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Hopeless (part two)
I’m such a loser. Ugh, I mean every single thing I say is so cliché. I hate it. I hate sounding stupid in front of Riley. I mean, she’s so beautiful and flawless and funny and.. Well I could go on for hours. But, she makes me so nervous and leaves me at a loss for words. It’s not like I’m the shy quiet type either, this problem never happens with other girls I‘ve dated. Riley and I are just friends though, that’s all we’ll ever be. I have to keep telling myself that that’s it. But it’s so difficult, I’ve liked her since forever ago. I think it started in seventh grade, yeah, that was when I first realized how much I liked her. We’ve been friends since we were little, through our moms, who were friends since high school. I want to tell her, but I don’t want to screw things up. If I told her, and she didn’t feel the same I don’t know if things would ever go back to normal between us. She might already know even, I bet she can tell. Maybe she feels bad for me, that’s probably the only reason she’s even nice to me. I really like her, but I don’t want to risk it all and ruin our friendship. My life wouldn’t be the same without her. I’m only sixteen, and we’ve been friends since I was three. That’s thirteen years of friendship that would be down the drain if I suddenly decided to make things weird between us by telling Riley I love her. It’s so hard having a best friend so beautiful. She has the prettiest amber eyes, and if you look close enough you can see that the edges are surrounded by a thin ring of emerald green. She has long, dark, hair and it’s always perfect. I’ve never seen Riley have a bad hair day in our entire duration of friendship, all these years. In fact, I’ve never witnessed her looking any less than perfect, ever…
I waited out at my bus stop. It was a typical Monday scenario. The sky was bright and blue, so you figure it’s going to be a nice, warm and relaxing day. But the second I stepped out the front door, I was bit by a bitter wind that chilled me to the bone. I could already tell today was not going to be a good day. I mean I didn’t finish my biology project, so I’d be sitting at my desk in anticipation of being scolded for not doing my work all day, since I had that last period. Well, at least I had that class with Jake. That’ll be the highlight of my day.
“Riles” A scratchy and breathless, but extremely cute voice came up from behind me. Jake was running full speed up the sidewalk, in my direction. He looked so cute, cheeks all flushed and eyes all wide with excitement. I smiled, and offered up a wave.
“What’s the scoop?” He asked. This was his favorite phrase. It made me smile even bigger as he said this, I knew him so well.
“Nothing, you know… the usual. Can’t wait for school!” I said slyly in an obvious, sarcastic tone. He laughed, and our gaze met. Holding eye contact for at least twenty seconds, my heart skipped a few beats and I lost my train of thought. Ah, look what he does to me.
“Same here,” He paused, laughed again and continued. More seriously this time, “So, homecoming is this weekend.”
I flinched. This took me by surprise. Was he about to ask me to the homecoming dance? I mean, I know I told him that I think dances are so lame and boring, so I probably gave him the wrong idea. But, I mean the idea of going to homecoming with Jake sounds so, eh romantic? Ew, I hate that word. But, it would be totally amazing, and perfect. But what am I thinking, there’s no way he’ll ask me. We’re just friends, why do I keep forgetting that?
“Oh, yeah. You going?” I looked over my shoulder, acting uninterested. I tried not to get my hopes up that he was going to ask me, when I knew in my head that he so wasn’t.
“To the game, yeah man. I heard it’s going to be intense.” He said.
“Sweet.” I blinked, trying to ignore the pain surging from my heart as it sunk. I bit my lip. Hard. Get a grip. I wasn’t going to let myself get upset over this.
He stuck his hands in the pocket of his adorable dark denim jeans. I loved the way they fit on him. He shrugged, then looked towards the two kids, Aaron and Claire, who also waited with us at our buss top. They were a little ways down the street. So, it would take them approximately three minutes to reach their destination, the point where I now stood. Alone, with Jake. Why was I wasting time? This was my chance, my opportunity. I had to be bold.
“What about the dance?” I had to force the words out of my mouth. I made eye contact with him, trying to read his mind, what he was thinking.
“What about it?” He returned my gaze. Our eyes locked with intensity. We were stepping out of the bounds of our ordinary pattern of mundane conversation. My nerves bubbled and my heart pumped faster and faster, I thought it was going to burst.
“You going?” I asked casually. Our eyes were still locked on each other’s.
“Depends” His brown eyes continued to stare right back into mine. I looked away for a split second to collect my raging thoughts, then dared to meet his burning gaze once again. I felt nauseous, I mean this casual snippet of conversation shouldn’t have such an extreme effect on me. Get it together, it’s just Jake. I tried telling myself this to calm my continually pulsing nerves.
“On what?” I dared to question him. He flinched in reply, he wasn’t prepared for this response. Jake wasn’t used to me being so straightforward and let’s-just-get-to-the point-already. He was used to the vague, aloof sort of person I usually am.
For a second, I believed it. I felt as if I could actually sense what he was thinking, it was almost as if he felt the same way. I wasn’t just imagining it this time, it was real. He was going to finally say it. I knew it. He knew it too, we both did. My heart silently urged him to say the words. Come on, just ask me already! I wanted to scream in his face.
“HEY BRAH, WHATS UP DUDE? HOW YA BEEN?!” The always annoying voice of none other than Aaron Sanders, shattered the hope-filled silence. I bit my lip in despair. The moment was over. Done with. Dead and gone. Wow, gee thanks Aaron.
I could tell Jake was caught off guard, and I know he didn’t exactly like ending the conversation this way, leaving all the possibilities open ended. Now I’d never know the truth. I felt his vision linger upon me momentarily, only for a few fleeting seconds. But I was looking down towards the ground, facing the toes of my faded Ugg boots. I was scared. I felt completely vulnerable. I no longer knew how to react.
I blew it. I had the perfect chance, a beautiful opportunity. But, once again, I screwed it up. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just ask her to the stupid dance? I mean, it’s not a big deal at all. Just a dance. I just wish she didn’t make me so nervous, so vulnerable. She has that effect on me.
Whatever, I’m done. Done with being aloof. Done with trying to pretend. Done with dancing around the subject. I’m going to ask her next chance I get. Time to make a change, what do I have to lose?
I turned from my locker, to be greeted by a pearlescent white smile. Which belonged to none other than Riley herself.
“Hey, what’s the scoop?” I asked her, cracking a grin. She laughed, rolling her eyes at me.
“Not too much, hey guess what? I lucked out in bio. I didn’t finish my project last night, but we had a sub! So, he didn’t even check it. Awesome, huh?!” She ran her pretty little hand through her already perfect hair, as she smiled. My heart jumped in anticipation, this was my chance.
“That’s awesome,” I gave her a thumbs-up.
She nodded in agreement, still smiling, “Yeah, I can’t believe how lucky I am.”
I cleared my throat meaningfully, drawing attention to a more serious matter at hand. I straightened up my posture and looked directly into Riley’s warm brown eyes. “You know, I’ve been meaning to ask you something kind of important.”
“What do you want to ask me?“ She squinted her eyes slightly, and tilted her head in confusion.
I took in a deep breath, this was it. Now or never. I was going to ask her. Slowly, I reached out to place my hand on her tiny shoulder. “Riley-”
Are you kidding me? I almost shouted this out loud, but I caught myself just in time. Seriously? Just my luck that we’d have a fire drill at the exact time when I finally got up the nerve to ask Riley to the dance. Awesome.
“Come on, we have to go,” Riley smiled apologetically, “We’ll talk later”
“Yeah, later.” I hung my head in disappointment. Then noticed Riley looking at me funny. She obviously knew I was upset over these turn of events. Maybe she could tell. Maybe she knew what I was about to say. Maybe we no longer needed words to explain our feelings. Maybe…
She started walking towards the nearest exit. I was filled with a new hope and inspiration.
“Hey, Riley! Wait up!”
I turned around and smiled. He smiled back. Ah, that gorgeous smile of his. I stopped dead in my tracks, waiting for him to catch up to me. Jake sped up his pace, but stopped right when he reached the very place where I stood. Once again, his vision borrowed mine. But this time, his brown eyes were full of intensity rather than uncertainness. He grabbed my hand, but not in an aggressive way. More of a spontaneous, profound manner and our fingers intertwined. A perfect fit.
I looked up at him and smiled. He smiled right back. Our eyes met, and we both laughed. I could tell that both of us felt, that a little part of us may have felt the same all along. Funny how all this time we had both felt the exact same way about each other. I’m ecstatic, I couldn’t be happier.
Round Lake, Illinois
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