Tissues And Romance Novels
A short story by awaitinglove
"I'm tired of doing this," I said to Justin. And I meant it.
It's been almost five months since we both starting "dating." And I say it like that because no one knows that we have been "dating." Except for my best friend. The same best friend who finally knocked some sense into my head.
"What are you talking about?" He asked, his eyes narrowing slightly. We were at school and this was a no-contact zone. No talking, no staring, no smiling, no nothing at each other except for the slightest of glances.
"Of you being ashamed of me. Of us not going public because you're afraid of what your so-called friends might think. That you're a totally different, caring person but only when we are alone together. That's what I'm tired of and that's what I'm talking about." I gritted my teeth when he cast a sideways glance to make sure no one was listening in on our conversation. We were right by the cafeteria, as I had managed to find him before lunch started.
He lowered his voice and I felt a sudden tightening of my throat, "Can't we talk about this later?" He was practically whispering, trying not to move his mouth as he said the words.
The inside of my mouth turned to dust as I stared at him. His dark hair tickled his long eyelashes, the same ones that framed the most beautiful hazel eyes I had ever seen. My eyes traced the straight nose that led to his full, pink lips. The same ones that I had kissed the night before. His good looks and athletic abilities made him one of the more "popular" people at our high school.
And that's what he was ashamed about. That he was popular and I just wasn't. I was pretty, but not gorgeous. I was curvy with an hourglass figure, but not exactly the ideal size two. I had long black hair as my mother was of Asian descent, but I got my almond-shaped brown eyes from my father, who was of English descent.
And as I stared at Justin Parkinson, every girl's dream guy at our high school, I realized just how much our relationship could never work. He was somebody, and I was nobody. He obviously didn't want it to be known that he had been with me for the past five months, probably because it would embarrass him. And I would never want to humiliate him in front of people whose opinions obviously mattered to him.
I felt tears sting my eyes as I thought back to the question he asked me, the same question I had yet to respond to.
Can't we talk about this later?
I found my voice and straightened, "No. Because there is no later anymore." I looked into his hazel eyes and saw them harden with some emotion before I turned around, the tears already starting to leak out. "Sorry if I embarrassed you."
And then I started to walk away.
"Erica…" I heard him call, his voice tight. I felt a flutter of hope in my chest, but it was crushed the moment I heard another girl's voice.
"Justin! I've been looking for you." The girl paused. "Who were you talking to?" Her voice sounded nonchalant but I heard the underlying threat in her tone.
I slowed my steps a little just to hear Justin's response. I hoped that maybe he would confess everything to whoever the girl was. Saying something like, "Her name's Erica and she's my girlfriend."
But I heard him sigh instead and mumble, "Nobody."
My heart shattered.
I don't need him. I don't need a guy. He's a total jerk and I so was not in love with him.
I'd been repeating this mantra in my head for over a half an hour in an attempt not to cry. Three small pieces of the corner of a picture lie before me. The picture was of us at his house; he had been trying to teach me how to play his favorite video game but I had kept dying. He looked so beautiful in it, while I was just not beautiful in it.
I read somewhere that if you want to help rid your mind of someone, then you take a picture of that person and rip it up, piece by piece. But for every piece you say something like, "She dressed like a slut," or "She spread rumors behind my back." The logic behind it was that by saying those things you realize how wrong they were for you.
So, I only managed three pieces before I started thinking things like, "He's a great kisser," and "I love his smile."
It obviously didn't work for me.
I did, however, manage, "He's a jerk off," and "He didn't appreciate me," and lastly, "I hate him. No really, I do!"
I heard a sigh from my doorway, "What are you doing, Erica?"
I sniffed, "Mourning." My best friend, Hayley, came to kneel next to me on the floor of my bedroom. I must have been a pretty pathetic sight. I was surrounded by tissues, romance novels, my three pieces of the photograph, and a carton of cookie dough ice cream.
"You did the right thing," she soothed. "He was a dick and you didn't need him."
It didn't really make me feel any better.
"I don't want to go to school tomorrow," I mumbled, leaning back against my bed. I tugged nervously at the fibers of my carpet. "I mean, he said I was a nobody. How am I suppose to face him after that?" My chest constricted and I gasped as more tears started to pour out.
"If you don't go then he'll think you were affected by it," she said, brushing back her thin blonde hair.
I looked at her and sniffed some more, "But I am affected by it."
She glanced down briefly at the tissues and the books and I flushed with embarrassment. "The key is to act as indifferent to him as possible. Make him feel like he meant nothing to you. Hurt his ego a little."
"But I thought I loved him," I wailed as I grabbed for another tissue. Then I remembered that Justin never said he loved me. My chest constricted again when I remembered telling him after a particularly heavy round of making out, and he hadn't said anything back.
"I know, sweetheart, I know," Hayley said, sighing. "Let's just try to not think about him." She paused, "Want to watch A Walk To Remember?"
That just prompted more tears.
Justin looked like a mess the next day. His jeans were wrinkled, his hair stuck up all over, and his eyes were bloodshot and puffy.
I, on the other hand, had woken up a half an hour early to ensure that I looked just like I did any other day. I wanted to show him that I was not affected by this whole ordeal and that it was his loss, not mine. I decided to take Hayley's advice and to act as indifferent as possible around him. Not like I needed to anyways, because Justin didn't like being seen with me regardless.
When he walked into first period, late I might add, whispers started as he locked eyes with mine. I looked away quickly since we were at school out of reflex. And when he seemed to hesitate beside my desk while moving to his seat, I turned my head to talk to Hayley. Indifference was key.
The rest of the week went by, which was actually only a few days. Justin managed to get back into the swing of things by Friday, and his eyes looked only a little bloodshot. I think what hurt the most was that he hadn't even tried to talk to me or call me even though he had made it clear he wanted to.
On Friday, when lunch started and the hallways were still pretty full, the partner I got assigned to in English came up to me at my locker and wanted to make plans to get started. His name was Brandon and one thing I liked about him was that he had a cute dimple in his right cheek.
I briefly registered that Justin was a little ways down the hall, one of his jock friends goofing off while the others laughed. I noticed that Justin was the only one that wasn't laughing; he was frowning actually.
My mind switched back to Brandon. "Whenever you want to start I'll be fine with it. I'm not doing anything," I said with a small smile.
"So, would tonight be okay for you? You could come over to my place and we can go from—," he never finished because suddenly he was slammed into the locker next to mine, an angry Justin bunching up the front of his shirt.
"What the fuck, Erica?" Justin said through clenched teeth.
Shock registered through my mind. "Let go of him!" I exclaimed, weakly.
"Justin, what are you doing, man?" One of his friends called. I realized the hallway seemed to get very quiet.
Justin's cheeks were flushed red and his hazel eyes flashed dangerously. I found my voice again and I managed to make it sound emotionless, "Justin, let go of him."
"No. This bastard has the nerve to ask you out when you and me just broke up?" Startled whispers began and a glance toward his group of friends confirmed that they were just as surprised as the crowded hallway.
"You and me were never together," I lied. What was he doing? This was what Justin had wanted to prevent and he was just recklessly throwing everything that we had concealed away.
"We were together for five fucking months, Erica. What do you mean we were never together?" He asked incredulously.
That set me off. "How do you know? How was anyone else suppose to know? You never cared and you certainly didn't think that we were together since you never even wanted to talk to me when we weren't alone. I was just a nobody to you in public. You even said so yourself. And that's why I broke up with you. Because I realized that you were too shallow because you were too ashamed to be with me. And you know what? I don't care anymore, because I realized that I don't need someone like you in my life and I was better off without you anyways." Justin's jaw was clenching and unclenching, looking as if he wanted to interrupt, but he knew better. He knew that I hated being interrupted. I wanted to open my mouth and say more but the sound of silence in the hallway was deafening and I just wanted to get out of there so I could have a good cry when I got to the bathroom. I glanced toward Brandon, who was looking both confused and scared. His eyes snapped toward mine. "Sorry, Brandon, tonight won't be a good time to start on our project." I gave one last glare toward Justin, shock coming over his face, and then turned on my heel towards the bathroom.
Ha, take that, you jerk.
I don't need him. I don't need a guy. He's a total jerk and I so was not in love with him.
It still wasn't working.
Everyone knew now because the news spread fast. Justin was such an idiot.
It was Friday night and I was at home once again, surrounded by tissues and romance novels. I had a tissue clenched in my hand as I cried my eyes out, reading one of my favorite books.
A knock sounded at my door and I figured it was just my mom checking on me to make sure I hadn't killed myself yet.
But it most definitely wasn't my mom.
I sat there with my widened eyes as Justin shut my door behind him. I almost glared at the door, as if it was at fault for him being in here. His eyes took in my pathetic situation and I flushed as I saw a hint of an amused smile.
"What are you doing here?" I mumbled miserably. Justin's hand fiddled with the expensive watch he'd received from his parents on his birthday, a nervous habit I'd grown used to.
"I wanted to apologize. For today…" He met my eyes, "For everything."
"You're forgiven then, so leave," I snapped, not wanting him to see me like this, all vulnerable and uglier than usual.
"I love you," he said almost immediately, as if expecting my response.
My breath hitched and I faltered for a second, my indifference collapsing. "W-what?"
"I know that I made a mistake by not telling you. I made a mistake for not going public with you. I made a lot of mistakes that I wish I could undo. But I can't." I was studying him, still not believing what I was hearing. He knelt down on the floor with me, wiping a few tissues out of the way. "You were right that I worried about what other people thought about us, since we were so different. But I don't now. When you broke up with me, I was so scared and hurt. And I realized that it was really low of me to care about other's opinions. Because the only one that I cared about was you, and I cared more that I was hurting you. And it took losing you to make me realize it." He took a breath. I knew this was hard for him because he had told me once that expressing emotions had never been his strongpoint. "I don't want to lose you because I love you," he admitted. I just stared at him, not quite sure what to make out of all this. "Erica…" he said.
"Yes?" I managed in a whisper. My mind was blank. I couldn't believe this.
"I, uh, I…I want us to be together again." He started rushing his words out, as if afraid I would reject him without him getting to finish. "I mean, I understand if you don't want to because of what I did, and with the project-guy thing today, but I promise that I will do anything if we can be together again. I'll be a jerk sometimes, and I'm really grouchy in the morning, but I want us to work. I'll do anything. Please." He finished awkwardly.
I couldn't believe it.
He loved me. I didn't think. I just acted. "Even grovel at my feet and pay for my lunch for the rest of the week?"
He looked at me, his eyes widening and glittering with hope, recognizing the playful tone of my voice. "I'll buy you lunch for the rest of the year."
"Will you really?" I asked, teasingly. My walls were crumbling down again as I watched a slow, hesitant smile cross over his face.
I rose to my knees and looked at him. "Okay."
"Okay, what?" He tested.
I gave him a look and then tackled him to his back. His lips met mine a second later and the tissue I'd been clutching onto to fell from my hands as I felt through his dark hair.
"No more chances after this," I mumbled against his lips.
"The others won't be necessary," he promised. His hand rose under my shirt to the curve of my stomach. For some reason, that was always where he liked to touch me. I moaned into his mouth, goosebumps traveling along my arms.
A knock sounded at the door and I broke away from his mouth. "You two better not be doing anything in there!" My father warned.
"We're not, dad," I wailed, embarrassed. I hid my burning face into the crook of Justin's neck and listened to his soft chuckle. Once my dad was convinced that we weren't fornicating under his own roof, Justin turned serious again.
"I'm sorry, Erica. I didn't think it would turn out like this."
"It's okay," I whispered back. Hesitantly, I said, "I love you."
His smile returned and his hazel eyes glittered. "I love you more." He leaned in to kiss me again.
A/N: Hey everyone. Just got hit with a tad bit of inspiration so I wrote this all in one sitting. Yeah! Go me! Anyways, I don't have to work this weekend so I decided to stay up late writing like I used to during the summer.
I don't really know if I like how this one turned out. When I re-read it, it seemed a little rushed and I did try my best to fix that, but then I got tired. So, yeah. Tell me what you think and I hope that you all liked it.
And if anyone wanted to know, I still haven't gotten anything inspiration whatsoever got my next full-length story. It's starting to worry me, haha.