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Authors: Margaret Lesh

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BOOK: Normalish
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September 12, Later -
Results In: I Lose

 

I was
kind
of looking forward to the dance.
I put my lip gloss on and sprayed my hair, getting my bangs just right, a little spiky on the top. I wore my jeans, the ones that were still sort of new, and a shirt I didn’t hate. A constant stream of thoughts ran through my head revolving around Anthony and me: dancing together so close, kissing softly on the dance floor, swaying to the music. They were good thoughts.

At the dance, I stood around with Rose and Bethany, and with Chad, Marty, and Jason. We all had our eyes on somebody. Unfortunately, Chad’s eyes were on
me
. I was on edge, waiting for a glimpse of Anthony, when the song “True” started playing. It’s a song straight out of one of our eighties teen movies, and it’s very romantic. I mean, I don’t really know if it’s actually about love, but it
sounds
like a love song to me. Chad looked over and put his hand out dramatically, in a jokey way—like he was a prince and I was his princess.

“Shall we?” he asked gallantly.

“We shall,” I answered in my most princess-like voice.

We walked out to the gym floor. The lights were down low with the mirror ball strobing. I could smell his aftershave as he put his arms around my waist. I put my arms around his shoulders, all stiff. I smiled at him, he smiled at me—a big goofy look on his face—and he’d just had a breakout. When he smiled, I noticed how his braces would catch the light when the mirror ball hit them just right.

It was normal. I mean, it
seemed
normal enough at first. We’d danced before. But not to a slow song. Not to a ridiculously romantic song. And I’ve never looked at Chad as someone I’d ever want to kiss. We laugh and joke, but I’ve seriously
never
thought of kissing him.

But there we were, swaying to the music. I focused on the lyrics of the song, trying to figure out what they really meant, as Chad locked his eyes onto mine. His eyes are pretty—brown with green flecks—but I didn’t like the way he was looking at me, as if he was trying to think of the right thing to say, as if I held the answer somehow. And I
couldn’t
look away, even though I really wanted to.

“You know, I
really
like you,” he said.

“I know. I like you too, you big dork.”

I could see it coming, like in slow motion, but there was nothing I could do to stop it.

N-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o
.

The kiss. Wet. Messy. Sloppy. Gross. He leaned into it—catching me so completely off guard that I almost fell over—shoving his tongue into my mouth. There was too much saliva, maybe because of his braces, and zero chemistry.

Turns out, Chad is a horrible kisser. And when I say “horrible,” I mean ridiculously, awfully, horribly bad. The vibes I’d been feeling: real. The way his kiss felt: awful.

When I pulled my head back, there were stars in his eyes.

“Wow.”

He said it like he was floating on top of his very own cloud.

I said nothing and looked into his eyes—eyes that told the story of a boy who’d just kissed a girl and the kiss was the most amazing kiss ever in the history of the world—and we stayed looking at each other for a few uncomfortable seconds.

The song was over; a techno song came on.

“Do you want to—” he started to say.

“No. Absolutely not.”

He gave a little shrug.

This is the part where I wanted to go back in time. Just five minutes. To the time
before
the time when my life became a horrible nightmare of awkward unwanted love. I wanted to go back to the part when we were standing around, just talking with our friends. Before it went all wrong.

It would be so easy to love Chad. He’s adorable. And we get along so well. But life doesn’t work that way. You can’t just make yourself like someone, and you can’t just make someone like you. You can’t just make that stuff up. I
really
wish you could.

We rejoined our group. Bethany’s mouth was hanging open, and Rose’s eyebrows were about a foot higher. Obviously they saw it. The Kiss.

I had to set him straight.

“Chad,” I shouted over the music, “can we go outside for a minute?”

He started looking all goofy again. And hopeful.

“Let’s go,” he said as he grabbed for my hand.

Ahhhhhhh.

His hand was kind of sweaty; mine was more so. He was floating; I was not.

We walked together, and he looked at me and said—almost sounding shy—“I missed you this summer.”

“I missed you too,” I said, except I knew that the way he missed me was different than the way I missed him.

“Is this okay?” he asked when we got to one of the long cement benches outside the gym.

“Yeah. It’s fine.”

Ever since I’ve known Chad, he’s never asked me if it was okay to sit on some bench before. One stupid kiss changed the whole dynamic of our relationship. What a bunch of crap.

It was cool out, not stuffy like the gym. Some boys in a circle were playing hacky sack with a group of girls standing by watching. I wished I could be one of the girls watching the boys kick the footbag around.

Chad moved to put his arm around my shoulder. I brushed it away, almost involuntarily.

“Don’t.”

“Don’t?”

He looked surprised, then wounded, and here’s where everything went wrong.

“Look, Chad, I don’t know what to say.” (Which is unusual for me.) All I could think of was the old, “
I think we should just be friends
” speech. It’s such a cliche, but I meant it. “We’re friends. You’re, like, my best friend in the world.”

Stony silence.

“Chad, say something. Please don’t just look at me like that.”

He shook his head and narrowed his eyes. “Like what?”

“Um, like you hate me.”

“Stacy, don’t be ridiculous.”

He picked up a bottle cap lying on the ground and chucked it, bouncing it off the side of a soda machine, a very un-Chad-like thing to do.

“I thought…” he started to say, but his voice drifted off.

“What? What did you think?” I asked, desperate for a response. Anything. Something.

“Nothing. I’m going back in,” he said, shaking his head. He got up and gave me a little half-salute.

He left me sitting outside on the bench like an idiot.

Of course, I followed him back in.

He wouldn’t speak to me.

To top off my horrible evening, Anthony and some girl were making out in the corner.

September 13 –
Chad = The Opposite
Of Warm And Fuzzy

 

After I gave myself a pep talk, after feeling awkward and insecure and awful
all morning, I called Chad to see if I could salvage anything of our relationship.

Chad: “Hi, Stacy.” (Flat. Not friendly.)

Silence.

Me: (Sounding extra friendly.) “Hey, Chad! I just wanted to check in, you know, see how you’re doing, make sure things were okay.”

Silence. Uncomfortable.

Me: “Uh, can we talk? Please?”

Chad: “You think I’m a loser. What is there to say?”

Me: “Come on, Chad. Don’t be like that. Please. It’s just—uh, I think we’re better as friends, you know?”

Me again: (Because Chad kept up the silent treatment.) “Chad, I really want things to be like they’ve been between us—”

Chad: “Look, Stacy, I don’t want to talk right now. Let’s just let it go.”

Me: “Wait a second. Don’t hang up—”

Chad: “Talk to you later.” Click.

I’m not sure if that qualifies as being hung up on, but I think so.

To recap my first month of high school, my newly updated mental inventory list is as follows:


1. I lost my best friend.


2. Got a new best friend.


3. Lost that best friend.


4. I have no best friend.


5. I have no boyfriend.

So that’s my life. Impressive, right?

September 15 -
Stalking, Obsession,
Crush = Confusion

 

I’m not a stalker. I just want to clear that up.
But today while I was waiting for Anthony to pass by after second period, I saw him,
and
he saw me and gave me a little, “HeyStacyhowsitgoing,” all fast like that without stopping. I was a goofball for all of third period—my Algebra class for boneheads. (Which is bad because I’ve been having enough trouble concentrating as it is.)

Is it stalking to wait near the classroom of someone you have a mad crush on when your class is only one row of buildings away? Is it stalking to rush over from Spanish, even though Algebra is in the complete opposite direction, to plant yourself in the path of the boy you’re in love with?

I’m going to have to think about that. I’m going to have to think about the way I feel when I don’t see him and how it messes me up for my next few classes. If I were to ask Rose and Bethany, they’d probably say yes. Without hesitation. But they know me, and they know him. Maybe I should ask someone I don’t know (because sometimes the truth is easier to take from a stranger).

September 17 –
Dumb,
Dumb,
Dumb!

 

Today when I missed Anthony
—either because my timing was slightly off or because he was absent—and after I was sad through Algebra and depressed through English
and
after Rose and Bethany kept asking me if I was okay, I looked up the definition of “stalker” in the Urban Dictionary (which Mom has told me not to use because it’s so nasty, perverted, and inaccurate). After reading the first seven entries, I’m happy to say that I’m not a stalker (which, apparently, is an overused term). I merely have a crush. Also (my own personal diagnosis): I’m TSTL (too stupid to live).

Why am I TSTL? Because I’m in love with a boy who I know for a fact is bad for me. Terrible, bad news. How do I know this? I know this because he motors through girls like they’re popcorn, a new one each week (sometimes two). I admit, this might be a slight exaggeration, but the girls really go crazy for him.

It flies in the face of logic and reason, my crush. And he’s a junior. And he drives and has probably been shaving since he was ten. Yet when I see him, it’s like when I’m strapped into a roller coaster and the car is inching up the belt on its way to the top, right before it falls over the edge. And that pretty much encapsulates my relationship with Anthony—the falling-over-the-edge part.

It’s not like he’s the world’s most handsome guy. He doesn’t look like Mr. Selden (who I still kind of hate but not as much as I did last week). His nostrils are flared, and his hair’s kind of frizzy. But there’s something about him. I can’t shake it.

He’s got “it,” whatever that undefinable quality is that causes usually smart, together people (like me) to lose their minds. He’s a major player. Rumor has it he even “dated” one of the younger teachers. He’d go over to her house and mow her lawn or feed her cat or something like that.

It is ridiculous. I am ridiculous.

BOOK: Normalish
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