Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989


I got close to him today.
He was leaning against a locker in the hallway, just a few feet away, talking to his friends. His sunny hair was shining in the fluorescent lighting, which made everyone else look horrible. Not him. He looked like an angel.
I know everything there is to know about Matt Carvey. For instance, he lives over on West High Street, in a white house with sky-blue shutters, he loves Green Day, his favorite color is red, he’s on the basketball team, he is exactly six feet tall, and he wears the same pair of Converse All-Stars to school every day.
I know these things because I have been watching him all year. My family moved here last summer, just before my junior year. A few days after we moved in, Matt strolled down our street with a basketball under his arm. Turns out he was going over to play basketball with Chris, my neighbor. They’re on the school team together, though from what I can tell, they don’t like each other much.
I talk to Chris sometimes, but I’ve never gotten up the nerve to talk to Matt. I feel like he could see right through me, like if I said, “Hi, how’s it going?” he would know that I meant, “Hi, I know everything about you and do you think I’m pretty?” Sometimes I wonder if he is watching me, but that’s crazy. After all, I’m practically invisible. I’m kind of quiet and plain-looking, and people tend to ignore me.
I am thinking about this as I get myself a snack of Greek yogurt and pretzels and settle down at the kitchen table to my homework. I have the most boring social life ever. Basically all I do is go to school, do homework, sleep, eat, and think about Matt. I wondered what he would think about my choice of food. He would probably think it’s lame, I decide. After all, I am a little old for after-school snacks.
My gaze shifts to the kitchen window. I have a perfect view of the three people standing outside in the Potters’ driveway: Matt, Chris, and Alia.
Alia Richards is the prettiest, most popular girl in school. For a moment I wonder what she’s doing in Chris’s driveway, but then I realize she is probably there because of Matt.
Great. I have competition.
My cell phone rings. I pick it up and check Caller ID. It’s Mom.
“Hi, honey,” she says. “You’re home, right?”
Where else would I be? “Yes…”
“How much homework do you have?”
“Not much, since it’s Monday. Why?”
“Well, you know my friend Jane, from Chicago?”
“Yeah.” Jane’s a bit of a nerd, but she’s nice enough. She’s moving to our town in a few months, because she got a divorce and she wanted to move somewhere close to friends. Plus, our public schools are really good here, and Jane has a teenage son, Hector. I’ve only met him a few times, but from my experience, he’s a total geek.
“She decided to send Hector here for a week while she does some packing and takes care of some legal issues she has to clear up with Hector’s dad. He’ll be staying in the guest bedroom and going to school with you. This way he can get a taste of our schools a few months ahead of time.”
“Okay,” I say. This seems like a fine arrangement. Hector can stay out of my way, and I won’t have to worry about people teasing me about my weirdo ‘friend’.
Then Mom drops the bomb. “I thought maybe you could introduce him to your friends, maybe go on a couple dates while he’s here-”
DATES? No way. With Hector? That would be horrible! And introduce him to my friends? What friends? I glance out the window again and try to imagine introducing Hector to Matt. That would be like introducing Daffy Duck and Prince Harry.
“Mom, I don’t know. I don’t really have many friends here yet. And I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable with Hector…”
“Well, look, honey. I’m at the train station now to pick him up. We’ll talk about it later, okay?”
I sigh and press END CALL.

I climb out of the car and study the house. It’s a stately Colonial, with wide red shutters framing the windows and a tidy garden out front. I think it looks nice.
Mrs. Garnell smiles at me. I duck my head shyly and pick up my suitcase. Mrs. Garnell seems friendly enough, but I’m not much of one for talking to people I barely know, and she falls in that category, even if she and my mother are best friends.
We step inside. There’s an end table next to the door, and Mrs. Garnell drops her keys onto it. There’s another set of keys, too, with a red keychain, which I suppose belong to Olivia.
The walls are paneled with dark wood, which is sort of cool but also makes the room rather dim. Looking around, I realize this is the front hall. At the end I see the door to the kitchen.
“Olivia is probably back there, finishing her homework,” says Mrs. Garnell. “It’s too bad that you couldn’t come yesterday, you would have been able to go to school today.”
I nod. I know lots of kids don’t like school, but I am sorely disappointed every time I miss a day. School is the pathway to prosperity. But it couldn’t be helped today, as my train left at nine o’clock this morning.
I follow Mrs. Garnell down the long hallway, watching the design of the rug as I walk along it. It’s one of those Oriental rugs, with intricate designs on the edge. I wonder if it’s vintage. I am about to ask Mrs. Garnell this when we reach the kitchen, and Olivia, who is leaning casually against the counter.
She’s much the same as she was in sixth grade, when I last saw her. Her shiny brown hair is a little longer, though, and she is much taller- almost as tall as I am, in fact, which is saying a lot because I am close to six feet.
Mrs. Garnell tells us she has work to do, and leaves us alone. Olivia takes me in. I feel like she can see right through me. It’s a little unnerving, but I stand awkwardly, waiting for her to speak.
Finally, she does. “You can put down your suitcase,” she says coolly. I nod and drop the suitcase-on my toe. “Ow,” I say weakly, because that is the only thing I can think of to say.
She raises her eyebrows and crosses her arms, but doesn’t say anything, which means we’re back to the standing-and-staring thing again.
There is a window behind her, and I have a perfect view of the neighbor’s driveway. Two boys are playing basketball, showing off for a girl with flaming red hair. I can tell, even from this distance, that she is very pretty.
Olivia sees me looking out the window. For the first time, she looks interested. “Do you play?” she asks.
“Well, a little,” I reply hesitantly. I’m actually pretty good at basketball, mostly because I’m so tall. It’s the only sport I can play without falling on my face, though.
“Come on!” She grabs my hand, and, before I can fully process this turn of events, yanks me down the hall and outside toward the neighbors’ house.

I am bored out of my skull. Watching two guys with close to zero skill attempt to play basketball is about as exciting as babysitting, and that’s saying a lot.
I’m lying on my back in the grass. I know this will probably stain my clothes, but I don’t really care. I brought homework, but Matt might not like it if I so pointedly ignored him.
And I wouldn’t want to do that to such a cute guy. His blond hair is flying around as he dribbles and attempts to shoot. He’s not very good, for a first-string player.
I should know. My brother plays for the Chicago Bulls in the NBA. He’s their star center. I wonder what he would think if he knew I was sitting here, watching them, when I have more important things to do.
And I do. I need to work on my drawing for the Art Show at school, and I have to call Mia about that stupid party she’s been planning. I reach for my phone, but then I notice two people strolling over.
Well, one is strolling. The other is being pulled. The puller is what’s-her-name Garnell, who lives next door to Chris. But who’s that guy? I’ve never seen him before, and I know everyone our age at our school. And I would definitely remember this guy.
He’s got cocoa skin and shy brown eyes hiding behind thick glasses and a mop of untamed black curls. If I had to guess, I would say he’s a nerd, because he’s wearing a black T-shirt with a picture of a calculator or something on it, and faded brown corduroys. But he’s an incredibly cute nerd.
The guys notice that we have visitors and saunter over. I get up too, because I want to find out who the new guy is.
“Hey, Olivia,” says Chris, running a hand over his sweaty brown crewcut. Chris is on the pudgy side, though he’s not really fat, and he’s sort of dorky, but in a friendly way. Not my type, plus he’s not very popular, so my friends wouldn’t like him much. In fact, the only reason Matt goes over to his house so often is because he and Chris are on the team together.
“Hey,” said Olivia. “This is my, um, friend, Hector. He’d like to play.” Hector looks kind of scared. I take pity on him.
“I’m Alia,” I say with a smile. “Nice to meet you.”
Olivia looks at me, surprised. I guess she didn’t expect the ‘popular girl’ to be so friendly.
Matt jerks his head. “Yeah, cool.”
The guys play for a while. Hector is really good. So good, in fact, that I decide to join his team. I haven’t played sports in ages, but it’s kind of fun.
Hector and I win, and he congratulates me. Olivia comes up to us. “Hector,” she says, “you should go buy Alia a soda or something.”
I can tell she wants to get rid of him, for whatever reason, but I don’t mind. Much. I suggest we go to the ice cream shop in town, which is really old-fashioned but it seems like something Hector would want to do. He agrees.
Soon we’re sitting at a tiny round table, eating ice cream in the pinkish glow of the shop. It’s kind of romantic, actually. We make small talk for a while, then Hector says he’s impressed by my basketball skills.
“You don’t seem like the type of girl who would be able to play that well,” he tells me, and I blush.
“I guess I get it from my brother. He plays for the NBA,” I explain. Hector raises his eyebrows.
“What team?” he asks.
“The Bulls,” I reply. “He’s Andrew Richards, their center.”
“No way!” he exclaims. “You’re related to THE Andy Richards?” I nod, and that opens both of us up. Soon, I’m telling Hector everything: about basketball, and art, and even how I feel (felt?) about Matt.
He tells me everything, too. I find out he’s moving here in a few months, and that his parents just got divorced.
“That’s tough,” I say. He nods, and we leave it at that. I think we understand each other.
Later that night, Matt appears on my doorstep, like some waif from Les Miserables. “Hey,” I say, stepping outside.
“Hey, Alia,” he replies seriously. “Can I talk to you?”
I shrug. “Go ahead.”
He bites his lower lip. “Alia, I was wondering- do you want to go to the movies or something this weekend? Because I really like you, and with Hector…” He trails off, leaving the word Hector floating in the crisp night air between us.
I can’t get past it. “No, Matt,” I say. “You’re a really nice guy and all, but…” I pause. “Hector and me, I don’t know, I just-”
“Fine,” says Matt. “That’s just fine. You know him for a day and you decide it’s real. Fine.” His words are angry, but I can hear the hurt in them. He stomps off into the darkness.
After the basketball game, Olivia and Matt come inside to watch TV. I’m surprised Matt wants to stay, because he clearly doesn’t like me much, but he doesn’t offer an explanation, and I don’t ask for one. I pick this super stupid (but funny) reality TV show, and I make some popcorn. Well, Olivia makes the popcorn. I’m not too good at the whole domestic thing, but she’s practically a pro.
Olivia and I hadn’t talked much before the basketball game. Just a little, when I came over to say hi the day they moved in, and at school a few times. But it turns out she’s really smart, not to mention cute! She knows everything about everyone at school, even me, plus she gets amazing grades. We talk up a storm, Olivia and I, about anything and everything. She says she’s no good at basketball, even though she’s taller than I am, but she’s an ace Ping Pong player. So after Matt leaves, the two of us go down to my basement and played Ping Pong. I’m pretty good, but she’s amazing.
After our impromptu Ping Pong match, we plop down on the couch and play a few video games. It is Olivia’s first time, but she’s a good sport about losing.
“Oh, well, can’t win every game,” she remarks, which is the perfect thing to say, in my opinion.
“Yeah, you gotta let me feel like a winner sometimes,” I say. “Because, you know, I totally am.”
“Uh-huh,” she teases.
“You’re funny, Chris,” she says, like it is a revelation.
“Gee, thanks.”
She pretends to be hurt. “It’s a good thing!”
We’re quiet for a while, but it is a comfortable silence, not the panicky kind I usually experience around girls. We’re both just chilling and enjoying the moment. I like it.
“We should do this again sometime,” I say cautiously, and Olivia turns her gorgeous brown eyes to me.
“What do you mean, Chris?” she asks.
“I mean- me, you, Ping Pong, video games, maybe some ice cream,” I say.
“Ice cream?”
“Well, sure, if you want. Does Wednesday night sound good?”
Olivia bites her lip. “I don’t know, Chris…that sounds too much like…”
“A date?”
“Chris, I like you, I really do. But there’s someone else-”
“Matt,” I say bitterly. I should have known. All the girls liked Matt. Never me. I wasn’t good-looking, charming, interesting enough. I thought Olivia would be able to see past Matt, to see me, but apparently she can’t.
“Olivia, I know Matt. We’re on the team together, and I’ve seen him in action. He’s not really into you.”
“You’re just jealous! How dare you tell me who’s into me and who’s not! I can figure that out without your help!” She turns toward the stairs.
“Olivia, wait!” I’m desperate.
Olivia looked at me sadly. “I have to go,” she says.

I can’t believe Alia would do this to me. I mean, sure, we were never officially a couple, but still, we had something, didn’t we? I thought I was the one she felt most comfortable with. After all, she came to Chris’s with me yesterday. And then- well, enough. I need to think about something else.
I settle on basketball. Our team is horrible this year. I know everyone has bad years, but we’re about as bad as you can get. Coach has these constant frown lines around his eyes at every practice. I’m not really sure what the problem is, but I think it has something to do with me. I am not looking forward to practice after school.
I really am Mr. Down in the Dumps today.
A few minutes later, I’m on the bus, riding across town to the high school. I can’t wait until I get my license in a few months, and I don’t have to ride this smelly bus anymore. My parents even said they might buy me a car so I can drive myself around.
We pull up at the next stop, which is Chris’s. He gets on, followed by Olivia. I wave, and Chris comes and sits next to me. Olivia sits across the aisle, one row ahead.
I didn’t really notice Olivia until yesterday, when Alia and Hector were on their ‘date’. While they were gone, she joined Chris and me in his living room. We ate popcorn and watched some stupid reality show on MTV. She talked mostly to Chris, but I think she likes me and is too shy to say so. That’s okay, I’m used to it. It’s happened about a million times.
Olivia’s okay-looking, I guess. Nowhere near Alia’s league. But maybe she’ll be a good replacement for Alia. She’s interested in me, at least. I think.
After school, on my way to practice, I grab Olivia’s arm as she passes by. “Hey,” I say. “Can I ask you something?”
Olivia’s eyes are wide. “What?” She doesn’t look as excited as other girls usually are when I talk to them.
I push on. “Do you want to go on a date tonight?”
Her jaw drops. I sigh impatiently. I’m used to this reaction.
“With you?” she asks, and the way she says ‘you’ makes me doubt myself.
“No, with Mickey Mouse. Duh, of course with me!” I say, a little angrily. She is annoying me now. Why can’t she be like the other girls and start gushing?
“But I thought you… and Alia…” She pauses, then looks at me. It’s kind of scary, I feel like she can see right through me. “Oh.”
That “oh” is the worst thing she could have said. I grit my teeth, determined to get this over with.
“Olivia, listen. Me and Alia…well, it’s over. And you’re, like, the next best thing.” I smile winningly.
It doesn’t work. She looks really, really angry. “That’s all? The next best thing? Listen, Matt Carvey, I don’t want to be your second choice, your consolation prize.” She hesitates, then takes a shaky breath. “I don’t even want to be your first prize anymore.”
She stalks off, leaving me leaning against a locker in the harsh fluorescent lights of the hallway. Alone.
This is a first for Matt Carvey.
Hector and I are strolling hand in hand toward the ice cream shop in town. School just got out, and Hector and I are on our second date in as many days, and I am ecstatic.
We order an extra-large strawberry shake to share, and settle at a small table in the back. I like that we’re sharing today, it feels so much more date-like. Even if Hector is a nerd, he’s a sweet nerd. I just wish my friends would approve.
Hector smiles at me. “You look nice today,” he says. “Of course, I’m sure you look nice every day.”
“Thanks,” I reply shyly. “My friend Marie gave me this outfit.”
“She’s one of your popular friends, right?” he asks.
“Yeah,” I say with a sigh.
Hector looks at me closely. “You don’t like it, do you?”
“You know…being popular, worrying about what to wear, even who to date…” He looks down at the bubble-gum pink table, clearly wondering if he’s said too much.
I hesitate. “It does get kind of tiring,” I admit. “Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to worry so much about clothes and what people will think of me. And, yes, who I date. Sometimes I wish I could just follow my dream.”
“What’s your dream?” he asks.
I reach into my shoulder bag and pull out my sketchbook. I open it to a page which shows two hands clasping each other in exquisite detail.
“Wow,” Hector breathes. He reaches across the table.
Life does imitate art.
I don’t understand. How, with all my knowledge about Matt, all my truth seeking, could I have missed that he is a world-class jerk! All that time, and this is what I get! Matt asks me to be his replacement for Alia, and just expects me to be shallow enough to agree!
I stomp angrily down the hallway and run straight into the person I least want to see.
He is smiling, waving, calling out, but I don’t care. I push past him. I will not give him the satisfaction of knowing that he was right all along, that his best friend is not the guy for me.
I hurry outside the school, and fall against the brick wall. I lean there for a moment, collecting my thoughts.
“Olivia.” Chris comes around the side of the building.
“Go away. I don’t want to talk to you.” I turn and face the wall.
“Do you want to talk to the principal? Because I can tell her you’re loitering out here.” I can’t see him, but I know he’s grinning.
“Shut up,” I say. I just want him to go away.
“Olivia, what’s wrong?” He waits for my reply.
He has a long wait ahead of him.
Or not. “It’s Matt,” I say, turning around. “He asked me out on a date.”
Chris looks confused.
“As Alia’s replacement,” I explain. “I’m his second choice.” I heave a shaky sigh.
Chris doesn’t say anything stupid, like And you have a problem with being his second choice? or I told you so. He just hugs me, which is kind of awkward, since I have about four inches on him.
“I wanted to say I’m sorry,” he says quietly. “I was a jerk last night, about Matt.”
He was right, though. But I don’t say so, because I don’t think I can.
“And I hope you forgive me,” he adds.
“Yes!” I say as strongly as I can. “And Chris? I’m sorry too.”
He just nods, which is the perfect reaction, in my opinion. “Let’s go get some ice cream,” he suggests.
I smile sweetly at him. “It’s a date.”

Join the Discussion

This article has 9 comments. Post your own now!

holly1999 said...
Oct. 12, 2013 at 12:21 pm
This was a really good story. I didn't expect thjat ending at all and I liked how you told the story from the point of view of all the different characters. It was good to know each of the characters opinions and how they felt about things, and I thought they were well developed. You could add more emotions, but overall I really liked this story. The plot seemed well thought out and I'd love to read more. 
Hanban12This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Apr. 13, 2013 at 9:09 pm
Wow, I really liked this! The descriptions were very vivid, and i loved every second of it! The one and only suggestion i would make would be to try not to make your characters too predictable. They are all ordinary teenagers, so they should have something  major that stands between their love "pentagon." Otherwise, I really enjoyed it! :P
kmeep said...
Mar. 21, 2013 at 7:04 pm
ok, i promised I would comment on this, even though I talked to you in person about it, good job.
In_Love_with_Writing said...
Mar. 12, 2013 at 5:13 pm
It's good, but maybe it could flow a little better. The characters also seem to be a little too ordinary. Not that this is a bad thing, by far, but maybe you could add even more quirks to liven it. Be free to argue because it's up to opinion.
Artgirl1999 replied...
Mar. 13, 2013 at 9:31 am
Thanks for the feedback! Yeah, maybe I could develop the characters a little more, and make it a little longer. Thank you!!!!!
In_Love_with_Writing replied...
Mar. 15, 2013 at 2:12 pm
I'm glad I could help :)
Mirabella25 said...
Feb. 12, 2013 at 2:27 pm
I wasn't expecting that ending at all! Loved it! Keep writing!
Artgirl1999 replied...
Mar. 11, 2013 at 11:50 am
Thank you so much for commenting!
Mirabella25 replied...
Mar. 11, 2013 at 7:49 pm
You are vary welcome.
Site Feedback