Chapter Two

All right, so perhaps they didn't remain broken for all eternity, but their separation was nonetheless undoubtedly prolonged. By the time the two had come into the thrill of the agê ingrat, both were already quite convinced of what they would do with their lives. Alexis wanted to be the greatest female author since George Eliot, which was in her opinion, not in others, and Will dreamed of becoming, well, himself. He was already certain that his name would be far more superior than Ray Bradbury, Charles Dickens, and all those other goons he had been forced to read in school. And in addition to their ambitious dreams, the two also had another future goal in common; both never ever wanted to cross lines with the other again. Ever.

Of course, during this eight year respite from one another, Alexis' and Will's mothers, Patricia Hendry and Cathy Rowe, became well aware of the hidden feud between their youngest children. The first day the two refused to play with each other sparked their interest in the invisible belligerence the two obvious could feel when they exchanged but the briefest glance. Cathy swore that she saw lightning zap from her daughter's eyes when Will dared to send her a glare as he biked by their house, and Patricia insisted that she saw her son bare his teeth at Alexis when she passed by on her scooter with a stiff toss of her head.

And as mothers, they badgered their bitter children for answers.

"Why don't you invite Will over to play, Lexie?" Cathy would ask, and Alexis' eyes would only widen with bright rage.

"He's a poopy-head," she'd mutter angrily before stomping away.

As Alexis grew from a girl to a young lady, Cathy still didn't stop her questions.

"You haven't talked to Will in a long time, Lex," Cathy would say, and Alexis would shrug and hmph, putting into effect her new reply:

"He's gay."

And she'd saunter off, filing her nails or jamming her fists into her pants' pockets.

Fortunately for Cathy, Patricia didn't fair very well with Will either. When he was still a boy and easy to persuade, she'd ask, "Willie, I made some extra cookies. Why don't you go over to Lexie's house and ask her if she wants some, hmm?"

"No," he'd snap, snatching a cookie from the plate in his mother's hands and stuffing it in his face. "She's a booger."

By the time he was in his teens and a more mature boy (or so she thought), she'd still try to egg her son into complying with her hinted wishes. "It's a Friday night, Will. Aren't you going to go out with your friends? I think Lex is at home. Why don't you call her?" she ribbed with a motherly smile.

"Are you kidding me?" he'd sputter, a laugh on the verge of bursting from him. "She's such a—bleep—No way in hell am I going to—bleep—ing call her."

But unlike Alexis, whose back talk consisted only of a rude and terribly false assumption, Will's bleep-ing mouth earned him a good grounding for the weekend. However, he didn't mind it much. It gave him time to write, and scheme. More scheming than writing, actually, but his scheming involved writing, so he was able to square things out with himself.

And the following morning as he meandered up to the bus stop with his backpack slung over his shoulder, his scheme was put into action.

It should very well be established at this point that Will had not dared to put another of his and Lexie's adventures into words again, especially if he intended to share those words with a large public audience. He admitted to himself when he was eleven years old and newly introduced to the unfamiliarity of middle school that he missed Lexie's company. True, they squabbled just as often as they did laugh, but it was bonding nonetheless, and when middle school smacked Will in the jaw, he realized that a recognizable face and friend would have been an enormous comfort.

Unfortunately for him, Alexis would not befriend him again. She ignored him. She teased him. She laughed at him. The glasses he wore on his nose were no help either, and his interest in academics, not sports, made him an outcast amongst his own kind. Lexie managed to keep in the coop of her other close friends from elementary school, but the ties were weak. She spent much of her time in their company but never experienced the same friendship they seemed to easily access with an abundance of giggles and, "I know, right!"


Only, she didn't want to confess to herself that she thought that Will would make a better friend because she knew that he would. She knew that with Will, she'd be making her mind active with fantasies that spanned the entire ocean of her brain, not dilly-dallying with nincompoops who had nothing on their minds but a new and rapidly growing interest in appearance, makeup, boys and dating.

So she remained in the breaking bonds of her pointless friendship with such "friends" as they were and did her hair as they did, dressed as they did and did what they did in order to feel the slightest smidgen of acceptance and belonging. Meanwhile, her writing deteriorated, and Will's happened to flourish with every passing day.

It was only when Lex and Will were reunited in the same English class in eighth grade did the girl finally come to her senses. For one particular assignment, each student was required to read their homework in front of the class, and the task was to write a story. Alexis immediately embraced the work, finding it her irrefutable forte, and she set to writing the best story that any eighth grader in the whole entire history of her school had ever written. She revised and edited and scowled and murmured to herself as she came to finish her remarkable piece of work. So convinced and ready was she that on the due date, she offered to read hers aloud first, which was very unlikely for a girl of her personality to do. What she loved she kept to herself and so sharing hadn't always been her strong point.

Upon reaching the front of the classroom, she held her paper steadily in her hands and read her story clearly and loudly, enunciating each delicately chosen word with tender care. She received great applause and a nod of approval from her teacher and she was assured of her superior writing skills. That was… until Will volunteered to read his next.

As if drawn to each other by unconquerable ire, the two swapped livid glowers as Alexis made her way to her seat, preparing her ears for the inferior anecdote of dear William; only, her ears never heard anything mediocre. They heard only pure, unadulterated brilliance.

Will's story had brought adventure to the boys in the class and made the girls swoon from the appropriately described romance, and it had caused the teacher to applaud like mad. Alexis was so shocked that she didn't even know tears had leaked out of her wide, unblinking eyes. Impossible, she had thought, repeating the word in her head as she rubbed her throbbing temples. Impossible. Not possible. Unable to exist.

But it does!

For the rest of the day she was unable to communicate with anyone. When she arrived home, she went straight to her bathroom and pulled the clips and scrunchies from her curled hair and dumped them in the wastebasket. She scrubbed her face until it was red and she got out of her despicable school clothes and got into some more comfortable jogging pants and a large, wrinkled t-shirt.

Her room was cold when she entered it, dropping her book bag carelessly onto the floor as she came in while her eyes aimed for her bed. She fell onto it with a quivering sigh and pressed her face into her pillows, blindly searching for the foot of her old teddy bear as she tried to comfort herself. But even a childhood toy was not enough to ease her. Her mind raced with one thought and one thought only.

William had taken a step forward, and she had been left behind.

From then on she refused to conform to anyone's regulations. She was Alexis Rowe and she'd be what she wanted Alexis Rowe to be, which was, of course, to be the next George Eliot.