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Let Me Let Go
There he is, staring at me once again for like the umpteenth time today, and I don’t get it. His new girlfriend is sitting right beside him, caressing every square inch of his visible—and maybe not visible—body, yet his eyes are glued on me and from the looks of it, they don’t seem to be moving anytime soon.
For three and a half years, Nate has been like the human version of the moon. One week he’s all there, full and willing to never leave again. Then he’s only there halfway, and before you know it, he’s gone completely. He’s there physically though, but he’s missing somehow. His phases repeat, over and over again, and they never end.
I drop his gaze with a friendly smile and focus on Mrs. Henderson’s lecture about how we never turn off our computers or push our chairs under the tables at our workstations. You’d think that after a century of teaching and being disobeyed each year, she’d retire or something, but no. She’s just as present as ever.
As the bell rings and I walk out of the computer lab—carefully, trying to avoid Nate’s captivating gaze—I meet up with my best friend Scarlette, and she joins me on the walk to my locker. She’s going on and on about how hot her new Calc teacher is and how she’s convinced he’s got a thing for her.
As I work in the combination on the locker, I get a glance at her and see that her usual voluminous body of beautiful, brown, and curly hair has been traded in for shiny and straight locks.
“Wow,” I say. “When’s the last time you straightened your hair?”
She shrugs. “I think Harlen likes it better this way.”
I shake my head and slam my locker. “Scarlette, you can’t have a thing for your Calc teacher. That’s weird. It’s also weird that you’re on a first name basis with him.”
“No, it isn’t. He’s hot,” she says. “He’s only, like, twenty-two, and I’m seventeen. Plus, why shouldn’t I call him by his first name? He calls me by mine.” She raises her eyebrows and waits for what she already knows I’m going to say.
“He’s your teacher,” I tell her.
She smiles provocatively. “So? He doesn’t look at me like I’m his student.”
“That’s disturbing! And really, really, really creepy,” I say. I slightly shudder, link my arm through hers, and lead us to our next class.
“Whatever,” she says. “How was Henderson’s class? Ready to kill her yet?”
“Nah,” I say. “I can’t really see myself plotting against the woman that was probably there when fire was discovered.”
Scarlette snorts. “She’s gonna die soon anyway.”
I stop and turn to face her. “Scar. You’re going straight to hell,” I say. I smile playfully when she pulls her arms away from me with a fake, appalled expression, and I keep walking.
For as far back as I could remember Nate and I were pretty much inseparable. At school, that is. We became really close friends in elementary school, and, of course, our parents over reacted to the fact that each of their kids had a friend of the opposite sex at the age of five, but that never stopped our friendship from blossoming throughout the years.
Until we got to junior high, Nate was just like my male version of Scarlette. But that changed, as all things do. Childhood will always bloom into the very confusing and complicating teenage years, which means hormones and puberty always get in the way of friendships.
Nate and I never stopped being friends though. We grew closer and closer to what most adults and “mature” people would call “puppy-love.” Still, he was my first boyfriend and, even though many will object to it, my first love. He gave me my first kiss and my first slow dance, and when you’re young, that’s a big deal. It didn’t matter to us or our friends that we were only thirteen. You can’t help what you feel. Everyone knows that.
Our parents eventually got over the fact that we were in it for the long run, supposedly. They’d let us be.
Until he broke my heart.
When you’re young, you’re dramatic. Always. No exceptions. So when you’re young and heartbroken, you basically think the world is going to end.
So the day that Nate told me that he didn’t want me anymore and that he’d moved on to some other girl, I was shattered. To this day, four years later, the pain still haunts me. Most would say that since I was thirteen and now I’m seventeen, I should have realized that what I thought I felt for him was insignificant. But, of course, I say and know it’s not. The pain was real.
And I still feel that pain now that we’re in high school. We’re good friends. The best, actually. Sometimes it’s like he flaunts the fact that he can get someone other than me. Even though it’s been four years…
When we became friends again, he had to have known what that would be like for me. He’s not an idiot. He’s in the top ten percent of class, and he’s student body president. But he’s still a teenage boy. Selfish and raging with hormones.
Nate’s gone through a few girlfriends in the past few years. And with each one, Nate’s attitude and personality changed. It never fails. He never fails.
He never fails to come crawling back to me with his stories. He never fails to come crawling back to me with his boasting of how romantic and sweet his is. He never fails to come crawling back to me after he and whichever girl it is that week break up so that he could tell me him how he misses her.
He never fails to find someone the next day.
I listen to everything he says. I’m a good friend, and I care about him. I fight my feelings for him each time he touches me or hugs me. I give him everything he wants and needs.
Because I’m a good friend.
The best he’s ever had.
Because I am still in love with him.
Nate objected to the first boyfriend I got after he and I became friends again. He’d said that the guy was “not worth my time” and that I was “too good for that type of person.” It’s funny, though, because everyone else told me that my new boyfriend was like an exact replica of Nate, looks and personality. It didn’t matter anyway because it didn’t last long. He’d moved away, and I went back to my normal life. My normal life being Nate evaluating my every move, leading me on, and walking all over me just so I could have my heart broken every time…
Whether he has a girlfriend or not, it’s how it is. It’s a never-ending cycle, just like the phases of the moon.
“We’re going tubing tomorrow at Bayou Creek. You’re coming.”
I look up from my book to see Nate sitting right across from me. I’m in the library, on my only off period, trying to catch up on my reading. Since this morning when I caught Nate looking at me in keyboarding, I’ve tried my hardest to avoid him, and until now, it was working just fine.
I get pissed at myself when I find that the first thing I say is, “Who’s ‘we’?”
Nate gives me the smile that always makes me lose my breath. “Well, me, of course. Megan, Scarlette, Blaine, Garrett, and you.”
I lean back in my chair, trying to say no, but I can’t. “Sounds fun,” I hear myself say, immediately regretting it.
He winks at me. “It does,” he says, getting up from the table. “Anyway, I’ll pick you up in the morning around nine. Is that cool?”
“You’re picking me up?” I ask skeptically.
“Yeah. You, me, and Megan are meeting everyone else up there.”
Megan. His girlfriend of approximately two and a half weeks. She’s cute and quiet, one of the so-called dangerous ones. Or, according to Nate, the ones who are greatest at sex.
“Okay,” I say. “That’s fine.”
He smiles again, says okay, and starts walking towards the door. I look back down at my book and try to concentrate again, but it’s hopeless. Before Nate walks too far away from me, though, he turns around and says hey much too loud for the library.
I look up.
He’s wearing that deadly grin again. “You look good today, Audrey.”
I don’ know what to say so I just smile.
He walks out of the door, leaving me with my thoughts. I feel everyone else in the library looking at me, but I ignore it. I know they’re all wondering the same thing I am.
What does he really want?