It all started with the note in fifth grade. We had just come in from recess and I was high on endorphins from running around, chasing people. It took me a second to notice the note sitting on my desk, but when I did, I was pleasantly surprised. Who would send me a note? When I read it, however, I wasn't very excited. In fact, I was disgusted. And poor Josh had signed the note.
After I was done reading it, I immediately looked at Josh, who was staring at me with a nervous smile. Instead of politely smiling back or ignoring him, I glared at him and then crumpled the note. Josh's smile dropped and he looked like he was about to cry when he turned around in his seat, but all I could think about at that moment was how gross it was to get a love letter from someone like Josh. He was so....gross.
But that wasn't the only note. Every day after lunch recess I would find a note sitting on my desk, each one signed by Josh. And every day I would crumple them up. I even threw one at him. But he didn't stop. Even when we moved onto junior high, I still found them on my desk in the classes we shared. Pretty soon I didn't open them because I already knew who they were from and what they said.
Junior high flew by quickly and by the time we were in high school, Josh wasn't the little boy he used to be. He grew taller and his shoulders got broader. His voice deepened and his boyish features disappeared. Suddenly he was in high demand and I constantly heard girls talking about how hot he was and how he would be the perfect boyfriend. I thought that he would move one with all the attention, but I still found a note at the bottom of my locker every day. Even on days he was absent, there was a letter waiting for me.
Once, an ex-girlfriend of his accused me of stealing him and said that we had a secret relationship. I, of course, thought this was hilarious and told her that we would never be anything more than friends. Just as I finished telling her that, I looked up and met Josh's gaze. It was only too obvious how hurt he was. And for the first time since that first note, I felt guilty.
When I got the next note, I knew immediately that it was different than all the others, mostly because it didn't have my name surrounded by hearts. So I opened it, curious to see what he had to say this time. Scrawled in his unmistakable handwriting was a single sentence: "I will never give up." He didn't even sign it.
And then he moved.
What pissed me off the most was that he never told me. I found out that he had moved a week after the fact. I was confused because I stopped getting his notes, I never saw him at school, and when I tried calling, I was told that the line was disconnected. When Jackie told me that he moved, it was like something was ripped out of me. I missed his jokes, his teasing his stupid little smiles that he always gave me. But most of all, I missed his notes. I never thought I would miss them so much, considering I hadn't read a single one since elementary.
Two years later, and I still hadn't heard from him, but I didn't forget about him either. It was the end of school and I was supposed to be cleaning out my locker, but I got distracted by all my thoughts of Josh's notes. Jackie eventually found me standing in the empty hallway, staring at my locker.
"Ellie, what are you doing?" she asked.
I shrugged. "Thinking about high school and stuff." I wasn't about to tell her what I was really thinking about.
"Ah," she nodded, "I'm going to miss this place.
I sighed. "Me too."
"Well," she clapped me on the back. "Finish cleaning your locker out so that we can leave. Mom left me in charge of Danny again and if I'm late picking him up, Mom's going to ground me from the Senoior Breakout."
"Fine." I sighed again, wishing I would stop growing up so fast and spun my combination. I didn't have much to clean out; just a couple of stray papers and my magnets. As I reached for a folded piece of paper at the floor of my locker, I froze. Staring up at me was my name, surrounded by hearts. Slowly, I picked it up.
"Is this a joke?" I asked Jackie, a little angry.
"Do you find it funny?" a familiar voice behind me said.
I spun around in surprise, nearly falling over. "Josh?"
A very tall and very handsome boy grinned and held out his arms. "The one and only."
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jackie give him a thumbs up as she walked backwards. I pointed at her. "You have a lot of explaining to do."
She shrugged. "I promise I'll make it up to you, but right now, I have some babysitting to do." Before I could reply, she turned and ran down the hall, leaving me alone with Josh.
"What are you doing here?" I asked.
"Well, I graduated a week ago and since I have nothing to do until I go off to college, I decided I'd come see my favorite girl in the whole world." He walked up to me, looking me over. "You've changed."
I didn't know what to say. I couldn't believe he was standing in front of me. He had changed, too, for the better I might add. He'd grown even taller, and there was no doubt that he wasn't a boy anymore. His hair was shorter than I remembered it being, but I liked it that way. It made him look older and more handsome.
"You know, most people give old friends hugs when they meet again," Josh said, interrupting my thoughts.
I stopped staring to glare at him. "You would like a hug."
"Actually a kiss, but I didn't want to push my luck."
"You don't have any luck," I said, shutting my locker and stuffing the note in my pocket. I wasn't about to read it, especially with him standing right there.
"I noticed," he said. "How have you been?"
I shrugged and started walking down the hall. "Fine, I guess." I stopped walking, suddenly realizing that Jackie left me without a ride.
Need a ride?" Josh asked as if he read my mind.
I nodded, not too keen on walking two miles home in this pre-summer heat.
"This way," he said, spinning around.
"How long have you been in town?" I asked.
"About five days," he said.
"So you leave without warning and then when you decide to come back two years later, you don't even tell me until five days after you get here?" I asked angrily. "How long has Jackie known you were here?"
He cleared his throat a little. "About five days," he replied sheepishly.
"Well that makes me feel special," I said sarcastically.
"If it makes you feel any better, I really did come back to see you," he said.
"What took you so long?"
We arrived at his car and he opened my door for me. I smiled and got in. When he climbed into the driver's seat, he finally answered me. "I was nervous."
"Nervous?" I was surprised. "What were you nervous about?"
He paused before answering. "I was nervous that you would hate me."
I scoffed. "Why would I hate you?"
"Because I never told you that I was moving. Jackie told me that you were pretty angry for a while."
I thought back to when I found out he had moved without telling me. "Yeah, I was pissed and I guess I am still a little resentful that you never said anything."
Out of the corner of my eye I saw him cringe. "Ellie," He paused again. "You have no idea how hard it was for me to move, but it was just as hard to try to tell you myself. I liked you and…when I was gone, I thought I got over you, but talking to you and seeing you again…I'm sorry. I know you don't feel the same way. I'll shut up now." He pulled in front of my house and I guess he was expecting me to get out, but I didn't.
"Would you believe me if I said that I missed you?"
He smiled a gorgeous smile. "No, but it would be wonderful to hear it."
"I missed you," I said quietly, smiling slightly.
There was an awkward silence before I heard him say, "I've always liked you, Ellie."
"Even before that first note?" I asked.
"Yeah," he smiled sheepishly. "It was such a relief to finally tell you how I felt."
"And it tore you up to see me crumple it," I stated.
He sighed. "Yeah. But then I decided that no matter what, I would get you to fall in love with me."
We stared at each other for a while and then I whispered, "It worked."
"What?" he asked in disbelief. "Why didn't you tell me?" He seemed a little angry.
"Because I didn't know until you moved," I said defensively. "Maybe if you told me you were moving I would have figured it out sooner."
He opened his mouth, but then froze. "Wait. Did you say you love me?"
"As in married people love?
"So it worked? You love me?"
I rolled my eyes. "Just kiss me."
He chuckled and leaned over, pressing his lips to mine. I closed my eyes, putting my arms around his neck. I'd thought about kissing him, but I'd never imagined it to be so sweet. It was short and simple, but it still left me breathless.
"You have no idea how long I've wanted to do that," he said once we pulled away.
"Since fifth grade?" I guessed.
"Not really," he said with a secretive smile.
"I don't think I want you to know that yet."
"Maybe I'll tell you when you're older. Maybe." He smiled sweetly at me and I glared at him.
"How much older?"
He shrugged. "Maybe on our wedding night."
"What makes you think we are going to get married?"
He shrugged again. "I don't."
"Wait, are you telling me that you won't tell me unless we get married?" I asked.
"Maybe," he said.
"Are you going back?" I asked, changing the subject.
He smiled. "Nope. I'm moving back here with my parents. My mom didn't like the flatness of South Dakota and I'm going to college here."
"Why would anyone want to move to South Dakota in the first place?" I asked.
"It's not that bad, once you get to know people," he said. "We lived in a small town named Faith. Can you believe that my graduating class was 23 people?"
I stared at him in disbelief. "23?"
He nodded. "I felt like an outsider because I was new and everybody already knew everybody. It didn't help that I was in the middle of high school already."
"I'm glad to be back."
"I'm glad you're back too."
"So does that mean you like me?"
I leaned over and kissed him with a smile. "Of course." I sat back into my seat and put my feet on his dashboard, ignoring his disapproving glare. "So where are you taking me for our first date?"
This is like my 5th edit of this story and I think I've finally got it the way I like. This time, instead of looking over my original copy and editing that, I read my original copy, took out a new piece of paper and started writing from scratch. The ending is almost completely the same as the original, but that's just because I like it. So I hope you like my latest edit, and I'm hoping that it'll be one of my last edits for this lovely story. Thanks for reading! And let me know of any mistakes you find.