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Stew Zelda trembled as he approached Brooke Riley’s locker. The hallway was deserted but his repeated glances over his shoulder grew into an involuntary flinch. If anyone saw him now, if Brooke saw him, Stew thought he would just faint right there, on the dirty school floor. But he stood alone. His nose was now just an inch away from the perfect locker, which perfect Brooke must have touched thousands of times.
The paper, his love note, was fluttering along with Stew’s unsteady arm. The carefully written and edited note that shook in his hand had taken hours to perfect. Stew felt he must have killed a whole forest with the number of repeated attempts he gave to his love letter. But here was the one he knew, or at least hoped, could win Brooke’s heart.
Even with the intense effort and time he put into the love note, Stew would do anything just to throw it in the trash. If only those heartfelt words and the careful, simple signature of “SZ” could be waste in a garbage can, never to be seen by eyes as glitteringly beautiful as Brooke’s. But his feet remained stationed in front of that faultless locker. His pulsing love for Brooke ran stronger than his extremely anxious nature. His hand pressed up against the week-old green paint. The paper slid through the narrow slot and gracefully fell atop the many contents of Brooke’s locker.
But Stew Z. could not appreciate this gracefulness. He was much too busy prying at the locker, silently crying and praying to be able to remove that wretched note. But the deed was done. Regret instantly fell upon him. If Stew sat there any longer Mr. Clemens would send someone out to find him. Brooke could come out and find him there heaped in front of her locker in a pitiful mess! So Stew solemnly returned to class and wordlessly regretted his ability to finally conquer his life-long dread.
The hours passed like decades. It was only 4th period and Stew Z. began contemplating suicide. It was like torture to wait. But he somehow managed to survive until 7th period, study hall, and Brooke was waiting. Stew strolled in with a mile-wide smile. He was even able to walk right by the love of his life. She didn’t seem to notice. Stew thought she must have been completely engrossed in conversation. She would approach him when the time was right. Stew Z. was sure of it.
The minutes passed, the class passed, but Stew wasn’t aware. He hadn’t even gotten past the first page in his book. His eyes remained on Brooke’s sleek blond locks as she chattered on about Spanish class. But, as he mindlessly wandered to French, he began to grasp the fact that Brooke hadn’t said anything. Not even a word. Obviously, she wanted him to make the first move, Stew reasoned. Confronting the most gorgeous girl in the universe, however, would not be easy.
Memories of the notes he took in English class flooded his brain.
“This is what they call a self vs. self battle. The only person holding me back from the girl of my dreams is myself,” Stew Z. spoke aloud. He was so shocked at reaching this realization that he nearly screamed it for the whole world to hear as he walked home by himself. Luckily, he exercised a measure of self control. But, inside, his heart was pounding with joy. He was determined. He would ask Brooke out tomorrow!
The next day he tried to convince himself he was sick. In actuality he really did feel ill from the terror of his plan for the day. Nevertheless, his heart would not let him quit. The perfect opportunity came when he saw Brooke heading right towards him in the hallway near the art rooms. Her poor shoulders were being suffocated by the basketball star of the decade, the one and only, Mr. Popular, Samuel Zed. A flashback of the signature he used to sign his letter hit him like stone. But nothing could stop Stew Z. now.
He stormed up to Brooke and attempted a yell that turned to a whimper, “Brooke! I wrote you that letter! Brooke, I am in LOVE with you!” His head spun. Maybe the paint fumes had made him go crazy. What had he just done? Had he really just said that? Her response answered the rambling questions barely contained within his brain.
“Wow. Well, that is so sweet of you to say but honestly, I do not feel the same way. I’m really sorry.”
Stew Z. swore, and still does to this day, that the people in China could hear his heart shatter. Pure devastation drowned him on that infamous day of Stew’s life.