"I want a person who comes into my life by accident and stays on purpose."
"Alright, children! I'm gonna start calling out names for the project, so listen up!"
I sigh dejectedly as Mr. What's-His-Name begins yelling out names in pairs, knowing that no matter what, I'll be paired with a stranger. Not because my luck is terrible – though it is – but because I don't have any friends in this class. I mean, it's English and who actually talks in this class?
Not me, that's for sure.
Besides, everyone else already has their little cliquey-things going on; maybe in elementary school everyone's like "La-de-da, let's all be friends" but in high school THAT'S CRAZY TALK. You can't just butt into a group and expect to be warmly welcomed!
Anyways, I'm sitting and sighing and I finally hear my name.
"Charis Wu and Stefan Riley!"
I look up to see who my partner is and spot the quiet loner guy walking towards me.
I smile uncertainly as he sits down at the desk next to mine. "Hi," I greet him.
He nods curtly at me. And that's that.
We tune back in to the teacher to figure out the project details. It's a writing assignment based on research for a historic topic of our choice.
I roll my eyes and groan inwardly. This is SUCH A PAIN. Not only do I actually have to think, but I need to research and write a story that sounds good. Who has time for that?
I slant a look at Stefan. The worst part about this particular project is him. I'm not friends with him. I don't even know the guy! Like, at all! Plus I am THE most awkward person around guys.
I hate high school.
"Alright kids, face your partner and get talking!" the teacher roars before collapsing into his swirly chair and gluing his eyes to his computer screen.
Great teachers at this school, I know.
I turn reluctantly to Stefan and paste on a smile. I decide to introduce myself first. "Hi, I'm Charis."
Silence ensues. I wait for him to say something like "I'm Stefan" but he doesn't.
The silence crushes me, so I talk. "Um, so what do you wanna write about?"
My eye twitches in annoyance at his response. I can already tell how much I'm going to dislike this guy. I take a deep breath to calm my rising temper and grind out, "Well that sucks, 'cause I don't particularly care either but we need to pick something and have a story outline by the end of this week."
"So pick something. I can write about anything."
I scoff. "Arrogant much?"
"Nope, just confident."
"Yeah, right," I muttered darkly.
"Look," Stefan says with a long-suffering sigh. "You just pick a topic and I'll write."
"You do know this is a partner project, right?"
"So I need to do some work."
"I'm a better writer."
"Oh, are you."
I raise my eyebrows. "We'll see about that. We'll research something tomorrow after school at my house." I scribble down my address on a piece of scrap paper.
He rolls his eyes. "No, we need to go to the library. We're only allowed to use book sources."
I roll my eyes back at him and smirk, "Exactly."
Hey, I just met you
And this is crazy
But here's my number
So call me, maybe
I dance a little jig to the familiar music before flipping my phone open. "Hey Jazz, what's up?"
"Hey Chare-bear, wanna hang? I got Tangled!" squeals my best friend.
I squeal with her and open my mouth to affirm her request but then reality hits me and I sigh dejectedly. "So tempting, but I can't today. Tomorrow?"
"What, you got a hot date you didn't tell me about?" Her voice is pouty but I can detect a hint of eagerness in her question.
I roll my eyes. She's always trying to get me a boyfriend so that we can double-date. Too bad her boyfriends are always douches who treat her like crap so I wouldn't hang out with them even if I didn't need to feel like a third-wheel.
"Oh yeah, really hot. In fact, he's a movie star," I joke. Jazz whines in frustration and disappointment and I laugh. "No, I'm working on that stupid English project. My partner's supposed to be here in about ten minutes."
"Is it a guy?"
"Is he hot?" Jazz sounds excited again.
"Well, I guess he's kinda cute..."
"Ooh! Cute! Cute is good! Cute is - "
"And he's also rude," I interrupt hastily, "and condescending, which completely cancels out his cuteness."
"Oh. Boo. Wait, who is it?"
"Oh my gosh, you mean that loner guy? He's, like, sooo mysterious!" Jazz's dreamy sigh makes me grimace.
"No, he's just annoying and arrogant which is why he doesn't have any friends. He probably thinks everyone else is stupid. Especially me," I add happily.
"What? Why? If you were stupid, we wouldn't be friends!"
Ignoring her last statement, I explain, "Because I told him to come to my house to research and he was like, 'Um, we can only use book sources so we need a library.'" I scoff. "Like I didn't know that. I mean, when have we ever been allowed to use the Internet for English research?"
Jazz's voice turns devious. "Ah. Gonna impress him with your room, eh?"
"Not impress!" I protest immediately. "It's to wipe off that stupid holier-than-thou expression on his face!"
"Aw," Jazz coos. "Has my Chare-Bear finally found someone who makes her go craaazy?"
"Girl, no need for embarrassment! When a boy makes you crazy, it's good! Be proud of it!"
Considering Jazz's luck with the male species, I'm pretty reluctant to trust any of her boy advice. "Uh Jazz, I don't know where you get your warped logic, but crazy is never good, no matter who makes you feel it."
The doorbell rings impatiently. I sigh into the phone and mumble dully, "He's here. We'll talk later." I hang up to Jazz's happy squeals and trudge downstairs to the front door.
I unlock the door and open it slowly. Stefan is standing with his hands stuffed in the pockets of his jeans, looking uncomfortable. Smug at his obvious discomfort, I open the door wider and say, "Well then. Let's get this show on the road."
I turn and leave him there, expecting him to follow me in. I hear the sounds of him taking off his shoes outside and shutting the door firmly behind him as he walks in, fumbling with the lock until it clicks.
Hm. Guess he can be polite when he wants to be.
He hurries behind me as I lead the way upstairs and into my room, where I stop in front of my door. Turning the doorknob, I announce in a deep voice, "Welcome to my humble abode." Then I giggle and say, "I've always wanted to say that!"
Stefan doesn't notice me. He wanders in tentatively, as if he can't believe what he's seeing. His jaw is dangling open and I can't help but laugh at the sight.
See, my room used to be a library. Our house isn't very big, but the previous owners had no children or pets or anything of that sort; it was just an old couple who loved books. When my family moved in, I claimed this room immediately. It's circular and has a huge window with a window seat across from the door. My bed and dresser are their own islands in the middle of the room. Aside from the one other door that leads into my closet, the walls are fully lined with built-in bookshelves that stretch from the carpeted floor all the way up to the domed ceiling. And they're almost completely filled with books.
"Are these all...books?" Stefan asks in awe.
I shrug carelessly. "Yup."
What can I say? I read A LOT and whenever I have any money at all, I go to the nearest Barnes & Noble and find some books to buy.
Stefan wonders aloud, "Are these all, like, contemporary fiction and stuff?"
"No way," I answer, offended. "I've got all types of fiction, non-fiction, dictionaries, encyclopedias, some textbooks, and of course, some SAT and AP Prep books. Gotta have those." I roll my eyes sarcastically.
He chuckles briefly but continues to stare. "No wonder you were like, 'We don't need a library.' Your bedroom is a freaking library!"
"Yeah, pretty great, right? Some of these books are actually pretty old, first editions and stuff."
Stefan looks at me with what I think is admiration but I can't be sure. I grin. "C'mon, let's start researching. My history books are over here."
"And then he said - "
"You know," Jazz interrupts me, "I swear I know as much about Stefan as you do and I don't even hang out with him."
"Huh?" That was random.
She rolls her eyes. "Meaning you tell me everything Stefan does and says. Why?"
"Because you like him, that's why. When are you gonna admit it?"
I snort with laughter. "Sorry, what did you just say? I like Stefan?"
"No, that's not possible!" I exclaim.
"And why not?" Jazz asks patiently.
"B-because - I don't - it's just - " I sputter incoherently.
Jazz stares at me expectantly.
"No," I say finally. "I can't."
"Charis." Jazz sighs. "You're not still trying to wait till college to get a boyfriend, are you?"
"Of course not!" I say, affronted. Jazz looks relieved, until I continue, "That's crazy. I'll need to focus on my studies in college. If I get a boyfriend - which I doubt 'cause who'll be attracted to someone like me? - it'll be after college. Like way. Like not till I get a stable job and stuff."
"Okay, hold up." Jazz peers at me. "What was that self-deprecating crap you mentioned?"
"Why wouldn't anyone be attracted to you? If I were a guy, I'd totally like you."
"That's what you think because you do like me now, but if you were a guy and we weren't best friends and stuff, there's no way you'd notice me."
"What? It's just the truth." At Jazz's look of doubt, I insist, "It is. I mean, I guess I'm an okay person once you get to know me, but that means you have to get to know me first. And I'm so awkward and closed-off with strangers that no one would wanna get to know me."
"How do you know? I find your strangeness endearing."
"Thanks, Jazz," I mutter dryly. "I love being told I'm weird in a nice way."
"Any time." She waves a dismissive hand. "But anyways, that wasn't my original point. What we were talking about was you liking Stefan. Sure, maybe he doesn't like you, but why can't you like him?"
I open my mouth to retort but close it when I realize that Jazz's logic actually makes sense for once. Why can't I like him? Just because he's not attracted to me doesn't mean I can't be attracted to him. It just makes me not want to be attracted to him.
"No, we're just friends," I assure her almost disappointedly.
No! Not disappointed!
"Uh-huh," Jazz grunts shrewdly. "I believe you."
I stare at her.
She shrugs. "Okay, I don't, but whatever. I'm right. You'll see."
"I hope not."
The bell rings and Stefan and I walk out of English together.
"Well, that wasn't so bad, was it?" he says. "I don't know why you were so worried."
"Because we wrote humiliating things in that story!" I cry. But secretly, I admit that he's right:
Reading the story to the class more fun and relieving than I expected.
Probably because Stefan was there to reassure me.
"Like what?" Stefan asks. He raises a brow at me.
"Like...well, like..." I quickly think through our story and think of a suitable example. "Oh! Like the part when I had to make my voice low to sound like a guy? Why couldn't you read that part? I sounded like I was stoned or something!"
Stefan is laughing too hard to respond. His face is turning a frightening shade of pinkish red and I huff at him, offended. "You're my friend. You're supposed to comfort me, not laugh at me and make me feel worse." He just keeps laughing. But his laughter is contagious and I can feel a smile tugging at my lips.
We walk to my locker. Stefan has recovered from his mirth by now and he says, "Well, the annoying project is finally over. You know, it was actually kinda fun."
"Say it isn't so!" I gasp in mock surprise. "Has the lonely and aloof Stefan admitted that something is fun?"
"Yes, yes I did," he grins good-humoredly. "Hey, I better go to my locker. Bye!" He flashes one more smile and takes off.
I sigh happily as I watch him go. The sight suddenly makes me realize that now that the project is over, Stefan has no reason to talk to me anymore. I'm not even sure if he thinks of me as a friend. What if he thinks I'm weird and now that he doesn't have to talk to me anymore, he'll just drop me? Maybe he prefers being alone.
Stefan's not like that, I tell myself and I believe myself, I really do.
The days pass by quickly and Stefan talks to me less and less each day. I wonder what I'm doing wrong. What is it about me that repulses people? I think I'm a pretty nice person, if I do say so myself, and after hanging out with me so much, I thought Stefan liked me, as a friend at least.
But I remember Rayna, who dropped me as soon as we hit middle school, and Joey, who told me that I was a nice person but too ugly for him when I confessed to him two years ago. Jazz is the only person who has stuck with me all these years and I wonder if she secretly feels that I'm annoying and only stays with me out of self-imposed obligation.
But then I shake off my thoughts. Jazz is my true friend. Obviously, I haven't met anyone else worth being friends with yet. I had hoped that Stefan would turn out to be a friend but if not, then it's his loss.
At least, that's what I tell myself.
But whenever Stefan says he's too busy to talk or runs off when I try to strike up a conversation, the hurt hits me all over again and I question why I keep trying.
After a week of making such a superhuman effort, I give up. I'm not made out of strength and determination; I can't take any more open rejection.
Two weeks pass of no contact between Stefan and me, except for the occasional longing glance that I toss his way and the accidental brush in the hallway.
"What's wrong with meeeeee?" I whine to Jazz one afternoon after Stefan stoically ignored me during all of English. "Why doesn't he wanna be friends with meeee? What am I doing wrong?"
"Nothing," Jazz tells me soothingly. "He just doesn't understand how amazing you are. He's missing out."
"Thanks, Jazz," I sniff, "but you have to say that. You're my best friend. For all I know, you could think I'm annoying too!"
"Well, duh." Jazz rolls her eyes. "Everyone gets annoyed with everyone at some point. It's natural."
"See! You think I'm annoying too!" I cry, completely disregarding her logical logic.
"Oh my gosh," Jazz moans into her hands. "You wimp! If you want to be friends with him so much, do something about it!"
"But I did!"
"What? You call those pathetic attempts to say hi to him 'trying'?"
"Well, you shouldn't! They were pathetic!"
"So what? I'm pathetic!"
"True," Jazz agrees to my horror, "if you're gonna keep moping like this."
"Well, what should I do then?"
"Forget him," she suggests.
"You say that like it's easy."
"Isn't it?" she counters. "It should be, if you don't like him."
"Can't I just want to be friends with a guy?"
I squint at her. "You have no confidence in the female species."
I sigh. "Fine. I admit that I may have the teeeeeeeeniest crush on him. But it's only 'cause he's the first guy in forever who's nice to me! Or was nice to me, I guess. It's more like...adoration?"
Jazz looks at me. "So there's no possible way that you like him for his personality? Only because he was nice to you?"
"Well, that is his personality, isn't it?" Wait, am I contradicting myself?
"Hm. True. Okay, so you like him," Jazz says. "What're you gonna do about it?"
Yes, indeedy. I just helped prove Jazz right.
"What can I do?" I shrug. "I'm gonna forget about it."
She snorts. "Oh, now you think that's a good idea?"
"I didn't say it was a bad idea."
"No, you just said that it would be really hard."
"And it will be. But as long as he keeps ignoring, I can do it."
"So what if he stops ignoring you?"
I laugh. "Why would he do that?"
I walk into English the next day with my head down, determined not to look at Stefan at all. Step one in the forgetting process: Ignore. If Stefan can do it so easily, why can't I?
I almost break my neck from the strain of not turning my head just slightly and seeing his familiar profile but I manage to survive somehow.
When the bell rings, I slip out before anyone else even gets to the door. I hear someone call my name, but it sounds so far away that I know I'm just hearing things. I keep walking to my locker and when I get there, I drop my forehead against the metal door, close my eyes, and sigh.
Needless to say, it's a long day and I stumble through it half unconscious. In fact, I'm so focused on convincing myself to stay awake so I can avoid Stefan that I don't notice him in front of me until I literally walk into him.
My books fall out of my arms, which pinwheel around, trying to regain my equilibrium. Just as I'm about to fall, he somehow catches my arms and pulls me back to my feet.
Which happens to put my body an inch away from his.
I'm scared to look up but I force myself to. I mean, if I can look him in the eyes and act completely normal, maybe even distant, then my plan is working.
My resolve crumbles the second I look into his eyes. Sure, he doesn't like me the way I like him. But I still want to be friends! Is that too much to ask?
Stefan is looking at me strangely. He asks, still holding me up, "Have you been avoiding me?"
Startled, I blurt out the truth. "Yeah!" Then I blush. "I mean - "
"Why?" Stefan cuts me off angrily. And...is that hurt on his face?
I am so confused.
"Well...because you've been avoiding me!" I say like it's obvious - which it should be. "So I thought, if Stefan wants to avoid me, then I should make it easier for him by avoiding him too."
His eyes are narrowed. "What are you talking about?"
"Since when have I been avoiding you?"
"Since, like, three weeks ago! I would try to talk to you and you would hurry off to do something. It got kinda depressing so I stopped trying to talk to you and you didn't try to talk to me either." I shake my head helplessly. "But I don't understand. I thought we were friends, Stefan! Or was I the only one who thought that way?"
He looks incredulous. "Wha - of course we're friends! You're practically my best friend!"
"Then why were you avoiding me?" I ask hotly.
"Yes, you were!"
"No, I wasn't!"
"Yes, you were!"
"No! I really wasn't!"
"Then what do you call all that running away when I tried to talk to you? Huh?" Realizing that he's still holding my arms, I yank them away, crossing them over my chest, and take a huge step back.
"I was trying to keep a secret from you!" he yells.
He sighs, rubbing his hand across his face. "I was...doing something for you and I didn't want you to know yet, so I was trying to keep it a secret. But whenever I talk to you, I have this urge to tell you everything, so I thought the best way to keep a secret was to just talk to you a little less." He slaps his forehead loudly. "If I had known you would think this way, then I would've just told you!"
"Yes, you should have!" I glare at him. "Do you know how scared hurt I was? Seriously. You need to think of better ways to keep secrets." Then something registers in my brain and I start to smile. "Wait a sec. Talking to me makes you wanna spill all your secrets? Seriously?"
Stefan blushes. "I knew I shouldn't have said that."
"Aw, come on, spill! I really would love to know all your dirty little secrets. Such as the one you've been hiding these past few weeks? What, are you in a forbidden relationship or something?" I raise my eyebrows at him, hoping against all hope that he doesn't have some secret girlfriend.
He looks at me skeptically. "No. What have you been reading?"
"Nothing!" I say brightly. "So what is it?"
"Well, uh..." He rubs the back of his neck shyly.
"Yeeees?" I prod.
"Here!" He suddenly shoves a small box into my hands. "Happy birthday!"
My eyes widen. "Holy crap. It's my birthday today. Ohhh my goodness, how the heck did I forget? Holy crap!" I look down at the nicely wrapped box in my hands. "And you remembered! Thank you so much!"
"Don't think me yet," he says nervously. "Make sure you like it first."
I roll my eyes. "It's the thought that counts."
As I slowly unwrap the gift, Stefan blabbers, which is quite out of character for him. He must be really nervous. "So I wanted to get you something really nice and I saw this one day when I was walking home and I thought it was perfect for you but it was, like, really expensive and I was pretty much broke, so I got a babysitting job that didn't pay very well for all the work I had to do, I mean three little boys aren't easy to take care of, I assure you, and they were so annoying most of the time, and like I said, the pay wasn't that great and I was scared I wouldn't have enough to buy it by today but I did and those kids were really annoying and - "
"OH MY GOODNESS, STEFAN, HOW MUCH DID THIS COST?" I scream at him in shock, cutting into his tirade.
" - and it was all worth it just to see your face right now," he finishes, grinning.
"That was a run-on sentence," I point out automatically before staring at the necklace in my hands.
It's a thin silver chain with a silver heart pendant, my name engraved upon it. It's simple and elegant, just the way I like my jewelry.
"Stefan," I say warningly. "Exactly how much did this cost?"
Ignoring me, he tells me, "It's a locket, by the way."
I glare at him and he smiles brightly back. My curiosity gets the better of me, and I vow to get an answer out of him after I fully inspect this magnificent piece of work. I open the heart, and gasp as I unfold it again.
It's not a heart. It's a four-leaf clover.
One leaf has a tiny picture of me and Stefan laughing over something funny we read in a book. I recognize it as one of the photos my photographer mother took one day while Stefan and I were researching for the project.
"When did you - how - what - Stefan! THIS LOOKS EXPENSIVE!" I screech at him.
He just smiles disarmingly and shrugs. "Yeah, it was."
"IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MAKE ME FEEL GUILTIER? 'CAUSE IT DOES!"
"Hey, I'm kidding. It wasn't really THAT much. I was just broke."
"Really?" I eye him dubiously.
I shake my head, puffing out a breath. "I really don't know if I can accept this. And I can't believe you made me think you didn't like me anymore for this!"
"Hey, I worked my butt off for that! Don't look down on it!"
"I'm not, but don't you know? I'd rather have you hang out with me than avoid me to buy me something I don't need." I hug the box to my chest. "But I'm selfish so I'm keeping it anyway. Is that okay?"
"Well, there's no way I'm wearing it, so you might as well," he teases.
I stick my tongue out at him before carefully picking up the chain and handing it to him. "Here. Help me put it on."
"No, next year." I roll my eyes. "Yes, now!"
I feel his fingers brush the back of my neck softly as he clasps the necklace. When he's done, I look down at the pendant and a rush of happiness runs through me at the thought of Stefan babysitting some demon children for me.
"Thank you, Stefan," I say as sincerely as possible. "It's perfect."
"You're welcome." Glancing at his watch, he says, "We should probably get going. I'll walk you home."
"Aw, what a gentleman," I giggle.
"Only 'cause it's your birthday."
"Right, right. Hey, so we ARE friends, right?" I look at him uncertainly. "Like, for sure? You're not gonna ignore me anymore?"
"I just want to say, I wasn't really trying to ignore you. I was trying to keep a secret."
"Whatever. Answer the question."
"Yeah." He looks at me with a smile. "We're friends."
I smile back, happy at his admission, if a bit unsatisfied. My crush on him definitely isn't gone; after this necklace thing, I'm sure it got way bigger. But I'm content with being just friends for now. As long as he stays in my life, I'm good.
Okay, so I think I may have strayed slightly from my original intent with this story...but I think it's better this way. I guess it doesn't match the quote as well as I wanted it to but, well, whatever. I tried. :D
So, hope you liked it! Here's the link to the tumblr:
teenagerposts . tumblr . com
Check it out! Just remove the spaces.
Write on. Read on. That's my motto.
© Copyright 2012 by The Siege