My yearbook is stuffed with autographs. Twice now I've had to mentally beat myself up so I won't start crying. Last night, alone in my room with no one to judge, it was bad. My whole body heaved and stuttered as tears bubbled up from my eyes, and I couldn't get them to stop. It's probably how I'll look tomorrow, but I can't lose it yet. But I swear, if I see someone else's eyes get damp, I'm going to spill it all over the place.
I'm worried that when I get on stage for that last-day talent show, I won't be able to squeeze out my part of Lean On Me, and instead I'll start bawling all over the place because after that day, there will be dozens of people I love, but will never see again.
One of those people is Kyle.
I've liked him off and on since fifth grade, and now I don't know how I feel. But I know leaving him for the summer used to hurt…now he's going to the other high school, and I'm scared of that emptiness I always felt for a couple of weeks, without his energy filling the room five days a week.
He was consistent. He was always there. When he would miss a day, everything seemed quiet, and I didn't have the energy that I normally would. Maybe that means I love him. I don't think it does – I'm just going to miss him so, so much.
Just like with everyone; hardly any of my friends are tagging along with me to Union, and I'm not that close to any of those who are. Everyone is moving on to bigger, brighter things – on the other side of town. It'll kill me to leave Tyler. I love him and even though he only laughs it off, I know he loves me. People have been thinking we were a couple since we met. My mom wants me to marry him. But I know we'll never be more than friends, because even if someday, something could happen, we'll hardly get to see each other now.
Kyle…I know it's the same way with him. But back before Tyler came into the picture, back in fifth grade when Kyle sat at my table and even then we would flirt a little, our friends used to make bets that in middle school, we would end up as a couple. Secretly, I loved it – that people noticed how cute we looked when we were with one another. But of course, it was Kyle, the loud, obnoxious but smart one, who played football and only hung out with the pretty girls – me not included – so I had to shove it off.
But now he's sitting right there, maybe a few yards away from me, and I know that I want him to be mine, to be more than a friend. Because even if I don't think I really like him, I know he means much more to me than just the hot jock from my class who I'll never see again.
I walk up, pretending like I'm not sure if he's signed my yearbook yet. He knows he has, because he wrote me a hells long message, but he pens in his name on another page anyway. I wouldn't let him see what I wrote in his – I told him it was a surprise, and he had to wait until he got home. He promised. It was actually a verse from a song I wrote that happened to be about him, that followed the tune of Jack Johnson's Do You Remember.
I look up at him, stumbling over my tongue and trying to bring out my bravery. Finally, I breathe out the words I'm trying so desperately to say.
"So tomorrow," I begin, and stop to quietly, calmly inhale. "Are you just going to hug me? Or are you going to help me prove some people wrong," I put my head down, unsure if I can do it like I've rehearsed, so desperately, a dozen times. "And when middle school is over, come give me a kiss."
I touch my lips with the tip of my finger before I realize what I was doing. I look up at him, just peeking out from under my eyelashes out of embarrassment. I've always been outgoing, but this has to be crossing a line!
He seems stunned for a minute, before I catch the glimpse of a tiny smile playing at the corners of his lips.
"So you just want to prove people wrong?" He thinks for a moment and shrugs. "Okay then." He smiles and my eyebrows shoot up. I'd figured, he'll say no, but then I'll never see him again after tomorrow, and everything will be fine.
I shake my head to clear my thoughts. "Okay then!" I try not to sound excited, and I turn and walk away. I smile at him from over my shoulder before I go back to my group of people, and I see one of his friends walk up to see what was going on.
I wonder what's going to happen as a senior, when I'm graduating. How I'll feel when I've known people longer than I have now, and I have to leave them. But I've got plenty of time, and until then, I'm going to focus on who I love now.
I find myself back at Tyler's side, as usual, and I smile. Tomorrow will hurt. My eyes will burn harder than they are now and my heart will ache like it does at the end of a sad movie. But right now, I'm looking at everyone I've known for so many years, thinking of the times we've shared, and memorizing exactly how much I love each and every one of them. It doesn't seem possible that I could ever feel this way about a group of people again. Because in their own screwy ways, every one of them is perfect.
Everyone here is perfect for me.
"Thanks," I say. It doesn't feel corny, and no one laughs or tells me to shut up. Things grow quiet, and Tyler's eyes get misty. I don't mind. I don't need to cry just yet. Because the people here – my best friends – they hold me together like superglue.
"I have something for all of you. A little surprise." I watch as people get interested. I've never sung in public before, and only my very closest friends have heard the songs I've written or even know that I write them. I try not to breathe too heavily and I somehow manage to keep my body from shaking.
Tyler remember when we first met Kyle remember when we first met
I sure do, you were handing out
It was an accident that you gave
One to me, I showed up at your house
That night that Halloween
I sure do, we sat at the same table
Way back in fifth grade
I had the biggest crush on you
You were so cute, I think I was insane
That don't mean I want you to leave
Kyle remember when we first met
Well I was crazy about you then
And now the craziest thing of all
So many years have gone by
And you're still mine
We're locked in time
Kara remember when we first met
I sure do, we were put over on
The same side of the room
Found out we both liked shopping
And we both were crazy
And I guess it's my fault
Oh that now you're a spaz
Everyone else remember when we met
I don't, oh but I know I love you guys
With all my heart
Please know it's not goodbye
It's just for a little while
Thank you for making me
The girl I am today
Well all these times, they come and go Do you remember?
But they don't seem so long
So many years have gone by
We can't rewind
We're locked in time
But you're still mine
Do you remember?