Have you ever looked at someone and known – just known – that he was the one you wanted to be with the rest of your life? And every time you see him, your heart pounds, your stomach cramps, your face burns, and a wave of raw emotion floods though your body – longing so much for him that it hurts. You know the two of you together would be perfect. Only there's one problem.
You've never said a word to him.
The rain came down in sheets that morning, pooling in the areas of the back yard where there was no grass and turning everything into a wet mush as I stared out the window. It was odd, rain in the middle of winter. Usually, it was snow. But I didn't care. I loved rainy days. Even better if it stormed. For some reason, rain put me in a good mood. An optimistic mood. After all, this was the first day back to school after New Year's, and things were going to happen. I had resolved to make this the best year of my life.
I, Natalie Bishop, was going to talk to Jeremy Birch today.
Yeah, my best friend, Samantha Meyers, didn't believe me either. We sat at our usual table in the cafeteria before first bell, and while I poured my heart out to her, her lips kept twitching. Finally, I stopped and glared at her, and she burst out laughing.
"What? You don't think I'm serious?" I glared at her.
She cleared her throat and, to her credit, attempted to be solemn. Which lasted a whole 10 seconds. "Oh, I think you're serious," she said, her cornflower blue eyes widening as she nodded. "But I don't think you'll actually do it."
"And why not?" I couldn't help feeling offended. I mean, come on. She was my best friend. She was supposed to support me, not find hilarity in my dilemmas.
Sam leaned back in her chair and began ticking off the reasons on her fingers. "Well, first, you've never talked to him in your life. Second, the reason you've never talked to him is because you freeze up and mumble like an idiot every time you're near him. Third, you don't have any classes with him. Fourth, since you don't have any classes with him and you've never talked to him before, how do you think you're going to start the conversation? Fifth …"
I stopped her. "Enough already! I get the point." Moaning, I dropped my head into my arms. "You're right. I'm a wimp. But I have to do something!"
"What's wrong with what you're doing now?"
I lifted my head and stared at her in amazement. "What I'm doing now? I'm following him around in the hallway pretending not to be following him. I'm watching him at lunch while pretending not to watch him. When I drive by his house, I always hope to catch him outside. And sometimes I drive by his house when I don't really need to! Sam, there's a word for that. It's stalking."
Sam shrugged. "Well, then the solution is easy. I think you should definitely talk to him."
Sometimes I could kill Sam.
Now that I had Sam's sort-of approval of the idea, I began to work out a plan. It was a little easier to focus without Sam around. Then again, I tried to do it in first-period English Lit class with Mrs. Watts, who we liked to refer to as the Attention Nazi. If she thought in the slightest you weren't listening, she would focus on you for the rest of the class, pummeling you with question after question until you were curled up on the floor crying in shame. It could get really interesting when three or more people weren't paying attention. But seriously, there has to be some kind of rule against this. Isn't it cruel and unusual punishment? Is it the end of the world if I don't know the hidden meaning of "Hamlet"?
Anyway, so I had to come up with my plan while pretending to pay attention, which in Mrs. Watts' class meant sneaking thoughts while her back was turned. And let me tell you, when you're coming up with something as monumental as I was, a fragmentary mental process is not the best way to do it.
Admittedly, what I finally came up with was probably not worth the excitement that accompanied it: I have calculus third period, and Jeremy has it second period in the same room. We were both taking it for college credit, but, as my luck tended to run, he was placed in the other class. So sometimes, if I'm early enough, he'll still be in the room when I get there. Yes, this means most days I practically sprint there from second-period history – you really think I would miss a chance to see him? Even though it meant racing from one end of the school to the other and ending up out of breath and slightly sweaty, it was well worth it for the view. Trust me.
Right, back to my plan. Well, so, what if I go in, and he's in there putting away his things? And I walk by his desk and, whoops, accidentally knock off his notebook. Well, then I'd have to pick it up for him, and he'd say thanks, and then – whammo! – I vault into a conversation about that day's class. Brilliant, huh?
The way I see it, once I get the first talk out of the way, it should only be easier after that, right? He might even say hi to me in the hallways. The thought of those eyes looking at me, actually seeing me, made my knees feel weak.
God, the fact that I'm all excited about that just proves how much of a pathetic loser I am.
The more I thought about The Plan, the more I was sure it would work. It was simple and foolproof. I caught up with Sam in the hallway after first period and ran it by her. She contemplated it for a second.
"Except…" she said, leaning against her locker and biting her lip. "What if he's already got his notebook put away before you get there?"
I sighed, trying not to worry. "Why do you have to think about these things?"
"Somebody has to, dear," she said with a smile. "If I didn't, you'd be jumping into the pool without checking for water first."
That she could think that of me! I was stunned! Well, okay, so maybe I didn't always think things through first, but that had worked for me so far. So what if I'd never even had a boyfriend? I was just … picky. If you were 17 and in the prime of your life, would you be rushing into a relationship just for the sake of a relationship when the perfect guy could be waiting just around the corner? I didn't think so.
"So what's your plan B?" she asked.
I pursed my lips and scrambled for an alternative. "Well… I could always… just bump into him. Yeah, and then we could talk, and I'd get to touch him!"
Sam nodded. "That could work. He's definitely very touchable."
"But what if I bump him and he just keeps on walking?" I sighed and collapsed against the locker. "I'm doomed, Sam. This is never gonna happen."
"Oh, Nat. Just let it happen. Quit making all these little plots. It'll work out eventually."
The bell for second period rang, and I grabbed my bag from where I'd dropped it on the floor next to me.
"Yeah, I guess," I sighed. "I'll see you at lunch."
She smiled encouragingly at me and took off down the hall. I trudged despondently in the opposite direction to my history class.
Time to drown my sorrows in World History. There had to be something in there that was way worse than my life. Maybe we'd learn about Nazi Germany. Or Apartheid.
Sometimes you just have to put things in perspective.
Author's Note: I've recently finished a casual rewrite of this story. By that, I mean I didn't make a lot of major changes, mostly just cleaning up, rewording, etc. There are few majorish shifts in it later, but nothing too big.
The reason I mention this is because my check of the chapters has shown them all to be replaced except the last two. I don't know how long it'll take for them to show up, but if you happen to be reading the story between now and when that happens, it may seem a bit disjointed. It'll be fairly obvious they're the old chapters because the old author's notes/review comments will be on top (this was back before FP had review reply; yeah, it was that long ago). So yeah. Hopefully it won't be a problem and they'll appear soon. :P
Either way, I hope you like the new version.