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Cough. “The answer’s twelve,” he whispers.
“Twelve?” I ask.
“What? I didn’t say that.”
“Then how did I just hear you?”
“You’re a mind reader, obviously,” he says.
No, I’m not a mind reader. If I was a mind reader, I would be able to know what he was really thinking. I wouldn’t need to waste sleep thinking about what he might be thinking, only for him to invade my dreams. I would be able to discover the answer to the question that has been burning in the back of my mind for months now.
“Oh, of course I am,” I joke.
“Seriously! Get out of my head,” he laughs.
I’m not in his head. If I was in his head, I would know the answer. I would know what happens inside when those chocolate brown eyes gaze into the distance. I would know exactly what pulls that shy smile from the depths of intense thought. I would know how deep those intense thoughts reach. I would know how to fix what’s making him unhappy.
I roll my eyes at him. “So sorry.”
We sit in silence for a few minutes, broken only by the scratching of pencils and a distant murmur of voices. The library’s forced silence would be oppressive with anyone else. I try to focus on my math homework, but every so often my eyes slide over to him, seemingly uncontrollable. He hunches over his notebook, staring thoughtfully at his speech for history. He periodically brushes dirty blonde hair out of his eyes and scribbles a note in the margin. That one little piece of hair from his cowlick is sticking out again.
I’m not brave. If I was brave, I would reach over and casually brush it back into place with my hand. I would place my hand on his arm and tell him how good he looks in that black sweater. I would lean on his shoulder and just sit there.
“Can I ask you something?” he asks.
“I think you just did,” I smile. God, I hope he didn’t notice me watching him.
“Well I’m going to ask something else, then.”
“There you go. Be confident.”
He sits up straighter in the sagging comfy chair, one of the only two left in this section of the library. His shaggy hair flicks to the side again, that little piece still sticking out slightly. It has become his character quirk. I wish I had a character quirk that he could notice. Not that he notices.
Wait. What is he going to ask me? Is it the question I’ve been waiting for? No, it couldn’t be.
“Could I read my speech out loud to you and then could you tell me what you think?”
The already punctured balloon that is my heart emits just a little more air, sinks just a little lower in my chest. I sigh.
“If I have to…”
“You know you can’t say no to me,” he grins.
I can’t say no to him. If I could say no, I would have stopped smiling when I see him. I would have repressed the feelings that bubble up when I think of him. I would have stopped torturing myself by thinking about him.
“I guess I can’t,” I say. He has no idea what I’m thinking. So I suppose we’re even.
He smiles again, that quirky shy grin that pumps my deflated heart with air again every time it emerges. With an exaggerated shake, he smoothes out the piece of notebook paper covered in his words. His words, the only ones I want to hear. He reads the speech, starting off awkward and self-conscious but quickly lapsing into that rhythm I know, that shy confidence because he is passionate about this. I wish I knew what else he was passionate about, if he and I shared the same passion.
I don’t listen to the speech itself. I know he’ll be perfect when he delivers it to the class. Instead I listen to the words, blending them together in the sound I instinctively know to be his voice. I watch his lips form the words, each spoken with care. I want him to say another word that way. I refrain from reaching up to feel my lips, now locked tight against the flow of words, emotions, tears that will escape if I let go.
I can’t open my mouth. If I could open my mouth, I would tell him I love him. I would tell him I love him. I would tell him I love him.

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BriarRose This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 7, 2011 at 7:54 pm

A tiny peek into someones life. Very well done =] you created a believable instant, and the perspective was really cool. I love getting inside a characters head.  And as this is so short and sweet, i gotta give you props.  there was no cluttery backstories here and the description was delicious. Bravo


--BriarRose @>--,---

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