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A Seventeen In-Between
True love stories are not that exhilarating.
Real love stories start with “Once upon a time we fell in love…” and end with “And we went our separate ways with broken hearts…” Every. Single. Time.
Heartbreak hurts. I should know. I have this… talent? Curse? Tendency? I don’t know what you would call it, but I defy gravity. I fall harder and faster than ought to be possible. Call me a scientific phenomenon, but I am simply a girl who likes to share my heart.
Problem is, it ends. Every. Single. Time.
Maybe though, it’s about what’s in between that beginning and ending that matters.
I realized that fact in my latest in-between, my seventeen in-between, if you will. This time it’s different.
I fought him plenty of times. I swear subconsciously I knew our potential. We were opposites in all things except those that mattered most – some sort of makeshift pair that, despite our flaws, couldn’t be more perfect. I didn’t want to fall in love. Stories are not as exciting when you know the ending, and dating senior year ended in heartbreak. I was sure of it.
So we fought, we broke up, we made out, we made up, we fought - the cycle continued. Until he finally exploded, and I realized without him, I was not the same Manda I would have like to have been. I quit denying what I knew. I handed my heart the reins and fell head over heels for his green eyes and the sound of his voice.
After the explosion, he swore we would never go to bed upset with each other – asking my pinky swear on it. He had my consent, and a simple pinky lock changed our story. A month or so later, I curled up in bed on the verge of tears, exhausted, upset with the world and him. He drove up around midnight, parking his big white truck across the street outside my window. He did not plead or beg me to come outside, he just wanted me to know he was there for me.
I took a deep breath, steadying my insides and clearing my mind. I slipped downstairs with my blanket wrapped tight around my shoulders, accidentally waking my sister sleeping next to the fire. I waited anxiously as she succumbed to her dreams, and turned the doorknob slowly, sliding outside silently.
I crept through the snow in my pajamas, shivering from the cold and fear of the consequences of being caught. I was a smart, good kid, yet there I was defying all logic and sense of rules, sneaking out to meet some boy. His motto, “rules are made to be broken” had worn off on me. Rebellion took it’s toll on my perfect Mormon girl heart. I climbed into the bench seat of his truck, met by open arms and the eyes that took my breath away. He held me as I spilled my fears and frustrations, saying the right things at the right times, and calming my troubled heart.
We talked for hours, sitting close, our foreheads pressed together, eyes closed. It wasn’t a physical attraction. It was the innocence of seventeen. He knows me. There are few things more beautiful than somebody who knows you better than you know yourself. He understands what I can’t say and hears what I don’t say. That boy is unlike any other. When I think of the places I’ve left my heart, he is the first thing that comes to mind.
He holds a precious piece of me, and I trust him with it. It’s the way he listens and knows what to do. The way he pushes the hair back from my face to stare into my eyes. The way I come first to him. The way he works harder than anybody I’ve ever know. The way he kisses me slow and meaningful. The way he would never hurt me. The way he’s gentle in his strength. The way he loves with all of him. I trust him, so I ignored my logical self and followed my heart that night, finding a freedom I’d never felt. We were free and infinite and falling hard.
2 AM is a strange time of night. The world is sleeping. It’s a time when truth comes out, nothing gets held back. There’s an honesty I crave. It’s a beautiful time, and that night, I spent it with a beautiful soul turning my world upside down. At seventeen, we were wild, reckless, and young - breaking the rules just to break them, to steal a few silences together. There didn’t have to be words, simply the warmth of his arms and his eyes. But everything ends. He refused to let go, and I never wanted him to. But I stared in those green eyes, losing my breath as he moved his face closer to mine. I kissed him goodbye hard, and then I pushed open the door.
If there was ever a moment we felt infinite, it was then. He was sitting in his truck, leaning out the door holding my hand to steady me as I slipped on the ice. Our eyes locked and lingered in that light somewhere between night and day. The world was gray and quiet, granting us permission to steal our secrets, free of the first time. He sat like some sort of dream in the driver’s seat, a too good to be true smile teasing the lips that tasted of truth and chocolate. I stood with the blanket draped about my shoulders, like he had dubbed me some sort of heroine in the waking light. It’s a moment frozen in time, in our minds, in the ice crunching beneath my feet, and in the gray light of early morning. It’s the moment we fell in love.
That night will not be forgotten, perhaps frozen for a bit, but eventually, it always warms up. Someday that memory will melt into my mind, and I pray it places a smile on my face. We know how our story started. Boy wants girl. Girl wants a different boy. Boy chases girl. Boy gets girl. But we also know how our story will end.
Once upon a time, we fell madly, deeply in love with each other. But in the end, we will go our separate ways. He leaves in service of his God for two years, and I head off to college. Our hearts will be broken. Just the way love stories end – Every. Single. Time.
Maybe it’s not about how the story starts or ends. It’s about the in-between.
The point is, in-between the beginning and ending, we fell in love.
A seventeen in-between, that’s what we have. That’s what we hold onto, already knowing how it ends.
It’s about being seventeen and living in the moment. So here goes nothing.
My heart is his.