Juniper sat, glancing at her watch every few seconds. She swung her legs in her chair, her green jeans making a swishing sound as they dangled back and forth. She picked at her brown sweater, scratching at a persistent mosquito bite on her dark-skinned arms. Every time the door to the Bistro opened, she leapt to her feet, but every time it wasn't Holly. She sighed, spooning her ever-cooling soup, picking at a softened potato. She pulled out her phone every few moments, checking trying to write Holly a text message, trying to say sorry, trying to tell her she loved her, but every text she managed to write sounded wrong in some way, so she’d delete it immediately after sending it. She took a sip of water, grimacing at the cold, bitter taste and set it down immediately. She had almost been there an hour, before the door opened again with a happy jingling sound, and Holly stepped out of the cold, and right back into Juniper's heart. Juniper wanted to hate her, she wanted to be mad for all Holly had done to her a few years ago. But how could she? Holly was... how could she explain it...
Holly was perfect.
Her flowing, wavy blond hair reached her perfectly curved chest, her sparking blue eyes always dotted with the right amount of eyeliner and mascara that made her eyes twinkle despite the cold, dark winters of Washington. Her freckles specked across her sweetly shaped button nose. Best of all, she was lesbian. A girl as beautiful as Holly was free game for someone like Juniper. Well, except for the part that Holly hated her.
Juniper pulled at her frizzed, curly black hair that fell around her chocolate-skinned face and stood out on the back of her head with anxious hands. She gulped, then stood and pulled out a chair for Holly, waving to her weakly.
Holly shot her a cruel look, then sat down gingerly. Juniper felt her insides burn up, her palms becoming clammy and sweaty as she moved to sit in her own chair.
"What is this about, Juniper?" Holly said, a hint of exasperation in her tone. "W-well-" Juniper's voice cracked. She blushed furiously, clearing her throat and starting again. "Well I've been thinking about when we were little... remember? We used to have so much fun together as kids! I know I messed up big time in high school, so now I'm here to say sorry. I'm sorry, Holly." Juniper took a deep, shaky breath in relief, watching Holly expectantly and hopefully. Holly sighed, thinking for a moment. One that seemed an eternity for Juniper. "Juni, I'm sorry too. I've been so awful lately..." She looked down, messing with the cup of water in front of her, the ice clinking against the glass daintily, and Holly's cheeks tinged red briefly. Juniper took a deep, calming breath, smiling faintly to herself. We fixed the crack between us, now tell her how you feel! A voice screamed in Juniper's mind. She pushed it out of her mind, flushing an even deeper tone of red. Holly blinked at her in confusion, tucking a stray piece of perfectly highlighted hair behind her perfectly pierced ears…
Juniper shook her head again, trying not to stare at Holly and instead eat her soup. She swallowed, suddenly feeling very rude. “Oh, Jesus. I’m sorry. Would you like to order something?” Juniper winced inwardly. Holly giggled and Juniper nearly choked. “Sure, why not.” She waved a waiter over, and sweetly asked for the same soup Juniper had.
The silence was over-bearing while they waited for Holly’s food. Holly fidgeted with a ring on her finger while Juniper tried not to stare. Finally, Holly broke the silence in a sad tone “The… the reason I did all those things back in high school was to stop being picked on.” Juniper glanced up at her in confusion, for all she knew, Holly had never been bullied or picked on. “The guys… knew I was lesbian. I wanted to look cool and show them I wasn’t by pranking you back, because they knew I had a cr-” She froze, beet red, looking down at her hands in embarrassment.
Juniper almost leapt for joy.
“You had a crush on me?” She asked. She felt juvenile, like she was in middle school again where the only thing that mattered was who liked who, and blah blah blah. Holly flushed red again, stuttering and looking out the window. “I mean, yeah I guess so-” She muttered, a faint grin on her lips. Oh yeah, Juniper thought. Exactly like Middle School again.
“And… Do you still?” Juniper asked hesitantly, grinning uncontrollably. Holly froze again, her eyes scanning for something new to fidget with. Her eyes glimmered, and Juniper grew hot inside, her heart beating so hard against her chest she thought everyone in the Bistro could hear it. Indeed, most of the customers were staring at them, some making hearts with their fingers or snickering quietly to one another. This only made Juniper blush harder. “Yeah I do.” Holly finally said, looking up to Juniper’s eyes.
Holly waited for a response, Juniper racking her mind for something smooth to say. Holly sighed, standing up to leave, but Juniper caught her hand. “Wait, Holly, I totally like you too” She smiled. Holly smiled too, curling soft fingers around Juniper’s. “That’s good to hear.” She said, laughing.
Juniper stood with Holly, leaving a check on the table and walking out of the Bistro, hand in hand with Holly.
People stared as they walked down the street, chatting amiably and laughing together. Juniper didn’t care, she wanted them to stare. She wanted everyone from their high school, everyone in the world, to know she was finally with who she belonged.
Maybe she did learn a thing or two about dating in Middle school. Still, even Holly wanted to forget those years as much as Juniper did. Nearly as much as Juniper did.
At least, in the end of things, some of it was worth it for Juniper.