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The Five Signs of a Major Crush
My best friend Macy says that there are five sure signs that a girl is crushing on a guy, or vice versa. She also says that I exhibit all five signs whenever Jesse Lettos is around, but that’s completely untrue. There’s nothing going on between Jesse and me. He sits behind me in World History, but that’s about it. But if there is anything, it’s all one-sided.
“Alix, what did you think of Physics this morning?” Macy asks, pausing to take a sip of her mocha latte. “Mr. Bray’s handwriting is so illegible I couldn’t make out half the notes on the board.”
“Who was looking at the board?” I retort, breaking a chunk off my cookie. “I was staring at how Mr. Bray’s toupee was starting to slip off the side of his head. It was practically hanging on the tip of his ear and he didn’t notice. How can anyone focus on light bulbs and parallel versus series circuits with something like that happening?”
Macy’s sapphire-blue eyes dart behind me, her mouth curling into a smile as she lifts her mocha latte for another sip. “Jesse alert,” she whispers slyly, setting the cup back down.
“Yeah, right.” I pop the cookie into my mouth. Macy’s always doing this, telling me Jesse’s there when he really isn’t just so I’ll make an idiot out of myself for no reason.
“Hey, Macy, Alix.”
I freeze up, my spine stiffening until it’s as straight as the back of my chair. My windpipe closes completely. I can’t breathe, I’ve got white chocolate chip and macadamia nut in my mouth, and if I do manage to swallow, it won’t end up in my stomach, because there seems to be a black hole there instead. It’s freak out time, for two reasons: one, Jesse Lettos really is here, and two, Jesse Lettos really is here and I’ve got a hunk of cookie stuck in my mouth! Oh, and I’m also exhibiting sign #1: I can’t breathe (at all)/my stomach feels like a bottomless pit!
Macy’s copper-colored curls spill over her shoulder as she turns to look at him, the sly smile on her face far from disappearing. “Hey, Jesse. Come and sit with us.”
What? I kick her under the table.
As usual, she ignores me completely. Of course Jesse, being the ever-sociable guy that he is, takes her up on her offer and sits down right next to me. And my respiratory system is apparently still failing.
“So what have you two been up to?” he asks, leaning back in his chair. It’s kind of hard not to notice how the slight breeze is ruffling his light brown hair. Instead of Macy, I kick myself this time, not an easy thing to do.
“Oh, we were just discussing Mr. Bray’s toupee,” Macy replies casually, smiling back at him.
His smile turns into a confused frown. “Huh?”
“Nothing, just a little joke.”
“Oh. Hey, Alix,” he turns to me, “did you take notes in World History today? Ms. Johnson’s lecture was so boring I couldn’t pay attention.”
Keep in mind I still can’t breathe, much less speak. I lift one finger as if to say, give me a minute. I excuse myself and spit the cookie into the nearest trash can before returning to the table.
“The lecture was all about Napoleon’s life from beginning to end. You can easily find the information online.”
His smile slips for a moment and he looks disappointed, as if he’d been expecting something more. He had wanted to hear about how people got their heads chopped off at the guillotine instead, maybe?
Macy’s glaring at me, her gaze sharp as a dagger in the center of my forehead. When I look at her, she mouths, Email him the notes.
Why? It’s not my fault if he’s too lazy to Google Napoleon Bonaparte and take his own notes.
She kicks me, her boot harder than my sneaker. Ouch. Notes, she mouths again.
Fine. I turn to Jesse. “Or I could just email you the notes,” I said, as cheerfully as a person just kicked for no good reason could.
“Great, thanks.” He reaches for a napkin, pulling a pen out of his pocket. “I’ll give you my email address, the one I actually check.”
“Oh, you don’t need to do that. There’s an address book function on the school email. You email address will come up if I just search your name. Just remember to log on to the school email program.”
Macy rolls her eyes and slaps her own forehead. What now? Personal email, she mouths, almost hissing at me.
“On second thought, just give me your personal email.” Sheesh, he has to think I’m either stupid, have a bad case of indecision, or both.
He lifts an eyebrow in doubt and glances at Macy for a second, but a minute later I have a napkin with his email address and phone number – I haven’t asked for it but he’s given it to me anyway – stuffed into my pocket.
“So, uh, you guys – I mean, girls – want to hear a joke?” Jesse asks, reaching over to take a sip of my caramel macchiato.
Macy and I look at each other. Do we really want to hear a joke? Macy would say yes. “Uh…sure,” I say, grabbing the rest of my cookie before Jesse can get to it. If he wants a cookie, he can buy one just like I did.
“Okay, so what would you call a merger of Stop and Shop and A & P?”
Oh, no. “Uh…”
“Stop & P. Get it?” Of course, he thinks it’s funny and cracks up laughing.
I manage a laugh, even though it’s a pretty stupid joke and I’ve already heard it at least five times before on account of the fact that it’s one of the few jokes my Dad can tell without messing up. Oh, great. That’s sign #2: laughing at his jokes even when they’re not funny or have been heard before.
When I look up, Macy is grinning. “You know what, I just remembered that I have to go and get some books from Barnes and Noble.”
“You do?” This is news to me. Macy hasn’t mentioned anything about it all day, and she usually raves about trips to Barnes and Noble since she happens to be a total bookworm.
She elbows me hard in the ribs. “Alix, don’t be such a comedian,” she says, laughing, looking at Jesse as if to say, Isn’t she just so funny?
“I’m not trying to be funny – you never said anything about Barnes and Noble before.”
Macy’s hand bumps into a plastic fork, sending it clattering lightly down to the floor. “Oops. Alix, help me pick up my fork, will you?”
“Why? It’s just plastic and it’s right there. You can get it yourself.”
Macy fake-laughs. “Don’t you just love her sense of humor?” she says, looking at Jesse as she seizes my arm and yanks me under the table.
“What?” I demand, rubbing my arm where she’d gripped it too tightly.
“I’m trying to give you some time alone with him, don’t mess it up. Can’t you see he likes you?”
“Are you sure you’re not just imagining things? He probably thinks we’re both freaks now, spending five minutes under a table looking for a plastic spoon.”
“Fork,” she corrects.
“Do you think I really care what kind of eating utensil it is?”
“I think you need some time alone.” Macy picks up the fork and gets back up
“But…Ow!” I bang my head on the table on my way up. By now, Macy is already leaving and waving goodbye over her shoulder.
I try following her but just end up walking right into the restaurant’s sliding glass door. Ow…
“Are you okay?” Jesse asks, standing just behind me.
“Yeah, I’m fine, just walked into a door, nothing too unusual for me. Look, I’m sorry, but I think I need to go too.” This time, I get the glass door open, but walk right into the net screen. Ugh…
“Maybe you should just sit down for a while.”
Maybe I should. We’re already past sign #3 by now: I’d made a fool out of myself in front of him.
I sit down at our table again, reaching to the back of my head to feel for a bump. Luckily, it’s just a small one, although that doesn’t mean it’s not noticeable.
“I’ll get you another caramel macchiato,” he offers, walking away before I can answer. He’s back in what seems like less than two minutes, a steaming cup placed in front of me.
“Sure.” He sits back down, and I look at him through the rising steam.
I notice the tiny crescent-shaped mark in the corner of his right eye first, never having really paid attention to it before. “Is that a birthmark?” I ask, my mouth blurting out the question before my brain can stop it.
“What?” The skin at the corners of his eyes crinkles in confusion.
“That mark near your eye.” I point to the same spot on my own face. “Is it a birthmark?”
“Oh.” Self-consciously, he reaches up and touches it. “No, it’s actually a scar.”
Cool. All I had was a splotch of a birthmark on my upper arm that looked like nothing in particular. “How long have you had it?” I ask, leaning forward to take a closer look. It’s only a shade or two darker than his skin, noticeable but not to the point that it detracts from his appearance.
“Since I was ten, I think. I was teaching my little brother how to skateboard and he started to fall face-first one time, and I caught him before he could, but I ended up falling with him wrapped up in my bear hug. I hit the sidewalk and got a cut. When it healed, I had this scar left.”
“That’s so sweet of you to take a hit like that for your brother. Although, the scar really doesn’t look that bad. It’s kind of cute.” I studied his face carefully. Green eyes, light brown hair, tanned skin, crooked but cute smile, nose just a teensy bit too big, face just a bit too angular for a teen, and of course that little scar… What? I’ve never had the chance to get a proper look at him before, since he always sits behind me. If Macy were here, she’d so be going, Told you so.
Jesse looks up, and I pretend to be absorbed in my caramel macchiato. “What?” he asks.
I pause, the cup in mid-air. “What’s what?”
“You were staring at me.”
“I was?” Uh-oh. Sign #4. “Well, I was just…I was…um…”
He waits, watching me so closely I can’t look anywhere but the floor comfortably.
“Well, I was…uh…I was just staring because I was trying to decide if you look more like Brad Pitt or Robert Downey Jr.” Seriously? I couldn’t think of a better excuse than that?
“And?” he prompts, looking interested.
“And…uh…it’s neither. You actually look more like my Uncle Ean, except not as pudgy.” Oops. This is one of those things Macy would want to slap me for. It’s also the dreaded sign #5: making a lame excuse when he catches you staring at him.
Jesse’s eyebrows furrow in confusion. “Is that supposed to be a compliment?”
“No…yes…maybe…I’m not sure. Remember that I’ve suffered more head trauma in one day than most people do in a year.”
“Right. Well…I guess I’ll see you in History on Monday. Remember to email me…or call.” He stands up from the table slowly, almost hesitantly.
“Sure. And thanks again for the caramel macchiato.”
“No problem.” He turns and does a #3, walking straight into a pillar.
Ouch. I wince.
He turns around, looking sheepish as he rubs his forehead, where he hit the pillar.
I smile, holding back a laugh. “Just don’t walk into the door on your way out.”
He laughs. “See you later, Alix.”
“Bye, Jesse. Oh, and watch out for the—”
“—stairs,” I finish, standing up to see what happened. Jesse slipped down the stairs – luckily it’s a short staircase – and crashed into a waiter with a stack of dirty dishes. “Never mind.”