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"W-w-what?” I stammered. I stood staring and I know I looked clueless.
There he stood in front of me. Boots and jeans that were way too tight. Not really my type of guy. And he wanted to know if I wanted to go to prom.
“Well, I was wondering if you wanted to go to the prom,” he asked again. His voice was really deep and slow.
“With who?” something in me really hoped the answer wasn’t him.
His face reddened and he shoved his hands down deep in his front pockets.
“Well, with me I guess.”
“Oh,” I didn’t try to sound rude. I just wasn’t the type of girl guys asked to prom. I just didn’t understand why he had picked me. No guys thought of me as a girlfriend. I was head cheerleader but no one was interested. I was just the funny girl, the nice girl, the smart girl, not the girlfriend. I only liked one boy in the whole school anyway. Bryson Jackson. Starter on defense and offense for the football team. He was nice, funny, good looking, and my best friend. I could never tell him I thought of him as more. He thought of me and him as brother and sister. I longed for him to know how I felt. When he came over to play Rock Band with me I just knew it should be different. Instead of him on the guitar and me on the drums, it should be him on the couch and me in his arms. So many times when we sat close I just wanted to reach out to him and grab his hand, look him in the eyes and tell him how I felt. But I couldn’t.
“Well, uh, if you don’t wanna go,” he finally said after a long, awkward silence. Poor guy. Andrew, I remembered his name was. He had only been at school a few weeks and he looked so pitiful, standing there in front of me expecting me to crush his dreams. I just couldn’t do it.
“Okay, I guess,” and a cute half-grin lit up his face. Then I finished my sentence, “just as friends though right?” His smile faded quickly.
“Okay, I’ll take what I can get with you,” he said shyly.
“Well, I’ll see you later,” I said awkwardly trying to end my conversation quickly. I tugged at my bangs like I always did when I was nervous.
“Alright,” he said as I slammed my paint-chipped locker shut. “I can walk you to your next class?” he asked hopefully.
“Oh, I got it,” I said and sped off to my next class leaving him in the hall as the tardy bell rang.
“What?” Bryson asked, even though he most definitely knew what I had said. We were eating lunch together like we did every day. I had just told him about my new prom date.
“Shut up,” I pouted. I crossed my arms across my chest and didn’t crack a slight smile.
“Seriously? Andrew? How did he ask you? That is hilarious, I want to know everything,” he was laughing extremely hard.
“Bryson, please don’t tell anybody! Please!”
“Okay, okay, sorry Mo,” he always called me Mo. He was the only person who could call me that and not get gut-punched. “You do have to admit it is a little funny though.” His smile melted my heart and we both burst out laughing. Why? Why couldn’t he be mine?
“Glad I could make you laugh.” He punched me on the arm. “That’s what friends are for, right?” he asked laughing.
“Yea,” I grimaced. Friend. That’s all I was to him and all I would ever be.
The next morning at school everyone knew that I was going to prom with Andrew, but it wasn’t because of Bryson. Andrew himself let everyone in on our little secret. He met me at my locker after the first period bell rang.
“What the heck, Andrew?”
“Uh, what do you mean?” he looked at me blankly.
“Well, why did you go telling everybody that we were going to prom together?”
“Guess I didn’t know it was a secret. You said you would go with me. What’s the big deal?” he played with his belt loop nervously.
“Andrew, I just don’t like to tell everybody what’s going on in my life,” my attempt at trying not to be rude was failing miserably.
“Sorry, Morgan.” His eyes were full of shame. His face turned red like it had the first time he had approached me, but this time it was for a completely different reason. The first time it was because he hoped I had interest in him, but this time it was because I had embarrassed him. My heart softened.
“Listen, Andrew, I’m sorry. I’m just not interested in being anything other than friends. But you are a really nice guy and some girl is gonna be lucky to get you. And I am excited about going to prom with you.”
“Okay. See ya around, Morgan.”
He shuffled down the hall with his eyes on the floor. How could I be so mean? I should have followed him down the hall and made it right, but when Bryson stepped in front of me, I remembered why I couldn’t. Someone else had my heart.
“Mo!” he yelled as he hugged me tight. A morning ritual. Our heights were perfectly proportioned so when he wrapped his arms around me, my face was just even with his broad chest. I could smell his cologne mixed with his laundry detergent. I breathed in deeply. No other scent made me feel more at home. When he let go I looked up at him. As far as guys went, he was beautiful. His bright blue eyes were wide and fringed by dark, thick lashes. His nose was the prominent feature on his face but not in a bad way. It had a perfect curve on the end of it to keep it from being a bird nose. His lips were full and a pale pink and set perfectly above his strong, broad chin. He was tall and thick. His chest and abs were hard and his arms bulged just perfectly underneath his tight fitting t-shirt. And then there was his hair. Oh, his hair. Thick and dark. Curly when it was long enough. I knew my fingers were made to untangle those curls.
“Hey,” I smiled. A real, genuine smile. A smile only Bryson could cause.
“I saw you talking to Andrew. How’s that working for ya?”
“Seriously! Shut up! We are just friends.” I opted not to tell him about our conversation. That would just be opening another door to be picked on. I didn’t need that.
“I know, just giving you a hard time,” he grinned. So cute.
“Yea, yea, you meanie,” I smiled. Then he shoved me into a row of lockers. Not the type of affection I was looking for.
“So, who is your hot date for prom?” I asked.
“Well, I don’t think I’m gonna go this year,” he frowned a little. I pressed on.
“What? Why not?”
“Well the girl I wanted to go with already got asked,” he avoided eye contact.
“Bryson, it’s our senior prom! You can find a date! Prom is three weeks away. And any girl would love to go with you.”
“Not the one I want to go with me.”
Surely he wasn’t talking about me. I didn’t let myself think about it.
“Okay, whatever you say,” I said.
“Well, I gotta go to geometry. Bye, Mo,” he barely smiled.
“Bye, Bryson,” I said quietly. I stood there in the hall as he left, and I thought of Andrew. How he must have felt when I left him standing by my locker. Alone and wondering. And I realized that it was one terrible feeling.