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Every Day

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Every day I wake up in the morning, wishing I could languish in my bed for the rest of the day. As I get up I feel like I’m leaving a comfortable, safe island and swimming out into the vast and unforgiving ocean. I slip into my generic teenage clothes, carefully calculated to emulate the models from Seventeen and CosmoGirl, but naturally more cost effective. I peer into a mirror that has inspiring quotes taped around the edges (I heard it makes you feel better about yourself) and slather on a shield of foundation, mascara, and lip gloss. I adjust my hair, brush it, straighten it, pull it back, making every strand stay in its proper place with a liberal layer of pump-style hairspray (aerosol is bad for the environment). I grab my book bag and my purse and leave the house without eating (for what self-respecting teenager eats breakfast?).

Every day I arrive at school barely on time and rush to my first period class. I listen to a monotonous drone of hydrogen bonding and Lewis structures, trying to take notes through the continuous din of student chatter. Finally the bell rings, and it is the passing period, one of six (if you don’t count the beginning and end of school). And there are all those faces in the hallways. They are there every day. I catch snippets of conversation, wonder what each person is talking about. I wonder what they did last night, how early they woke up, why they chose that outfit, why they look a little more frazzled than usual. Finally, I see you, exactly 8:33, every day. And I know. I know that last night you did homework that you didn’t feel like doing, watched a T.V. show that you didn’t feel like watching, and made a phone call that you couldn’t live without making. You woke up at 6:45, because you always set your alarm clock for 6:30 and then, when the noise buzzes in your ear, you turn it off and sleep another fifteen minutes. You wore an Oxford shirt and a tie, and nice brown slacks, (which hurt my eyes, because you’re also wearing black shoes, because you don’t own brown shoes, because you really don’t see the point in having two pairs of dress shoes, even though black and brown together is a terrible fashion decision, which you don’t understand) because today you have to deliver a debate in English class and your teacher requires you to dress up. You are frazzled because she just broke it off last period, because she found out about me.

Because every day before that, you called me and told me you loved me, every day since the day we met. Remember? I was sitting alone at lunch, because I’m the only person at my table who has fifth period Spanish, and all my other friends have World History, and they were taking a big test, so they changed lunch periods for the day. I was alone and you came and asked to sit by me. I said okay. You didn’t say anything, and I didn’t say anything, and the pizza pockets and the vegetable medley and the French Onion soup all remained silent. When the bell rang you asked for my phone number, and I gave it to you against my better judgment, but even though I was sure crank calls were in my future I couldn’t refuse, because of the way you looked. That night you called and asked for me. When I said that it was me, you said “I love you.” And you hung up.

At first it was perplexing, because you were dating someone already, and her name was Carolyn Sanders, and I knew for a fact that you and Carolyn Sanders said “I love you” to each other every day, because Carolyn Sanders is in my Geometry class, and you walked her to class every day, and I sat right by the door every day, and I heard you. The next day in fourth period, I sat by the door, and you walked Carolyn Sanders to class, and you said “I love you” to her. And that night, you said “I love you” to me.

On the third day, I wondered. And when you called and said “I love you,” quickly, before you could hang up, I said “I love you too.” Just to see what would happen, of course.

After a pause you said, “I’m parked by your mailbox. Meet me at the car,” and hung up. I still don’t know how you got my address. I walked outside into the late autumn air and shivered against the cold as I walked up to the silver Mercedes Benz that won the yearbook award for Nicest Car last year. You were in the driver’s side, and you rolled down the window and looked at me. Then you said “Get in.” And I did. I sat in the front seat, and you sat on the driver’s side, and you looked at me, and I looked down, because I was too embarrassed to look at you. That went on for a long time. Suddenly you touched the back of my hand with one finger, as if you were afraid to break me. I shivered violently. Then you put your hands softly on either side of my face, and then I had to look at you, and your eyes were so stern and beautiful, and you gave me enough time to protest, which I didn’t. Then you drew my face close to yours and touched my lips with yours. You pulled away and looked at me for just a second, and my breath was short and fast, and you touched my neck, and I shivered again. Then you pulled me in again, into your intoxicating spell, and you kissed me more deeply this time, and I kissed back. I touched your shoulders and your chest and ran my fingers through your hair, and you touched my back and my arms and you traced my side with your hand. We were aggressive now, like animals in the wild, pulling and straining and preying on each other. Your kiss felt like acid on my tongue, and I wanted more and more, until my mouth dissolved away.

Every day after that, we stayed in your car, and we kissed, and we loved each other, and we talked about everything (except, of course, for Carolyn Sanders). And every day you called me and said “I love you.” I got into the habit of pretending every fourth period that you were saying it to me and not Carolyn Sanders. And to be honest, you probably were, but that doesn’t matter now.

A few minutes before I saw you in the hallway, Carolyn Sanders went up to you and told you that she knew you were messing around with me, and she said that my neighbor was her friend and she saw everything and told everything, and she said that she couldn’t believe that you would give her up for a stupid slut like me. That had occurred to me too, but I hadn’t bothered to mention it. She gave back your class ring and walked away.

And now you see me in the hallway like you do every day. Every day we kissed, every day we touched, every day we told each other our dreams, every day we looked at the stars and swore that we would be alright, all those days, every day, you saw me in the hallway.

There is only one difference today. The difference is this: nothing is stopping you from walking up to me.



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