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If You Only Knew
The tears stream down his cheeks as he rips his face from mine and walks away. He storms out into the spring air, and the echoes of slamming doors reverberate through the gym. My heart falls from my chest to my feet as his last sentence rings through my mind. I scan the crowd of love-sick teenagers for Max’s beautiful face. I find it, and my heart sunk to the pit of my stomach… it’s swapping spit with Miranda O’Henry.
How did my life fall apart like this? Bea won’t even look my way or talk to me at all, Chase completely hates me, and now, my gorgeous date is sucking on another girl’s face.
My name is Sophia Daniels. I’m sixteen years old, and I’m invisible. I’ve lived in Webster, Iowa my entire life. I’m a farmer’s daughter; a typical small-town Midwestern girl, common and nothing special. Some people see me in the halls and pass me by… but the rest of them don’t see me at all. I’ve been knocked to the ground and into lockers numerous times and even sat on occasionally. The only people that see me are my best friends and fellow invisibles… Chase Edwards and Bea Nichols. I call her Beezus. Ya know, like the book? Bea is the class-A theater loving, music addicted, nose-stuck-in-a-book, writing dork. She balances out Chase and me… who are 110% jocks. I’ve never been into wearing make-up or doing my hair, wearing skirts or donning tight shirts. I don’t like my body, but I’ve been told it looks like a model’s. I play basketball… the runway has never been an option. And only two short weeks ago, I was shooting around with Chase and Bea, laughing at Bea’s myriad of air-balls.
“No, like this.” I say, trying to suppress a laugh. I hold the ball in my hands, trying to show Beezus how to shoot… or even hit the backboard for that matter.
“Soph, this is SO overrated. There’s nothing attractive about running around trying to put a ball through a metal hoop. I’ve been to almost all of your games… seriously. It’s disgusting. What are these coaches teaching kids these days? BARBARIC BEHAVIOR! That’s what!” Beezus says in her matter-of-fact drama queen voice.
“Because sweat is so gross, right?” Chase butts in.
“EXACTLY! Finally, someone who understands my plight.” breathes the ever-too dramatic Bea.
Bea is crazy. She’s always hopped up on the drugs I’m sure they give the drama kids to keep them happy, smiling and skipping around all the time. She’s so optimistic that her attitude alone could cure cancer. But she’s always there, and she gives me back-up at the mall when we go boy-watching… even though she’s positive that she’s marrying Orlando Bloom someday. She’s pretty enough to marry him. She’s got the face of a movie star and the body of a Barbie Doll. She has a heart of gold and an attitude to match.
“Can I be done attempting to learn how to play this atrocious game now?” Bea whines as she plops herself down on the wood floor of the gym, that would shortly be turned into the 2011 Webster High Prom dance floor.
“Whatever Beezus, just don’t come complaining when you’re too out-of-shape to dance in the spring musical.” I say as I roll my eyes at her lack of athletic interest.
She scoots herself up against the brick wall, content with watching Chase and I play one on one. Through the windows on the west wall of the gym, I see a gorgeous face pass. I find myself staring at Max Nelson, my hunky dreamboat of manliness. I’ve had the biggest crush on Max since eighth grade, when he was new. I always feel like the main character of a cheesy teen TV show when I think about Max. He doesn’t know I exist… but I know that we’re soulmates. He’s crawled his way to the top of Webster High School. I’d quit basketball just to get a chance to feel his biceps. I’ve soon lost myself in Max’s mess of chocolate brown hair… and a basketball hits me square in the nose.
“Get your head in the game, Soph.” Chase teases.
An hour and a half later, Bea and I are sitting on my bed. She’s reading me her Vogue and Style magazines. I never listen to the newest trends or the hottest color of nail polish the month; but this time I’m captivated by the words coming out of Bea’s mouth. An article titled “How to Hook Your Dream Man” in Seventeen Magazine has me feeding on Bea’s every word.
“Want to get your honey’s attention but he just doesn’t notice you? Try a new haircut, different style of make-up or change your clothes. Get the sparkle out and WOW him! Show him that you deserve a second glance.”
A light bulb went on inside my head. Max Nelson, the love of my life… he doesn’t know I even exist… let alone see me pass him in the hallway. Max is the star forward of Webster High’s soccer team, the player that brought our team from kicking a ball around in a cornfield three years ago to winning the State Championship game in Des Moines last year. With scouts watching his every move, every pass, every goal, Max is the perfect picture of JOCK. His skin is tanned from the countless hours of practice and training. His gorgeous chocolate brown hair does the swoop thing, and it drives all the girls crazy. His warm brown eyes melt your soul… if only you can get a chance to share a precious moment of time in his eyes. He’s perfect.
After a strenuous and epic battle of Bea versus hair, I trade my mousy-brown chest length hair for layers, bangs and a stunning auburn color. Beezus didn’t stop at my hair, but she went on to give me a make-up tutorial. My face looks flawless and almost plastic when Bea’s done… I feel like I’m wearing a mask. But the mirror reflects a picture-perfect face.
“Thanks Bea! You’re the best. Max won’t be able to resist when I walk into school tomorrow morning!” I squeal, almost as girly and theatrical as Bea herself.
The next morning, I wake up extra early just to get ready. It’s ridiculous, I tell myself when I stare at the mess of Sophie in the bathroom mirror. My hair looks like a tornado attacked half of it, and an iron flattened the other half. Sheet marks cover my face and left-over mascara from yesterday’s revelation is smeared under my eyes.
“Lord, give me a miracle.” I say aloud… hoping that Max will finally notice me.
A whole different girl stood before me in the mirror. I shut my eyes, expecting the beautiful girl in the mirror to disappear. I open them slowly, and that girl is still there. Red-brown hair straightened, just like Bea showed me, and make-up paralleling the model from the Covergirl commercial. I tear myself from the gorgeous reflection and amble over to my closet. A Bea-Original (oh, did I mention that Beezus makes her own clothes?) hangs in my face, begging to be worn. I don the outfit, feeling like a ham squeezed into a tube sock. A black V-neck t shirt, Converse tennis shoes, blue skinny jeans and a gray cardigan. I feel like a model… and look like one too. I’m ready.
Reaching into my locker for my Biology text book after lunch, I almost feel tears coming on; Max still hasn’t seen me, and He sits next to me in two classes. I shut my locker and almost jump out of my skin when Chase comes up behind me and pokes me in the middle of my back… the one spot that I’m ticklish. I absolutely freak out when I get poked there… and I look pretty stupid when I react. Chase calls it my “idiot button”.
“What happened to you Soph? Did Style magazine attack your face? And the rest of you?” He asks, looking me up and down like I’m an alien who’s just asked if I can suck his brains out.
“I wanted to try a new look… and I’m getting Max Nelson to ask me out! You know how much I like him…” I can hardly finish my sentence when Chase interrupts.
“But why would you walk around school with clothes that look like they’re painted on? And if Max hasn’t noticed you without your ‘new look’ he obviously isn’t worth it.”
A deep and deliciously smooth voice rings out from behind Chase before I can add my snippy retort.
“Hey man, wanna move outta the way?” Max. My heart thuds and butterflies attack my stomach. I can’t think of what to say, what to do, and I suddenly can’t remember how to breathe.
Max. Max. Max. Max. Is all that goes through my mind.
“Whatever.” Chase’s words fall like feathers when they should have cut me to the quick. But I don’t notice. All I see is that flawless face… looking at me.
“Hey baby, you look SO HOT. Are you new?” His voice drips like honey. I giggle like a child. Unable to mutter the word no, I shake my head.
“Well, I’m sorry that I didn’t see you until now. Wanna grab a burger after school or something?”
“Y-y-y-yeah. S-s-sure. Pick me up at eight?” I manage to utter.
“Will do babygirl. And look nice. I like my women lookin’ sexy.” He answers.
All I heard was Babygirl. He struts off, looking more impeccable than when I first saw him. I’m left staring after him, going all googly-eyed like some chick in a movie. I’m pretty sure I’m drooling… but I don’t care. I could go stand on Broadway and scream;
“I, SOPHIA LILY DANIELS, AM GOING TO GET A BURGER WITH MAX NELSON!”
The day flew by in a flurry of hearts and daydreams. My smile never faded from my face, and I pretty much giggled for two hours. I floated to my navy blue Oldsmobile after the final bell rang, freeing me to think of Max all by myself. Right as I’m about to burst into “Somewhere over the Rainbow”, I see Bea running up to me with an expression on her face that’s legitimately depressing.
“Bees, I’m going to get a BURGER with Max Nelson. Can you believe it?!” I almost scream.
“Soph, you don’t know anything. How could you be so impossibly stupid?”
“What in the world are you talking about?”
“You know what? Never mind. You’ll find out soon enough, I guess.” Tears fill her eyes as she spins on her heel and gets into her cherry-red Volkswagen Bug.
After I spend a frantic five and a half hours getting ready, taking two showers and doing my hair three times, I hear a car’s honk on my driveway. MAX! MAX! MAX! I run down the stairs, grab my shoes and coat, and scramble to the door, walking calmly out the door. Collecting myself and attempting to shake the shock of Sophia Daniels being in Max Nelson’s famous car, I manage a shaky “Hello,” and an if-y smile.
“Aye, baby. Dayyyngg! You look FIIINE. Let’s say we ditch the burger and skip straight to the part where I kiss you?” he drawls in that voice of his, the voice that makes all the girls go crazy.
“Sure!” I squeal, suppressing an extremely childish giggle that I’ve been told is very unattractive. (Take a guess who told me that?)
And our ‘date’ was simply that. Began with kissing, and ended with Max asking me to the Junior-Senior Prom. He dropped me off at my house, barely making it home before curfew.
“Aye, I expect a LOT more tomorrow night, kay, babydoll?” He utters under his breath, as he pulls his baby-soft lips from mine.
“Yeah, no problem.” I reply as I slide myself out of Max’s car.
The next day at school was unbelievably amazing. Aside from being a Friday, Max actually talked to me at school. AND, he escorted me to all my classes… mostly because he has no regard for school besides the soccer team… or being on time for that matter.
Seventh hour rolls around, a study hall that Bea and I have together. We take our usual seats in the back of the Library, and our conversation about the goings-on of last night has taken a turn for the nasty.
“HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND?! You know what Max Nelson does with his dates, right? He does the date, sleep, dump.”
“No he doesn’t… he can’t. You’re the one who doesn’t know anything! You’re just jealous.” I retort vehemently.
“Yes, he does. The only reason he asked you to Prom is because Miranda just dumped him for getting her pregnant after the Homecoming dance.” She squeals. Bea begins to cry and grabs my shoulders. (Typical Bea) “Soph, please don’t do this to yourself… don’t let him hurt you. You deserve so much more…” The final bell interrupts her at the perfect time for a Bea-worthy exit. So I rip myself from her grip and turn away from her. I ignore her sobs and walk away.
Blue and green lights splash the gymnasium walls and flood the faces of swaying teenagers. The latest pop song fills our ears as my cheeks flush and butterflies swarm my nervous stomach. I think to myself, I cannot believe that I, Sophia Lily Daniels, am dancing with THE Max Nelson! Vogue and Seventeen Magazine were RIGHT!
While I’m busy thinking about how absolutely amazing Max’s biceps are, a tap on my shoulder interrupts my reverie. I break my gaze from Max and turn to stare directly into Chase’s stunning green eyes.
“Excuse me, Max; can I have a dance with Soph?” Chase’s deep voice echoes.
“Yeah, whatever dude.” Max lazily replies.
Chase takes my gloved hand and pulls me to the middle of the dance floor, right on top of the Webster High School’s mascot… The Fighting Bull.
“Chase! Can you BELIEVE that I’m actually at PROM with MAX NELSON?!” The added emphasis in my voice was definitely necessary. I mean, it’s MAX NELSON! He rolls his eyes and shakes his head, scattering shards of light that reflected off his bleach-blonde hair.
“Soph, have you been watching the way Max is looking at you? Has he even looked at your face at all tonight?” He questions... I could see the twinkle of tears hiding behind his brave eyes. Chase never, ever, EVER cries. I know that this is a big deal to him.
Chase and I have been friends since we were born. Seriously. Our parents graduated together, and stayed close through marriage and having kids. Chase and I share a birthday, and we always have a shared party on August 17th. His parents even named his little sister after me… Lily. Less than a year ago, when Lily was fourteen, she had a boyfriend. He was reckless and eighteen… I loathed him. One night, he came to her door, drunk and high. He took Lily out for a ride in his car. The next morning on the news, photos of a car found in a private lake late the previous night flash across the TV. Lily was gone. Chase and his family have unofficially adopted me, bringing me to family movie night and get-togethers. Chase has treated me like his little sister ever since Lily died. The way he’s acting right now is a perfect example of his “big brother antics”.
“Chase, c’mon, stop acting like such a big brother. Of course he’s looked at my face. Where else would he be looking?” I instantly regret my words. A twinge of remorse fills my gut… because Chase and I know that I’m lying to the both of us. Our conversation stops; but continues with our eyes. He closes his eyes and a tear slips down his cheek like a salty raindrop. He opens his eyes and looks right into my watery blues.
“Sophia, he doesn’t love you. He never has, and he never will. He said it to my face… He likes you because all you are is arm candy… and something to ‘do’ in the off-season. You don’t deserve to be treated like that…”
“CHASE! HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY SAY THAT?” I interrupt, screaming at the top of my lungs… not caring who hears. “HE EVEN TOLD ME HE LOVES ME!”
“Was he talking to you… or YOUR CHEST?” He storms out into the spring air, and slamming doors echo through the gym.
So here I am. Lost, brokenhearted, alone and crying at my junior prom. I stand beneath the disco ball and watch other teenagers having the time of their lives. I run after Chase. When I open the Gym doors, there he sits, alone looking at the sky. I sit myself down next to him. His tearstained cheeks and red, puffy eyes tear my heart out. This is the face that I’ve always seen as my brother’s. But somehow… he looks different tonight. He was looking out for me. I was headed in the same direction as Lily. This revelation breaks my heart.
“Thank you.” I whisper in Chase’s ear and rest my head on his shoulder. He looks at me, and takes my face in his big hands, worn from dribbling basketballs for so many years. He pulls his face to mine and kisses my forehead.
“You know I’ve always loved you, right?” He whispers so low it’s inaudible to everyone but us.
“What? Really?” I ask, shocked that my ‘brother’ fell in love with me.
“Yeah, but I love the real you. Not this new and improved Sophia. So don’t change anything. Let’s keep playing one on one and watching football games.” He breathes, and it sounds like music to me.
Chase’s mom picks the two of us up and takes up home. I whip out my cell phone as soon as I walk into my living room.
“Hello?” Bea’s voice squeaks the greeting I thought I’d never hear.
“Hey Bees, it’s me. I am SO sorry; I should have listened to you and…”
“Shut up already! I know you’re sorry. Chase texted me right before you called. You’re okay Soph, and we’ll take our revenge on Max tonight. I have toilet paper. You get the eggs.”
So in the end, my best friend became my boyfriend, my other best friend became my partner in crime, and my hunky dreamboat of manliness’ car became nothing more than an aid for target practice.