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I leaned on my hand inattentively, tuning out the teacher's lecture and tuning in on him. Watching critically, I recorded his every movement in my memory. He didn't look too shabby. He had smooth snowy skin, clear of acne. Nothing wrong there. I still couldn't see why she liked him, though. His eyes, a chilly bronze, were devoid of any warm friendliness. I guess his eyes were nice, but couldn't she see the emptiness there? Maybe his eyes shouldn't have bothered me. Perhaps they really weren't “windows into your soul” like they said. But aside from that, there was one thing that clearly showed the annoying fake of his that she should have been able to see. He had short-cropped ashy blue hair. He must have dyed it long ago, for his dark soot-colored roots were showing.
Shouldn't she be able to see that he probably only dyed his hair for attention? Why else would anyone dye their hair such a weird shade? It didn't look good. Attention had to be the reason. Why didn't she see it? Why did she cling to that boy as if he was the only guy she could have a crush on?
“Well, Tami? What do you think? Isn't he cute?” June squeaked with excitement. I continued to stare at her crush, trying to figure out what to say to my twin sister. Did she really want my true opinion? That he was completely artificial and arrogant? I could tell, just by the smug, superior look on his face.
“He's fine,” I grunted, turning so I couldn't see her face. I didn't want her expressions to weaken me and have me end up all-out lying, saying that he was great. But I couldn't help but give a slight glance in her direction. I could see that her face had fallen. I sighed.
“You don't like him?” She whined, her face shifting to an instant pout. I frowned. I hated her sad face.
Don't lie to her, I told myself. She'll find out sooner or later.
“He seems kind of...” I trailed off as her fragile crystal-blue eyes seemed to thin. I bit my lip. I felt like saying anything unfriendly in any way about him would crack those round glass-like eyes, sending the shards down into her body to scar her. Junie was so sensitive... “...tall.” I lied, defeated but my sister's fragile heart.
June looked confused for a second, then let a huge smile spread over her face. Her pure white smile was beautiful and sweet, but my guilt for lying to get it was heavy in my heart.
“Ryan looks better with his height. He used to be my height last year; he was still cute, but Tami, he's only a step away from perfect now!” She laughed and turned her fragile blue eyes away from me and back to her dream guy. I gritted my teeth and made myself look away. I wished I hadn't lied.
He didn't deserve my twin sister. She was the best-- no, more then the best. Junie was more brilliant then the brightest star, and she was wasting her time looking at a guy who used a flashlight to light himself up. Maybe June was was mesmerized by the pretty colors that shone from his flashlight, the colors that no star could make. But the colors weren't real, and neither was the light he claimed belonged to a star.
Why did she take an interest in Ryan, of all people? There were plenty of guys interested in her -cute guys- and were each a million times more charismatic, fun-loving, and sweet then Ryan.
I'd always been aware of Ryan, but had never really taken an interest in him. It wasn't until now, when Junie had told me of her fondness for him, that I recalled all of my memories of him. I remembered him, skirting on the fringes of my mind, always causing a twinge of annoyance whenever he came into my vision. The jerk had always sneered with his buddies at the girls that always tried to get his attention. There weren't that many-- I'd always hated the snobbishness in his eyes whenever his gaze turned to a girl. At one point, he turned that snobby gaze to me. I nearly socked him in the gut.
I would NOT let that gaze fall on Junie! Maybe my twin sister was under his spell, but I would NOT allow him to laugh at her!
I pressed my fist against the desktop, glaring at the graffiti scratched in. I'd never realized that I hated that boy. Perhaps I hadn't, until now. I guess it didn't really matter.
“Mrs. Larch?” The sound of Ryan Jackson's voice was like an alarm clock in the morning, annoying, loud, and extremely obnoxious.
“Yes, Mister Jackson?” Mrs. Larch called back to him, lowering her marker from the white board and walking over to him so that she could hear him better. I clenched my fists tightly as I watched him get up. For him, even a little movement like that looked smug.
“Can I go to the bathroom?” This time I was ready for his alarm-clock voice. I breathed in deeply, suppressing my feelings of hatred.
“Yes, you may.” Mrs. Larch said, then turning back to the white board. I breathed a sigh of relief. I wouldn't have to see Ryan Jackson for a while. That would give me some time to cool off.
Ryan got up. I then realized that he would have to pass by us... close by us. All my hatred bubbled up to the surface. I tried to keep myself from glaring at him, but it was impossible. He didn't look at me. The fact that his cold metallic gaze never touched me was what saved his life. It was enough to watch his superior narcissistic bronze eyes touched about half the girls in the class. That alone ignited a raging fire of fury deep in my stomach. Lucky for him, it didn't reach my heart. I knew that it wouldn't be long before it reached my heart, though. Should those horrible snobby brown eyes touch Junie, my heartbeat would be a volcanic eruption. Once the flames of hatred sparked in my heart, it would take only the most powerful forces to hold me back. Lucky for my sister, Junie owned those forces.
I would bring my twin sister the moon if I could. I loved Junie more then chocolate loved milk. Maybe that was why I was being so critical about Ryan. Perhaps I wouldn't hate him so much if my sister weren't interested in him. Or, it was possible that it was because of my sister that I was looking into his already-existing massive flaws.
Ryan drew near my sister's end of the desk. She shivered with happiness. I quivered with anger. In a matter of seconds, Jackson would not be able to help looking at Junie. If that snobbish superior look was in his eyes when he faced my sister, I didn't know if I could hold back my fists.
My breath quickening, I locked my fists on the edges of my chair. June would never forgive me if I pummeled her crush, and in addition, I would get in serious trouble. But I would NOT let him look at Junie the way he looked at other girls! Junie was much too beautiful and lovely to be treated in such a way!
Time slowed. Everyone was moving at, like, one-sixteenth of their normal speed. Maybe my mind was just quickening. I didn't know. But I used this to my advantage; I saw everything I could.
I watched as Ryan slowly took a step closer to us. It was like he was walking through honey-- so slow that it was irritating. No one noticed. It must've been part of the time trick in my head. It gave me time to watch, in horror, as those cold bronze eyes, fell upon my sister.
Surprise jolted my system. Time froze altogether now. His eyes were not the icy bronze I'd seen before. It was as if his narcissism had melted away the moment his gaze turned to Junie! What replaced it was an even bigger shock. Ryan's eyes were filled with an amazing mixture of sweetness, affection, and amazingly, a touch of tenderness. With these emotions filling his eyes rather then snobbishness, they seemed to be circles of liquid chocolate, so sweet that I could almost smell it. This was so out of character. The jerk, Ryan, loved my sister.
The realization unfroze time, falling back into normal speed. I watched as his hand slipped into the pocket of his jeans to reveal a folded sheet of powder-blue paper. My sister's name was printed in carefully written calligraphy on the face of the folded paper.
It's true, I thought, my eyes widening with shock.
Immediately, I faced my sister. Like an excited bunny, she was shivering. She was fidgeting, repeatedly pushing her cherry-blond hair back behind her ear only for it to fall right back over her face. Her blue eyes were shining, and her normally peaches-and-cream skin turned to a deep strawberry. She was breathing quickly and shallowly, making me worry that she might start hyperventilating. But she was excited. She really did like this guy.
Right as Ryan passed us, his paper toppled into Junie's lap. She tried to catch his eye, but he turned his back to her and went straight to the door for the bathroom. Her hands were shaking as she took the paper into her hands. She stared at it for a long moment before she breathed in a deep breath. Then she carefully unfolded Ryan's precious paper. She held it, breathing deeply and nervously. I could tell she hadn't started reading yet. Why? What was she waiting for?
Quick as a hummingbird, she flung the paper into my hands. I could feel my eyes bug out. What was she doing?
June smiled at me. My heart thumped. This wasn't how it was supposed to work. This letter was hers. It wasn't mine to read.
“I know your doubts,” She breathed, glancing up for a second to see if Mrs. Larch was looking our way. Then, her serious blue eyes turned back to me. “And I trust you, Tami. I'm... I'm not sure if I should read this.” I realized suddenly that she hadn't seen what I'd seen. Ryan's sweet chocolate eyes were the only kind she'd ever seen. June had never been exposed to his usual cold, metallic bronze eyes. She couldn't tell the difference. She didn't know that the chocolate eyes were meant only for her, and were not open to public. She wasn't aware that it was love inscribed in this paper. She didn't want to be hurt by love's absence.
“No,” I whispered. “I can't do that. This isn't mine to read.” Reluctance emerged in my sister's eyes. There was a tug at my heart when I saw that. I really did want to see the letter. I wanted to do as she said, to make sure I wasn't wrong. As well as that, I wanted to know exactly what he had said to her. But I knew that I was right.
“Still. I-I want you to read this first... please.” Suddenly her eyes were crystal again-- fragile and easily broken. I crumbled and took the paper from her hands.
Slowly my eyes fell upon Ryan's perfected print. It had only a vague resemblance to his normal handwriting which was a nearly illegible scrawl. He must have worked very hard on this.
I let out a surprised breath. I hadn't expected this, despite his expressions and change in emotions. It... it was true.
“Well?” June said quietly. I could barely hear her. Blood was pounding in my ears. No, no, no. Junie could not see this. It would ruin her!
“Tami!” June almost cried. My eyes flashed to Mrs. Larch, who, luckily, didn't hear. “Should I read it?” She pressed desperately. I cast my glance at her anxious blue eyes. Unease crept into the corners of my heart.
Ryan would be no good for her. He was rude to his admirers and was a total jerk to everyone else. My guess was that his friends were only interested in him for his popularity. They didn't really care about him. He would trust them to make decisions that they would only joke about. He would be driven to darkness, no doubt. The cravings for attention that I could see clearly in his blue hair... then would take him down a path that June could not be involved in!
I took a deep breath. I could not let this happen... I could not lose my sister...
I crumpled up the paper in my hands. My sister's eyes widened.
“Wha..?” She began. Not looking at her, I hurled the crumpled blue paper into the trash bin. “Tami, what happened!?”
“Don't take it back, June. The contents won't do you any good.” She had to listen to me... I was her trusted sister! She wouldn't suspect...
Three words had been fitted at the center of the paper. It was the three, the simple, unforgettable three...
"I Love You"