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The Boy Next Door
Two kids. A nine year old boy by the name of Mason Anderson. Mason was tall for his age with short dark hair and piercing green eyes. With a wild spirit, Mason often found himself in trouble. Especially when playing with his neighbor, Kennedy.
Kennedy Collins, a seven year old girl with bouncing red curls and soft grey eyes. She was never the adventurous type, often preferring to sit at home and play with her stuffed koala, Yogi. Kennedy was practically dragged out of her small ranch house on a daily basis. However, Kennedy had been best friends with Mason for as long as she could remember, so exploring the neighborhood with him didn’t bother her as much.
Fireworks boomed over the small ranch house on Fourth Street. The tire swing swaying in the cool summer breeze. The sizzle and aroma of hamburgers fill the surrounding area. A young boy was chasing a young girl around in circles shouting at her “Come here Kennedy! You can’t out run me!” Eventually as the boy caught up he was then challenged to kiss the girl. As the boy puckered his lips the girl giggled and ran away, leaving him alone by the swaying tire swing. Two older men laughed and flipped hamburgers. “They’re going to end up together one day, you know that?” the one man said to the other. Their wives, who sat and gossiped at the faded picnic table, just rolled their eyes. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Nine years later the girl and boy are still attached at the hip. Her 16th birthday, the summer before her junior year, is going to be the largest party ever held on Fourth Street. With one special guest she awaits the dreaded news that is all over his face. Three simple words that would alter her little bubble of comfort. “I’ve been accepted.
Today is the day. I’m finally turning sixteen. I’ve counted down the days since my fifteenth birthday. I’ve got my outfit all planned for my party today, a white sundress with teal sandals, to accommodate the hot June weather.
After situating my red curls I reach for my phone. There’s a ton of messages from my best friends Blair and Tara. However, I scroll past hundreds of spam texts to see the one I really care about. Finally after reaching the bottom I see his name. Mason. “Happy Birthday! Come over when you read this.” I smile to myself. Ripping my phone off its charger I practically jog down the stairs. “Where are you going?” my father shouts from his brown living chair. “Masons” I smile as his name escapes my mouth. My father sighs and I swear I could just hear his eyes rolling.
As I enter the house down the street form mine I’m greeted by the familiar scent of vanilla candles. Also by the massive chocolate lab jumping onto my new white dress. “Get down! Brody get off of Kennedy!” Mason’s mother says trying to shoo Brody away. “Hi Mrs. Anderson.” I wave. “Hi honey. Mason is in the back yard.” She winks and walks Brody to the family room. I watch for a moment, confused as to why I was here.
As I enter the backyard the biggest grin spreads on my face. In the middle of the grass was a table covered in food, well, chocolate. My favorite soda sat next to the purple plates and pink rose petals lined the table. Standing next to the table is Mason, looking handsome as ever. “Happy sweet sixteen, Princess Kennedy.” There was a slight touch of sarcasm in his voice but at the moment I couldn’t care. After he seats me in my chair and he takes his we make small talk, but he seemed preoccupied.
Once the chocolate covered strawberries were nearly finished Mason took my hand in his. I instantly felt my heart flutter, in ways I can only describe as pure excitement and anticipation for whatever he was about to say. Maybe this is the day. Maybe today is the day he finally asks me out! But instead his expression turns emotionless as he quietly says “I have to tell you something.
I stare at him. His face reminds me of a whimpering puppy, hurt and defeated. “What’s the matter?” I reach my other hand out and place it on his. “Well you remember how I’ve always wanted to go to Yale?” his hand is trembling. Did he get rejected, is that why he looks so upset? “Yeah?” I reply questionably. He looks down to the chocolate covered strawberry sitting on his plate. “Well the other day…I… uh…well…you see… I” he trails off. “Mason? Did they reject you? If that’s the case I won’t think any less of you and I’m sure you can get in somewhere else just as great.” I say trying to make his sadness go away. The words however burn as they leave my mouth, as if the very idea he got rejected was poison. He smiles ever so slightly and tries to laugh, but sounding more like a heavy sigh. “No, no it’s not that. Actually it’s the opposite. I’ve been accepted.”
I’m sure the look on my face said what I was truly feeling, but the words I was saying said a completely different message. “Mason that’s amazing news! Congratulations! When did you find out?” He’s leaving me. My best friend since birth is leaving me. Separated. Not here. Me without him, alone. He’s leaving. Gone. “Last week. I figured your birthday would be good for the surprise. But by the look on your face I can see you’re not too thrilled.” He says disappointed. “No, of course I’m happy for you! You got into Yale! That’s amazing!” This is awful. I refuse to let him see my disappointment any further though. He was supposed to be there for me when I need him just like he always has been. “When do you leave?” I regret the words almost instantly. “Two weeks.” I drop the strawberry I was holding. It hits the edge of the plate and rolls off the table taking my emotions with it. “Two weeks?” I shakily ask. He nods then takes my hand in his again. “It’s okay. You’ll do just fine without me.”
No. It’s not okay, I repeat this is not okay. Mason Anderson, my best friend, my boy next door is leaving me alone after sixteen years. All of my hopes for our apparent nonexistent future are shattered, broken, down the drain, never going to happen. I was waiting for the day he would hold my hand and ask me out. I pictured the moment in my head countless times in my head and each time I said yes. But that day will never come. Not now. He’s going to Connecticut and I’ll be here in Florida. That’s too far away. I’ll never see him again. “Oh and Kennedy?”
I didn’t answer. I couldn’t, there was nothing to say. And even if I did it would probably come out snotty or sarcastic. “Kennedy?” he asks again. I look up letting the tears fall. I hadn’t even noticed myself crying, but I’m not surprised. He lets one of my hands go and wipes away my tears with his thumb. “Please don’t cry. It’s only going to make what I have to say harder for me to ask.” He laughs but I don’t find it funny at all.
Does he hate me? Is he never coming home? Did he find another girl? What am I saying, we aren’t officially a couple, and I have no right to be jealous…right? “Kennedy I don’t know why I’ve waited so long to ask you, but with two weeks left I need to get this off my chest.” He takes a shaky breath and continues. “Kennedy Victoria Collins, I have had the biggest crush on you for I don’t know how long. I just figured you would only ever see me as a friend. But with only two weeks left in Florida I have to ask. Will you go on a date with me?” he puts his hand on the back of his neck, one of his nervous habits that I’ve learned to love. He searches my face seeking an answer or any emotion at all.
This wasn’t happening. Someone pinch me I must be dreaming. The boy next door, my best friend, my crush finally asked me out! His hand that was still covering mine left the stereotypical spark; so much so that I was sure my hand was going to catch on fire. I’m not sure if I should jump with joy, cry tears of happiness, or faint. To be perfectly honest I think I might do all three.
“Okay, I knew it was stupid of me to ask.” He pouts getting up from the table. Wait, what? No that’s not what I meant. “Of course” I reply quickly. He turns and looks like he might cry. “You don’t have to be rude about it.” I laugh slightly so only I hear it. “No, no, no. I mean of course I’ll go on a date with you.” His face perks up instantly. “Really?” I nod and charge at him, jumping into his open arms, completely ignoring the fact that I’m wearing a dress. He hugged me tightly and I could have stayed in that moment forever. His strong arms wrapped around my waist, taking in the scent of his spicy cologne. Nothing could ruin this moment. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect sixteenth birthday. “I thought you’d never ask.”
My party started later that day, around four o’clock. My family was the first to arrive, as usual, then after that my friends. It was pretty hot earlier today but right now it’s like the weather gave me a break. My backyard was set up in pink and black decorations, just like every typical teenage sweet sixteen. Yes, I know, don’t judge. Hundreds of birthday wishes were sent in my direction but I didn’t comprehend most of them, responding to every word by smiling politely and searching the crowd for Ashlynn.
One thing about one of my best friends Ashlynn, she is absolutely obsessed with all things gossip. It doesn’t matter who or what it is she seems to know everything about everyone. I don’t know how she gets her knowledge but sometimes it’s amusing to listen to her stories. She also isn’t hard to find. I just look for the platinum blonde hair in the sea of people.
“KENNEDY! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” she shouts halfway across my backyard. I laugh to myself and motion for her to come over. “Guess what, guess what, guess what!” she squeals. “Elephants can fly?” I laugh. She shakes her head and rolls her eyes at my lame attempt at being funny. “No silly. You have a date!” I contort my face. “Ashlynn, that happened only hours ago. How did you already find out?” she shrugs and points to her shiny silver phone. “Being popular has its perks” she says flashing her award winning smile then walks away. I just stand and stare, still wondering how all of that was even possible.
“What’s this about a date?” his voice cuts through the air, breaking me from my trance. I turn to see my father with his arms crossed, obviously angry that his little girl is going on her first date. “Uh well you see. The funny thing is. Well.” I say with a hint of laughter in my voice. The whole time, slowly backing away. “Kennedy, who is he? Do I need to have a talk with this boy?” my father asks, the anger visibly rising. “Me. And if you’d like to talk I guess we could.” A familiar voice says from somewhere behind me. I turn around and smile. Mason was standing to my right looking at my father. He smiled back at me and put his arm around my shoulders. There was a long pause, and extremely awkward long pause. But finally my father’s look of confusion turned into a huge smile as he laughed to himself. I looked at Mason for an answer but he looked just as confused as I felt. “It’s about time you too got together.”
I stare dumbfounded at my father. “What? You’re okay with this?” I laugh. He smiles and motions for someone to come over to us. Mr. Anderson, a tall athletic man with greying hair, walks over. “Guess what David?” my father asks pulling out his wallet. “Oh, I like where this is going. Money is involved!” Mr. Anderson laughed. “You’ve won the bet my friend,” My father says handing Mr. Anderson a twenty dollar bill. I look over at Mason, who looks just as confused as I do. “We bet a long time ago that you kids would end up dating. He said before college and I said after. I was so close too! Speaking of, Mason I hear congratulation is in order,” my father smiles. “Thank you sir,” Mason replies. “Whoa, whoa, whoa! You bet on how long it would take us to start dating?” Our fathers looked at each other then back at us. “Yeah why?”
“They’ve had that stupid bet for years. “ My mother said casually. I stare at her. “Am I the only one who finds something wrong with that?” I ask angrily. “No sweetheart, there’s a lot wrong with it. But it seems as though their guess was right,” she winked then nodded for me to go back outside.
People seemed to enjoy themselves at my party. I know I did. We danced pretty much all night. And as we were cleaning up there was a tap on my shoulder. I turned to find Mason standing with a rose in his hand. “May I have one last dance with the birthday girl?” he asked sweetly. I smiled and took his hand. As we moved in circles he smiled and whispered, “Happy Birthday Princess Kennedy.”
“Where are you taking me?” I laugh, sitting next to Mason in his truck. “Why can’t you just enjoy the surprise?” he laughed back.
We pulled up to a small diner that overlooked the beach. As we walked in, the hostess could obviously tell we were on our first date. She spoke to us as if we were small children as she led us to our table located right outside. The lady smiled as she gave us our menus. “Your waitress Maggie will be right with you.” As she walked away Mason sunk in his chair. “What’s the matter?” I asked. “Nothing.” He lied as his eyes searched the surrounding area. I decide to ignore his weirdness for the moment and look over the menu.
“Hi my name is and Maggie and I’ll be your… Mason?!” a girl in the diner uniform asks standing next to our table. “Hey Maggie,” Mason squeaks from behind his menu. “Oh my gosh! How are you? I haven’t seen you since school ended!” she squealed making herself at home in the chair next to me. “I’m fine. And school only ended a few weeks ago.” Mason said getting aggravated. “Who is this?” She asks. Her perfect blonde straight hair shined just like her snowy white teeth. “I’m Kennedy, we’re on our first date, so if you don’t mind.” Maggie’s smiled faded as she looked between Mason and I. “Oh, of course.” She said. “What would you like to drink?”
When Maggie came back with our drinks she had a smirk on her face. She smiled sweetly as she said “One for the handsome boy.” Then as she turned to me her smile faded into a glare. “And one for the girl who stole him from me.” And before I could react there was Pepsi in my face. I jumped up and looked down at my new white dress. “How dare you steal him from me!” Maggie screamed. However I took off for the bathroom with tears and Pepsi running down my face.
Why me? What have I ever done to deserve this? I’m a good girl! I get good grades, I’ve never caused any trouble! Why does everything bad happen to me?
I think all of this as I lock myself in the woman’s bathroom and started crying again. Outside the door I could hear some yelling and lots of crashing. “MAGGIE! LEAVE ME ALONE!” I heard Mason shout. Seconds later there is banging on the door and the doorknob starts to shake. “Kennedy please come out of there,” Mason pleads from the other side of the door. I violently shake my head as if he could see me. “Kennedy please” he calls again.
I look down at my stained dress and face. Eventually I shuffled my way to the door and unlocked it. He opened the door and held out his hand for me to take. I accepted the offer and awaiting me was a black American Eagle hoodie. “It’s June, why do you have this?” I sniffle. He laughs then drapes it over my shoulders. “It was in my car! I figured it would let you hide that dress until we get you a new one.” He smiles. I put on the hoodie and look absolutely ridiculous. But I didn’t mind, because it smelled like his spicy cologne. “You don’t have to buy me a new dress you know that right?” I smile as we quickly slip out of the restaurant.
He drove me home after I practically begged him not to buy me a new dress. As first dates go, I’d like to say this was just a practice gone wrong.
A week and a half later, tears stung my eyes as Mason packed his last bag. I’m sitting on his bed watching him roll up posters of sports players and put them in a bag. “Why so quiet?” he asks, brushing his finger across my cheek. “You’re leaving, it’s not exactly a fun time.” I said in barely a whisper. He didn’t hear me apparently because he continued dutifully rolling up posters. I glanced around his room, his walls bare and floor cluttered with boxes. “I’m going to miss you too” he smiles, sitting down and taking me into his arms.
After the boxes were packed in his silver Jeep, it was finally time to let go. My best friend was moments away from leaving me. Soon he’ll only be a face on a computer screen when I call him on skype. The last two weeks were the best I’ve had in a long time and now he’s just leaving.
“Promise you’ll be okay while I’m away?” Mason smiles pulling me in for a hug. “I promise old man” I smirk. He laughs but it’s forced, he doesn’t want to leave just as much as I don’t want him to. “I can’t believe after sixteen years you won’t be more than a few steps away.” He says sadly. “Hey. Don’t get all sappy on me now! This is a good thing, you’re going to college! Be happy! I’ll only ever be a skype call away.”
After stalling for way too long Mason finally had to leave. “I’ll call you as soon as I get there.” He smiles from his Jeep. Mason’s parents stood next to me, each holding back tears of their own. I waved one final time as he pulled out of the driveway. I watched as the Jeep faded into nothing at the end of the street. Quickly I ran home, hoping no one saw my running mascara.
As I ran into my house with tears stinging my eyes I made a mad dash for my room, hoping to god no one saw me. “Kennedy!” my mother called after me. I ignored her, like usual, and jogged up my stairs, focusing more on my footsteps than her words. “Kennedy!” She called many more times. I blocked her and the world out as I locked myself in my bedroom and slid down the door.
After a few minutes of silence I lifted my head and looked at myself in the floor length mirror that’s across my room. What I saw looking back was a sorry sight. My hair looked like a birds nest, my eyes were redder than an apple and puffier than ever before. “What am I going to do?!” I thought to myself as I got up and stared at my reflection.
“Everything will be okay. You’ll see, he’ll be back soon enough,” my mother said trying to calm me down. “How do you know,” I sniffed. She lets out a defeated sigh and brings me into her arms. “I don’t. It’s just what I think. And I was hoping it would make you feel better.”
After another hour of crying I had no tears left. So I decided to redo my hair and makeup and anxiously wait until I could see his face again even if it was only on a tiny screen.
Finally, at ten o’clock my phone lit up with the FaceTime call. I quickly fixed my hair and hit accept. It may have only been a few seconds but it felt like a lifetime passed as the call connected. When it finally did go through a girl appeared on the screen. She had dark brown pin straight hair with eyes as green as emeralds. She looked at me in disgust. “Who are you?” she asked in a high pitch voice that reminded me of a whining child. I looked at her in confusion “Who are you?”
“I asked you first” she whined. “Where’s Mason?” she smirked and looked over her left shoulder. “Mason, who is this?” she asked. She turned her phone so I was now facing Mason who was putting his posters over the double bed. He glanced over at me and turned back around without answering. Then his head whipped back around and he ran over to the girl with his phone. “Give me that!” he shouted. “Who is she?!” the girl shouted back. “Rachel give me my phone back!”
My mind searched my brain for a girl he knows who’s name is Rachel. The only one I could think of was his girlfriend but she had blonde hair. However she did have beautiful green eyes and her mom was a hairdresser. Is he… no…is he ….he can’t be! Is he cheating on me?
Mason finally grabbed the phone from Rachel. He looked me dead in the eyes and hit the end call button. He hung up! The light dimmed on my phone and my home screen appeared, showing a picture of us holding hands at the beach. The thoughts in my head stopped processing and instead just repeated those five words. For about a half an hour I just motionless in my bed and stared at my home screen.
The next morning my mom walked in on me crying into a tear stained pillow. “Kennedy! Sweetie what’s wrong? Did Mason not call?” She shrieked and ran to my side. “No! He did! And that’s the problem!” I cried. “I’m don’t understand?” she said. “He hung up on me!” I shouted a little too loudly. “What?” she asked calmly. “Mason’s ex- girlfriend, Rachel, called me on FaceTime, he looked at me and hung up!” I cried again. She looked at me sympathetically. “Oh sweetie. You didn’t know?”
“Know what?” I sniffed. My mom looked at me apologetically and sat next to me. “Rachel moved to Connecticut a few years ago. She was a very bright girl, Yale accepted her right away. However, she and Mason never officially broke up. Mason told his parents he just assumed they were over. I guess Rachel found him on campus, “ she explained.
How does that even make sense?! “Then why wouldn’t he just tell her about me? Why would h-he just h-hang up on m-e?” I hiccupped. “Mason is a sweet boy, I’m sure he just doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.” My mother said as she got up to leave. “Yeah. That worked really well huh,” I said under my breath.
Every day for weeks I’ve tried texting him and for weeks I’ve gotten no reply. I’m at my breaking point. My junior year started and it’s really hard to focus on school work. All day, all I could think about was Mason and what he could possibly be doing with Rachel at the moment. I’ve gotten called out on my day dreaming at least a dozen times. It’s consuming my mind and worrying those around me.
“You know, I saw Alex checking you out in English today,” Blair said as we were walking to lunch one day. I rolled my eyes and avoided her obvious attempt at distracting me. “Kennedy you really need to get over yourself. It’s been over three weeks of your constant sulking. I don’t know about Tara and Ashlynn but I’m getting really sick of seeing you mope around all day long.” She snapped. I stopped dead in my tracks and stared at her in anger. People ran into me left and right but I didn’t really care.
“So sorry that my heart break is an inconvenience to you. I’ll be more considerate to you for the rest of the week.”
After the worst day of my entire life I practically sprint to my room to ball my eyes out. I slam the door and throw my bag across the room. My pillow acted as a sound proof wall as I screamed my heart out.
There was a small crashing noise from the other side from the other side of the room where my dresser was. I look over with blurry eyes and pick my vibrating phone up off the floor. I look at the caller ID and instantly regret my decision. His perfect face filled my screen and it can only be compared to a train wreck; I want so badly to look away but I no matter how hard I try I just can’t. “Don’t answer it Kennedy. Don’t you dare do it” I say to myself as I press accept.
“What do you want?” I snap. “Kennedy please I can explain…” he pleaded. I roll my eyes even though I know he can’t see the disgust on my face. I look at the clock on my end table “You’ve got exactly one minute.”
He quickly explained that Rachel thinks they are still together and how he doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. After a long pause I sigh in anger and frustration. “Well did you ever think about how it made me feel when you just hung up on me and disappeared for a few weeks? Huh?” I ask quietly, trying not to let the tears fall down my face. “Kennedy… I’m…I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me…I’m… I’m sorry” he stuttered. “You don’t know! Hah! So much for not hurting anyone’s feelings!” I say with another eye roll. “Princess please…” he starts. “Don’t you princess me.” I cut him off. “Kennedy just open the door.”
I turn around and stare at my door. He can’t possibly be here in Florida, in my house. I drop my phone to the floor. I made my way to the door carefully, as if I was walking on broken glass. The doorknob scared me. As if what was waiting on the other side was ready to attack at the exact moment I open the door. Finally after stalling for long enough, I reach out and touch the brass doorknob, slowly turning it slowly.
The door creaked as I opened it. The anticipation made my stomach flutter. I couldn’t tell if I was excited or scared to see what or who was waiting on the other side. However I found myself disappointed to see nothing on the other side of the door. I looked up and down my hallway but nobody was there. I angrily walked back and picked my phone off the floor. “What do you mean? There’s nothing there!” I ask trying to hide my excitement.
“Front door princess.” He laughed.
I didn’t know what to do. What if he’s out there? Should I cry? Should I slap him? Should I run back into his arms?
As I approached the front door I could see him through the glass on the sides. I again open this door slower than really needed.
“Princess! I am so sorry! I was being so stupid and careless and heartless and so many other things. I don’t know what I was thinking. I know it’s a lot to ask of you but is there any possible way that I could do anything to make this up to you? For you to forgive me?” he rambled. He was down on his knees begging, pink roses in one hand and something that looked like a jewelry box in the other. I failed to comprehend much. How am I supposed to respond to this?! “I… I…”
I’ve seen him make that face a million times before. They’re his puppy dog eyes, trying to make me cave in. “I don’t know. I’m… I’m not exactly happy with you right now” I mumble and cross my arms over my chest.
“I know. I can’t even begin to describe how much I regret what I did to you.”
A smirk appeared on my face as I let out a small chuckle. “Do you…? Do you even know what you did to me? Huh!?” I yelled. His face turned as white as a ghost.
“I was rude and inconsiderate,” he said shifting on his knees. Of course he didn’t know what he did. Typical guy.
“Yes. Anything else? Anything more specific?” I snap. He looks uncomfortable, good.
“I shouldn’t have let Rachel take my phone. I was stupid. She told me she wanted to check her hair but there was a mirror two feet away. I’m sorry Kennedy. I’ve been so stupid,” he whimpers. His arms droop after holding them out for so long. I want to take the flowers and then take him in my arms. Just because his puppy dog eyes are starting to torture me! But two can play at this game, and I’m going to win.
“You honestly think I’m going to forgive you this easily? You hung up on me! You don’t understand how awful that felt! And to top it off you ignored me for weeks! I thought you cared about me! I’m sorry I’m not as good as Rachel. Call me back when you aren’t such an idiot!” I screamed and stormed back inside.
No calls. No texts. Nothing. I told him to call me back. I guess he still feels like an idiot. I thought for sure that he would have called me back within a week or so, but no, it’s been a month. All I’ve done is stare at my phone and coast through school.
“Sweetheart I know you love him, or whatever, but this has gone on long enough,” My mother sighs as we sat down for breakfast. It had gotten to the point where on Saturdays all I’ve done is sit and stare at all my social media accounts for any sort of notification.
Yet today I finally got one. It was a notification from Instagram telling me that Mason had tagged me in a picture. I unlocked my phone and almost screamed in horror as I looked at the picture. It was a picture of Mason and Rachel kissing, and read the caption.
“My one true love. Forever and always.”
I stared in shock, not knowing why he tagged me in the picture. He moved on. That’s why he hasn’t texted me back. He doesn’t want to text me, he probably never has. I threw my phone across the room in frustration. It hit the wall hard and shattered in a million little pieces. A small noise escaped my throat, a mixture of a cry and a scream.
If one good thing came out of my month alone, I had developed a really good relationship with my friend Alex. So, in my state of anger, I got the brilliant idea to call him and invite him over.
“Hey mom! Alex is coming over!” I said with a smile spread across my face. “And I’m gonna need a new phone,” I said a little less excitedly. She looked at me with angered eyes. “Another phone! What did you do to this one! I guess we’ll get you a new one later. I’m glad to see you’re feeling better,” she smiled.
Once Alex was over and we settled down to watch a few movies I grabbed his phone from his hand. “What are you doing?” he laughed trying to get it back. “Just relax!” I giggle. I’ve never been this girly ever. I put the front facing camera on and quickly kissed Alex’s cheek, taking the picture.
“What was that?” he asked a bit shocked. “I just wanted a picture for Instagram that’s all. Thank god Alex didn’t have one. I put the picture up and made sure to tag Mason in it with the caption, “So glad he’s mine.”
Mason didn’t seem to be bothered by the picture, which really made me angry. I had gotten my new phone the next week. And when I finally got everything set back up, I got a few messages from different people but mainly Alex. I had told him that I liked him, which was a mistake at first. However after a few weeks of trying to get to know each other, we’ve become extremely close. I can’t go a day without texting him. I finally had a distraction from Mason.
“So, Kennedy. I was wondering if uh…” he stuttered. His hand scratched the back of his neck, and all I could picture was Mason when he got nervous. “I was wondering you wanted to be my girlfriend?” he squeaked, obviously nervous. My heart started beating faster. We we’re at the movies on our fifth date, I had been waiting for this question for a while. “I would love to Alex.”
“No she wouldn’t.”
That voice. He can’t be here. He’s at Yale! What is he doing here in Florida at the movie theater! I spun around and hid behind Alex, who was gladly protecting me. “Mason what you are doing here! You are supposed to be in college!” I yelled, causing people to stare. I buried my face even further in Alex’s shoulder.
“I can’t let you be with him. I just can’t. You mean way too much to me. You told me to call you when I was done being stupid. And I’m done. I realize you are and always will be the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Please I promise I won’t ever hurt you again, just come back to me,” He confessed.
“She’s with me now. You heard her say it,” Alex stuttered. Alex was at least four inches shorter than Mason, causing him to look up when he spoke to him. I looked nervously between the two of them, really hoping there wouldn't be a fight.
“Well, Kennedy. Who is it going to be?””
They can’t honestly think that I can make this decision this fast. “I don’t know, I manage to squeak out before running to my mom’s car. “Oh my gosh sweetie what happened?!” she gasped as I cry into my hands. “Just drive. It doesn’t matter.” I cry out. “If you say so.” My mom whispers to herself as she rolls her eyes.
Once we got home I plopped on my bed not wanting to ever move. After minutes of comfortable silence my Kelly Clarkson ringtone started playing, “Since You’ve Been Gone” disturbing my peace and quiet. I didn’t want to answer this call but then again I knew I could never say no. This was Mason’s ringtone. “What?” I snapped.
“You honestly have to think about this?” he says with disappointment in his voice. Of course I didn’t need to think about it. I wanted Mason back more than he obviously knew. “Can you come over? I really need to talk to you,” I whimper. I just needed my best friend back.
There were knocks at my bedroom door about twenty minutes later. “Hey,” Mason squeaks nervously. I look up at him with red, puffy eyes “Why did you do it?” I ask, letting more tears run down my already wet cheek. He slowly came and sat next to me his arm reaching around my shoulders. “Do what princess?” he whispered.
“This whole mess would never have started if I hadn’t seen that stupid picture. Why did you tag me in that? What kind of sick person does that?!” I yell.
“What are you talking about?” Mason asks, interrupting my rant.
“The picture of you and Rachel kissing. Like why would you tag me that kind of thing…?”
“I don’t care if you post it but seriously why would you tag me in something like that!?”
“Kennedy!” Mason shouted.
“What!?” I shouted back, letting out anger I didn’t know I was holding in.
“Princess, I don’t know what the heck you’re talking about. I’ve never had and never will have and Instagram account.” He says carefully with a look of pure confusion spread across his face.
Wait. What? “Yes you do stop lying to me. I can prove it.” I say frantically pulling my phone out of my pocket. My fingers shook as I pulled up his Instagram account and handed him the phone. He took a minute to scroll through the few pictures that were on his account, with each picture the look of disgust spread on his face. “What the heck. What kind of sick person does this?” He said handing my phone back to me. “You’re serious aren’t you?” I ask almost disappointedly. I spent this whole time angry at Mason for something he never even did? “Well I certainly didn’t do this! What kind of man does that kind of thing? Princess I’m sorry. I promise on my life that I had no part in this.” He said helplessly.
“Answer one question then,”
“When you ‘took a break’ what were you doing?” I ask really hoping Rachel’s name wouldn’t be mentioned.
“Well I mainly tried focusing on college. But then I kept thinking about how much of I messed up. So I did end up talking to Rachel again…”
“Please tell me you’re joking. After all of this you miss me and then move on to Rachel who basically caused the whole problem in the first place!”
“What do you mean? It’s not like she posted the picture on my fake account. I don’t even know who made that let alone who put that picture of me and Rachel on Instagram! Plus who ever said that I missed you.” I stared in shock for a brief second, hurt by the words that just effortlessly flew out of his mouth. But I couldn’t let him see that I was dying on the inside.
“How do I know she didn’t make it!? How dare you go and hook up with her when you never officially broke up with me!”
“I never officially called you my girlfriend. We just had a few dates. I guess you just over fantasized like the little girl you are.” he yells and stands up. “You know I was going to give this to you but now I realize that coming down here and buying you flowers and jewelry wasn’t worth the promise I was going to make. Bye Kennedy.” He whispered the part about a promise as he threw a small box on my floor. I bent down and looked inside. When I lifted the lid there was a small silver ring with our initials carved in it.
“Wait! What flowers? What promise?’ I shout trying to get up as quickly as I could.
“No, no. You obviously don’t trust me.” He snapped. He was outside my door. The jerk knew I would run after him. “Have you noticed how I’m not the least bit jealous that you and that Alec guy started dating while we were dating? Did you notice the roses that I brought you? Cause I bet you didn’t.” He snapped and crossed his arms.
“Okay first of all, you literally just said we were never actually dating. Second of all his name is Alex, not Alec. And lastly I see no roses.” I say imitating him and crossing my arms. He rolls his eyes and spins me around by my shoulders. Behind me I hadn’t even noticed the rose petals lining the floor, leading to the back of my house.
“Would you like to see where it leads or do you still think I’m a jerk?” he whined.
“Yes.” I simply answered.
“Yes? Yes what?”
“Yes to both. I still think what you did was completely uncalled for but I want to see where this leads.” I reply. He takes my hand but it no longer felt comforting. He was angry, and wasn’t his usual self. Instead of the giant teddy bear he once resembled he was now like stone, the only emotion he had was anger.
Once we went through the back door my jaw dropped. The gazebo that sat in the back of our yard was covered in lights. There were rose petals everywhere and soft music played in the background. “When did you do all this?” I managed to whisper. He looked down at his shoes sadly. “Before you went to the movies,” He whispered, did he sound… embarrassed? “Aw.” I cooed. He took my hand and led me to the table.
“Now, I did all this because I thought I could convince you that I was done being an idiot. I promise I didn’t mean what I said inside. I was just really hurt that you would think Rachel would go that far. She isn’t the crazy one. Maggie was crazy. But you have every right to be angry I just over reacted. I really hoped I could win you back with this, but I have a feeling it won’t be that simple.” He mutters looking to the ground.
This is too sweet. “Mason, I really just want to figure out why you have a fake Instagram account. That’s what started this whole mess.” I said, joining Mason in staring at the ground. “Well I can tell you that it wasn’t Rachel. She’s not the jealous type. Whenever I talked about you or Maggie came and started annoying us she never actually cared,” he said with a puzzled look growing on his face. “Who’s Maggie?” I ask. The name sounded so familiar yet I couldn’t quite place it to anyone. “You don’t remember her? I’ve only ever had three girlfriends; Maggie was first, then Rachel and now you if you’ll take me back. Maggie was also the one who ya know… kinda threw Pepsi in your face.” He laughs uncomfortably. That’s where I knew her from! “You don’t think?” I muttered. “No, I mean she was crazy but not that crazy. At least I don’t think she was?” he looked up at me just as confused as I was.
We agreed to take it slow. As of right now all I need to do is get him back to being someone I could trust. I had also called Alex over and explain that I needed time to think. Thank goodness that he understood because I don’t know what would happen if I lost both of them.
“So let me see the ring.” My mother cooed as I sat down for lunch. It the first long break of the year and thanksgiving was a few days away. I absolutely adored thanksgiving but we always spend it with the Anderson’s, which may get awkward.
“What ring?” I ask, taking a mouthful of sandwich. “The promise ring silly! He was so worried you wouldn’t like it! He asked me for help because he just wanted it all to be perfect. Who do you think told him you were at the movies? How do you think he got there?” My mom smirked. She couldn’t be serious. She was setting me up?!?!
“You set me up!? When you knew Alex and I were dating?!” I half shouted. She rolled her eyes and waved her hand. “There’s a difference between going on a few dates and dating. You and Alex had only been on a few dates. He never made it official did he?” she looked at me with scolding eyes. “He asked me and then Mason showed up.” I mumbled into my sandwich. “That’s why you were crying!” she said throwing her hands up in revelation. “Yeah.” I mutter.
“Well if it makes any difference you accepted the promise ring which means you have to choose Mason.” She smiled and nodded towards my hand. I was unaware of the fact that I had been twirling the ring around my finger. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Well he told me when he got you that ring that he wanted it to be a symbol of forever. That no matter what happened you two would always be together.” She smiled and took a sip of coffee. “Forever?”
There was no way that he actually meant all of this. But he was on his way home from school so hopefully I would be able to ask him about it once he got home for break.
I was going to surprise Alex at his new job. Since we had agreed to take it slow and just be friends for now we had started just hanging out with each other rather than dates. It was a shame really, because every time I see him my heart beats faster and I get butterflies in my stomach. I really wish I had become friends with him sooner, that way this decision would a lot easier.
I walked into the store that he now worked in and searched around for him. But just like the girl I am, I got distracted in looking at clothes. “Excuse me that would look terrible on you.” A snotty voice said from behind me. I turned around and saw the waitress from the café, Mason’s ex, Maggie. “What do you want?” I snapped. “He will come back to me ya know. It will happen eventually.” She said matter-of-factly. “Oh yeah. And just how are you going to manage that?” I asked not really interested any more. “Well for starters I can ruin you first, since you are the one he always talked about. Kennedy this Kennedy that. I was always compared to you! It’s not fair!” she whined. I looked at her and rolled my eyes. “I guess that just means he never loved you to begin with and never will,” and with that I flipped my hair and began to walk away. I was quickly stopped though when she grabbed my shoulder.
“And I guess Alex never actually loved you. That’s his real girlfriend. They’ve been dating for like a year and a half. I’m surprised you didn’t know about that. But considering I saw Mason and you together the other day I figured that he won you over. He has a way of doing that. Those eyes are just the most beautiful shade of green,” She went on and on while pointed over to a corner. There stood Alex and a short girl with long brown hair. They were holding hands and laughing, Alex would occasionally stop and kiss her nose then return to the conversation. My jaw dropped and the butterflies died down.
I marched over to them but stood behind Alex so only his girlfriend would see. “Um excuse me do you mind?” the girl said scrunching her nose up. Alex turned around and all color drained from his face. “Kennedy what are you doing here!?” Alex shouted. I grabbed him by the wrist and dragged him out of the store and down the mall a little bit, just to make sure his girlfriend wouldn’t follow.
“Care to explain?” I harshly whispered. He looked down at the ground and fiddled with his thumbs. “She paid me to do it. I wanted to buy Jessica something nice. I’m sorry Kennedy I really am. You’re such a nice girl, but I just needed the money. I’m so sorry” he rambled his apologies but I was no longer listening.
“Can you please get over here?” I snapped through my phone. “Um? Sure?” Mason sounded confused but minutes later he was here.
“So care to tell me why your ex-girlfriend paid Alex to date me and made you a fake Instagram?” I asked angrily. “Who did what now?” he laughed. “This isn’t funny! Maggie paid Alex to pretend to love me just so I would think you were the bad guy! And she made that Instagram to go along with it. She’s crazy! Insane! A lunatic!” I was so confused and upset that I rambled a bunch more synonyms of crazy while falling to the floor. “Hey princess, I’m sorry. You should never have to be put through such a thing.” He whispered as he joined me on the floor. I stared at my promise ring, which I had only taken off to shower.
“So, my mom said that when you gave me this you meant it as forever?” I squeaked, not wanting to sound stupid. “Of course. Princess when I gave you this ring I didn’t really give the speech I wanted too. So I’ll do it now. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Not necessarily marriage, but I can’t imagine going a day without calling you my best friend. I know we fight and I know we may hate each other at certain points in time. But out of all the mistakes I’ve made in my life, and trust me there’s been a lot, hurting you was by far the worst thing I’ve ever done. I give you this ring as a promise. I will do everything in my power to never hurt you again or let anyone or thing hurt you. Just please you have to promise me that you won’t give up on me.” He finished quietly, gasping for breath. I didn’t really know how to follow that. That was so much emotion and I suddenly regret ever feeling jealous of Rachel. I knew I couldn’t say no, not when he just poured his heart out to me and considering he’s done that so many times. “I can promise you one thing. You will always be my best friend. I couldn’t see anyone else taking your spot.” He gave me a relieved smile and gave me a hug. “Kennedy you will always be my princess. Just remember that. If some other guy ends up getting in the way, I promise I won’t get jealous. And if anyone ever hurts you I will always be there for you. I promise.” He smiles and twirls the ring on my finger. I looked into his emerald eyes and got lost for a second. “I promise Mason. I promise that no matter what, we’ll be a team and we’ll conquer anything that tries to take us down.”
Many years later…
I ended up going to a good college and finding a good job in Florida, where I belong. I didn’t end up getting engaged to Mason. Today was my wedding and Carter was my groom. We had met in college and he just swept me off my feet. Everything he did or said was just so absolutely perfect and I couldn’t get over it. However I, to this day find myself comparing him to Mason, and I still wear the promise ring even though Carter and I have had countless arguments over it.
It was all perfect. The ceremony on the beach, only our family and closest friends, and perfect weather. I t was my day and I wasn’t going to let anything ruin it. It felt like hours before I finally got to say I do. Though that time never came. As soon as the priest began to say my name I saw a figure rise from one of the chairs on my side. It was someone in a dark suit that matched his dark hair, his emerald eyes glistening with tears. My jaw dropped, he wouldn’t dare. Mason shakily walked up to me and took my hand that had the promise ring on it. “I promised I would protect you. We promised to be a team no matter what. Kennedy I can’t let you do this.”