Forever Reaching

By , Grayslake, IL
It started in seventh grade.

"Shuuuuut uuuuup!" I yelled, cracking up. My friend looked at me and laughed, her dyed hair and thick mascara blending to create a disaster that I didn't mention. "You like John," she said, blinking slowly, and smiling. "In your dreams," I scoffed, not ready to admit to anything. "He's going out with my best friend, don't you think that's weird?" I said. "He's not even in this class, and good thing too, or he would have heard you and then what!?" She just laughed.
Suddenly, I felt something graze my ear. I looked down at the table. A small piece of a pink eraser lay there. I turned around. He sat there, looking at me, a smile on his lips and his ocean eyes full of laughter.


I was in eighth grade and on top of the world, on a Virginia trip for two weeks with my class.

I leaned over the seat and grabbed his journal. "Hey," he said, looking up at me with that mix of arrogance and wonderment in his sea blue eyes. "I need it," I said, smiling in spite of myself. "Just give me a second."
He threw his notebook down on the seat next to him and stuck his head through the gap between his seat and the one next to it. "What are you doing?" he asked, reaching for the journal.
I leaned back in my seat, far enough away that he couldn't reach. And being as lazy as he always claimed he was, he gave up. I started writing a letter
"Dear..."

When I had finished I graciously leaned over the seat and dropped it in his lap. He looked up at the noise, and when he saw me, he smiled. "What did you do?" he said. "Check the back," I replied, then settled quickly back into my seat so he wouldn't see me blush.

My heart was racing. Would he figure it out? Why would he? How could he? He's smart. But not that smart. He's smarter than me and I made it up. But smart enough to crack a code I had made up on the spot? No way.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong again. It seemed like I was always wrong when it came to him. Only fifteen minutes later, fifteen agonizing minutes, he swung his arm around the seat again, and his eyes met with mine. "Figured it out." he said. My heart stopped. "Uhhhh..." I stuttered. "Well," I said, pulling myself together, I said the question that was racing through my mind. "What, uh, do you say?"
He looked at me. No laughter in his face, only a expression that was hard to read.
"This," he said, handing his journal back to me, and turning around.
I quickly decoded it. It was four letters. SAME, it read.
Strange response, I thought, but I was glowing inside. For my question was written out next to his coded answer, in his messy, spiky handwriting.
I LOVE YOU.

I looked at the back of his seat, his legs propped up on the seat in front of him, his short brown hair only sticking out slightly. I could almost smell the mix of just-washed-clothes and his body. His hand lay on the back of his seat, his fingers curved around the headrest. Before I had even thought about what I was doing, I was reaching, reaching...

Forever reaching.

Flash to me sitting on the roof talking to you on the phone, while I watched the indigo sky fill with stars. Flash to us eating ice cream in the grass, you the only person who told me I didn't eat enough, my hair brushing your skin. Flash to our walk through the woods when you told me about how you had to leave for three weeks, but promised to call and email me.
Flash to me waiting every night for your call, lying in bed staring at my ceiling, a million reasons why you never called running through my head.
Flash to me spontaneously donating my hair to children with cancer, so my hair was now short and shaggy.
Flash to when you first saw me when you got back, and just stared at me, like you had never seen my face before.
Flash to when you broke up with me.
Flash to when I said I was fine.
Flash to when you said you liked my hair better long.
Flash to when I cried all night.
Flash to when I saw you at homecoming with your date.

Flash to me writing this, a throbbing in my chest I cant control.





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