His eyes were the brownest eyes I had ever seen. But they never seemed to notice me.
Sure I'd liked boys before. I had been crushing on cuties since I was two-years-old. My mom even kept the kissing pictures to prove it. But Derek was different. The way he made me feel was different. He became my first.
I found tenth grade difficult. Schoolwork never presented much of a challenge for me and I made plenty of friends that year. But I wanted a boyfriend. One with whom I could fall in love. I was ready to stop sitting on the sidelines and really get into the game.
I tried dating other boys, Paul, Bill, Sean... We all knew each other well, had classes together, took after-school clubs as well. Including my best friend, Millie, who coincidentally had the same name as I. And especially including Derek.
Everyone wondered why I attended debate club meetings when I didn't debate. But Sean, Millie and Derek belonged, which was all the reason I needed. We all joined drama club together and then Sean, Millie and I became part of Literary Group. We liked spending our free time together. We acted like one big happy family. Until the day I realized the truth.
Those gorgeous brown eyes weren't vacant of interest. They showed appreciation of someone, alright. Just not of me. In the worst turn of events possible, Derek developed feelings for Millie, my closest friend and confidante. Though even if she hadn't known how I felt about him, I knew she wouldn't have gone for him. She had a crush on a Senior, named Brian from her German club. That was the one club I couldn't crash.
“Sprichst du Deutsch?” “Nein.”
Millie took German for five years from middle school through freshman year. Then the summer before sophomore year, her parents actually brought her to West Berlin for two weeks to visit distant relatives. Strangely, she came back even in more in love with Brian than before.
In a way, I felt sort of badly for Derek because I understood what it was like to be interested in someone who didn't return the feeling. But he knew he could just date me if he wanted a girlfriend. I didn't understand why he continued to stubbornly pursue someone who wouldn't respond. I recognized the wretched double-standard there, still I wanted things to go my way. So, I foolishly determined to have them.
Coming up with a way to spend time with Derek seemed easy enough. The hardest part of my plan was getting Millie to participate. Late September that year, “German club, Brian” made the foolish mistake of telling Millie quite clearly he would not pursue a relationship with her. It had much to do with age and his arrogance. He nearly broke the poor girl's heart and I would have liked to hurt him. But I worried Millie would decide to take Derek up on his interest in the rebound of heartbreak. Luckily, she refrained out of friendship, more than anything else. I appreciated it, nonetheless.
I needed to convince her to go on a double date with Derek and I and his step brother, Derrick. The weird coincidence didn't escape me, Millie and Milly going out with Derek and Derrick. It would have been laughable had it not been so important to me. Derek wouldn't go out without his brother and he wanted Millie to come along. I would take what I could get, because I was determined time spent with me would change Derek's mind.
Finally, since I would not stop pestering her, Millie agreed to go along. Our first night as a group, we met at a pizza place to eat first, with plans to go to the movies afterward. What a tangled mess it became. Derrick and his handsome blue eyes and blonde hair drew Millie in right away. Kind of shy and quiet, he was exactly her type. She couldn't stop gawking at him or flirting with him and making him blush. Unfortunately, when it came time to go to the theater, he invited me to sit in the front seat with him while he drove.
All I could think was I would not leave Derek and Millie together in the backseat, regardless of her bond with me. I really didn't trust Derek not to make a move on her, invited or otherwise. I thought perhaps, the two brothers had discussed the arrangement beforehand and planned to separate me from the other two. I was suddenly adamant about sharing the backseat with my best friend. Later that night, I realized Derrick had developed a crush on me and asked me to sit with him because he liked me. I felt terrible for not having noticed it and being so dismissive of his invitation. But I also didn't want to lead him on into thinking I would return his affection.
As it turned out, all four of us were too stubborn to let it go. We double dated for months, though who was actually with whom it was difficult to tell. It became a contest to see who would make their intended love interest give in first. At the risk of bragging, I have never been a good loser.
After nearly three months, Derek broke down and agreed to be my boyfriend. I knew it was partly because he had finally become convinced Millie would not change her mind about him. But I did not care the path of victory, only that I stood victorious. As a second choice, he always treated me as if he chose me first.
Five glorious months we were a couple. I learned how to kiss from Derek, although I truly found it repulsive the initial time. He had acted in such a hurry, he didn't even think about my lack of experience. But I liked him, so I adjusted rather quickly.
We would walk down the school halls together, holding hands and kissing goodbye between classes. When we went on double dates, now we sat in the back and made-out while Derrick and Millie pretended to ignore us. I fell head over heels in love.
He gave me a lovely heart necklace for Christmas made of fake gold which turned my skin green. I wore it anyway and simply washed my throat often. My valentine was a box of nut chocolates to which I was allergic. I had to give it to my sister and lie, saying I loved it. He bought me white chocolate for Easter, which I hated but ate anyway. It made me sick to my stomach and I could never stand the smell of white chocolate again.
The relationship thrived despite these minor issues. Until it no longer did.
I said those three little words, eight little letters, for the first in my life to Derek. He said them back to me, all the time. But somehow, he could see the writing on the wall where I could see only sunshine and rainbows. One day, seemingly out of the blue, he told me over the phone he thought it would be a good idea for us to break things off. He figured he would be too busy for me in the summer and prolonging the inevitable would only make it worse. I cried like I had never cried before. More passionately than I ever felt in my life. I begged him to reconsider. He said he hated hurting me, but he felt he had no choice.
By the following morning, I learned what love meant to me, a fifteen-year-old girl who's heart lay shattered in pieces. I shored up my defenses and I locked them up, barring Derek from ever entering my life again. When he approached me that day and every day thereafter, I stared through him and continued walking straight by him without a pause. He tried to speak to me and I would ignore him, at times talking over him to other people as if he weren't there. In my world, he no longer existed.
My friends pleaded with me to stop, telling me my behavior hurt him deeply. Instead of feeling chastened, I reveled in my meanness. I wanted him to suffer in the same manner as he made me.
The school year ended. As was expected, we went to some of the same events over the summer, but still I acted as if he were nothing to me. At the beginning of my Junior year, I transferred to a different school. I no longer saw Derek or my old friends. I made new ones and eventually found the second love of my life near the end of my Junior year.
But graduation came, as years past and I reconnected with all of my old friends. I would be traveling three thousand miles away for college and was single again because of my plans. My friends invited me to go to a party to have some fun. At that time, I was distracting myself with all manner of things.
It turned out, it was a graduation celebration for Derek and his brother. I felt hesitant about going. I never apologized for who I had been, for the way I treated him back then. I thought perhaps, it might be awkward to crash his private party. My friends overrode my worries and dragged me along. To my surprise, they assured me he bore me no hard feelings and always spoke well of me.
Then I saw Derek for the first time in nearly two years. He still had the same wide smile, thick brown hair, and the brownest eyes. But in-between my dating him and that present time, I had met another guy with beautiful brown eyes who tore my heart from my chest. I no longer felt anything but minor affection for this boy I once loved. I approached Derek and boldly said hello to him, unsure of what my reception would be. He gave me a tremendous smile and hugged me, welcoming me to his bash, albeit a bit drunkenly. It erased all of the negativity I ever erected between us.
This was my chance to say how sorry I was for acting like a child so long before, but Derek swept my apology away. The past was done. He truly cared about me once upon a time and never held a grudge for my hurt feelings and lashing out. It was a pleasure to see him, my first love, with the clear eyes of one who had experienced a deeper, second love. To know how simple things were then and how real hurt could get.
When our moment of reminiscing had passed, Derrick approached me, recognizing me right away. Ironically, he never stopped thinking about me, even after I'd gone. Of course, I felt flattered and amused, but my heart wasn't interested in even a casual rekindling. Because my second love was someone I could see myself spending forever with. Someone of whom my parents didn't approve because of different religious beliefs. He was who my heart yearned to be with even though I told him goodbye. He knew he still held my love.
That was true pain, a heartbreak which would take years to recover from. I wished I could pretend it all away. Years later, as a grown woman, I would ask that second boy if he had gotten over me quickly. Despite time and distance, it hurt when he told me since I had gone far away, he had been forced to put his feelings for me aside and move on. It was never that easy for me.
I was lucky enough to find my third love who's my forever love. He's my soulmate, my partner, my very best friend. But I think it was the first two who prepared me for the final journey. And I discovered I much prefer perfect, dreamy blue eyes to any kind of brown. Imagine that.
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