Bouquet of Clumsy Words

This story is set in the Any Given Thursday universe, and is a response to TokenBlackGirl's music challenge. The main characters, Jake and Celina are thirteen years old. They are not yet together as a couple, but the signs are there. This song is one of my favorites by Blink 182, and I think it totally fits them. The name of the song is Going Away To College. I do not own the rights to Going Away To College, which is copyrighted by its respective owner(s).

Celina Thompson just didn't understand why her mother insisted that she attend this stupid college fair. Her parents were both college educated and naturally expected their daughter to follow their example. Celina had every intention of going to college, but why did they have to drive all the way to Atlanta, which was a three and half hour drive?

Moreover, she was supposed to be going swimming today with Jake and Bethany. Instead she had been trapped in the car with her mother who could not stop extolling the virtues of her choosing Jackson State University or another southern historically black college.

The fair didn't start until 5:30 pm but once they arrived at the Westin Hotel, she and her mother had gone out to eat. Earlier, they went shopping, her mother insistent that she began to act more like a girl her age should. Could she help that she was an unapologetic tomboy?

Maria Thompson had planned for this day to be a total Mother-Daughter outing, complete with the stereotypical day at the spa. Celina hated spas, and she was only in her final semester of junior high. At thirteen, there was plenty time to think about which college she would attend. Besides, she didn't know any of the other kids in attendance here and none of her friends had been forced to come.

As they received their guest packages, Celina wandered off a bit, but not before her mother gave her a stern lecture about keeping her cell phone on. February in Atlanta wasn't too cold, but just because this city was the supposed to be hot spot of Georgia, how much fun could be had by a teenage girl on a cold night? Frowning, Celina threw her bag down on the nearest bench, arms crossed angrily. She checked her watch constantly, willing time to speed up significantly so that she could go back home.

"Hmmm. Someone's impatient! You're the same as ever Celina."

Celina glanced up, not believing her eyes. What in the world was Jake doing here? He plopped down next to her, setting his registration bag down as well. The both appeared bored and tired from being dragged here and there by overzealous parents.

"Jake, what are you doing here?"

He rolled his eyes, slightly offended by her question. It was obvious to anyone with eyes that he was here to attend this extremely boring college recruitment fair, just as she was.

"Celina, isn't my bag is exactly like yours? You'll never get into a good college with a mind like that. Get a clue, girl."

She punched his arm lightly, amused by his childishness. At least she had someone to talk to now. They sat in companionable silence for a while, swinging their legs on the bench. Lost in her own thoughts, Celina hadn't noticed Jake scooting closer to her until it was already too late.

"Hey move over! I'm sure your father would not want to see you hunched over an unwilling girl."

Hey threw his hand over her shoulder, ignoring her protests. When was this girl going to realize what he already knew? She was his and he was hers because they belonged together. End of story. It's not as if she had a boyfriend. If she did have one, he would have already disposed of the competition a long time ago. Celina would learn soon enough, he was sure of this.

"Nah, Dad decided not to come along. My Mom's here. Brian and Rhonda have been to one of these things before so they do not have to come along."

"It figures. My brother and sister aren't here for the same reasons. Anyway, where is your Mom, and didn't I tell you to get off of me?! Jacob Collier do you have any sense of propriety?!"

Celina wrested his arm off her shoulders and scooted even further away. This brat was going to grow up to be a pervert if his behavior was any indication. Maybe she had spoken to soon about wanting a friend here.

"Have you made a choice about what school you're going to go to yet? My Mom was talking with Mrs. Thompson. She mentioned something about FAMU."

Celina groaned, annoyed with her mother's blabbing. She hadn't decided on any school yet, but apparently FAMU was in consideration.

"I haven't made a choice yet, but I might go back to Chicago. My Dad went to Chicago State and I might go there. I don't think that these small town colleges are in the cards for me."

Jake stood up then, looking angrier than she had seen him before. His skin, normally a healthy peach color was now as red as an apple. He yanked her up, dragging her to stand. He walked briskly, ignoring the attention that they were drawing by leaving so abruptly. She tried to squirm out of his grasp, but she couldn't break free.

By the time they walked to the hotel lobby's main entrance, it was dark outside. Celina finally managed to release herself from his kung fu like grip. It was cold outside, so he had better say whatever it was that had made him so mad and move on. She was freezing her buns off out here!

"When were you going to tell me that you were planning on moving back to Chicago after high school?"

Jake seemed upset by her earlier statement, but Celina couldn't fathom how he had anything to do with her decision. He had to realize that she had no intention of staying in a boring town like Bainbridge for the rest of her life, right?

"First of all, I don't have to tell you anything. You are not my boyfriend and even if you were, I am not beholden to you. You've only recently been updated from 'annoying hanger-on' to 'good friend'. Besides, college is four years from now. Who knows what will happen from now until then."

He opened his mouth to speak, but shut it just as quickly. Celina just didn't get it at all! He turned away from her and marched back inside. There had to been an arcade somewhere around here. Maybe he could relieve some stress there. Jake heard Celina call out to him, but he ignored her. It served her right, to be left wanting. The world didn't revolve around her, and if she was going to act like a brat he had nothing more to say to her.

Amazingly, after running into his mother and Mrs. Thompson he was happy to be relieved from the rest of fair's events. Both women were already chatting and had dismissed them both to go have fun, but they were required to be back in their respective rooms before 10:00pm. That left him more than enough to shoot hoops or something. Anything to take his mind off Celina would be a welcome addition.

The arcade was crowded of course, filled to the brim with other future college students. Kids had been dropped off by their parents while the adults spoke with financial aid advisors and recruitment officers. As he played Duke Nukem, he could faintly hear the speaker system churn out Blink 182's latest album, State of The Enema. No one could quite capture teenage angst while appealing to the toilet humor crowd like this band could.

Please take me by the hand
It's so cold out tonight
I'll put blankets on the bed
I won't turn out the light
Just don't forget to think about me
And I won't forget you
"I'll write you once a week." she said

He was really into the game, although the song was getting pretty distracting. He couldn't even enjoy a stupid video game without peace. Moreover, he was running out of quarters and he really didn't want to abandon the console for fear of someone erasing his game.

Why does it feel the same
To fall in love or break it off
And if young love is just a game
Then I must have missed the kick off
Don't depend on me to ever follow through on anything
But I'd go through hell for you and

Someone tapped his shoulder, and just as he was about to snap on the unsuspecting loser, he stopped in his tracks. Celina held a roll of quarters in her hand and offered him a weak smile. He turned back to the game, intent on ignoring her for a little while longer. Celina needed to learn to think before speaking. She wasn't so naïve not to understand his feelings for her, and how he would be hurt by her leaving to attend school so far away.

"Come on Jake, don't ignore me. I came here to apologize. See, I even brought a peace offering."

He eyed the roll of quarters, certain there was at least five dollars there. He moved over a bit, to give her room to join him. She smiled plopping the quarters into the coin slot. He watched her as she played the game, fascinated by the way here eyes would light up as she scored points. She honestly thought he would stand for her leaving? Not likely, sister.

I haven't been this scared, in a long time
And I'm so unprepared
So here's your Valentine
Bouquet of clumsy words
A simple melody
This world's an ugly place
But you're so beautiful to me

"I don't know where I will go to college Jake. I do know that I want to be successful and be someone in this world. I want to make a difference, but I haven't chosen a particular place yet."

He could understand her reservations about attending a school in the South. Despite her move to Georgia, Celina was a girl from the south side of Chicago. She should go to a college that had everything that she needed and wanted.

"You still should have told me though. I may not be your boyfriend, but we are friends, right?"

Celina nodded enthusiastically, giving him a rare beautiful smile that she always tried to keep hidden while in his presence.

"We are great friends, the best of friends."

If not for any other reason but to see that perfect smile on her face, he would strive to see that they both could grow up together, attend the same schools, and one day be together.

He wasn't a quitter and one day, he would make her realize that she could be happy in a small town—with him. College may have been a long way off, but he were sure that as he held her smaller hand in his own that the flicker in his heart was right here, right now and would never go away.

Despite the mushy thoughts that permeated in his mind, Jake could recall a line he had heard on one of his mother's soap operas last month. He didn't know why the corny line had made him think of Celina at the time, but the words fit this moment perfectly.

"Neither time, nor space, nor foul deed could separate us, Celina."

He whispered in her ear, breaking her concentration with the game. Her eyes widened, and her mouth was wide open. She swallowed slowly, positive that she hadn't heard him right. If there was one thing that would always be true about Jake was that he was a walking enigma. These were not words that should exit from the lips of an average thirteen year old boy. But if anything, Jake was far from average.

He leaned in to kiss her cheek, satisfied that she perfectly understood the meaning of his words. He grabbed the tickets she had earned from finishing his game, and headed towards the prize counter. Jake smirked, knowing that progress had been made in his pursuit of the romantically challenged girl. She hadn't slapped him once for kissing her. He even made off win her tickets completely unharmed.

"Collier, get back here. I won those tickets fair and square!"

Jake laughed, dashing off to spend her winnings. Yep, things were going to be all right, even when they were ready to go away to college.