It all counts

The butterflies in his stomach have increased twenty times as he woke up for the first day of high school.
 He glanced at his room to make sure he didn’t forget something. Everything is ready. Alex heaved his backpack over his shoulder and walked to the car.
 The dark morning sky welcomed his sleepy eyes, which encouraged him to close them and dream about Michelle. Tackling the urge, he focused on the fact that he’ll actually see her in second block, which is always so much better than a figment of imagination.
 Getting out of the car, he took a deep breath and stepped forward.
 Many of his friends grabbed his attention on the way up the school path that guided the way indoors, but he was only fixated on finding Michelle. She said she’d be inside at the front, but she’s not here. Maybe she’s still on the bus.
 Lightning ran through his veins when he saw her walking up the hallway that led to where he was. She’s wearing a dark green fluttery shirt with gold speckles and a sparkly black mirrored necklace, and that made her dazzle far more than anyone else he passed.
 “Found you,” He pulled her in for a hug. He doesn’t care.
 “Sleep well last night?” she asked, looking up at him.
 “I suppose so, since I thought of you.” He glimpsed around. No one near. So he just kissed her.
 “Let’s go see my friends,” She took his hand.
All the girls smiled upon her, very jittery and excited to go to class. Quick summer tales are swapped, and then the warning bell rang. Their hands still entwined, they went to advisory together, since this time advisory was organized by last names and not random.
 “Can you believe it? We’re freshmen!” Michelle exclaimed. “Finally, we’re getting somewhere.”
 “What do you mean?” He sat down next to her at the table with Marisa and Haley.
 “Since I moved here, I’ve been counting down the years for when I get to go home. It seemed to take forever to get to this moment, and now we’re at last where I need to be.”
 “Oh.” He forgot about that. A slight panic comes to mind, knowing in four years there will be a huge question: stay or go?
 “Reaching this point is a big thing for me. I’m glad I waited instead of, you know…” He knew.
 “Welcome, class of 2014!” Mrs. Apostolakis greeted. “For some of you, I won’t see you again until testing days in April, and the rest I’ll see for my own biology class. “Here’s the very important information sheets your parents need to fill out.” Alex blocked the rest; it’s all the same junk he’s been getting for the last eight years. He peeked over at Michelle and grinned at her beauty. Does she know how beautiful she looks?
 Names are printed, phone numbers set in the blanks, medical facts circled. They should just reuse the same card as all the grades before to save hand cramps.
When at last first block could start, he said goodbye to Michelle since she has to go to the other side of the school and his class is actually right where he is.
 “See you in about an hour,” He waved her out of the room. He’d love to go with her, but he’d never make it back in time. She signaled back happily.
 If only that hour can go by in a minute.
 An eternity later, he briskly walked to theater to save them seats. Being the first one there, he picked the ones in the row next to the teacher’s desk. A few minutes passed and she still hasn’t arrived. It takes time, he reminded himself. She made it close to the real bell.
 “Sorry, kids are just so slow,” she vented.
 Six other freshmen were in there, and the rest were mainly sophomores with a few juniors and seniors scattered in. He wasn’t too nervous about the kids looking at him weirdly when he’s sitting next to an unknown girl- mainly because he’s unknown to the older ones. But the girls in his grade, and the one guy, do know him. They’re not popular like him, but they’re slight friends with a few of his kind. Eh, whatever.
 “To the theater!” Mrs. Vaitekunas, or Mrs. V for short, ordered.
They sat away from the crowd, giving them privacy in the back. No one bothered to sit near them anyway, because they didn’t really know them. The freshmen didn’t cast a second glance.
 He reached for her hand in the dark, not at all listening to the teacher.
 “You, in the back,” Mrs. V alerted. His head snapped up. Why is everyone looking at me?   “Come up here and do a pantomime.”
 “Uh, a what?” he said, so confused.
 “Acting without words,” Michelle helped.
 Numbly, he got up and walked toward the big, empty stage, total spotlight on him.
 “You’re putting on a very tight pair of jeans. Go,” Oh geez. I should’ve at least had my head up and not marveling at our fingers.
 He pretended to put on airy pants by pulling them up his legs, jumping up and down to make them budge, but they couldn’t fit, so he laid on the ground and tried then, but it didn’t make it either. So, in frustration, he threw the thing away and exited the stage in a hurry. The class clapped and laughed at his fake irritation. He attempted to join Michelle again but Mrs. V called out, “Nuh uh. You’re staying up with me,”
 He sighed in actual aggravation, not wanting to leave her alone, but she giggled anyway to indicate she’s fine sitting by herself. But it’s not fine. There’s a tiny gleam in her eyes, he can see it even from the front of the throng. Please, just let me go to her!
He plopped down next to the teacher with a pout. He didn’t dare look behind himself; who knows if she’s actually crying? He can’t afford to see it.
 “It was my fault you had to go up there,” Michelle apologized as soon as they were released to go back to the classroom.
 “No, it was mine. I wasn’t paying any attention, and I deserved it. I’ll listen next time,”
 “Whatever you say,” Everyone rushed out the room to their next block. He can only go upstairs and one hall with her. Again, she’s at the other side.
 He hated watching her go.

 

 Senora Baba is, without a doubt, the prettiest teacher I’ve ever seen. Long black hair and dark brown eyes lined with black, dresses very well for an educator-normally they just come to school in clothes only old people would wear- and she seems so very kind just by looking at her smile. I can tell she’s going to be a great teacher, and very distracting for boys.

 Her soft voice reviewed stuff from last year and we reiterated the Spanish adjectives, time, and months. Personally, I think she’s better than Senora Williams, simply because I can finally tell time now in a different language. I never understood the rules until I found a trick Senora Baba taught us.

 Lunch was hilarious. Miranda, Haley, Marisa, Frederick, and Ali were all there. If only there was a certain person here, the hour would be complete. But, no. It won’t happen until next semester.

 I returned to Spanish, completed a workbook page, and went to my last class, algebra. Mrs. Knight seems to be nice also, but, I think Mrs. Garcia from last year was better. So many new changes.

 Mikayla was waiting for me at the front, since we’re still carpooling, just not in the mornings.  We sat against a wall looking out the door.

 “How was your day?” Mikayla asked.

 “Journalism was alright, theater was… I’ll go back to that. Spanish is okay, I don’t really like the kids in there, and math too. You?” I hurried so she’d forget it.

 “Wait, let me hear about theater,” she pressed.

 “Alex got in trouble. By me. He insisted it wasn’t my fault, but I know it was. He wasn’t paying attention so Mrs. V made him get up on stage and do some pantomime. But I just feel so bad. And he couldn’t sit back with me; she made him stay with her. I hate being alone,”

 “Aw. He probably didn’t want to leave you either. He knows your history. It’d be mean if he actually didn’t fight to be with you,” Out of the corner of my damp eyes, I saw my mom’s car pull up.

 “Oh, you never told me about your day,” I remembered right at her house.

 “Don’t worry about it. I’ll tell you later.” She got out and left. I made small talk with Mom and then went up to my room when we got home.

 Overall, today was good, beside theater. Miranda’s in my journalism, and also in lunch. Maybe she’ll become my best friend if Mikayla leaves. I’d rather Mikayla would still be my friend, but you have to have a backup just in case.

 I really wish I didn’t get Alex in trouble. He’s right about me being vulnerable. Now that I’m even more alone with no chance of being with Mikayla, I’ve resumed my state of helplessness. This time it’s to the world, not just one person. I let my guard down too many times.

 “Alex,” I said to myself, curled up on my bed. “Please be here,” I hid my face underneath my fifteen-year-old blanket.

 At that moment, he texted me.

 “feeling better?”

 “no.”

 “hang on, im coming over.” I shut the phone and tried to make myself look presentable. Oh,  what does it matter? He’s already seen me cry a hundred times. I put down the makeup and stayed the way I was- runny nose, flushed cheeks, wet eyes, in gray sweats. I look homeless.

 I leaned against the wall coiled in a ball when he rushed in.

 “Oh, Michelle.” He put me on his lap and huddled my head to his chest, holding me as if I was a baby. This makes me feel a lot more secure than lately. I sobbed into his shirt, not able to say a word, and let it all out.

 “Is it Mikayla?” he asked, rubbing my back, trying his hardest to mollify me. I tried to say yes but it comes out in a loud hiccup.

 “Listen,” Alex whispered. “I bet you just realized life without her. There’s no other reason to why you’re crying so much. I know you miss her. I know what it feels like to miss someone you love. But you need to let her go. Make new friends. This does sound ridiculous at the moment, but it’s going to happen soon, you leaving her. If you let go of tiny pieces one at a time, maybe it won’t be so bad when it’s time to say goodbye. You’re just going to get knocked down and extremely disappointed if you only have one best friend. Expand your horizon, find new people. It will come in handy one day. I know you have a history with her. It will be hard to abandon her because of that. But, you will stay friends with her for as long as you both live. You’re both going in different directions, some successful, some not. But in the end, that path will wind up together again. You will always be tied to her, no matter what she or you do. Please, don’t be sad anymore. Everything will get better even if it’s worse first.”

 That’s what Grayson said last year. Huh. But I disregarded it.

 When I spoke, it came out in, “mumble mumble mumble.” This occurs a lot when I’m weeping, my voice locks up completely.

 “I know,” How did he understand me? How did he know that’s exactly what I need to do, let go of her and see if she comes back? So many people have said that we shouldn’t be friends. I want badly to agree, but my heart won’t let me. She’s the one who saved my life, not the strangers. Why can’t I just forget our past and focus on what’s going on now? Oh yeah, because we don’t see each other.

 I felt his temple resting on the top of my head, something damp dropping down the strands of my hair. He’s weeping too. The only time I’ve ever seen him cry was several weeks ago and some time in sixth grade, from a gym accident. I’m not sure why he’s doing that now, since he’s not really friends with Mikayla. Is he really that upset over it too? Recognizing that he’ll lose me if I lose her? Remembering how heartbroken I was last year because of the Mary thing? It’s sweet that he’s connecting with me.

 So together we’re on my bed, sobbing with each other, being a total mess. And there’s nothing wrong at all with this picture.

The End

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