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My name is Amy Stover, and this is my story.
It was my sophomore year at Middletown High, and life was going great. I was the most popular girl in school, I was smart (straight A’s), and I had the guy that everyone else wanted; though I have to mention, I didn’t want him at all. He was just for show. The guy I really wanted was out of bounds, according to all my friends. If I weren’t so dependant upon my friends’ approval, I probably would have been with him. After all, it wasn’t exactly a secret that Russell (above stated boy) liked me. In fact, he was the only guy in the entire school that seemed to like me for ME, and not just because of my popularity. But that doesn’t matter. I can’t be with him. End of story. If only that was really the end of the story. My life would be completely different . . . but I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to the beginning: my grades were great; I had a great guy, great friends . . . now, if I were just happy, than I could actually say my life was great.
As I said before, Russell was off limits, so I had to make due with what I had. I went about my business, doing what every other teenage girl did when they were this popular: make friends, make enemies; go to parties, get drunk; make a bad choice and end up getting scared to death thinking I was pregnant. But at the end of every day, never failing, I would think of what life would be like if I were with Russell. Would I be truly happy? Would my friends abandon me? Would I still be the most popular girl in school? Those last two questions are what stopped me from satisfying my curiosity. And so I never found the answer to any of them. Eventually, though, I would discover how absurd that first question was.
Life went on as usual, nothing noteworthy happening until midway through my junior year, when I caught my quarterback boyfriend, James, with my best friend, Melissa. I immediately proceeded to break up with James and ruin Melissa’s life in any and every possible way. So I was boyfriend-less, but I didn’t mind. He was, after all, just for show. I didn’t care about him at all. Then, not long after the big break up, Russell came up to me at lunch and asked me out. I was thinking about his absolutely dreadful timing (being surrounded by all of my attentive friends and all), when I blurted out an incredibly loud “NO!” in which my voice squeaked embarrassingly. My face turned beet red, and I stared in shocked fascination as my friends all started laughing hysterically at him. The amazing thing, though, is that he didn’t so much as flinch. He just nodded, turned on his heel, and walked away. I didn’t realize how much that one little word would affect my life in the years to come. All I knew at the time was that I felt really badly about humiliating him in front of the entire school, and that I really had wanted so much to say yes.
The rest of the year passed uneventfully. Russell kept his distance, and soon my friends forgot about the scene in the cafeteria. I didn’t forget though, and I’m sure Russell didn’t either. Every time I saw him in the hallways, or at the mall he would ignore me, and I could tell he still liked me. It was something in the way he held himself as he passed by me. It certainly did not help my conscience.
It wasn’t until senior prom that I had to actually talk to him again. And, of course, it was in a most unpleasant way. This time he was smart enough not to ask me in front of the whole school. It was just me and him. But there was still my pride, and my desire to be accepted by my friends, which stopped me from saying yes. So he was rejected a second time. I’m not exactly sure why he even asked a second time; and to prom! But I know that the only reason I told him no was because I was too caught up in being me; I didn’t want that to change.
Finally, graduation came around, and I saw Russell one last time. I felt that I should say goodbye. I only hoped that he would accept my apology, as well as my farewell . . . he didn’t. At least, not in the way that I would have liked: with an, “Oh, it’s fine. No worries. I’m over you completely.” He nodded and walked away. Just like that day in the cafeteria. That was the last time I saw Russell. With that look of sadness like he had lost four years of happiness; which he had, on my behalf. The only problem is, that wasn’t the last time I saw Russell.
We went to different colleges. I knew we were going to. But I didn’t expect us to both major in business and end up co-owning a business together. I wasn’t prepared to see him again, so at that first meeting I was shocked to see him sitting in the chair meant for the other co-owner. I would have been told who I was going to be partners with, but I wanted to keep it a surprise. I regret that decision now. I had to concentrate hard to shut my mouth; it had apparently fallen open when I first saw him. I went to sit down next to him, and he ignored me. I noticed a ring on his left finger. He was married. I decided that was a good thing. He finally got over me. Maybe we could even be friends. I had to try, but the meeting was starting, so it would have to wait.
After the meeting, he left so suddenly that I didn’t have a chance to say anything. Maybe he still had feelings for me, and it was awkward for him to stay and chat. But we had another meeting in a week, so I would get another shot.
The next week I expected to see Russell, but not the brunette standing next to his chair who I presumed to be his wife. So I just sat down and waited for her to leave, which, of course, wasn’t until the last minute. No time to talk. I guessed that it was probably planned that way, but couldn’t give it much thought at the moment; I had to focus on the meeting.
After the meeting, Russell was a little slower getting out, so I asked him how his life was going: a simple, casual question that any co-owner of a business would ask to another co-owner of the same business. He gave a curt nod and walked out. His lack of intelligent conversation was driving me insane, so that night I went out to relax. I decided to go a new club called “One-X” that everyone was talking about. I know that sounds kind of high school-ish, but I needed to relax, and that seemed like the perfect place to do it. I didn’t know that my relaxation time would be cut short by a guy’s-night-out planned by Russell with some of his friends. So I got there and I sat down to have a non-alcoholic drink (alcohol did not do good things with my head) and watch everyone dance. Then I heard a familiar voice, and, sure enough, there was Russell: two people down from me at the bar, drinking and laughing, just like any and every other normal person there. I decided to make one last attempt. I would go over there, sit down next to him, and start talking to him. And if he walked away from me, then so be it. That would be the end of us as partners, because I cannot work with someone who won’t even talk to me.
I did just what I was thinking, before I could talk myself out of it. He didn’t walk away with a single sharp word, as I expected, though. Actually, he shook my hand, introduced me to all of his friends as his high school crush, and started asking me about my life. I was so shocked I almost didn’t answer his questions. I guess I know how he felt when I confronted him about his life. But I focused and answered all of his questions without missing a beat on the outside.
We sat there for hours and hours, just talking about our lives. It was amazingly easy to talk to him. We talked about everything: work, the weather, and our years in college. Finally I asked about his wife, and he said that he was happy, though not as happy as he could be. He really just married Rachel because his parents wanted him to. Not that he didn’t like her; she just wasn’t his first choice. She probably would have been third or fourth, if there had been a second. But there was never a second, so she got moved there by default. I asked who his first choice was, not expecting his answer. “You; you have always and always will be my first choice.”
That was the push we had needed to fall off the ever-looming Cliff of Love. Just as he was finishing his sentence, I kissed him. I kissed him like I had never kissed anyone before. And then we left the club, and went straight to my house, which was right down the street. I don’t know whether he felt guilty about being unfaithful to his wife or not, but as he was saying goodbye, he said, “I never stopped thinking about you, Amy. Not once. I always wished it was you that would be waiting for me when I got home.” I was speechless. This was, after all, a lot to take in. And after what we had just done, my brain was a little mushy. He kissed me goodnight, and went home to his wife, who, I heard later, had been extremely mad at his being late. But when he told me this, he also told me that it had been worth it.
After that night, we met every other night or so at One-X and talked. We never ran out of things to talk about. I was falling for him. Quickly. He didn’t tell his wife, and he didn’t file for a divorce. He said she had no idea, but I wasn’t so sure. She would come into our meetings sometimes, and the way she looked at me, with that hatred in her eyes, told me that she knew, or at least thought she knew, that I was a threat to her relationship. Of course, she was right, but I didn’t say that aloud. I did start asking Russell what he was planning on doing after a month or so, though. We both knew how risky it was to be going behind everyone’s backs like we were. We could both lose our jobs. He said he was going to tell Rachel that night, and then go for the divorce papers in the morning. I believed him, so I went to bed with hope that night.
I woke up to find myself in an all white room, wearing a hospital gown with an IV in my arm pumping some kind of fluid into my body. I looked around slowly and found Russell and a man that must be a doctor standing beside my bed looking at me with relief in their eyes. Apparently, Russell had come over that morning (which I found out to be two days earlier) and found me in bed. He couldn’t wake me up, so he called for an ambulance and I’d been in some sort of mild coma for the past couple of days. The doctor said I have a rare disease that I can’t pronounce, and that it was manageable with some adjustments” to my living style. Nothing major, though; just a few injections twice a day, and a pill three times a day for the rest of my life. But, there turned out to be a bright side after all. After the doctor finished explaining everything I would need to do in grotesque detail, Russell and I were alone; he game me great news. Rachel had signed the divorce papers willingly, and as soon as it was finalized, we could get married. (We had already talked about marriage, so I wasn’t surprised by the statement.)) I was overjoyed, and asked him to kiss me, because I couldn’t move from the bed.
Twelve months later and the divorce was finalized. Our wedding was planned for March sixth, which was also the day we first got together. We got married, ended up having three kids, and, dare I say it? We’ve lived happily ever after . . . so far.