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Submitted on 09/11/2019

Categories: Romance

The thing I loved most about Conrad was his smile. It was the first thing I noticed about him. His thin lips had formed a toothy grin, a smile that showed his affection towards everyone surrounding him. I saw him at a party. My brother's graduation party.

I approached him, drawn in by his smile. How his teeth shined like the moon in a pitch-black night. He was talking to a few guys. I didn't pay much attention to anyone else. I walked right up to the dark-haired, blue-eyed, tall guy, who I knew nothing about. But I wanted to.

"Hey," I say, my voice strong and loud. He looks at me. I was a short girl, we were maybe a foot apart in height. But he didn't look down at me. I mean, he did look down at me, but not in a condescending way that I was used to by now. That was one of the reasons why I loved him. "I'm Hayley."

"Oh, you must be Tucker's sister." Is what comes from his mouth. "You two look a lot alike." His voice is lower than I expected, but it's smooth. The guys he was talking to started another conversation with other people, turning away from us.

"Yeah." I nod, my throat suddenly dry.

"I'm Conrad. I've played football with Tucker for 3 years." He tells me. His eyes stay connected with mine as he speaks. Another good quality.

"Oh, that's cool." I tuck a lock of my brown hair behind my ear. "So are you graduating as well?"

"No, I'm a Junior. What about you?" His eyes turn cautious.

"I'm a Sophmore." I cringe slightly. "Anyways, uh, it was nice to meet you, Conrad. I'll see you around."

"See you around... Hayley." The way he said my name, made me melt. But I didn't show it. Maybe I should have.

As I drive now, to see Conrad for the first time since he left a couple months ago, I don't feel the overwhelming joy I used to have. Maybe it was because we fought more in the past month than we ever have in the year that we had been together. Or maybe, just maybe, because I knew that what would happen when we finally reached each other wouldn't end well.


Guilt was the only feeling I felt as I drove. Guilt that I wished didn't exist. But, it did. Hayley was the most beautiful thing that had ever appeared in my life. But I was going to be the one that crushed her. I was going to be the one to ruin the only goddamn good thing in my life.

Hayley was like a glowing light. The moment I saw her walk up to me, I knew that she was special. She was tiny, maybe 5'6. I stood at 6'4, but I tried not to look down at her. Because she didn't deserve that from anyone. Her long brown hair and sharp green eyes gave her a sense of fearlessness. Which is what made her so attractive. She was confident. Most girls liked to play shy when it came to approaching me, but she just walked up to me without a care in the world.

Tucker and I were close, not close enough to hang out that often, but close enough to where we talked. A lot. And he talked about Hayley. How he was worried about her. That she was gonna be hurt when he left. But, when I met her, I knew she'd be fine. She looked strong.

Hanging out with her that summer, falling in love with her, changed me. When I finally asked her to be mine at the end of those three months, I knew for once in my pathetic life that I had done something right.

Hayley was like a glowing light. The moment I saw her walk up to me, I knew that she was special. She was tiny, maybe 5'6. I stood at 6'4, but I tried not to look down at her. Because she didn't deserve that from anyone. Her long brown hair and sharp green eyes gave her a sense of fearlessness. Which is what made her so attractive. She was confident. Most girls liked to play shy when it came to approaching me, but she just walked up to me without a care in the world. 

Tucker and I were close, not close enough to hang out that often, but close enough to where we talked. A lot. And he talked about Hayley. How he was worried about her. That she was gonna be hurt when he left. But, when I met her, I knew she'd be fine. She looked strong. 

Hanging out with her that summer, falling in love with her, changed me. When I finally asked her to be mine at the end of those three months, I knew for once in my pathetic life that I had done something right. 

I still remember when her brother left at the end of July. She didn’t cry, she just sat there in a daze. 

“Hayley, do you wanna talk?” I asked. Hayley was sitting like a statue on the dock. Her arms wrapped around her legs. She didn’t even bother to look at me.


“He’s just… he’s just gone. I’ll wake up tomorrow and he won’t be home. He won’t be playing video games in the basement. He just will be gone.” 


I sit down next to her. “You talk about him like he’s dead.”


“It feels like he is.” She whimpers. I wrap an arm around her, bringing her close. 


“Listen to me, your brother is still alive. You are still siblings, even though he is far away. I’m sure everything will be just fine. Tucker can take care of himself, Hayley.” 


“He’s thinking of enrolling in the army,” Hayley admits. That’s why she’s taking this so damn hard


“I didn’t know.” I widen my eyes with surprise. She shakes under my embrace. But her cheeks are dry. 


“He said he was only thinking about it. But I know my brother. He… likes a challenge.” She goes on. “Tucker, he likes to be in things bigger than himself. I guess it’s how he stays grounded all the time. Sports teams, working with people to achieve something, it always made him the happiest he had ever been. The army is similar in that way, I guess. I don’t want him to go, and that makes me selfish. Conrad, you know my brother. You can’t stop him once he sets his mind on something.”


“Hayley Baltimore, I know your brother. But I also know you. And I know that whatever happens, you’re brother loves you just as much as you love him. And everything will be fine. You hear me? It’ll be okay.” Hayley turns and hugs me tight. I hug her back. I knew at that moment that I loved her. I loved her so much. 


“Thanks, Conrad.” She whispers. “You’re a good friend.” My chest tightens. Yeah… friends. 


I slam my fist on the steering wheel. She was more than I deserved. 



The car ride to the halfway point was about 5 hours. It wasn’t very long. I wish it was longer. I wish I had more time to just sit here and know that we were together at this moment. I had known Conrad for about 3 months before we started dating. It wasn’t very long, but I knew. I knew in my bones that we were made for each other. 


We started hanging out after he got my number from someone. We just started talking for a week. Then we started hanging out. It was stuff with a group, then slowly, it was just us. I won’t lie, I was highly attracted to him. But I wasn’t sure if he felt the same. We were only friends at first, then best friends. Around the time that Tucker left, I developed strong feelings for him. 


Our first kiss was a week into August. We went to a party at his friend’s house. I ended up drinking a lot, and before I knew it, we were alone in a room. He was going off on me about how I can’t be reckless. And I remember just wanting him to stop talking. So I kissed him. I kissed him like his lips were air and I was drowning. We ended up making out for a long time. But he pulled away and said he wasn’t going to kiss me if I was drunk and walked away. 


I was beyond embarrassed. I felt like he rejected me. So I avoided him for a while. Eventually, he came over to the house. 


“Hayley.” He said, his eyes warry. He looked beautiful. His hair was neat, and he wore khaki shorts with a light blue shirt that hugged his chest. 


I was sitting on our porch, a book in my hand. I set it down. “Hey, Conrad.”


“Do you wanna tell me why you’ve been avoiding me?” He asks. He walks closer, away from his car.


I stand, biting my lip. “I’m not avoiding you.” 


“Yeah right.” Conrad scoffs. “I’ve been calling and texting you for days. What happened?” 


“I…” I look away. When I look back forward he’s closer. “I didn’t 

Want to talk to you.” 


“Why not?” 


“Because I was embarrassed!” I snap. “I wasn’t ready for things to change, okay?! I couldn’t bear the idea of you rejecting me!” 


His eyes soften. “Hayles. Don’t.” He then steps into my personal space. 


“Go ahead and do it! Let me down easy!” My voice tightens. 


“I’m not going to.” He whispers. “Can’t you tell, Hayley. I care about you… a lot. I didn’t come here to let you down. I came here to tell you that I like you. And I don’t want to be friends. I want to be more.” 


“I won’t believe you until you say it.” I murmur. 


“I want you to be my girlfriend.” His voice turns husky, “Be mine. Be my girlfriend.” 


I answer by kissing him hard. Our lips crash together, our tongues performing a dance that we only knew. My arms wrap tightly around his neck. His hands hold my hair. His slight stubble burns my chin, but I don’t care. I savor the feeling of his eyelashes on my skin and his hands on me and the taste of his mouth. 


Tears roll down my cheeks. When did we kiss last? When I visited for a weekend in September? Would that be our last kiss. Don’t think like that! A voice tells me. But deep down, I knew that things wouldn’t be good between us. We had a year of laughs and kisses and dancing and smiles and dates. But did any of that matter anymore? 


I touch my stomach lightly. This won’t be good. 



I had 2 hours left of driving. In 2 hours before I had to tell her. We were meeting at a hotel. I missed Hayley more than words could describe, but the thought of seeing her in the hotel parking lot made me sick. I loved her. I loved her so much. I wish I had told her more often. Reminded her that I felt something so strong, that sometimes it hurt. 


Tucker would kill me. That’s what would happen if I told her. But she deserved the truth. How would I tell her? Should I just say “Hey, remember that fight we had in October? Well, I cheated on you and then hid it from you. By the way, I love you!” I make a noise that sounds like a scream and a growl combined. 


I was there for her when Tucker joined the army last September. We spent a fantastic night at homecoming. We danced the night away. She wore a beautiful short navy lace dress. It fit her body perfectly, and she looked like she was genuinely glowing. We went to Halloween parties in our couple costumes.


We dressed up as Finn and Rachel from Glee. She said it was perfect and she was so happy when I agreed. Honestly, I didn’t like costumes that much. But the idea made her so happy. I couldn’t say no. 


“I love you.” I laughed as she skipped across her room to put away the costumes she had already bought. 


She stops dead in her tracks. “What did you say?” She faces me. Her eyes glowing. 


My face reddens. I hadn’t meant to say it so suddenly. “Uh… I said that I love you.” 


A huge smile comes to her face. A smile I had never seen before. She throws down the costumes and runs at me. She jumps on top of me, knocking me over. “I love you too!”


I hold her tight. “I love you so damn much.” 


“Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?” She teases. 


“No, but I kiss you with it.” I lean in and kiss her quickly. 



Conrad was my first love. I remember thinking that he would be my last. We would be highschool sweethearts and half two kids. A boy and a girl. We would tell them about how we just knew we were meant to be. I remember thinking about how we would grow old together. Now, it was all wrong. 


I found out I was pregnant in november. I was of course surprised. But the only thing I could think of was Conrad. He was just starting college. He didn’t need this. I thought about how I was only 17. How this meant my life would change drastically. I thought about getting an abortion. I thought about never telling Conrad that he has a child. I’m only three months, but that means it won’t be too long before everyone will know. 


I look at the clock on my car radio. I only have half an hour. Then I’ll see him. Then I’ll tell him. I will tell him. I’ll tell him. I hope I’ll tell him… 



I got there first. Images run through my mind. Thanksgiving together last year. Christmas. Her birthday. My birthday. Spring break. Prom. Graduation. That amazing last summer. That weekend in September. But then, then it all went downhill. We fought over phone calls. We screamed at each other. 


Then I cheated on her. Then I lied. And she went silent for a while. Then we made plans to get together over Christmas break. Now. The California air was chilly, but not cold. I loved her so much. That was all I could say. 


I see Tucker’s old truck pull up. I hold my breath. She’s here. Hayley was here. There was no going back now. As much as I loved her. As much as I wanted to lie and keep her, I knew that this was the end. The five-hour drive had consisted of me going over our relationship. How much I cared for that girl at that party who approached me. The first girl I had ever said “I love you” to. 


As she steps out of the truck, I’m taken aback. Hayley’s long brown locks were cut just below her chin. Her strong jaw and cheekbones were slightly hidden. She wore a large sweatshirt and leggings. She looked simple, but she was Hayley. She didn’t need anything to look beautiful. 


She looks cautious. She wears a small smile, but her eyes seemed distant. I return her smile.  



Of course he smiled. He looked good. His slight stubble was noticeable. He wore jeans and a black crewneck. He looked very good. I walk up in long strides and hug him tightly. “Hey,” I say. I haven’t seen my boyfriend in a total of 3 months yet all I can say is “hey”? How pathetic am I? 


“I missed you so much Hayley.” He strokes my hair. He pulls away and kisses me softly. His lips are light, as if I am made of glass.  Something is wrong. Is all I can think of. 


“I missed you too. You look great.” I smile. 


“You look gorgeous.” He replies, winking. “There’s a park across the street. We should go there to talk.” 


“Yeah, of course.” I nod. Something in my heart drops. 


I remember our biggest fight. It was near the end of October. It was a month after we had seen each other. I wanted him to come down for a weekend that month. But he said he was busy. I don’t know why, but I got so mad. I screamed at him that he didn’t put effort into our relationship. He got mad at me for being mad. He called me clingy. Said I needed to grow the hell up. He said he could have any girl he wanted at college. Said I was holding him back. And he was tired of it. I simply said “Go ahead.” and we hung up. The next morning I texted him and said I was sorry and I loved him. I said I wanted him to be happy. But I didn’t mean those words. He replied with “I love you too. I’m sorry as well. I don’t need anyone else but you.” 


As we walked, all I could think of is prom. How that was our first time together. How I had never felt so safe and loved. How I loved my dress. How I kept our pictures in my wallet and one copy beside my bed. 

I knew. I knew deep down the truth. I had tried to ignore the signs. I pretended that it was me being me. But before he said those words. Before I started to cry. I knew. I knew that we were over. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him. Or that I couldn’t forgive him. It was just… done. Our relationship wasn’t worth the pain.

So I lied. So I didn’t tell him I was pregnant. So I decided that it wasn’t worth it. I loved Conrad. I still wanted to grow old with him. But I put my feelings aside. And decided our baby would be just fine without either of us. And we would be just fine without each other. The journey doesn't always end the way you want.





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