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Love of an Enemy
It had been days since she’d heard from him. For weeks she felt like he really cared about her, but now he didn’t even bother to do something as simple as return her texts. He didn’t even have the nerve to walk up to her and say “Gracie, we can’t be friends anymore” for whatever pathetic reason he may have to shatter her world like that. But that was Brandon for you. He always had been a jerk. Before they were friends, they were enemies; enemies on a very sarcastic, glare-at-each-other-even-if-you-see-each-other-at-church go out of your way to steal and hide their flip flops, definitely flirtatious level. Then it changed. They were at a convention with their youth group, and Brandon’s heart was being pulled by God. He was almost in tears. For the first time, Gracie saw Brandon as more than “that jerk that goes to my church that always has a new girlfriend” but as someone she actually cared about and she even went and prayed for him with her hand on his shoulder. At the end of that evening, he pulled her aside and apologized for being a jerk, and wrapped his arms around her. She was positive that there were even tears in his eyes. The two of them could have stood there in that hug forever. As the weekend went on, and then the weeks to come, Brandon and Gracie shared many secrets stories, and many great moments together, most involving ice cream or tacos or him carrying her down the stairs, and they gained the title “Best Friend”. There was no doubt that both Brandon and Gracie were changing. There was no doubt that sparks were flying. He even reminded her of her brother Kyle who died about a year and a half ago; a trait that she always told herself a she wanted a guy to have for him to be right for her; a high standard, yes, but one that Gracie needed to cope.
But something had changed. He just seemed to drop off her radar. She hadn’t gotten a text from him in over a week, let alone seen him, even though he lived just down the street and they went to the same school. She wasn't even sure if he actually had been at school though. A part of her worried that something bad happened and another part of her feared he found someone else. His track record said he would find someone else and push her aside. He said that he was done with girls for now. He said they were friends. He said he’d be there for her. So, in a split second decision, she decided she would figure out exactly where he’d disappeared to and if her heart was really going to end up broken; a mystery that would bother her until she found out the whole truth, every part of it.
Tuesday- After arguing with herself about whether or not this was really a good idea and weather or not she was ready for what may be waiting for her, Gracie walked down the street towards Brandon’s house. She stared at the old house; one of those houses with a white picket fence, the long walkway leading to five stairs and a
wrap-around front porch, and the white, old-fashioned shutters. The light blue paint was fading and the bushes were a little over grown. She took one step, then another, then another. Her heart started beating rapidly and her nerves stepped in and took over her thinking process. She stopped dead in her tracks, turned, and ran back down the street.
Wednesday- Gracie threw open her bedroom door. In only an hour and a half, she would be headed off to youth group where she'd hopefully have an encounter with Brandon if he showed up. Deep down, she knew something was wrong. Deep down, she knew she loved him. Well, loved him as much as you possibly can in high school, if not more; the feeling in her heart screamed evidence of a greater feeling than most feel in high school. He was a part of her. She could never get him off her mind and he was in every dream she dreamed. Every song on the radio seemed to remind her of him. Hating him again was out of the question; so loving him was all there was to do.
The three hours between school and church were definitely the slowest three hours of Gracie's life. She walked into the youth room 25 minutes before church even started expecting to see only her cousins and her youth pastor; but there he was. Brandon was sitting in one of the brown metal chairs in the front of the room. Gracie's heart skipped a beat and she let out a sigh of relief. She walked towards him slowly, with a feeling in her chest that she couldn't explain, her hands growing cold. She sat in the chair next to him. For what felt like hours Gracie and Brandon sat in silence, shooting an occasional glance at each other, when she felt a hand on hers. Brandon turned her hand over and put a small blue piece of paper in it. “I'm sorry for the last few days. I hope you can forgive me. Please read this when you're alone.” He leaned over and kissed her forehead, stood up and started walking away. “I have to go. I just needed to give this to you. I really am sorry, Gracie. It’ll all make sense.” And his appearance in her day, the first day he’d made an appearance in in over a week, was over.
Thursday- Gracie had fumbled with the paper for almost 24 hours now. A part of her wanted to read it, but another part wasn't sure if she really wanted to face whatever it said. Something was wrong, she could just feel it. She had sat on her bed staring at it long enough. She picked it up, and opened it slowly. His hand writing was small and beautiful, not like something you usually see from a guy.
Gracie, I need you to believe me when I say I haven’t
disappeared because I don’t need you. I disappeared
because I just wanted to protect you from getting hurt.
My world’s been turned upside down. Gracie, I need to
see you. SOON. I hope Saturday will work. My house.
Gracie read the words over and over again. To the point, yet to the heart; just like Brandon. She hadn’t heard from Brandon since he gave her the note. She picked up her phone, typed “see u saturday @ 4:30” and pushed send.
Saturday- The day drug by slowly, but finally it was almost 4:30. Gracie had put on her favorite jeans, the ones with the holes in the legs, her blue shirt with the thin white stripes and her high-top green Converse. She pulled her hair back into the usual ponytail and straightened her bangs down so they sat right over the right side of her glasses. Her mind was racing. There were about a million things that could be waiting for her. Gracie had barley eaten anything all day, and had barely slept since Thursday; yet wasn’t hungry or tired, full or awake. She couldn't figure out why this was such a big deal to her, but now she was going to find out.
The door opened and there stood Brandon, a smile on his face. He was wearing his long-sleeved black Billabong shirt, jeans and his tennis shoes and his hair had been cut recently. Gracie’s heart skipped a beat or two. She smiled back.
The two started laughing at their stereo break of silence. Gracie found herself smiling and turning a little red as Brandon looked at her, a smile on his face as well. Before either of them could say anything more, Brandon stepped out to the porch and shut the door behind him, his keys in his hand. “Let’s go,” he said as he put his arm around her and they walked to his car. Where they were going, Gracie didn’t know. All she knew was that she was happy to be with him and that she felt that nothing in the world would ever go wrong again.
Sunday- Memories from the night before kept playing in Gracie’s mind. The way he loved the way she mixed her Dr. Pepper and Rootbeer and the way he joked around with the “will you marry me?” hot sauce packets at Taco Bell. The way he held her hand as they walked down the hidden trail at the park that led to a small clearing with an old tree and a tire swing; the old tree that Brandon had carved their initials into. The way the first few drops of rain, followed by a gush of rain (that could only be compared to a waterfall) was the best music for them to dance to. After the rain had stopped and they went back to Brandon’s car and drove around talking and listening to the radio. The way she casually asked him where he had been that week her had disappeared and how she wasn’t ready for the answer. The way the words “Gracie, I have cancer. They gave me a month. Gracie, I’m dying.” played over and over in her mind as her heart sank more and more into a deep pain. The way the two of them sat hugging in the car crying for the longest time; until neither of them could force their eyes to cry any more tears.
After the tearful ride home with nothing but the radio to break the silence, Brandon and Gracie were finally walking up the front steps to his house; a goodbye neither of them wanted to say. The sun was reflecting off of the gray clouds in a way that it made it look like the sky was on fire. It was the most powerful sunset either of them had ever seen. “Gracie,” he had said, “Thank you so much for the best night of my life. I-I know that people say ‘In high school don’t really know what love is’, but, Gracie, those people that say that have never felt the way I feel whenever I look at you. I love you Gracie,” They wrapped their arms around each and Gracie felt the tears streaming down her face. “Please don’t ever forget that,” He whispered as he pulled her away from him just enough that he was looking her right in the eyes. Gracie felt tears well up in her eyes. “I love you took,” she said weakly as more tears started to fall. Brandon pulled her in to him, the light from the sunset covering the two in orange light, and kissed her.
It had been three month’s since that memorable Saturday. Gracie stared at the wilted rose and felt a tear slide down her cheek. All she could think about was Brandon; to her he was everywhere, but he was nowhere at all.