"God," I say, raising my head up to the ceiling and putting my hands on my hips with an unimpressed expression on my face, "Electrocute me with lightning. Now. Please." Fourteen seconds later, when He does not, I fall back onto my bed and screech into the blanket.

"AUGHHHHHHHHH!"

"What the bejesus?!" That would be Mr. Jeremiah Hart, 47, profession gardener to any and every rich snob up in the Hamptons. He's the next-door neighbour, and his son is part of my humungous dilemma. "Kid, get over here."

It takes me all of ten seconds to realize that he's talking to me. I slowly get up off my bed and go to the window, looking downwards at the main floor window. There's a tree right in between our windows, but from what I can see, he has an amused expression in his eyes, but his mouth lays in an uneven grimacing line. "Yes, sir?"

"What's got your panties in a knot?"

"Nothing, sir." I say, my eyebrows high on my nervous face.

"Then don't disrupt my gardening. My flowers are very sensitive. Breaking their eardrums, ngh." He closes off the window, and I realize that, yes, he's been gardening. The entire wall of their sitting room is dedicated to plants and vines and flowers and cacti. I would know, I've been in there before.

My problem? Chace Hart, dang kid. He is MVP to the basketball team, has unbelievably dark eyes that swallow you up like a blackhole, and really nice hair. Really nice hair is vital to getting you somewhere in the world. Well, no, the problem isn't really Danny. But it sort of is.


It started somewhere along the lines of me going to his latest game, to be a good neighbour. That, and to ogle at his greatness. While I was caught up in the moment, I turned to my best friend Jenn and began to blabber about just how great Chace Hart is, and four minutes later, when I was done babbling, I turned to my other side. There sat Chace Hart's mother Caroline, and his thirteen-year-old sister Tess. And they were both staring at me. Tess had an evil glint in her eye. They heard every word I said. It wouldn't have been so bad if I'd stopped with, "Hey, you see Chace? Yeah, he's my neighbour, and he's really, really great at basketball, isn't he?" But no, with Jenn, you have to be concise. You have to really give her details. You can't stop at 'really, really great at basketball,' you have to keep going.

My exact words were, "Well shit, that's hot. Look at how hot he is. Can you believe how hot my neighbour is? I loove being his neighbour. Wouldn't you love to be his neighbour?" Of course, since I'm such a damn blabbermouth, I just had to keep rambling on. Jenn's response was a resounding echo of my own statement. And then I saw Caroline and Tess Hart, and I felt every need to run head-first at the wall. Which I came pretty close to. I was so shocked that they'd heard every word I just said that I fell off my chair and smashed my head onto the floor. That didn't really help my case.

Tess Hart is the devil with cute curls and expensive boots, she really is. She's also best friends with my kid brother Gordon, so sooner or later, he's going to be stomping up the stairs laughing hysterically at me. And chances are she's told her brother how hot I think he is. Like, TSSSSSS hot. Reliving the entire experience makes me want to ram into the wall. Unfortunately, my mother is in the room next door, so I really can't, unless I want an hour-long lecture on why I shouldn't ram head-first into the wall, because it will damage the wall and maybe the furniture, and money shouldn't be thrown around carelessly just because I wrecked something in my upset rampage, and, oh, I might get a concussion, but that's not the point.


I moan. My cellphone lights up and vibrates around a little. Jenn's name pops up, so I pick up, figuring it's safe.

heyy . how's the head ? chace wants to know too . i'm talking to him on msn .

You're kidding. You're kidding. Jenn is not only a gossip, she is also a traitor. I make note to demote her from best friend to oh-sorry-I-didn't-see-you-standing-there-right-in-front-of-me acquaintance. I text her back with the speed and skill of ten gods.

tell chace that i'm fine, bitch.

Her reply comes back in record time.

WELL EXCUSE ME !

excused.

No reply comes to that. I grin at my victory, until I realize what she could be saying to him right now. Then I hear talking outside my window. Caroline Hart, 47, profession housewife, is talking to my mother, Emma Canmore, 45, profession businesswoman of sorts. They're talking about food. No, dinner. No, wait, dinner together. A party of sorts. A neighbourly sort of thing to do. Tomorrow. I am about to cry. Three hours with Danny and Tess Jones.

Hello humiliation, we've met before. How d'you do. We're bunking together tonight.


I'm in a polo t-shirt underneath my V-neck polo sweater. I'm basically in polo everything. Jenn would squeal if she saw me (she's always thought that I would look so goddamn hot (I now officially hate this word, and stick my tongue out at it) in this kind of style. Because my mother picked it out, she compensated by letting me wear my favourite straight-legs, which is a pretty good deal, because they're sort of shredded along one thigh. Schoolgirl to rebel, oh yessss.

"Marley, let's go. Stop being so vain and get your lips off the mirror!" I groan. Of course, I love my mother. Just... when she's not speaking.

"Coming," I squeak. Gordon Canmore, 13, profession stupid student extraordinaire, has somehow managed to clean up after his scruffy hair and baggy sweaters, and is donning a tie over his dress shirt. The tie is pink. I sneer, and he sneers back. The difference is that I'm not bright red in the face.

"I don't get why we have to look nice. Mr. Hart sees dad in his bathrobe every morning." I wrinkle my nose distastefully as I finish the sentence.

"'Cause it's social protocol." Gordon's tone is mocking. He's gotten over embarrassment, and has gone onto bitter realization that he won't be getting out of that tie any time soon. My mother smacks us both on the arm and points out the door.

We knock. The door opens. We go in. Chace is in a tie, too. He looks too good in shirt and tie. I fight drool and wandering eyes. Tess is in a dress. We grimace at each other.

And we sit at the dinner table. Chace and I are usually on good terms, and we'll talk to each other, but tonight, I feel like if I talk to him, I will explode. Apparently, he feels the same way. As soon as we catch each other's eye, we turn our heads so quickly that I'm shocked neither of us has gotten whiplash. When dinner is finished and the mothers have decided to make some jello for dessert - why so late, I would not know - the four of us are shooed into the sitting room, and we stand there, feeling incredibly awkward.

"So I heard - " Chace begins, and filled with dread as to what he could possibly say, I shriek,

"THERE'S A CAT ON THE WINDOW." As luck would have it, that's Pikachu, a.k.a. my own cat, which of course, the entire Jones family has seen daily. Tess and Gordon snigger, and my face floods red. Of course I can't be smooth, God no, I have to be Marley Canmore, the girl who is madly in love with her neighbour and who spouts it out to her best friend and the rest of the world and who cannot put two sentences together properly when Chace Hart, neighbour extraordinaire, is around.

A smile creeps its way onto Chace's face. "Okay, Marley." Pikachu, whom I named when I was nine and thought Pokemon was the greatest thing on earth, skips off the window sill and rubs himself against my legs. I awkwardly duck down to pet him, attempting pathetically to hide my embarrassingly red face.

And then Tess and Gordon begin to walk.

"Where're you going?" Chace asks nonchalantly, though we both know he could care less where those little pain-in-our-asses go.

"Outside."

"It's cold," Chace and I say in unison, and we both look at each other. I twist my mouth to the side. "Wear a jacket."

"I'm not a dumbass, Marley," Gordon shoots back, rolling his eyes. I wish he was still that adorable four-year-old who didn't know how to roll his eyes or talk back. But alas, here he stands, low-riding his one pair of nice jeans and already scruffing his neatly combed hair.

Before they leave, however, Tess feels the need to tug me down and whisper into my ear. She says, "Go for the under-the-eyelashes appeal. Works every time," and then she flits out the door after Gordon.

I look at Chace. He looks back at me. I motion my hand to the couch, and he plops down, with me following. I blow out a breath. This is getting nowhere. I have to ask him whether Tess told him or not, I really do. But how do I word it? Do I say, So Tess overheard me saying that you were like, super hot, and I was wondering if she told you. or do I go with something like, So, what's up? Anything new? Anything remotely humiliating on my end? Anything that will make me want to bury myself ten feet under the ground? or maybe something else, like, Spare me the embarrassment and start laughing now.? Oh, the possibilities.

While I contemplate what to do, I notice in the back of my head that Chace is closer now than he was before. He picks up the remote and flicks on the T.V., and we watch an exhilarating episode of The Simpsons before I snatch the remote from him and turn it to TLC (my guilty pleasure). Say Yes to the Dress is on, and I could not possibly be any more excited.

"Yes!" I crow, momentarily forgetting my dilemma. Chace groans, but really, I could care less. I love this show more than a mother elephant loves her baby. Almost. And so the night goes by without much of a hitch, and it is when the Harts have left for home that I realize that I had never resolved my issue with Chace Hart. Damn it all.


Jenn is squealing on the other side of the phone, about her new boyfriend Cameron Corner, whom she has loved incredibly since two hours ago, when we first started talking. She tells me everything I will never need to know about Cam Corner, such as his birthday is June 13, his jersey number for anything and everything is 11, his middle name is Carson (therefore he is Cameron Carson Corner, his parents must have a thing for alliteration), and he has a little brother named Carl.

"Jenn," I say finally, cutting into her Cameron spree (that has so far gone on for two hours and fifteen minutes and seventeen seconds), "I love you, but I really don't care."

"Hmph. Fine." We descend into the usual five seconds of angry silence before she bursts out, "How did it go with Chace?" I thought she would never ask.

"I did nothing. He did nothing. We did nothing. This actually might be a good thing, since I really don't want to be utterly humiliated," I say cheerfully.

"...Oh Marls. You're pathetic," Jenn says worriedly, a motherly tone taking over.

"Thanks."

"I'm serious, you have to talk to him. You're gonna be humiliated either way, so take the faster way out."

"Fine. Fine, fine. I'll talk to you later then." I turn the phone off and take a deep breath, turning to face the window. As luck would have it, Chace's bedroom window is right beside mine, which is convenient for spying on him. Not that I do, I mean. 'Cause I don't, I swear.

His window is open, his blinds billowing in the breeze, and I slam my own window open. "Chace! Hey! Get over here!" There is no answer. Fifteen minutes later, when I try again, he still isn't there. Exasperated, I think, hey what if and climb onto the tree right diagonal to the window, its bare branches proving brittle support for me. Over the branches and into his open window. Stupid kid, I think endearingly, who leaves their window open in the middle of January anyways? Calgarian winters are brutal.

I watch the clock. Another fifteen minutes pass before the door clicks open and Chace slides in. He takes a look at who is sitting on his bed and does a double take.

"Marley?!" His voice is shocked, his face incredulous. "How the fuck did you ge-" I cock my head towards the window, and he stops mid-sentence. "Then, why are you here?"

"I, uh, have a question." I clear my throat awkwardly. He sits on the floor in front of his door, black eyes waiting. "Did Tess tell you something? About me? Maybe?"

His blackblackblack eyes take an amused glint, opening up a little more. "Maybe she did, but then, she tells me a lot of things...."

"Um, something I said. About something."

"Maybe she did," he repeats, and the glint turns wicked as he fights off a smile. "Maybe she didn't. Hmm."

Impatient, I push on, getting closer to the edge of the Cliff of the Rejected. I'll dig myself a permanent residence there, over the cliff and down the ravine, among all the other sobbing moaning groaning rejects. "It was about you, I mean. What I said was about you."

"Yeah? Maybe she did bring something up, but I can't really recall." It's an opening, for me to swoop in bravely and tell him exactly what I think. But I can hardly stand the teasing tilt of his voice, the deeply-entertained look on his face. It makes me even angrier that he manages to look good as he does it. Jesus. I look at him once sullenly and shake my head.

"Never mind. You're just gonna have to try and recall it, then." The Cliff of the Rejected will have to wait another day or nineteen. I'll have nothing news-worthy to tell Jenn, but it's better than being so wickedly taunted. I tuck some dark hair behind my ears before getting up and readying myself to climb out the window and over the tree into my own safe haven again.

"Come on, Marley, I'm playing. Sit down," he says. I turn my head to see that he is now standing as well, but hanging back, watching to see my reaction. I shake my head.

"Nah, I gotta get back anyways." But I don't move an inch from where I stand, now facing the wall, as if trying to convince myself that I really do need to move. His wall is green, as opposed to my creme walls. The blinds are black, a classic combination between the two colours. And then he clears his throat.

"Marley, sit down." His voice is softer than usual, as if he's speaking to a stray. I take a deep breath before turning myself around. Basketball trophies litter his chest of drawers; they line the floor along one side of his room. An actual basketball peeks at me from its cover underneath his bed. I sit down.

"Do you honestly want to know?" I hear myself saying, looking at him underneath my dark lashes. And he nods, a little distracted. (So Tess was right.) So I open my mouth, but nothing comes out, and I close it, flustered, and try again. But after a half minute passes with me stuttering and gulping like a fish, I give up and tug a smirking Chace Hart forwards onto my mouth. A rush of tingling butterflies swarm in my head, and I push away, eyes wide.

"That's what - what I said. I think."

Chace licks his lips, "Yeah, I know. My mom told me after the game." He looks as dazed as I do.

"Oh."

"Yeah." A pregnant pause fills the air, and I have long since taken to staring everywhere in the room but at Chace. "C...Can we do that again?" He asks slowly.

"What?" I must sound stupid, but he just grins and brings me back for another round. So apparently, the Cliff of the Rejected is going to have to find another resident, because I'm not settling there for a long while.


:):) been sitting around for months, so i finally finished it. eugh, it's 2:25am. gotta get to bed.

Characters: Marley & Gordon Canmore, Chace & Tess Hart.

Prompts: 'my crush's mom found out i liked him before he did.', basketball.