Jason King liked my Instagram post. The one I posted two minutes ago. This can mean one of two things.
He’s casually scrolling through the app.
Or he turned on the notification to tell him when I post something.
Jason asked me to borrow a pencil to take a math final we had yesterday. He didn’t ask Amber Prescott or Courtney Hall for a pencil. Both are more popular and sat closer to him in math class.
Does this mean something?
I study the picture in question. It’s one of my favorites. My friend, Tyler, had snapped this shot of me at lunch. My long brown hair was uncharacteristically shiny. I was sipping an iced coffee, my legs crossed to show off my thrifted Doc Martens.
Jason is in this lunch hour too! Is this a sign? Did he like my photo as code? Like, “we share the same lunch hour, do you wanna sit by me and/or make out sometime?” Is that what him liking this picture meant?
Am I overthinking this?
Sitting on my bed speculating isn’t productive.
I need advice.
Racing to our lanai, I rush past my mom, not bothering to answer her question about what I wanted for dinner.
Can’t she tell I’m in the middle of a crisis?
With my phone to my ear, I pace around our pool deck, knowing Tyler will pick up.
“Hey, I was just about to call you…” Tyler says into my ear.
“I’m sorry to cut you off, but listen,” I pause for dramatic effect, “Jason King just liked my Instagram post!”
“Wait, which one is Jason?” Tyler asked after a moment.
This is not an appropriate reaction.
“Tyler! Catch up! He’s in our lunch hour, yesterday he asked to borrow my pencil, he’s tall, gorgeous,” Tyler interrupts me.
“Oh, yep, all you had to do was say that dreadful pencil story. You made me listen to what he meant by it for hours,” Tyler snickered. “So, Jason liked your Insta post, what should we do…” I can hear the smile in his voice. Now that he’s caught up, we are on the same page.
“Should I like one of his?” I ask.
“No! Too desperate. Or it could turn into one of those things where you both just like each other’s stuff online and then in real life it’s awkward.”
“Like what happened with Hector?” I put a hand over my mouth as soon as I say the words. The exact situation happened with Tyler and the guy he liked. Whenever they pass each other in the hall they pretend like the other doesn’t exist. But they heart every post the other uploads. It happened recently, and I hope Tyler doesn’t mind me bringing it up.
“Exactly. I call Hector my Insta boyfriend. That’s all he can ever be,” Tyler sighs dramatically. “Anyway, I think you should just message him. Say something simple. Since you just had a final together you could ask him how he thinks he did. He already made the first move. Now it’s your turn,” Tyler tells me reasonably.
I stopped pacing. Tyler has a point, I should talk to him.
But here’s the thing, having crushes on boys is fun. I love the way my stomach dips when the boy I like looks at me.
Actually talking to a boy, though?
That’s an entirely different thing.
What if Jason doesn’t live up to the version of him that I already have of him in my head?
Boys never do.
I can’t just do nothing.
“Gwen…” Tyler can tell I’m overthinking this. “Come on, if you like Jason talk to him. Talk to him like he’s just a regular person. It won’t be awkward if he’s the right guy.”
“What if it is awkward?” I asked my best friend.
“Then you and I can go to the mall and look at clothes we can’t afford to buy and talk about how we only need each other,” Tyler says.
“Thanks, Ty,” I reply.
I put my phone on speaker and pull up the picture Jason liked.
This Gwen looks confident. Her eyes are carefree. She wouldn’t obsess over some guy liking her picture.
She’s the girl I wish I was.
Maybe I can be her…
“You still there?” Tyler says into my ear.
“Yeah sorry. Alright, I think I’m going to do it,” I click on Jason's profile. My thumb hovers over the message square.
“Really? Go, Gwen!” The surprise in his voice confirms what I already know.
Tyler didn’t actually think I’d do it.
Neither did I.
Maybe that’s exactly why I need to.
I tap the message button.
O. M. G.
“Tyler!” I scream into the phone. I’m being louder than necessary, my next-door neighbor probably thinks I’m being murdered.
“What? What happened?”
“Jason King is typing me a message!” I yell. It’s hard to believe that the three little dots are real. I’m not imagining things though.
Jason is messaging me!
“You have to read exactly what it says when he messages it!” Tyler tells me, matching my excitement.
I hold my breath. The world stops spinning as I wait for what this boy has to say.
Maybe I can finally have my first boyfriend…
My heart stops beating.
“Tyler! He sent it!” I close my eyes and try to calm my breathing.
“What did he say?” Tyler asks impatiently.
“Hey, Gwen!” I stop reading his message. “He used an exclamation point! Is that good?”
“Very good,” Tyler encourages.
“I like your shoes in your new photo,” I read from the next line. Tyler cuts me off.
“He complimented you! That’s a good sign!”
I read on.
“Anyway, I’ve noticed you hanging out with Tyler Armstrong,” I pause in confusion.
“Jason did not say that, you’re messing with me,” the Tyler my crush is talking about says through my phone. I read the rest of Jason's message silently.
This cannot be happening.
“Gwen? Come on, you’re pranking me,” Tyler says in a strained voice. I read my best friend the rest of Jason's message in an emotionless voice.
“I was wondering if you could tell me if he’s into guys. I’m sorry if that question seems wrong or intrusive. It’s just always awkward asking someone that,” I finish.
Tyler and I both sat in silence.
Neither sure what to say next.