This is my very first original fiction! I hope you enjoy.

My name is Alyssa Hayes. I'm brunette, about five feet three inches tall, and sixteen years old.

Scratch that.

I am now officially seventeen years old. That's right. Today is my birthday!

At least, it is for five more minutes. Now, I'd be lying to you if I said that today was perfect and started out exactly as I had hoped. But that's the beauty of it. Sometimes things that go horribly wrong can turn out to be good and just as surprising as when they first happen.

Let me start from the beginning…

When I awoke I had mini butterflies in my tummy, except these butterflies were excited, not nervous.

I hopped out of bed and headed for my closet, scanning the outfit selections.

After finally deciding on my casual red dress with black fringe over the top and a black bow in the middle, I walked to my vanity and carefully began applying my makeup.

This is going to be the best birthday ever, I promised myself as I added the finishing touch of lip gloss.

Putting my dress in front of me with a grin, I twirled around in a circular motion happily.

Heading to the bathroom, I got dressed, ran a brush through my hair, and then bounded downstairs for breakfast.

"Good morning, honey." my mom greeted me cheerfully, handing me a plate filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. "Happy birthday!"

"Thank you." I told her politely, grabbing my fork.

She gave me a quick kiss on the cheek, then treaded back to the counter where her coffee mug was sitting. As she began to add a couple spoonfuls of sugar, her cell phone rang.

"Hello?" she answered. There was a pause as she awaited her response.

"Are you sure? Yes, Patricia, I do understand but it's Alyssa's birthday and…" She heaved a big sigh. "There's really no other way? Alright, alright. I'll be there in about half an hour."

She hung up the phone and looked at me apologetically. "Sweetheart, I'm afraid I have some bad news…"

I dropped my toast in mid-bite, anxiously awaiting for her to go on.

"Mrs. Bentley's sitter canceled. She needs me to watch the kids. I'm sorry, honey, I'm not going to be able to spend your birthday with you after all."

Patricia Bentley lives not too far away from us. She has two boys. They're completely adorable, and under normal circumstances, I wouldn't be upset with mom going to watch them. But on my birthday of all days? We had been talking for a couple of weeks about going on a major shopping spree. I was really excited! Until now…

"She can't find anyone else?" I questioned, trying not to show how truly disappointed I was.

My mother shook her head sympathetically. "It was completely last minute and she stressed that she absolutely could not find anyone else. She asked me to send you her condolences and wish you a happy birthday."

I smiled, trying to make the best of the situation. "What about dad?" I asked finally.

"Now, you know your dad is very busy right now with his latest case…" she began gently, wrapping her arm around my shoulders.

Dad's a big time lawyer, so he's always pretty busy.

I nodded in understanding. It's not like it was their fault that they had more important things to do.

"We'll make it up to you later, I promise!" she called as she grabbed her purse. I heard the door slam and let out a small sigh.

Well, this sucks, I thought, staring around the room. Now what? I guess I can call Carrie…

Carrie Applegate has been my best friend for basically as long as I can remember. She was always doing something when we were younger to make me laugh and my laughter would cause her to laugh. At one point, we started talking, which eventually led to cracking jokes and we just clicked. The funny thing is, we're basically opposites.

She's extremely outgoing, while I'm more reserved and quiet. In fact, back then, our teacher from third grade called my mom and told her that while she loved that we had formed a bond, she was concerned that Carrie might end up getting me into trouble because I was such a good student. Carrie wasn't exactly bad, but she definitely liked to talk a lot and sometimes it was hard to keep her attention in class.

As for boys, we won't even go there on how completely different we are. Or maybe we should. Let's just say I've had a crush on the same boy for about six years now and every time I come within even two feet of him, I can't breathe. Oh, I've tried to talk to him, believe me. Each time has only led to disaster. I can't say anything that's even remotely coherent. He probably thinks I'm the biggest loser to ever step foot on planet Earth, but try as I might, my ridiculously embarrassing moments haven't stopped me from pining over him.

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR BEST FRIEND, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!" Carrie sings once she answers the phone, bursting the tiny bubble that I didn't even realize until that moment had been surrounding my thoughts.

"Yeah…" I mumbled skeptically. "Not so happy."

Though I couldn't see her, her voice told me she was frowning. "What's wrong?"

"Mom's gone out. I'm stuck here by myself."

"You're kidding, right?" she continued, her tone dry and disbelieving.

"I wish."

"Well, cheer up, Leeseycup!" she cried, calling me by the nickname I was apparently (and unfortunately) branded with for life.

"Care, it's my birthday. It turns out that I'm all alone when I had plans today. How exactly do you expect me to cheer up?"

"Leese," she began in response, using the exact same pitch I had just a second ago. "I'm sixteen, very close to seventeen. I have a car. I can take you out." she mimicked, as if it were obvious.

I stiffened as a result of her attitude, all the while kicking myself for not having thought of it. "Oh, really? And just what do you suggest we do?"

"Go to the mall, of course! You have some birthday money, right?"

"Well, yeah, but…"

"There is no 'but' when it comes to the mall. Are you honestly telling me that you don't want to go? I've got to say, that's pretty lame, Leese. Even for you."

My eyes widened at how blunt she was being. "Fine, I'll go! Geez, you're usually bad enough as it is, but today you're on a roll."

"What can I say? Best friends and birthdays bring out my inner sassiness. Who knows? Maybe you'll even find a hot guy."

I scoffed. "Easy for you to say. You have a boyfriend."

This brings me back to my point about Carrie not being shy. She can actually talk to guys, which is why she's been in her current relationship for almost three years. I have to admit, I'm a tad jealous. He treats her like all girls in a relationship should be treated.

"Yeah, well…" she trailed off matter-of-factly, distracting me from my thoughts yet again. "See you in fifteen!"

I simply stared at the phone, mouth gaped open, listening to the dial tone as I realized she had hung up without so much as a goodbye.

The doorbell rang exactly fifteen minutes later. Normally, this would've been unusual behavior for Carrie, who didn't typically care if she was late for certain things, like school. But this was the mall, so I guess that gave her the motivation to be punctual.

"Hey, birthday girl!" she greeted me excitedly when I opened the door, her blonde curls bouncing wildly. "You look great. See? If I hadn't shown up, you'd be all dressed up with nowhere to go. Wouldn't that be a shame?"

"So sad." I responded, my tone nothing short of unenthusiastic.

"Let's go!" she commanded, grabbing me by the arm with a grip tighter than necessary as she rushed us to her car.

The ride consisted of us belting out the lyrics to all our favorite songs with not a care in the world at how off-key we were. When she turned into the mall parking lot, Carrie managed to find a good parking place even though it was packed. She looked at me with a grin and turned the key, killing the ignition. "See? Your luck is changing already!"

I made no comment as I got out of the car, closing the door with a slam louder than I expected.

"Where do you want to go first?" she asked as we reached the mall entrance, placing her sunglasses on the top of her head.

"I don't know." I admitted with a shrug. "I figure we can browse until something catches our eye."

"You mean like that?" she questioned smugly, pointing her finger in the direction in front of us.

I gazed forward, my breath hitching in my throat as I noticed what she was pointing at.

His name? Evan Keller, AKA the crush mentioned previously. He's got dark hair, equally dark eyes, and killer arms. Not that I've really noticed or imagined what it would be like to have them around me or anything…

She nudged me in the side and winked. "Told you that you might meet a hot guy! Let's go talk to him."

I shook my head. "No way. Every time I try I end up embarrassing myself. What is he even doing here?"

She scoffed in disbelief. "In case you haven't noticed, this is a mall. He kind of has a right to be here. Chillax, girlfriend! You really need to learn to live a little!" she hissed slightly, rolling her eyes. Abruptly, she started marching toward him.

"Where are you going?!" I called out, a wave of panic washing over me.

She turned around, raising her arms in a what-are-you-going-to-do-about-it gesture. "Just because you don't want to talk to him doesn't mean I can't!" she called back.

I stood there nervously, just watching. Knowing my best friend, there was no telling what she might say. Luckily, the conversation between them was short, but that didn't stop the erratic beating of my heart as she came walking back.

"What did you say to him?" I demanded once she was within earshot.

She seemed to debate on her answer for a moment, then widened her eyes innocently. "Nothing."

I crossed my arms over my chest, raising my eyebrow skeptically. "Nothing? Why do I not believe you?"

"Look, Leese, I love you. You're my best friend. But in case you haven't noticed, we're very different people. Just because you're shy and flip out every time he's even in the same vicinity as you doesn't mean I can't talk to him and make a new friend, okay?"

Feeling a headache coming on, I rubbed my temples and let out a sigh. "Why can't I be more like you?"

Sensing my frustration, she put an arm around my shoulder. "I wouldn't exactly want that in some cases if I were you. I only wish you could see how awesome you are yourself. If you put yourself out there, Evan would notice it, too. Then maybe you wouldn't be so insecure."

"I've tried. But I don't like the feeling. My stomach gets all twisted, my mouth goes all dry…then I get tongue-tied and make an idiot of myself."

"One of these days, I'm going to break you out of your shell. Mark my words." she vowed, rummaging through her purse and pulling out a piece of gum. "Want one?"

I nodded, taking it from her. After a moment of silence, she grinned at me. "So what now?"

"Oh, world domination, maybe coming up with our own drink that turns everyone we hate into broomsticks… you know, since they're already witches. We're in a mall, for crying out loud! What do you think is next?"

She beamed. "Shopping."

I smiled back with a nod. "Shopping," I confirmed.

We went through every store, carefully scanning what was inside each one. Needless to say, by the end of it, our feet were killing us.

"I'd say our shopping trip was a success." Carrie clarified, licking her ice cream cone as we sat down on a bench, deciding to rest for a bit before we left.

"I'd say it was." I concurred, digging through my bag and giving the new perfume I'd purchased at Dillard's another sniff.

Carrie took a whiff herself as I handed the bottle over to her. "Mmmm, that really does smell so good. I like the bottle, too." she commented, admiring the crystal design. "Wear it the next time you think you'll run into Evan, and he'll be all over you. In fact, put some on now. Maybe he's still here!," she teased.

I rolled my eyes with a grin as I delicately put the perfume back in the bag. "So now what? Do you want to see a movie? That new Channing Tatum film is out. We could go see it. I wanted to leave, but now I'm not so tired anymore…"

"What time is it?" she asked.

I hit the button on the bottom of my cell phone, making it light up. "Almost five-thirty."

She gasped and flailed her arms wildly, almost dropping her ice cream in the process. "No time for a movie. I've got to drop you off and get home. My mom will, um, kill me if I'm not home in time for dinner. We've got relatives coming."

I gazed at her, my brow scrunched in confusion. "I thought I met all of your family."

She shook her head violently, a curtain of blonde hairs surrounding her face. "You've never met these. They're from Africa."

"Africa? Really? That's so cool! I'd love to meet them."

"See, they don't really speak English that well right now. Wouldn't want you to get offended. Maybe another time, let's get you home."

She grabbed my hand with the same force as she had when we were getting in the car the first time, giving me an odd sense of déjà vu.

I couldn't deny the fact that her behavior was a bit peculiar, but I decided to ignore it. This was Carrie, after all. If she didn't want me to meet her family today, then I would respect it.

"My mom's back!" I proclaimed excitedly once Carrie pulled into the driveway, spotting her car. "Thanks for the shopping trip." I told her, opening the door. "It was a lot of fun and turned out not to be such a bad birthday after-"

She started opening the door on her side of the car before I could finish.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm coming in with you." she replied, as if it were obvious.

"But I thought you had to go home to see your relatives."

I would have almost sworn I saw an imaginary light bulb go on over her head. "Oh yeah," she stated, shrugging it off. "They can wait."

I shrugged myself and treaded toward the house.

"SURPRISE!" a chorus of people yelled the instant I opened the door.

My eyed widened in shock as I brought a hand to my mouth. Several of my classmates were there, along with quite a few long-time family friends.

"Sorry I had to leave you today, sweetie." my mother approached me apologetically. "But I absolutely couldn't spoil the surprise and you know how bad I am about keeping my mouth shut!"

"So, wait a second… you didn't have to baby-sit?"

Shaking her head no, she formed her lips into a pout. "Are you mad?"

I grinned and hugged her again. "Not at all! How can I be when you went to all this trouble?"

She put a hand to her chest, twisting the pendant on the end of her necklace in slight guilt. "I didn't." she confessed.

I slanted my eyes in bewilderment. "But if you didn't plan all this, who did?"

"Your best friend. Alyssa, I know she pressures you sometimes to be more outgoing. More than that, I know that it can get on your nerves. But she really does have your best interest at heart."

"Damn right I do!" Carrie declared, wrapping me up in a hug.

I pulled away from her and gave her hand a gentle squeeze. "You truly are the best friend ever. I owe you big time."

She squeezed my hand and grinned back, muttering softly, "Damn right you do."

After greeting everyone I hadn't seen in a while, the smile on my face faded. My heart started beating rapidly all over again. Evan was here.

"Oh my God!," I hissed under my breath. "Who invited him?"

"Harry Potter." Carrie told me seriously. "I figured we could use him since we're coming up with our own potion."

I looked at her in skeptical silence.

"ME, YOU DOOF!" she screeched, giving me a light swat upside the head. "I invited him. At the mall."

"Car-rie!" I winced, closing my eyes. "Whyyy?!"

"Because he likes you."

I perked up. "Really?"

"May-be. Maybe not. I know things. But you'll never know unless you find out. Go talk to him!" she commanded, giving me a shove.

With a gulp, I made my way toward the punch bowl, where he was standing.

"Hi, Evan." I greeted him timidly. I could feel a light blush forming at my cheeks, but tried my best to ignore it in hopes that he wouldn't notice. "Um, thanks for… for coming to my party."

"Oh, hey Alyssa!" he stated, turning around and flashing his pearly white teeth. "No problem. I'm sure you already know this, but Carrie invited me. You've got a really good friend. This is an awesome party."

I felt my heart melting on the spot. He actually knows my name. "Yeah, she's amazing. I'm glad you're enjoying yourself."

"Want to dance?" he asked, holding out his hand.

The question came out so fast it caught me off guard. After a second of silence, I took his hand. "Sure."

The stereo in the corner was playing one of my all-time favorite love songs. Evan placed his hands around my waist, gazing at me with a smile. We began to sway along to the beat. I was completely lost in the moment until his next comment broke my concentration.

"So," he began with a slight smirk. "Carrie tells me that you have a crush on me."

I sighed and bit my lip. "I'll kill her."

"But why?"

I shrugged and looked down at the ground, honestly not knowing what to say. I decided to turn the tables. "She also told me that you like me. Well, she said that maybe you did, but I think part of her might have been messing around. Is it true? Do you?"

He looked down at me and whispered softly, "I do."

I stopped dancing and looked back up at him. Before my heart was pounding out of my chest, and now I was pretty sure it had skipped a couple of beats. There was no way I was expecting that answer. It was my turn to ask him.

"But why?"

"Why not?" he murmured, gently tucking a strand of hair behind my ear. It tickled a little, causing a tingle to go up my spine. His emerald eyes were completely fixated on mine. "You're beautiful, smart, funny… I've seen you around school. You're so nice to everyone. I guess I've just never had the courage to approach you myself." he finished, rubbing the back of his neck.

Now I knew I was blushing. "I'm glad you finally did." I muttered, looking at the ground again.

"Well, I don't know if I would have if it weren't for Carrie but…" there was a pause, and he tilted my chin up, forcing me to look at him. "Me, too."

Before I knew it, his lips were connected with mine. Instinct took over, and I wrapped my arm around his neck, pulling him closer. As we broke apart, I laid my head on his chest, knowing that the several imaginary kisses I'd shared with Evan in my mind would never top the real thing. I was also right in the fact that having his arms around me felt amazing. Not that I've ever imagined it or anything…

So, there you have it. As simple and cliché as it is, that's how my bummer of a birthday turned into something incredible. Turns out I had much more than a shopping spree and surprise party to thank Carrie for. I'm branded for life now because she also got me the best present ever- my first boyfriend.

THE END

To anyone who actually took the time to read this and enjoyed it, reviews, or becomes a part of this story in any way, thank you from the bottom of my heart.