Teen Fiction: After It All
By Samantha Bronson, 18
I got the call during my first class of the day. Part of me looks back and is really pleased with this fact. I wanted Allen to be jealous. I was sick of looking at him holding hands with his girlfriend, after he picked up the pieces of my broken heart, and told me he'd always love me. I wanted Brad to notice me, and realize I was desirable. I just wanted someone to want me again. That was the selfish part of me. The part that wanted to be desired by all, because he didn't desire me. The part that wanted everyone to notice me, because he was no longer there to do so. The part that wanted the whole school to know my name, and revere me, in hopes that it'd somehow make up for the giant hole he'd left in my life, and my heart.
I was confused by his name on my caller ID. It was always this rule with him "“ we never talked on the phone. Texting, IMing, and email were fine. Even talking in person. But the phone calls were reserved for the girls he was ready to commit to. Those girls that I'd envied for years.
The Butterflies Intensified
Ms. Mill was down the hall at the printers, and the rest of the class was buzzing noisily, so I answered the phone. My whole body was covered in goose bumps, and I heard, rather than felt, all the blood rush to my head. I couldn't think. I could barely whisper a trembling, "Hello?" I gripped the desk, trying to cling to any sort of reality. When he uttered that sweet "Hi," back, I wanted to cry. The sound of his voice knocked the air out of my chest. I hadn't talked to him in months, hadn't seen him in longer, and I'd missed him incredibly. The past five years I'd spent with him in my life. He was my best friend, in a sense, always there for me whenever I needed, night and day. He tolerated my hysterics and congratulated me in my endeavors. I didn't dare say another word, terrified that if I said the wrong thing, he'd hang up and disappear again. I bit my lip to keep the tears burning my eyes in check. Vaguely, I wondered if Allen was watching and what it must look like to him, if he was.
He seemed to understand that I couldn't say anything. "I need to talk to you." My mind instantly raced. I contemplated all the different things he could want to say. Is he apologizing? Did he dump Allie? Did he realize he loves me? Every hope I'd ever had was rushing into my mind, and the creeping tension of butterflies in my stomach took over. I wrapped an arm around my waist, as if to contain them. I tried to fight the joyous emotion taking over my body, but it was useless. I was happy.
"When?" I asked. I could feel the smile spreading across my face, threatening to take over it all. I bit my lip even harder to try and stop it.
"Right now. Where are you?" The butterflies intensified, and I could almost feel the jerk as they flipped into hyper drive. My heart was pounding so hard, I thought my whole body was shaking from each beat. The excitement I felt caused me to tremble, and along with the sweat on my palms, I gripped the phone even harder, thinking if I didn't drop it, I would surely break it. Just like him, I thought. Spontaneous and in the moment.
"I'm in class." I told him, my voice mixed with the fear of losing him, and the uncertainty of what he'd ask me to do. I knew without a doubt, as I'd always known in the past, that I'd do anything he asked. I almost moved over halfway across the country for him. And I supposed I was partially afraid of displeasing him too. I'd always seemed to be doing that when we talked, and now that he was back, I didn't want to drive him off any sooner than he planned.
"At the high school?" He asked. I confirmed his question, suddenly disappointed. My stomach dropped to my toes. He despised this school. In the beginning, we'd once had to cancel plans because he hadn't wanted to come anywhere near it. I assumed I'd be skipping class and walking somewhere if I wanted to talk to him today. And I would. I'd still do anything for him, I realized.
"Which room?" He asked, abruptly. And I felt the jolt again. Was he going to come here? My mind blanked on the room number a moment and I started to panic. My heart kicked up a notch, and all I could think was, 'Oh no, I'm blowing it, I'm going to blow it.' I took a few deep breaths, and it came to me. After I told him, I considered asking him why he wanted to know, just to hear him say he was coming, but decided against ruining the moment. He was never someone that liked playing games. It was something I never understood until I grew up a bit, and then I respected it.
Do You Need Something?
"Alright," he said. "I'll see you in a few minutes."
A tiny voice was shouting in the back of my head, but I was afraid to acknowledge what it was saying. And yet, I couldn't resist the idea. What if he loves me? I thought. What if he's finally admitted to himself that he has always loved me? That would make perfect sense. The smile crept onto my face again, as I rolled the thought around in my head. I could hardly bear sitting in my seat.
I wondered what had happened to Allie, his last relationship. They'd obviously broken up. He wouldn't be running around visiting old 'girlfriends' otherwise. Maybe he realized that long distance doesn't work out.
"Do you need something?" I heard Ms. Mill say. I looked up and my eyes widened. There he was. Standing right in front of me. His constant, sexy five o' clock shadow, dancing green eyes, and the most perfect set of lips "“ all directed at me. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't move. I didn't have a clue what to do, and I was afraid that at any moment, I might pass out right there in front of him, and everyone else. My face started turning red, as I realized the rest of the class had turned to stare too.
"Can I talk to Samantha for a few minutes?" I'd never heard him say my name before, and he'd rarely called me anything except 'lady' or 'sweetheart.' In the earlier days, he'd called me 'darling.' My heart still melts whenever I think of those days. Before everything was screwed up.
Are these all signs that he's different now? I thought, as I lifted myself out of my desk. I felt like I was walking in a dream. Everything was slow and hazy as we left the room. We turned to face each other in the hallway, and I realized I didn't want to look at him. I'd become extremely self-conscious all of a sudden. I was afraid if he met my eyes, he'd see all my flaws, and leave. I couldn't stand the thought of having him in my life again for so short a time, only to scare him away again.
Finally, I braced myself, and almost defiantly met his eyes. The look he was giving me made me falter. It was one of the tenderest gazes I'd ever witnessed. My breath caught as I thought once again, he loves me. My hand crept up to my throat, as if its presence would help me breathe. I calmed myself enough until I felt the slow, even breaths coming in and out of my lungs, but my nerves were still electric.
"Hi..." I said, hesitantly. I gave him a half smile, as I realized how ridiculous I felt. He chuckled, a deep, resonating sound, coming from his throat. I felt like crying again, when I saw his smile. God, I've missed you so much, I wanted to say. I remembered suddenly the one time he'd ever touched me. That was always another heartbreaking rule of his: we never touched. I'd tried so many times "“ holding his hand, hugging him, just stepping closer to him. Never had I put myself through so much rejection for one person, and never in my life would I ever put myself through that again.
My Wish Was Coming True
"What did you want to talk about?" I asked him, finally looking back up to his face. I tried to ignore my suddenly light head, and the pained joy I felt from seeing his smile. I wanted to distance myself emotionally, as much as possible. I'd been hurt so many times by him, how could I possibly still love him after everything we'd been through? I'd never felt so vulnerable. But, that blind, naÃ¯ve hope seemed to pump through my bloodstream. It filled every part of me. He has to love me, I kept thinking. My wish was coming true. The millions of wishes I'd made for him were finally coming true.
There was one night in particular that I'd really believed we would be together someday. I'd been looking forward to snow since September. Halfway through December, when it still hadn't come, I was starting to get frustrated. And then one night, it came. I was texting him, telling him about the snow, and how amazing it was. I stood out on the front porch in my pajamas for hours, just watching the small, white flakes fall. It seemed every time I went inside, the snow would stop. I couldn't let myself see it go. Finally I went out, and made a deal. I whispered quietly to the sky, "If it snows tonight, things with him will work out." And slowly but surely, it had started to snow again right that second. I cried slightly, with a huge smile on my face, and just stood there letting the snow fall over me, until I was shivering all over. I fell asleep content and happy that night, envisioning the world covered in a beautiful, white blanket of snow. I woke up to wet slush. I clung to the sight of the snow falling right after I'd made my wish. It snowed once more that winter, but never again. When we stopped talking a couple months later, I looked back on that night, and wondered if maybe the snow I'd seen had just been rain. I wondered if the lack of snow that winter was the world's way of saying, "You need to give up hope."
"I have something to tell you." He said, quietly, not looking at me. I tried to keep the blinding radiance of hope off my face, because I knew this was it. He's going to tell me he loves me, I wanted to yell out to the world. All the signs pointed to it. I hugged myself, waiting for the moment. He didn't say anything else.
"Alright, what is it?" I asked him, impatiently. My voice sounded too eager, and I wanted to cringe. A part of me wondered if there was still a possibility that this would be something bad, but I didn't think so. Finally, something amazing is happening to me, I thought. I knew I wasn't wasting my time. I knew things would work out for us.
"I'm getting married." He whispered. Everything seemed to freeze. My brain couldn't comprehend what he'd just said. Married? I thought. No. No, he's not. Getting married?
"What?" I said, incredulously. My voice sounded too loud. I wondered if I was yelling. I tried to take deep breaths, but I felt like I was suffocating. He just stared at me with a helpless look on his face. The disappointment I felt was almost too much to bear. All the hope that had filled my bloodstream turned cold. It felt like every part of me was in pain. My mind went completely blank. I tried to focus on breathing, but all I could do was take in short breaths. I thought I was going to be sick. I doubled over, trying to swallow the building saliva in my mouth. This wasn't supposed to happen, I thought, staring at the ground. He wasn't supposed to find someone else. I could feel the tears burning. I didn't want him to see me cry "“ especially over him. But I couldn't leave. As much as it hurt, I still wanted to be near him. I felt his hand on my back. The warmth of it almost made me recoil. With his other hand, he grabbed my arm, and pulled me towards his chest. He's hugging me, I thought blankly. He's hugging me. The safety and comfort from his embrace was the worst part. I knew I'd never feel it again. It would be a feeling I'd try to recreate late at night when sleep eluded me. Then it hit me. He's touching me. And just as soon as I realized that, I also knew it would be for the last time. And so I buried my face in his sweatshirt, and started to cry.
I cried, remembering the past five years. Remembering every other time I'd cried over him. Remembering how hard I'd tried to be with him, and tried to be the person he could love. For every time he told me he loved me, and for all the times he didn't. Remembering everything I'd hoped would happen for us, and that now, would never be. I cried until I couldn't cry any longer. Until I was completely drained of every emotion.
Why Touch Me Now?
When I'd stopped crying, and there was only the random hiccup remaining, I wondered why he'd broken his rule. He was rubbing my back, comfortingly, and holding me tightly to him, as if to protect me from everything else in the world. Why try to protect me, I thought, when you're the one person that hurts me more than anything else?
"Why?" I asked, regretfully. I didn't move from his grasp. His hand froze, not sure what I was asking.
"Why what?" He asked in return. I stated the words in my head, willing myself to say them aloud. I squeezed my eyes shut, as I forced them out.
"Why touch me now" My throat contracted, and I didn't think I could get the rest of the question out. "When it's too late?" My breath hitched in my throat as I hiccupped. I wrapped my arms around his neck, not wanting him to let go. I'd settled my face in the crook between his neck and shoulder, and as I pulled away, I saw where my tears had soaked the collar of his shirt. I looked up at him, meeting his eyes, inches from his face. The notion that if I wanted to, I could kiss him right now, caused slow, sad tears to leak out of my eyes, rather than bring me any joy.
"I'm sorry." He said. I stared at him, wondering if he really meant it. He came all this way just to hurt me, I thought spitefully. He came here to hurt me. I grappled with that thought, knowing he hadn't wanted to. He also was showing me courtesy, I told myself, rather than never saying a thing about it. He came all this way, knowing it would hurt me, and he tried to find the best way to tell me. I watched him watch me debate with myself. I wondered if he could see how confused I was. I wondered if he could see the pain in my eyes. I wondered why were so close to each other, and if he could feel the tingling in his stomach too. I closed my eyes with a sigh, wishing it would go away. Wishing this pain would go away.
And then I felt his lips touch mine. There was no hope in that kiss. There was no anger, but there was no joy either. I knew then that I wasn't mad at him. I knew it was over. I knew that once he left, we would never speak again. I tried to say good-bye with my lips, hoping he'd understand that I forgave him. He didn't love me. It wasn't right. I couldn't force him to change his feelings, any more than he could. The tingling in my stomach expanded, and if there was anything left in me to hope for, I'd hoped for that kiss to never end. I pulled him as close to me as I possibly could, and tried to covey to him how much I loved him, and always would.
And just as suddenly as it started, the kiss ended. I opened my eyes, and tried to memorize his face. I tried to imprint this moment on my brain, so that I'd never forget it. I touched his cheek with my fingers, just the way I'd wanted to for so long. He opened his mouth to speak, but couldn't seem to find his voice. He mouthed, 'I'm sorry' to me, and then walked away.
I watched him walk away, not able to think "“ not wanting to think just yet. I knew on some baser level that the pain awaiting me would be paralyzing. Just then, Allen walked out of the classroom.
"Sam, what's wrong?" I looked at him blankly. He seemed to see everything. Without a word, he wrapped me in his arms, and didn't let go.
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