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Because of Angela

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'Can I help you?' Asked the beautiful eight-year old
redhead that stood above me. Her smooth, pale face doted with freckles, her eyes, two gorgeous, twinkling emeralds. I did not really know how to respond.

'Uh'w-what'umm'uh d-do you'mean?' I lamely stuttered, still amazed that a girl was talking to me.

'Your sand castle,' she pointed to the sad pile of sand that I had desperately tried
to make into a castle.

'Oh, um'yeah, okay'sure.' I stammered and handed her a pink shovel thinking that because she was a girl, she would like the color.

'No. I want the blue one.' She gestured at the shovel sitting at my left. That was when I saw it ' or rather them ' there were two bruises on her arm, about the size of a tennis ball. They were spaced two inches apart, and were the color of my blue socks after my dog chewed them up.

'Whoa.' I whispered, fascinated. 'What happened? A dog tried to bite you?' I asked, completely forgetting to be nervous. Angela looked down at her arm and quickly hid both arms behind her back.

'I would like the blue shovel, please.' She replied quickly. Still in awe, I handed her the shovel. 'Oh, and by the way, my name's Angela and I have a hamster named Pom.' She told me in a very matter-of-fact way.

'My name's Charlie, and I have a dog named Looloo.' I responded.

'Looloo? How'd it get that name?'
'Well, you see, when we first got Looloo, she'd always go into the Loo and drank the water right out of the bowl''

And so began our friendship. I was never nervous around her again. We talked about everything- from whether ants have ears to what aliens might look like. Angela and I were inseparable and I knew everything about her. She knew everything about me. She knew about my obsession with fiddler crabs and how, whenever I dressed, I always had to put on my shirt first before everything else. I knew about her parents always fought, which made Angela's life a living hell. Because of this, she would spend most of her time at my house, where we watched movies from the 70's and bonded over our love for rocky road ice cream. .

One winter night in sixth grade, the fighting in Angela's house exploded like a bomb. At about 2AM and I had just woken up from a horrific dream. I warily dragged myself to go to the bathroom and splashed my face with cold water. When I returned to my room, ready to slip into my warm, snug covers, I heard a rustle. Squinting, I could make out a shape hunched over in the corner of my room.

'Hello?' I asked uneasily.

'Charlie?' Angela's voice replied back.

'Angela?! What are you doing?'

'I'm sorry. My mom was yelling, and she threw something at him. My dad started laughing like a maniac with blood running down his face, and I don't think I can bear it anymore.' Angela's voice broke, and I could hear her sobbing. 'I'm sorry. I'm sorry.' She kept repeating.

'Angela, it's ok. It's fine. Shh, everything will be ok. You're here now. How'd you get in?'

'Oh.' Angela attempted a laugh, but it came out more like a groan. 'Through your window.'

'You went through my window?!'

'I'm sorry.' Angela said in a meek voice.

'No, no. It's fine. Do you want something to drink?'

'I'm sorry.' Angela repeated.

'Angela. Everything's fine. Don't worry. Now, come on. Are you tired?"

'Yeah.'

'Here, you can sleep on my bed.' I felt around for Angela's hand. Once in my hand, I led her to my bed. 'There's my bed.' Angela let out a half-hearted scoff.

'You think I don't know your room?'

'Ha ha. Do you mind if I sleep there, too?'

'Sure.' I got into bed next to her, and was about to fall asleep when Angela said, 'Charlie? Are you awake?'

'Well, yeah.'

'Thanks.'

'Your welcome. Is that all?'

'Yeah.'

'Then goodnight.'

'Goodnight'Charlie? You still awake?'

'Now I am, thank you very much.'

'Oh. Sorry. Never mind.'

'Good night.'

'G'night.'

Angela's AM visits became more frequent as her parent's fights worsened, but this made our friendship over the years grow stronger, and we always had each other's backs. Whenever one of the jocks would make fun of my small, scrawny frame or my nerdy ways, Angela would convincingly threaten them. Whenever Angela had family trouble, I would let her stay at my house. Sometimes, when we really felt like it, Angela and I sneaked out of the house and wandered around town, looking up at the stars and the constellations, pointed them each out by heart.
Spring came, and then summer, then came another summer and another, and before we knew it, we were in high school. Oh geez, I can still remember the day it all happened. It was a bright and sunny fall day. The brilliant chromatic orange leaves on the maple trees surrounded the school, and a cool breeze blew through the air. It was the second week of school ' a Friday ' and everybody already had plans. Well-everybody except me. I was going to ask Angela to hang out with me. We were in the parking lot, and she was about to leave, when I quickly asked her before she could drive away,
'Hey, Angela. You want to come over today? My mom rented some old movies'one of them is Romeo and Juliet.'
'Oh, Charlie. That's really sweet of you! You remembered my favorite movie! But don't you have chess club or some other equally exciting activity planned?' Angela replied playfully.
'Ha. Ha. You know, I'm not that much of a geek. I know karate!' I retorted, trying to imitate those ninja moves I read in my comic books, my arms flailing. This made both Angela and I crack up.
'Yeah'you could really beat Muhammad Ali any day of the week. But anyway, Charlie. I can't make it tonight.'
'Why?!' Shocked, Angela had never turned me down before.
'Oh. Well'actually'Colin and I are going to go on a date.' She blushed.
'Colin? You mean as in the Colin, as in Colin Arberson, the guy you've had a crush on for years?'
'Charlie! Stop using that word! It isn't a 'crush''I just really like him.'
'Oh'well'that's nice. I-I hope you guys have fun.' I replied half-heartedly as I slowly realized that I wished I was Colin.

'Thanks. You have fun watching your movies!' Stated Angela excitedly as she ran her fingers through her hair, trying to look perfect for Colin.

'Ok. I will. So, uh'have fun.' Angela turned at me with a smile that danced around her mouth.

'You just said that.'

'Oh? I mean, yeah. I know that. I just wanted to make sure you will be ok. So'bye!' I headed to my car, still in a daze and collapsed onto my seat. I thought of Angela and Colin on a date. I stared at the driver's wheel, my mind raced. After a while, I finally picked up the keys, put them in the ignition, and drove home.

Later that night, as I sat in my basement and watched the movies that I had carefully chosen out for Angela, the phone rang.

'Honey! Can you get that? I'm a little busy right now!' My mom yelled from the kitchen. I sighed and paused at the part where Juliet was about to take the fake poison.

'Hello?'

'Charlie? Charlie, is that you?' I could hear Angela's voice on the other line. It sounded like she had been crying.

'Yeah, it's me. Angela, are you ok?'

'Oh-h-h thank Go-o-o-d you where h-ome. C-could you p-possibly pick m-me up?' Angela gasped out between sobs. I immediately jumped to attention.

'Of course. Where are you?'

'I ' I don't know. O-oh wait'th-there's a waffle h-house and a hig-igh-ighwaaaaay.' She managed to sob into the phone. I knew exactly where she was ' Annie's waffles, by route 29.

'I'll be right there, Angela. Don't do anything stupid, ok?'

'S-sure.'
I found Angela on a road which lead off the highway, where she was staggering along. I pulled the car over and called her name. Angela turned to look at me, her eyes puffy and red. As soon as she got in the car, she told her story.
Angela Stuttered something about how Colin was 'perfect' as always, and before she knew it, he was standing in front of her.

'Hey. So, ready?' Was Colin's cool response to Angela's drooping jaw.

'Sure. Where are we going?' Asked Angela, extremely nervous.

'It's a surprise. That's why I brought this.' That awful boy replied as he swiftly pulled a bandana out of his left pocket. Angela's insides melted at this point, and she turned as red as a tomato as he tied the bandana around her head.

The car ride was heaven for Angela. They talked, and Colin told stupid funny stories about his life as she giggled along. She was on top of the world, and when the car stopped, she did not want to get out. Colin opened the door and took her hand as he led her down some sort of ditch. He dropped her hand and said something like,

'Angela. Did you really think that this was serious?' When Angela told me this sentence, it hit me like a cement wall at 200 miles per hour. I was speechless. Angela came back with a lame 'what?' So Colin continued.

'I mean, come on. You're a loser. You have no fashion sense. You have no friends ' oh, wait. Except that dweeb you always hang around with. It was all one big joke. God, I can't even believe you fell for that!' He laughed. Someone else laughed with him. Angela ripped off her blindfold only to find the popular crowd surrounding her 'there was Elle, Derek, Janice, Kikki and Al. They were all laughing at her. Hollering and still laughing, they drove away, leaving Angela alone in some sort of ditch in the middle of nowhere. At that point, Angela just walked and cried and walked and cried until she calmed down enough to call me.
By the time she was finished, we were in front of my house. I was seething with anger, and had to take deep breaths to calm myself.
'Do you want to have dinner here?' I managed to ask through clenched teeth.
'No. Can we stay in your car a little bit? I just want to sit here.' Angela whispered calmly. I nodded, and then we sat in silence.
'Angela, there's something I have to tell you.' I said softly after a few minutes.
'Yes?'
'Well, I'It's kind of hard for me to say.'
'Then say it all at once.'
'Ikindoflikeyou.' After this statement, I closed my eyes. I'm an idiot. I knew she didn't feel the same, I kept repeating to myself as Angela remained silent. Finally, I heard her voice, which, surprisingly, did not sound angry. In fact, it sounded relieved.
'Oh, Charlie. I am so glad you said that!'
'Are you serious?'

'Yeah! After what happened, I thought about you and how you are always here to help me. I realized that I had spent my whole life with you, and that I couldn't live without you.'
'You sound like you're proposing.'
'Oh. Right. Sorry.' Smiled Angela as she started to show signs of joy. 'My point is'' she struggled to find the words, 'you complete me, Charlie.'
'Proposal!' I said in a sing-song voice.

'Ok, ok! You try to express it, Charlie. You know how I feel.' At this point, I looked at her, lost. How could I express what I felt? Was it love? Did I just have a 'crush' on her?
'Maybe we don't need words.' I whispered as I leaned in and kissed her.
*
*
*
'Did you like the story?'
'It was interesting Dad, but there's only one thing wrong with your story.' My 14 year old son said solemnly. He was wonderful ' the mixture of Angela's gorgeous red hair and my mud brown eyes made a wonderful clash as he teasingly smiled at me.
'And what was that?'

'You and mom kissed ' I mean, did you really have to tell me about that part?' I laughed and ruffled his hair. The brightly lit diner with its multicolored booths bursted with color. In front of me, Owen slurped his chocolate shake, his red hair hanging in his face. He looked just like Angela, who sat next to me.
'Well, anyway, Owen. Things aren't always as bad as they seem. Bad things can turn into good things. Just remember that.' Angela advised sincerely, her arm around my shoulder.
'I will, Mom.' As he said that, I leaned back in my chair and looked out the window and up at the sky, at all the wonderful constellations. Because of Angela, I could name every one of them. Because of Angela, I couldn't wait to get up in the morning. Because of Angela, I lived a wonderful life. Because of Angela, I had this wonderful son. Because of Angela, I was happy.





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