This is actually based on a relationship I once had. Though I changed it up. A LOT. But the...
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Seven Years Later
“AMY! Get up!”
I groan loudly and roll over onto my stomach. My hands search for my rollaway pillow. For a second I think that it has fallen off of my bed along with half of my covers, when I feel a soft, fluffy lump somewhere above me. I drag it over my head, trying to block out the yelling. “Go away, Mom!” I reply sleepily. It was the last day of summer vacation, and I was not about to waste my precious sleeping time.
The pillow is forcefully yanked off my head and I hear a clearly irritated voice say, “Do I look like your mother?” My eyes fly open and I roll over to see my best friend, Lauren, looming over me and mock-glaring. She is already dressed in a turquoise wrap-dress and sparkling silver heels, suggesting that she’s been awake for several hours. Oh how I hate morning people.
I smirk playfully and say, “Yes. Or at least as old as she looks.” This earns me a smack in the face with my pillow. My hands fly up to protect my face from any other blows. “Ow! Come on! How did you get into my house anyway?”
Lauren reaches into her pocket and pulls out a set of keys. She dangles them right in my face and sings, “You gave me a key!” I roll my eyes and direct my attention to my wall clock. The time I see deserves another dramatic groan.
“Please tell me that my clock is broken.”
Lauren turns her head and studies the clock carefully. “Nope. That’s right. It is nine o’clock.” In the morning, I add silently. She looks back at me and smiles brightly, oblivious to my anger caused by lack of sleep. I want to punch her for being so obnoxiously cheery this early. Instead, I close my eyes and wish that I was back asleep. My wish is rudely ignored.
When I open my eyes again, Lauren is going through my closet, already picking out the clothes she wants me to wear today.
One thing that I love about Lauren is that she is a total fashion nut. She is one of the only people who would honestly tell you, “Yes. Those jeans do make your butt look big.” She runs for the best-dressed award every year at Oxville High School. She would win every year too, if the whole thing wasn’t just another popularity contest. And because of her, I never have to worry if I look stupid or if my outfit is ‘so last year.’ She takes care of all of that for me.
As she moves around the hangers and mumbles to herself, I just lay there and absentmindedly look around my room. The first thing you would think of if you saw it would be something like “bubblegum” or Pepto-Bismol.” Yeah. It’s really just that pink. It’s not my fault though. I was only ten when my mom finally let me pick out my room color. And, come on, what ten-year-old girl wouldn’t want a pink bedroom? But it’s been seven years since then and I still haven’t changed it to something that is more age-appropriate.
Seven years. It feels like an alarm somewhere deep in my mind randomly starts going off. Seven years. What was so special about seven years ago? Then it hits me. Danny.
I sigh softly to myself. I still sometimes miss Danny. Hmm… What happened to him anyway? In fourth grade he, Lauren, and I were best friends. We did everything together. Then, when fifth grade rolled around, he was gone. Poof. Just like he had fallen off the face of the earth. And Lauren and I never heard from him again.
“Aha!” Lauren shrieks. I jump up, startled by her sudden outburst. She spins around and holds up a short, dark denim skirt and my tight-fitting Joan Jett T-shirt. Every thought of Danny slips right out of my mind.
“And to complete the outfit…” She drops both the shirt and the skirt and lifts up the only pair of heels I own. They are made of scuffed black leather and are almost completely covered with shiny silver studs. They are also practically impossible for me to walk in.
“Aw, come on, Lauren. You know I can’t wear that. Look at those heels.”
She frowns and inspects the heels with a confused expression on her face. “I don’t see anything wrong with them.”
I laugh. “Are you kidding? I can barely walk in tennis shoes. If I wear heels I’ll be tripping every five seconds.”
She smiles at my lack of confidence. “Aw, come on, Amy. You’ve done if before,” she argues.
I think back to the few times I’ve worn them in public. She’s right, I have done it before. It actually didn’t turn out to badly. Most of the times.
Lauren stares at me earnestly, waiting for my answer.
“Ugh. Fine. I’ll wear the stupid shoes.”
“Yay!” she squeals. She throws the shoes at me. I have to duck before one of the heels pokes my eye out, and it instead falls back behind my bed. She then picks up the rest of the outfits and throws that too. I manage to catch the shirt before it joins the shoe on the floor.
I bundle everything up together and stand up. Lauren politely walks over to riffle through the books I have spread all over my rug as I change out of my pajamas. As she pretends to scan the back of one of my favorite novels, I slip on my heels and unsteadily get to my feet.
“Tada!” I cry as I lift my arms into the air.
Relieved to have a distraction from the books, Lauren looks me up and down, evaluating her handiwork. I twirl and strike a pose, flashing her a huge fake smile. She ignores my immaturity. Instead she scrunches up her face in concentration and slowly circles around me, trying to see how the outfit looks from every angle. I roll my eyes. Sometimes she can be so OCD about clothing. Then she comes to a stop and looks at me seriously. I wait patiently for her opinion on how I look.
“Mhm… Sexy and alluring, but with a hint of mystery,” she says. “I love it,” she adds.
My smile vanishes. Sexy? I couldn’t pull off sexy even if I was wearing a Victoria Secret poster that covered up every inch of my body. “That’s it. I’m changing,” I complain.
Lauren’s face hardens. Oh man, was I in for it now.
“Oh sure. Just go and change after I pick out the perfect outfit for you to wear on the last day of summer vacation. It’s not like I have any fashion sense or anything. Why don’t you just wear a trash bad as a dress? I’m sure that will look better than whatever outfit I put together.”
Ugh. Why did I have to say anything? Everybody knows that if you poke the beast, then you get eaten. Unless…
“Lauren!” I say loudly. She snaps out of her rant and looks at me coldly. “I love it, Lauren… Really, I do. I was just worried that…” Okay, think of a quick lie. Come on, it can’t be that hard… Got it.
“I was just worried that with how awesome this outfit is combined with how devastatingly beautiful you always manage to look, we would be out-dressing all of our friends and make them feel insecure about how they look.”
Lauren stares at me and tries to make sense of what I just said. Finally she seems to sort of understand and gives me a quick hug. “Aw, Amy! You’re so sweet!” she gushes. God, I am good. I should get an award or something. But that’s just me. I’m big on making people happy.
I put my arms around Lauren and give her a hug in return. “You are so bipolar,” I tease.
She was fast I had no time to defend myself. She leapt away from me and dove onto my bed, seizing my biggest pillow as a weapon. I get hit repeatedly as she screams, “Take it back! Take it back!” I scream back in protest and try to take the pillow away from her. The retaliation if futile.
“Fine! I take it back!”
“Good,” she smiles as she lowers the pillow back to its rightful place.
“Remind me to never make you mad when there are pillows within your reach,” I tell her. I raise my foot in the air and kick the pillow only about an inch out of her reach. I add a dorky ninja battle cry for dramatic effect. She laughs at my sorry attempt at trying to be a ninja pillow kicker. Yep, she is definitely bipolar.
Lauren stops laughing and gives me a sly grin. I think have a pretty good idea of what is coming.
“You have to let me do your make-up too!”
I knew it. I am not only a fantastic actress, but I also just so happen to be a psychic. What can’t I do?
I look at her solemnly, as if I’m in deep thought. Just to add to the suspense, I stroke my chin and hum softly to myself. She stares at me expectantly. After only a few seconds I just can’t take those deep brown puppy dog eyes pleading for an answer anymore.
“You know what? I think I am actually looking forward to you doing my make-up. You can complete my wonderful transformation.”
Lauren practically exploded in joy. I don’t think I could have made a five-year-old happier if I had told them I was going to give them as many chocolate bars as they could eat. She also acted about as hyper as a little kid hopped up on too much sugar would be. She danced around the room like a whirlwind, gathering brushes, lipstick, eye shadow, and dug some things out of her enormous, black hole of a purse that I had no idea what they even were. I was starting to think that maybe I shouldn’t have given in to this so quickly. But there was no turning back now.
For the next thirty minutes I had my hair pulled, curled, and twisted, my face was painted with a mask of make-up, and the floor of my room was assaulted with discarded tubes and bottles and was covered with the careless stains of fallen powder. I was getting bored and my back hurt from sitting in one position for so long. I glance wearily at my floor. I was dreading cleaning all of that up. And it’s not like Lauren would ever even consider helping me, even though it was all her fault my room was a wreck. While I was contemplating how long it would take to get all of the stains out, she was busy having a total spaz-attack.
“Omigod. Omigod. Omigod!” she exclaimed. As if her nearly incomprehensible verbal expression wasn’t enough, she felt the need to jump up and down and wave her arms around like a maniac in order to describe her feelings. “Amy, you look so pretty! Wow… I am so good at this. I bet I could even make a living out of this. Maybe I should be a professional beautician or something… Wait! Do you have to go to college for that? Because I don‘t see why you would go to college just to learn how to put on make-up! It just seems pointless…”
“Lauren!” I actually have to snap my fingers in front of her face in order to get her attention. Sometimes I swear she just gets sucked into her own little world. Actually, she tended to stay in her own little world. Finally she notices that I am trying to talk to her and shuts up.
“Can I please see what the big deal is about now?” I ask her as sweetly as I can manage.
She nods happily and motions toward my full-length mirror on the opposite wall. I awkwardly get to my feet, stumbling slightly as I stand up in the heels. I walk calmly to the mirror, and almost gasp at what I see.
My jet black hair is pulled up in a messy bun, but there is still some hair that has been left loose, and it has been curled to cascade down the sides of my face. My make-up had taken forever, but the overall look wasn’t as thick and crazy as I had pictured it. The mascara makes my lashes reach up to my eyebrows, and the blush I’m wearing makes my cheekbones stand out more. My deep red lipstick really compliments my pale skin and dark hair, and my light violet eye shadow highlights my jade green eyes, making the color pop.
As for my outfit… Well, it might not be as awe-inspiring as my make-up, but it still totally alters the way I look. The Joan Jett T-shirt fits just right, and the skirt shows just enough leg to be playful without being slutty. The shoes make me a full inch taller, adding to my already lanky, towering figure, making me as tall as most models. Lauren has definitely outdone herself this time. And for once, I actually feel kind of… Confident. And, boy does it feel good.
My smile shines brightly as I turn back to look at Lauren. “Okay. Let’s go.”
The party was in full swing when we arrived. I’m not really the kind of person who goes to things like this, but it’s our last day of freedom before we’re forced back into high school. Why not live a little? Though it’s not like Lauren and I came straight here. I mean, what kind of party starts at noon? No, first we went to Adam’s house.
The first thing that you need to know about Adam is that he is my best friend in the entire world; right after Lauren that is. Second thing you need to know is that Adam is, well, in the simplest term, a dork. I mean one of those spazy kids who always raise their hands and class in never care what anybody else thinks of them. Not that that’s a bad thing. I actually admire his boldness and lack of insecurity. Even if most people find it kind of annoying. Including Lauren.
Don’t get me wrong, Lauren and Adam get along great most of the time, but sometimes they just snap at each other like dogs do when a stranger passes your house. Half the time I’m in the middle of it. Just like I was at Adam’s house today.
“You are so cheating!” Lauren screams.
“How can I cheat?! It’s a freaking dancing game! You just move! That’s it!” Adam screams back.
Here’s a tip: never let two overly confident people play any competitive game against each other. Especially Just Dance 2.
“You memorized the dance routines before we even got here, didn’t you?”
“Oh yeah, because I have nothing better to do with my life than find stupid ways to piss you off. Isn’t it obvious that I enjoy having you yell in my face?”
That’s when Lauren grabbed a pillow from his couch- which I just so happened to be laying on while watching all this go on, so she kind of knocked me over in the process- and chucked it at his head. The fluffy red and gold pillow hit Adam square in the face. I guess pillows are Lauren’s choice weapon today.
Adam glared at Lauren angrily. “Why you little-” He was thankfully cut off by another pillow attack. Lauren had just been picking up a third one when I stepped in-between the two of them.
“What is wrong with the two of you? You’re acting like freshman or something! We are juniors! We can drive for God’s sake! Calm down.”
Lauren reluctantly lowered the pillow, but kept it dangling from her fist. Adam picked up a pillow from the floor and was toying with the tassels on the corner. Lauren looked up at me guiltily and said, “We’ll be good.”
“Yeah. We pwomise,” Adam said babyishly as he stared at me with innocent blue eyes.
They each looked at each other and nodded. I took their silent exchange as some kind of truce.
“Good. Now if we could just get back to the game without-”
I was interrupted by a surprise attack from both sides. Lauren smacked and Adam whacked, each with their own pillow and a joyful expression on their faces. I squealed and flapped my arms like girls do in those cheesy chick flicks. It was a picture perfect moment of friendship. One of those “priceless” moments they mention on all of those annoying commercials. But like every other moment in life, it had to come to an end.
A door opened and closed somewhere on the other side of the house. You could barely hear it over all the laughter. But we heard it all the same.
“Adam?” a female voice called followed by the subtle sound of rustling house keys.
Lauren and I both turned to look at Adam, who had a look of sure horror on his face. His mother was home early, which at that brief moment of pure joy hadn’t seemed like it would be that bad. But that’s because people don’t like to believe things can go wrong when they are actually happy for once. When in reality, things go wrong. All the time.
Adam muttered something. I didn’t hear what he said, but I really don’t think I would have wanted to hear it anyway.
We were frozen- Adam and Lauren were even still clutching their pillows.- as Mrs. Lockwood strode into her living room. She seemed slightly distracted and wasn’t even looking our way. “Adam, did you remember to check the…” She stopped speaking and walking as she noticed that her son wasn’t the only one listening.
“Oh. I didn’t know that you had… Company over.”
She had this odd way of saying it that made it almost impossible to tell what she meant by “company.” But I had a feeling that we weren’t exactly very high on her list of favorite people in the world. Actually, seeing as she always seemed to either catch us at awkward times (Like during a pillow fight…), or hear something that she really was not supposed to hear, I’m thinking that we are pretty darn low on that list. She definitely doesn’t know about Adam’s random “colorful” language yet, and he wasn’t planning on letting her know anytime soon. Or ever.
Adam’s mom is a little… Selective. She is one of those moms who wants their kids to eat all of their vegetables and always wants to meet- Or, in other words, see if the person is worthy of hanging out with her dear son.- all of Adam’s friends. And after she “meets” of Adam’s friends, they tend to not stick around very long. But Lauren and I, we’re still hanging in there. No matter how much Mrs. Lockwood comes to hate us, we will always be there for Adam. And if you ever have the displeasure of meeting Mrs. Lockwood, you will see just how devoted that means Lauren and I are.
Adam cleared his throat to break the tension. “Um, yeah. I thought that you wouldn’t be home for a while, so I decide to invite them over.” He didn’t even look at his mom while he said this; he was basically talking to his torn blue converse.
Mrs. Lockwood’s lips pursed and her eyebrow rose slightly. Normal facial movement to most people, but I knew better.
“So if I leave the house that automatically gives you the right to have people over? Is that right, Adam?”
I practically heard Adam gulp. It was one of those dramatic gulps that you hear on cartoons, except this was real. I saw his Adam’s apple move and everything. I also realized at that very second that his name is Adam and he also has an Adam’s apple. Weird.
“No, Mom. I just meant that I know that you don’t like all the noise, so I thought that it would be better if they came over when they wouldn’t be bothering you,” he explained.
He stared his mom right in the eyes as he spoke, but not in the tough, lion staring down his prey kind of way. It was a look that was more like a deer who stares into the headlights of an oncoming car but doesn’t have the sense to move. And Adam was about to get run over.
Mrs. Lockwood opened and closed her mouth like a fish out of water. She apparently didn’t even know where to begin. She wasn’t used to Adam’s blunt remarks like Lauren and I were. Which was odd seeing as she lived with the guy. How can somebody sleep down the hall from you and you barely know anything about them? That’s just messed up.
“Adam,” she finally began, “can I speak to you for a moment?” She turned to look at Lauren and me. “Alone,” she added. She was staring daggers at us, so it wasn’t too hard to take the hint.
At that point Lauren and I had raced out of there faster than the road runner from Looney Tunes. We heard the door slam behind us, and that was that. End of story. We didn’t hear another noise come from that room, and Adam sure didn’t seem to jump at the chance to talk about it. So I just left it alone, and we went to the party. You would think that his mother would have put a damper on our night, but the party was actually the perfect solution for that.
Adam needed to get out of that house. So Lauren and I had the brilliant idea to bring him along with us. And that’s how we got here. Too bad we didn’t stop to think about whether or not Adam wanted to come in the first place.
“What the hell are they playing?” he shouts over the music.
“Language!” I snap back at him. “And it’s Neon Trees. What do you live under a rock or something?”
“Yeah!” Lauren screams. “Everybody has heard this song!” She starts singing along to the lyrics. What are you waiting for? Say good-bye to my heart tonight!
“It sucks,” Adam says bluntly as he looks around the packed room as if he’s trying to see if there is anything that will catch his eye. I can already tell that he is becoming unfocused. Taking Adam to a party is like taking a child to Disney World. First they go crazy, then they get lost and you’re stuck looking for them. I see him eyeing the cans of beer other party-goers are holding. Typical.
“I’m gonna get a beer,” he mutters. No surprise. Then he takes a step and is automatically swept up into the crowd.
So much for sticking together. At least I still have Lauren. I glance at her and notice her eyes looking around the room nervously. She bites her lip and asks, “Do you think that we should go after him?”
I shake my head slowly. “No. If that’s his way of getting his mind off things, then so be it. We can’t stop him.”
I can tell she’s still a little worried, so I try and make an attempt to change the subject.
“How about we go and see if we can find anybody to hang out with?”
Right on cue, Kairi Summers comes into view. She is standing with a tall blonde boy and laughing flirtatiously. I pause for a second. I’ve never seen this boy around school before. Most likely he is a college student. I wouldn’t be surprised, what with Kairi’s past crushes as multiple examples to prove my theory. She always says that she likes men, not the immature boys that we go to school with. Not that I can blame her. There’s always something romantic about the thought of being with somebody who is older. They make it seem dangerous, but also make you feel safe. And they always give you a secret thrill. The thrill of knowing that by dating somebody older, a part of you ages too.
I tap Lauren on the arm. “Come on, there’s Kairi.”
We make our way through the flood of bodies weaving and dancing across the carpet. The air is contaminated with the combination of sweat, perfume, and cologne. I can even detect a hint of smoke escaping from an open window. Smoking, in my opinion, is a disgusting habit, but that doesn’t mean I hate people that smoke. Not that I know anybody that smokes, thank God.
I hold my breath and continue walking; trying to act like the smell isn’t bothering me when I can practically feel the cancer growing in my lungs. Fortunately Kairi is standing directly under the living room’s ceiling fan. I can actually breathe as I walk up to her. Lauren stays back a few steps. She has an irrational fear of ceiling fans. Something about one nearly crushing her as a child. I don’t try and bring it up because it upsets her.
“Hey,” I say to Kairi.
“Hey guys!” Kairi squeals. She’s even perkier than Lauren. It might be because Kairi Summers just so happens to be a cheerleader. But not one of the obnoxious preppy cheerleaders. It also doesn’t help that Kairi has a serious coffee addiction. I see her with a Starbucks cup every morning in homeroom. Even the teachers know not to take away her caffeine.
“Hey,” Lauren mutters as she stares warily at the rotating fan.
Kairi looks confused. “What’s wrong with her?” she whispers to me.
“Don’t ask,” I automatically reply.
“Right… Okay. OMG! Have you guys seen the new guy?!” Kairi literally jumps up and down as if this is the most exciting event to ever happen on planet Earth.
“Um… No. Who is he?” I ask cautiously as my eyes follow her spazy hopping. Up and down. Up and down. I feel tired just watching her.
Kairi stops and grabs my arm. Her eyes are wide and shining with glee. “That’s just it. Nobody knows who he is. So far he hasn’t talked to anybody. But all of the girls think that he is gorgeous. The mysterious vibe radiating off him just makes them want him even more.”
Hm. Sounds interesting. Not. “Have you seen him yet?”
“Only a glimpse,” Kairi admits sadly. “But he has these really deep brown eyes and dark brown hair. I heard one girl say he even has a tattoo, which means that he’s rebellious. And you know how girls go for the bad boy type.”
“Uh huh,” Lauren says. She is still staring at that stupid fan. I guess we should get away from it before she gets any ideas about destroying it.
“Well, I’ll be on the look out for him. Maybe he’s in the kitchen,” I say as I subtly step backward. I really could care less about this mystery boy. All I want to do right now is check on Adam. We haven’t seen him since we walked in.
“Okay! Tell me if you see him! I’ll talk to you at school Monday.” Kairi is already chatting up a new unsuspecting victim as Lauren and I head toward the overflowing kitchen.
“Man, that girl can talk,” I tell Lauren. Lauren is the only person who I can handle listening to for more than twenty minutes. Everybody else just has to send me a text or something so that I don’t get annoyed with their voice. It’s kind of rude, but I can’t help that I have a short attention span.
“I wonder if that boy is still here…” Lauren says distractedly. Apparently she hadn’t been terrified enough to block out what Kairi was saying.
I groan and say, “Not you too. I don’t want my best friend to be drooling over some random guy that all the other girls are after. You know that guys like that are almost always bad news.”
“Maybe he’s different,” Lauren whispers dramatically.
“I think that you’re getting real life confused with a cheesy romance movie.”
“Well excuse me for trying to be a little optimistic, Ms. Realist. You might just change your mind. People can surprise you.”
I ignore her. Not just because I always ignore her when she goes on her you-just-have-to-believe talks that makes me feel like I’m in a kid cartoon. I’m also ignoring her because I see Adam sitting at a table with a beer clenched in his hand. But it’s not Adam that is distracting me. It is the boy sitting beside him. I can’t see his face because he is turned away from me, but I notice dark brown hair messily flowing from his head. I also see the bottom of a tattoo sticking out from his ratty black shirt sleeve.
“Well, Lauren, here is your chance to find out if this guy is the Mr. Dreamy that Kairi made him out to be,” I smirk.
She follows my gaze and squeaks girlishly. I grab her hand and drag her toward Adam and the mystery man, despite her protests.
I fearlessly approach Adam and say, “Who is your friend?” Adam looks up from his warm beer and I can tell that he’s had more than one. He squints at Lauren, who is hiding behind me like a frightened puppy. She has no problem talking to most people, but when it comes to meeting cute guys she freaks out.
“Oh.” Adam scrunches his face up in concentration. “Um… Dude, what did you say your name was again?” He looks at the guy sitting beside him.
It is as if somebody flipped a switch and the world is now moving in slow motion. As the boy turns around and I stare at him, waiting to see if he’s as cute as all the girls think he is, my heart is the only thing that is moving at warp speed. Lauren continues to hide behind me, so she cannot see the reason of why I gasp.
I gasp because not only is the boy just as hot as Kairi said, but he also looks familiar. Very familiar. I stare into those deep brown eyes and that’s when I get it. The most out of this world, never would I expect it to happen in a million years thing has just happened. Because this boy is not just any boy. It’s Danny.