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... When Least Expected This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "Why doesn't anyone ever fall in love anymore, Laurie?"

Laurie Peters paused from devouring her double-decker cheese burger, a Harry's Hamburger Haven special with extra onions, to stare questioningly at her friend Amanda, who was sitting across from her. Laurie hated to be disturbed while she was eating, especially by one of Amanda's seemingly pointless, philosophy questions.

"What are you babbling about?" she dared to ask, acknowledging the statement instead of ignoring them, as she usually did.

"Love," Amanda replied simply, a dreamy expression across her face as she stirred her ice water absent-mindly.

Laurie rolled her eyes and bit into her burger, purposely crunching her onions loudly. She wished she had never asked. Although Amanda was her oldest and dearest friend, when she started rambling on about her romantic nonsense, Laurie became extremely irritable. Her overdramatic, day-dreamy moods infuriated her. She couldn't understand why Mandy wasted so much useful time! Laurie was always busy, Busy, BUSY! If she had time to stop and stare at the sky, which would never happen, even if she had enough time to stop and rest, maybe she wouldn't be so stressed, but it seemed that's all Mandy did: daydream! It was truly exasperating!

When Mandy saw her friend's disinterested, bored expression, her face fell. Laurie was never interested in anything she was. All her friend ever did was scoff at her ideas. "Never mind," she muttered, almost apologetically.

Laurie nodded and began to happily go back to feasting on her fries when she caught sight of her friend's hurt expression. Oh great, she thought, she's going to pout until she has her way again. She sighed.

"Oh, all right," she decided to humor her. "What about love?"

Mandy beamed. "Have you ever been in love?" she asked.

Laurie popped a french fry into her mouth. "I hardly have time to breathe, let alone search for the perfect guy." Laurie led an extremely active life. She had numerous jobs, countless friends, she was president of the drama club, and she still managed to obtain an A average. Many times it seemed to Amanda that her best friend was super-human. She had to be to survive such a hectic life with her sense of humor intact.

"Besides," Laurie continued, "seventeen is too young to fall in love seriously."

"How can you say that?!" Amanda cried, horrified. "Don't you realize that, with those few words, you have destroyed the core of my life, my reason for existing?!"

Laurie smiled. Amanda, the actress. It was times like this when Laurie realized why they were friends. Although at times it seemed like they had nothing in common, Laurie being logical and practical and Mandy always afloat on some whispery cloud in heaven, they were closer than sisters and practically inseparable. They had met three years ago when they were shy freshmen who had joined drama because of a mutual love of acting. But ever since then, though they'd both had other friends, no one would mean the same to Laurie as Mandy, and vice versa.

"Falling in love is a long tedious process," Laurie explained.

"What's a long tedious process?" Came a teasing voice from behind them. "Making the burgers or eating them? Personally, I think serving them is mighty tedious."

Amanda spun around in surprise. Their waiter, Derek, was standing behind them, the check in his hand and a grin across his face. She blushed scarlet when she realized he had probably heard their embarrassing conversation.

"Hi Derek," Laurie replied, stuffing the rest of her burger into her mouth. Laurie, unlike Mandy, wasn't embarrassed to eat in front of boys. Anyway, Laurie didn't think of Derek as a boy, just her waiter. He had been working at the Haven for as long as she had been eating there. And after talking numerous times she had gotten to know him fairly well. He was a senior at their high school, had long, brownish-blond hair and drove a beat up blue car. This was Laurie's definition of "fairly well."

"Sit down," she ordered, "I was just telling Mandy that it's impossible to fall in love until you're thirty-five."

Derek's brow furrowed, "Oh, girl-talk. I, uh, think I'll go ..." He rose to leave but Laurie raised an arm to pull him back down.

"Not so fast. Stay. You're a guy, I want your opinion."

Derek ran his hand through his hair. "Uh, I kinda think that you can fall in love when you're young." His words didn't sound too convincing, but in his mind he was screaming, Yes, Yes you can! When he glanced over at Amanda, sitting across from him, he was positive. Here he was barely eighteen, and he had been secretly in love with Mandy for almost a year. He had to pry his eyes away from her lovely, luminous brown eyes and her long blond hair, or he wouldn't be able to stop staring, and someone would realize his affections. And that would only complicate things, since there was no possible way Mandy would return his feelings. She probably thought of him as the nice, friendly guy at the Haven, nothing more.

"See, he agrees with me." Mandy said, smiling triumphantly. It was such a glorious smile that Derek leaned over to examine it more closely, and accidently tipped over a glass of water. Amanda yelped and jumped up to avoid the water saturating her.

"Oh, I'm sorry!" he cried, rushing to clean up the mess. "I'll go get you another one!" He rushed off, thinking, Now I've done it; that'll really impress her.

Mandy sat back down, drying off the table with her napkin.

"Derek's cute," Laurie noticed, "but a little clumsy. Why the Haven allows him to work here is beyond me."

"He must have had a great application," Amanda muttered.

"Yea," Laurie agreed, pondering the thought. Then an idea found its way into her already cluttered head. "Mandy," she said, "do you want to fall in love?"

"It's all I ever dream of."

Laurie grew excited, "What if I promised you that in two weeks, you'd be in love with the guy of your dreams?"

"I thought you didn't believe in teenage love."

"I never said that," Laurie answered, "I only stated that finding the right person to fall in love with is a long, tedious process. But if you have someone who is willing to look for you ...."

A slow smile spread over Mandy's face when she realized the plan. "Oh, I get it. You want to find Mr. Right for me. But why? And aren't you too busy?"

"It would be a scientific experiment, and I'd make time. I know everyone in school. All I have to do is find someone you're compatible with! Expect to be in love by next week!"

"I don't know about this," Mandy said. "I don't like the idea of someone else finding me a boyfriend. And anyway, isn't love supposed to come when you least expect it?"

"I like to be prepared for everything," Laurie answered. "Come over my house later tonight to find out who your perfect men are."

"I don't know," Amanda protested as Derek returned to the table, a fresh glass of water in his hand.

"Guess what, Derek," Laurie said, "I'm gonna find out if teenagers really can be in love. I'm on a search to find the perfect guy for Mandy."

He's right here, Derek thought, but he didn't dare say it. "Oh, that's great. Who are the lucky guys?"

"I don't know yet," Laurie replied. "Aren't you going to wish us luck?"

"Luck," Derek said and walked away, leaving the crinkled bill on the table, along with his hope of ever being with Amanda. Laurie never failed at anything she attempted. In a few days Amanda would be with some new guy, and he would remain as he had been for months: Alone. Alone and miserable. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Winters_Willow said...
Mar. 4, 2012 at 9:20 am
Really good!!! If you write more I HAVE to know! Will Amanda find love? Will Laurie really find the right guy for her? What wil happen to Derek? You had me enthralled. ;)
 
KillerButterfly said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 7:53 pm
very good! I loved it :) Btw my name's Amanda :)
 
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