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Ella leaned forward, her chin sinking into her hands as she rested her elbows on the splintered windowsill. The breeze that pushed her long bangs against her face was icy, but the underlying warmth of an oncoming March lingered near her open window.
She gazed up at the full moon that hovered above her. The corner of her mouth twitched as she pictured the massive circle-shaped block coming undone from its wall of stars and slamming into Mr. and Mrs. Rogerson’s front porch across the street.
Ella heaved a deep sigh.
She knew that the moon was not going to slip down from its pocket in the sky and crash into her neighbors’ front lawn. (She was fairly certain of this actually.)
She also knew that he was not going to respond to any of the texts or emails that she had sent him. (She was pretty sure about this too.)
However, Ella would not have minded being wrong about the first one, (sorry Mr. and Mrs. Rogerson!) if it meant being wrong about the second one too.
She wandered away from the window and reached for her I-pod. Amy Winehouse pined into her earphones about waking up alone. Ella rolled onto her bed and slid forward until her back was completely straight; her toes resting against the footboard, her head sinking into the worn mattress. The sand that had been gathering in her eyes for the past three and a half weeks finally managed to bury them shut.
And predictably enough: there he was again.
His arms were folded, his back completely straight against the carpeted wall of the movie theater.
Ella had not intended to see him that night. She had started off the evening at her best friend’s birthday party, and two and half beers later found herself speeding into the familiar dimly-lit parking lot.
She had waited for him to clock out at the customer service desk before leading him into a semi-vacant movie theater.
The curtain of summer that had once hung between his gaze and hers, had been raised. His blue eyes had faded to grey, and although he was staring straight at her Ella felt the need to capture his attention.
“I’ve missed my window, haven’t I?’
He reached for his buzzing cell phone, punched some of the keys and quickly slid it back into his pocket.
“I’ll never leave you.” He rested his chin on her forehead.
Ella felt the knot in the pit of her stomach clench.
“I shouldn’t have said no to you last month.”
He let out a dry laugh.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
He straightened up once more.
“The feelings are still there.” He held out his hands, Ella twirled her fingers through his. He turned to his sneakers. “There’s this girl at school…” his voice trailed off. “There’ve been other girls,” he added softly.
The knot exploded. Ella pulled her hand away from his and leaned against the wall beside him.
“That’s why you haven’t been writing back.”
“I know- I’m sorry. I like, never check my email and my phone has been actin’ weird.”
“I waited too long.”
He shook his head, his cherub grin widespread- the sort of grin Ella imagined a mother might give her kid if they had just been rejected from Harvard. “It’s okay dear,” Ella could picture her mother say, “there’s still UMASS.”
But UMASS was not Harvard. And as his phone buzzed for the third time since they had been in the movie theater, Ella suspected that for him she, Ella Bidia, was no “this girl from school.”
“Don’t lose touch with me,” he squeezed her shoulders. “Stay in touch.”
Her heart was pounding. She could feel the numbness setting in.
“You haven’t missed your window,” he pecked the top of her head.
Ella felt a tiny jolt in her chest. A glimmer, a spark…
“I’ll text you tonight, okay?” he began to steer her towards the door. “I promise.”
She stood on her tip toes for a kiss.
He gently set his cool hands on her shoulders, and pecked her lips.
She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him towards her, his hands fumbled towards her waist but he turned away and the brightness of the lobby greeted them as he held open the door.
Ella rolled onto her side and reached beneath her pillow for her cell phone. She flipped it open and navigated to the text messages folder; but there were no new messages. The last message from him was from nearly two months ago.
Before the movie theater.
She eased herself up onto her elbows, and turned the volume down on Chris Martin as he complained about people speaking to him in a language he did not understand. She stepped down from her bed and started across the room for her laptop. It had been nearly an hour since she had last checked her email. She pocketed her I-pod and was about to reach for her computer, sitting patiently on the shelf above her desk, when she caught a glimpse of the long mirror hanging on the back of her bedroom door.
A zombie peered back at her blankly.
She reached towards the dark circles around her eyes, and the zombie followed suit.
She took a step towards the mirror and pressed her fingers against her pale, yellow cheeks. She licked her chapped, white lips and pushed back the curtains of tangled black hair that had slipped out of the sloppy bun at the nape of her neck.
She stood in front of the mirror for what felt like hours, (through the entire duration of Snow Patrol’s “Open Your Eyes” on her I-pod; which is a pretty long time) before reaching for a tube of lip gloss on the desk behind her. She bit down on her lip and unscrewed the top, when suddenly A-ha was challenging her to take them on from the edge of her bed.
It was his ring tone.
Her head snapped around and she darted towards her glowing cell phone.
He had already hung up.
She sat on the edge of her bed and pocketed the tube of lip gloss. She felt the phone buzz in her hands, indicating a text message. She turned it over and saw it was from him. She moved her fingers along the keypad, before snapping the phone shut and turning it over.
A crisp breeze trickled through her window and swept her bangs from her eyes as she stared down at the buzzing phone in her lap. She could feel a familiar knot taking form in the pit of her stomach.
She missed him.
She jumped up as A-ha challenged her once more. Ella hated that song. She remembered how he had made her close her eyes while he uploaded it onto her phone, and then called her at random intervals throughout the day, hanging up just before she could answer.
She wanted him to call. She wanted him to send loads of text messages. She wanted him to show that he cared about her; that he wanted to make sure she was okay.
She stood up and gazed at her reflection once more.
However, she did not particularly like the zombie form she had let herself slip into once more for him.
She reached towards her eyes again; the circles looked like bruises, and her eyebrows were in desperate need of grooming.
It was as if things were always running by his clock. When she wasn’t making out with him, she was pushed to the sidelines, looking like an extra from a Rob Zombie film. But he did allow her to take center stage sometimes. He had cast her as his Juliet before; and she had not missed a single performance.
Ella reached into her sweater’s pocket and brushed the wand of lip gloss across her lips.
A-ha cried out once again.
She wandered back towards her window and slid her knees over the ledge.
Her phone was buzzing viciously on the edge of her bed.
She rested her back against the side of the window frame, and reached into her pocket to turn the volume all the way up on her I-pod.
Santogold crooned about being a lady, as the orange glow of a new morning crept up behind the sinking moon.