I kept walking. I didn't look back, not even once. I couldn't. If I did, I knew I'd get caught up in this stupid, disastrous movie scene perfection that my imagination craved for but I would not allow myself to indulge in. With Maxwell Andrews, it was all or nothing.
And this time, I refused to be the one left with nothing.
It had been a long three years.
Not long after our dramatic—and on my part embarrassing—scene of declaration at Willow Creek in our hometown of Maple Ridge, Manitoba, my mother and I moved to the city of Winnipeg. I hated and loved the city at the same time. I hated the fact that it seemed to be so busy all the time, I hated that it wasn't Maple Ridge. Alternatively, I loved that everything felt so new, that I didn't have to worry about running into Max, which saved me a lot of humiliation and paranoia.
He tried to keep in touch with me, that Max Andrews. But it really didn't work all that well when I slammed the phone down without so much as a "hello", after the first few phone calls. Eventually, he disappeared from my life.
It hurt and frustrated me in more ways than one.
It hurt that I had just thrown my best friend out the window, so to speak. It frustrated me that I couldn't talk to him anymore without the topic suddenly growing morose and leading back to one of two things:
"Celia, do you still love me… that way?" cue me slamming down the phone.
Or he would relate everything to Casey and her perfection, and would still result in me slamming down the phone.
Either way, the conversations never ended on a happy note.
What frustrated me more was that because I had always been so hung up over Max, I didn't have a chance to really learn what it was like to date, or be in any sort of relationship. Which contributes to why whenever a guy talked to me or tried to flirt, I'd flush red and stumble over my words and make him think I was a complete idiot.
I got over that, slowly, and threw Max out of my mind. I dated, but I never asked for anything serious; commitment reminded me of promises and I hated promises.
In regards to friends, I had a lot of them.
Okay, exaggeration, I had a fair amount of friends. Of course, my new best friend was one of my girlfriends, Lana, from Advocacy class, who ended up in most of my classes for our sophomore and junior years.
Senior year passed by in a blur and all of a sudden, I found myself waking up in an almost unfamiliar room.
I say almost unfamiliar because it took me a second to realize that I wasn't in the bedroom in my house on Ashmore Drive. I was in the townhouse that I shared with Lana. I yawned, stretching. I still wasn't used to the pale cream of the walls. I wanted the soft pink of my cozy room at home. While I reminisced, I glanced at my alarm clock. The red digital numbers screamed 1:12PM at me. I shook my head, feeling disoriented. I slept in that late? Ah, well. It was Saturday. I threw on my pale blue dressing gown over my silk pyjamas and fastened the belt, not bothering to brush my messy hair.
"Lan!" I yelled, stumbling into the hall and knocking on her door.
"I'm up, I'm up!" she groaned.
"Are you decent?" I asked loudly, leaning against the door, resting my head on it.
"Pretty much," she answered. I heard rustling.
"Are you alone?" I asked teasingly and she threw something at the door. It was most likely one of the books she stole from me.
"Shut up," she shouted. I opened the door.
Lan was seated on her bed, her blankets somehow made a nest around her. How she managed that, I will never know. Her sleek black hair looked acceptable for public view; it always did. Falling to her shoulders, it stayed perfectly straight and shiny. Her brown eyes glared at me tiredly, and I couldn't help but grin as I sat down on her bed, right in front of her.
"Morning," I grinned.
"Afternoon," she muttered. "Were we really up that late?"
"I don't think so," I disagreed. "Eleven at the latest. Maybe we were just tired?"
She shrugged, running her fingers through her hair and stretched. "I'm hungry," she declared.
"I think we need to go grocery shopping."
"Ugh, no. I'm not, you can," she groaned. I shook my head at her and jumped off her bed, bouncing over to her closet.
"You're wearing this and this," I said pulling garments off the hangers and throwing them at her. "And this… oh! And this, too…"
"Alright, alright! I'll go, but let me dress myself." Lan threw a pillow at me. I laughed and skipped out of the room and into the bathroom.
I smiled, humming, brushing my hair. I stopped, in a moment of vanity, to admire the mahogany-auburn colour of my hair. It had grown out quite a bit, falling to my waist, now. It was the first time in a while that Lan and I actually spent any amount of time together, what with her being so busy spending most of her free time with her boyfriend. Not that I had any against Austin—we got along very well, like siblings. But it got on my nerves a little that I couldn't have any time with my best girlfriend. Dragging her along with me to go grocery shopping seemed like the perfect excuse. First we'd actually go grocery shopping, and afterwards, we'd have a girls' day out.
I dressed quickly, slipping on my favourite charcoal coloured sweaterdress and a pair of leggings and rushed downstairs, to the closet, trying to find my boots.
I had just finished zipping up my boots when Lan walked down the stairs in a pair of jeans and a striped sweater.
"Ready to go?" I asked her.
She groaned again, shaking her head. I laughed, linking arms with her. "After grocery shopping, girls' day out, okay?"
Her expression brightened.
Shopping wasn't taking as long as I thought it would, considering how Lan was rushing through it, eager to start the fun part of our afternoon. She made a point of leaving me behind suddenly and rushing off to a different aisle. Lan was playing some sort of childish game, I knew it.
I sighed, placing the box of popcorn in my basket. I was getting irritated, feeling followed and watched. I turned around; ready to yell at whomever was standing behind me to kindly buzz off. I gasped as a rush of incredulity ran through me. "Max?"
The light brown haired male that stood before me threw me a boyish grin, spreading his arms.
"Miss me, Cee?" he stepped forward to give me a hug.
I glared at him, stepping back. "What are you doing here?"
"Well you see, Celia, when a person lives in a city, it might be wise to pick up soap once in a while, y'know, for hygienic purposes."
I said something very unladylike and not grandma-approved. "You live here?" I hissed. "Since when?!"
"Since a couple of months ago. I tried tracking you down, but your mom wouldn't give me your cell number or your new number, or even your address."
"Stalker," I muttered, walking away.
"I missed you," he protested.
"I didn't," I retorted. I couldn't tell if it was believable or not. Then again, I couldn't tell if it was the truth or not.
He followed after me, and I resisted the temptation to throw him into one of the freezers.
"Call me sometime, when you're not mad at me, okay?" Max handed me a piece of paper. I shoved it back into his hand and he held it. I turned away from him, childishly.
My hand, I mean.
"Let go," I growled unimpressively. I was too much of a coward to look at his face again.
"You're going to take that paper and you're going to put it on your bedside table and you're going to think of me. You're going to miss me, and you're going to think about just how much I missed you. And most of all, you'll be spending your night thinking about this," he murmured.
"What?" I demanded snappily. He exhaled; his breath hot on my neck. I let out a surprised squeak and jumped, turning around to push him away.
But that's what he was waiting for. The same stupid, stupid grin on his face, he jerked our twined hands backwards and I fell into him. His lips crashed on mine and for one fleeting moment, I couldn't breathe. I felt my body react. My brain registered that yes, it felt good, and yes, Max was a good kisser, while my cheeks flushed red, my blood raced and what little shred of pride, dignity I had left shrivelled up and died quickly.
"Bye, Cee," he murmured, winking at me just before he walked away. My lips tingled. I yelled at myself internally, to stop liking the way it felt. I was in the middle of arguing with myself when Lana appeared beside me, throwing something into the basket.
"Who was that?" she asked. I didn't answer her right away. "He sure was cute, Lee. I'm not sure, but I think he winked at you?"
"He's no one. He doesn't exist. He didn't talk to me, he wasn't here and he did not wink at me!" I huffed, hating the way my cheeks were still flushed. Lan smiled one of her slow, sceptical smiles and shrugged lightly.
"If you say so," she agreed with just enough feigned innocence to make me slap her arm. She merely laughed.
I was fuming the rest of the day. Our girls' day out was postponed; Austin showed up, wanting to spend time with his 'sister' (me) and the love of his life (Lan). So we watched a movie. Well, they watched a movie and I glared out the window. I eventually gave up on the movie and stormed into my bedroom, slamming the door behind me. On my bedside table was the wrinkled piece of paper that had Max's number on it.
I sulked. How did he still know me so well?
I took the paper, shoved it in the nearest book and threw it against my wall. It made me feel a hell of a lot better. I curled up on my bed, pulling the covers over my head and shut my eyes, trying not to think of what happened at SuperStore today.