t shake what Aidan said about his ex. that didn’t work. patiently waiting. I stared at him for a second. “What are you doing?” he asked. I sat there wondering about the conversation I had with Aidan. his surfer boy charm always intact. I didn’t slam the door in his face. tan. Just things slowly unraveling. He seemed prepared for this.” he said. flipping it open and closed every second. like Jake and Mara. No. I was trying to send her the perfectly worded text message to let that happen. I’m here. no fights. I didn’t refuse to let him and tell him I could talk outside. This doesn’t work either. perhaps too loud. Still. All I remembered was things falling apart. Somehow. He was like Aidan in that sense. like a favorite sweater having its yarn undone. Shaggy blond hair? Check. out of nowhere. “I want Mara back. Why did Bryan and I break up? For me. I felt like I had to tell Mara what was going on. it was so sudden. . “What is it that you needed me to talk about?” I looked at Jake. He was always laid back. I realized I was staring at my phone. saying things in a joking or relaxed tone. Nothing big. little by little. just standing there. on my porch. Slight muscles. too” That night. “Nothing!” I said. and laid back mentality? Triple check. Pretty blue eyes? Double check. What happened there? What was she like? Why had he decided to talk to me about it? Chapter 17 Jake was at my house.
Sometimes she was did fine. and just as painful to relate to. or remarked about some cute guy who worked at Blockbuster. “I don’t know. “he wanted Mara. I just stood there. but I wish. She would always tell me that she’s ready to move on. she wasn’t. “Jake was at my house. looking at me. I called Casey. “I don’t know what she wants. It wasn’t working. “what did he want?” “Apparently. it’s complicated. other times. But she wanted to get over him. she held back. But like everything else. “There’s a huge sale on chocolate at the convenience store down the street from your house?” Casey asked.” I asked. guess what happened?” I said frantically. I wouldn’t talk about Bryan if she didn’t talk about Jake.” I was mad at Jake. “Dude.” it was time to set up for the punch line.“What?” was all I could manage to say.” this was not the time.” “Why are you telling me this. He came to my .” The conversation didn’t go on for very long. “No. “Is she over me?” What kind of question is that. So what did I say to him? Would I tell Jake that she still loves him? Or do I tell him that she wanted to get over him? I took a deep breath and blurted out the first thing that came to my mind. Jake was still standing there. “I made a mistake in letting her go. “and I want her back. As soon as he left. You hurt her really badly. I didn’t show this. “Dude. lowering my voice to sound less nervous. Of course she still loved Jake. a huge one.” “Ok. but I do know she’s still hurting.” Jake said.” I heard a pause. We took a vow together. But when she came back from a date. I wanted to ask him. It was painful to watch. Mara still loved Jake. his eyes expectant. hoping I could use some Jedi mind tricks to get him to leave.” I said.
I couldn’t tell any emotion from her voice. before I could tell her. Mara was beyond happy.” **** I lay awake at 2 in the morning.” “It’s weird that he asked before telling her.” “Yes. “lying to her is worse. Casey was happy for her. I remembered what it was like to see Bryan with Roxie. reading my mind. I knew this was how Mara felt about Heather. “He was at my house. it was from Mara. Why couldn’t Bryan see things Jake’s way? . What kind of best friend isn’t happy for a new relationship? But what I felt wasn’t happiness. I knew I should have been happy for her.” I said. it had to be. However.house. So I said this. Like clockwork. made me think “No.” “Well. We always think that any guy stupid enough to let your best friend go does not deserve you. it wasn’t skepticism. This made me angry. I remembered how painful it was seeing Bryan at the convenience store right after we broke up. “But here’s mine: do I tell Mara. wanting her back.” she continued.” She said. her voice nervous. I got a call. “And don’t think about giving her false hopes. “Go for it. Maybe I wasn’t worried about Mara getting false hope.” she said. “Jake wants me back?” she yelled.” She did need to know. “ I didn’t ask questions.” Mara said. Plus. all guts. I remembered how deeply I cared about Bryan. despite still believing Jake was an idiot. “what should I do?” Best friends always know this answer before it gets asked. Mara! Don’t do it!” Then a new wave of emotion hit me. I loved Casey for this reason: no hesitation. He wanted to know if Mara still liked him. I was about to ask if I would be giving Mara false hopes. she needs to know. It was jealousy. asking about whether you want him back or not.
Every girl was charmed by Jake’s perfect surfer boy look. I saw Aidan sitting on a bench. You’d think that getting back together with Mara would stifle his flirtatious nature. our discussion was absolutely boring. His face was troubled. it’s not that big of a deal. One week of not seeing him would test the theory of “out of sight. And then we have Aidan. phone in his hand. I guess not.” The first day was awesome.” “What’s her name?” If he was going to be the typical guy and pretend to be chill. “Don’t worry about it. Spanish? Worksheet. English went fine except for a few things.Chapter 19 Perhaps the most amazing thing could have happened to me the week before Halloween. out of mind. This day was boring. How mundane.” he said. as usual. Bryan went on vacation. The second thing was Jake.” “It’s just stupid ex drama. trying not to think about anything upsetting. As I got out of the parking lot. Then Bio. fractured accents. But my day went normally. I had to .” Why mess with another girl’s guy? Government went fine. and other stuff. It was a quiz. my awful teacher. but the way Mara acted around him just screamed “taken. I had gotten my homework done. I was off to the mall to take more pictures.” With that he smiled. One. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “And don’t say that nothing is wrong. Math was boring. saying it as if it was no big deal at all. I didn’t blame them. He said it like it was nothing. his green eyes touching the sunlight perfectly. I envied him for being so relaxed. but clearly always conveying something’s wrong. Somehow. Then came lunch. who can just shrug something off like it’s “no big deal. everyone knows that that isn’t true. Here I am. a discussion.
I hated crying in public.get something out of him.” I heard Aidan say. “Now exhale. so I held my tears back. branch out to people. I could have said no to Mara’s offer. God. “Hey. a lot less embarrassing. One thing always lead to another. I . This lead to him being possessive.” he said. Ended up have six really amazing months with her. No more dives for Lilly.” I said.” “I should have been embarrassed. This was ridiculous. “it’s going to be okay. I wouldn’t say what I wanted to do with him on our dates. But I did. he pulled out a tissue. One day. Somehow. why was I crying? I needed to calm down. a silver plate with those exact words inscribed into the metal. his voice sounded distant. Or so I thought. And I did. “I had this crazy crush on her through half of high school. it could have been nothing. Before I knew it.’” “Wow. “I took the dive with Zoe. “but sometimes you have to take the dive. go out with him. It became safe after that. “One more gift from my sister. Allison went up to her and said ‘my brother likes you.” I heard Aidan say. “your sister is a daring soul. He saw me looking at it. I had tears streaming down my face. Then I noticed his wrist. But I felt a lot better all of the sudden. That was the last dive I took. I spent all day avoiding this moment. This one. I thought to myself. or some reason not looking at me directly in the eye. right? “Zoe. do things that scare you.” I took the dive with Bryan. It was her message to me to always take chances. There was leather strap around it.” He had his arm around me.” “Take the dive?” I asked.” he said. I didn’t want to cry in front of Aidan. it’s ok.” When was the last time I did anything that scared me? I was the safest person you would meet. this time looking at me straight in the eye.” He said. “Just take a deep breath.
It looked reckless and dangerous.gave him a weak smile. though. either. Eric had captured Violet’s attention almost as much as Violet captured those of other guys.” she said. And she always told me. the dweeby one. Not to mention that Violet was the one person who was holding me back. I was thinking about what Aidan said about taking chances. and thank you. it’s not like a textbook or something that you can just read it and know. But Violet was almost not a part of my home life anymore. She began staying with Eric. Where would I begin? I asked Casey. Violet was getting much worse. Violet’s idea of fun did not look fun at all.” “Don’t worry about it. “Better?” he asked. the one person I knew would have any answer. At the same time. “Have some fun” was another response. Her nights were spent with . That night. this was a good thing for all of us. There was something about Aidan that calmed me down. It was an absolute shame. “A lot.” This made me the less pretty cousin.” That was a problem. with frizzy brown hair (next to her smooth blonde) and glasses.” The bassist who I’m sure also did drugs. I always asked. it wasn’t something I knew how to do. as guys would call her. her new “boy toy. “Anywhere. Either way you sliced it. The fact there existed any life beyond textbooks wasn’t some harsh reality. worrying is bad for you. “Not sure what to tell you. Lilly.” And I didn’t. Why she was there was unknown. One time. It was more like getting a new book and learning new facts. she managed to wake me up at six in the morning. This one came from Violet. She was. I’m sure I asked her. It’s just sometimes I did not care. making me drive to a gas station to pick her up. this didn’t work for me. It wasn’t as though Santa didn’t exist. However. “hot.
It was from Violet.Eric. I need you. Still. But this class gave me a run for money. I had worked hard all my life. it wasn’t with a manic look. Abrams had that going as well. Everyone. “Hey. It was a Friday night. my stress levels higher. I got those calls. looking nothing short of “chill.” he said. that is. yet again. it should have been outlawed. I was about to go to a movie with Mara and Casey. Abrams. while other overachievers were going through notes. saying I would be late. “Lilly. working. Chapter 20 I hate Mr. I drove off to be the pushover. it’s all about studying for them. but a serene glance to his notes. This made it awful. I then got a call. except Aidan. This was a fact. wondering whether he studied at all. I texted Mara. The neediness in her voice was no match. Who gives three projects and a test all on the same day? What kind of insanity was that? I had been a smart person all my life. her days at the department store.” . AP Biology was one of those classes that separated children from adults. “It shouldn’t be too bad. “How you’re so relaxed is a huge mystery for me. though. and everyone felt the pressure. How ironic.” I thought about Aidan. Whenever I saw him. he was leaning on the wall.” When he studied. my temper more on the edge. brushing his hair back. who was so calm about work. about taking chances and standing up for myself. I can’t believe I was getting worked up about how calm he was. how are you doing with the test next week?” I asked. I didn’t get it. Test on a Friday? Mr. I was a straight A student.
but I learned to hold it in. It was a picture of a girl with dark hair in the center of the page. He pulled out a sketchbook. I looked through it.“I used to get angry. but I wanted to keep looking. I was mesmerized by some. absolutely awestruck by others. take stress out in other ways. to have someone go through as much. It was horrible. he smiled. What was she like? Why did they break up? Did he like girls who . “I was a riled up little kid. changing something so awful into something beautiful.” he said. ********** I was trying to read biology. It was like “Iris. “I’m sorry. handing it to me. but all that reading about proteins translated into mind mush. and the space around her swirled out to the edges of the pages. all kinds of incredible things.” he said. I wondered about Zoe. It has simple things like violins and music notes. Then there was one that I got to. There were cracks in the white spaces. They were full of all kinds of things that were everyday things. the edges of her dress. The words “Zoe” and “pain” written all over. But I couldn’t help but think about Aidan. full of drawings and sketches. I looked up.” I said. mixed with mountains. ever. “don’t worry about it. It amazed me. he stared. like broken shards of glass. it was amazing. others in pen. “It’s a lot of pain to deal with. Some were in color.” “Such as?” I could feel myself making it sounds like an interrogation. “Pain happens. “Hey.” I said gravely. taking the sketchbook from my hands. but his sketchbook was by far the most incredible thing I had ever seen. maybe water.” I wanted to look away and forget I even saw it. I was both elated and mortified. written in a blood red. I always saw Aidan’s folder. Her hair.” With that.” he said.
sometimes even flirted. Whenever I saw Jake. I was not on Mara’s side. though. saying things like “I think you’re getting too ahead” or “Maybe you should calm down a bit. Getting back together with Jake had been absolutely fantastic for her.were stronger than I am? Was he turned off by my insecurities? What about his sister? Was she always the one that ordered him around? Did he mind being ordered around? Did he obsess about me as much I as I was thinking about him? The last question’s answer is probably a no. Mara was excited for herself. She was excited for me. But there was a problem. and. I was excited for me. I was happy. I noticed all of this after we broke up. . Casey tried easing Mara in. I had nothing to tell her. took no notice of this whatsoever. So I kept my mouth shut. I had entered a state of being that left these questions unnecessary.” But Mara was in a mood to say “Awwww” in the most heartfelt tone. disgustingly obvious when she wasn’t. This meant I kept my mouth shut. Mara.” This did nothing but upset Mara. As usual. however. prompting her to use the age old excuse. This hit me like a freight train. Casey said things off hand like “that’s good” and maybe an “awww. reaching something beyond the infatuation of a crush. But I didn’t want to upset her the way Casey did.” I understood. But I also realized that Bryan did the things Jake did. knowing Mara. We knew Jake didn’t feel the same way. This did not matter for some reason. I called Casey and Mara. He looked at other girls. She was too happy to realize it. he was flirting with another girl. “you don’t understand. would trust Jake too much to believe us. Even Casey had issues telling Mara how she really felt. Hindsight is always twenty-twenty. This was subtle when Mara was around.
about people and the parties they went to. her door. How is that fair? It was the same with Bryan. Nor did he seem like the nice guy Violet made him out to be. I wasn’t listening to how hot her boyfriend was or how gorgeous his eyes. I’d hear her slam down the receiver.Chapter 21 I hadn’t spoken to Aidan all day. I got an apology from him one day. it seemed. For one. the solution was to walk back home. You have an amazing conversation one day and don’t talk the other. or just walk back home. how this affected them as a couple. This happened with many relationships. hair. Violet simple went from there to work. Eric seemed to bring something else out of Violet. It’s like stone in the middle of a road: go around it. This mean dumping whoever thought she wasn’t ready for a relationship. However. which was a long time for Violet. a guy who seemed so shady to me. stopping by once in a while to get food. but the new topic on my mind was if Violet would ever move out. For once. so she breaks up with them. It should have. At first. that being a removal of said commitment. I decided to pretend I was doing homework whenever he stopped by. Eric and Violet had been together for only a month. it was time spent with Eric. But she kept going . maybe to sleep in the guest room that she usually slept in. through it. Shouting coming from both ends. This was added to the amount of crying Violet did. This happened all the time. or even throw her phone at the wall (it was a surprisingly durable cell phone). there were so many fights in the kitchen and over the phone. For Violet. or generic body part was. I found it funny that most men have problems with her committing. This did not bother me. Eric did not seem to return these feelings. he avoids me like the plague. or all week. and when he comes from vacation. But Violet was having problems. She was actually remarking on how nice of a guy he was. The first fight is a landmark for every couple.
who simple told me my cynicism would pass. I wondered. . She. I doubted Jake’s loyalty the way I doubted Bryan’s sincerity. Violet never made it passed the attraction state. would you do that? But I knew the answer before I could even finish the question. This was a problem in the new relationship between Jake and Mara. she found someone who let that part of her go away. I did something that I had never done before to a couple: I doubted. as if it was a simple problem with a simple solution. There were times you could tell Mara was trying to hard not to argue with Jake. shrugging some of her picks off as “trivial” or refusing to see them because they had no plot or bad acting. Mara’s room had an entire shelf devoted to DVD’s of all kinds of movies. of course you’re filled with doubt” she told me. She cared about him. Still. the movies had no power this time around. However. Jake started doubting Mara’s choices. We both saw Jake and his wandering eye. this gave them a real bonding power for the first few months of their relationship. But in her chance to keep Jake and her wonderful relationship. Jake talked more about movies than any person I knew. was in the infatuation state of love. They avoided fights completely. Naturally. We both could not tell Mara. The best example of this was their movie dates. too. Jake and Mara had first bonded on their love for movies. This was when I realized my own habits. We both knew it wasn’t. I doubted Violet’s happiness the way I doubted Jake’s loyalty. Why.back to him. they both would pick movies for each other. This happened more often than either of them would like to admit. For me. who had always been sensitive about her movies. As selfish as Violet could be. “You’re bitter and heartbroken. When they had their movie nights. Mara. she said nothing. She said this simply. the lack of fights did not mean there were no problems. became really upset. This sounded incredible. from horror films to chick flicks. I told this to Casey. They seemed to walk around the stone. this was shocking to see her like this.
Mara’s bubbly personality and pretty smile drove Doug into a trance. He was enamored by her. Mara disagreed. we both needed each other for ride to class. Ever since all four of us (Mara.” Mara seemed to not notice how many girls actually were near him. she . For the most part. He was always the person I called when I needed help with something. and Mara was nice to him. Casey. that Mara could do so much better. Whenever we strayed from the subject at hand. Despite his social ineptitude. back to carbohydrates and derivatives. my friend and long time study buddy. maybe coffee for studying. But with Mara. The one thing I could never help Doug with was how he felt about Mara. But out of love for Jake. Doug. letting us know when it was a big deal. we adopted Doug as a little brother. she kept tried to keep this to herself. he got nervous. are you going to library?” I awoke with a start. Why point it out? Why get someone upset when they’re so happy? “Hey. he told me how he felt about her. But I didn’t point it out to her. “He’s such a wonderful guy!” she would say. Glasses? Check. and I was always willing to help him because of it. I told Doug sincerely that as nice as Mara thought he was. Doug and I had a mutual nerdiness that gave us a lot in common. homework help. My entire train of thought had been interrupted by a text message from Doug. This became the problem. I tried to change it back to school. By the end of freshman year. High GPA and low social interaction. the most common. “any girl would be luck to near him. Doug and Casey had a similar love for blowing things up. Doug discussed science fictions movies avidly.You could tell that Mara was upset. Star Wars obsession? Check. He was the typical scrawny white geek you thought you only saw in movies. Casey and I had unanimously decided that he was an asshole. Which I always tried to shake off. or . Doug Farmer was nerd personified. and I) were in the same freshman English class. he was a very nice guy. Double check. This is why he made the best study partner. an attribute that the tomboy Casey had in common with a lot of guys.
Chapter 22 Doug and I had spent hours in the library as he tried to help me with calculus. It was the last time I told a hurtful truth. There was a significance to the things I said to him. I felt a pang of guilt in my stomach that I did whenever I thought about him and Mara. I texted him back. despite how she felt about him. I glanced at Doug. Her unawareness made her talk about Jake to Doug. tell Mara how he feels? As I walked into the library. I could tell he was getting worked up about my lack of math skills. but remained friends with all of us. When Doug asked if she would change her mind. There were times that I forgot. Mara had no idea how much Doug liked her. I felt obligated to Doug the truth. you could see the look in his eyes. Although Jake had been a nice guy to me. This made me sick. he was an inherently good guy. Tried is the key word for this statement. showing the world by publicly kissing in the hallways. What if I said nothing? What if I told him to go ask her out. By the end of the year. saying I was leaving soon. Mara and Jake had gotten together. the surfer boy type that most nerds usually spited. Although Doug was born with the patience of a saint. But whenever Mara and Jake were together.only saw him as a friend. . Doug was heartbroken. As I did. Despite his awkwardness and how nervous he got around people. I began thinking of Doug and the things I said to him freshman year. As I left for the library. the brutal honesty that broke his heart. I saw Doug with his biology notes in front of him. Mara never helped this. I told Doug about Jake. It was heartbreaking. And his definition of a great girl was Mara. He also care deeply about Mara. She also told him how much he deserved a great girlfriend. He did deserve a great girl. To this day. I was now seeing Doug as an improvement. It made Doug even worse.
” I put down the phone. “I’m listening. Please don’t let her be pregnant. I had to answer her call. “It’s Mara. raising his eyebrow. Mara went into hysterical sobs. She baked cookies when things were going wrong with Jake. in a loud enough voice for Doug to hear exactly whose voice it was. “Go. while Doug looked at me. The smell of chocolate chips would have been something so wonderful. “Hi. something so comforting. sounding urgent. all of the sudden. Then Mara called. I was just getting increasingly annoyed at Doug and at calculus. she sounded desperate. I’ll leave soon. Poor guy. I drove to Mara’s house to see Casey’s truck already in the driveway. Doug was way ahead of me.He kept trying to repeat rules into my mind.” she said. too be greeted with the smell of cookies baking. they meant that something was going wrong. as if this would help my retention at all. “I need to talk to you now. “I can’t stay with him any longer!” I heard her say.” He liked her so much. it made me feel sorry for him. Uh oh. muffins were her drug of choice. we were in a private room in the library. in person. He closed my calculus book and handed it to me. I would always silence my phone. It seemed like a cruel trick of nature that Mara called when Doug was around. Lil. to see her crying in her bed. I thought. claiming it was someone else. But today.” she said. If it was her family.” I said. At first. But this time. “All my movies have .” he said. I walked into Mara’s house. It didn’t. she looked relieved. “Nothing I do is good enough for him. As soon as Casey saw me. Mara loved baking when things were going wrong.” She said.” “No. “Ok. I understand. I walked up the stairs. Nevertheless. If it was her grades. it was cake. I thought. and Mara’s relationship was so bad. Casey was sitting at her desk.
Not only did she have a boyfriend for a long time. three pints of ice cream.” he said. hoping some kind of sleep would make this entire day better. beautiful. Lilly?” I realized that I’ve never heard him say my name before. I was home.suddenly turned into ‘frivolous crap. I can’t really focus. and a few pep talks later.’ everything I do just doesn’t get the appreciation it used to. I woke up at noon on Sunday. She burst into tears instead. “But…but. all of the sudden.. “Not doing homework for once. I looked up and waved. He basically gave her some advice about Jake and even brought her Rocky Road ice cream. because I felt like I wasted the entire day. wondering how in the world I could end up so alone. I called Mara later to hear she was doing well. I sat down and decided that I might do my homework. Mara was going through something awful. her favorite flavor. I sighed. Casey was not the one for heartfelt advice. I had to admit. my sympathy for Doug became envy for Mara. it was the truth. something that distracts me from what I need to be doing?” . My envy soon became disgust. When I got there. So I did the thing I always did: I went to take pictures at the mall. It was at the point where I had expected to see him everywhere. but she had the undying attention of a guy who would never leave her side. I hated when I woke up so late. I saw Aidan. Doug paid her visit. The sad thing was that she and Jake were still together. I really do it to get out of my head. “what do you take pictures of?” “It depends.” “Hearts change.” “So I’ve noticed. One hour. “Yeah.” Mara went to say something in return. But when she gave advice. This did not happen. but couldn’t.” was all the advice Casey could offer. I liked it a lot. He walked over to me. Somehow. she said. Mara had stopped crying. you know? But whatever I find interesting. at 3 am. and I was judging her because of it. looking at my camera. It didn’t. I was awake at night.
” “Such as?” he looked down. “Maybe. “you know Bryan.” Was that a compliment? I backtracked for a moment before saying something in response. It gave me time to look up at Aidan properly and smile.“Seems like you get lost in your head a lot” “I do” “You’re pretty smart. Bryan would also tell me my intelligence was something good. “Pretty much. right? The guy that I’ve hung out with once or twice?” “Right” “Basically. You could do the same with your pictures.” and I said the thing that had been on my mind since forever. so it’s probably a complex place up there. For no words.” He said. I could barely explain to myself. “I just have a lot on my mind.” “Kiss of death. So I like explaining my art more than my brain. I have no idea what went on my head. “I signed up for an art show” he said. . That was far too enthusiastic . “For me.” “All right. Bryan and I always had these kinds of silences. Still. then we tried to be friends.” Then there was silence.” he said. not entirely sure what to say. “Wherever you want. realizing I was blushing. it wasn’t the least bit awkward. “Cool!” I practically screamed.” Why was I telling him personal information? “Basically?” Why did he sound interested? “We broke up once things began falling apart for us. let alone to another person. I took it. it begins with an image. I thought it was too obvious of a compliment. My drawings would help me clear my mind. I thought to myself. Personally. However. It gave him time to smile back. I realized we were walking together.” I said. this was not like the usual silence. It was almost comforting. well. “Where do I begin?” I asked. green eyes looking into my soul in the gentlest way possible. he’s my ex boyfriend. rather gravely.
“Sounds awesome.“You should come. What if it was? I felt my cynicism set in. no new plans. much more calmly. circled the date. The date was a week from now. Did I just compare myself to Doug? Then I thought of what Aidan said. now look at him. Lilly is getting a new guy!” Mara said.” I said. scanning my eyes toward a week from now. Used to means that I will never set foot . sounding more happy than she had in the last few days. Excellent. this would be embarrassing. this time.” *** “Yes. handing me a flier from what seemed out of nowhere. and I still hadn’t talked to Bryan in a while. I thought to myself. They also both seemed to agree that he liked me. I took my purple marker. what his bracelet said. out of mind. Used to.” “Yes!” Casey and Mara had given me there opinions of Aidan. What if he actually just thought I was weird and was simply being nice? Mara was nice to Doug.” he said. Let’s hope so. otherwise. “Awww. as in not anymore. I thought sarcastically. Who would have thought this could be a real source of advice? I looked at my calendar. Chapter 23 I used to be a poet. But was I? I didn’t know what was going on. “I really hope you get to see some of it. In fact. Both approved (what was there to disapprove?). Technically. What happened with Bryan was supposed to be “out of sight. and wrote 2pm. Take the dive.” What actually happened was that I wound up missing him.
this was not a good thing. I felt this new urge to write. All of the sudden. One day. I have even forgotten the poem and what it was about. so all the smart kids (the “nerds”) were trapped with kids who would make fun of their nerdiness (the “cool people”). trying to get that memory out of my mind. My English. “Doubting my abilities?” .” I said. But like Mara baking cookies when she was upset. like the smell of baked goods. Our school didn’t have honors classes until tenth grade. But it was enough to make me giddy. too. like out of those television shows about high school life.near a notebook for fun anymore. I sat in the front row. and I was proud of it. I had never written anything . I read it out loud. It’s funny how laughter always makes you think of something happy. But there was something different happening with me. it wasn’t a big deal. there was one person who liked what you wrote. From that day forward. saying my poem was something that we should all aspire to write. She asked me to read it out loud. That laughter seemed to go on for hours. The first Monday and he and I were talking. It was in ninth grade. we were all instructed to write a poem. He was excited about it. too. I wanted to write about Aidan. Except there wasn’t something to look forward to. Mrs. He showed me his second sketchbook. “They look professionally done. I was horrified. To this day. This one was all landscapes. I saw him everyday for the rest of the week. stretching from the moment I had stopped reading to the moment I sat down. The feeling was horrible. Smith teacher loved mine. Sure. She was proud of it. In those shows. Everyone laughed. I couldn’t help but think about him inviting me to his art show. It could’ve been on whatever we wanted. This did not happen. Used to means that I would rather not go through the humiliation.
It’s the geeky smile I give When you’re anywhere near It’s me blushing like an idiot Especially when you’re here It’s the feeling like I swallowed A jar of butterflies It’s what happens When I look into your eyes It’s that fuzzy feeling That makes me all warm inside It’s that foolish behavior I can’t seem to hide It’s the clear things I wish to say But all I can do is stutter It’s my fantastic mood all the time That makes my heart flutter .“No. “that’s not…” “I was kidding. this would be an awkward silence.” as Aidan said. It was a chance to look at him and smile.” I felt myself blushing. I wrote a poem. I decided it was time to stop.” “Oh” With Bryan. But it wasn’t. “Take the dive. That day.
more specifically. I felt something. It was a huge thing for me. he absolutely loved it. I had entered the bargaining phase. It was the feeling of embarrassment. I thought sarcastically. according to Casey. a person who may not even feel the same way as I do. like I had with Bryan. a new feeling formed. Bryan gave me earrings. I gave him a jar of Starbursts. to be able to write something. Why hadn’t I moved on? I was eating Starbursts. of feeling so strongly about a person I barely knew. supposedly the last of the steps of grief before acceptance. To me. How do relationships even begin? For me. I felt many things. Valentine’s Day. like Doug and Mara? Would we have this arguing “give and take” relationship like Violet and Eric? I was breathing too much life into it. The ones he saw me looking at. However. Those were the only ones I liked. trying to do an essay. the ones I found myself looking at whenever I passed the jewelry counter at Target. Thank you. who somehow knew these things off the top of her head. After acceptance. as my frustration mixed with my nerves. I was sitting at my computer. I needed to calm down and roll with the punches. wondering about how far I had gotten with trying to get over Bryan. Well. Bryan had taken me out to dinner. . Bryan would by a massive pack of them from Costco and have one every day. Thank you for relating my life to a boxing match. anything after holding myself back. Casey. I remember giving each other our presents.As soon as I wrote this. no point in eating them. What if Aidan didn’t like me back? What if he only saw me as a friend? Would it be awkward like it had with Bryan? Could this just be casual. it was always diving into a relationship. It was at a Chinese restaurant called Wok and Roll. Whereas most people would have wanted something more meaningful than candy. Bryan loved Starbursts more than any candy on the shelf. there was no chocolate. a pink one. you moved on with your life. therefore.
It felt like. For me. a relatively good amount of common music (except rap music. Doug’s went from Mara to science. I missed the way he put his arms around me. and Valentine’s Day. and a future ahead of us. everything ok?” . and then back to Mara. what is with white guys listening to rap?). A kiss on the forehead was affectionate. He didn’t like public display of affection too much. “Nothing. I was afraid that this could never happen again. not lust-driven.“It’s stuff like this. “that makes me so happy you’re my girlfriend.” He kissed me on the forehead. the answer to all my nerd problems. All those couples who forced each other’s tongues down the other person’s throats disgusted him as much as they disgusted me. Which they did. someone wasn’t laughing at me or judging me. Then I did something else: I called Aidan. Violet went from Kyle to Patrick to Brian to Zack to Kenny to Cory to Brett to Eric. Christmas mistletoe. what’s up?” he sounded tired. We had a mutual love for our own candy (M&M’s being my sweet of choice). It felt safe. Jake’s went from Mara to every girl within a ten mile radius of him. but in a way that was caring. it felt secure. Casey didn’t go anywhere.” he said. “Hello?” “Hi. This alone was one of the things I liked about Bryan. I was happy to be around someone who liked simple things. This future involved prom. thinking about Bryan. hearts change. we could never have what I had with Bryan. That even if Aidan and I did work out. it’s Lilly” “Hey. I missed the way he kissed me on the forehead. As Casey said. for once. Why was I so afraid of letting go? Was he the same Bryan that still loved Starbursts and hated PDA? His time dating Roxie disproved the second one quickly. My initial response was to call Doug. I stared at the Starburst wrapper. Neither was this essay. Bryan’s heart went from me to Roxie.
“Yes?” I said. it’s fine. though. “Please don’t call me that. “Look. I have to go. “Should I call back?” Crap.” the tone of his voice did not make me feel better. my voice sounding tense as I hung up on Doug and answered Bryan. but promise me you’ll keep the adoration to yourself?” I felt horrible as soon as I said this.” Very smooth. Who was this guy? “What are you doing this Sunday?” “Art show. “It’s fine. don’t worry about this right now.” his voice flat and irritated. it somehow leads to talking about Mara. I then heard a beep sound. . his voice sounding genuinely concerned. who explained the three branches of government’s usages of checks and balance and each Founding Father’s opinions on this. I wanted to know if you wrote anything.” “Oh. I checked my phone. I ended up calling Doug. It meant a call on the other line.” “Why. I thought to myself. “nevermind. but that’s ok. a friend of mine asked me to go. I shouldn’t be taking a nap.” he said. “I can try and help you with the essay.” “No. I’ll talk to you later. “She’s fine. “What’s wrong?” he said. what’s up?” Sometimes I wish I knew what was going through his head. Dougie” I called him this when I knew he needed a sense of comfort.” as sweet as Doug was.” he said.“I just woke up. As most conversations with Doug went. “Fine. and I realized I should have just called Doug.” he said. I interrupted his sleep. how’s it going?” “Do you have Fineman for Government?” “I don’t. It’s 3:30 in the afternoon. Mara did not need more drama in the form of an adoring nerd. Did Bryan really need to call me now? “Doug. go back to sleep.
As usual. If you gave her enough time alone. She didn’t say anything. I asked Casey for advice instead. Then Violet did something I had never see her do. “What you’re doing is part of the healing process. wondering why her drug addict boyfriend hadn’t stopped by in a while.” I didn’t bother to tell her Bryan and I broke up five months ago. “How’s Eric doing?” I asked. she sorted it out herself.” said the always-condescending Violet. She just left. Despite being a serious drama queen. But I finally drew the line. and wanted to know if you wanted to come with.” “It usually is. That’s not a good sign. I also didn’t bother to mention that she had never had a relationship go on longer than one month. begin shouting. Bryan had asked me to go to a movie with him. I almost did. really. as if it was something everyone knew. annoying healing process. Lill” . This was something I envied about her. but I decided not to dwell on it. Being a little more self sufficient would work out. Chapter 24 I said no. “I mean.” she said simply. I should have been proud of myself. or say anything to insult me. I kept all these thoughts to myself. but it’s taking you at least another year to get over him. being me. you have been with this guy for only a year. However.” Now I really wanted to know what was going through his head. “This is a long.“I wanted to see a movie. She just gave me a look and walked upstairs. she didn’t yell at me. Violet didn’t rely on people to solve her problems for her. Why wasn’t I? “You need to get over him. I would have said yes. I was worried about it.
” Casey was clearly losing her temper over the phone. “Lilly and I have both been in .” said Mara over the phone “stop scoffing. Everything about a relationship makes things better. If I upset Casey. “He has to have a reason for acting like this. she sounded like a mouse. hoping they wouldn’t realize I was still in this conversation. Do not say anything under all costs. Keep your mouth shut. I especially didn’t like that he kept calling me to ask me if I was sure I couldn’t cancel on Aidan. “Relationships are fantastic. they’re beautiful. Oh no. “Lilly does NOT think that I’m wasting my time with him!” Just don’t say anything. I just closed my eyes. “Who says I want one?” “Who wouldn’t want one?” Mara’s voice was getting so high-pitched. I didn’t want to find that there were Starburst wrappers on the table that my brother had eaten. “I love him!” “you’re wasting your time!” Casey was furious.” Oh. “You’ve been killing yourself over a guy who isn’t even worth it. what would you know. you cannot say stuff like that and expect yourself to have a relationship any time soon!” yelled Mara.” “Do guys really think that way? Are guys really sensitive?” asked Casey.I didn’t think “I don’t want it to be” was a smart thing to say. Casey. You will upset Mara. This is not a chance I want to take. There is something wrong. I thought to myself. So I just kept quiet. like I had so many times before. But I didn’t want to think about Bryan. she would understand. The truth is not something people want to hear. She’s going insane again. “Even Lilly thinks so. Why was my name being brought up in this? My heart rate shot up as I tried to figure out what to say.” Mara was crying. “Casey.” There was something Mara was not telling us. I’m so much happier in one than I am without one. I didn’t say go back into his arms like nothing happened. I thought. shit. “Casey. just keep your mouth shut.
The first guy who did not see her as “one of the guys” and openly said that she was beautiful.” That did it. The light was shinier than anything I knew. I didn’t know what to think. It was another to bring up Lee. It was usually Mara who would call me with so much excitement as a . Casey knew about three guys named Will. or Jake knew. so we used his last name. He was extremely athletic. “No. And most of all. Lil. This was a story that could go both ways. a drummer. “Oh my God. Jake said. but beautiful. She did the one thing no one should have. I had never seen her so happy. She was head over heels. The bigger deal came when he asked her out. Right?” Honestly. so full of life. Mara. not pretty. I heard a click on the other line. he was charismatic. What I’ve seen of him was a muscular Asian boy with very nice arms. I had to call Casey.” I hung up on her. hair that was done perfectly. Lee was sweet. This was me taking the dive. and an extremely smart guy. But something bubbled up in me.” Mara said. “this isn’t good! I can’t believe I said that! But you don’t really think I’m wasting my time with Jake. I was trying to be invisible. for Mara to forget I was on the other line.” I heard myself say. He was nice to Casey. “you aren’t. It was usually Mara who talked excitedly about what Jake did. he was a musician. Lee was not an argument to be used lightly. The thing I was most charmed about.relationships. *** Will Lee was awesome. “You mentioned Lee?” it was one thing to argue against Casey. She said yes. This was a big deal. This is what I’ve heard. He had a smile that was perfect. But she wasn’t picking up. It was like someone had turned on the switch in Casey’s light. Not hot. was by Casey. however. You have never fallen for a guy since Lee. I met him and was instantly charmed by all the things he said. Mara hit a nerve. He was many in all the right ways.
She was left to pick up the pieces. “Here. offering her ice cream and kind words. He was charming as usual. I left her alone. So what happened to Will Lee? I ran into him at the convenience store. She then gave up hope. there was a difference. giving it to me. What I remember most was how happy he made Casey. He smiled. She tried to change the subject. This wasn’t Casey’s style. Two hour phone calls and back and fourth texts had stopped abruptly. there was only one packet of Starbursts left. and asked me how I was.” he said. I told Casey. as I remembered being charmed. At the convenience store. For some reason. out of nowhere. It was as if he disappeared off the face of the Earth. the third one made an imprint on my memory. Then. Will Lee was the first and last. The second most was how badly he screwed her up. He stopped calling. in essence. Mara tried to comfort her. some girl appeared. under most circumstances. As quickly as her light was turned on. her light bulb was smashed. knowing Casey preferred it that way. He grabbed it from me. He then saw my facial expression. Although she still gave pointed advice and was still. I love you. This was the packet of Starbursts that prompted Bryan to say the words that will live in my memory forever. He smiled and bought M & M’s instead. Casey was upset. When I had heard those words. But Casey became a new person. glued to his arm like a mutation of a Siamese twin. She kept calling.kid on Christmas morning. He walked away. She went for once a day. Casey. That was the packet of Starbursts I gave Bryan during our nine month anniversary. then once. It was usually Mara who. Sunset dripping on . they were ended with the perfect kiss. remembered my name. Then something happened. twice in an hour. giggled and blushed when his name was mentioned.
things would be much better. “Doug…” I really had nothing to say that would comfort him. Why was he acting weird? Did he actually miss me? What was going on in his mind that made everything so unclear to me. hands in each other’s. Lilly” he said.” “If we could take the derivative of a heart. Doug. That you went from loving someone to becoming insanely detached. I was beginning to change my mind.” “I know. Dougie.” my voice got softer. “I think I should give up. and for Doug. jealousy happens. I felt awful for Mara. But who would Mara be with? My vote was always on Jake. fights begin. “Doug. Casey would be with Lee. four years has been long enough. For both of us. and you’re left with your best friends fighting and your ex-boyfriend acting weird. This explained why Mara was so stubborn about not wasting her time. It was so far away. Both of them would not be jerks.” “He gave her a promise ring. for Casey. it was beautiful. I would be with Bryan. But Mara did have a point. I believed in Jake.” I didn’t have to ask who “he” and “her” were.” “This sucks. Chapter 25 .our backs.” “Doug…” Can I say anything else but his name? “you can’t just stop feeling that way overnight. it does.” In a perfect world. Now I just think how upset I was at the entire thing. Doug’s voice was shaky. he was breathing heavily into the phone. It was perfect. “Yes. I heard my phone ring. yes. “Hi. Somehow.
And I was making some effort. “I don’t know. It could work. please tell me what you think. everyone knew how Doug felt about Mara.” “I’m still smoothing things over with Bryan. I decided that it could wait. I would say nothing. I am not.” Mara said. if I needed criticism. I got a call from Doug.” “How long is that going to last?” She hit a nerve. If she did this with Jake. If she took forever to get over Jake. “I know. this wasn’t something Mara saw as noteworthy. “You should know. that she was too happy with Jake.” Me and Doug? Who really thought that? Then again. I am trying to move on with Aidan right now.” Is she trying to set me up with Doug? “Um…we are?” “You guys honestly spend so much time together. I would be fine with that. I didn’t wallow over Bryan to her every single day. You’re both so smart and you both already hang out with each other. I’m working on it. No. Except Mara. But for some reason. my head heavy with anger.” “Mara. we’re friends.” I hung up. She thought I was against her? How did that even make sense. “Mara.“Why is Doug not talking to me anymore?” I wonder if I was prepared to tell Mara the truth. I thought about it. “you guys are practically a couple. “You’re not talking to Mara anymore?” .” yet another lie told to protect someone. I kept it to myself. She didn’t seem to get this at all.” “I think you guys would be cute together. but I can’t help but think…” “Mara. I’d ask Violet for advice. that is. I’m doing homework. I was supposed to be the supportive one with her and Jake.
Product rule? Fine. I stared blankly at my paper.” Doug did his homework on Friday nights. fine” “I’m getting off the phone. “I just think she could also be really supportive of me getting over Bryan.” “It sounds like Doggie. Dougie.” I think that was a bit of a jab on Doug’s behalf. However.” “According to Mara. Doug helped this along well enough. Maximum and minimum? Not so much. “Not cool. I need to finish this calculus homework.” “Um…” I could hear Doug trying not to say something.” “I can’t believe Mara never figured out how you felt about her.” he said. “To each their own. you and I should be together. Dougie. She isn’t. I could sit there and do a math problem without .” “It’s Saturday. it was still stressful. I need to move on. my yelling would make this awkward. “I’ll call you Dougie whether you want me to or not. “I don’t agree with her!” I said.” “Look who’s talking.“Lilly. wondering how integrals will ever matter in my life.” and then I added. “Don’t be.” I sat down to do my homework.” “Dougie…” “Ok. I had no idea how to do some of the things calculus asked me to. Any less would just not suffice for me.” “But it’s not.” “Stop calling me that.” “Mara spends too much time with her head in the clouds thinking about Jake.” “I’m sorry. This was an overachiever’s problem.
but was the sign of something so upsetting. I had wedged it into the back of the closet. Casey and Mara did agree on one thing. her voice getting higher-pitched. . so you can’t be too dressy.” “My vote’s on the AC/DC shirt. I found myself trying on about a million different outfits. “It’s not a date. Despite the mention of Lee and Jake in the same context. “And the Hillsdale Art Fair is in a park.” “Can we compromise?” Mara added. The moments I was not staring at Aidan. Abrams wondering what he was talking about.” “Don’t get snippy!” said Mara. it was still driving me insane. Biology did not help. “Sure.screaming into the night because of him. wondering what mysteries lay behind those green eyes. though. However. “I prefer the AC/DC shirt to something I wore to a family dinner. The shirt was the exact one I wore when Bryan broke up with me. All of the sudden.” Mara continued. and Mara’s happiness was rivaled only by Casey’s cynicism. School sucks. They both agreed that going to Aidan’s street art show was a big deal. This was in addition to being totally exhausted all the time from Mara and Casey fighting. She walked over to another shirt.” I said.” this was not Casey’s department. “The frilly top?” Casey said.” Mara said. to band shirts and frilly tops.” Casey added. “Because that doesn’t make me look like I’m trying too hard. from jeans to skirts. “Or this!” throwing a plain navy blue shirt at me. “But you still have to look cute. “I like this. “We are NOT doing the AC/DC shirt!” Mara yelled. How would Mara even have found that? Casey recognized the shirt. I was staring at Mr. raising an eyebrow toward the purple in Mara’s hand. It was a simple red shirt.
so proud of the little kid. Try not to swoon. “Visiting my brother’s art show. I thought. I had to admit that her ability to hug someone she just knew was admirable. and jeans. this was also not difficult. Aidan was so far from a little kid. In ten minutes. navy blue shirt. I heard someone yell. He towered over me.” he said. Al” he said. This was worn with Converse sneakers and my hair worn down (“the ponytail is a kiss of death!” said Mara). “Try not to knock over my friends.” Casey said grinning. “Lilly!!!!!” What surprised me was that it wasn’t Aidan. walking both me and Allison to a white tent that looked like everyone else’s. Mara excitedly.” I said. it wasn’t like everyone else’s. Turns out. she gave me hug. I realized that this was unnecessary as I saw white tent after white tent. This was pretty much what I had in mind an hour and a half before. And eye makeup. “So my booth thing is here.” “Just not actually dead. Allison.” I laughed again. it was confirmed. It was Allison. Actually. not being able to contain my laughter. “Hi.” “Fine. It was a girl. in my mind. and your Converses. hoping to God I wouldn’t get lost. however. “Knock ‘em dead. I told myself. flashing me a smile as he looked toward me. I was wearing a simple black hoodie. Put on lip gloss.” I said simply. Everyone had a lot of landscaping. had art that was more abstract. As I saw him walking toward me. *** I went through Hillsdale park. it was more of a tackle. I saw a girl running toward me. Fully pierced and tattooed.“These jeans. “It’s almost two!” said. Now to find Aidan. “There’s a catch. However. . Aidan.” Mara said. Some people had portraits.
“Allison. I looked closer. “Aidan loves his lilies.” he said. It . “How long has your sister been a lesbian?” I asked.” his face got serious. please go hit on a girl or something. Aidan came up out of nowhere. And Monet’s lilies are too up front about being pretty. She was going to keep it to herself. For you to see absolute chaos. gave her a bracelet. Simply titled “Broken.” He said. only to look closer and see something really beautiful.” “Your mom?” I asked.” “Right. “The lilies. He took it harshly.” Girl? “that girl with the bandana looks cute. “What?” I stared at her blankly. but she’s been more accepting of it since it’s happened. I wanted something different. It’s really inspiring. actually.” my heart sank. but then her partner.” Allison was smiling.” she said. but getting to know them.” “How did your parents take it?” “Not well. “my dad is somewhat conservative. “Like people. The others were just as captivating. Where’s the fun in that?” “That’s not the reason he used lilies.” “Allison’s sexuality is really important to her.” Allison said. There are people that look like train wrecks. “If you’ve ever seen the Monet painting. like the kind my brother used to draw with crayons.There was one I had seen before. It was the one with Zoe’s writing weaved through images of broken glass. They were flowers. “The flowers. There was one that struck me. the one with water lilies. It looked like a massive amount of scribbles. “it’s a bit weird having a sister who gets more girls than I do. blushing for some reason. She went over to talk to her. They weren’t scribbles. “He saw the Monet painting. this girl named Hannah. lilies. More specifically. you realize that’s there’s more depth than you realized. “A few years.” I heard Allison say.” it was still my favorite one. “She cried. it’s these perfect depictions of lilies.
” Aidan was adjusting some of his artwork. And princesses. Always wears purple. “I know her. For a guy who I thought knew no one.” I said. I loved a good listener. “He draws these really awesome dragons. We found this jewelry store that sold them.” Purple was Mara’s favorite color. “ “It was me that told him that she didn’t like him. right?” I underestimated Aidan Johnson. “The princess. Talks about her all the time. Hannah gave Allison one.” “I think we make it seem harder than it’s supposed to be. I sighed.” “I asked first. “I could ask you the same question. I ignored the phone call. Yup. It was Doug.” My phone rang. . “How’d you know?” “He likes her a lot.said ‘take the dive. We’ve known each other ever since. like he’s actually seen one. “He was in my English class in ninth grade. was I going to tell him the entire story. he pretty much knew everyone in my life.” He nodded along. Oh no. I’m all for being selfless.” “Princesses?” “She always has brown hair.” “If only taking the dive was easy. the bracelet was still there.” Aidan smiled. “That’s how I got this.’ “ I looked at Aidan’s wrist.” “Mara. Totally detailed.” “We’re in art together. but sometimes people can be too much. “How do you know Doug?” he asked. Allison gave me one.
” Before I could respond. A few women at the other booths stared.” “I think you need to be needed. “I do. “Interesting. then. that’s settled.“I wish I hadn’t. Not what people want you to think. She was a rather pleasant looking old woman. The look made it seem like he was challenging me to contradict him. You think differently.” I said. “from the moment I met you. looking straight at me.” “There’s something wrong with disappointing people. and I think that’s cool.” “I think that everyone has needs. I should have told him that he had a shot. how old are you?” “Eighteen. There were a few he was adamant about selling.” “Oh.” he said. we should fulfill other people’s needs. I could tell you were a caring person. “I invited you because you’re in touch with things. such as the one . a woman came up and inspected Aidan’s art. Not opinions of Violet or Mara. ma’am” he said.” “Well.” “There is nothing wrong with the truth.” There were a few people who had this reaction.” As if I’m not anymore? “But you’re a people pleaser?” “Did you invite me to an art show to criticize me?” I may have said that too loud. What surprised me was that some people offered to buy his paintings.” Aidan said. “I just want to hear your opinions. “Dear.” “Lilly. And that as a person. I felt like an idiot.
“But one thing first. Now they’re gone. However. “Like you. it’s not for sale. “Sure. It amazed me.” he said. grinning. It was the one about lilies. exposing it was so easy. “Beginning of the relationship? Or when things fell apart?” “Let’s go relationship.” Oh my God. Aidan sold a few paintings. He said.” “Start at the very beginning. “make things easier. lack of communication. the tents were getting taken down. “All right. Towards the end of the day. with vices and baggage. “Answer me this. the spark was gone.” he said. it’s beautiful.” “Well.” “So many things. But like you. there was one he kept refusing to sell. “What about you and Bryan. it looks chaotic. that he could take pain and turn it into something beautiful. To him. even got some huge fans. Chapter 26 We sat on the park benches overlooking a big grassy field.” .” He said.” I leaned back. “let’s hear it from the very beginning.” I said as he rolled up the painting about lilies.” “Why did you and Zoe break up?” “Long distance. I was born on February ninth. but with a smile.” Aidan said. “It’s funny how an hour ago there were so many people.about Zoe. I envied him for it. “You know what I mean. over and over again. I don’t know where to begin.” he said this seriously. What was even more amazing was that he was so open about his pain.” I said.” He handed be the painting.
I asked him to get here at 7 but he came at 7:10.” “Well. “Relationships are nice fix-alls.” “This is the princess?” Aidan asked.” Oh no. “basically Jake. and said. this relates to the story. especially.” “Then what happened?” “Then…” I looked at him.” “That doesn’t answer my question.” “Then things became different. “is this a conversation or interview?” “Most interviews are conversations. were really not worth fighting over. “Yes. ‘call me. her boyfriend. it was getting emotional.“My friend Mara and her boyfriend have been dating for a while. so Mara wanted me to keep him company on a date. What movie we were renting.” I saw that he was raising his eyebrow. like something happened overnight. So I went with it.” “They never are. Things that. are they?” “Nope. Everyone has one.” “Sorry. So I remember thinking ‘this dude is so out of my league. We went on a second date.” “Understandable.” “Fighting about?” “First. and Bryan are pretty good friends. this was fun. “It was nice. Or. But then the fighting would end when things got stressful. I promise. then a third.” he said. “All of the sudden.” Nice? It was wonderful having a boyfriend. Like. never. he gave me his number. I said yes.’ So I called him. . you know?” “Honeymoon period. he was nice to me. and I still remember this. Things that bother you no longer do when you like someone. “continue. He asked me to homecoming. we began fighting.’ But he smiled.” “That lasted about six months. normal stuff. really. I look back on. Make things less awkward. I guess. Bryan just got dumped.
around anniversaries. I guess we were both too busy hating being single to really focus on the relationship itself.” “Go on,” Aidan said, I felt like he was a psychiatrist, except, I was more comfortable. “When we would have anniversaries, the fighting would just stop. We’d get each other candy and make up like nothing happened. He would get me Snickers and I would get him Starbursts.” “Blech, I can’t stand Starbursts.” Aidan was amazing. “Bryan loves them. Anyways, it wasn’t that we didn’t like each other. Of course we did, but we fought over stupid stuff, which lead to other fights. About…other things…” I trailed off. Now was the time. I had avoided so many things for six months. But now, looking at Aidan, was the moment truth. I had to tell someone, right? “You know the Roxie, right?” “The red-headed girl who smokes all the time?” “Right, that one. They’ve always been really close, and I’ve always wondered if there was something going on between Bryan and Roxie.” “There were times when I thought trusting Bryan would be a better option. But there were times when he would cancel on me to do homework. With her.” “Shit,” “Yeah, that’s what I thought. Whenever he got upset, I would feel like a bad girlfriend.” “But he was cheating on you.” “That’s the thing. All this time, he wasn’t. This isn’t me being naïve. This was hearing from Roxie’s band of annoying best friends. Jake said he hadn’t. Roxie, who would be the first to rub it in my face, said he didn’t. He had been faithful to me, and I freaked out. “ I was about to start crying, this was all my fault. This has always been my fault. Aidan read my mind. “It isn’t your fault your boyfriend wanted an escape plan. He may not have cheated on
you, but he could easily dump you for another girl. It’s the nice guy’s way of still being a jerk.” “I don’t blame him. It wasn’t just my jealousy. My overachiever status doesn’t make relationships work, either. For every amount of time he spent with Roxie, I had equal time spent with Doug.” “But you and Doug aren’t…” “I know. But Bryan didn’t. He also said my schoolwork was pushing him away. He’s possessive, I should have realized that.” “Hindsight is always 20/20.” “Yeah, so it was my fault.” “That you don’t want to compromise? That’s fine. Jealous is normal. Being jealous while causing jealousy kinda sucks, though.” “Among other things,” “Other things?” “This might get awkward,” “My sister is a lesbian, nothing is awkward.” I laughed. “Like every guy, Bryan wanted sex. Like most girls in my situation, I didn’t.” “Your situation?” “I want it to be special, not something my boyfriends wants me to.” “He suggested that he wasn’t special to you?” “At first, then he pretended to forget about it. But I’m making him seem like a sex fiend.” “He’s a teenaged guy. It’s kinda the same thing.” Aidan said. “It was one of few roadblocks. But then I was also really clingy. When he told me he loved me, I freaked out. I wasn’t sure whether I loved him or not, to be honest.” “But you said that you loved him?” “Yeah, I did,” I said, “I didn’t want to disappoint him. Then I ended up believing it was
true. Then I became clingy.” “What defines clingy?” “Blowing off Mara and Casey to hang out with him,” “I doubt they were happy about it,” “They weren’t. But Mara does that, too, but that’s for another day,” “So being clingy,” “Right. I would do that, always have my arms around him when we were in the same room.” “That’s not too bad,” “But he’s not one for PDA,” “That might be bad,” “I just did things that took away my life and replace it with his. One of those girls that becomes the ‘super girlfriend’ and won’t do anything without her boyfriend knowing. A lot of times, I did things only if he would do them. “Like this one time I just wouldn’t go to the store unless he went with me. I bribed him into going, practically.” “With Starbursts?” “Yes,” I realized that a lot of things were being said that I never admitted to anyone, “I think I made him watch a few chick flicks, too.” “Ouch,” he said, making a face. “See the issue?” “But he didn’t bother to talk to you about it?” “I think we would just get upset with each other about it. I’d respond with Roxie and he’s respond with Doug. Then we’d just get angry and hang up on each other.” “Conflict resolution seems to not work.” “There would be an hour where I compulsively checked my phone, thinking he called.
” “Then what are yours?” I asked. “That’s not clingy.” I smiled. Lots of them. “anything I can criticize.” “I know. “Healing process.” Did that just come out of my mouth? There was something perfect about what happened next.” “Unfiltered truth is a vice I wanted to get rid of. I sat there. Then I said took the dive.” “I’d rather do that knowing I can swim.” “Take the dive. I know.” “I like vices.” he said.” I said. right next to cell phone.” I had not told this to anyone. He usually called. always the take the dive.” “Hey. He never did. “I concentrate on flaw. “the waters are not as deep as you think. That’s not the nicest thing to say. I kept thinking he was going to call.” “It’s not.” he said. it’s ok. “I like you.” “No. When we broke up. vices make things so much more interesting.” “No fun in that. I just really thought I’d be over him by now.” “It’s a…” I cut him off. “it’s about time you say something without caring whether I’d like it or not. And I tell uncomfortable truths. There was so much to know.Then go on about my phone being broken because I didn’t get a call. it’s just sad. Like when I told you that you need to be needed.” “But you said it. I do. Maybe it was the fact we were .
. this isn’t easy. He pressed his lips against mine. unafraid. He pulled away. Mara gets upset.talking about something depressing. “But you don’t want to tell her. you can practice on me!” “No. “but she sounds like a drama queen. I fell for a guy.” “I don’t mean to sound rude.” “You should.” “Why not?” “I can deal with certain people knowing. he liked me back. I was overjoyed. sweeping the bangs from my face. When Mara and Jake had gotten to this point. and free.” Chapter 27 I was wondering what had happened over the next few days that had left me so happy. too. it really was. It could even be the fact that. It was how soft his lips were. perfectly. I was unhinged. spending every waking moment glued to each other. I was smitten. Mara and Jake had been at it forever. She would not respond. But we both knew the real reason it was perfect. but not Mara. It was the way his hands were intertwined with mine. that anything seemed better then talking about Bryan. They seemed to be happy together.” Aidan said. “There’s a reason that I can’t stand girls who do this type of thing. I liked having someone I could vent to.” “Fine. for once. I tried to call Mara. Maybe it the was the sunset.” This was time for me to defend Mara. He leaned over. which looked almost perfect from that small park bench. It was amazing. Mara and Jake clicked just as well. This was the problem. “I like you. it was just plain impossible to separate them.” “Aidan.” I said to Aidan.
your boyfriend is your friend.However.” Who was I to disagree? “But you have this title as being a boyfriend.” he once told me. and blue eyes were no match. he would call me. .” “That’s confusing. Aidan saw things differently. dating came naturally when I was with Bryan. “basically. and his mouth. The tanned skin. “We’re friends. Again. This might have worked for Mara. She was glued to his arm. Again. the Valentine’s Day Gifts. only you guys kiss. Girlfriend is a great title. this guy was taken. “Dating is a really bad term. I still saw him flirting with every girl that passed by him in English. but I don’t want a title. kissing one girl at a time. they were both glued to their phones. I want a promise. that’s comforting to know. This lack of titles was throwing me off. Jake doted on Mara in hopes of making up for being a jerk. I would call him. Still. always had been.” I told him. you’re not that clingy. But had he? The way I saw it. titles suck.” Aidan said. Why? I don’t want a girl to be giggly and act annoying around me. and Mara made it very clear to everyone that he was. right?” “Right.” “So we’re just friends?” well. We would arrange something to go to. the fact we act differently around each other all of the sudden.” Aidan said. trust me. Jake had lived up to her expectations as prince charming. “and all of the sudden. there’s all this pressure. This is pretty much the truth. And I don’t mean commitment stuff. but it wasn’t working for me. and made sure that when she wasn’t. It’s the mundane rules. I didn’t blame them. Mara was a princess. but not just friends. kissed. had a good time. Was this how I acted when Bryan and I were dating? Was this how I was going to act if Aidan and I acted on that kiss? Please say no! “No. shaggy blond hair. We went. I had no idea how to do things with Aidan. all these rules. Jake was still staring at every skirt that twirled his way. I want a girl who will be my friend. Mara had been spoiled by Jake. I believe in monogamy. To me.
I said it in my head like a mantra: No cookies. that sounds like a smart person’s giggle. Horribly wrong. Brownies seemed to be a step up from cookies. It always was. please no cookies. As usual. “See. “there’s nothing confusing about that. I was begging that I would not smell cookies. please no cookies. no labels.” I heard my phone ring. smiling. I heard Mara’s sobbing from down the stairs. I had spent so much time with structure and rules. I walked into her house. Oh no. However. please no cookies. . “I get it. it was Mara. However. “Yeah. pretty much. as Aidan called it.” I blushed.” These were how our conversations went. It was Doug. Had she not dumped Jake yet? I had expected Casey to be the one with her arm around Mara. “it got annoying. brownies meant that there was something wrong. No pressure. “Bryan was all about the title. The look in Doug’s eyes was heartbreaking. smiling. No cookies. kissing me on the forehead. please no cookies. He had his arm around her. “is it ok that I giggle like an idiot?” “What do you idiots giggle like?” he grinned.” “I like you. I thought. “I can’t do it!” I heard her shriek.” “Dork. telling her it would be all right.” “Understandable. I looked up at Aidan. fast. I liked this. I giggled.” he said.“I like you. “go. a lack of guidance. who seemed to read my face perfectly.” he said.” I told him.” As I drove to Mara’s house. it was good to have freedom. the person that had her arm around Mara was both the most expected and unexpected person out of them all. please no cookies. I walked up as the sobbing became louder and sounded more hysterical.” I said. the door ajar. No cookies. patting her on the back. No cookies. No cookies. too.
” Mara’s voice softened. Lil. Isn’t it interesting how best friends tell you exactly what you’re thinking.” “She called me a drama queen!” I almost did not understand this at all. gasping breaths. “Mara has a lot to worry about.” this kid breaks my heart. “I need to talk to Lilly alone. don’t give me that look. I sounded like Casey. Mara took deep.” “I don’t want to get over her. trying very hard not to look her in the eye.” He left the room. I didn’t blame him. my temper was rising. “It’s going to be all right. The pained expression gave it away. “Aidan told me about the dragons.” I heard myself say. deep breaths. His facial expression screamed of someone who wanted to get closer but knew they couldn’t. “Calm down.” . you can’t get over her if you act at her beck and call. “She needed me. holding her.” I said. I’ll be right back. “Okay.” “Dougie. I learned that taking deep breaths would always help this situation. Mara was the only one that could say “Dougie” without an eyebrow raise. I walked down the stairs to see Doug. “I can’t dump Jake. and that’s going to be me.” I told her as she nodded.” “You would prefer to draw her as a princess and draw dragons that you slay?” He looked shocked and hurt. are we?” I raised an eyebrow. “Moving on. “Dougie. and yet his arm was still there.” Mara said. “One of us has to right now. Mara tended to sound really inaudible when she cried. “You sound like Casey.” “Why the hell not?” For some reason.patting her on the back.
That is. “And he gave me a box. Then again.” He would still be in love with you! The mental note was exhausting to take. Yet. telling me ‘I’m falling for you all over again. “let me take care of this. until you were recalling it while crying. it was still Jake with the pretty girl.” Someone seems to not read my mind about being in love with you.’” To me. “If it weren’t for you and Aidan. This was not fair. I went upstairs to check on Mara. that’s why. “Doug’s been acting so weird lately. “I opened it.” Poor guy. I could tell there was a long story coming up. I chose to ignore this ring . you’re still here. somehow.” He’s in love with you. We went to dinner at Antonio’s. “Well.” I tried to be nice. first of all. but what are we going to do about him being in love with you? “And he’s always been there for me when I have issues with Jake. “Doug. “It was the prettiest thing ever. “What happened with Jake?” I felt like I’ve been out of touch.“I am not backing off. neither is life.” The amount of devotion this guy had to her was amazing. I died!” Obviously you didn’t. Jake didn’t even have half this much.” I did not tell her that I had heard this from Doug. it still is. I sat down next to Mara.” This was the restaurant that Mara and Jake spent far too much time making out in. he gave me a promise ring. I like her too much to see her like this.” she flexed her hand. “But he’s such a sweetheart!” I agree. “It was so sweet. this was the one thing every girl wanted to hear.
” I said. I told myself. Lilly!” a dreamy expression added to Mara’s tear stained face made her look manic. that there’s something that needs to be there but isn’t anymore!” According to Jake.” she said. There’s a lot I don’t know. Where was Casey? “I wish he hadn’t. smiling. “So then what?” “Everything was fine. we had both given each other enough time.” “I’m going to a wedding?” Huh? . “I feel like I got thrown away! Like this was some ridiculous booty call!” Do I tell her that this is what I thought this entire time? I’ll wait.” Mara trailed off and began tearing up. I was hoping Doug was nowhere near to hear this.” “Casey also says that we can’t always get what we want.until later. “You know what Casey says all the time.” My phone vibrated. “speak of the devil. I thought. This is awkward. “What am I supposed to do? The spark being gone! I gave him so much! I gave my virginity to him!” “What?” this was meant to be said in my head. “That’s my name. Casey. she changed tone. “Lilly! Lilly. This would make my life much easier. I really wish Casey were here right now. “You didn’t know?” the practically yelled. Then. but then. My inner monologue was not being nice. “He doesn’t think he loves me anymore! He keeps saying that sometimes he thought that the spark was done between us. that people change. You don’t tell me everything anymore.” “It was amazing.” “Hi. There were more pressing issues at hand. Lilly. that would be the spark.
Sure. It was Aidan. I thought you would always have an extra pair. Tell Mara I hope everything’s okay.“Why are you going to a wedding?” Mara looked at me like I was insane. . “I’m hanging up. Headphones should never break.” I said this as a pile of clothes fell on me. I heard my phone ring.” “That’s inconvenient.” I told him.” she said.” “I have one. I just don’t know where it is. I am driving to Arizona in an hour.” I could hear he was getting in his car. this is all I had the power to do. However. Usually this was reserved for Casey. “NOTHING IS OKAY!” Mara howled. have a lunch that doesn’t agree with you. you can listen to a conversation and to music at the same time. It was weird venting to someone about this. and then your headphones break.” I said.” “I know. I checked the screen. “I mean.” “Casey hopes everything is okay. She had a big family with lots of weird relatives that asked her about her nonexistent love life. “Basically. I sighed. “I seem to not have an extra pair of headphones. for someone who always has their headphones in. Have you ever had one of those days that just sucked? You fail a calculus quiz. I put my arms around Mara and pat her on the back. You actually expect me to walk to class without music? Really? I think it’s really unfortunate when they only work in one ear. It’s this week. most likely back from work. “Ok. right?” Casey was not a fan of her family gatherings. we thought my cousin’s wedding was next week. This was the worst for me. why can’t I just listen to my music in peace? As I rummaged through my closet. Like Doug. They’re just too important. hanging up. “I thought all music lovers had one.
there!” said Aidan.” “Gotta love Doug.” I took a deep breath. putting his phone in his pocket. I looked up and smiled. This means buying food.” he said. “it’s fair to vegetarians. sounding assertive. “So you’re invited to Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday. doorbell. Thanksgiving is near.” Aidan said with frustration. and a tofurkey. “Please don’t ask. “Doug told me your headphones broke. “I have to go.” he said.” Then I heard the doorbell ring.” “Sounds fun.” “A tofurkey?” “It is a turkey made from tofu.” Headphones. His lips were insanely soft. Wednesday?” I had always thought that Thanksgiving was a Thursday thing.” I told him. “sorry. you get to hear Allison’s explanation.” Aidan rolled his eyes. were you on the phone?” I smiled and kissed him. I walked downstairs. or is a lesbian vegetarian hippie from San Fransisco too big of a cliché? “Allison and some of her friends visiting.“Everything ok?” “Just the misfortune of a bad day.” “Yeah. He bought me headphones. Also. “Hi. where are my headphones? “It is. “If you go. where would I be if I were a spare pair of headphones? “All right. “but Wednesday?” .” “Oh. I took some initiative.” Aidan rummaged through his pockets.” “Who doesn’t eat meat?” “Allison.” Is it just me.” Aidan said. “Hold on.” Dude. “here you go. I got a nice surprise. “Wait. I have a family dinner. wondering who would be visiting.” “That’s the worst.
“Casey. “Whatever. “Meeting his parents. it seemed.” “That can’t be good. this is cute! Lilly has a boyfriend!” But I didn’t have a boyfriend. “Well. “I still think it’s cute. “Nope. “But yeah.” Casey said.” Mara said. “that has to be the cutest thing ever!” According to Mara. with all the perks of having one. Sure. where are you?” I asked.” I said. “Wednesday?” asked Casey. “Dude.” Mara said. His labels contradicted it. Things were better between her and Jake. I do know what state I am. He had not done this. “You know what?” Casey’s voice was rising. Casey. “Awww. cool.” *** “That has to be the cutest thing ever!” Mara said.” “But you don’t know where?” asked Mara. “I actually have no idea.” Casey’s cell phone reception was awful. dealing with lack of reception.” “I already said yes. too!” Mara squealed.” “My mom knows. This . and I still think that you should go for it.” “Awesome!” he kissed me again. “I can’t wait. She was on her cell phone. Aidan and Thanksgiving. everything had to be the cutest thing ever.“Yes.” Thank you. having one of few moments where Casey’s opinion didn’t matter. “you think everything has to be the cutest thing ever.” “That’s even better. it was like having a boyfriend. I read in a magazine somewhere that he was only your boyfriend when he called you his girlfriend.” “That’s convenient. But I didn’t have a boyfriend. “I’m in New Mexico. “that’s not a sign that you’re lost at all.” said Mara.” said Casey.
I have to go.” I told them. I thought.” I didn’t really know what else to say. I patiently tried to tell them about my conversation with him about labels.” Mara said. that type of thing. so many things that we can or can’t do because of words. I heard the phone click. “I mean. guys. Was beautiful the only thing I guy had to say to get our attention? “I’m going to miss him. but…” “Guys aren’t quick to commitment. no matter what. he probably has a few loose ends. I’m all for society being stupid. “she’s honest.” she said. this being the response that Mara wanted to hear. “Sometimes being a people pleaser doesn’t work for everyone. he doesn’t like you that way. I got mixed reviews.” I told her. “I think it’s true.” I said.” I know some people who would beg to differ. “it doesn’t for Casey.” “Honesty hurts. I guess. Oh crap.” Casey said.” Casey said.” “It works for you. but some distance would be nice. “That was a bit harsh.” “Loose ends?” I began to worry now. Mara. is everything ok with you and Jake?” “He left this morning to visit his family in Texas for Thanksgiving. “worst comes to worst. He texted me this morning saying he missed me. “It’s Casey. “He’s not my boyfriend.” “Awww. “Mara.was something I avoided telling people until now. it said ‘good morning. But this didn’t matter. I thought of Doug. beautiful. family issues. People just make a big deal about everything. “We always have so many labels. “Ex girlfriend.” “But to not call you his girlfriend?” Mara piped up.” “I guess. . But I really don’t think that’s it.” Before I could respond to her.” I said.
this is Zoe.” Girlfriend. Labeling was on my side. good. Danny had a kinship with Doug that I thought was adorable. “Zoe. which Danny was. I saw him wearing a black polo. Mara was wrong. Plus. Her eyes were very blue. Seeing as Thanksgiving Wednesday was not the official day. The other great thing was that Doug was responsible. I don’t mean this in a “yeah. It was blonde. Somehow. and my dad needs me to help him with the Turkey!” She hung up. I have to go. leaving me to my thoughts.” Aidan said. but in a way that was natural and beautiful. . She was stunning. *** For most people. I rang the doorbell. Doug was an only child. Did Aidan have loose ends? I was about to find out. not bleached at all. However. He wished me good luck as Danny walked into Doug’s house. long and flowing. I have a bunch of stuff to buy. Danny could not. She had a thin waste. this is my girlfriend. I arrived at Aidan’s house. I became insanely nervous. another thing that made me feel bad for him. Doug was more than happy to babysit him. Lilly. This was the wrong time to get butterflies in my stomach. I left Danny with Doug. Thanksgiving was about spending time with your family. Danny and Doug had to be the cutest thing ever. “Zoe. For me. leaving me with a very upset Violet (drama with Eric that she would not explain) and my brother. Doug’s enthusiasm for video games was similar to that of a nine year old. she’s pretty” way. This was also not a problem. Violet could take care of herself. She was stunning. The girl who answered was pretty. but what I noticed first was her hair.“Anyways. my parents had both gone on business trips. I froze for a moment. This was not a problem. hold on!” I heard Aidan say. Zoe? “Lil. He was in good hands.
Aidan invited you as his friend. laughing nervously. “Aidan!” she yelled. cool. actually meaning it. Can we say death grip? “Aidan hasn’t said anything about you at all!” she said with quite possibly the fakest smile I had ever seen. He then offered me a seat with a smile and sat next to me. Zoe. “because I haven’t heard too much about you. When he looked away. Zoe glared. But Aidan. she ran up to him and gave him a big hug. So I said nothing. Dark haired and green eyed. I thought. Aidan was about a foot taller than she was.” I said. Aidan is clueless about anything near tension. “That’s funny.” “It’s fine. “Lilly!” she gave me a hug that would hurt if I wasn’t used to Allison’s.” . though. I thought Roxie was a bitch. by the way.” she said. Neither of you can ruin this. “you didn’t know. Dinner went well. besides a few jabs here and there. collected Aidan. offered the seat to Allison. a fact I found both sweet and humorous.I shook her hand. this was Roxie times fifty. in a way that was almost as annoying as Roxie. calm. I could tell Zoe was trying too hard. “I didn’t realize she was going to act this way. though. Aidan had exited the room. “Arianna. either. This made my blood boil. What was he thinking bringing his ex? Allison had walked in. “Ladies. she had a smile just like Aidan’s.” By this time. It wasn’t fair to him. your boyfriend invited you.” he said. “you need to behave.” Zoe glared at Allison while she walked out of the room. Then she glared at me. Lilly. You could tell exactly where Aidan and Allison got their looks. When Aidan sat down. Aidan’s mom had sat at the front of the table.” this girl was not going to be a bitch to me. she practically broke her neck trying to sit next to him.” You could have guessed. Aidan hugged her back. “I’m really sorry about this.
why?” “Why not?” she cut open her tofurkey.” This was not the time to admit this.” “I love that!” Allison practically yelled this. She left the room.” I said. “Holidays always have these set dates. her piercings shining from the kitchen light.” said Allison. of course. My mom’s name is Daisy. the pilgrims ate it. I thought being a family of A’s would be nice. “She’s a writer.” “My mom and aunt are like that. reading my expression. giving me a “I never knew that” kind of look.” interrupted Aidan’s mom.” said Aidan. “Never! I mean. but didn’t the pilgrims also fear the hell out of the natives? I highly doubt the first Thanksgiving was really what the Macy’s day parades and media tell us.” “So they named you Lilly. Allison.“All your names begin with A’s?” “Obviously. “Aidan said you had a theory behind celebrating Thanksgiving on Wednesday. “Why not anymore?” Aidan asked. “My friend Casey says it’s boring. A looked up and smiled.” indicating me. “was that conformity doesn’t sit well with this family. We probably killed some of the people we supposedly shared a great meal with.” said Zoe.” I said.” “I used to write. too.” “You would never guess she’s your cousin. “Hey.” Arianna told me. “is so down to Earth!” Aidan put down his fork to put his hand on mine. “conformity is confinement. rolling her eyes. . “She went to write it down. that’s adorable!” “My cousin’s name is Violet.” “What Allison means to say. “I thought it would be sweet. and this one. laughing. my aunt’s name is Rose. one is kind of materialistic.” “It really doesn’t. Why? They’re just letters on a calendar! And what is the point of turkey? I mean. Alan and I both have A names.
He came at the door before she could answer me. we held hands and I leaned on his shoulder. and I’m sorry about Zoe.” he laughed. I thought Zoe would be staying for a few days. ignoring Zoe. it was awesome. with a sense of sarcasm only I could hear.“Tell us. Chapter 29 Initially. “It’s nothing. coming back and commenting like she had never left. “And I want to read your writing. smiling. Why can’t my hair look like that? “Is Aidan there?” I said. “Oh. hurriedly pulling on his sweater and .” Allison said. I smiled.” I said. bored.” I said. “I just had some bad experience reading it out loud.” “Allison will be glad to hear it.” He kissed me. She would be there on Thanksgiving and then leave.” he said.” said Zoe.” “You should write again. “I bet it you’re good.” I said. we’re fascinated. it’s you. “thanks for dinner. As Aidan walked me to my car. It’s no big deal. “Thanks so much. Even the tofurkey. “Bye. However. “Honestly. it’s fine.” Aidan said. I was proven wrong by her presence when I came to pick up Aidan on Monday. I’d read it. The rest of the night went smoothly. the feeling of warmth going through my body. It was a good night.” her blonde hair perfectly wavy.
This was supposed to come out as “how long is she staying.” . but it can be hurtful. and relax until college. “Second week of December. “I just kinda want to avoid tension. as I drove toward school.” he said. He looked at me and smiled. I don’t even think he noticed. Aidan. “she’s been making a lot of bitchy comments. “She doesn’t have school?” “Zoe graduated high school early. But Zoe tends to be really opinionated. I wish I could kick her out. “Tension sucks.” “Relaxing. a big unhinged. too.” “Kinda?” he asked.slinging his backpack over his shoulder. you know?” “It’s fine. just so she didn’t have to take classes. “I told her that I didn’t like how she was treating you. It was something I didn’t mind at first. We walked to my car.” but something snapped.” he said. “So when is she leaving?” I asked him. but Allison also wanted her to hang around.” You mean threatening my relationship with my boyfriend? “I’m really sorry.” I told him.
both physically and of bio.” I told Aidan. there was no productivity in doing such. “Please tell me we’re not like that. They were reunited. “I’m tired. Who gives work up until the very last day of winter break? And to have homework over winter break? That’s just ridiculous. but not as awkward as I thought it would be. It was weird.” I parked my car. I didn’t feel like telling people this. it’s a lot of work. I didn’t bitch about work. I waved.” I was too tired to argue with him. looking out the window.” “Yeah. . Abrams had somehow managed to make himself even more hated than usual.” he said. looking at me. “Or just conflict.“Out of tension comes beauty. He stared momentarily.” “Maybe. Mara’s lips were glued to his by some force that was inexplicable by physics. I then looked up to see Bryan. everything ok?” Aidan asked. “Hey. in more ways than one. He waved back and walked toward school. I walked to English to see Jake and Mara. holding our hands and smiling. Mr. We walked out.
he became the super nice guy friend for Mara. For some reason. It was actually somewhat funny.“We’re not. Sure. I thought.” Aidan smiled as he kissed me. guys. they were kissing behind a door until someone almost hit Mara. Hormones. a power used and abused by this establishment we called high school. At any rate. the cracks have not begun to show. people. Roxie and her man candy of the week were going at it. it was a couple like Mara and Jake. At some point. Otherwise. Show some respect. when they’re so happy and all over each other. being all over Aidan just seemed ridiculous. For me. With many couples who haven’t seen each other in a while (which is only four days in high school. His futile attempts to get over Mara had completely disintegrated. . Smart move. It’s called a honeymoon period. I felt awful. this wasn’t even against the rules. Usually. I could tell that he trying hard not to cringe when he saw Mara and Jake together. the honeymoon period cycled. They didn’t. Couples were free to do whatever they wanted. kissing was great. He walked off to class as I heard annoying catcalls at Mara and Jake. you have to love them. It seemed like wherever I went. Mara and Jake seemed perfectly happy together. It made you realize you were insanely single. too. Mara and Jake were making out in the corner. Instead. It made me think of when a couple is first getting together. The worst was Doug. but I remember how bad it felt to watch happy couples kissing. Another moment was when they were kissing in front of a teacher. it seems).
my head leaning on his shoulder. “I really wish she would break up with him. However. Regardless. “Mara is usually this independent person. “out of love. This wasn’t entirely her fault. sucking the life out of her. I don’t know. I wouldn’t mind talking to my best friend about something besides her boyfriend as well. The fact that Jake was bossing Mara around was sickening.” I told Aidan. Every night. It was slightly hypocritical and definitely annoying. However. I thought a promise ring was just a precursor to an engagement ring. But she says she’s in love with him. I guess it’s a nice sentiment. I noticed the promise ring that Mara had thrown across the room in rage a few weeks back was sitting happily on her finger. I was okay with all of her behavior. no woman should ever ditch her friends for her boyfriend. but one I thought we were all a bit too young for. I’m alright with liking someone. Mara never let him go. but I feel like Jake is. Personally. She was happy. I would get calls about Jake threatening to dump her because she wouldn’t do something for him.” .” We were in my living room. her behavior made me insane. forgetting about clinginess and bad movies. perfectly polished. I convinced myself daily that if Mara was happy. sitting on my couch.” “It’s annoying. However. I had nothing to say to Mara. Mara did this. It’s one thing to like someone.Mara and Jake were going through their honeymoon period when they both came back from Thanksgiving.
and I still wondered why. “It’s like when Allison first came out. learning this was not going to help these cells work faster. Still. But you can’t control someone else’s actions. I thought it was a good thing that we could spend some school free time together. I was back at my desk doing homework.” I sighed. not hers. I wish there was a manual to life. My mom took it well. wondering when the function of the endoplasmic reticulum would ever truly matter in my life. I had my own ideas about how long Zoe was there. I told Aidan this. She was so afraid that my mom and dad would lose it. I know you’re all for helping people. An hour later. graphs will only get you so far.” “So we shouldn’t help people?” “Sometimes. Then I realized it’s probably mattering a lot to make my cells work. . they need to help themselves. Neither were Aidan’s. like there was for a textbook. His kiss was perfect. “Life is a mix up of people and emotions. saying that it was Allison’s life. “it’s not something for you to mess with. My parents weren’t big vacation people. She wasn’t going away.“Well. something I like about you.” he smiled and pulled me closer. we can’t help people. However.” Aidan said.
Aidan and I holding hands. “Remember that concert we went in San Fran?” This nostalgia bullshit had to go. From what I had heard. and. she was an artist. away from Zoe. I wasn’t fine. she played music. Books never interested her. and Zoe glaring at me when Aidan was looking away. We all walked through the mall.” Whether or not she really thought books were geeky or it was a jab didn’t matter. Like Aidan. Zoe had officially been the person that tried too hard to get Aidan’s attention. she crossed the line. to say the least.At first. This was annoying. I was fine with this. I turned around to look at a book. only to turn around and see Zoe’s arms clamped around Aidan’s waist. “I need you to look at this. thinking of some way to get Zoe away. Unlike Aidan. as he walked over. . Allison staring at attractive women. in her words.” Aidan looked insanely uncomfortable. “Not exactly.” “What am I looking at?” he said. If Zoe wanted to come along. For some reason. were “kind of geeky. “Aidan!” I called him. I then told Aidan I wanted to go the bookstore. I thought nothing of going to mall with Aidan. What did matter was that I got time alone with Aidan. Zoe was not into books. This time. But Zoe decided she wanted to go with us. Allison is visiting and she gets to keep Zoe company? Perfectly fine with me.
“but Aidan invited me here. handing me my hot chocolate.” This one was hard to miss.I looked at him and sighed. Still do. we were all sitting in Starbucks while Aidan and Allison went to get us hot chocolate. though.” she went on.” I would not let this girl get to me. “it’s hot. “Thanks. not sounding interested at all. He said he missed me. She got to me.” “Here. hadn’t she? Of course. “Interesting. “Okay. “Seriously. this would never be exposed to her.” .” Allison appeared out of nowhere.” I said. “letting him go was such a ridiculous mistake.” Aidan said. Half an hour later. “It’s funny.” I wouldn’t let her get to me. “He invited me to stay for his entire winter break.” Zoe said. I truly loved him. like the name suggest. I thought. He’s my boyfriend now.
almost an insult added to injury. there is.” He walked away. I thought. everything is fine. Was everything on my face easy to read? “Yeah.” I said. I forgot how pretty his hazel eyes were. He had a massive Hershey’s bar in his hand.” “Look.” he put his chocolate bar in his pocket. “Yes. Bryan walked into the Starbucks.” he didn’t believe me. Usually.” he was acting like a teenaged girl. However. “What’s wrong?” I asked once nicely. Too late. In case this afternoon was not any more awkward. watching him turn around. . “Hey. It was upsetting. Bryan had Starbursts in his hands. he drank coffee and scarfed down more chocolate than I have seen any girl do. The first thing I noticed was what was in his hand. “Hi.” “Okay. it’s really not that big of a deal.” his name got called by the barista. “Nothing. “Seriously.“Everything okay?” he asked. when he was upset.
but in a voice that was so hollow.” “Why would you invite your ex girlfriend over for three weeks.” I said. You stared at Bryan. though. You still do it. and trust me. “Because I didn’t know about us.” “Of course you will.” “Aidan. Aidan?” I said. “I’m sorry.” “You were on the other side of the room talking to Zoe.” “So you decided to drop your guard and make someone else happy?” . I am not in love with Bryan. it was like I didn’t exist. I know when he’s upset.” I pointed out. I wasn’t going to go for it.*** Bryan walked me to my car. “Trying to get her away from me. “I will make this up to you. almost drove me away. I thought I would bring it up when Zoe wasn’t looming over our step. The way you act around Bryan. you were still in love with him. snapping. he was upset. I surprised myself. you were still attached. Lilly. I liked you because of this personality you have. when you saw him today. Lilly.
Winter break meant that I spent much more time at Casey’s house. Chapter 30 To be perfectly honest. when we see him. I didn’t call him because I had a feeling we had. other times. and together.” “Being sane and free might.” then he took a deep breath. Now. she and Jake had plans of their own. this guy needs your help and you turn your back?” “How am I turning my back? I talked to him for barely a minute!” “But I can see it. “then maybe it’s you who isn’t interested. Still.” he said. watching movies and just killing time. because being self-sufficient doesn’t work for everyone. Aidan. To be perfectly honest. so far.” I felt tears stream down my face as my voice got higher. my winter break was going perfectly. You’ve been pretty happy with it. I wanted to cry. . it might help if you thought about the relationship you’re in right now. when we run into him. who by the way has been HORRIBLE to me.“Yes. I did. This was fine. I wasn’t sure whether Aidan and I broke up at all. “and as much as I know you’re a good person. “why should we be together when you’re clearly not interested?” “I am interested! But if you can’t seem to get rid of your ex. Otherwise.” I slammed my car door and drove away. I had stopped expecting Mara to be there a long time ago. sometimes I think it would be easier if we were all single. Sometimes Mara joined us. When I went home. Lil.
” “But it’s not. just me.” a rather feeble thank you for someone who put up with me for all this time.” I loved how Casey said she knew everything.” Casey put away the pictures. “Now to pick Aidan and mean it. driving to Mara’s house. pulling out a movie. I’m running into Bryan everywhere and can’t seem to let go. “She’s visiting from San Fransisco and can’t seem to let go. I drifted off before Casey brought me back. “no cute guys. Casey was the autonomous one. Casey was uninterested. Within five minutes. That’s not stupid. One of the things about my phone was that Aidan was one of my first contacts on my cell phone.At least I had Casey. I knew better than meddle with that. I got a call from Mara. With Mara. either. It was a comfort. it’s part of…” “The healing process?” I offered. “you being attached is completely legitimate. “That was the most boring wedding ever!” she said.” I laughed. Every since Lee.” “I always kinda knew it would be the ultimatum between Bryan and Aidan. we were on the freeway. “Bryan has been such a jerk this entire time.” Casey was having a moment of being supportive? “He made you happy. “Let’s watch this.” she said. you guys went out for a year. “is Mara joining us or not?” I texted Mara this morning. Her voice was squeaky. . my family. “Don’t worry about it. intervention was what I seemed to always do.” she corrected. Wanting him back is stupid. “Attachment. “Dude.” “Makeup. and all the makeup my family tried to put on me. Casey was not the type. as I looked through pictures her cousin had sent her.” I sat down on Casey’s bed. though.” at least Casey had to know.” About halfway between the movie. what’s wrong?” “Aidan and I seem to both have hanging exes.” “Thanks. “Exactly. Athletic and tomboyish. and for the most part could take care of herself.
I almost felt bad for Jake.**************** “Let him go.” I agreed completely. and he really needs me. “That doesn’t justify him being a jerk. She was in the same room. not letting Mara or Casey know. “I need to be there for him. Casey was doing all the talking for me. Turkey dinners.” We stayed at Mara’s for an hour. . “They were close.” I heard myself say. “I don’t care if you love him. all that stuff. Mara was not wearing her promise ring.” Mara sighed.” said Casey. Mara sighed again. Casey couldn’t. inside jokes. “all the way. “He’s been having issues with this since forever.” We stared. My phones buzzed. “But I have to keep him around!” Is it just me. “His grandmother died.” Anything I would have said next would have sounded insensitive. a mutual love for Tom and Jerry cartoons.” “And we’ll be there with you. wiping away the tears from her eyes. My opinion was better on the side for now. a tan-line evident. You don’t deserve a guy who threatens to break up with you after everything. A text from Casey. He would go over to her house all the time and he would always have cookies baked for him. or did Mara give lame excuses? “A guy who you deserve would love you enough to let you have what you want. I shut up. they honestly were. “But-“ Mara interjected.” I sat there silently. “No!” Casey was furious.
“Hi. Besides. But he could have also cancelled on her. this would excite me. Oddly enough. I expected him to ignore me. “So what are you going to do?” Mara asked.“Do you really believe that we’ll be there for him?” it read. I looked away. either.” I didn’t. “Truth be told. Abrams passed out the quizzes. going back to school was awkward.” “She’s a bitch.” telling her exactly what I told Casey. how are you and Aidan going?” Mara said. but as I say all the time. he went back to his sketchbook.” and then as sure as he was staring.” I stammered. “By the way. Still. still. she did get invited before Aidan and I were together. “Hey. He was drawing what looked like the “Pain” painting. but I couldn’t feel it. welcome to a distraction. I liked Aidan. But did I? It was totally valid for me to be angry about Zoe. I texted back. like most people would do in this situation.” I said. Aidan was too nice for that. I thought. “Aidan and I seem to both have hanging exes. “That might be pushing it. I wish a book could tell me. that we had to be there for Mara. not Zoe. These cycled around my head as Mr. things just became awkward. he just stared. but after our fight. I wanted to know what I had to do. not the ones on my paper. Still. I walked into bio. no matter what. This seemed acceptable. if it weren’t for Aidan. none . I thought. Sure.” Don’t I know it? “Worse than that Roxie chick?” asked Casey. who helped me study. I have no freaking clue. “She’s visiting from San Fransisco and can’t seem to let go. I’m running into Bryan everywhere and can’t seem to let go. All I wanted was an answer to my problems. I felt awful. It was 100%. saying. I stared at my score. I’m guessing the name featured would be Lilly.
And then something hit me: I have never said anything against Jake. I had rooted for Jake since he had enamored Mara in Spanish class. who thought cell phones were the devil. Abrams. That can’t be good. So was I. I thought to myself. Did you know that you could have this wonderful guy in Doug who would love and appreciate you more than Jake ever has the capacity to do? Doug has liked you for what seems like a decade. and by the sound of it. but that’s because he made you happy. and I realized that this future was bright and beautiful. Ok. My phone lit up. He’s not making you happy anymore. I know that I root for Jake. Mara said no.” “You always said that it was meant to be between us. *************************************************************** “Yes. Abrams would hunt you down and call your parents if you had a cell phone. “No. Hey. The message from Mara said that she needed my opinion on something urgent. finally biting the bullet. but you get the idea. As I walked outside.” I said. Mara. This wasn’t unlike most teachers.” “NO!” Casey and I were asked about dumping Jake.of this would have made sense to me. Mara was not the only person that was disappointed by Jake. I waited in anxiety for the full fifty minutes to see what Mara had to say. you asked. This was something that was both unnecessary and mandated law. so was Casey.” “Yes. It’s a funny thing about a teacher like Mr. Mr. “you cannot be for Jake anymore. I realized the text message was from Mara. I saw Aidan practically run out the door. I kept my mouth shut when he was being a jerk to you. Still. When he had this back turned. I wanted to point this . I kept my mouth shut about Doug. so it’s really all four years of high school. I went to my car and drove to Mara’s house.” “I have kept my mouth shut about this since you guys have been having problems. I knew that there was a future with them. we both said yes.
“Everything ok?” I heard someone say. I don’t I?” I kept listening to myself talk. “Hey. I didn’t like tea. What did I want? I wanted peace of mind.” “I just don’t know!” Mara whined. but I was afraid of upsetting you. I was about to order a hot chocolate that would get me through the rest of my day.” . In all their years of knowing me. But which did I want more gone? Zoe was the bitchiest. I don’t think either Mara or Casey had heard me tell them something unfiltered and unhinged. Well. it was bitter regardless of how much sugar was put in it. as usual. unafraid of other people. I drove to Starbucks. “let him go. for one thing. It felt amazing. “That’s fine. What did I want? I shook this away. ignoring the pang of pain I felt from being reminded of Aidan. Mara was simply dumbfounded. But I had. Everyone stared. I had to focus on the problem at hand. “just give it time to unfold. But that’s not what should have bothered me. I thought.” “What makes you think that?” I asked.” I said. “you rock and back forth. it was the real me.” I told her. “When you get upset.” I said weakly. “What does Aidan want? What does Bryan want? What does everyone want? But what about what I want?” I paused.” “You seem upset. except for once.” I left Mara’s house. “And I do this all the time. “Just some stupid drama.” he said. hands in your pockets. and I knew I wasn’t going to get it. I could not tell if they were impressed or just mortified. “If this guy is not making you happy. I thought. and coffee never did it for me. I took the dive. Casey gave out an exaggerated sigh. I wanted Zoe and Roxie both gone. Casey was impressed. To me.out. I decided to be less of a people pleaser and finally stand up for something. biting your lip. I turned around to find Bryan.” I took a deep breath. He’s not worth it.
” “Well. you’re procrastinating if something is going on Wednesday when it should have been on Tuesday.I was doing that. grinning. I thought crying for Bryan was a less fruitless endeavor than Aidan. I missed his kiss. Could I blame him? I would be insane if my girlfriend and ex were both living in the past. “What’s wrong. afraid of the truth that was happening in front of my eyes. Lilly. I excused myself once I got my hot chocolate. “What?” “The hot chocolate. which means that you’re upset. But you got a big chocolate. This had to be the biggest cruel trick of nature ever. I was not over Bryan. who was intent on making me feel as guilty as possible. so was his. and his hugs.” he went on. Bryan?” “Nothing. awkward moment in bio. my chocolate warm enough to keep me warm but cold enough to not burn my tongue. yelling at my best friend.” he said. his sense of humor. “It’s Wednesday.” I smiled. “And the chocolate. I missed Bryan. Still. Still. I went home and did my homework. I’m exactly where I want to be right now. so was I. wasn’t I? The cashier called my name as I ordered my hot chocolate. “usually you get something of a normal size.” Bryan said. waiting for it to be made.” “falling out with a boyfriend. It was the biggest one.” “Sounds like a typical Tuesday. I stood near the window. And if he couldn’t tell Zoe that everything was going wrong because of her.” Unfortunately. my past was coming back to bite me. who was I to tell Bryan my feelings for him were in the way of everything? . I really hated that I was crying so much recently.
“Lil. both of us would get something without it. who I saw with Zoe constantly was probably the better choice had it not been for him being mad at me and not stepping up to Zoe. who refused to talk to me. he would get coffee. However. the more distracted I was. we would always go to Starbucks. I thought about this while listening to Violet rant incessantly about her life over a cup of coffee. when he was upset. as Bryan pointed out. Apparently. Neither of us really liked coffee. Eric and Violet had been talking about her partying ways and his drug addiction (drug addiction? Really. mine was one that had many ways of looking at: Aidan or Bryan. It was “something caffeinated that would help me get through things. we would go together and order our coffee.” he would tell me. Bryan didn’t like chocolate. However. making the world spin into chaos. she was not that type of girl.One thing was for sure: I was not over Bryan. Which made sense moreso because he was guy. I could only imagine what the businessmen thought when they overheard Eric and Violet. Violet and Eric crossed the mark that Violet usually had with her boyfriends. spinning around faster and faster. I was still skeptical. Aidan. Still. I drank the biggest size when I was upset. Thoughts about Bryan circled in my head. This was at the same Starbucks Bryan and I spent most of our time together. the more I thought about it. Chapter 31 To dump Jake or not dump Jake? That was the question on Mara’s mind. “I think he might be the one. I felt completely apathetic to Violet’s problems.” . Violet?). However.” she said. However. My size of choice would always be the smallest. Before either of us knew how to drive. I always got hot chocolate. I remembered when Bryan and I first dated.
my parents to talk to hers for her. I drove to Starbucks. My parents let her because they loved her and she was family. leaving her coffee cup for me wash. What this something else was. What’s more. Eric let her because she was hot. I don’t even think Violet knew what she was doing my going out with a drug addict musician and partying like celebutantes on tabloids. She relied on her coworkers to get her to work. well. a ring of brown coffee at the bottom. not that any of this mattered to me. Not that this mattered to me. and still not talking to hers. But there was something more to it. and Eric to make her feel like she wasn’t screwing up anything. I got a text message from Bryan. And brush my hair? Fine. Yeah. My Aunt Rose and my mom talked about her every day. obviously worried about her lifestyle. as if I could get every molecule of coffee of the smooth white porcelain. “Wash me before I stain the cup!” I did wash it. She ignored all this in pursuit of something else. I walked in and sat down. she would never be caught sneaking out and sneaking in. I stood up off my chair and walked to the sink. I sat there. I then realized that Violet really wasn’t autonomous. screaming. She then left for work. still worrying my parents. All that mattered was that at Saturday night. wondering why Southern California just didn’t have awesome winters. We let her. me to get her through home. “Want a hot chocolate? I’ll buy it” I texted back a “sure” and put on my hoodie. Her autonomy had been taken away. washing the cup slowly. Her coworkers let her because she was nice to them (to their faces). Then I decided against it and put on a nicer jacket. . I sat at the table nearest the window. Before I did anything. And lip gloss. who had been ready to give anything everything to a guy who wasn’t right for her. I don’t think anyone really knew. She was still partying. I let her because I didn’t want to let people down.She sounded like Mara. she had it made. despite being able to walk there in only ten more minutes. I stared at the coffee cup. not that this stopped Violet from doing anything.
“Aidan. the past was something I knew and was familiar. The future? Well. “I’ll be right back. his brown eyes were welcome. his green eyes looking as if they were popping out of their sockets. too.Bryan walked in. frankly. Because. I saw Aidan while Bryan and I were walking out the door. hot chocolate. right?” I smiled and nodded. He saw me and smiled.” I said. but there was something else. “Yeah. like someone things were the way they used to be. “and I’m glad about us. stop!” and tell him that I was still completely . I felt happy. There was some force that made me want to yell. I couldn’t help but think that things were weird. I felt ashamed. Not just by what happened at Starbucks.” “I’m glad. I was kind of in a slump. but by what happened as I was walking out the door.” --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I was so confused. I smiled. He smiled back. a representation of my past. “You’re not ordering coffee anymore. I loved his smile.” I said. He stared at me.” he said. blushing insanely. it was scary and unknown. “I’m glad things aren’t awkward between us. And yet. not so much right now.” I smiled. I laughed as if I hadn’t in the past few days. “and this place has so many freaking memories!” “It does. I couldn’t be sarcastic without him giving me a weird look. I felt like things were back to their normal way of things. Crap! We sat there and talked for what seemed like hours. but as if there was something that wanted me to tell Bryan to go away and yell Aidan’s name. his black hair coming out of his green hat. I had my chocolate and he had this apple cider. Still. I didn’t know what to say. Lil. In a few minutes.
But I kept writing. I was sitting in my room. try do everything right. I was exhausted. focusing on concrete words and study guides. not caring. Eric to Lilly. was it? Bummer. Eric and Lilly. Chapter 32 Winter break was coming. because land was attached to my feet. when your oppressor becomes your friend. things I could analyze. Bryan and I. Nor was I ready to be over Bryan. Zoe was nice Aidan. Mara was also nice to Doug. When you’re so used to misery. Everyone seemed to have it: Aidan and Zoe. you prefer it over happiness. and I really no longer cared if The Catcher and the Rye was a banned book or not.insane over him. Simply because I was not over Bryan. not lose my mind over. Possibly because it was also safe to be used to something. making up some ridiculous bullshit as I went along. Yup. But life wasn’t like that. Winter break was coming? Winter break was coming! Either . He said the waters were never as deep as I thought. Bryan to me. neither worked out.” I took the dive with my poetry. I was still dealing with the idea of “taking the dive. and ended up getting laughed at. and (especially) Mara and Jake. For me. and (more or less) Jake to Mara. These were things I knew the end to. Why? Because the waters seemed to deep. These were things I loved learning about. making it impossible for the poor soul to even think of getting rid of her. I did not care about Holden Caulfield. You could memorize. But I didn’t. I felt like I was drowning. work it out. It’s called Stockholm Syndrome. I wanted to take the dive. I was mentally exhausted by the entire thing. because you could just apply it to the questions. predict. And you could get it all right. This was usually more common when the oppressor was nice to you. trying to write an English essay that I simply didn’t care about. pushing away my personal life. I took the dive with Aidan and Bryan. it seemed like full blown Stockholm Syndrome. but honestly. Life should be more like school.
” “That’s just inconvenient. yes. I’m not sure which one was more disappointing. “it’s like when you know you did really well on a test but the teacher takes forever to grade. This meant she was leaving early to leave me with a crazed Mara. Crap.” said Mara. and then he changed to Bryan. Lilly. I would imagine myself in a park. Casey was being whisked away again to some obscure family thing. What?! I was completely and utterly confused. we had one more week left. Worst of all. having one daydream turn into another. This also meant not seeing Aidan or Bryan.” “Well. This is life.” “This is not academia.” “I’m going to have to agree with Mara. “A little. Still. and everyone was leaving early or talking about leaving early. “you can’t just decided this by weighing pros and cons.” said Casey. my friends couldn’t make this decision for me.” said Casey. Doug was also leaving early. I was excited to finally excited to not go to school. I was looking forward to not waking up. This meant I really was left alone with Mara.” said Mara. I couldn’t stop thinking of Bryan and Aidan. “it’s just not effective. and not having to study. I’m also not ever sure which one made me happier.” I told them.” I told them. We had been spending tons of time together. especially now that Mr.” Mara was the first to give an opinion. her voice scratchy over the phone from bad reception. “I hate waiting. “This is not a test that you can study for. .way you said. Abrams had loosened his academic death grip. It was just weird. not getting dressed. If you can’t decide now. wait for things to unfold. “Honestly. Aidan and I would be holding hands. you can. sitting at the park bench where I first kissed Aidan. It’s all in your heart. I was still dealing with Bryan. you can’t take notes on life.
It wasn’t the biggest size. it was nonsensical and unnecessary. She was always the person that was more overdramatic than Mara. This was not an easy thing to do without Doug. I think it was coming from my backpack. continuously. And stared…. Still.. I was trying to do my calculus homework. who had guided me through absolutely everything. My backpack was such a mess.So this was a decision that I had to make entirely by myself? Lame! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I was drinking another hot chocolate. My phone. The only difference was that Mara was overdramatic when she was upset. And stared…. Violet was just always overdramatic. “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU WOULD SAY SOMETHING LIKE THAT!” I sighed. The boy had a patience of a saint and an IQ of a genius. I could not tell where. courtesy of Starbucks. I knew that I would have to do this without Doug’s help. though. My phone was ringing somewhere. I thought. telling me step after step after step. So I stared at the calculus book. And stared…. I heard a loud bang all of the sudden. It was enough to sweeten my mortification before it lead to the overwhelming chocolate making me too nauseated. it had peppermint in it. To me. scrambled through millions of pieces of paper and pens. but not the smallest I usually got. though. This wasn’t surprising at all. I was used to her being a bitch. Violet had thrown her phone at the wall. she would make such a big deal out of it. Even when she agreed with something. This time. Doesn’t it bother you that you’re trying to look for something and you obviously can’t find it. ringing as if there was no . There it was. I emptied out all its contents.
“Hey.” her voice was urgent. Casey. “I’m happy for you. It was Mara.tomorrow. I called Casey.” .” “Someone who doesn’t use a dead relative as an excuse to be asshole?” offered Casey. I’ll see you guys in a week.” Mara’s voice was so urgent. One was nice.” Casey’s sarcasm was so apparent. I have to…” I had to go take care of Violet! “NOW!” yelled Mara. “What?” Casey spoke first. “I want a guy that wont drag me down. like someone had taken the remote and paused a very action packed scene in Die Hard. “What is it? Hurry up. dude. so sincere that I didn’t know how to follow it up. As I did this. “Oh my god. Calm the hell down. the other not so much. she might as well be reporting from the front line of warzone. “is everything okay?” “I miss him already. “three way Casey into this conversation now. “I dumped Jake.” The world seemed to stop. but my mom is yelling at me. Everything just paused. “He was dragging me down.” Mara said. “Quick.” “You have to realize that the Jake you dated for two years and the Jake you dated for the past three months are not the same guy.” I sounded more blonde than Violet.” I began. I have to go spend some quality time with my family.” She promptly hung up as I heard the silence between Mara and me.” “But Mara. “Mara. or how to do it. I thought. it’s both of us.” “Hey. and I have some interesting news. someone who won’t tell what to do. “That’s freaking amazing!” Casey yelled. My heart rate seemed to slow down.
giving the cashier money.” “Surprised I don’t hate you for the thing with my brother?” “A little. right? “True. but. considering ordering an apple cider instead of a hot chocolate. The thing is. But Aidan has no idea. She’s quite the expert at this. This is not the old Jake. As happy as I was for Mara. this math homework was sitting there.” “Nobody should be that close to their ex. being mad at Aidan is just stupid. stranger!” I heard. “Things are complicated enough without Zoe.” How can he not? “Every look and comment Zoe has made is visible to everyone in the room.” Allison said. it’s how Aidan can be so naïve to the type of person she is.” I stepped forward and ordered my drink. “but look who’s talking. you’re in love with the old Jake. “hey. “you need to figure out this whole Bryan thing before you can .” “You’re in love with Jake.” “Trust me. You and that Bryan guy. The next hour and a half was spent finally finished the damned thing. I turned around to see Allison. and as conflicted as I was about myself. I thought.” she said. “Look. “Oh. thinking about Bryan. except Aidan.” I was surprised she was still nice to me. “I understand that Zoe hates your guts and makes so many comments. She ordered hers right after.” That was just a jab to my ego.” Allison said.” It seemed to me that we were all dwelling in the past.“Yeah. So I stared at it until some inspiration to do math hit me. Not that they didn’t have a thing going. I was exhausted. “Heya.” I was right. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I stood in line at Starbucks. Still.
“But there’s no way Aidan can be.” I told her. why did you quit?” . “The funny thing is. it wasn’t my fault. And so should you.even talk about Zoe. then. I refuse to be ashamed of the person I am. But the thing is. My mom was more accepting of me being a lesbian than my dad. I didn’t know what to do. “I’m going to disagree.” She laughed. Taking the dive aside. she nodded.” With that. “and maybe you’re sick if hearing the term ‘take the dive. of being who I wanted to be. And I had no reason to be ashamed of the person I was. you’ll be glad you did. I was ashamed of myself.” I said. you can’t have Bryan.” That had to be the most random thing to tell me. “Anyways.” Allison continued. kid. “she was the one who helped me get the courage to finally tell my parents how I was no longer into men. “your brother has that going for him. her name was Lindsey. but she isn’t your problem. and she had the most gorgeous green eyes ever.” No.’ but this whole ex boyfriend stuff is keep you at the platform. right?” I nodded. Somehow. Jump. “I can tell you two make each other happy. “I used to date this girl who wore a jacket just like that. she came back.” She looked around and saw a girl wearing a green jacket. she walked over the girl in the green jacket and began talking to her. I thought that was the reasoning behind it. I thought.” “Bryan is. Aidan does. “I blamed myself for my parents divorce. “You know. “Well.” “If you want Aidan back.” she said. You told me you wrote poetry.” she said. I don’t think I was ever into men. Actually. She’s a bitch. So I waited for Allison to finish.
One was to Bryan. Take the goddamn chance. Do I give up? Or do I just stand there and let the world pass me by. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Still. so you turned down the volume on your personality? Dude. I liked him. The other was to Aidan. I know there’s more to it. The choice seemed obvious.“They laughed at me. I stared at the phone for hours upon end just to ask myself if I should call him or not. She stared at the screen. “And you wanted to please them. “I’ve got a date with this girl. about how I could care less about Zoe or Bryan. this matter more than baggage. come on” “I was 12. Whatever telepathic power I was trying to summon to make two phone calls was not getting here any time soon. I stared at my phone even more. you want them to like you. “but look. but I still couldn’t decide. “You’re 17. What about Zoe? What about Bryan? Why can’t I just get over it all and call him.” I said. But sometimes you have to make it so that your feelings are all that there is. Whatever keeps you from being free needs to be let go of. I even did my biology homework. Aidan likes you and you like him.” she said. “you need to tell the people oppressing you to go to hell. to finally tell him that I was done with all his “I want you back” bullshit. I wanted to make two phone calls. Government chapter outline that would take me hours because of distraction? I did .” She answered the phone and waved goodbye to me. I stared at my phone until my eyes began hurting. I sat there with my hot chocolate wondering what I should do. as it always has? I did my English paper about The Catcher and the Rye. babe. But I just sat there. Should I? He’s still mad.” Her phone began buzzing.” she sat upright. I know that’s more than that. I now know how Mara felt about dumping Jake. I couldn’t force myself to do it. I told myself.” I sounded a bit too defensive. Then.
“I bought you French fries!” I laughed as I took the bag. However. too. Ok. to free myself from Bryan. “So. at least I was doing something that didn’t include math or biology. I got a call from Allison. and Aidan had a crush on Zoe since the dawn of time. her name’s May. She told me to write something. but at least I had company while waiting around for Violet. She sat down on the couch. Chapter 33 There are few things better than the feeling of a warm blanket on cold day.that. “I used to date this girl.” I started eating French fries. One thing was for sure. “Now this girl knew Zoe really well. A new thought dawned on me about Allison. It was night. I thought it was weird.” she said. It wasn’t. so that last bit didn’t add to the nice comfort of the rest of the night.” I nodded along. Facing the unknown. and I was reading Crime and Punishment. I had no right to bitch about Zoe when Bryan was trying to pull me back. I thought. who decided she was going to come over and talk to me. Really pretty. kid. but really dumb. Where was she going with this story? If anywhere. used to tell me that Zoe got out of this really bad relationship with some guy. as I wondered why people would knock if there’s a doorbell. “Heya!” said Allison. I heard a knock on the door.” “Ok. I opened the bag to see a massive pile of French fries as Allison walked into my house. All to avoid taking the chance of still having a shot with Aidan. I especially didn’t because I was letting him. I thought her baggage would be a huge deal. Zoe was totally fine with . It was time for me to face my fears. smiling and holding a paper bag. I finally put my phone away.” she asked. “Nice house. “This girl.
” Allison said. but Aidan’s better for you.ditching this guy because she cared about Aidan. “Those. And I’m so glad he did. her skin got under my skin. that Aidan is much better for you than he is.” “You’re supposed to hate something of his. I would just think of those ugly black boots.” I had to admire that Allison cared enough about her brother to tell me all this.” “Um. It was so stupid. too.” “So I’m going to ditch Bryan because I care about Aidan?” “If you want to. Pink hearts are just not badass! So whenever I thought of how much I missed her. I wear glasses. It was this girl named Kira. But I realized that I needed to just get over her. but my story isn’t done. “Aidan learned to straighten up around her. So I focused in her flaws. but they had pink hearts on them. he would take them off and kiss me. he was somewhat shy and would freeze up around her. you’ve seen her.” She said impatiently. “He hated my glasses. Two years of being together and all the drama in the world for that girl. “Look.” “She had these shoes I hated! They were black leather boots. So when he would kiss when we were alone. “This Bryan guy dumped you for a reason.” she ignored my sarcasm. “Yes. you know he is.” She was gorgeous. I don’t just say this because he’s my brother. she’s gorgeous. it’s been a while since my last girlfriend. Zoe didn’t really like Aidan at first. I just totally hated those things. “and you gave up because you know. Still. “he thought they were annoying. Because he would be a nervous mess around you. I feel like you should wear leather boots when you feel badass.” “I know. You can’t blame him. “See.” Let’s give this a try. let me finish. okay. is it .” I said.” “The flaws you tried to turn in to cute idiosyncrasies when you were dating?” I asked. it didn’t make anything easy for me. in your heart.
“I should . And it was.” “I’m not really his type. We always looked back on the past and thought. is that too big of a deal?” “So the tomboy thing never sat well with him?” “Yeah.” “No. But there were times where he would look disappointed if we were going out to dinner and I didn’t put makeup on.that big of a deal.” “Hindsight is always 20/20. She took my glasses and put them. “he’s more into girls who are pretty. “Dude.” “But he never said anything about it. And honestly. I’d think you were hitting on me.” she said. “You straight girls and your need to be hit on. “but seriously. laughing.” “So true.” I said. like her brother. I like jeans. “it’s not like he would look at other girls in front of me. you’re blind!” “That was another problem.” “That’s messed up.” she said.” “You are pretty. I mean girls who put on makeup and short skirts. you know?” She laughed and gave them back. “so I never really realized it until now. You can!” “If I didn’t know any better.” I said. “and I’m not saying this to conveniently match your story. that whole glasses thing is lame.” I said. She was tall.” I went on.” She stood up right in front of me. “I can’t kiss you if I can’t see you. He thought the glasses just made it really apparent.” getting more off my chest. “Aidan likes your glasses. but he likes that you’re nerdy. half joking half-serious.” I said. not everyone can pull off glasses.
Just live for the future.” she said.” “I should have seen that Bryan wasn’t into me.” The way she said “our father” was lined with sarcasm and disgust. did you. only learned from.” Allison sounded like hippie personified when she said this. You need a guy that treats you like the hottest thing ever. but you really pick the person that makes you happy. “shit.have seen that. I learned from Kira that I needed someone who would love me for more than my body and not wear ridiculous shoes. realizing there was really nothing I could say to that. I should’ve seen Bryan as condescending. It can never be repeated. When I came out. “Look. “I am late. I guess the state practically requires he has these lunches with us. huh?” I asked this despite knowing the answer already.” she went on.” I said.” “But I’m not the hottest thing ever. no matter what you’re wearing. “It’s not about liking him. “it doesn’t matter about the past. shit shit shit!” “What’s wrong?” “Aidan and I have dinner with our father. they might kill each other if I do. not . “I know that I’m really biased. That being said. it’s about him not liking us. he wanted to kick me out of the house for being a lesbian. “You guys really don’t like you dad.” her phone rang.” She was about to leave when she turned around. I should have seen Bryan as not being right for me. but I guess you didn’t mean sorry in that way.” “No point in dwelling in the past. “but I don’t like leaving Aidan and my dad in the same room together.” “I’m sorry.” I objected. “It’s not your fault. We don’t exactly get along with the guy who’s caused my mom a lot of crap. I really need to go. he refused to pay for it. When Aidan wanted to leave for art school.” she said. laughing. “Change that mentality.
As I step out the shower I decide. you had no intentions of sliding open that door and letting the cold air of the real world in. and that is to pick me the fuck up when I’m done. “You heard me.” With that. a hot shower just seemed just about the perfect remedy for everything. obviously insanely drunk. you’re just pissed. I would fruitlessly apologize. I did work a bit too hard to impress Bryan. That was one part of Aidan’s personal life I’m guessing Zoe would not want to intrude. You’re so worthless sometimes! Get over here now. the warm air mixed with the water you adjust to your perfect temperature. “I have one request to always ask of you. steadying my voice. This was how I usually acted. something that happened on so many Saturdays.” my voice was getting stronger. I resorted to taking a shower to relieve this tension. “What?” I could feel her temper rising through the phone. In these cases. I wondered how It was going with his dad. I thought to myself. No matter how bad your day was. However.” I said. I was left wondering about what had said. “No.the one you want to impress. Showers are a gift from God. I don’t think anyone really likes getting out of the shower. didn’t I? But I guess you did things for the people you truly cared about. “screw drying my hair. “Yeah?” “Why the hell don’t you pick up your phone?” she practically screeched. you just ignore the call. So when your phone rings and you know it’s your drunk cousin needing a ride from some random bar. This was something that I was used to. something snapped this time. I answered it.” and just go back to wearing pajamas and reading. get . What’s more. I got another call from Violet. “I am not here to do your dirty work. Still. This time. This was not a good time for me to be nervous. and go drive her back home. something simple yet awesome.” This was the usual thing she yelled. or help her sneak in. It was your own little world. It was control at its finest. but I just didn’t care. get off my bed. And quite frankly. she left.
One was ultra girly and had fake blonde hair. .” This did not sit well with me. I felt bad. It was a clash waiting to happen. But I knew what I just did. to be honest.” said Casey. I was going to ask for a ride. You make things difficult.” I hung up. Mara and Casey told me not to. just say it calmly. I’d slam the door. she got home. I said it out loud. Casey and Mara never got along well. what did I just do?” I said to nobody.” “You have no idea what it’s like to not have a ride because your boyfriend is too high to give you one!” That might be because none of my boyfriends ever did drugs. I thought.” don’t yell.your own ride home. “you’re the one that makes everyone stress out. worry. This was for obvious reasons. saying “her” with a voice that sounded infused with venom. the other was the epitome of tomboy and had real blonde hair. Casey did not like Violet. “ And not have to deal with her. “No. It always more of a jab here and jab there. “You can hang out with us now!” said Mara. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Somehow. but seeing as you’re too busy yelling at me. but not to her. “Oh my God. I just ended a year of being pushed around my someone who finally got what she deserved. I would leave the room. Bye. This clash happened. she’d yell after me. I thought. “You are so fucking impossible!” she screamed. I was all for being nice. “Well. I’m not surprised that a guy wouldn’t take a pretty drunk girl home. so this is where I’m ending it. But she would not let me live this down. but the more I talked about feeling bad. It felt freaking incredible. “That might be because none of my boyfriends ever did drugs” There.
” said Casey. I should take the dive. the only guy Casey ever fell for. wow. it’s good for you.neither her ideals not the way she treated me. she’s not nice enough to be anywhere near related to you. I decided to do math homework instead. Not that I blamed her.” I am possibly the last person to tell anyone that. “I think I took a chance with my life when I applied to MIT. dated girls like Violet. “Hi. Dougie. me neither. “Dougie. “but dude. huh?” I said. of course. I didn’t even want to be around her. “I don’t like her. I blame English for getting in the way of government. It also didn’t help that Will Lee.” I said.” “Seriously? You’ve had a crush on her for four years!” . I really did. Who thought Crime and Punishment would the most annoying piece of literature ever? After staring at SparkNotes and wondering why I didn’t think of this in the first place. and Mara being single. lamented a call to Doug. This. you finally stood up the Ice Queen!: And when she said this. Honestly. Chapter 34 It is Sunday night. This was the reason Casey didn’t come over as much as she used to.” Casey said. “It’s pretty awesome. “I’m not going to—“ he started. Violet wasn’t always the nicest person to be around. though. hoping Doug would finally seize the moment he’s been wanting for four years. “it scared the hell out of me. I thought. And right now.” said Casey. I’m falling asleep at my desk wondering why I procrastinated on my homework. take a chance with your life. “Calc homework?” “That.” “You should do what scares you.” I said. Right. “Yeah. I thought.
calculus.” said a voice behind me. I didn’t ask this. and caffeine would not work because I had school tomorrow. I walked to my car and decided to get a soda instead. I decided it was a futile attempt. how much caffeine would be okay? Third. and backup schools. carbon dioxide. all that soda explains why you’re fat. so it’s number 43 on 5. This did not work. “Wow. I gave her a fake smile and filled the rest of my soda cup. how thirsty was I? Second.” He helped me like he always had.” “You applied for Berkeley. What if I said nothing to Doug about Mara’s feeling for him? What if Doug got the girl? Would I be sitting here thinking about Mara and Jake? Would Doug become a jerk? Just like Aidan had. he had baggage. I’d .” Was he doing this just to frustrate me? “Yeah. This was a challenging process that was determined by many things. I drove into 7/11 wondering how much soda I wanted. After staring long enough at my homework. and I wondered if he would ever ask her out. but it was nothing compared to how I had felt about Bryan. Not to mention what I already do feel about Bryan.6. There were some things that were better left untouched. and even a little water. that’s all you can think of? I was trying to forget thinking about him. and Stanford.“And I’ve wanted to go to MIT for 12” “I’m not even talking about college applications. I turned around to see Zoe. can we focus?” “Yes. Sure. armed with new help from Doug. So I went for 20 ounces of sugar. I was trying to think about Bryan. I hung up and continued on with math homework. do I have to sleep just yet? I wasn’t too thirsty. had he? He didn’t know Zoe was that bad.” “Yes. I was thinking about all the things that could have happened if things turned out differently. But isn’t it the funniest thing when you’re trying to get your mind off someone. First. But Aidan hadn’t become a jerk.
rather ignore her right now. “You know, he’s over you,” she said, how could I get this girl away from me? “Yeah, that’s great,” I said. Did she actually expect me to believe her? Even if he was, was Zoe the person to tell me that? “How the hell dare you?” she was obviously not used to getting the cold shoulder. “you stole my boyfriend!” Really? Was this really the way anyone somewhat mature should act? I was really beginning to wonder what Aidan really saw in this girl. “According to him,” I said, “you guys broke up.” What happened next took all grace and beauty from her looks. She slapped the soda out of my hand. Yes, she slapped it away like she was on a Jerry Springer show. “Dude, what the hell?” Aidan came out of nowhere. “I’m gonna go,” I said, taking another soda cup and filling it up. I walked away. There was still time for me to finish this homework. Plus, did I really want to stick around and watch Zoe and Aidan argue? I walked back to my car and drove back home. I sat there for an extra hour, trying to figure out my calculus homework. I finally did (thank you, Doug). It was time for me to finally sleep and try to get some life back in to me after being assaulted (by both schoolwork and Zoe). --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The day back from winter break is the worst. You come back from sleeping for centuries and not doing any work to waking up early and being given so much homework. It was criminal, really. Mr. Abrams greeted us back with the usual wheelbarrow full of homework. He also had something new to offer. “We’re changing up lab partners,”
This was met with some amount of disappointment. Some people were lab partners with their best friends. Others with their crushes. I didn’t know what to think about this. On one hand, Aidan wouldn’t stare at me. On the other, we didn’t have an opportunity to talk, even if it was over something as stupid as proteins. My new lab partner was Jason Winslow. I knew him more as the guy who Doug always spent time playing video games with and guzzling Mountain Dews with over the weekend. Though not as smart as Doug, he was still insanely intelligent. “No fair! You have the two smart kids in the class as lab partners!” I heard someone yell. They were talking about Jason and me. “It’s the perfect nerd couple!” yelled another. High school kids were so immature. I shot a glance at Aidan. He looked very nonchalant. Or maybe it was apathy. I was trying not to care. Jason and I were a pretty solid team. I read the directions, he followed them, we collaborated on the questions after. It was like well-oiled machine. I was not complaining; school was hot I forgot about my dwindling personal life. This was perfect for that. When we got out, I should have felt insanely accomplished. I didn’t. All I felt was Aidan’s eyes staring at me. I decided that I was going to talk to him. Wow, since when did I become brave? “Hey,” I said softly. “Hi,” he looked up. “Can we talk about my obvious emotional instability?” He smiled at my comment. “Sorry about the Zoe thing,” I looked at him. It’s time to be honest. “I’m still working on the Bryan thing. I am.” “It’s okay,” he said, but in a way that sounded like he was not okay at all. He walked away.
Bryan was another case. He had texted me twice, even called despite us being in the same building all day. I was supposed to give him a ride home. This was something I obliged to. I guess I didn’t stop being a pushover, after all. “Everything okay?” Bryan asked. “Sure,” I really didn’t want to bother him with the whole Aidan thing. I just kept my mouth shut, as usual. I drove back home thinking of all the things I had to do. I had more math homework, more biology home, an English test, and something I had obviously forgotten. I still could not remember what I had forgotten. No matter, there was enough work to be done that I could remember. The one thing I could always rely on was my workload. I realized my free weekends bored me. This meant I had to make myself to work. Fun, right? The weird this was, I did find it fun. Not in the means that actual fun is, but it was something I actually liked doing. I liked to learn. Sometimes, it really was fulfilling to be able to know things and figure them because of something you’ve seen or read. This may have never gotten me a boyfriend who didn’t think I was geek, but it was important to me. I didn’t want to end up like Violet, who relied on her boyfriend for everything. I also didn’t want to end up like Mara, who became insanely co-dependent on Jake and lost her independence. Not cool. The rest of the week went on monotonously. Jason, though a nice guy and a good lab partner, I could tell that there was something off about him. Possibly because I was used to a lab partner that could talk to me without mentioning schoolwork, for once. No matter, I thought, this was fine for my grade. Math sucked, as usual. Doug was finally able to sit me down for 3 hours and teach me everything I knew. This, to me, was miraculous. Finals were coming up; he came perfectly in time. He helped me with the review packet, despite refusing to talk about Mara at all. This did not
” his voice was quiet. When you sign up for these classes. Isn’t it funny that teachers know exactly what to say to stress you out? The future. and the other subjects I had to take.matter. yet so close. it freaked out and scared you into taking actions. read something and then write something about it. right? January began talking about AP testing. looking like he just cried for an hour. Then. I opened the door. All those hours of work better pay off. I couldn’t help but not complain. You could tell that everyone was beginning to stress out **** I was sitting at my desk. In fact. I was trying to summon amazing mental powers to let this essay write itself. no pressure. Mara was absolutely fine with this.” said my calculus teacher. do this. I heard the doorbell. “Hey. This was my life. This is what school did. Obviously. come talk to me. I was unsuccessful. Wow. staring at a blank word document. she was doing some noncommittal flirting. so far away. It was the tests in May that had to be registered in June. . Mara was enjoying being single for once. wondering who on Earth would be visiting me at this time. you have to put up with the costs. they were the same thing over and over again. I thought. Jake was finally free to hit on every girl that passed his way. Mara and Jake were both doing a fantastic job of not being around each other. I walked down the stairs. I’m going to be pissed. This was major progress. It was read this. As per calculus. though. “If you still don’t think you can take the AP test. It was 9 at night. We had to read another book by next week and another problem set. English. The great thing was. It was Bryan. learn about some concept and do a bunch of problems. otherwise.
you always saw me as someone who needed improvement. now give me my glasses back. What the hell? “Lil. He leaned over and took my glasses off.” I said. . “I’m in love with you. I just remembered the text message from Allison. “You have the most beautiful eyes. I pulled back.” He gave me my glasses and I slammed the door. I would have felt extremely liberated if I didn’t have an essay to write. Chapter 35 What kind of person takes a break from school after winter break is over? Didn’t you just get two weeks off from school? Aidan had gone back to San Fransisco. This guy felt that the only way to compliment me was to do something his way. he did two things. “I didn’t ask you to elaborate. Something triggered. “When I said what.” “What?” my mind was slightly blown. And then he leaned in to kiss me. I am done being a people pleaser! I am out of love with you.” he said. Actually.” he said. I had spent so much time pleasing someone who could never make me truly happy. thinking one day you’ll come back to me. I didn’t know how to handle this. I don’t need you anymore! You’ve never treated me like someone who deserved attention.“Hi. looking up. And now that you’re here. And then he did something I didn’t expect.” I stared.” “But—“ “No! I have spent so much time still having feelings for you. I don’t get that you still love me when you obviously thing I’m not as great as you want me to be.
and the first time he called me his girlfriend. I missed him. a perfect scenery for a bad day. It was beautiful. I tried doing homework instead. And after my falling out with Bryan. I kept thinking about our first kiss. right? Well. right? And he was over me. right? Stop pleasing other people and finding myself. sunlight. I tried to be cool about it. This was a flaw in the plan to say the least. going through the phases yet again (how unfair. “screw the book. Stop being the person Bryan wanted to be and be the person I wanted to be? Choose someone that made me happy over the person I had to impress? But the person who made me happy wasn’t here anymore.” and out it away.” It wasn’t exactly something I could resist. didn’t I just go through this phase?). In the middle of me in a thoughtful trance. Some of these were Disney songs. others were classic loves songs like Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder. some of it was Aerosmith. But the night brought on something completely different. I didn’t need him. though. “Take the dive. He’ll be back before finals. Aidan’s going to be spending time back in San Fran with me.“Hey. It was time to go clear my head. Still. Was he? I sat there listening to cheesy love songs again. All these thoughts were running through my mind. I keep thinking of his bracelet. It was a grassy field. I realized I had to read a book. right? So none of this actually matters. and our second kiss. He needs time alone. It might have been pretty in the . It did not work. Some of it was Led Zeppelin. The park that I had first kissed Aidan was tranquil at night. and. I realized that Aidan was right the entire time. I thought. during the day. I think this was part of me being in insane denial. Aerosmith had some really good ones. I was thinking about Zoe and telling me he’s over me. Allison’s bracelet. a few trees.” That’s what I did. that last part was more apathy than anything else.
in the middle of the night. What did this all mean? I thought not to dwell on this. All right. or movies. nobody. He was still nice to me. that last part did not sound fun. The first was that Doug was not here. after loving him for a year. It’s not quite the dive that most people were talking about. finish my homework. thinking about all the things that went wrong. neither did going home and doing homework. It made sense for me to care about him the way I did. All the things I liked about Aidan and all the things I could have played out better. . Most importantly. There were no screaming children. This didn’t change the fact he was miles away from me. I still liked Bryan at the time. Then again. I closed my eyes. I took the chance.day. What? Doug never misses school. but the night had a different atmosphere. The second was that Mr. Then I realized I was falling asleep in a park. Abrams was not in bio. I laid their on the grass. We have to do what we have to do. So I could go home. I knew that rapist could come and get me. I left school early. we didn’t have to do anything. he was laid back. and me. He was different. or tell me that my music was bad. This didn’t matter. but it was a chance nonetheless. tranquil and perfect. he was not an alpha male at all. He wasn’t picky about books. It was just the night. of course I did. I needed to go home and read. right? The second day without Aidan was met with a few surprises. not because I wanted to impress him. Aidan had changed my outlook on things. to say the least. The one good thing was that my head did get cleared. no mothers. I was too tired to let it mattered. and think about Aidan some more. This meant that after our quiz. He didn’t judge me. no dogs. I was still in love with him. he was not Bryan. but the chances of that happening in Orange County were so slim. imperfect and confused. something you ignored me like a footnote in a textbook. He made me a better person. He was easy going. but because I wanted to be more myself. Still. the fact he didn’t want me anymore seemed to be a side point. probably not thinking about me at all.
My reading list had been the most important New Year’s resolution I had ever made. I was breaking rules. Books were safe. they took me to a place where I could let myself think about something else. The bookstore down the street from the school was my favorite place to be. school would be over in fifty minutes anyways. She would leave me to the care of the librarians.Technically. mine was to read. they were comforting. instead of making a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or be prettier. This meant going to the bookstore. but not as loud as malls were. my mom used to take me to libraries when she was going to work. I had a list that would last we long enough. which was better for studying. class was over. When I was a kid. Aldous Huxley: Brave New World JRR Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings Fellowship Two Towers Return Betty Friedan: The Feminine Mystique Dante: the Inferno Mary Shelley: Frankenstein Ernest Hemingway: For Whom the Bell Tolls Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre Toni Morrison: Song of Solomon George Orwell: 1984 George Orwell: Animal Farm Charles Dickens: Tale of Two Cities Don DeLillo: White Noise . but honestly. Every year. I could sit there and work on my reading list. It was not as quiet as a library. books were always important. To me.
and the most by online summer reading lists. and I totally blew it. and I don’t think this guy would leave for a week if it wasn’t for him liking you. I had put my faith and words into the hands of others.” “Jake and I never sorted out our problems. I don’t know. sounding so definite. “you are a really impatient person. Others by friends. it was like she was channeling Casey. “Yeah.” Mara said. So we wait.” she said. “Annual reading list?” she asked.Some of these books were recommended by teachers.” Mara said. “What?” “You have not totally blown it. “you got Jake back and you were miserable. “Yeah. “I knew I’d find you here. Those have been sorted out. Lil. “hoping to read all them this time. Bryan and I dating meant I read a lot less.” “So now what?” “Allison said leave him alone.” perhaps I said that too loud. “he didn’t. smiling.” “No.” .” “What about you?” I said.” I said. putting one of the Lord of the Rings books back on the shelf.” “That never panned out for that reason.” I looked up to see Mara. “I am.” she was pulling on a strand of her hair.” I smiled. “you and Aidan had Bryan and that Zoe chick. There’s still time.” “I hate waiting.” I said. “Hi.” “As nice as you are.” “Aidan didn’t. insecure about not being as smart as you.” “He was so incredible for me. I always thought he felt.
I took a deep breath.” He hung up later. even when Mara was dating Jake and Doug got her ice cream. This was about Doug.” “What do you think?” Did he just ask me whether Mara liked him or not? This was déjà vu of the worst kind. I was about to tell him what would make him happy. Dougie. I didn’t like waiting for people to do things when I could do them faster. “I think you should go for it.” “You’re on a roll today. I didn’t like waiting for exam results. This had to be the most annoying thing ever. Whatever happened between Doug and Mara. huh?” “I’m glad you’re catching on. And when I say tell Mara. you should take the chance. I know. I tried not to slam my keyboard into the monitor.” he said. about the gesture of ice cream.Waiting. at least Mara finally knew. “Doug. “I need to tell Mara.” “Asking you to not call me Dougie is a futile attempt. Whether or not she likes you back.” he said. Then Doug called. that’s fantastic! This was your dream since kindergarten. that she did like him.” “Yeah. Even when my Internet was running slow. This was about the fact that Doug needed to take this one chance.” He said. “I got in. This hit me. This was about the guy who stared. “What?” “MIT early decision. Besides. . Or did I tell him the truth and hurt him again? “Hello?” Then I realized that Mara’s feelings did not matter at this point. his voice quivering with so much excitement. I’m not just telling her about MIT. It may have been about Mara when he stared at her in English. Mara deserves a someone nice.
This time. One from Casey saying she would be back from family reunion soon. that she was having her own problems trusting guys again. good looks. not thinking about Aidan. But for once. and I didn’t understand whether Mara was over Jake or actually had trust issues. Doug called again.” “Finals?” she asked. there. “Why yes.” “Yes.” “Good.” A few minutes later. I got another call from Casey. she was single. huh?” I loved that Casey could read my mind. I answered. “it’s good to know that you have your days correct.” she said. I thought it would be easy to trust Doug. not doing homework.I got a few calls that day. “I am.” “Fair enough. I was sitting at my desk. “Yes. Violet was always with a boyfriend. but the voicemail said that Mara had to think about it.” “I should have more faith in that.” “Aidan’s coming back Saturday?” she asked.” Why was everyone telling me to be patient? “It’s Wednesday. She had the reliant personality.” she said. “Time is the better option in this case. “Piled high in some drama. Lil?” “Yes. but I’m talking to him after next Wednesday. “finals and Bryan are not the same thing. “At least I know finals don’t mean Bryan. I let both of these go to voicemail.” I sigh in relief.” “You think that Mara still loves Jake. Another was from Mara saying that she got a call from Doug. Casey.” it was sarcasm time. She finally realized that Eric’s . but thinking about what had been happening with Violet lately.” I said smiling. and definite charm to always have one. “Yup.
Who thought of any of this? I had finals for math. calculus was fine. Spanish was fine because my teacher did not take her subject seriously. It’s just lame. and Spanish. she said. something. “I’m done for a while. Once finals are over.” Wait. maybe even go to school . Government was also fine. Because of Doug. finally taking advantage of the fact she was talking to me again. Did Violet just turn her life around? Chapter 36 Finals were the bane of my existence.” “No.” she rolled her eyes.” “Allison will be thrilled.” She sighed and walked upstairs. “With guys in general. Doug was not in this class. No offense. but you’re 17 and I’m 22. So I’m going to actually get a car.” “With Eric?” I asked. “I’ve just been in a string of bad relationships. All that was left was biology. For all of us. you need to leave your apartment.problems and her problems were things that she didn’t like him enough to deal with. it’s time to take a break and get a car. English. taking test after test was ridiculous. without another word. these were classes that I could study a few definitions and be prepared to answer anything. did she just say car? “A car?” “I don’t want you driving me around anymore. go do something fun. “Oh well”. This was not surprising to any student. not like that.” “Go for it.” “On the other hand. How anyone could like the idea of sitting there. . This was the one that was worth me screaming into the night. English was fine. government. biology.
I could.” “Always the ambitious one. somewhat hesitantly. as I sat there wondering how I even had his number. This one was from Aidan. please! Then I got another call. I’d be freaking out over it. Abrams did not explain things well enough. So there I was. Personally. and I honestly was. Jake had also called me. They were both asking me to be the one to sort things out. and both of them weren’t sure how things were going to “pan out” between them.” I said.” That was something else to tell me. it’s been driving me crazy! But I’ll talk to you on Wednesday.” Is it just me. that’s fine. However. another from Mara. It was time to go a second round of going over my notes. Mara felt awful.and Jason did not seem like he would be helpful to me. let me study.” I said. otherwise. Obviously. sensing the hesitation in my voice. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “I really need to focus on bio. Doug felt rejected. People. I preferred having the harder finals first. I mean. Mara and Doug were still both calling on and off. if you don’t want to talk to me. and why I hadn’t deleted it when Mara dumped him. trying to read something about cell membranes. I didn’t want to sort things out. I wanted to study. getting them out of the way sooner sounded better. I was not calling him back. I have to make sure I stay somewhere near the top. when this is all over. “I’m actually studying right now. He could not believe that Mara was considering going out with “that geek with no life” or that he could ever come close to “the Jakester. my eyes from reading all day. This was not that I couldn’t study this myself. no matter how many time you reread the book. I got one more call from Doug. my brain hurting from studying. sometimes Mr. and one from Casey. “Hey.” “This?” “Finals. Thank god it was my first final. Of course I wanted to talk to him. These were all ignored. or does anyone who refers to themselves as the Jakester in a voicemail to his ex’s best friend sound pathetic. why wouldn’t I? .
Spanish. Biology was just different. But Aidan did not wait.” I told him. Until I got to the last few problems. Like all the other problems I targeted.” Maybe he wasn’t over me. I had my two hardest finals on this day. I remembered one of them. something triggered in my mind. I answered the phone for him. didn’t I? I even told him that I had . People tried to call me for favors just to talk. I stared dumbfounded at the problems. I got through with as much grace as I could retain. These were all not noteworthy. The fact that Aidan was on the other side of the room (and not right next to me) relieved the stress of my dwindling personal life (until Wednesday). then.” He sighed. I’m not even talking to Mara and Casey right now. Mara and Casey could wait. I had to continue reading. a trooper of a calculus student. Tuesday was the rest of my finals. I went on. these were hard. He sounded far too disappointed to be over me and I was too stressed to dwell on this. then biology. Even Bryan had done this. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The next day was a blur. Still. and government. I was glad they were over. The first was math. of all the practice problems I read. I had to call people now. these were things I needed to think about. I’ll leave you alone. This happened every single year during finals week. I navigated through my problems and got to a point where I answered all of them. “just let me study. These were English. too). Then. Still. My teacher made it so that the hardest problems are last. I was exhausted. I began limiting it to just people from my class (who I know only called to ask a question). Doug could wait (he was on phone hiatus. neither hard nor easy. With math I knew what I was doing. “Okay.“I do want to talk to you.
terms and conditions, not blowing him off completely. “Hello,” Mara was on the phone. No signs of crying, I thought. This was good. “Sorry about ignoring the phone,” “It’s finals week,” she said, “I understand.” “So, Aidan and I are talking on Wednesday. I told him that’s when we were talking to each other because I can’t really do anything before finals week. Honestly, I answered the phone for him just to tell him that.” “Wow, a man worth Lilly’s attention from finals week.” “I have no idea what to tell him,” “That you still have feelings for him and you’re over Bryan?” Mara suggested. “Yeah, well,” I said, “I’m still mad about the Zoe thing.” “Argue your points, Lilly,” Mara said, “holding it in means you guys will fight for no reason because you can’t explain why you’re actually angry.” “Yeah,” I thought of all my issues with Bryan, “can’t have that happen. So Doug…” “He’s had a crush on me for a while, huh?” Mara’s voice didn’t change. “He has, please don’t tell me you’re not considering it because of Jake.” “No, I mean, I miss Jake, but I’m not going back to him,” “Good,” “I’m going on a date with Doug.” Now this was good news. “Yes!” I yelled. “Wow, someone was rooting for him to win,” Mara seemed excited. “We’re going out on Friday, so we’ll see.” I was excited for her. She was finally going to be around someone who appreciated her. In some twist of fate, Aidan got sick. “He’s seriously sick, I think from the clams we ate back in San Fran, I knew they were
sketchy. He wants to talk to you, but in between sleeping and throwing up, it’ll have to wait.” Thank you, Allison. The rest of the week was uneventful. Casey had come back and taken her finals. Doug was pretty sure he did well enough on his finals. Mara was done with finals and was thinking about her date with Doug. On Friday afternoon, we began to feel the excitement. “This is a dinner date, but this is Doug we’re talking about.” “So,” Mara said, picking up a dress. “Doug likes simpler clothes, a skirt would work much better. Less makeup, geeky guys aren’t into high maintenance.” “Most guys aren’t” said Mara. “Again,” I said, “Doug is different, and this is a really casual dinner date.” “I am not wearing sweatpants,” “We don’t expect you to,” Casey rolled her eyes. An hour later, she was ready. We had left to go to the movies. “Let’s hope for a non embarrassing night,” said Casey. “For Doug or Mara?” “Both. Doug for not being too big of a stalker and Mara for not being receptive.” I tried to tell myself that it would totally be okay. That Mara and Doug would fall madly in love and Jake would fall off a cliff. Maybe that last part was a bit harsh, but he wasn’t totally undeserving. Casey laughed at my proposal to throw Jake off a cliff. She even promised to help me push him off. This was something I loved about Casey, our mutual sick humor was always a welcome attribute. Usually Mara’s sweeter sense of humor was enough to balance out Casey, me being their eternal mediator. The rest of the night began my reading list for the year. I sat comfortably on my bed, reading with a blanket, hot chocolate, and not need to pick up Violet.
Violet had finally picked up things in her life. After her newfound independence, she bought a car (a used car with a malfunctioned window, but a car nonetheless). The spring would begin her classes. She also did the one thing that nobody expected her to do: she dyed her hair. She walked into the kitchen on Friday night as I was making hot chocolate. I turned around and didn’t even recognize her. In a second it hit me. “It’s….” I continued to stare, “brown!” “They call you the smart one and yet you’re Captain Obvious,” she said. “It looks great,” I meant this. “thanks,” she said, “I realized that I wanted people to take me seriously. That’s not happening if I’m 22, no degree, bleach blonde hair, and a job that’s usually reserved for teenagers.” “Wow” “I want to do this marketing stuff, be able to sell people clothing they look good in. Not just smile at random stranger and ask them how their day goes.” “Good job, Vi,” “This is the best thing, though,” she said, her voice rising, her brown hair looking natural and less processed, “I’m going home to see Rose and David again.” “Who are you and where is Violet Morgan?” “Hysterical,” she said, “I saw that Allison girl, by the way. She was looking for jewelry. That Aidan guy you dated apparently has a bad stomach flu.” “Yeah,” “What happened with you guys?” “Bryan got in the way of things,” this was true, he did. “Ugh, really?” “I finally got that taken care of,” I kept talking, it felt good to tell someone this, “I don’t need Bryan anymore. I just want another shot with Aidan.”
random people.” I said.” Violet made this sound extremely easy. I took the dive with my own art form. Why I needed them in an hour was a mystery. My phone vibrated as I looked at the screen. more of fish ponds and parks. too. parks. Stomach flu was a very brutal disease. Something hit me like a freight train. beauty arising from chaos. kids. But also like life. it was the happy and sad mixed with nature. It looked insane. Finals were over.” Like I said. and even the occasional building. I had a camera. there was beauty to be created from it. I had no idea what I was looking for. others of kids. This was just a bunch of chaos. I decided that I wanted to wait a few days. I went off to the photo store. with people. What the collage was looked like chaos. “When he gets better. At first I thought this was nothing. flowers. I looked back. I was making this sound pretty easy. Some of them were close shots of leaves. proud of myself. had three days to shoot something. it looked incoherent. All of them of trees. . It was all these things that made up our lives. The things we put together that should not have been put together. What I was trying to find was still a mystery. As Aidan said. all I can do was press the button on my camera and hope for something amazing. It was text message from Mara. I went on another photo run. I looked at all my prints. Then I stared at the pile of photos again. with love. deciding to get the one hour development. I went insane with my pictures. Because finals week came right before Martin Luther King’s Day. But it wasn’t. I found myself arranging them and cutting some things and pasting others. “Doug is now my boyfriend.“Then get another shot with Aidan. It was cutouts of all the pictures I had taken and chosen. An hour later. it was beauty made from pain. It was just like life: full of disorder.
you’re still going to the basketball game next week. It was a fun day overall. we asked him to try on things he looked ridiculous in. “Hey. “Yes!” he said. “Hey. After my Friday night photo madness. “Let’s not. This included pink frilly dresses and a Santa outfit. Then something changed to make things different. The day went on like this. no papers. no tests. Whether she was ignoring him or over him remained yet to be seen. just me and my friends deciding to just hang out all day.” Casey wasn’t one for beating around the bush with this kind . “Casey!” yelled Will.” Casey said. let’s get out of here. holding up a black trench coat. Casey looked toward him. We saw Will. Yup. What twelve hours of sleep can do for a person is a medical miracle.” said Mara. who saw Will but didn’t look at him again. When I say shopping for Doug. It was fun to finally have Doug back with us. “I say he wears this.Chapter 37 Three day weekends are a beautiful thing. like he had freshman year. I haven’t decided. we even went shopping for Doug (much to his discomfort). she even gave him a hug. We even added Doug.” said Casey. it was good to finally have things to near the way they should be.” I said. It was the four of us. and me. Lee. right?” “Maybe. Doug and Mara holding hands. There was no homework. He was smiling. Seriously? They’re talking to each other? “Hey. Casey. who was more than excited to go anywhere with Mara. I woke up on Saturday feeling amazing. with mock excitement. a new girl around his waist whenever we saw him.
” “Honestly.” “Really?” “Doug.” . cool. I don’t want it. Mara asked the question on everyone’s mind. Dougie. looking at the price tag. “Should I get this bracelet?” No. like Mara. don’t get that bracelet. what do you think?” “It’s pretty. “But it’s expensive. “get your girlfriend something worth her money.” Mara said.” “Anyways. “No. “And Casey.” I decided that awkward silences need to be stopped. Doug. “she’s not like me. “Mara.” As he walked out. We saw this coming. “bummer. “it’s fine. Most women.of thing. However. not that question. The thing was. she had no reason to be.” Good job on making a decision. and it sorta doesn’t matter anymore.1 percent of girls who weren’t like this. get it. she wouldn’t talk to him if she wasn’t.” Casey said. “She is. said they were over something when they weren’t. “it’s pretty.” Doug made one of those faces that just said. Dougie. why are you talking to him?” “It was a year ago. who decided being friends with Bryan would be a good thing.” “Really?” she looked disappointed. bordering pushover. “I’ll buy it. then.” Mara said. there was that . “Ok.” Casey recognized this as a joke. Doug.” I said. Casey was over it.” Doug was being good boyfriend material.” “Really?” Mara sounded skeptical. I’ll see around. not that bracelet. Mara said “awwww. it’s too big on you.
Doug doting on Mara. “I have to go to work. I ignored the fact that I just compared my older cousin to my theoretical child. and I loved her. mess clothing. smelling her perfume. Casey insisting she was. It was empty. but I didn’t feel like calling would be able to say everything. Were we too loud with talking about the bracelet? The rest of the day went like that. when I walked passed Violet’s room. So you’ve always been the really smart one out of both of us. the bed and desk were bare of all makeup. Despite her personality. I was looking forward to see what would happen. First. she’ll call us when she gets there. but don’t worry.” I turned around to see my mom. I walked in into the room. Mara was trying to make sure Casey was okay. I loved my friends. how her classes would go. yelling and making everything suck for you. I wanted to apologize for making you do all those things. said ‘make sure Lilly read it.” I walked into my room. and how everything was going to work out with her newfound independence. I found the note on my bed. That was such a bitchy thing to do. laughing. She kissed me on the forehead. she went back to Aunt Rose. boyfriend’s clothing. .Doug shrugged. “She left a note. Dear. I wonder if this was how my mom would feel once I left for college. I was back at home.’” my mom smiled. she was still my cousin. The room was so empty. not just pretending to be. me mediating. Lilly. We left the store as the cashier gave us a weird look. “She left this morning. and making bad jokes about the entire experience. I wanted to thank you for everything. You bailed me out of more situations than I could ever imagine. This letter may sound bad. finally becoming self sufficient. Second. and stayed home all those nights just for me. She was finally growing up. I missed her already.
I’m glad you’re over him. Casey called.Third. and long notes from Casey and Mara when they were bored in class.” I said. I was sad about Violet leaving. kinda miss her. Lots of love.” “She’s going back to school. I know you’re better with books than with boys. Violet PS: Bryan’s a loser.” I said. along with a few love notes from Bryan. I folded up the letter and put it in my dresser drawer. but at least she was finally doing something that didn’t involve massive amounts of alcohol and shady guys. Go for it. I can’t imagine you if you weren’t a total nerd. “Still. “what if I said Violet left back to her parents place?” “Then I’d be happy because I never liked her. And last. “Then I would ask you who it was and hope it’s not Lee. there’s no fun in that. The postscript made me laugh. That makes sense.” “What if I were to tell you that this was Kyle. But you should know that that Aidan guy likes you.” . the cute Starbucks guy?” “Then I would say go to Starbucks and hit on him in subtle way” “Okay. seeing as Aunt Daisy and Uncle Danny raised you to be book smart and tried to keep you away from the guys. I know. sounds like a plan. stay smart.” “She can read?” I laughed. Don’t hold back and chicken out with chances. “What if I were to tell you I like a guy?” she said. Trust me. he does. “Shocker.” “Now it’s my turn.
My Spanish class. Just like losing Bryan. right? I was hoping he wasn’t using this flu as an excuse to avoid forever. but I was getting used to them. It was mixed. Speaking of. This had not happened since the Will Lee incident. just like Bryan was still my first love.” said Mrs. my English teacher. “but I don’t think any of you want to do them. I missed her despite how much she took advantage of me. It would be pretty effective. . why?).“She’s your cousin. Less people started going to school at all. We had already gotten people talking about their dislike for teachers. I was happy about Casey liking another guy. As for homework. Most people had given up on school. “I was supposed to give you these three essays to do. I personally was getting it. the people who ditched class were usually people I didn’t like. do you?” We were even too lazy to say no to this. It was almost a bit too perfect. There were times when I could smell her perfume and just be happy that she was finally doing something she wanted to. and started making plans for spring break (it’s January. senioritis had hit full swing. too. My academic life was fine. At least I had one thing going for me. She was still my cousin.” I laughed again. just not as much as I was before. you’ll get to see her at awkward family reunions. The people that were usually quiet in school began questioning. Kramer. Aidan did not. which left her very jaded. I was still attached to them both. though. decreased dramatically. proclaimed that they hated all of their teachers. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Final grades came back. even with its honors state. “Very true. Not that I was complaining. My personal life was not. some of the teachers got their own brand of senioritis. senior year would be over in a few months.” The days without Violet were slightly irritating and boring.
so why even assign them?” she said. “Hey. “he’s been missing in action. Warner. I hear sniggers from the room. “The AP biology test is difficult. the pope.” “Kyle?” Score! “No.“Anyways. My phone was ringing. “We’re going to do a reading log instead.” I was not going to get angry. who the hell cares? It was driving me simply insane. but someone should teach you to listen. he said them every day.” It’s great to know some teachers truly cared about us. religious guys won’t screw you over.” Casey sounded excited. I won’t grade them. “By allowing any kind of laziness.” “Well. “Take Mr. I was sitting here staring at my book.” was Mr. you allow for yourself to fail even further. Kramer was one of few who had this approach.” Mrs. Cell membranes. “Ms. cellular respiration. “I thought he was sick. Lil.” He used “hang out’ and “blow off” in such a strained way. didn’t I? “He said yes.” why did he call us by our last names? “you should never question your teacher. if he went to hang out with his friends and blow off his homework.’ you might be intelligent. raising my hand. I don’t think he would do such a good job on the AP test.” . and please note I said ‘if. This didn’t get by the fact that he was being a judgmental prick. thinking of all the things that I really didn’t want to think about.” I said. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------This biology homework was killing me. Johnson. “Hey!” I had to match her excitement. it was funny. Abrams’s words. who has been absent since two week ago.
the perfect dive. Mara even made tons of time for us when she was first with Jake. So here I was.” “That’s exciting!” “I asked him out. it was that everyone else was seizing opportunities to be in a relationship. even if he wasn’t sick. What if she began acting like Mara? What if Kyle ended up being another jerk? Then I told myself to snap out of it. I had been taking this out on hoping my friends don’t end up with jerks.” “Nice” this was like straight out of a romance novel. Chapter 38 . If there was anything that fates were trying to tell me. “So yeah. I had the perfect opportunity. With my two best friends having boyfriends. we’re going out on Friday. But Aidan wasn’t a jerk. seemed too big of a risk. and I didn’t even know Kyle to assumed he would be an asshole. The guy that taught me to create beauty from pain. he then gave me my coffee in person. the guy that liked my glasses and ponytail. what was I supposed to do? Being single just became slightly inconvenient as I thought about Casey in a relationship.” Before she hung up. it just wasn’t the way she was.“But I prefer Kyle. I realized that I was soon also getting jealous. He was the guy I didn’t have to impress. It was time to get him back. well. This was a huge problem for me.” “Awesome. we talked for an hour. As excited as I was for her. I gave him my number on paper. Casey would never lose her independence for anything. his number written on the cup. the guy that told me to take chances. realizing I was so afraid of getting hurt again that actually approaching Aidan.
Apparently. “I wouldn’t have gone out with Jake if I knew he felt this way. You can’t turn back now.” “But that wouldn’t make it genuine. Then they got depressing and angry.” another pause. talking about her and how beautiful and nice she was. not because you like him. Doug had written an entire notebook full of poems about Mara.” My foot was on the pedal. “Should I break up with him? My answer was only no because of how I felt about Doug as a friend. She had never been called a “whore” or “forbidden” or even “evil. The flashback was still ringing in my ears.” “That’s messed up. I knew about the drawings. Driving.” “What the hell have I ever done to him?” I knew that Doug had these feelings for Mara. they started out extremely happy. “let me tell you something.” I said this calmly. “yes. too. “Are you only dating him because you’re too nice to reject him?” “No. “Mara. She hadn’t even seen those. Mara. I am. Being on the freeway when there was no one around was therapeutic. I was guessing the angry ones were where Jake got there first. Lilly.” she paused.” And then it hit me. I told myself. I did keep driving as I tried to remember all the things that happened over the weekend. Just. just keep driving. “maybe. you would be doing it to be nice. Mara had no idea how to react. Had they been dated. you’ve come too far. Actually. Doug and Mara had their issues.” I told her that Doug watched as she fell for Jake. Reading them. Keep. Mara had her issues.Drive. He would be .
” I told her. damn it.” “Why were you in San Diego?” “Violet. I’m driving. his heart would be broken. “I have no idea how to navigate this relationship. It’s just that I don’t even think I want to be in a relationship anymore. Really sweet guy. Doug. are you driving?” Casey was back from her date with Kyle.” “Mara.” “I can’t. and go to sleep. Through my mental ramble.” “Oh. but avoided me Friday. And talk to Aidan. my phone vibrated. I then . “Anyways. please think about this more. “Hey. Lil. And I know it isn’t because I miss Jake. Casey!” At least one of us wasn’t having problems.” I smiled. I just needed to talk to Aidan. It was Saturday and I begged to talk to him. “I just got back from San Diego.” “Yes. “basically. thinking more about Doug’s feelings than hers. He said yes through some miracle. I’m going straight to Aidan’s. I get another call an hour later.” I stole my mom’s used headset when she got a blue tooth. I had to just get home and shower. I don’t. Actually.. I kept driving. “That’s great.heartbroken.” Casey said.” Mara cut people off when she was upset. “It would break his. “but he’s sweet.” Aidan and I finally agreed to talk. “call me when you’re not driving. should be home soon.” Are you freaking kidding me? As I thought about Doug and Mara. he bought me roses and we went to dinner.” “Hi. He had gotten better around Thursday. “Hi. then I realized she can’t see the smile over the phone. With anyone.” she said.
“Aidan barely knows anyone and Allison won’t tell anyone.” “And I’m not going to. that Violet made me go shopping with her. it didn’t quite give you ways to cause one that you could soon meet your maker. She then said she was getting a call from Mara.” “I’m an hour away guys. but freaking out had always seemed like a valid motivational tool. “it’s not a decision I want to make and then regret. As much as the DMV manual told you how to drive. I breathed in. Yes. this was me being paranoid. I needed a book to tell me things. “we can’t yo-yo relationship.” said Mara. “ you have nothing to lose. despite a racing heart and me going insane. Lilly. That was just too much effort on your part. I was .” I said. I was always a nervous driver. I told Casey all of this.fact voice.” “Just do it!” Now even Mara was telling to go for it.” I need to change the subject. It was going to be okay.” “To who?” Casey asked.” “Guys. “Mara. I’m surprised I survived the day. I’m so nervous. noting the signs. “it’s going to be just fine. “it’s really not!” “Just do it!” yelled Casey. “what’s happening with Doug?” “I’m giving us more time together.” “Good. Which she did. will you please not go insane. Yes. Take a deep breath. I told myself.called him to tell him I would be late. “You’re going to Aidan’s?” Can’t I tell anyone anything without them already knowing? “Yes. Like with most things. “I’m letting you go. I had a death grip on the steering wheel to prove it.” “Don’t be.” I said calmly. it was a bit exaggerated.” “Except my dignity.” said Casey.” I somehow hung up on them and didn’t crash into the street.” she said in a matter-of. She then put all three of us on the phone.
Just relax. I actually really liked driving. drive to . relatively comfortable. I thought. I knew I was going to make it somehow. Just relax.going to be fine once I loosened my grip on the steering wheel and relaxed. I took a deep breath and kept driving. No. this had to be done in person. you feel pain. Doug had his own issues. Maybe I should just call Aidan. it’s going to be okay. this was the one that played love songs. why listen to it again? This didn’t make sense to me as I looked for classic rock. Or that no one’s home. I was not about to get over shadowed by my negativity. Southern California’s easy listening station was the first to come up. You already went through the pain once. the surroundings. don’t repeat things in your head over and over again. I kept driving. Just relax. The idea sounds fine. I held in how I felt about Bryan because I didn’t know he felt about me. Nothing wrong with that. Note to self. I compared it to a piping hot Starbucks cocoa to a lukewarm one you make with mix. Or that Zoe might answer the door. I was an hour away when I turned on the radio. it was a lot like reading. and did something. “Stop!” I yelled aloud to no one. I just hoped he wasn’t still too made to answer the door. Or slam it in my face. Love songs had to be the most masochistic idea ever. it’s going to be okay. the ambience. The IDEA of listening was masochistic. Or. You sat there. I was exhausted. He was lovestruck for four years whereas Mara was in like mode. I thought it would be funny to drive to Bryan’s house instead. Alone. it’s going to be okay. and even the sounds of everything around you. I almost fell asleep at the wheel. I thought. I thought. and write a song about it. It was going to be okay. I was home free for another forty five minutes. You concentrated on it but could still take it all in. For me. it’s going to be okay. Just relax. When I finally found Led Zeppelin. Doug was going through the exact same thing. I thought. Of course.
” These people. I’m just driving right now. packed all her stuff. Yup. realize that Aidan had been turned into a giant rock. a job. But she had always done the bare minimum. “I’m not trying to be vindictive or anything when I say it. You sure as hell better he here soon!” “I will be. “Violet left?” “Yeah. Another phone call. I was scared shitless.” and I wasn’t. she needed to reassess. and left. I thought. and after her last relationship fell through. she’s taking classes at a community college and getting a degree in what might be fashion design or marketing. It’s good to have drive for her.” “What the hell were you doing all day. it had to be conquered. “I just really like that she’s finally doing something other than partying. That sounds mean to say.” “You’re kinda harsh about that. “I’m leaving the house.” “I party” . She’s back in San Diego living with her parents. her car. her house. forget where everyone lives.” “Why?” “Violet likes her independence.” “I was in San Diego visiting my cousin.” Allison paused. and I needed to keep driving. “she quit her job. She finally got what she wanted. Anyways. and yet I kept going. She’s pretty set on something. This had to be done. I needed to stop doubting myself.” Allison said.” “Oh. “Hi.Aidan’s neighbor’s house. know me far too well. but I guess it makes sense out of all the times she spent bossing your around. after years of not having it. I was not going to let this one go away. but even she admits it’s true.” I had realized she’d only been gone for a week. I laughed to myself at the last one.
” she said.” she said. I thought. Lack of jewelry stopped being “too simple” and started being clean. a bit worse for wear. This part was something I couldn’t believe. She would come back and get her car tomorrow with my parents. This was also a Violet I was happy to see. She let me pick clothing I wanted. and one who actually seemed like she was related to me. I’ll hope to see you soon!” She hoped to see me soon? That sounded like she was rooting for me. It was old.” With Violet’s blessing (“go for it. I’m telling him today. you know you want to”). As fun as shopping was. Keep going. I’m going to head out and do some stuff. I avoided this question until she asked to full out confess. Let’s drive faster. My wardrobe of jeans and t-shirts did not come under heavy scrutiny.“You’re in college. and manipulative. It was good to know that she was. “You haven’t told him?” “He got back from school yesterday. Being a good goody I am. Violet had been doing great. I had never seen her more alive. angry. She loved her classes. and was so happy to take me shopping. “Trust me. but the engine worked. This was a Violet I had never seen before. I left my house using her car. she did ask a few times about Aidan. go! I sped a little before realizing that I should stop. despite that being something she vowed never to do. “Anyways. . for once.” “True. She drove around in her car. not because of the cute guys. and even stopped going to parties altogether. Her hair was browner than ever. Lilly. Violet had told me. This was something she had never done before. but this time she was happy to see us all. “I’m not. didn’t roll her eyes. It was good to know that someone was on my side. and she was taking initiative. At my house. Go. I didn’t want to break the rules.” And I did trust her. bitchy. go. she was busy. She even explain to my parents how important it was.
and I began wondering whether I should cut my losses and run the Hell away right now.” I said.” “It’s Doug. I stood at the doorstep. Deep breath.” . Especially after how I was treated by Jake. Chapter 39 I was running around to everyone’s houses doing damage control on Sunday.” my voice sounded so small. I walked to his house. “the man would not hurt a fly. Dude. staring at the doorbell. My heart was pudding in my head. finding something to say.I finally got to the main road. I rang the doorbell.” I needed Casey badly. but I’m not interested in getting too serious. In addition. “Hi. I like him. then Mara. It’s hard to trust guys. The door opened for me to find Aidan in sweatpants and a white t-shirt. just do it. It was a simple. This was upsetting just because she was the one that stopped me from always siding with Mara. then to homework. “Hi. turned left. two story house. I drove down. windows were on. This was scary commitment. She was currently working on something else. I thought. It was Doug. He’s the most docile creature ever. Hectic day! Mara had not gotten over the fact that Doug wrote the poems. she also found out about the dragons. Lilly!” she said. What if he says no? I couldn’t help think of this as I cross the lawn. “I just got out of the relationship from hell. “I don’t want another possessive boyfriend. and right again. left. She was always the one who helped me smooth things out. meaning dangerous waters for someone to get involved.” he said. I parked on the curb and got out of the car. “Well.” I thought about what I had to say. right. What would Casey say? “I mean.
It’s not your fault your ex is an asshole.” That was a really bad wording. Mara.” Wow. It’s okay to miss him. “Mara. He’s never going to go back to being nice.” I sat down next to her and looked straight at her. I thought. He used to love you.” “I got over that. calming breath. since when did Mara become the cynic? This was not something that sat well with me in any hopes of cheering her up. He’s harmless. “Give it time. I thought. Are you over Jake?” This should have been a yes. “I really am over it. “What?” “Jake isn’t like that anymore.” “You did that when Bryan was an ass. soft.” “But. Mara.” .“Docile?” “Easily taught. It’s not okay to miss him so much you want him back.” She said simply.” tears were rolling down her eyes. “you cannot be serious?” “I miss the old Jake.” take a deep. taking her hands.” I said. “The new Jake is not the old Jake. “You can’t just single out all men because Jake’s an ass. Isn’t it time we all move on to better things?” I heard a snuffle.” “Did you really?” Why did Mara keep asking us if were really over anything? It got really irritating. “Yes. but now he loves every other girl with tight jeans or a skirt. “Mara.” She said.” “Most men start out harmless. “I don’t know. I guess. “he hurt you too badly. “time pretty much heals all wounds.” I said.
There was also a half Marvel coming wall and half DC comics. I knew it might happen. “I’ll tell you when you’re feeling better.“Pretty much?” she asked. “Mara and I are breaking up. Everything from the Star Wars bed sheets to the model Millennium Falcon hanging from the ceiling. how did the thing with Aidan go?” I smiled.” If anyone ever needed a hug right now. Doug liked Mara so much. It was slightly obvious that he had been crying. please give this more time and thought. “Sweetie.” I got her to giggle. It always was a bit weird to see guys cry. it was Doug. My phone began vibrating. “Hey. It was awful that she didn’t feel the same way. It was a bit of a nerd’s paradise. That was progress.” --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I was sitting in Doug’s room. I admit. looking around at all the things in his room. Before I knew it. It was Doug.” Doug had just walked into his room.” “What?” I was semi shocked. It was actually weird that she didn’t feel the same way. It was pretty awesome. You might regret letting go of a guy that doesn’t want you to change. Still. “So” he sat down on his chair.” “Speaking of. but this soon? “Guess she didn’t like me as much as I thought. Doug had worshipped the ground . I thought Mara was a drama queen. but it happened with Doug more and more recently. he had his arms around me. “Except the real ones that you need medicine for. full of movie posters and drawings of dragons.
I guess. “There are no buts. maybe that was too blunt of a statement. He had never exactly heard me talk like. you’re running away.” Ah.” he said. even Mara had her doubts at the very beginning of dating Jake. me.” Wait.” “I can’t even tell you exactly why I’m breaking up with her. You guys have more than enough time to figure things out.” “I just have a feeling that this will all go seriously wrong.” It was true. I’m sorry.” . “Dougie.” Ok. Doug. “Doug. the objections. Aidan thinks this. but don’t worry. Doug stared. Dougie. Change the subject. what? “With MIT and the fact she saw those poems.” I sounded like an Aidan/Allison hybrid. Whatever.” “But. how do you know?” “They were in a different spot than they usually were. Casey. “This isn’t going to get you anywhere to just be afraid like this. Lilly. talk about it. I thought. you can’t dump Mara.she walked on well enough.. and you’re running away from something because of reasons that are at least seven months away. He was. this worked.” “But” “You’re being a coward. so what if she read the poems? Give this some time.” “Don’t we all have that feeling? Seriously.” “Doug.” “Yeah. “You have her.” How does he know she knows about the poems? “Wait.” “Doubts weren’t unfounded. “It would behoove you to not freak out.” “They dated for two years before he went and turned into a total asshole.
because she likes you. Except.” “You. Please tell me I’m right.” “She said yes to you at first. it worked.“We’re nerds. “I’ll tell you when you feel better. it had changed.” I was running out of ideas to tell him. Bust most of all.” “That was a week ago. It was the same couch. fine.” He said. “Doug. I guess it would have looked exactly the same to anyone else. I predicted a huge change in the house going in again. “Maybe. It was like that Nelson Mandela quote. same everything. For some reason.” he smiled. “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you .” “That’s school. Lilly.” “You took the MIT risk. don’t break up with her.” He stared at me. to me. because your personal life needs it. “Doug!” “What?” “That’s not something you joke about. “by the way. what happened with Aidan?” I smiled.” “Ok.” ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I walked into Aidan’s house. where I had been a few weeks ago as his girlfriend. same lights. We don’t take risks. I thought.” “Why not?” Was he really asking me that question? “Because you love her. your heart will not forgive you for what your brain says. The couch seemed less welcoming and the lights went from being warm to having this chilled atmosphere.
Well. are we?” I should not have said this out loud. “It’s fine. staring at his hands on the table instead of looking at me. “guess I had my own issues.” Like Zoe. Honestly. “Zoe was one of them. that he had always been a very stubborn one.yourself have altered. but I sorta decided .” he said. I sat down across.” he said. “kid wouldn’t talk to me for two days. It wasn’t the usual type of quiet that Aidan was. moreso my relationship to Aidan had been.” he said.” “It took a while to get over it. “No.” And I had been altered. Which would have been okay. I was determined to get Zoe out of my head.” he said.” Here begins my many apologies. “Do you want something like water or soda or something?” he asked. “I’m sorry about Zoe. “we mainly broke up just because I was moving down here and she wanted to keep in touch. “You still loved Bryan. “besides the whole thing where you looked at him like a lovesick puppy. His quiet sounded more like he was still too angry to talk to me. I thought. but I liked you.” “I didn’t even know about how she was acting.” “Why not?” Even though I already knew the answer. ignoring my comment. “Sorry. He was quiet as he lead me into his kitchen. I did invite her before you and I got together. I didn’t even realize that she was being a bitch. Allison told me this would happen. it’s fine. I’m sorry. Allison brought it up. I didn’t think we were going to be together at all. “I once broke his paintbrush. I did not say this out loud.” “A bit of grudge holder.” she said.” “Not exactly something I would object to. that had a more calm. She kept telling me that she missed me.” So he was being nice but he was being cold? “Look. it did. collected feel to it.” “Again.” he sat down at the dinner table.
” I kept Bryan around even when I thought he was cheating on me. and I finally yelled at her to go away. Zoe kept knocking. right? “Told me he loved me. I went up to San Fran to tell her it was over. didn’t I? Down with love. He used to this thing where he took off my glasses when we were kissing. it makes sense. she was being absolutely horrible about it! She was all over you. if that makes sense. she would take me back.” “Bryan asked me back. Why didn’t you at least tell her she wasn’t welcome?” “Because of Allison. “I needed to stop loving her. Lower your voice.” Aidan said. I felt my heart getting metaphorically stabbed. It would hurt less. “When you left that night. that’s exactly what Zoe thought. Excuse.” he said.” “How do you turn a blind eye to that?” I shouldn’t yell. Lilly. She wanted me to break off things with her in person.” “But wouldn’t it be a slap in the face to come here and get rejected?” “You would think so. Lamest. Then stayed there for a week because Allison didn’t want to be alone. “Why would Allison want to do that?” She wasn’t on my side? “Because Zoe and I had this back and forth thing going on since the end of the summer. but anyways. I’m just glad Zoe and I are over. and I needed to stop being human.” “And you kept taking her back?” “I loved her. “Allison wanted me to stop leaving things with Zoe untied. She left the next day. Ever. lower your voice.” “No. I would take her back. I locked myself in my room and painted.” He stopped looking at his hands and looked at me. she said.to turn a blind eye to it. He always thought they were . “I mean. I thought.” I might as well share. or at least trying to. She cheated on me with some asshole. then called a few hours later to tell me she was in love with me. It’s human nature to love what hurts us. She had some issues with her ex.
“I like that you use words like idiosyncrasies in normal conversation. I told him no flowers. “I never have to compromise my idiosyncrasies with you. He kissed me again. I just wanted my glasses back. we both sat down a week before. In fact. nothing during school. But Aidan listened. I told him I wanted to get the gifts after school. Taken? You ignore the eye rollers and whiners as you get your gifts.” I smiled. right? This time. “I like my glasses. We all do the same thing depending on our relationship status. I was too embarrassed and he said it was something nice. So when he took them off and tried to kiss me. Even when I was Bryan.” I smiled. Kinda slammed the door in his face. He laughed.” We both stared at each other. you can do better than that. “Hey.” “She deserved to get yelled at. One of us had to make a move soon. “And I like your glasses. He didn’t listen.” Come on.” “He deserved it. it was me. too. Aidan.geeky. Then he said this: “Took the dive. I was just bothered that he didn’t listen. Aidan.” He pushed the bridge of my glasses up towards my face. I stood up as he smiled.” He stepped over to my side of the table. I pretended not to notice. I went on tiptoes as he kissed me. I thought. Single? You whine and roll your eyes when all the taken people get gifts. I still got a bouquet of roses and a death glare from another girl. no chocolate. didn’t you?” Chapter 40 Valentine’s Day was always one of my least favorite days on the entire calendar. “I like you.” .
” This was the main argument. I know that this was meant to celebrate love. Valentine’s Day. I thought. it disturbed me. like some form of candy or a cute card. For . right?” He chuckled at first. “Please don’t give me anything during school. “I wont get you anything on school hours.” He smiled. The permanence of some high school relationships were so low. I don’t think that Doug and Mara should have gotten themselves anything major. should you be celebrating a love/romance that doesn’t even exist? I didn’t think so. This was bad for true love. “Yeah. that was what the holiday was for. “You know that next week is Single Awareness Day…I mean. but kids in high school did. and thank you. Over dinner only.” Did he really? A bit ahead.“Yeah?” We were people watching at the mall. why?” “Can we just have dinner together and not buy presents?” “I kinda already got you the present.” “Awesome. I could even understand newer couples getting each other small gifts. That way. What I didn’t get and absolutely thought was annoying was the third kind. These were the couples who had a bad relationship or barely a relationship and insisted on giving each other big teddy bears and giant bouquets of roses. I didn’t have to see the most awful display of public affection ever at school. Valentine’s Day was best when it fell on a Saturday. Having the world know you hate being lonely? Not so great. I can understand the couples who had been together all four years of high school. “You don’t want to make single people feel bad.” He kissed me on the forehead. but great for Hallmark. But if you need a present to fix or define a relationship. Love is great. huh?” “It’s bad enough for people who hate being single on other days.
I didn’t put any thought into this. She never told Doug this. She took a deep breath and took a sip of her mocha. but I think you could like him if you paid more attention. but be less self involved.” She looked almost horrified. remember. I love you.” she said. and he gets me a bracelet that I can’t even remember. I thought. working out their problems would suit better than buying solutions.being a couple that’s had problems within the first few weeks. “What?” “I have always been a people pleaser. She had just come back and joined us at Starbucks. she was staring at her mocha. But I could tell she listened. Doug had put more thought to it. though. and you always need to be pleased. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Casey and Kyle had long since been over after date number three. I said it. I’m not forcing Doug on you. Casey saw Will and then you threw us off by talking about this bracelet. your doting boyfriend and friends love you. “I am so not down with relationships.” “Does everyone remember this bracelet except me?” “Mara. “We had a fight about. But it’s time to cater to needs beyond you and those who hurt you.” I smiled and took a sip of my hot chocolate. Which is great.” We were at Starbucks. Mara bought Doug a Star Wars poster (that I picked out for her) and Doug bought her a bracelet (the infamous bracelet from two weeks ago). Nobody really challenged this. but Mara seemed unhappy. “You came up with this. “What should I ask my boyfriend to get to know him better. Even Doug and Mara sought their solutions through dollars. coffee in hand.” There. choosing to tell me. “Why? I just spent the last half an hour learning that boyfriend went to Italy and won a .
I was glad that she was willing to do this for Doug.” I said.” “Now that sounds like a night worth having. “you can’t tell him!” “Tell us.” Good to know baking meant something wasn’t going wrong.” “Well. “It really does. “Why does everyone know?” “Mara.” “Love or material desire?” I asked.” she said.” Mara said. “Oh my God!” Mara yelled. I guess we were making progress. “I’m just not into the whole being tied down thing. “Aidan is taking me out to dinner. his gift is supposed to be epic. he knows how I don’t like waiting for surprises. They were already extremely familiar with my Valentine’s Day rants. you guys are awesome. and a massive cookie.” I added. “And a sci-fi movie marathon. “He refused to tell what it was. She looked at me. frustrated. grabbing a chair and sitting down.” “Who doesn’t know that about Doug?” Casey said. “I’m surprising Doug.” it was time to focus on Casey.” said Mara. I like being single.” “Gory horror movies with myself!” Casey said. “Plus. .” I said.” Mara said. later. the ones he’s wanted to see but didn’t have the chance to.” “I’m making him dinner. I won’t tell him. it’s good to know one of us likes being single. “And that the one that likes being single is the single one. “what happened?” “It was actually kinda mutual. I feel free. “So what are our plans?” Mara asked. and I would rather hang out with you guys and not tone down some of my personality on the day of love. I was excited for her. Casey and Mara both laughed.science fair when he was 9. She sounded excited. Casey smiled.
“How’s Allison?” I asked. “I blame you. ripped jeans. Not a fair representation of love. others arguing. or at least a skirt for their dinners with their boyfriends. blushing as I stared at my feet. in fact. then everyone cashes in on it so that they don’t feel left out.” Aidan said.” he took my hand. somewhat upset that she had to go back to San Fran.” I smiled. and his own pair of Converses. I turned to the other couples in the room. they’ll die in a few days. fake sucks. “So do you. taking my other hand.” “Did you just use the word mundane?” I asked. Best time to get it besides Halloween. others talking animatedly. They were like looking into forests. and my black Converses. And his bracelet. I had wanted to be part of it. “I did. surprised that we were here in a place so packed. “You look amazing. a black t shirt.” “What would be a fairer representation?” I asked. I showed up wearing an AC/DC shirt.” Aidan went on. “They’re beautiful. he had a smile on his face.” he smiled. Some were kissing. “I think it’s a conspiracy from Hallmark to give cards. I was a part of it. “leave it to Allison to find a date somewhere as mundane as a drug store. his green eyes staring right at me. she has a date with some cute girl she met at the drug store. the chocolate is half priced. “I never liked Valentine’s Day. He was wearing jeans. as though there was a world inside them. “Fake flowers that never die?” “Well. but when they’re in bouquet. too. Because we all need a reason to buy something. “Flowers kinda bother me.Epilogue Most girls wore a dress.” It was true. “potted flower plant. I looked up at him.” I smiled. “She’s fine.” “I always like that after Valentine’s Day. too” he said. in need of . I thought.” Aidan said. It’s real and lasting.
” “Originally. was he. “you’re not the only smart one in this relationship.” he said. your name and the actual flower are spelled differently. With none other than Bryan. So that it wasn’t a Valentine’s Day gift? “Because the moment is not right. “why didn’t you?” “Thought I would save it for when they actually had lilies at the store. you’re the most beautiful one. Please don’t let me have a heart attack. the other fixing my glasses.” “I have my moment. right?” Roxie replied with an overenthusiastic “of course” and Bryan just grunted. “What did you get me?” “Nope.” I never thought of that. you guys met Aidan.” I said. I’m kinda having a moment with my boyfriend. one hand pulling my hair back. “Hi!” I said. not yet.” Funny. I took it as a . Plus. ‘out of all the lilies in the world.” I smiled. I hope the moment being right had nothing to do with me getting so anxious I had a heart attack. faking being nice to both of them. I was going to give you flowers. you’ll get it when it is.” “So. it’s pretty awesome. I would have a card that said.’” “Awwwww. “That’s actually a really good idea.” “Why not?” He wasn’t waiting until midnight. it would have been a bouquet of lilies. and he was testing me.nurturing and beautiful. trust me. “How funny that Bryan picked this restaurant out of all of them.” “I never said I was.” I took my hands out of his. I was being impatient. “Lilly?” I turned around to see Heather. huh? “Yeah.
yes.” he was smiling.” “You’ll never know if you don’t take the dive. “The very same. his hands getting tense all of the sudden. all I could think about was you. “When I was there a week before finals. “That was weird. We looked up and both smiled. He stared at it. “Whatever. The bracelet looked exactly like his. right?” I asked. “but yeah. The brown leather with the silver metal. that interview could be the start of something. “it looked like a bunch of things thrown onto paper. smiling. “So I have an interview next week.” Aidan said as I turned around. “they want me to design some stuff for them.” I said. “Maybe this will help with your nerves.” Wow. but it’s about life. “I told you that you’d know when the time was right.” he opened the box. He smiled back and pulled out a box. “This is amazing. looking through it over and over again. I then pulled out my present. “Beauty inspired from chaos. kinda nervous about what they want me to do. They liked my rendition of the lilies. “I’m putting this up on my wall. I took a deep breath.” he said. As much as I loved the smile. “Interview with what?” “Some company. right.” he said. you’ll know. “When is the right time for you to give me the gift?” “Trust me. The words “take the dive” engraved into metal.” “The beauty from chaos one?” I asked. I finally flagged . I thought. It was the collage I had made from my photo run a few weeks back. if I’m good enough.” we both said.” Aidan said.” “Like the lilies.” I said.” I said. They soon walked away.” I said.” “Doubting yourself won’t do justice. it may have been getting on my nerves.
” He kissed me over the table.” He put it around my wrist. “It’s amazing.down the owner of those bracelets and begged her for another one.” I said. The waters I dove into were looking pretty pleasant. . “So are you.