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Almost Real

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When I became a freshman in high school, the main thing on my mind was: Yay! New guys! Sayonara, immature, gum-snapping, pranking, wannabes.

I suspected- hoped, wished, prayed- that I would fall for one, we'd start dating, and we'd live happily-ever-after-the-end. It's what every girl dreams of, right?

I was wrong.

I walked into Period Four- Algebra, my favorite. I love the neatness of it all, the little lines of numbers and letters and the check-double-checks. I threw myself with passion into that class, not settling for anything less than a B+. I strived for and achieved perfection.

And then HE came.

I had known Him in middle school. We'd chatted but that was it- he was immature to me, as all boys of those three years were.
But now- oh, wow. The short, scruffy boy that had once stood before me was gone. In his place was a young man with mussed yet elegant dark hair and eyes gleaming like a sly fox. He smiled and to my surprise, my heart jumped.

Why had I not realized how... handsome He was? Why was I realizing now? Questions flooded my brain as He took His seat, the row across from me and a little behind. He smiled at me- me!, my brain cried- and looked away. I did too, but my heart was still jumping.

Near the end of class, the teacher passed out fluttering papers with a flick of her wrist. I captured one and branded it with my name- smooth dark, strokes of graphite.

I had no sooner than began the first row of neat equations when He slid into the seat next to me. He smiled again and we formed an unspoken bond- was it friendship, or something more?
We worked together, whispering mistakes and questions like little-girl secrets between us.

And this continued. Before every Algebra class, my heart would jump anxiously at the thought of seeing Him again. Do you like Him? my brain wondered ceaselessly. I refused to believe it yet.

There came the times, however, when we would brush past each other in the condensed hallways- an avalanche of students and pencil-paper-textbooks scrambling to be wherever they were going, before the harsh bell rang at them with tones of You Are Late and Be Ashamed.
He would pass me, give me a smile, and be on His way, but for me, the hallways would slow down like a great giant had poured molasses over us all. My heart would flutter like a caged bird and I would smile back- a small smile on the outside and The Grand Mother of Smiles on the inside. You can't deny it, my brain told me. You. Like. Him.
And I had to admit, I did. A lot.

But then the Day of Despair came, the day when SHE, the One with Pale Hair and the One With the Flirty Smile broke down our walls and lassoed Him. She enticed Him like a siren, with batted eyelashes and sugar-sweet smiles. Slowly, oh-so-slowly, She slunk away and took Him with her, leaving me to stand there, confused and alone, screaming "WHERE DID I GO WRONG?"

Can't He see? She's just waiting to devour him and spit out His remains, to wear His shattered heart on a chain around Her neck.

My over-the-moon-and-stars euphoric mood disappeared into a pit of tar, dragging me down helplessly with it. I became the black shell of a girl, turning blue and green with sadness and jealousy when They appeared in the worst way possible- Together.

Now, at night sometimes, I get my snowy-white stuffed bear- childish, I know- and hug it, burying my face in the soft white fur. If I try hard enough, it becomes Him- His sweet smile and handsome face, His jokes and laughter, His arms around me, comforting, stroking, strong with promises and love. I can still feel the flicker of love that I emit, my heart beating weakly against Her fake iron one and daring him to step away from Her, the Siren, and back to me. Please?

Sometimes, though, He slides away when we're deep in the night and I think, It's. Just. A. Bear. Don't be stupid. But I want to believe it's Him. I can grasp the border of Dreams and Real Life and try to pull Him into it, but sooner or later, I have to wake up and face Real Life again. It's. Not. Real. But it almost is.

Almost.



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