I hate you because you make fun of me
“Morning Summer,” you said to me, grinning, one morning in science. I blinked as I sat down. You were talking to me? It was embarrassing that one phrase made me feel a little better about you. Maybe I had assumed wrong about you. “Morning,” I squeaked back, smiling at you. You smirked. “Late night?” you asked. I frowned a little. “Um, no.”
“Oh,” you said. “I just assumed by your- mess of bright neon-orange hair that you got home late.” You nodded to my head, raising an eyebrow and pursing your lips. One of your friends laughed at your comment. I flushed as bright as my hair, and I quickly left to go to the bathroom before class began. I had always liked my hair, I thought it was pretty and unusual, pale orange like a young peach. But staring into the bathroom mirror, I wondered if it was really so pretty after all.
And I hate the way you dress
You always looked neat and impeccable, in a clean shirt and pressed jeans. Most of the other boys wore holes in their clothes, and incredibly expensive shoes they congratulated each other on, but you seemed to prefer to dress prim and cleanly. To attract girls, I suspected.
Once, running in the halls so I wouldn’t be late for class I bumped into you. Clumsy as I always was, I fell on my butt but you remained standing, startled and glaring down at me. I didn’t want to see the scorn in your eyes, so I focused my gaze on your shoes- much different than the shoes other boys wore. “Watch where you’re going,” you muttered, reaching a hand down to help me up. I took it, a little surprised, and tried to ignore the pounding of my heart when you pulled me to my feet. You scowled at me a moment, then let go and continued walking. My fingers were tingling as I stared after you.
I hate you because I have to talk to you
“Miss Singer, you will be working with Mr. Maxwell.” The teacher passed out papers, pretending that he had not just condemned me to an awful fate. I stared at our teacher. The project was year-round! I turned to glare daggers at you. I had to work with you on our project? “Oh great,” I said angrily. “Perfect.” I scowled at the paper resting on my desk. Why did I have to work with you? It wasn’t fair. “What’s that supposed to mean?” you snapped. I rolled my eyes, turning to face you. “It means that I don’t want to be your partner,” I said slowly and clearly. You glared at me. “I don’t want to work with you either,” you growled, “but I’m not whining about it.”
“Now you are!” I retorted.
You narrowed your eyes at me. “Let’s just do the work, and then we never have to talk to each other again. Deal?”
“Deal,” I muttered. I shot him a hard look. “Just make sure you do your part of the work, okay? Too many times I’ve had to do everything by myself when I’m paired up with a guy. I know the games, and I won’t play them.”
You seemed momentarily surprised and stared at me for a moment. “Wow,” you said finally. You didn’t seem angry.
“Wow what?” I grumbled, turning to frown at the rubric again.
“Nothing,” you shake your head. “I just always pegged you like the quiet type.”
I snorted. “I am anything but quiet, believe me.” I scanned through the rubric as you did the same, before beginning to read the requirements. But for the rest of the class, I could feel your thoughtful eyes boring into me.
I hate you because you help me
I was panicking as I rushed to class. I’d stupidly forgotten to set my alarm last night, and so I was late. To make matters worse, I’d fallen asleep while doing my homework, so now I wasn’t done with the assignment that was due in my first-period class. I was always on top of things- how did this happen?
I collapsed at my desk and frantically began scribbling down as much as I could in the span of three minutes.
“Summer?” your voice said, and you sounded surprised. I didn’t look up. “I forgot the homework.” I moaned.
“Yes! I have to finish, so don’t distract me, please.”
“Here.” You slid a sheet of paper over my desk. The assignment. I stopped writing and stared at you. You looked a little uncomfortable. “Hurry and write it down. Mrs. Stephen will be here soon.”
I smiled at you gratefully. “Thank you.” Quickly I skimmed it and began scribbling down all the answers. “Remember,” you said above me. “This is a one-time thing. I don’t want people thinking I did something nice.”
I laughed a little. “I’m sure they don’t think that.”
“Ouch,” you said, and I think you were smiling. I was smiling, too, until she came in. She winked at you sweetly like a lovesick cat and wrapped her arms around your neck. I felt my smile fade a little when I looked at you two, and I quickly looked back down at my desk, my ears burning.
Later I was sitting outside for lunch, but I didn’t feel much like eating. I sat there, still and sad, wondering why I cared. I spotted a yellow bloom by my feet, and with a sigh, I reached to pluck it. I studied it for a moment, then pulled off one of its petals. “He loves me,” I said, letting the petal go. “He loves me not. He loves me...he loves me not.”
Once I reached the final petal I hesitated to pluck it. “He loves me not,” I said finally. I closed my eyes and clutched the stem tightly. It didn’t matter. I didn’t care.
And I hate you for reading my mind
We were sitting in the library during a free period to work on our project. You were re-reading what you’d written, but I was staring off past the library, thinking about the events of yesterday.
“Oh, come on Summer,” you said finally, throwing your pencil down. “You don’t owe me anything.”
I started. “How did you know what I was thinking?”
You rolled your eyes, but not in a mean way. “It’s written all over your face. I helped you. I’d do it again, but that doesn’t mean you have to do something for me. Don’t worry about it.”
I scowled. “I wasn’t worried about it.”
You smiled a little. “Sure you were. You worry a lot about everything. I think that’s good, but don’t think you owe me for a favor. Otherwise, it isn't really favoring.”
I felt a grin trying to twitch onto my face. “Okay. Thanks.”
You nodded, bending down over the papers again. “Welcome.”
I’d do it again.
I hate you because of how you look, and the way you make her laugh.
You’re always with her. Usually, you have a different girl with you every few weeks, and I know why that is. You’re handsome enough to attract them, for starters. You have sleek honey-colored hair that is dark and thick. Your eyes are blue, your nose is slightly freckled. You’re not pale because you spend time outside, but you don’t have that constant half-smile a lot of other guys have.
That’s why you’re funny. Your face will be serious, and then you’ll make a joke that brings your features alive and makes her laugh. We’re seniors now, and you don’t seem to enjoy making fun of people anymore. That’s why she likes you. That’s why I like you.
Once when we were supposed to work in the library you showed up late. You’d never been late before, and you didn’t bother to apologize, just pulled out a chair. Our project was almost complete, and I knew it didn’t matter, but I was a little hurt by your cold brush-off of me. I felt something in me break a little when I realized why you were late. A smudge of lipstick on your cheek, your lips a little swollen, and I knew you’d been with your most recent conquest.
“Where were you?” I asked. You raised your head to glare at me. “I was talking to Mr. Pince about our project.” Your gaze was cool and clear, and I was even more hurt that you were lying to me. “It’s been almost twenty minutes,” I muttered. “I didn’t know where you were.”
“I just told you where I was,” you snap. “and you don’t control my life. This is the first time I’ve ever been late for something, so it doesn’t matter anyway.”
“It does matter!” I said angrily. “You don’t see me skipping or brushing you off. You shouldn’t either.”
You snorted. “You would never skip. The only thing you ever do is read or study. You’ve never even had a boyfriend.”
I was startled. “You don’t know that,” I growled.
“Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.” You stood up to glare at me. “I see you in the halls or at lunch, and you’re always reading. You have friends you barely talk to. I’ve watched countless guys ask you out, and you turn down every single one. I don’t know why, but it’s your own fault you don’t do anything else interesting with your time.”
I swallowed hard. “I don’t want a relationship.”
You snorted. “Sure. You’re waiting for someone you’re never going to get. And you know it too. You know you couldn’t hold onto him if you tried.”
I stared at you and you glared back. “I was asking Mr. Pince a question,” you growled. “It took a while. Let’s get this done.”
We sat down. You started writing, but I sat there, frozen. I knew you didn’t think the insults had struck me very hard, you’d seen me brush off worse. But coming from you they hit the very center of my insecurity, and I felt as though you had slapped me.
I stood up as quietly as I could and slipped towards the door. You looked up. “Summer…” you began, and I knew you were going to apologize, and I didn’t really want to hear it. You started to stand, your chair scratching behind you, but I was already at the door.
I quickly left. I didn’t want to look at you.
And I hate that when you smile, I can’t stay mad
I sat underneath my tree, fingering the grass stems. I hated I had gotten so mad at you, and I cursed myself for being a romantic idiot. A small part of me was still angry for you lying to me, but I suspected it was more jealousy than anger.
I reached down to pull a flower from the ground and leaned against the tree with a sigh. I tugged away from the petals again, one by one until the last lonely little broken heart remained. I gazed at it. “He loves me not.”
I tossed the stem aside angrily. What did I expect?
I didn’t see you very much over the next few days. You were still in my classes, but I avoided your gaze and kept quiet. I did my work as best I could, trying to ignore the hollow ache in my stomach that seemed to come with you being mad at me.
You were jogging towards me down the hall, and your face was full of worry. I wasn’t sure whether I should stop or not, but I finally did, giving you time to catch up. I smiled at you a little sadly. “Hi,” I said.
You looked nervous and fidgeted with your hands, glancing over your shoulder a few times before speaking. “Listen,” you took a deep breath. “I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have lied to you, and I shouldn’t have insulted you. It was all stupid and petty of me, and I’m so sorry.” Your eyes were pleading, gazing at me.
I smiled tiredly. “It’s okay.” I appreciated the apology. I was happy that you'd even taken the time to say something to me. You grinned at me. “So… we’re okay?” I nodded. You smiled even wider, and your smile was so genuine, so sweet and wide I almost forgot I was even mad at you. “I’m glad to hear that.”
Someone called your name down the hall and you glanced over your shoulder. “I have to go.” You looked a little reluctant, but you turned and jogged away, flashing another grin at me over your shoulder.
And I stood there, silly and smiling, knowing that I was a goner.
But most of all, I hated you because I didn’t hate you.
It was the last day of high school and summer began tomorrow. The teachers gave us a free day to go around the school and do whatever we wanted. Most students were in the art room or the lunchroom, and I saw you laughing with a group of your friends in the halls before I slipped outside.
Some students were outdoors too, but I chose my quiet little spot underneath the old oak tree I loved and sat down.
Yesterday you said goodbye to me. It was sweet and simple, a goodbye appropriate for two friends, and you had kissed my cheek. I touched my cheek gently, the ghost of the kiss burning into my skin. I swallowed hard as I began to feel the tears prick at the corners of my eyes.
I shouldn’t be crying at the thought of leaving you. This was high school. I was eighteen. What I felt for you, what I’d felt since junior year, couldn’t be more than a normal crush, right? Life wasn’t supposed to work like that.
But could it..?
I reached down to the ground and plucked up a pale yellow dandelion. Its petals fluttered away from me in the faint breeze as I pulled them loose. “He loves me… he loves me not...he loves me… he loves me not… he loves me…” My breath hitched.
“He loves me not.”
I let the stem slowly drop to its place on the ground and I leaned my head against the tree and closed my eyes. Tears leaked down my cheeks at the thought of leaving you, and I angrily wiped them away. It didn’t matter. I’d said goodbye, and that was that. Then the voice spoke.
“He loves you.”
Slowly, I lifted my head. And there you were.
You were standing there, hands in your pockets, watching me. I stared at you. You shrugged simply. “He loves you,” you repeated. “He just isn’t good at showing it.”
I couldn’t say anything. I wasn’t sure I ever would again. You smiled, and it was shy and sweet at the same time.
How could I?
“I realized,” you began. “Around the end of summertime last year, that I was really going to graduate and go to college. I had grades good enough to make it, and friends applying to the same college campus. Then I wondered what school Summer- you- would be going to, and I panicked. I suddenly realized I wouldn’t get to see you, or hear you snap at that rude student in the halls, or smile at you when you raised your hand for every question in every class.” You grinned a little at the thought. “And that was heartbreaking for me. You’ve always been the sweet girl I made fun of when I was an idiot,” you winced a little, “and the girl that I never realized I had a crush on.”
“You told me where you were going, and I‘m going to the same college. I’m glad I’ll be able to see you.”
I couldn’t speak.
When you didn’t…
You seemed a little awkward and cleared your throat, glancing over your shoulder. “Sorry,” you said. “I’m not very good at this.”
I looked at you for a long time, doing my best to process what you had said to me. You loved me. And even though I had never let myself know that, never put it out there bold and alive, I knew that was what I felt for you too. More than silly movies or desperate dreams, that was everything I felt when I looked at you.
“I think you’re better at it than you assume you are,” I said softly.
You smiled widely. “I’m glad to hear that.”
You walked over to me and took my hands in yours, and my heart began pounding twice as fast as before, a rough, steady rhythm. “I’m sorry I insulted you,” you said softly. “I saw how much it hurt you, and I felt awful.”
I grinned, and it was a smile that seemed to come with all the force of the sun. “It’s okay. Thank you.” I hesitated, but what did I have to lose?
“I might be in love with you,” I said, a little shyly. “That’s the only reason it ever hurt.”
Your smile was dazzling. “I think I’m in love with you too. And I won’t ever hurt you again.”
…Hate me either…
And then you leaned towards me and your mouth touched mine, and you kissed me.
It was like the sun was melting into my stomach, a warm, burning sensation, and I hesitated a moment before I kissed you back. I kissed you the way I had wanted to since my second year, and it was like trying to fall, trying to shatter into a glass and you were the only thing that kept me together and whole.
Not at all…
I felt a smile lingering in your lips, and it stayed there for many years, many kisses, afterward.
Not even close.