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A stolen kiss underneath the willow. That is truly where it all started. It was May, all of the flowers in bloom and plenty of rain to make the bridge useful. Noah lived on the west end of the bridge and Amara on the east. It was a fluke, an accident, a random occurrence that they had been walking, each away from their own house, toward serenity. It was he who spotted his accompanist first.
“Her hair is gorgeous today. God I haven’t seen her in so long. A week? A month? I can’t even remember. How is it that even with tear stained cheeks her face glows? Her eyes plead for something better as she nears ever yet”. All this races through his head as he absentmindedly slows his pace.
“She’s near stopped. I wonder what’s wrong. She’s…sitting down? In the middle of the bridge…not good. Silent tears stream from her eyes, while grasping her knees, as if her life depended on it. I should talk to her, but I wouldn’t have any idea what to say. It doesn’t matter, get up and go talk to her. She needs someone right now, you could be the one.” Noah gets up from where he sat and walks over from under the cover of the brush and onto the old wood. Inches away from his sorrowful companion he strategically positions himself silently next to her.
Amara breaks the deafening silence, stifling the anger flowing onto her cheeks, she merely whispers, “Didn’t see you there”.
“Amara, please explain. I want to help. I’m not sure what’s been going on or how severe it might be. But I do know this; it hurts me to see you like this, in pain”. Shoulders lose their tension, back finally relaxes as it is taken by the grainy beams.
“Come over i need u”, Brent clicks the send button on his phone.
I peek at the source of the vibrations. Could get in huge trouble for this. Messages from Brent litter her dimly lit screen. Yay. “Cant. im working”. Send. Why does he always pick the worst times to do this? Never says a word when I’m home alone, or at school, but magically when I go to work its like, “omg I’m bored. Let’s get Amara to come over so we can mess around”. Remind me why I’m dating him? Oh yeah he’s the son of my father’s business partner. Brent’s that one guy in every high school that every girl wants to be with…except me. And I’m the one that is forced to be with him. Sometimes, I really hate my father.
Dad, Daddy, Daddio? Not here. That is the way it has always been. Ever since I can remember. At home it has always been very, almost too much so, normal. I guess you could call my family the “upper class”, the snobs, the rich people. Whatever you want to call us, I don’t like it. It’s nothing personal but I don’t like everyone being afraid of me just because my dad could can their dad. Rank me as one of the smartest people in my high school by paying off all my teachers, yes let us make life easier. In your world that’s how it works. Not in Aiken High School. In Cincinnati schools, things don’t pass under the table like they do in your corporate business world. Gossiping teens shatter unspoken boundaries of keeping personal issues…personal.
Within the first couple of hours we had been dating, almost the whole school had found out. Brent was quite pleased. I on the other hand couldn’t have been more devastated. Why do I want everyone in the world knowing what I do with my boyfriend? I don’t. Thinking back to Noah I push my selfish thoughts out of my head and tell myself to get over it. That I was just to used to hiding everything from my father. This time I was free.
“Hey sexy. You coming over tonight? Or are we gonna hit up your house again? I heard dad talking about the goods they left at your house. Already high as a kite but hell I could go for more later. Plus babe you know our dads is goin to some Chinese country for the weekend. ”
“Sure thing, but I gotta let you know that India isn’t Chinese.”
“Who the hell cares what it actually is. I’ll be over around 9, be ready to have some fun.”
And so it went. Each Friday, or whenever plans were made for dads to be out, we would pick a house, do something minor, but still illegal and have some “fun”. Spending the night together was also routine on these occasions as we would wake up next to each other somewhere in our houses. Later the next day we would drink and watch sports. Never got to into the whole sports thing but hey it kept Brent happy, I still had a boyfriend, and Father still had a successful business.
Of course even if by chance Brent and I had happened to do something when Father and Jason were in town, they didn’t care. It was with Father, Jason and Brent that I had my first drink. First smoke too. As long as things stayed good between the “love birds” we could do anything we wanted.
And then she came along. The unspeakably beautiful foreign exchange student. Was it France? Like anyone cares anyway. The only thing that matters is that when she entered the school, I was out of the picture. Brent wanted her. Brent got her.
He broke up with me at the end of our only class together, Biology, which just so happened to be the last block of the day. It was absolutely tragic. Pah! He wishes. I had to fight back the laughter and smile inching its way across my face the whole 10 minutes he prolonged to say those freedom words.
“I think we should see other people.”
Win! And then downfall.
“I still want us to be friends.”
Translation meaning, I still want to screw you but technically, we’re not dating anymore. Shallow B******.
Okay maybe I was hurt. Maybe I was a little more than hurt. No. Yes…yes. So Brent wasn’t my first boyfriend, but it’s not like he was the hundred and tenth either. He was the second. And considering my first boyfriend, it could only get worse. I didn’t think it would get that much worse though.
Noah, Noah, Noah. Muscular and towering like a jock. Thought you were the newest edition to the cocky sportsmen of our school. But the first time I heard you talk, I knew you were different. It was old. Eighteenth century maybe? I’m not sure but it was very formal, very gentleman like. It was surprising for me to hear that you weren’t athletic and nor did you want to be, but instead you buried deep into textbooks after school and instead of drawing vile pictures in your notebooks, you actually took notes. Yeah I quietly observed you, some might call it stalking but it wasn’t for my own benefit it was out of complete curiosity. And then you noticed. Oopsies.
A glance to long in your direction and you caught my eye. Smiled, and turned away. Had you known all along? Either way finding me after class to ask me about the notes you missed from when you were sick was clever, very clever. Because all the while your words blurring into background noise, I got to observe you up close. Tanned skin. Short brown hair. Green eyes like no other I have seen before, and believe me I’ve seen a lot of eyes. That was the first time I remember talking to you.
Wooden beams create a path over the shallow waters. Willows grow, slumping over the slight hills. One special willow has grown right next to the bridge, right in the middle, making a bubble in which anyone could be concealed. We took this to our advantage. Early March was chilly, but we decided to go for a walk. Approaching the bridge from the east the wind blew at our backs. We ducked into the bubble we had discovered just days earlier. Time stood still. We were the only thing moving at all, the wind that had been blowing all day ceased. You held my face. And kissed me. Our first kiss.
Over and over we played the memories out. We laugh to think how in just a few weeks we went from total strangers to a quite interesting relationship. Now may I remind you high school is not what our parents believe it to be. There is sex, and drugs, and parties, and all sorts of bad things. Not the perfect little school where everyone is friends and all we do on the weekend is study. Right. But let me explain why Noah and I were interesting. We told each other everything. And when I say everything, that is exactly what I mean. We had no secrets, no hidden motives, just whole honest truth. We didn’t go there or do that. Our weekends were spent in each others arms watching movies and having fun, totally sober and totally aware. Gag. I know it sounds way mushy. It’s really not. We enjoyed ourselves and each others company until my father found out.
Father didn’t approve of me dating a “nerd”. He said it wasn’t right for someone with as much brains and class as me to be associated with a middle class boy. We had been going out for months without him finding out. Sneaking around behind Father’s back wasn’t hard seeing as he was only home for maybe a week out of every month. It does bring up the question of who told. Whatever. Either way Father wasn’t pleased to say the least. In addition to finding out about our relationship he also discovered that Mr. Davis, Noah’s dad (because he was allowed to address him like that), worked in one of the chain stores Father founded. He saw to it that Mr. Davis was transferred across town, which in turn relocated their family. From what I understood and caught from eavesdropping it also meant Noah would transfer to a completely different high school. This was my father’s way of saying, “There, now you can’t date him. So ha!”. Yes. Unspoken words of hate towards Noah Davis. That was three weeks ago.
Three weeks since Father said he got a new business partner. Since he wanted me to do whatever I could to make his son happy. While Father played golf with Mr. McGrawl I had to play nice with Brent. Brent McGrawl. Just to have the connection between him and I supposedly made business better for Father. So I did. I played nice.
Had to, as a matter a fact. Having something in common with Jared McGrawl was Father’s selling point. To get more money, to open more stores, that was his goal. With me dating Brent it was a security blanket. Things start to go wrong? Mention how I could break his son’s heart to pieces. Theoretically speaking anyway. But that always brought business back into the matter and is probably the sole reason Father and Jared are so successful now, all paid by the small expense of me.
Since then Brent has come and gone. And come back again. Me being the smart one here, went back to him even after he broke up with me. Not in dating of course, but we messed around. It was nothing that I had ever done with Noah. It wasn’t that kind of relationship, but with Brent, it was.
Submersed in the verbal abuse of orders, I took haven. No, Brent didn’t care, but he filled that hole. The hole that had been gaping since Noah had gone. Brent’s stones broke down my wall. Over and over he would throw them, destroying the hope I had left. But it helped.
“Do this, don’t you dare do that.”
“Right here. No! You’re wrong. Go away”
Always echoing through my head when I was with him, the words somehow were cathartic for me. So three weeks, three days after Noah moved, 6 days after Brent and I broke up, I went back. I went back to Brent.
The door rattled the house. Half on tennis shoes held no mercy for the sprouting grass. Dirt strewn across the lawn from the trampled flower bed also invaded my shoes. He was still inside but I didn’t care, he may be stupid but I’m pretty sure he knows how to walk out a door.
“I can’t believe he would do that. He used me. Let me in when he was down. Threw me away when he felt better. And I fell for it…every time. I shouldn’t be crying I shouldn’t care I shouldn’t have fallen for him I shouldn’t have gone back he’s not important enough for me to feel this way STOP! Breathe. Stop walking so fast. Relax. Find some place to sit down and just breathe. There, right on the bridge, dead center. Surrounded by weeping willows and stagnant water, this is where I need to be. Where nothing happens.
“Oh Noah. So handsome. How I miss you. Three weeks is too long. Three weeks, three days to be exact. Three weeks, three days you’re guidance absent. Warm embrace. At least you are worth crying over. Not like that lowly piece of dirt, Brent, that doesn’t deserve love. Noah cares for me, about me even. I should acknowledge him. The past filled over the brim with memories too sweet to forget. Past. Could we go back to that?” Amara breaks the deafening silence weighing down on her conscience. Stifling the anger flowing onto her cheeks, she merely whispers, “Didn’t see you there”.
“Amara, please explain. I want to help. I’m not sure what’s been going on or how severe it might be. But I do know this; it hurts me to see you like this, in pain”. His shoulders lose their tension; his back finally relaxes as it is taken by the grainy beams.
Noah’s shoulders noticeably relax as he falls back the inch to rest on the side of the bridge. This should not be an issue for me. Brent was the guy Father loved but I hated. I had loved Noah. I should want to tell him everything that has happened since he left. But I can’t bring myself to do that. I think…I love Brent.