Laughter

Stephen laughs.

There are two things you should know about Stephen. 1) He's beautiful. 2) I'm the only one who thinks so.

Stephen has hair the color of a star-less night and eyes the color of the seaweed in the lake across the street from my house. He is exactly 1.75 inches taller than my 5 ft 5 1/2 inches. My favorite part about Stephen is his smell. It reminds me of one of the first spring days where it's warm enough outside to not need a coat and all you want to do is play hid-and-go-seek with your neighborhood friends.

It's not that other girls don't like Stephen, because they do. But, while their applying their eyeliner and fussing about how cute he is, I'm talking to Stephen and bumping him up a notch on the beauty meter. There is a big difference between cute and beautiful.

I've never told anyone that I think Stephen is beautiful. The reason being that I don't want Stephen to catch wind of what I really think about him. Stephen and I are better as friends I have to constantly force myself to think.

“Psst,” Stephen whispers to me. I glance over at him to see his index finger pointing to my teacher sitting at his computer desk. He’s making one of those funny faces Stephen and I talked about the other day.

Stephen and I laugh (quietly).

The bell rings and I walk with my friend, Drew, all the while aware of Stephen walking a short distance behind us. Sometimes I think that if Stephen and I touched, just a little rub of the skin, then we would both explode into stars and make the town we live in a little brighter.

Drew and I almost reach our next class when I slip and fall on a piece of A.B.C. gum (that’s already been chewed if you didn’t know) in the hallway and land on my butt.

Drew, Stephen (who watched the whole thing happen) and I laugh.

Later that night as I am talking to Drew, he asks me what I think about Stephen. The first thought that came to mind: beautiful. I can’t let Drew catch on though so I pretend to gag at the thought of Stephen.

Drew laughs.

As I walk into my first class the next day at school, I casually look around while I actually am looking for Stephen. This is a ritual I perform everyday but today something was different about it. Stephen wasn’t there. It wasn’t like Stephen to miss school and he didn’t seem sick yesterday. Maybe he was coming in late to school today.

I look for Stephen the rest of the day but he never shows up. While I walk with Drew to his locker at the end of the day, I casually bring up Stephen’s absence.

“Hmm, I don’t know where he is,” says Drew and then quickly changes the subject. “I have to go re-rake a test with Mr. Gerstle and I’m 78% positive I’m going to fail it. See you later, if this test doesn’t kill me first,” he says as he walks away.

I laugh.

I discreetly smile as I look around the classroom the next day and see that Stephen is here today. He’s talking to some girl I’ve never met. She must be new I think as I make my way over to tell Stephen something.

“Hey Stephen,” I say. “You missed a great game of volleyball in gym yesterday. Our team finally won.”

“That’s great,” he says, though not very enthused. “This is Hayleigh,” he tells me gesturing towards the girl. “She just moved into town. She’s an old family friend of mine.”

“Pleasure to meet you, I’m-“

“This is my absolutely crazy friend-“ Stephen interrupts me but Mr. Gerstle interrupts him by starting the class.

“She’ll just have to show you how crazy she is in Biology,” I hear Stephen whisper to Hayleigh.

Hayleigh laughs.

I take a seat next to Drew. “Who would have thought that Stephen would ever land such a babe,” Drew asks me.

“They’re dating?”

“Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you. I was talking to him last night and he said that he wasn’t in school yesterday because Hayleigh’s family was moving in and his family offered to help her family move. They had dated a few years ago and then when they got together yesterday, sparks rekindled. I guess that’s why he asked me to ask you what you thought about him, because he thought he might start to like Hayleigh again but if you liked him he was going to ask you out. I just told him that you thought you two were just friends, I didn’t mention the gagging.”

“Oh, thanks Drew,” is all I can say. Stephen did like me and now he’s found someone else. I bet she doesn’t even think he’s beautiful.

I glance over at Stephen, who at the moment is having something whispered into his ear by Hayleigh. A smirk is starting to spread across his face. While I’m watching this, Drew whispers some stupid joke into my ear.

Drew laughs.
Hayleigh laughs.
Stephen laughs.
And surprisingly, so do I.





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