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Hold On For Your Life
It was lunch-time at Alcyon High School. Tom was a senior and he was sitting on the hard linoleum floor in a hallway. He was quietly typing some last minute homework on his laptop. About half way through the lunch period Ellie came and sat down next to him.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Nothing is wrong.”
A few moments of awkward silence passed.
“I can’t take it anymore,” she said.
“This. This place. Everyone is driving me insane.”
“I’m sorry, Ellie.” He once again looked up from his keyboard.
“Don’t say that. It’s fine,” she said while wiping her eyes.
“No it’s not,” he said, his voice wavering slightly.
“I’m just worthless. Everyone hates me, I’m stupid, ugly, and worthless.”
“Shut-up! That’s not true and I’m tired of you saying that.”
“Easy for you to say, you only put up with me so that you won’t feel guilty.”
“Ellie, if I didn’t care about you would I ever text you? Would we ever hang out? Would I even be talking to you right now?”
She shrugged as she murmured something.
“What did you say?” he asked.
“You’ve lied before. You, Fernando, Nicki, and Ryan. You all have.”
“I’m sorry, Ellie.”
“It’s fine. “
“No, it’s not. It was complicated back then, Ellie.”
“It doesn’t make it right.”
“You told me two weeks after the fact,” she said. “I flirted with you like mad. And you didn’t even tell me that you were dating her. “
“I’m sorry, Ellie.”
She sighed as she leaned back with closed eyes.
“Was it all a lie?” she asked.
“What do you mean?”
Silence filled the air.
After a few seconds he closed his eyes and sighed.
“No, not like that, Ellie.”
“Good,” she replied as she leaned her back against the wall.
A few minutes passed, and before long Tom started typing again. Ellie got up and smoothed out her skirt. Before she walked away Tom said,
“I think you’re being unfair. I know I messed up big time. I will make it up to you. Yes, I took advantage of our relationship, and I’m sorry about that. But if you really despise me then why do you still hang around?”
“I don’t know,” she said as she started to walk away. She was about to turn the corner when he said, “Ellie.”
She stopped and looked over her shoulder at him.
“Everything that I said that night was true. I will protect you and I’ll always be there for you.”
“O.K. Thanks,” She turned around and continued walking. “By the way, you lied again.”