We Told Six Lies(2)

“We were in the hallway,” I offer.

“At school?” she asks.

I nod and fold my arms across my chest, feeling myself soften. The truth is, I want to talk about her. I need to go back through every moment we shared and figure out where things went wrong. Why not start there?

That pencil again, scribbling. “What day was this?”

The answer fires out of my mouth like a confession.

“Friday. First Friday in October.”


Don’t make eye contact.

My head was down, my hands shoved into my pockets. I was watching my feet move, quick. Get out of the hallway. Into the classroom. Don’t look anyone in the face. Don’t interact.

But I looked up anyway.

I looked up because I heard your voice.

When someone talks as little as I do, their ears overcompensate. And I could tell, without seeing you, that you were new. My eyes met yours, and I thought, Damn, damn, damn, because I knew how you’d react. Because every last part of me was assembled so that people would leave me the hell alone.

I was so focused on you that I bumped into a freshman, knocking the books out of his hands. I lunged toward the floor and grabbed his things. Put them back into the kid’s arms and muttered an apology, avoiding his nervous eyes as he took in my frame.

When I glanced your way again, you were looking at me.

Looking at me…and smiling.

And I looked down because I’m an asshole and I thought maybe you were smiling at someone else.

I’d like to say I didn’t think about you while I sat in American History, but my mind replayed every part of you round and round like a turntable. Your hair, so blond it was nearly white, parted down the middle. Your eyes, so intense they pulled me inside out. Your mouth, pink and shiny and curving upward on one side like the sight of me amused you.

My God, your mouth.

I didn’t like you at first, did you know that?

Every time I thought of you and that damn smile, I frowned.

And then I thought of it again.

I may have wondered what your name was.

I may have hated you for smiling at me because it opened this horrendous hope inside of me, and it was impossible to push it back into place. It was a hernia, that hope. A rabid animal that needed trapping. But it’d already fled so far, so what could you do?

I saw you again after lunch. You were coming in, and I was leaving.

My heart raced, and I told myself—

Don’t look at her, you fuck. Don’t you dare look at her.

But I did anyway, and you narrowed your eyes at me and tilted your head like you were trying to figure me out. A chick with dark hair—Rhana—was talking to you. She was pointing out the table she wanted you to sit at, but you were looking at me.

And I was looking at you.

And I definitely hated you then.

Because now I was going to think about you all night, even though those two rubbery cheeseburgers the lunch lady slid me had almost gotten you off my mind.

I thought briefly about raising my hand to wave, because really, where were my balls? But then Jet Davis spotted me, and my jaw clenched because I knew what was coming. I knew, and you were still watching me, and you were going to see this all go down.

Jet, like the predictable prick he is, raised his arms in front of his chest, widened his eyes, and started walking like Frankenstein.

“Uuugh,” he said, acting like he’d just been raised from the dead. “Uuugh.”

He rocked his weight back and forth, his unseeing gaze set on me, while his friends laughed and laughed. And you looked back and forth between him and me, waiting to see what I would do.

Did I disappoint you then?

Because I did what I always do. I put my head down and stormed toward my next class, my bag thumping against my back as I put distance between him and me, between you and me.

I was humiliated.

I wanted to find Jet and beat his face in because even though he’d done the same thing to me a hundred times, it’d never been when someone who had smiled at me was watching.

When I saw you for the third time that day, I was frustrated. Why did you have to be everywhere I was? Why were you looking at me?

Stop looking at me, goddamn it.

You were on one side of the hallway, walking toward me. Rhana was there again, talking your ear off. And then, because I have the best luck in the world, Jet came around the corner, and he got right up behind me, and he was going, Uuugh, uuugh, and I was ignoring it because I was afraid if I reacted, I wouldn’t be able to stop reacting. You were coming closer and closer, and Jet was getting louder and louder, and then finally, your eyes left my face, and you looked at Jet instead.

You looked at his crotch.

You covered your mouth and snickered, and you elbowed Rhana and nodded toward Jet’s crotch. I looked, too, because anything bad that happened to Jet was cause for celebration.

But his fly was up.

His micro penis was properly covered.

So what were you looking at?

Doesn’t matter, I guess, because when Jet realized you were laughing at him, he said, “What the hell you looking at, butter face?”

I shoved him, threw my entire self into it, and Jet flew backward and hit the wall.

Before he could react, your hands were on my face, cupping my cheeks. And you said something I will never forget, your pink, pink lips smiling wider than ever— “There you are.”

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