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My name is Georgia, I’m fifteen years old, and I’m desperately in love with my best friend, Ben. But I guess I can’t call myself different from thousands of other girls out there. How many teenagers must go to sleep at night pining away for someone with whom they play football and video games on the weekend?
At least for some of those girls, their best friend returns the interest. But for all I know, Ben is head over heels for the hair-flipping, pom-pom waving cheerleader clones that fill our school. I wouldn’t know – I’ve never had the courage to ask who he likes.
We do walk to school every morning together, though, the way we have since middle school. We've been friends long before that, spending countless hours as children doing jigsaw puzzles together, but it wasn't until sixth grade that our parents trusted us enough to walk to school alone. Like every morning, today I stood on my front porch and waited for him to cross the street before meeting him on my sidewalk as we headed off for school.
Today the mid-November sun peeked feebly between clouds, doing nothing to warm me up. I shivered in a hoodie I had borrowed from my older brother, and stole a glance at Ben, who was walking cheerfully beside me, oblivious, as always, to the cold. He was warm in his fleecy Northface jacket, and his tousled brown hair fell perfectly over his eyes – eyes I knew better than to look into when I was trying to win an argument with him. Once I made contact with those green-blue mirrors, framed behind lashes long and curly, I was lost.
Ben finally noticed me staring at him. He turned and smiled, looking amused at something. Me? Was I amusing to him? Or was he just laughing at me? Could he finally tell how much his lopsided grin made me melt? Those nearly-flawless teeth, marred only by one tooth that had begun to tilt when he stopped wearing his retainers. Maybe he was finally onto my secret.
“What’re you thinking about, Georgia?” he asked as we ambled down the street. We always left the house early so we had time to take a leisurely stroll to school, rather than scurry like mice into the school while the late bell was ringing.
I bit my lip and tore my gaze away from his eyes, tilting my head down to stare at red and gold leaves that crunched as I stepped on them. I knew only too well the effect his eyes could have on a girl – especially a girl who didn’t mind drowning in Benjamin Harper’s ocean-like eyes.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” I lied, staring up at the clouds. “It’s just…I sort of have this crush. Kind of. On a guy – a guy friend, actually. Only I don’t think he likes me back.”
It’s you, I thought, it’s you, you idiot. After all this time, you have to know it’s you.
“Oh.” Ben nodded and finally dropped his own gaze to the ground. “That’s too bad.”
And then…nothing. I sighed and shoved my hands deep into my pockets, enduring the silence and the cold the way I always did – not speaking my mind, not grumbling, not complaining. Either Ben knew I was talking about him and didn’t feel the same way, or he was just a boy, a stupid boy, who couldn’t put the puzzle pieces together to see the picture right in front of him.
My name’s Ben, I’m fifteen years old, and I’m desperately in love with my best friend, Georgia. But I’m probably not the only one. I bet a ton of guys out there are in love with their best friends, too, and can’t say a word about it.
Georgia and I walked to school together every day – a tradition we had started way back in middle school, before I cared too much about girls and dating and love. I was just a stupid kid back then. Maybe if I’d have paid more attention to this stuff, I could have snagged up Georgia before she fell for some other guy. Maybe that would have been too late anyway. Maybe I should have proposed to her back in grammar school, when we'd sit on my living room carpet and do puzzles together. Maybe no matter how soon I'd told her, I'd always be too late.
I studied my friend for a block or two, taking in everything about her. She wore an over-sized hoodie that swallowed up her tiny frame, and jeans and sneakers. She didn’t wear any makeup at all – I had seen her with some on a few occasions, fancy occasions, but she never bothered when we went to school. Her shiny brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and her bright green eyes were as intelligent and thoughtful as ever. I smiled at the way the brisk air added just a touch of pink to her cheeks as we walked.
I wondered about Georgia as we strolled along. Did she know how truly stunning she was? Had anyone told her she could really be gorgeous, a knockout, if she dressed up or did her hair nicely once in a while? Not that it mattered; I probably would have loved her even if she was ugly. Georgia was beautiful in every way that mattered…and even the ways that don’t. But maybe no one ever told her she was beautiful.
I thought of her few guy friends, and how many guys would fall for her if she wore a touch of eyeliner, or even just skipped the ponytail for a day. Then maybe she wouldn’t be so quiet…maybe she’d be a little happier. But as soon as I thought this, I realized I was glad few guys noticed her. I didn’t want to share her.
“What are you thinking, Georgia?” I asked, hoping she wouldn’t reciprocate with the same question. I couldn’t tell her I was thinking about her gorgeous smile, her melodic laugh, or the way it kills me to see any pain in those moss green eyes of hers, or how I fall for her even more every day…
“Oh, it’s nothing,” she stammered nervously, glancing up at the sky. “It’s just…I sort of have this crush. Kind of. On a guy – a guy friend, actually. Only I don’t think he likes me back.”
I try to hide my dismay as we continued walking. Who could it be? I ran through names in my mind, wondering which genius had caught the attention of Georgia Harris. She probably fell for the brainy kids, who were as smart as she was. I made a mental note to find out the kid’s name and beat him senseless.
“Oh,” I nodded. “That’s too bad.”
The only silver lining was the last part of her confession – that the boy didn’t like her back. Unrequited love was tragic; she would need a friend to help her through it. A shoulder to cry on. That could be me. I could show her how much I truly cared for her.
Still…how could she not notice how head over heels I am for her? Am I not obvious enough? Heck, I’d scream it from the tallest building in town if I thought it would make her love me back. I’d do anything to get this brainy girl, with a GPA of 4.0, to love me the way I love her.
Georgia was so smart. How could she not see it? So smart, but so stupid, so unable to see the truth, a genius girl who couldn’t put the puzzle pieces together to see the picture right in front of her.