October 1, 2008
By A. C., Dallas, TX

She laughs, hard and carefree and joyful, a complete opposite of the cruel cackle she's known for. He does that to her, and it's not a bad feeling, not at all.

He grins at her from across the seat, and for a moment, she can't breathe. It's so incredibly stupid, that hopeless kind of feeling she can't call love that all the girls in her school like to talk about. It's not like that.

He's something else. They glance at each other from across the room, and there's a thousand stories told that words could never convey.

She's different from the other girls. Her hair's a messy tangle of dark strands that she throws into a ponytail in the morning, and her face is devoid of makeup. Her jaw's a little too strong, her nose a little too long. Too sarcastic, too blunt, and that smirk was so damn arrogant!

He was a star. A brilliant athlete, top of his class, and he was so nice! His hair was neat and his wire-rimmed glasses gave him a refined look, and that smile made all the girls swoon.

They couldn't have been more different.

He hadn't thought anything of it, though. If he had, he didn't comment, didn't care. And that was all that mattered.

They make an odd couple. The serious student who everyone was putting their faith in to make it into university and do everything they couldn't, paired with the underachiever who couldn't do much except make noise and cause trouble.

Somehow, it works, though, so she doesn't question it. He doesn't either, and sometimes she thinks one of them should. What are they, exactly? Friends? Lovers? The undefined border between affair and relationship?

But she can't think of anyone else she'd rather be with. He doesn't pressure her, doesn't ask her if she loves him, doesn't tell her if he does or not (does he? Does it even matter?).

The week following his acceptance into Oxford, she disappears. There are no calls on her phone from him, no police hunting for her. And when he comes home from school one day, exhausted and numb from work, finding her on his doorstep, he doesn't say a word. Just smiles a little, unlocks the door, and offers to put up her bags in the spare room.

But she stands there, silent, and then looks at him, dark brown meeting piercing green.

“I love you,” she whispers, as though it is a horrible secret, something not meant to be said in this world. And it's not, it's forbidden in this relationship, but she's always reveled in breaking the rules.

He's quiet for a few moments, and she has the sense to be worried, but then he chuckles. “I know,” he informs her, and then brushes past her, saying something about putting her things in his room.

At some point, he pauses. “I love you too.” And then he turns the corner and she can hear the sound of a suitcase being unzipped and drawers being pulled open.

She sighs happily, not caring that she looks like a lovestruck idiot, and leans against the wall.

Stupid girls falling for stupid boys, but he was all she needed anyways.

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