A young writer's mission: fall in love... how hard could it be?
Shelly's blue, 5-subject Hilroy notebook held many things. It held her visions and dreams, her anger and sorrow, her ideas, both clever and ridiculous, and the odd bit of poetry. But this particular page, on which she was writing on a rainy afternoon in the middle of lunch break in a classroom that was empty but for Shelly and her notebook, was a page that did not seem to want to be written on. She had, however, written on it anyway, and it currently read as follows:
Project: write a best-selling novel that's NOT a romance
Julia had heard enough songs about love and heartbreak to make her puke.
This is a story about a girl and a boy, who were friends. And they would never be anything but friends. But they spent a lot of
Miss Smith's school for girls was
As Shelly scratched out another sentence, she began to wonder why the page refused to submit to her pen.
WHY ISN'T THIS WORKING?!!! she wrote deep into the lined page.
It was her pen that answered: nearly independent from her hand, it wrote, There is no story that is worth reading that is not about love.
"That's not true," Shelly spoke aloud. She racked her brain for good stories.
War stories, science fiction, fantasy, biographies, even children's bedtime stories. Shelly couldn't think of a single one that was good and not about love.
What about... hmm...
Aha! No, wait...
It can't be true, she wrote, a hint of despair in each letter. Surely there must be another trait worth writing about. How about honesty?
Honesty between whom? the pen quizzed.
Bravery fueled by what?
Okay, what about Friendship?
One of the strongest manifestations of love. Face it. Whether you believe in true love, or love at first sight, or unconditional love, it is what life is all about.
Shelly sucked on the end of her pen the way she often did when she was beyond frustrated. Okay, so she hadn't had so much experience with love. She didn't have crushes like the other girls, she used boys only as victims for verbal and physical abuse. Her parents had divorced when she was eight. Her mother dated a different two-faced jerk every night. She had watched her sister fall into heartbreak funks that had lasted for months. Shelly just couldn't understand why people subjected themselves to torture like that.
I really don't get what all the fuss is about. Surely there is more to life than finding a certain person who is supposed to be your perfect match, but more likely will just take advantage of you.
Shelly spit out her pen, and looked up to see who was saying her name. Aaron Kennedy stood in the doorway, holding a sheaf of paper in his hand. He stood with his feet apart, his curly brown hair falling into his eyes.
Shelly closed her notebook. Aaron was the editor of the school paper, and Shelly had given him some of her writing, hoping to get a column.
"I read your articles."
Shelly's tongue stuck in her throat. He didn't look that impressed. "And?"
"They're just... a little dry." He made no effort to enter the room, choosing to stay by the door in case he had to make a run for it.
"Dry?" Shelly echoed. She clicked her pen compulsively. Easy, girl, her pen wanted to say. It didn't care for aggressive clicking.
Aaron's face contorted as he struggled to find better words. "It's just... that piece you wrote about how teachers assign lab partners as a sort of matchmaking conspiracy. I don't even know what to make of that. And your other columns are all about anti-relationships and anti-Valentine's day. I mean, I get feminism, and I know high school drama is silly sometimes, but it's like you don't believe in love. And writing without love is... boring."
"To put it nicely."
Shelly's throat closed up. She couldn't cry now. She never cried. But suddenly her hopes and dreams of becoming a writer were crashing down around her. She couldn't believe her bottom lip was trembling. She turned so he wouldn't see a tear escape and slip down her cheek.
He was coming closer now. She wanted to shout at him to go away, but her throat was so thick, she knew her voice would break. "Shelly, you have potential. You have a great rhythm of writing. You have all the qualities of a good writer. You just lack... soul."
He could help you, you know, Shelly's pen whispered not-unkindly.
"I don't believe in love." Shelly sniffed. "It's just a silly emotion that makes boys turn into jerks and girls into hopeless, dependent, submissive ninnies."
Aaron wore a crooked grin. "Did you just use the word 'ninnies'?"
"You need some serious help, you know that?"
"Oh, and I assume you are the connoisseur of all things romance?"
"I have four sisters - three older and one younger. Two are married already. I have heard my share of gossip and romance, and watched many people's share of chick flicks. Most girls never get tired of them."
"I watched Bend it Like Beckham the other night. Does that count as a chick flick?"
Aaron laughed and smacked his palm to his forehead. "Okay, you lonely, soul-less unbeliever. Your training starts now."
"This isn't going to cost me anything, is it?"