For Crying Out Loud by J. Preston
Six years ago
For months, I’ve been basically stalking Jason’s little sister in hopes of her noticing me. Now my time is up. This is her last week before she moves with her family again, and I am determined for her to finally see me.
I know her schedule by heart. In the next thirty seconds, she will walk through the main door and over to the swings. She’ll drop her backpack on the ground, pull out one of her books, then read for the next half hour, swinging, while Jason finishes his football practice. He’ll then come and pick her up, and they will walk home together like they do every Friday. The only difference is that this Friday they will start packing, and next week she’ll be gone from my life forever.
Jenny Cowley is ridiculous.
Girls like her should not exist, purely for the fact of being so out of everyone’s league.
Alas, she exists. She and her ridiculously blue eyes, the eyes that are the colour of the sky in the Bahamas. Then there are those stupid, long, brown locks of hers. They can’t decide whether they want to be straight or curly, so they are straight on the top and morph into the cutest curls below her chin.
She’s always so quiet, sitting by herself reading her books, a complete opposite of her loud and popular brother, his presence demanding attention wherever he goes. Jenny turns heads too, not that she notices. God, last week a guy slipped on the floor of the cafeteria a few feet away from where she was reading. Food everywhere; a broken nose.
Jenny didn’t look up once.
She just kept on reading, lost in her own world. I couldn’t look away, my eyes drawn to her throughout the whole thing.
I’ve got it bad, I know. The whole thing is a bit pathetic, but it’s not like anyone will actually comment on it. Not because I’m a loner. I get invited to all the parties and have a fair share of girls that seem to be interested in me. Thing is, I'm not tall or muscular or particularly handsome. One thing I’ve got going on for me?
I’m Aiden Vaughn.
Yup, that Vaughn, from the Vaughn Industries. As in, my dad is one of the richest men in the UK, owning pretty much everything you can think of.
Because of my family name, I became ‘the popular guy’. The guy who everyone wanted to be friends with. The guy who lives in a ten bedroom mansion in Kensington. The guy who threw the sickest pool parties, whose dad owned not one, not two, but ten Ferraris. Who even needs that many?
The guy whose parents were never there for him. The guy surrounded by people: maids, staff, peers, so-called ‘friends’.
The guy who was very…alone.
My dad’s money made me popular, and I resented him for it.
Until this school year started. That’s when everything changed.
It started with gossip.
All everyone was talking about was the two new kids, the siblings from the States.
I met Jase first. He walked into my English class, introduced himself, then sat down next to me, extending his hand and smiling from ear to ear.
Jason didn’t have a clue who I was and was genuinely being friendly. It was a pleasant change from the leeches I had to deal with daily.
We ignored the teacher throughout the class and continued whispering about countries we’ve been to, cars, and football. By the end of that period, I was smiling for the first time in a while, happy to have finally met someone who didn’t know who I was. Someone who was being himself around me.
Then came lunchtime.
I grabbed a sandwich and a packet of crisps, waving Jason over to come and sit with our group. He made his way to us, then stood next to the table, hovering. A short girl poked her head out from behind his back, smiling tentatively. The most beautiful blue eyes I’ve ever seen zeroed in on me as she waved awkwardly.
It hit me like a ton of bricks. She was gorgeous.
Her heart-shaped face had a few freckles scattered across her small nose, her full pink lips a stark contrast to her porcelain complexion, and those eyes, those ridiculously blue eyes, framed by long lashes.
When she noticed me staring at her but not waving back, she looked down, letting her long brown hair hide her face.
I never believed in love at first sight, but I was damn close to believing now. I wanted to touch her, make sure she was real.
“This is Jenny,” Jason introduced her to everyone. She smiled again, and that was that. If she’d asked at that moment, I would have given her anything: my homework, my parent’s money, my kidney. Just like that, I was a goner.
I’m not sure why, but that was the first and last time she ate with us. She was a year below and ate with a few girls from her year or by herself, reading a book.
I spent most of my time watching her in silence, like a shadow. Creepy and idiotic, I know. A year went by like that in a blink of an eye. Then, about a month ago, Jason told me his dad was changing stations again, and he and Jenny were going to have to move with him.
The first thought I had wasn’t about my best friend moving away. It was about her, about not being able to see her again, not having the prospect of telling her how I felt.
When you’re fourteen, things like that feel life-altering. The person you’re in love with moving away? It ruins your life. I couldn’t let her go without trying.
That’s why I’m waiting.
I look at the entrance to the school, willing the doors to open. She should be out by now. My watch, an expensive gift from my father for a good grade on some stupid test, confirms she’s late.
Nervously, I tap my foot, glancing around, then finally…the door opens.
Jenny walks out, her head tilted towards the sky, soaking up the sun. One of her white, knee-high socks has slipped down to her ankle. Her uniform peaks out from under the large, green military jacket she’s wearing with the sleeves rolled up. Wrapped around her neck is a Gryffindor scarf; it’s the first time I’ve seen it on her, and I swear I fall for her even more. Her chestnut hair moves, floating up with every gust of wind. She is spectacular.
Easily the most beautiful girl in the school; I’ve recently discovered that she doesn't even know it. She certainly never acts like it. Other girls would flip their hair, voices high pitched, laughing too loud, and lapping up all the attention.
I walk over to the pair of swings where she’s heading, taking my time. When she sits down on one and opens her book, I sit down in the swing next to her and start rocking gently, drinking her in.
We’re swinging like that for a couple of minutes, me studying her features while she’s completely lost in her book. Her face first frowning at the words she’s reading, then spreading into a wide smile. My heart is doing some serious acrobatics in my chest at the sight. The sun is shining on her hair, making her locks look like they’re on fire. I can’t hold it in anymore. I reach out my left hand and grab onto the chain of her swing.
Here goes nothing. “Hey,” I breathe. Jenny frowns, as if irritated by the interruption, and then looks up from the book. Her gaze reaches my face, and the frown morphs into a bright smile.
“Hey, Aiden.” She looks at me curiously, puts a marker on the page she was reading, and closes the book. It’s Life of Pi by Yann Martel; it’s got a tiger in a boat on the cover, and I’m instantly intrigued.
“How’s the book?” I ask as my mind goes completely blank. Her entire face lights up.
“It's amazing! You should definitely read it!” She says, grinning, and I can’t help but grin back. Great, I’m so bloody obvious.
“Really? I'll check it out then,” I say, shrugging my shoulders, and she smiles even wider.
“Here, take my copy and start as soon as you can.” She thrusts her paperback at me. I hesitate, not wanting to take her copy away. “I’ve got another one at home. Dad bought two by mistake,” she explains, nudging me with the book. I take it tentatively and put it in my lap.
“Thank you,” I say, looking into her blue eyes. There are so many things I want to say at that moment, but words fail me. Instead, I dry my sweaty palm on my trousers and reach out, taking her hand in mine. It’s small and soft and feels fragile.
“It’s nothing,” she replies, looking with confusion at our joined hands and blushing. Digging her shoe into the ground, she takes a big breath and looks away, fixating on something far away. I relax a little. She’s nervous, like me.
“So you're leaving soon?” She looks up at my question and nods solemnly.
“Yeah....” she trails off. “Another year, another country…” She looks upset, so I pull our swings close, locking her knee between mine. We’re facing each other, her nose inches away from mine.
“Don’t be sad,” I whisper, pulling her in for a hug. At first, she stiffens, but then quickly relaxes into me and puts her head on my shoulder, sighing. Her proximity makes the blood boil beneath my skin. Like a crack addict needing a fix, I inhale. Her hair smells like strawberries. My new favourite fruit.
“It’s just that…” Her voice is muffled and upset, so I hug her tighter. “I hate moving. I hate new places, new people, having to constantly start over…” She pulls away and looks at me. There’s determination in her eyes. “I just want to stay in one place for a change... I-I just want to be normal,” she finishes in a barely audible mumble.
My heart hurts right along with the sorrow on her face, and I am sure. If I ever had any doubts, they’re all gone now.
Making her happy is the one and only purpose of my existence.
I lean over, touching my lips to hers. Jenny gasps in shock, opening her mouth, and I decide to take the plunge and kiss her the way I’ve been dreaming of.
It’s all I’ve been thinking about for the past year.
Jenny, whose lips are soft and vaguely taste of bubblegum, delicious. I close my eyes, slip my tongue inside her mouth, and wait.
Should I move it? I slowly drag it around her lips then slip it back inside her mouth.
She’s not responding.
Shit, what if I’m doing it all wrong? I’ve kissed before, but never someone I really wanted to.
My tongue is producing copious amounts of saliva right at this very moment, even though every single time I’ve tried to talk to Jenny before, it dried with such speed, sound would have been like- whaaaaat?
I try to swallow some of the excess saliva, but it’s tough when your tongue is hanging out in someone else’s mouth.
Cracking open my left eye, I see Jenny’s horror-filled ones are wide open, and then… Then she punches me in my stomach.
I pull my lips away, confused. She looks angry. Furious even. Her lips are wet, shiny, pink, and shoot me now, but I want to kiss them again, feel how soft they are, taste the bubblegum. My hand moves of its own accord, reaching for her face. She jerks away and wipes her mouth with the sleeve of her jacket, bends over to grab her bag, and runs away before I can process what happened.
Holding onto my stinging stomach, I touch my lips. My heart aches before my brain catches up.
Jenny doesn’t like me; she hated the kiss. She hates me, she must hate me. That’s the only explanation for why she’d punched me, right?
I squeeze my eyes and move my hand to my chest, which is now hurting a lot more than my stomach ever was.
Anger and frustration gather in my lungs with every breath I take.
I will not let her humiliate me like this.
I don’t take rejection lightly.
I will forget about her. I’m not in love. There’s no way love hurts like that.
No, no, no.
Instead, I’ll kiss all the girls and… I will tell the entire school that Jenny Cowley can’t kiss! I’ll make her last week in London hell on earth.
That will stop my heart from hurting.