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"Beauty queen of only eighteen
She had some trouble with herself
He was always there to help her
She always belonged to someone else
It's not always rainbows and butterflies
It's compromise that moves us along, yeah
My heart is full and my door's always open
You come anytime you want
I don't mind spending everyday
Out on your corner in the pouring rain
Look for the girl with the broken smile
Ask her if she wants to stay awhile
And she will be loved
She will be loved."
- Maroon 5
I was twelve when I first met her.
I'd been in plenty of awkward situations and each time it has included some girl or the other. But this had to be the most unbelievable situation so far.
I blinked. I looked, nonplussed, down at the little girl in my arms. I didn't even know how she got there. All I knew was that I was walking into the toy shop to buy a car for my little 6-year-old brother Dennis and passing the doll section when a soft giggle arrested my attention and brought my eyes up. And then I saw a girl of (8? 9?) years old hanging off the edge of the shelf like a monkey. She looked down at me with clear eyes and gave a squeal as she let go. It was only by reflex that I held out my arms and caught her, she landing into them smoothly as if by magic.
Her head was now bowed and pressed against my chest, her smooth silky blonde hair rubbing my chin. She wriggled in my arms slightly, as if she was sleeping there. I was panicking – I didn't know what to do – when I heard a loud voice call out, "Shea!"
The girl in my arms flinched and curled into a tighter ball, like a frightened kitten. A large woman with short blonde hair, the same color as the girl's, wearing a pretty sundress came up to me, glaring reproachfully at the girl in my arms. "Shea, get out of there," she said sternly. I was about to say that it was fine, she was sleeping, and I could just hand her over to her, I didn't really feel that discomfited (that's a lie) when the girl sighed loudly and wriggled. I looked down at her again, amazed. She held her head back a little so that I could see her face and peeked up at me through her long fair eyelashes. Something similar to an electronic jolt went through my entire body. I wanted to drop the girl immediately but she was now looking at, who I presumed to be, her mother.
"Hey Momma," she said presently, her right hand, presently over my front pocket, tightening its hold on my shirt possessively. Her tone was fond and polite, as if she was greeting her mother after a long time of not seeing her. Her mother narrowed her eyes at her.
"Shea. Stop disturbing this boy. Come on," she ordered severely. Shea, the little girl, sighed loudly again and peeked up at me. She smiled, and it was such an innocent smile that I had to smile back. I set her on the ground carefully. Her mother was already walking away. The girl turned to me and held out her hand. "Hi, I'm Shea Stanley," she said helpfully. I grinned and took her hand.
"My name is Mark. Nice to meet you."
That was how I first met Shea Stanley.
It wasn't long before I realized that my neighbor in my new town was going to be the Shea Stanley herself. I wasn't helping with the move, instead preferring to stay in my room. I was lying down on my bed in the dark when a familiar squeal brought my attention to the window. I edged over and opened the blinds and looked down at the garden of my new neighbors: the little blonde girl was gazing rapturously at the movers, holding onto her father's hand and looking as excited as a kid in Disneyland. I gaped.
As if by some kind of alerting system, Shea looked up, at my window. Her clear blue eyes met mine in an instant. They were sparkling so brightly and happily that I couldn't look away. But then she ruined the moment by laughing and pointing at me to her dad. I snapped down the blinds and went back to bed.
Not long afterwards my mom's voice floated up the stairs to me. "Mark! Come meet the neighbors!" she called. I grimaced. Flexing my legs I jumped off the bed and jogged down the stairs. My mom was standing at the kitchen door talking to a tall, brown-haired man who was holding the hand of the little girl who was currently staring at me like I was a candy cane monster that she really wanted for Christmas. I stared back and attempted a half-smile: I was replied with a bright dazzling grin.
"Daddy, look! Mark!" The nefarious little imp pointed gleefully at me and brought the attentions of both adults to my rumpled state. I smiled sheepishly and held out my hand. "Hello Mr Stanley." The man looked at me silently before grinning like his daughter and taking my hand in his big one and shaking it jovially.
"So you're the young man my little Shea buttercup has been talking about all this time?" I looked down uneasily, discomfited by his familiar behavior.
"Yes sir," I murmured. My mother giggled. "He's a little shy," she said to Mr Stanley in a sly voice. I shot her a glare before turning and leaving the kitchen. A light scampering of feet alerted me of the fact that Shea was following me out. "Hello Mark!" she chirruped in her bright energetic voice. I grimaced.
"Hey Shea. What are you doing here?"
"I wanted to see you again! Momma said I shouldn't have jumped on you like before but I asked her 'How else is he supposed to catch me?' and Momma couldn't answer!" She laughed delightedly, clapping her hands. I looked at her curiously and asked, "Why would I catch you?" She stopped laughing and looked at me in amazement.
"Because you're Prince Charming, silly! And the prince always catches the princess!" I stared at her incredulously for a few seconds before bursting out in laughter. Shea seemed mad about that. "What? What's so funny?" she demanded. I shook my head and took the little girl in my arms, hugging her like I would my brother.
"Nothing Shea. I was just laughing because you recognized me before I recognized you."
"Recognize means you… well found me." Shea bit her cheek and thought about this carefully. Then she giggled.
"Alright Princess Charming." I laughed again. This time she laughed with me, although she still didn't understand.
I was sixteen when I fell for her.
Shea was coming over today. I raced around my room, trying to stuff everything into my drawers as quickly as I could. I cursed Mom for not telling me earlier; I knew how Shea liked to laugh at my male untidiness. And I didn't want her to have one more fact to ploy against me in our Male-VS-Female arguments.
Downstairs the front door bell rang. I increased my speed, grabbing a fistful of dirty socks and crammed it into my gym bag. I heard her light footsteps coming up the stairs as she called out, "I'll just go up Aunt Mia!" I took my old Hot-wheels cars (I thought I gave those to Dennis?) and pushed them under the bed. I heard the doorknob turning and plopped quickly onto my bed, flinging an arm over my face, pretending to be asleep. I was concentrating on perfecting my slow breathing when I heard her laugh quietly.
The next thing I know, she rammed the sharp corner of a book into my side. I yelped and jolted upright, glaring at my best friend, who was now curling up beside me and shaking with mirth. Her silky blonde hair tickled by arm. I growled as Shea doubled up in laughter even more. An idea jumped into my mind. I shot out an arm and trapped her body against me, crushing her tightly, enough to hurt her a little but not enough to make it unbearable. She stopped laughing immediately and struggled. "Mark let me go!" I grinned and laughed out loud, squeezing her tighter. She elbowed me in the guts and my breath whooshed out of me. In a split second, she bounded off the bed and went to sit on my desk chair. I glowered at her again.
She smiled at me roguishly. "Hey there baby girl." My glare intensified.
"What are you doing here?"
"Didn't Auntie tell you? I bet she did."
"Aw baby, it's okay. I'll kiss the boo-boo shall I?"
Shea laughed. Then she grew serious. "Actually I need your help. My physics exam is tomorrow and I can't understand something. It's killing me because I get everything else." I was intending to remain mad at her but she gave me her 'sweet angel' smile and I sighed. I gestured at her.
"Fine. I'll help."
"Thank you baby girl!" I glared at her again before saying, "Watch it you little rodent."
She bent over her book and pointed at a diagram and started to explain what she didn't get. I nodded along with her but actually I was just looking at her hair. On impulse, I reached out and twirled a lock around my index finger. The smooth piece of hair just slipped off, like it was actually made of satin. I suddenly realized Shea was looking at me weirdly. "What are you doing?" I grinned at her easily and shrugged.
"Your hair's soft." She scrunched up her eyebrows and frowned. I pushed my thumb and index finger to her forehead and smoothened out her frown. "Don't, you'll spoil your looks." She looked at me in that weird way again before saying sarcastically, "Well gee; sorry Mom." I was about to glare at her again when the funny side of it came out and I ended up laughing. Shea started laughing too. I looked at her and saw her face positively glowing with happiness.
She's beautiful, was my foremost thought.
"Mom!" I poked my head in through the back door. "Mom! Where are you?"
"What? What is it? I'm here." Mom came bustling in, looking like an annoyed hen. I grinned at her and dumped my bag on the kitchen counter.
"I'm off to Shea's." She frowned at me. "Were you supposed to go today?" I shook my head at her and clucked my tongue.
"Have you forgotten? It's December 15th! It's her birthday today!" She rolled her eyes.
"Mark, Leslie told me that Shea was having her friends over. Do you think you should disturb them now?"
I swiftly backed out and ran to the front. "Yep! Bye Mom!" I heard her mutter loudly, "crazy son" as I stepped out of the gate and I laughed out loud. I jogged quickly over to the house beside mine and went to back and knocked my special knock on the door. Shea's mom, Aunt Leslie, opened the door and smiled when she saw me. "Mark. Shea's friends are here. Are you sure you want to…?" I nodded quickly and showed her the meticulously wrapped gift behind my back. Leslie giggled like a school girl and I pressed a finger to my lips, grinning. She laughed. "They're on the roof. You can go to her room."
I nodded again and crept up the stairs. I went to her room and swung the door open: the room was empty but her wardrobe door was open. I beamed to myself. Setting Shea's birthday gift on her desk, arranging it so that she would see it first thing as she came into the room, I ran to her wardrobe and hid among her cloaks and parkas, my dark brown sweater and jeans melding with the color of the wood perfectly. I settled down to wait.
I didn't have to wait long. About fifteen minutes later I heard the shrill fake-sounding laughter of Shea's friends and her low soft giggle that always sent my heart scampering now. They piled into the room, and didn't notice anything for a second. And then the room was filled with silence.
Lauren, Shea's best friend and the only friend of hers that I liked sincerely, spoke first, "Who put that there?"
There was some kind of motion; maybe they were shrugging. Lauren spoke again, "Whoever it was, he or she is still in the room I bet." Smart girl. I heard a movement, and my heart was in my mouth – I didn't want to be discovered so early. But then Shea called out quickly, "Wait Lauren!" The sound of movement stopped. I heard Shea come forward and then she was within my sneak-peek view through the crack of the wardrobe door. I saw her looking at my present and suppressed my excitement. The only part of her I could see was the side of her face. Her mouth quirked up. My heart missed a beat. Shea raised her head and looked around and called in her mellifluous voice, "Mark? Come out. I know it's you." I grinned to myself, but stayed where I was. Shea moved around, out of my view, frowning slightly. "What is it?" someone asked, I think a girl called Riana. Shea replied, "My best friend Mark. He put that here and I can bet a thousand bucks that he's still hiding somewhere."
Lauren laughed, "Mark? I should've guessed. Well then, if it's Mark, I can tell you where he is. It's where he would hide." My heart skipped a beat again, but for a different reason.
"Where?" asked Shea.
"No, I think he wants you to figure it out himself." Lauren moved and came into my view. She sat down at the study desk and looked around, meeting my eyes in the wardrobe surreptitiously. "Right Mark?" she called out, as if to the entire room. I smiled; that girl sure knew how to act.
Shea moved into my view again. She was frowning and pursing her lips in a way that made me think licentious and completely unethical thoughts. She sighed. "Where is he? Under the bed?"
"How about we play hide-and-seek?" said a cheeky girl, named Dory. Her voice hinted at smuttiness. I grimaced; I didn't particularly like this girl because whenever I met her, she always tried to get me to 'want' her, in Shea's words. I watched Shea. She was frowning and then suddenly she smiled. She turned towards her wardrobe, towards me. She flung open the doors and her smile widened when she saw me. I stepped out of the wardrobe and hugged her, laughing. Shea laughed too. She wrapped her arms around me as I bent my head and sniffed her hair – Passion Fruit. My favorite.
"Hey there Mark," Lauren smirked at me. I grinned at her above Shea's head. "What's up Laure? I almost thought you were gonna rat me out." She grinned wickedly.
"Almost, almost," she said provocatively. I laughed and let Shea go, finally. She looked up at me, smiling.
"As if I'd forget," I smiled at her. I turned her around bodily, facing her to my gift. She looked at the violet-papered box and asked me, "What is it?"
"Find out yourself." Shea moved and took the lid off. Her eyes widened slightly when she saw the perfect silver chain with the moonstone pendant inside. I could hardly suppress my enthusiasm as she turned towards me. There was an odd light in her eyes that suddenly made me serious. She came to and wrapped her arms around me again, squeezing the breath out of me. "Thank you," were her words, muffled by my shoulder. She leaned back and looked up at me; for a second I thought she had tears in her eyes but then she blinked and the illusion went. I smiled at her.
"Happy Birthday Princess Charming."
I was nineteen when I told her.
Shea loved peanut butter. She loved it to the point of obsession. Whenever she was down, she'd get a huge tub of ice-cream and a jar of peanut butter and stuff herself with peanut-butter-ice-cream cones until she was sick.
That was how I found her after Jason dumped her.
"GET OUT!" A pink pillow flew at my head as I peeked around the door. I dodged it quickly and caught it by reflex before it fell to the ground. I edged into her room cautiously. Shea was sitting on her bed with the predicted tubs of peanut butter and ice cream, glowering sullenly at me. I went towards her carefully.
"Shea? Are you okay?" I asked her softly.
"Why? Why wouldn't I be okay?" was her ominous answer. I looked at her sardonically.
"Maybe because you're trying to stuff yourself up with two fatty junk foods and make yourself a human ball?" Shea's eyes filled with tears. I hurriedly went over to her and hugged her, deftly moving the ice-cream and peanut butter away from her. "Hey now," I said to her gently. "It's ok Shay. Don't cry."
"Snotky" she said.
"It's not okay…"
"It is Shay. You're fine"
"You know don't you." Shea suddenly pulled out of my hug and glared at me. "You know about the break-up. I bet the entire school knows by now!"
"No no," I said hastily. "Lauren called me and told me and I came to find you."
Shea started to sob. "I can't believe… he dumped me…" she cried, snuggling into my arms again. I felt her body shaking against mine. An unexpected surge of anger against Jason rose up in me. I pushed Shea slightly away and asked her, "What exactly happened Shay?"
"Jason told me that he wanted to talk…" Ah the danger words "So we went to the tennis courts, where we'd be alone and… and he told me that he didn't like me anymore and that…and that we were over. I couldn't believe him. And then… then, the next period, Riana came and told me that she saw Jason making out with Vanessa Wimberley at chemistry. And it was only the next period. I left school and came straight home at lunch." When Shea finished she slumped in my arms and sighed loudly, tears filling her eyes but not falling. I felt like killing that fucking bastard then. I turned Shea towards me.
"Shea" She looked at me; her tears making her blue eyes shine. "Jason is a bastard. He doesn't deserve you crying over him. No listen," I held Shea firmly towards me as her tears began to fall and she turned away. "That guy is a useless piece of dick that probably goes out with girls because of their looks. And that kind of guy does not deserve anybody hurting over them. You are a beautiful girl Shea: any guy will tell you that. It's time you learnt it too." She stared at me, her eyes smiling. I felt something ease inside me.
"Thank you Mark." I nodded and got up. As I moved towards the door, I said to Shea, "Your school dance is on this Saturday, right?" She nodded. "I'll be your date."
I saw her smile just as I closed the door.
I didn't show myself to Shea immediately. I just hung around in the darkest corners, sipping the spiked punch, and following her with my eyes. Occasionally, a few slutty girls came up and tried to get me to dance with them but I got rid of them quickly, with the skill and subtlety born out of attending crazy beer parties. She was wearing a gorgeous dress of cichlid blue satin that shimmered whenever she moved. Every time I saw her, her eyes were sparkling and her hair glowed with some kind of unearthly light. She looked amazing.
"Baby come on, let's leave this motherfucking shit and go fuck somewhere." I heaved a sigh as another slut came up to me. I was slowly getting annoyed with them. I smiled tightly at this one and said, "Nope, I'm waiting for my girlfriend to notice me." The girl's eyes flashed with annoyance. "Where's that bitch?" she muttered under her breath. But I heard her and I simply pointed at Shea and said, "There." The girl's eyes widened and she snorted and shuffled away from me. I grimaced.
At that moment the lead singer of the band on the stage, Liam, a friend of mine, called out, "Okay gents and ladies, we are now going to play She Will Be Loved, by Maroon 5. This one goes out to a Shea Stanley from Mark. Shea, you're the girl with the broken smile." As the first guitar strums of the song played over the speakers I watched Shea. She was smiling widely and looked flushed and flustered. I smothered a smile and walked towards her, cutting through the crowd dexterously. Lauren and Dory saw me first: Dory smiled in what she probably thought was an alluring way and Lauren grinned and nudged Shea. I was beaming by the time Shea turned to face me. I reached her and kissed her lightly on her forehead. Then I held out a hand and said, "Do I get this dance?" She put her hand in mine and I pulled her to the middle of the dance floor, holding onto her tightly.
Once there, I smiled at her as I placed my hands around her waist and she swung her arms around my neck. We swayed to the music. Then Shea raised her head a little and whispered into my ear, "You did this for me?" I nodded and mouthed along with the song I don't mind spending every day. Shea laughed and sang along as well.
Out on your corner in the pouring rain, I mouthed. Look for the girl with the broken smile.
Ask her if she wants to stay awhile, she sang.
She will be loved, I said, staring into her eyes. Shea suddenly looked very muddled. I smiled at her and said soothingly, "Relax Princess" She looked up at me. "It's all right now."
"Why did you do this for me?" Shea smiled up at me. I grinned back and leant closer to her so that my lips were just a centimeter's space away from her ear. And then I breathed, "I want to make you feel beautiful." I backed away quickly, laughing, and looked at her. She looked puzzled but excited as well. She smiled broadly at me.
"But why?" She insisted. I rolled my eyes at her.
"You silly little princess," I shook my head at her. "Because I love you Shea" I finally said.
She stopped moving, bringing me to a halt as well. Her eyes were wide and incredulous as she stared at me. "You what?" I stared at her, confused by her reaction.
I repeated softly, "I love you Shea. Always have. I'm Prince Charming remember."
She just stared at me. "Oh my god, I'm dreaming."
I looked at her worriedly, "What's wrong?"
"Shea! Maggie's here. She's calling you!" Both our heads turned towards Riana's call. I looked back at Shea, asking her silently to stay with me. "Come on! It's important!" She stepped out of my arms and looked puzzled. She looked towards Riana and looked back at me. Then she stepped towards her friends.
"Where are you going?"
"I'm sorry… I have to go. I'm sorry Mark." Then she practically fled to her friends. I was left standing and looking like an idiot, gazing after my supposed-girlfriend. I turned on my heels and left the dance floor, making my way towards the doors. I turned back to look at Shea one last time: she was looking at me. I could read her eyes perfectly: she was surprised, sad, and exhilarated all at once. I turned away from her sharply and stormed out of the school.
When Shea and I were younger, she only 10 and me 13, we built a big tree-house in the tree that grew exactly in the middle of the two gardens. The fence dividing the gardens was built on each side of the trunk.
When I got back from the dance, I changed out of my formal attire and put on some jeans and T-shirt and went to the tree house. I was smoking there when Shea came back home.
It was exactly midnight. I took no notice of Shea as she came walking up the driveway; she still looked gorgeous albeit a little tired. She came out into the garden after twenty minutes; she made straight for the tree house.
"Mark?" I felt my heart stutter again and hated the effect she had on me. "Mark I know you're up there. Mom and Leslie both told me." I remained silent. Shea sighed and started to climb up. Soon she was beside me. She had exchanged her dress for loose sweats and a baggy T-shirt and a slack ponytail. She looked pretty cute but I forced myself not to look at her. Shea sighed again and sat down beside me. For a moment, all was calm. And then she spoke up.
"I'm sorry." I ignored her.
"Mark I'm sorry. I panicked. I'm sorry." Still, I ignored her. My pride had been hurt and I wasn't willing to let go of my anger yet.
"Mark…" Shea's voice sounded suspiciously unsteady. I looked at her. Her eyes were filled with tears. At the sight of them, I exhaled noisily and reluctantly put an arm around her.
"I'm sorry too." She shook her head violently.
"No. I'm the one who should be apologizing. You did all that for me, the song, the dance, and everything, and what I did was snub you when you told me the only thing that ever wanted to hear coming out of your mouth." I looked at her curiously. She returned my gaze with a wry smile.
"What are you talking about Shay?"
"What I'm saying is," she paused. "I love you too. And I'm an idiot for not telling you earlier," she added in a self-deprecating tone. For a second I just stared at her: and then, a broad grin began to spread on my face. When Shea saw me she nudged me in the side. "Don't get too perky Charming," she warned in a amused tone.
"You love me." I stated. Shea nodded solemnly.
"You… love… me." I said again, slowly. Shea scowled at me.
"Why don't you say that in French?" she teased me.
I obliged. "Vous m'aimez… and I love you. Wow." Shea laughed. I abruptly turned her around to face me and lowered my face to hers, touching her lips with mine very softly. Shea returned the kiss eagerly. A burst of stars sparkled behind my closed eyelids.
"I love you Prince Charming." She said.
I'd never felt so happy in my life.
Hi there. This was inspired by my best friend and her (now ex-)boyfriend. They first fell in love in March 2010 (that's when I wrote this and published it here) and only recently and due to a saddening series of events, are no longer together. I know that maybe the ending to their relationship was too rocky and horrible for the two of them to remember the start of their relationship which was pretty damn amazing. I really wish, with time, that the two of them can remember those memories because once upon a time these were two amazing people totally in love and now there's like phut. And one day, I know that they'll both find that one person who can keep that feeling of pure bliss and happiness and true love last forever.
This song was 'their' song, and the song that sort of symbolizes how they used to look at each other.
For you, Numaya and Mashrur.