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Coming of Age Friendship Romance

The Tree For Four

ELLIE:

She stares at the tree in front of her. It reaches out for the sunlight, grasping for the rays like lovers in a deep trance. She sits here, alone on the bench, just watching. The leaves are a fiery red burned with oranges and yellows that represent a fire. There is no one here to interrupt her quiet space, she is at peace. Until a soccer ball hits the back of her head, disrupting everything.

JAX:

He didn’t mean to kick the girl directly in the head, but he has to admit it was a little bit funny. He jogs over, laughing casually, but then he sees her face. Eyes wide in shock, left hand holding the back of her head, tears welling up in her eyes. Now, he is sorry. He apologises again, asking the girl how he can make it up to her. She tells him he can leave. Jax supposes that’s a reasonable enough answer, so he leaves her alone. He wonders if he will see this girl again. Perhaps he will, one day, in another life, where things started differently.

CASSIDY:

Everything is hurting, but mainly her heart. They laugh at her, spit on her, and tell her she’s better off dead. She believes them. Cassidy watches the girl she was best friends with, laugh along with her new friends. Cassidy thought she was different, but she was wrong. They snatch her jacket, throw it in the air, and it gets caught on a tree branch. She is forced to climb the tree after the quiet girl leaves the bench. They giggle when her foot doesn’t connect with the tree’s grooves and she falls. She wishes she were dead. If only she was far away from here, away from these bullies.

ALEC:

Alec remembers when he kissed her again, and again, and again. He didn’t want to let go because he was afraid if he did, she would leave him. And she did. Under the tree they were safe. They loved freely. She’d whispered his name, with that starstruck look in her eyes like she couldn’t believe he was hers and she was his. He couldn’t believe it either. Everything was ‘yes’ with Bailey. Yes, I love you. Yes, you are my everything. Yes, I will stay by your side. Yes, you mean the world to me. Yes, under the tree they were safe. But they are no longer together. Yes, she is no longer here.

JAX:

He has changed his mind. He is going to find the girl again and apologise once more. He saw the look of anguish in her eyes, he knows what it’s like all too well. He assumes the girl thinks he is messing with her on purpose. He is nothing more than a stranger who has ruined her afternoon. He doesn’t want to live his life, knowing he’s hurt someone. Yet, he fails to see the red-haired girl lying on the dirt, crying. He races around the field to find the girl he never meant to hurt, preoccupied with making things right.

ELLIE:

Ellie has had enough. She wonders if sitting under her favourite tree is too much to ask. Clearly, it is. She bites her lip and holds back tears as she walks home in fury. She doesn’t think the boy did it intentionally, but it still hurt. She hears footsteps behind her, thudding down the pavement, the cars driving past, the birds chirping, the lone child howling in pain. Her senses are constantly overloaded, and she hates it. Someone shouts from the other side of the road, but she doesn’t turn around. She knows it’s not for her. The frantic yelling continues, and finally, Ellie turns around. To her horror, it is the boy who owns the soccer ball. She scowls, facing her back to him, walking faster. He calls out to her again, asking her to wait, but she does not reply. She thought she had made it clear she didn’t want his apologies.

CASSIDY:

She has never taken in how beautiful Autumn leaves are. She supposes lying on your back with a broken arm helps you notice things you wouldn’t normally. Someone suddenly looms over her, a boy with the brightest green eyes. He asks Cassidy if she is okay, to which she confesses she has a broken arm. He helps her up, introducing himself as Alec, and she nods gratefully. In return, she tells him her name, and he asks why she was lying on the ground. She chuckles without humour, saying it’s a long story. His eyes are gentle and inviting. He murmurs it’s okay if it’s a long story, he has time, but only if she’s willing. Cassidy looks at the handsome stranger before her and tells him her story, thinking it must be the adrenaline coursing through her veins that’s making her this fearless.

ALEC:

His mother always told him he is too kind for this world, and some days he agrees, some days he does not. Today is one of those days where he agrees. The girl, Cassidy tells him how her old best friend replaced her with other girls. He asks for the best friend’s name, and she tells him her name is Bailey. He freezes, mind blank. No, not Bailey. Anyone but her. He gets off the bench, apologising. He tells her he is really sorry but he has to go. He reminds her to get that arm checked. She nods, a sad gleam in her eyes. She asks for his number, and he gives it to her willingly. He feels guilty leaving after she told him her troubles, but he can’t bear to hear her name a second longer. He asks if she can forgive him, but she smiles, waving him off. She reassures him it’s fine, thanking him for helping her. Alec turns away before the guilt swallows him whole.

JAX:

He knows she can hear him, and he realises she has every right to ignore him, but he really is sorry. He catches up to her easily with his long legs and stops her gently. He apologises softly and she looks away, saying it’s nothing, but it’s clearly not. He tells her his name, in a flustered manner, noticing for the first time how pretty she is. She sighs, telling him her name, Ellie. It’s a lovely name for a lovely girl. He stops, did he say that aloud? Her flushed red cheeks and the sparkle in her eyes tell him he did. Whoops. She gives in, saying she accepts his apology. He wants to ask if they can try again, start from scratch and become friends, but he doesn’t know if he should. Then again, what would be the harm in asking? So, he does.

ELLIE:

Ellie is surprised Jax wants to be friends with her. Quiet, shy and introverted Ellie. She would’ve never guessed. She takes a good look at Jax. Tall, with lanky limbs, dirty blond hair and hazel eyes. Surprisingly good looking. They shake hands, now somewhat friends. They exchange numbers, and Jax promises he’ll try to be a good friend. Ellie asks if this is a prank and the boy denies it. He tells her in all seriousness, he acted like a jerk and wants to repay her. Ellie stands there for a minute, then nods. She tells him she’ll text him later, and he grins. Her heart stops for a second, and she waves goodbye, wondering what the hell just happened.

CASSIDY:

It’s the next day, and Cassidy still can’t figure out why Alec left so suddenly. Her mother and father were screaming at her all night, asking why her arm was broken. She wants to tell them the truth, but she can’t bring herself to. She is too scared they won’t understand, and they’ll shout at her some more. They take her to the hospital reluctantly, but what she wants to do is text Alec, asking what happened the day before. The only problem is, texting with one hand is extremely slow, so she decides to control herself and wait.

ALEC:

Alec regrets leaving Cassidy alone yesterday. He realises now it wasn’t about him, it was about Cassidy. She had trusted him with her secrets, and he’d walked away. God, he feels awful. How could Bailey bully someone like that? Alec sighs, casting his thoughts aside from Bailey. Alec wants to help Cassidy, he’s decided that much. How he is going to do that, he isn’t sure, but he will find a way. He has to.

JAX:

Jax is surprised with how much progress he and Ellie have made in their friendship. Every day they meet up under Ellie’s favourite tree (which is starting to become his favourite too) to talk or do homework together. He notices how much he values his friendship with Ellie and is so glad he decided to chase after her that afternoon. One day, he asks Ellie if she’s glad that they’re friends, and she says she is. It makes Jax’s heart race, and suddenly he finds himself unable to look away from Ellie. Hell. Freaking. No. He is not falling for his new friend. That is the ultimate way to ruin a friendship. If only he could just talk himself out of it, imagine if it was that easy. Ellie notices the look on his face and asks him what’s wrong. He flinches, claiming it’s nothing, but Ellie gives him a dubious look. They lock eyes, then burst into laughter. Jax can’t do it, he can’t tell Ellie how he feels because it will ruin everything.

ELLIE:

Ellie finds herself liking Jax more and more with every day they spend with each other. They have some common interests, such as a love for indie music, lasagna and P.E. When Jax hears that for the first time, he looks surprised. Ellie tells him just because she was hit with a soccer ball doesn’t mean she dislikes soccer. Jax flushes, hanging his head low as Ellie laughs. There’s something about the connection they have that she can’t explain. Their friendship feels natural like they’ve been friends for years instead of weeks. It's not that she likes him… Or does she? 

CASSIDY:

Cassidy can't help feeling like Evan Hansen from Dear Evan Hansen as she walks to school the next day, right arm in a cast. She doesn't want anyone to sign the cast because it's a reminder of how weak she is. People stare but don't ask, except Bailey. With a smirk, she asks what happened to her, and Cassidy can't help herself. She slaps Bailey’s cheek, storming away, tired of this miserable life. She can hear Bailey complaining to her new friends about how much it hurts, but Cassidy knows it's a facade. She yells from the other end of the corridor, screaming that Bailey is a horrible friend. She is aware people are staring at her, but she no longer cares. As much as she loves Dear Evan Hansen, she wants to disappear and be forgotten. 

ALEC:

After a few weeks of texting, Alec decides to call Cassidy, to ask how she’s going. She says she’s fine, and Alec knows girls well enough that she’s fibbing. He asks her why she’s lying, then realises that’s the wrong thing to say. He hears her crying, and Alec curses under his breath. He invites her to the tree they met at, so he can see her. Her voice is shaky as she agrees, but it’s better than a no. He runs to the park, hoping he gets there first so he can comfort her. At the back of his mind, Alec wonders how much easier it would’ve been if he hadn’t seen Cassidy that afternoon.

JAX:

Ellie is talking about the latest book she read, but Jax isn’t listening. He’s watching the way her eyes light up when she talks about the things she loves, and how pretty her smile is. He hates that he’s feeling this way, and he wonders if Ellie would still be his friend if he tells her he likes her. He asks her, hypothetically, if a boy likes a girl, and they’re friends, how would the girl normally react, if she didn’t know the boy liked her. Ellie laughs, asking him if he likes her, and he freezes. No, he says, but she smiles, saying he hesitated. Jax can feel his cheeks getting hot, and suddenly he feels very shy, which is most unlike him. Ellie pats his shoulder, saying in a joking voice that it's okay he has a crush on her. He doesn't deny it, his face growing warmer. 

ELLIE:

Ellie isn't sure what comes over her, but she decides to kiss Jax. She realises perhaps she should've asked, since all the teachers at school have been talking about consent, but she is aware Jax is kissing her back. When she pulls away, Jax takes her hand gently and kisses her again. Ellie feels herself getting lost in his touch, and suddenly staying as friends with him seems impossible. He tucks her bangs behind her ear, whispering that it wasn't a hypothetical question. They laugh together, their foreheads touching, and Ellie wants to give Jax all her love then and there. They remain sitting under their favourite, hands held together, Ellie’s head leaning on Jax’s shoulder. 

CASSIDY:

When Cassidy arrives at the tree, she sees a couple sitting there, and she quickly turns away. It hurts to know no one is there for her, and clearly, Alec isn't here. She kicks the gravel at her feet, checking her phone. She's disappointed to see that there aren't any messages from Alec. She walks down the trail quietly, wondering if it was a mistake telling Alec about Bailey. He had told her Bailey was his ex, which was extremely awkward. Someone calls her name, and she turns to see Alec, red in the face. He apologies for being late and she tells him a couple was already at the tree. He smiles, saying it’s not a problem, and he walks her to a bench. It occurs to Cassidy she does have someone who checks if she's okay; Alec. 

ALEC:

Cassidy seems to unintentionally teach him something new every day. Today he's learnt that it doesn't matter how you do it, keeping someone company helps both you and the other person. Cassidy tells him she's over it. She's decided to forget about Bailey, she figures it's time to let go of her grudges. Alec nods, letting her know he’ll always be her friend through thick and thin. Cassidy gives him a one-arm hug, and Alec realises why he and Bailey never worked. She’d never been truly there for him like Cassidy is. This is what he'd been missing all this time, a friend who understood. And suddenly, Alec is so much more grateful for helping Cassidy that afternoon.

~

JAX:

Jax always laughs to himself when people ask how he met his girlfriend. He tells them it’s a very unlikely story, but he hit her in the head with his soccer ball. Ellie doesn’t mind though, it will always be an inside joke between them. Jax never forgets the look on Ellie’s face when the ball collided with her head, and always strives to make her safe and happy because that’s what you do when you’re in love.

ELLIE:

Ellie will never swap her new life with her old one. Meeting Jax has opened her eyes. She cannot imagine this experience without him. The new Ellie smiles more, is more sociable, and is in love. Which, frankly, is a whole change in itself. She looks over to her bed, where Jax is lying on his back, staring at the glow stars stuck on the ceiling. He once told her he likes counting the stars because it calms him, oddly enough. Ellie knows what he means, though. She gets off her desk chair and lies beside her boyfriend. She clings onto his arm, and he ruffles her hair affectionately. They share a smile, knowing what each other is thinking. ‘I love you.’

CASSIDY:

Sometimes, Cassidy wonders where she’d be without her best friend, Alec. He stopped her from self-harm, helped her through her toughest times, and makes sure she’s always alright. Something she does in return. Cassidy and Alec are inseparable now, and she likes it that way. Cassidy was never one to believe in fate, but she does now. Alec has been her saviour of sorts, her guardian angel, her best friend.

ALEC:

Alec knows friendships don’t always last forever, but with Cassidy, he thinks it might. Together, they are powerful in all aspects. Friends to the end, that’s what Cassidy says. They have an unbreakable bond, that reminds Alec to have hope and to be kind, just like his mother told him, all those years ago.

April 23, 2021 09:18

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30 comments

09:20 Apr 23, 2021

So, I challenged myself NOT to write any dialogue in this story and write in the present tense, because we all know I love writing dialogue. Jaxie? Ellax? ElliJax? I don't know what to call Jax x Ellie, so any suggestions would be nice. Hope you enjoy this story :)

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Phoenyx Snape
15:34 Apr 27, 2021

I Love your story! The way you tied four separate people together through the tree is just... Boom! Amazing! I had some ideas for their "Ship" name. Jellie? (Like Jelly) Jaxel? EL. J? (L.J) Elliax? I like Jellie. :) ALSO! I read your bio, and I actually recognized some of the books! I haven't read "Not if I save you first" by Ally Carter, but I read her Ghaller Girl Series, and that was amazing, so I suppose I'll have to read this one. Jenny Han's "To all the Boy's I've loved before" series was, as a teacher of mine would describe such am...

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21:00 Apr 27, 2021

Thank you so much, Phoenyx! Jellie is rlly cute hehe YES, ANOTHER PERSON WHO'S READ THE GALLAGHER GIRL SERIES AND TATBILB!!! I love those books sm <3 Harry Potter was definitely one of my first fandoms, tho I'm not rlly sure how I feel abt Severitus. Thank you so much for reading, I'm going to check our your profile now. :D

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Phoenyx Snape
01:16 Apr 30, 2021

I'm gad you like Jellie, i thought that was the cutest. AND YAAAAAAAAAASSS GHALLAGHER GIRLS!!!! Harry potter= hours of rereading. Have you ever written any fanfics? What are your fav parings? I like reading Harmony, Drarry, and one or 2 snape/lupin. I know it sounds bad, but I even read one with Hermione/Snape paring. It's actually rather believable. (It's called "Pet project.") My profile sucks rn, but I'm glad you took the time to look! Just as a question, how do you feel about The Hitchhiker's Guide to the galaxy books? (I'm only on 4)

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01:24 Apr 30, 2021

I haven't written any fanfics, unfortunately. I'll admit, HP was one of the first fandoms I joined, but I'm not in it as much nowadays (despite me having Luna's surname as my own aha). Uh, I don't know how to feel about Hermione x Snape and Lupin x Snape. I haven't read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books, unfortunately. Are they any good? :)

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Phoenyx Snape
18:04 Apr 30, 2021

Ah, I see. What are you interested in at the moment? When I heard Hermione x Snape and Lupin x Snape were "Things," I was a little weirded out. Hermione is HALF his age, and Snape is AFRAID of Lupin's form because he almost got killed. But the one I read, "Pet Project," I just thought the author really made it WORK, and that's what stood out to me. I'm still mutually against Hermione x Snape though. As for the Hitchikers series, I liked the first 3, but once you get to 4, 5, and 6 (Which is written by a different author, but counted....

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14:00 Jul 01, 2021

I swear I've already read this- Anyway, I just read it again and hhhh I still love it hdsjbfk. The bonds the characters form, the connections and the emotions are all incredible as always. I like the way you wrapped up the story with a last pov of each character, it tied up the story nicely. And it might be because it's just immaculate, or I haven't written in a long time, or it's vv late but I cannot think of any constructive criticism :) BEAUTIFUL STORY BY A BEAUTIFUL PERSON, ILY <3

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22:52 Jul 01, 2021

Did I share it with u before lmao idk Thank you so much for your kind words! <3

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12:31 Jul 03, 2021

Did you? Or was it that one time i borrowed ur laptop in Geo to read a story lol- (oh did i say once? pfft- )

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13:05 Jul 03, 2021

Wait you borrowed my laptop- It was Geo that's probs why I don't remember 🤣🤣

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21:00 Apr 23, 2021

Challenging yourself to do present tense and no dialogue could be, ah, for the lack of a better word, challenging. But you did a great job with both! You always write stories with a compelling storyline, and despite the lack of dialogue, this story was no exception. I prefer your past tense, however. Not saying that your present tense is bad or below average, of course. You did a better job than I ever could. But I feel like past tense fits with your style more. I also agree with Ethan. Maybe first person will fit better with this story. But...

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23:23 Apr 23, 2021

I said this already, but no dialogue IS hard, I’ll give you that. I just wanted to try smth different. Honestly, I’m never doing no dialogue and in present tense again lmao Thanks for the feedback :)

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00:40 Apr 24, 2021

I agree. And no problem!

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15:12 Apr 23, 2021

YES, JAX SUPREMACY Love that name, and I use it as much as I can. Okay, so I just have a question; why didn’t you put it in first person? I think this would be elevated just a little bit more if you made it first person, or not split it up... other than that... NO DIALOGUE WHAT HOW DID YOU MAKE A BEYOND DECENT STORY WITHOUT LIKE ANY DIALOGUE?

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23:20 Apr 23, 2021

I agree Jax is a cool name 😌 Good question, and tbh idk. I was going to do first person, but I wanted to try and see what third was like, since I don’t normally do third with spilt POV’s. BRO- no dialogue is HARD. Thanks for reading, Ethan! :)

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Leo Reynie
20:27 Mar 27, 2022

What. WHAT Ejax? Maybe? Just a shot. Read your bio. You’re lily that’s so cool! And you were on wattpadddddddd? *smirks*

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Leo Reynie
20:27 Mar 27, 2022

*poly haha sorry I know a kid named lily

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22:07 Mar 27, 2022

Oooh Ejax is a good one I like it Poly all the way ;) Omg stop we don't talk about Wattpad LMAO

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Leo Reynie
05:23 Mar 28, 2022

Have you been in a poly relationship? *smirrrrrrrrrk* were you in a fandom?

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07:21 Mar 28, 2022

I wish :") I am single and lonely (if u r as well, come join me) Too many to count ngl- AHEM. ANYWAY. Wattpad kinda dead to me I haven't touched my account since like... 2020-

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Leo Reynie
11:24 Mar 28, 2022

MY LONGEST RELATIONSHIP WAS TWO WEEKS AND THE PERSON DIDNT EVEN LIKE ME. *scuttles over yo single person corner with you* It’s okay- we don’t talk about that

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