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On Friday, November 13, 2016, I vowed I’d never kiss Mitch Moore again. On Saturday, November 14, 2016, I had my body and lips pressed up against his stubbled jawbone. As it turns out, I was a rotten liar.
“Elise.” He whispered into my thick brown hair before returning to my mouth. His lips were firm, pressing into mine with a deep hunger. I felt his hands slide around my waist, pulling me even closer to his chest. “Elise.” He whispered again.
This was wrong. Actually, it was so far from wrong the train for wrong had left half an hour ago. We should stop my mind kept chanting over and over. You should never stop my heart pleaded in return.
I had a crush on Mitch ever since he’d given me his purple crayon in first grade. There had been none left and I was sat at my desk crying he walked over with his in hand. “Here.” He muttered, throwing the crayon at my head. Then he ran away, back to his friends who began to tease him for sharing with a girl. I took that crayon home with me and slept with it under my pillow until the elementary days were over.
That crush had never died away. Sure, I’ve had other crushes, a boyfriend or two. But in the end it always came back to Mitch. Mitch and his crooked smile. His curly hair with shaved sides. His muddled green eyes that caught the light in the most perfect angle. Mitch Moore was alive in a way no one else was. In our tiny town people were content to just live and die here. Not Mitch, he had plans for a future much greater than any of ours. He was going to become a music producer, live in a beach house in Malibu and become a millionaire. His life was an episode of Two and a Half Men just waiting to happen. And we all believed that. There was nothing he couldn’t do. Liking Mitch was the closest I’d ever get to greatness; I was destined for a life much simpler than his. But as his hands found their way back in my tousled hair, I dared believe that greatness for my own life was possible.
And then reality crashed onto my head with the brute force of a Hun army. Mitch Moore was not mine, and nor could he ever be. Because Mitch Moore was dating my best friend.
I pulled back, yanking my body out of his grip. A sigh of protest escaped his still parted lips, but he didn’t try to pull me back in.
“This is wrong.” I whispered, staring at his basement floor. It was covered in chip remains from parties past and a dark stain the shape of Michigan. “This is so wrong.” I repeated, still in a state of disbelief and horror. He sat up next to me, leaning forward to rest his tan arms on his knees. He ran worried fingers through his hair. “I know.”
My mind drifted to Ava, my best friend this side of the Atlantic ocean. Ava and I had been friends since the womb, and that’s not even an exaggeration. Our moms are best friends, and we’re certain they’d planned to get pregnant and have kids and that same time. It worked, because Ava and I share a birthday, only ten minutes apart. I’m the the older one. We had grown up twins, always together all the time. And we’d stayed like that. Ava was the one who was there when my parents split, and I was there for her when her grandad died. We’d never fought and we’d vowed to be best friends forever with our matching tattoos. Yet here I was, committing the ultimate betrayal by making out with her boyfriend. Ava had never known how much I’d liked Mitch, it was the one secret we had. She didn’t know that when he asked her out to prom it broke my heart like a fairy losing its wings. And of course she didn’t know that being a third wheel on their dates was a fate worse than death for me.
Ava was also one of those people who's going places. She was going to be a big time doctor and drive fancy cars and have a house full of cats. Mitch and her were the Brangelina of our school, a god and goddess that floated above it all. Her paleness and dark hair matched his tanness and dirty blondeness completely. Walking behind them in the halls was another great for me.
I glanced at Mitch, his left leg was bouncing up and down with rapid fire, and he was twisting the corner of his flannel in his fingers. “I should go.” I suddenly declared, standing quickly off the couch so it gave me a headache. He stood too, also taking a moment to regain balance. For a second, his lips parted as if he had something to say, but all he did was shake his head and escort me out.
I drove home with the windows rolled down and Falling in Reverse turned up.
Ava and I had planned to meet for brunch that Sunday morning, but she texted at 7 saying she was sick and couldn't make it. I was half relieved, half paralyzed by not getting to talk with her. I knew Mitch wouldn’t tell her what happened, and I’d jump off a cliff before I ever told her. We’d just have to forget about it, and go back to our regularly scheduled lives. Except I got a text from Mitch later asking to meet up and talk. I deleted the text, apparently Mitch was on a different channel than I was. He continued to text throughout the day, and I continued to delete. But there was one thing that had me more worried. Normally, when Ava and I aren't hanging out, we’re texting each other. Yet the only text I’d received from her all day was the one cancelling our plans. I tried sending her funny texts, videos of my dog Lin trying to catch his tail. New memes I knew she’d like. Still, the only time my phone buzzed was when Mitch texted again. I decided to take actions into my own hands. Armed with cookie dough ice cream and a half thought out apology I marched over to her house. As I’m sure you guessed, she lived next door.
Aunt Lisa, Ava’s mom answered the door. Again, she’s not really my aunt but she insists I call her that. My mom does the same to Ava. “Elise! Thank god you’re here! Ava has been locked in her room all day and refuses to come down!” Aunt Lisa has a flair for the dramatics. She quickly grabbed my hand and threw me into the house. “Good, you have ice cream!” She rushed into the kitchen, still handing out instructions. “You can use these spoons. And I don’t want you leaving until Ava is better!” She returned with two giant serving spoons and a handful of napkins. “Good luck dear!” Aunt Lisa called as she pushed me up the stairs. Ava’s room was to the left of the stairs, and somehow the normally comforting door had turned into an ominous cage. I shuffled forward, gently knocking on the door. Normally, I just barged right in.
“Go away Mom! I’m fine!” She called back, her voice muffled by the door and likely a few blankets.
“It’s me.” I called back, opening the door slightly. “I come baring gifts.” I held the ice cream through the crack, a peace offering.
There was some shuffling, and finally the door opened. I gasped. The normally perfectly composed Ava was still in her cat pajamas, had crusted mascara on her eyelashes, and a bird had apparently got caught in her hair. Her brown eyes were red and puffy, as if she had been drowning in salt water.
Ava tried to smile, but she couldn’t hide how she was feeling from me. We walked into her room, sitting on the bed and digging into the ice cream in silence. For a while we stayed like that, just eating our feelings with frozen milk.
“So.” I finally mustered the courage to speak. “What’s wrong?”
She sighed, trying to push out her feelings. “Mitch...Mitch broke up with me.”
Shock. Horror. Confusion. Slight delight. Too many emotions rushed through my head that I couldn’t seem to land on one. I swallowed, taking another spoonful of ice cream to give myself a moment of clarity. “That...that sucks.” I managed to spit out a half hearted comment.
Ava stabbed her spoon into the ice cream. “I know.” She sighed again. “He said that we’ve drifted apart, and that...he liked someone else.”
My spoon clattered to the floor, throwing ice cream into her carpet. Ava didn’t notice because she had started to cry again. Ava never cries, I’d only seen her cry once before when her grandad passed on. I quickly grabbed some napkins and began to wipe up the ice cream, Aunt Lisa would kill me if it stained.
“Did...did he say who it was?” I mumbled, my face still buried into the carpet to avoid hers.
“No.” Was all she said.
The silence returned as I sat on the floor and her on the bed. I knew I was being a crappy friend right now, but my mind was absorbed by the fact that Mitch had dumped Ava for me. (Well, probably me. Maybe me.) I had always been a second choice, the girl guys asked after their previous date fell through. Well, I guess I was Mitch’s second choice too; but no guy had ever broken up with someone to ask me out.
A sharp buzz interrupted my thoughts, it was my phone alarming me to a text. By instinct, Ava went to pick up my phone; again, we never kept secrets. At the same time, I realised the text was probably from Mitch. “Wait!” I called as I jumped up, body slamming into the bed. I was too late, the phone was in her hands and her face in the basement.
“Please stop ignoring me.” She read, voice drained of any possible emotion. “We need to talk, please.”
I yanked the phone out of her hands, which was completely pointless as she began to drop it anyways. “Ava, I...I can explain.”
“What? No, you have to let me explain first.”
She stood, jumping up as if the bed was on fire. “Get out!” Ava yelled, raising her voice.
“Ava…” I tried to plea, but she had made up her mind.
“Get out before I make you.” She growled.
I nodded solemnly, walking out the door and leaving what was left of the ice cream behind. Aunt Lisa was in the living room, watching The Real Housewives of L.A reruns. She turned to smile at me, but that turned to a frown when she saw my expression. In seconds, she was off the couch and running up the stairs. I let myself out, walking like a zombie to my house.
The damn fool was there waiting for me, sitting in the bed of his truck in the middle of my driveway. He looked beautiful, sitting with such grace and ease, looking to the sky as if it owed him something.
“Go away.” I growled, not stopping as I walked past him.
“No way.” He replied, jumping out the the bed, landing in front of me. “I’m not leaving until we talk.”
“I don’t want to talk to someone who broke my best friend’s heart.” I replied, crossing my arms over my chest to keep him at bay, realising I had just done the same thing.
He ran his fingers through his hair, kicking at the cement in frustration. “I’ll admit, that’s not how I wanted things to go. But what’s done is done.” Cautiously, he stepped toward me, shoving his hands into his pockets and rocking on his feet. “Can’t we just talk? I swear I’m interesting.” Flashing his signature smile, he was certain I was convinced. Yet it was at that moment I realised something vitally important. Mitch Moore was not great. His greatness was merely self inflicted, a pedestal I had placed him upon. For years I had yearned for his acceptance and interest. Now I had it, but at the cost of losing my best friend. I knew Ava and I could never recover from this; she had loved Mitch, and I had unintentionally destroyed that. Mitch Moore stood before me on a silver platter in a faded My Chemical Romance t-shirt. He was right there, mine for the taking. But I didn’t want him anymore. I had been attracted to the idea of greatness, the idea that being with him would in turn make me great. The real Mitch Moore was just a normal, confused teenage boy.
“I’m sorry. I just can’t.” I shook my head, truly sorry to be letting him down. His smile faded, and his cover of confidence began to crumple. Perhaps he didn’t say anything out of anger, or perhaps he was too hurt to speak. Whatever it was, he climbed silently into his truck, started the engine and drove away.
I never spoke to Mitch Moore again. Sure I saw him in passing in the halls, but he would always avoid my gaze. Eventually he found a new girlfriend, a tiny wide eyed freshman who idolized his every move. Ava and I eventually made up, swearing off boys for the rest of high school. But like they say: “trust is like a mirror, once broken you never look at in the same way again.” And in the end, despite what I always believed, life went off just fine without Mitch Moore.