"My fish died..."
"Oh," I say, being especially useless in these types of situations. My best friend seems to be biting his lip to hold back the tears. Although, I recall him being nowhere near a caring state for this fish, he barely even fed it.
"Yeah, man it sucks. I really liked Fin-Finnegan? Was that his name? No...I think it was Taco-" His voice trails on but I'm no longer listening. My eyes have landed on one of the most beautiful girls I have ever seen. Her peach colored hair is catching the sun at the most perfect angles, her eyes are slanted to look almost feline, and her smile is so...so hot. I feel a flutter in my stomach as she glances over in my direction. Her eyes obviously don't linger on me, never in a million years would she notice someone like me. Instead, she sees Chad. I mean, could any name be more self demeaning than Chad? It offers so many assumptions about him. Her gaze is fickle, though, bouncing from one person to another. Probably finding someone worthy of her attention.
"Hey Beau?" I say.
"I'm going to get a girlfriend this year."
"Alright, Ace for the win!" he says a little too loud. "Who's your victim?"
"Her," I say pointing in the direction of the girl with the peach colored hair.
"Dude, good luck. It's the new girl. Your-our social standards aren't quite adapted to even get within ten feet of her."
"Anything is possible," I say, patting him on the back as a goodbye.
I start walking to Literature, my first and most favorite class of the day. It's quite awkward walking by yourself, and I've noticed how much more nervous I get when walking past someone that I want to notice me. Like Peach-Hair girl.
As soon as I make it up the steps to the school, the principle is making a beeline towards me. I prepare to be reprimanded for god-knows-what, I'm an ideal target for the popular kids to blame their tomfoolery on.
"Mr. Linville!" I cringe and turn to face him.
"Follow me to my office, I have a few questions." This man is so monotone that I don't know how to tell the difference between his good moods and bad moods. I hold in a laugh when I think of the shirts that have Darth Vader and his moods on them, that's like Mr. Leads. We step into his musty office that smells of ham and he motions for me to sit down in a torn up, leather chair.
"Uh, am I in trouble?" I ask when he is silent for two seconds too long.
"No sir, not at all. We just have to wait for Miss Foster and then I'll be able to start."
Principles are obviously infamous for addressing people by their last names, so I have no clue who he's referring to.
A few grueling minutes later, Mr. Leads' eyes light up as he sees Miss Foster walk in the door. I turn to see who she is and my heart does a few flips as she waltz's in. She sits down beside me in an identical chair and soon enough, her vanilla scented perfume in teasing me. I sink lower in my chair, still maintaining eye contact with Mr. Leads as he clears his throat. I can see that Miss Foster is calm and collected, so I try to chill and not look so visibly nervous.
"So, I've called you both in here today because I need you, Mr. Linville to be Miss Foster's escort. Meaning, you will show her around the school, take her to her classes, and be her friend. You're one of my best students Linville, so I trust you."
"Yes sir, I can do that," I say. As he continues talking, giving me a rundown of how he usually chooses a girl to escort another girl, but he trusts me enough to treat her with respect, I nod along. When, really I'm using my peripheral as my best friend. Peach Hair girl stays quiet, I feel bad because she's probably severely uncomfortable.
"Now, with that being said, Miss Foster, will you-" Someone enters the room, whispering something in the old mans ear. He mutters something under his breath like "These damn kids," and walks out. The secretary scuttles in, asking us to stay put while the principle is dealing with the fight and quickly walks out.
"So last names say nothing, what's your name? Does it complement Linville nicely?" Miss Foster asks, it's a peculiar question but I'm grateful for the break in the silence.
"It's Acelet, but please just call me Ace. I hate my name."
"I think it's cool, not basic like Chad or Mark. Is it French?"
"Yeah, my mom just likes French names. We're not French, though. What's your name?" I say, inwardly smiling at her hate towards the name Chad.
"Ivy, like the weed."
"Well, it's nice to meet you." I smile and she holds out her hand, I shake it. She's even more beautiful that I had expected.
"You too, though I do have to say, I'm pretty self-sufficient. I'm going to have to kindly reject your position as my escort," she says. It feels as though she's taken a knife to my stomach and twisted it. All my hopes and dreams of getting to know her have been crushed, ran over with a car, thrown out the window, etc.
"But...Leads did include the word friend," her eyes light up and so do mine.
"It would be an honor," I say, shaking her hand once more. This time, it wasn't a greeting. Not to get all gushy, but it was a silent agreement, to stand together for this last year as seniors. She smiles with me and the principle walks back in.
"Seems like you've become acquainted, good," he says while sitting down.
Me and Ivy became inseparable. Beau was so focused on being the mastermind behind our senior prank, that we had little to no lost time with each other. My previous thoughts of who Ivy was ended up completely wrong. Her personality was so much different than anyone, I think, would expect. Still, there was something between us that wouldn't let us be just friends.
One night, we were at a lame party that a bunch of freshman found out about. The trust-fund kid who was hosting the party lived on the ocean, that was the only plus. I was exhausted and the thought of my warm bed was starting to become physically painful. Ivy wasn't exhausted, she was the opposite of exhausted. So I let her be inside the party while I sat out by the ocean. I could feel the wet sand soaking through my khakis but the sound kept me sitting there, staring at nothing in particular, but wondering why the ocean was so much more eerie at night than during the day. It would be so much better if the sound from the party wasn't polluting the silent night.
It was an hour before I heard footsteps behind me, so faint but I could tell who it was.
"Hey," Ivy says while sitting down next to me. She's obviously is tired now because she lays her head on my shoulder, slightly bringing my heart-rate up. She still smells like vanilla, despite the fact that she was in the middle of about 300 kids with poor hygiene.
"You ready to go home?" I ask.
"No, I just want to talk."
"Okay, what do you want to talk about?"
Silence. Ivy lifts up her head, scoots back and looks me in the eyes. Her hand is on my leg, which was normal for us, but it's different this time.
"Do you love me?" she asks in complete seriousness.
"I do, and I think you should love me too. You act like it." My heart-rate is nonexistent at this point. My heart has completely stopped. She loves me? It's a question of doubt, I thought we were just friends. I do, though. I think I do. I've never loved someone, I mean, Beau but he's been my best friend since VBS in '04. I love him like a brother, but Ivy. Like a wife. Ew, no, way too soon.
"I-I." The words won't come out, she's tearing up, she's standing up, she's sobbing, and...she's gone. No, No, No. I love her. I really do. I've loved her since the day I told Beau that she was going to be my girlfriend. I screwed up, but I can fix this. She's my best friend.
I drive home in a blur, lying face down in my bed when I get home. My pillow feels like paper though, I lift up my head and there's a note.
I thought you loved me.
It was written in the same elegant handwriting that the notes passed to me in class would be written in. Not only that, but it had a finality to it. I didn't have a second chance.
That was the night that I told myself my life had ended. I went through the blur and stress of applying to colleges, receiving the acceptance letters, and one small one. I saw her in the hallways, always by herself. It was all my fault. It was like we had broken up, but we were never together because of me.
The last time I saw her was at graduation, the night after the senior prank, which was a total bust. Beau didn't speak for a day after his mouse-traps didn't trap, and his fireworks didn't fire.
Wofford College was printed above me in big letters. I watched my mother try to work her first digital camera as I stood with a slump under the purple sign. They helped me unpack, and my mom explained where everything was, my shampoo and unneeded conditioner, my extra bed sheets, comfy soles to put in the bottom of my shoes, and my pictures. Including one of Ivy and I. That one stayed on a bottom shelf.
The first three years of college were easy for me. No distractions, no friends except Beau, my roommate. You think he would leave me to go to college alone?
There was only once that a girl had approached me. She asked if I wanted to go to Carson's one night, and I said no. She was very pretty, if I'm being honest. But it felt wrong. From then on, I was not approachable to other girls.
Now it's my senior year in college. I changed my major many times in the first few years but ended on Literature. One day I'm going to be a writer, and I'm going to write about Ivy. Not directly, but she's going to be fit into every story I write. No matter what.
Beau and I are walking down the street, back to campus. When a girl with Peach Colored hair catches my eye. I convince myself that I'm hallucinating and close my eyes, wishing that I'm not. When I open them, her sharp, feline eyes are met with mine. She sees me and this time, they don't bounce to another person. I stop in the middle of the street.
"Ace, wha-" Beau sees her too. "Go. Get. Her."
And I do, I walk up to her and I don't stop walking. I don't stop walking until her face is right in front of mine.
"I love you," I say, closing the distance between us completely. I do what I've wanted to do since the first day I saw her. I kiss her, and she kisses me back. I put my hand on the small of her back and she pulls away, smiling at me.
"I knew you loved me," she says.
Me and Ivy have become inseparable. She's finishing her schooling at Wofford, which was the plan before seeing me again, calm down. I am more happy than ever. I've actually started writing a book. Ivy was a big inspiration for it.
I'm heading out the door to my next class when I see a note on our white board.
Feed the fish!!!!!!!
I roll my eyes and walk over to Beau's hidden shelf beside his bed and pull out his fish tank. Grabbing the food, I realize his illegal fish, Shark-Bait, is floating.