She wasn't sure exactly why she found Ryan Adams so attractive. He didn't fit into her ideal type. He wasn't skinny, didn't have a rare eye color nor did he possess any talent that would make her go starry eyed over him. Instead, he was an average senior who preferred not to take any AP classes and displayed a sense of humor that was befitting a fifth grader.
Yet, when he smiled at her in Physics, she couldn't help but fall for him a little bit more.
"Thanks Charlie," he drawled, taking the piece of paper that she gave him. He was perpetually unprepared.
He only called her Charlie, never Charlotte. Of course, others only called her Charlie too but of course, she thought it was special that he never called her Charlotte.
She turned back into her seat and tried to pay attention to what the teacher was saying. She sighed. The garble was never going to make any sense anyway.
Charlie was an academic nut. She was ranked top ten in the class and took the most challenging classes that her humble high school could offer. She dreamed of the Ivies ever since she was in the womb, with Columbia practically being her first word. Looking back on it, with only a month left on her junior year, she wasn't sure if that was a mistake or not.
Her social life was practically nonexistent. She had a couple close friends and considered them blessings. However, her social circle was kept to the kids she saw in her classes, the number of students dwindling each and every year. It wasn't like she did it purposely. It just happened that way. She had never gotten drunk or high and she could imagine what the gossip would be around school, at least among those who knew her. No one would believe it. It would be the equivalent of heresy.
It was these things that Charlie contemplated in her 7th period physics class where three quarters were seniors who were lost causes anyway. Senioritis had no mercy.
She turned her attention to Liz, saying aloud a thought that had come across her mind, "If you could be any superman, what superman would you be?"
As soon as she had said that, Ryan was quick to jump in and say, "If you could be a superman, what superman would you be?" The teasing tone of his voice was unmistakable.
Liz laughed while Charlie attempted to glare at Ryan. It wasn't one of her most articulate moments but she knew that Liz would have understood what she was trying to say.
"Sorry, I meant, if you could be any superhero, which superhero would you be?"
Ryan simply sat back in his seat and grinned at her.
She wanted to rip it off his face but at the same time, she found it irresistibly attractive.
It was another reason why he would be her perfect first hook up.
Due to her overly analytical nature, she came up with multiple reasons why he was ideal.
A) He was a senior. There was only a month left of school. Considering that they didn't hold close ties to begin with, it was easy to cut him out of her life. After a quickie, she would no longer be compelled to keep in touch with him and there would be no awkward moments together since he was going away to college. In a different state. Which contributed to the no awkward moments theory.
B) Her initial impression of him had been a douchebag. She eventually saw him as a genuinely nice guy with a sarcastic but not unfriendly sense of humor but it ensured that he probably got girls. Therefore, he would not be unfamiliar with the concept of hooking up.
C) He was attractive. She was going to be shallow and admit that was important. He was fairly tall, at either 6'0 or 6'1. He had a nice build that she couldn't exactly be sure was from hockey. She heard his complaints about the team all winter but she didn't doubt his ability to be fit.
D) She had a crush on him. She wasn't sure why. She was a sucker for funny guys despite the fact that he had an elementary level of humor. Unfortunately, she found sarcasm extremely amusing.
All of the reasons were steadily filed away in her head. It was the reason why at 11:30 p.m. she clicked on his name on Facebook to chat.
She felt utterly ridiculous.
She felt slightly better.
She waited. Forever.
11:36 pm Ryan
nm just got home from work
Interesting. Finally, something she could talk about.
really? where do you work?
i work at the movies
that's cool. you probably see a lot of movies for free
yeah haha i do its pretty awesome
so do you not sleep?
She thought it was a reasonable question to ask. Then again, it was a Friday night where it would have been strange to fall asleep early.
no not really. im a night person
yeah me too. i hate falling asleep early. i love being the only one awake at night
its nice right? people dont get it haha they think im so weird being up at one when they pass out at 9
The conversation was not going according to plan at all. It was pretty boring.
where are you going to college?
She already knew but needed to further the conversation.
some school. not as good as the one ur going to go to
haha thanks but you might be stretching the truth there. are you excited though?
college will be way better than high school
you must be excited then
i can't wait until i'm done and i can just go to college
The stress that she had undergone this year was unbelievable. Seeing the seniors hadn't made it easier since she was so envious of them. They were done while she was still trudging along.
yeah i suppose idk id like to be senior still
but at the same time college is way more exciting
im following the system
but college is different from high school
high school im bound to the system
I do what people say to do since education
is taught to be this really important thing
when its probably not
college seems to have more of a freedom
She had no idea where this rant came from but she went along with it.
i see what you mean. its almost like whats the point
when we're all going to die anyway
Several minutes passed and he didn't say a word. It was nerve-wracking and she hated it.
its so weird that im never going to see you guys again
i feel old haha
She waited for him to say more but he never did. Therefore, ten minutes later, she logged off. An uneasy feeling settled in her stomach but she attempted to brush them off. She knew that she would only overanalyze a harmless situation. She glanced at the clock. It was now Saturday. She wouldn't see him again until Monday. It was going to be a long weekend.
On Monday, she felt slightly on edge in physics class. She knew that he wouldn't bring up the conversation. He wasn't the type to. Still, she wasn't sure how to conduct herself. She tried to keep it cool by not speaking to him a lot. He might suspect something.
She kept up appearances by talking to Liz and let Ryan decide when to interject. He didn't fail at his role.
"She's a complete idiot," Liz said. "She doesn't know how to do her job. We've had this research paper assigned to us in December and it's April now. She's seriously expecting us to really do it now? It's bullshit."
Charlie sympathized but couldn't help to laugh. Liz's English teacher was absolutely crazy and was the most disorganized person in the entire school staff. Her increasing absurdity became a source of comedy that only continued to get better, at least from Charlie's point of view. Liz was the victim of it and didn't find it nearly as funny.
"You can always tell Silverstein," she said. Silverstein was the school principal. "You heard about what happened last year, how she had no grades in the computer which they only found out once everyone went to him to complain about her."
"Yeah I know but that seems like too much of a hassle," Liz said. She was nearly pouting.
The combination of her moping and the whiny tone of her voice made Charlie break out into laughter. Unfortunately, it was the obnoxious sort that descended into guffaws that Ryan immediately picked up on.
"Guh huh huh huh," he said with a grin plastered on his face.
"What's so funny?" he asked.
She was done laughing now so she was able to answer him. "Nothing, her face was just really funny."
"Oh," he said. "Look at Charlie laughing at everything." He turned to Matt for agreement, "Right?"
Matt returned his friend's silent gesture, "Look at Charlie, always laughing." He said in his always slightly lazy tone.
She found Matt to be absolutely adorable. He was definitely someone who she could marry but not actually date. It was a strange attraction but with his slightly chubby cheeks, and shorter stature, he seemed like a cute brother.
It was the extent of their interaction. They stuck to their respective friends, Ryan with Matt and Charlie with Liz. The subject of converging and diverging lenses occupied her brain for the next half hour and she pushed thoughts of her crush out of the way. In the next three minutes during which she changed books at her locker and ran to the other side of the building to get to her next class, she decided to stop liking him. He wasn't anything remarkable. He was funny but so was any other boy in her class. He was utterly ordinary.
She saw him walking in the same direction as her. Either he was walking incredibly slow or she unconsciously sped up. Either way, she soon caught up to him. As he opened the door to the staircase, he saw her. With a twinkle in his eye, he held it open for her despite the 10 feet she still had to reach it.
"After you," he said.
"Thanks," she said, praying that her voice was breathy from walking so fast.
It was with that gesture that she knew. She knew that she couldn't just let him go.
It was fate when on a Saturday night, she spotted him at Dunkin Donuts. It was such an odd place to see him that she couldn't help but do a double take when she saw him. He was by himself, sitting in the corner and silently eating ice cream. His ipod was plugged into his ears and he created a fantastic image, silent and comfortably lonely.
After she had ordered her drink, he spotted her and motioned for her to join him.
"Hey," she said cautiously. She just stood there, nearly paralyzed.
He raised his eyebrows. "Hey Charlie. You can sit down, you know."
She chuckled in embarrassment before sitting down. "Interesting place to see you. I wouldn't have thought you'd be alone on a Saturday night."
"There's many things you don't know about me," he said, his eyes casting an adorable twinkle. "Are you going to be able to fall asleep after drinking that?"
She shrugged. "It's mostly milk anyway so I'm sure the caffeine won't affect me too badly. Plus, I got all day to sleep in tomorrow."
It was a complete lie. She knew that she had a mountain load of homework to do. With AP exams looming, her teachers had only deepened the workload.
He smiled. "Oh Charlie, is school the only thing you think about?"
Her spirit sank. Even though it was a common assumption, it never failed to irritate her. "No."
He seemed to have noticed so he changed the subject, "So what do you like to do on the weekends?"
She listed a few things. Hanging out with friends, sleeping, drawing, listening to music, tv and everything else that a kid in the suburbs could do. He nodded and listened and she wanted to desperately be able to read his thoughts so she could know what he thought of her. Finally, he said, "Do you want to go for a drive?"
She glanced outside. Her car was right there. His eyes followed her line of vision and assured her, "We'll come back for it."
So she uttered the word that was the only one possible. "Sure."
They didn't speak for the first few minutes. She was too busy wondering how she entered this absurd situation. He was staring ahead, occasionally turning his head to check his blind spots. He hadn't put any music on, making the situation even more awkward. She didn't want to ask for anything when she was in his car.
"So you going to say anything Charlie?" he said, his lips quirking into a slight smile. The words came out in a drawl and it became another one of those things she found irresistibly attractive.
"Sorry," she said. "I'm just trying to figure out how this car drive even happened."
"Stop overthinking it. Go with it."
She stared at him, wondering how he could have this mentally. "So you're saying that things like this happen to you on a regular basis?"
"I'm not saying that."
"Then what are you saying?"
"Nothing," he said, his voice having an underlying tone of humor in it. "Not everything can be analyzed."
"Fine then," she said and settled back into her seat. She watched the houses go by, disappearing and then being replaced by other ones.
"What's your favorite color?"
"What?" she said.
"What's your favorite color?" he repeated. She couldn't read anything on his face.
"Green, huh? It suits you." He caught her facial expression and laughed. "I'm just trying to lighten the atmosphere here. We might as talk since we're in the same place."
"What's yours?" she asked. Her school girl crush hadn't faded so any little information that she could find about him thrilled her.
"You're such a typical guy," she said.
"Oh really now?"
"Yeah," she said. "Every guy likes blue."
"I changed my mind," he said. "I like purple now."
She couldn't help but laugh.
He cleared his throat. "So why are you so obsessed with school?"
She looked at him. "Excuse me."
"You heard me," he said. His face betrayed no emotion.
"And why should I answer this question?"
The light turned red so he took the opportunity to stare at her. His brown eyes seemed to hold a deeper meaning when he said, "Because I want to know more about you."
She had no choice but to answer it now. "I don't know why. My parents have a lot to do with it but I don't even know if it's because of them at this point. I'm so used to pushing myself for the best grades that I don't know if I'd be able to stop even if I had the choice."
There was pregnant pause as she waited for him to say something. When he didn't, she cleared her throat to say, "Is it my turn now?"
"Have you ever tried pot?"
She didn't fully intend it as a serious question so it surprised her when he bit his lip, showing an effort to answer her well. "I have, actually. It was a good experience."
"Really?" She couldn't help but be surprised.
"Yeah, I'm glad that I tried it. I don't do it on a normal basis."
"Are you judging me now?" he said. He had a small smirk on his face, almost as though to challenge her narrow viewpoint.
"No, I'm not actually. It's refreshing," she said honestly.
"Good," he said.
She glanced at the clock on the windshield. It was now 10:30 and an hour had passed.
"I'm sorry but can we start to head back?" she said. She didn't want him to think she was rejecting his company so she quickly added, "I have to be home quick. My mom doesn't like it when I stay out too late."
"Ok," he said, turning his car around. "I understand." He thankfully didn't seem offended by her request.
When they arrived back at the Dunkin Donuts again, she paused before going out. She didn't know what to say to the bizarre turn of events. He didn't offer any sort of words to help ease the words out of her. He just sat back in his seat, his elbow leaning on the crook of the windowpane, waiting for her to say something. The light from the streetlight illuminated his features, highlighting his crooked Romanesque nose and the sharp angles of his cheekbones.
So she took a chance and did a very unCharlie-like thing: she leaned over the car seat and kissed him.
He took a moment to respond, initially sitting as still as a statue. Feeling the rejection, she pulled away, her eyes wide open in shock. She was aware of his soft breath and her louder one, syncing together to form a melody and the way his short hair seemed so soft against the dark sky. Before she could finally pull away in order to forget this had ever happened, he crashed his lips to hers. He put his arm around her, pulling her closer until the distance between them was nonexistent. She clutched him tightly as though she was afraid that otherwise, he would disappear.
When they finally pulled apart, her voice was raspy. "I have to go now."
"Yeah," was all he said.
She quickly gathered her strength and got out of his car. Before she got in her own, she stared back at him. He had now leaned back against the window and was watching her get in. She quickly turned on the engine and drove away, her hands trembling slightly.
The status quo on Monday was still the same. She talked mindlessly with Liz and he stuck to Matt. Still, she could feel some tension that hadn't been there before and cursed herself. Things would now become complicated. Whenever she turned around to hand papers back, she could feel his eyes following her movement. It was the worst feeling in the world. Still, there was nothing she could do about it. She made her mess. Now she would have to lie in it.
Even though Liz hadn't picked up on anything, she knew her friend noticed a difference. Although, Ryan and Charlie had never spoken much, they had maintained an easy relationship that was full of sarcastic quips and verbal pokes. Today, both of them were quiet. Charlie knew she looked nervous since she was constantly jiggling her feet and could barely sit still. When the bell rang, it was only the curious look that Liz sent her that kept Charlie from running out of the classroom.
"What was that all about?" Liz asked, now that they were in the hallway and out of earshot of Ryan.
"Nothing," she said.
"You were acting so weird to Ryan today and I know he noticed too because he didn't say anything to you. I know you like him and all but you don't have to be so obvious about it," Liz went on.
"Oh my god, just shut up," said Charlie. Her pace quickened because the bell was going to ring and she wanted to escape the conversation.
"Wait," Liz said, grabbing her arm to stop her. "Did something happen between you two?"
"No, of course not," Charlie said, trying to brush her off.
"No way, something did happen. I know when you're lying," she said. "What happened?"
Luckily she arrived at her next class, giving her an escape. "I'll tell you later."
"You better," her friend called out.
Charlie managed to ignore Liz's attempts to find out the truth. The week went on and it was nearly as though the drive and the kiss had never even happened. In a way, it was a relief but she couldn't help but be disappointed. Still, what else could she have expected? Her life wasn't a fairy tale.
Finally, the bell rang and school was out. The burden she held for the week finally released and she was free, at least for a little bit. She trudged to her locker, making a mental list of what to bring home. All around her, the weekend buzz was occurring and the rush to get out of school was never higher. As she stood at her locker, she felt a presence next to her. It was Ryan.
"Hey," he said.
Although he wasn't hugely taller than her, she still had to crane her head to look up at him. "Hey," she said. "Interesting place to see you."
"People have free will you know," he said, letting out a small chuckle.
"I know," she said, shifting her weight to her other foot, "but still."
"Charlie, oh my god, I have to tell you something. It's really-," Liz said. She stopped her words once she saw who Charlie was with, saying, "something that I can tell you not now. I'll call you later."
His face pulled itself into an amused expression. "Got any plans for the weekend?"
Charlie shrugged. "Not really, sleep is desperately needed. What about you?"
"I don't know, I got something on my mind?"
"And that would be?" she said as she ran through a mental checklist again. Finally pleased, she closed her locker and leaned against her side to face him.
By now, the hallway was clearing of students. There were only a couple milling around. He glanced around and decided to take a chance. He grabbed her hand before leading her into the bathroom.
"Isn't this a little too cliché?" she asked him.
He didn't verbally respond. He met her lips with his and all of her thoughts escaped her. When he pulled away, all she could do is stare at him.
"I can't stop thinking about that night," he whispered.
Those words did something to her. Somehow she stopped being Charlie and was able to give him a sly smirk. Then she said coyly, "So what do you want me to do about it?"
He laughed and took that as permission to kiss her. She was glad that he did.
It was never really stated what they were. Life went on. She hung out with her own friends, he with his and she stressed out about everything. He became her release and she could only hope that it wasn't unhealthy. She didn't know where old Charlie went, the one who couldn't even approach a boy yet have mindless hook ups with the boy she had been pining after for months.
They were lying in her bed. Her parents were still hours away from being home. The light from the pre summer sun was soaking through. It bathed him in an angelic light. He was nipping at her, lightly pressing kisses everywhere there was skin. She giggled.
"What's so funny?" he whispered.
"Nothing, nothing at all," she sighed. She ran her hand through his hair. It was now no longer at its cropped Caesar length.
"You know you can tell me, right?" he said, his voice low. It made him even more irresistibly attractive.
"I was just thinking," she said. Her back arched at his touch as his fingers dipped slightly under her shirt.
"Just about how I couldn't imagine doing this months ago," she said. She decided to reciprocate his touch by kissing him on the throat. She enjoyed seeing his reaction, his hiss as she sucked hard.
"And I don't know," she shrugged, now sitting up. He took the chance to lie down so he wasn't supporting himself on his arms. "I just seem different now. What about you?"
"Not going to lie, I wouldn't have thought I'd be in your bed ever," he said.
She settled into his arms, enjoying feeling the comfort his body provided. She cuddled into him, burying her nose into his chest. He smelled like cologne. "Exactly, things became really different."
"I would agree with that," he said, his voice softening.
She fell asleep in that position, tucked inside his arms.
She was sleeping when she got a text from Ryan telling her to come out. When she came down to greet him, something wasn't right about him. Although he was never perfectly polished, he looked especially sloppy tonight. His hair was sticking up in a million different directions and his clothes were dirty with stains. When she caught a whiff of him, she realized that he was drunk. He was leaning against her house, looking as though he could barely stand up.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, quickly closing the door. She didn't want her parents to wake up. "How did you even get here?"
"I was in the neighborhood," he slurred. "I was at a party nearby. I wanted to visit you."
"Ryan, that's nice of you but you can't be here. I'll bring you home," she said and tried to lead him to her car.
"No," he said. His voice had turned whiny. "I don't want to go."
"This isn't the time to argue."
"Charlie, you're a funny girl," he said. He refused to budge from his spot and she wasn't strong enough to change that.
"And why is that?" she said, deciding to humor him.
"You're getting way too attached. All you do is take up my time. I see you in school and after. This isn't even a hook up anymore. I feel like I'm in a goddamn relationship," he said. "You're too damn clingy. God, you're fucking gorgeous but you expect way too much. I feel like I can't breath whenever you're around."
She stiffened. "Do you now?"
"Yeah," he said. A goofy smile on his face appeared. "I kissed Ashley Sullivan tonight and I liked it. I really really liked it. She probably would have let me fuck her."
All of the strength in her body escaped her. She was too weary to deal with this now. "Give me your phone so I can call someone to pick you up."
"Ok," he said, goofily.
She called Matt who came in a relatively short amount of time. Despite the evident confusion on his face, he didn't ask any questions and she was enormously grateful for that.
It wasn't until he drove away that she allowed herself to think about Ryan's words. She broke out in a cry.
When she slammed her locker door shut, she was confronted by Ryan's face. Not expecting it, she jumped back in shock. "You scared me."
"Can we talk please?" he said, his brown eyes earnest.
"I'm not in the mood to talk to you," she said before walking away.
He easily caught up to her. "I want to apologize. I wasn't in the right condition. I shouldn't have said what I said."
"Funny," she snapped. "I don't hear you actually saying that you didn't mean it."
He was at a loss of words. She saw his jaw twitched. He looked like he wanted to say something else but didn't let himself. "I didn't mean to hurt you. The whole thing with you and me became a bigger deal than I thought it would be."
She felt her heart tighten so much that she thought she would die from it rupturing. "Just leave me alone Ryan."
He looked like he wanted to say more. Instead, he nodded. "I'll see you around then."
Not hearing anything from him sucked. Not only did it suck, but it fucking hurt like a bitch. Physics was literally painful. It took all of her strength to chat normally with Liz and still slide a casual comment to Ryan to keep up appearances. Luckily summer was around the corner, now that June had rolled around. The countdown to the last day of school was the only thing that had kept her going.
Ryan hadn't seemed to suffer the same as her. He flirted with other girls. She saw the smile that graced his features and all she could do was admire it from afar.
"You know, he really did like you," a voice said behind her.
She turned around. It was Matt. "How do you know?"
"He told me everything when he was drunk that day," he said, following her gaze at Ryan.
"Then why was he such an asshole when he tried to apologize?"
"I don't know," Matt said. "That's all that I do know."
She faced Matt. He didn't match Ryan's height so she could look comfortably into his eyes. "Thanks." A resolve was in her voice now that hadn't been there prior.
He recognized it and his eyes softened. "There's no chance for him then, is there?"
She shook her head. "No, there's not."
Walking away, she said, "See you at graduation."
Seeing the seniors graduate made her heartstrings tug. She had spent all day helping to set up the chairs and had handed out brochures prior to the event. The rest of the group who had volunteered had decided to stay and watched. They were huddled near the side of stage. The emotion of the ceremony was hitting her and she couldn't describe her all of her emotions. It was odd to see them leave the school. In a way, it almost felt like a part of her was leaving with them.
She watched them line up and gather by the stage to receive their diplomas. Giddiness was present on their faces. She couldn't help but laugh at their excitement. Friends passed and she waved at some of them. Others, she couldn't help but be glad that they were gone. Finally, it was Ryan's turn and she didn't know what to think.
She identified him easily from the handful of other kids. He was looking around, not looking terribly excited at anything. Then he spotted her. A slight smile fixated on him. Then, he waved at her. It wasn't a tiny one nor incredibly conspicuous but it an obvious gesture. Recognizing the symbolism, she gave him a tiny one back. He then walked across the stage to receive the diploma.
This is a short story after a very long break with writing. I had a little bit of this written in June and then finished it up this past week. This story is not an example of great writing haha. I didn't have anything planned and just went with it, letting the story come out as I wrote. Therefore, I apologize if everything is disjointed and lacks a climax, emotion, etc. Any suggestions and critiques that you guys have would be greatly appreciated. After not writing for so long, I'm rusty.
Love you guys,