Love, even the contemplation of it, was hard to perceive.
When Lexy told me that she didn't love me back, that she didn't believe I loved her, I was lost. Lost in the sense that I doubted myself, my emotions, and what had happened the summer before everything changed.
Lexy and I never spoke again for the remainder of the summer, nor during Senior year. When graduation came and went, I packed for school and left Florida, but not to Toronto. Things had happened, lives had changed, and nothing was the same.
Ashley had come and gone like the hurricane she'd always been, destroying everything with a kiss. I had known that Lexy was there, I'd known that she was watching. But I kissed Ashley back and the consequences were beyond repair.
I had lost Lexy, like I always knew I would. Just not in the way I expected.
For the briefest moment, my heart believed that she would return the feelings I had shared with her. I believed that she would re-open her front door, take back everything she'd said, and kissed me the way I knew was meant for only us.
I wanted her to love me.
I needed her to love me.
But most of all, I wanted her to believe I loved her too.
But she never came out. Seconds turned into hours of dumb hope as I stared out the window. The seasons shifted in that surreal fashion that Florida adopted, but she was always the same, coming and going, but never staying.
When her mother died, I watched her hold Elena. I watched her erect back as she greeted mourners, but she never turned to me. She never cared to see if I was there for her, even if it was from my window.
I evaded all popularity during my last year of high school and opted for reliving my mistakes over and over, to the point where I had to wake up from my delusions if I wanted to pass senior year and get the hell out of this miserable town. I watched the other girls tear at Lexy like the social piranhas they were, not knowing anything about her--not really. She'd gone from the outcast, to the girl with the dead mother. But they never stopped.
Now, three years after her rejection, I was returning home for my parents' anniversary. They're getting their vows renewed and urged for me to be there. I will be staying the entire summer to offer them all the help I can give them.
The summer before my first year of university in the state of New York, I'd gotten a job at Tinkered, the same place Lexy had shown me on her tour. Now I planned to work there again for the majority of the summer.
Things will be different this time around, I contemplated as I pulled into my parents' driveway, the familiar cacophony of the waves crashing on the shore slipping into the car through the open windows.
This time I was arriving in Pueblo, Florida willingly.
This time I wasn't going to think about where I would be next year.
This time I didn't have a girlfriend waiting for me elsewhere.
This time I would make Alexis Hernandez believe me.