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Let me tell you something about love: It hurts. A lot.
“Maddy! Maddy, wait up!”
I trudged up the snowy snow-tubing slope at the ski resort my sixth grade was at for a field trip. I sat in the tube when I reached the top, then pushed myself down the hill. Snowflakes caught in my mouth, and the cold wind rushed against my reddened cheeks. When I slid across the bottom and landed, I stood, whooping.
Chase, the boy I had fallen madly in love with, jogged towards me. He looked REALLY good in his black snowsuit. “Hey,” he said. “About that dance, you know, that St. Patricks dance?”
“Yeah . . .” I said, my face turning even redder by his presence.
“I’ll go with you.” His face looked sort of funny as he said this, but I didn’t care.
“Okay,” I sputtered, unable to breathe.
“Well, see you,” he said before running over to his friends.
One of my own friends, Eden, came towards me, grinning. “Did he say yes?” he asked. I had let her in on the fact that I was asking him to the St. Patrick’s dance. The girl had to ask the guy, and the event was held by Park Middle’s track team, which I was a distance-runner for, so I was required to go. It seemed perfect at first: Why not ask Chase?
Little did I know that those four words would hurl me into months of severe heartbreak.
“He said yes!” I gushed, stooping down to pick up my snow tube.
“That’s wonderful!” Eden said hugging me.
“I know!” I said. We walked back up to the stairs that led you to the top of the slope before sliding down again. “I’m so HAPPY! I’ve never felt like this!” I exclaimed, smiling.
After a few more slides down, I heard someone say, “Hey!” I turned around to see my best friend, Makayla, running towards me. “Maddy, we need to talk. Come on.” She grabbed my arm with a surprising force and pulled me into the ski lodge.
“What?” I asked when we were safely inside. Hot air vents were scattered across the walls and floor. “What’s wrong?”
She looked sideways and said, “Cece, come here! I found her!”
Cece, my identical twin sister, sauntered over to the table we sat at. “You tell her. I just can’t!” she said.
“What is it?” I asked. “What’s wrong?”
Makayla took a shaky breath and said, “The only reason why Chase is going to that dance with you is because his mom feels . . . sorry for you. You CAN NOT tell Chase I told you.”
If someone had stabbed a fork into my stomach and twisted my intestines around it couldn’t have hurt worse. I literally couldn’t breathe. I felt like throwing up.
“Maddy,” Makayla said, looking worried. “It’s okay. Just calm down, okay? You’re going to be fine.” We stood. Cece and Makayla helped me walk to the ladies’ bathroom. When we got inside, my eyes started to fill with tears that burned my cheeks as I let them loose.
“I’m n-not going to be okay!” I sobbed. “I want to die, Makayla! I wish I were dead! I wish I weren’t such a complete and total idiot!”
“You’re not an idiot, Maddy! Chase is for not liking you!” I had heard the It’s-Not-Your-Fault-It’s-His saying way too many times. It was MY fault for falling in love in the first place.
“I’ll kill him,” Cece muttered under her breath. “I’ll kill him!”
Cece and I shared that special bond that all twins have. We fight a lot, but whenever either of us is hurt, we stick up for each other. And, no, it’s not twin telepathy.
“I don’t want you t-to hurt him!” I sobbed even harder. My hair was sticking to my face, and my palms were all sweaty. “I love him so much that I can’t hate him, no matter how much I want to!”
“Wait a minute,” Makayla said, handing me a paper towel so I could blow my nose. “You love him? Like love-love him?”
“The Lword?” Cece asked.
“The BIG L word.” I said. “Madly. Passionately. As in If-I-Can’t-Have-Him-I-Don’t-Want-To-Live L word.”
“Whoa.” Makayla said. “Do you want to kiss him?”
“Of course I did!” I said. “But not now, because he hates my guts!” The very thought made my heart practically explode in my chest. And not in a good way.
“Oh, Maddy, it’s going to be okay!” Makayla tried to assure me while patting me on the back. “And if it makes you feel better, I hit him!”
“You hit him?”
“Yeah! I can’t just stand idly by while he’s breaking your heart!”
I wiped my nose with the paper towel. “I’ll never l-love a-again!” I sighed.
“Yes you will! When you find the right boy, you’ll feel it.”
“Chase is the r-right boy, and I did, and still do! We agree on a lot of things, and people have said we look good together! How could I ever have believed he liked me?”
“I think you two are too compatable. You need someone who agrees with you on a lot of things, but doesn’t agree on all of them. You want someone who surprises you.”
“Well, he surprised me, because God knows I didn’t see this coming!” I cried.
“Me neither, but it’s okay.” Makayla said, sounding aggravated. “You’ll--I mean we’ll-- get through this. I promise. We’ll look back and laugh!” She gave me another paper towel. Too bad it wasn’t a barf bag. I could’ve used one of those.
“Maybe you will, but definitely not me! No offesnse, but you and Cece don’t know what it’s like to pledge your heart to someone, only to have them throw it down and k-kick it across the f-floor!”
“Maybe we don’t,” she said. “But that doesn’t matter.”
I threw the snot-filled paper towel in the trash can be the sinks and wiped my eyes on my sleeve. “I guess,” I said. “But what am I going to do? And where is Cece?”
“She left, probably to go kill Chase.” Makayla said. “But about the dance, I think you should still go. Come on, let‘s go snow tube some more.”
“Really? You think I should still go with him?”
“Yeah! I bet he still wants to be your friend!”
“You think so?”
“Of course, Maddy. Would I lie to you?”
“No, you wouldn’t, would you?” In the nine years we had known each other, we had been best friends. We told each other everything. Back in January when Chase like-liked me, Makayla brought us together . . . Sort of. He and she passed notes all through Mrs. Piziak’s science and social studies class every day for two weeks. Not that I had been counting, or anything.
One Friday night in January, we had gone to the MacArthur Skating Rink, and Chase “just happened” to be there. He told Makayla that he liked me and wanted me to go to the movies with him, but that was impossible since I couldn’t date. I had gone home that night feeling happier than I ever had my whole life. I thought that I would have a boyfriend; I thought he was my soul mate; I thought he loved me. I wish there was a Master’s in wishful thinking, because I am an expert in that field.
When we climbed the snow-concealed steps up to the top of the slope, we sat inside our tubes and waited for the people who were sliding down the lanes were at the bottom. While we waited, I looked over and saw Chase, casting nervous glances in my direction.
“Makayla,” I said. “I have this weird, hollow feeling in my chest.”
“It’s because you feel like he ripped your heart out, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. But Makayla, this isn’t your regular heartache. I’m talking major pain, here. It’s like heartburn, only ten trillion times worse! What should I do?”
“Give him about three days. He likes you. I KNOW he does. He’s just nervous, is all. I’m sure he really does want to go with you.”
“Okay,” I said, feeling an iota better, but I knew she was just saying those things to make me feel as if I still had a reason for living.
“We’ll talk more about it at the bottom.” she said, then pushed herself downward.
Before sliding down myself, I looked once more at Chase, who was engaged in a conversation with his two best friends, Dylan and Jonathan. “I love you,” I murmured. Thank God he couldn’t hear me.
A strong gust of wind swept my bangs out of my face as the tube slipped down the wintry slope. I landed with a thud on the grass.
“You made it!” Makayla said when I brushed snowflakes off my pants.
“Yep,” I said, suppressing a sob.
“You sure you’re okay?” she asked, placing a gloved hand on my shoulder.
“I’m fine. Really.” I said, trying to laugh.
She didn’t look as if she believed me, but she settled for saying, “If you say so.” She adjusted her purple snowboots, then yawned. “But it’ll be okay.”
And after a few more slides, it was.