(I Love You More Than Me)
11 years old and younger—you’re convinced “boys have cooties” and you can’t make it through one soap opera without shouting “eww” to all the kissing scenes
13 years old—you get your period, and it’s exciting for all of about thirty seconds
15 years old—it’s your first year of high school, where you pick the clique that labels you for the next four years. you grab a guy’s attention for the first time
16 years old—you go on your first date and have your first kiss
17 years old—you make it to second and third base. you get drunk for the first time. you dirty dance with a hot senior at a party
18 years old—you lose your virginity on a special occasion; an empty house with a bed buried in countless rose petals, candles that smell like a bakery brought down from heaven, and a loving boyfriend who cuddles with you afterward and who every girl in the school wishes they had. you’re officially an adult
PART 1: KYLE
The first thing I thought about: WHY HAVEN’T I BEEN KISSED YET?
The second thing I thought about: WHY HAVEN’T I HAD SEX YET?
The third thing I thought about: WHY HAVEN’T I HAD A BOYFRIEND YET?
These were the last things I thought about before I crashed my Chevy Impala into the white Crossover I forgot to yield to.
I pulled over to the nearest parking lot, which happened to belong to the only McDonalds we had in this town. Across the lot was an Arby’s, a Speedway. I was completely in the lines of my parking spot and proud of it, the yellow lines equidistant on both sides. The second I got off the phone with the police, I heard a loud knock on my window; it was the driver I hit.
It was more like three knocks in one; a smack so loud I thought he was going to bust a man-made hole straight through the center of it. It wouldn’t make much difference anyway: the blue driver’s side of my car was already rocking a dent from hell, and the glass in my side mirror fell out instantly during the collision.
I flipped my head around and rolled down my window. “Sorry about that,” I shouted. The driver looked around my age. He had blonde curls for hair, and a pair of brown eyes that were about 25% irises, 75% pupils. He had to bend over to match his face with the level of my car window. He looked six-foot at least. I was too busy admiring the dimples on his cheeks and the muscles underneath his DeWitt Panthers football jersey that I didn’t think to make things easier and get out of my car; he was number 81.
“So, is this your first car crash or does stuff like this happen to you a lot?” he asked. “I don’t know if we had the same driving instructor, but I’m pretty sure yielding is in bold and that we learn it on like day one.”
“I did get in a little fender bender with a stop sign once,” I replied, ignoring his hit at me. I blinked a good three times, trying to pinpoint which one of the jocks he was at my school. There was no way I wouldn’t notice someone that hot who walked the same hallways as me for over a decade. DeWitt, Michigan, was a suburban town and had about three-hundred kids in each graduating class; the odds of me never seeing his face were unlikely but not completely impossible.
He laughed, holding one hand on my window and fogging it up; he left a giant hand mark on the glass. “So you’re admitting you’re a bad driver?”
I turned off my radio. Outside was the famous golden arch that looked like a waving hand. I could feel the cold, thirty-degree waves of wind feed my pale complexion and throw my golden-brown hair out of its ponytail. There were plenty of cars passing us on their way through the drive-thru, some honking at us and giving us sarcastic thumbs up just for the heck of it.
“I wouldn’t say that” I said. “To be fair, you came in a little fast and I didn’t see you, so—”
“I had the right of way though,” he argued.
“Fair enough.” I paused, taking my hands and forcing them against my stomach, covering the weight of my body I didn’t want him to see. I let my hair down to distract from the gray sweatshirt I had on that was at least three sizes too big. I didn’t run into hot guys on a regular basis, so I sure as hell was going to look the part as best I could.
“So, Friday is gameday, you guys gonna win tonight?” I asked him. “Crap, I made you miss the game, didn’t I?”
“Don’t worry, I’m not missing anything, Coach never puts me on the field. You’re Maya Davis, right?”
“Yeah. I feel like such a horrible person, are you a senior too?”
“Yeah, I’m Kyle,” he answered, saving me on the spot. “Kyle Peterson. I’m not very memorable, so don’t beat yourself up about it.”
“But how do you know me? I don’t exactly stick out either. It’s my best friend Joy Colleen, right? That’s how you know me?”
“Nope. We had a class together forever ago. Stats.”
“Sorry, I guess I can be pretty unobservant.”
“Yeah, especially when it comes to other cars.”
He pointed over to his white Crossover. “I mean it could’ve been worse.” I got out of my car to get a better view of it, crawling out the passenger side since my side was currently jammed. He had a dent identical to mine. “It’s a good thing it’s technically my mom’s car and not mine.”
“I crashed into your mom’s car?” I buried my hands into my face and came back up with red cheeks. “I can pay for it. I mean, I can try. I’m kinda broke.”
“Are you always this nice, or just nice to people’s cars you smash into?” he asked. “Insurance will cover this, no problem. I crashed into this one dude one time. Money is nothing. The worst part by far is having everyone stare at you while you wait for the cops to arrive. People are so judgy nowadays, it’s kinda sad.”
I looked behind us at all the little kids pointing at us, asking their parents what happened. I could hear cars driving by, the loud thud from the crash coming back into my head like a morning alarm that knocked me straight out of bed. “I’m just glad I haven’t burst into tears in front of all these people. This seems like the sorta thing that would trigger me.”
“It must just be me,” he teased, “What can I say? I bring out the best in people.” His stomach grumbled three times, one right after the other, sounding like skipping rocks. “What do you say we get some food while we wait?”
“I’m starving,” I replied, smiling. I held my stomach again. I looked in the window reflection of my car which made me look six times as wide as usual, and I got a lump in my throat looking at it, that lump turning into a grenade once we started walking and I got a glimpse at my shadow on the pavement, my sweatshirt looking like a dress over my ripped jeans. I felt my face for mascara, realizing I forgot to apply it this morning and left my handbag in my trunk. I was sweating already, my heart pumping, running out of blood.
The first thing I thought about after the crash: PLEASE LET KYLE BE MY FIRST BOYFRIEND.
The second thing I thought about: PLEASE DON’T LET ME SCREW THIS UP.
The last thing I thought about: I’M GOING TO SCREW THIS UP.
We got in line behind the cash register farthest to the right. “I’m thinking I ask for two Big Mac’s stacked on top of each other and see if I can convince them to still give it to me at the same price,” Kyle told me. He had to practically scream over the bubbling grease of the French fry machine and the loud shouting of orders from back in the kitchen where we couldn’t see anything except for a glimpse of the drive-thru window. The worker behind the cash register in front of us was blonde , and looked like she was about to pass out as the old man in front of us ordered fifty separate things from the menu. I felt bad for her.
“This is why I’m glad I never worked here,” I said. “Everyone who says this is a perfect first job, are liars.”
“I used to work here,” Kyle argued. The door opened and five more people poured in, turning this place into a zoo. The air conditioner felt broken, and it wasn’t just because I was standing next to Kyle. “All the hot chicks who came in here always asked me for my number and tipped me a bunch, so I didn’t mind it.”
I laughed, not realizing I’d jinxed myself until a tall blonde snuck up behind us in line. “Kyle,” she said, making matters worse, “I thought you said fast food was a waste of money. Aren’t you working at NCG now?”
He turned to her, and it was like Kyle and I never met, like I was just a random customer he happened to run into and now the time had come for us to depart. I stood behind like a wallflower, took a reality check, and remembered I was the background dancer and not the lead singer.
“Oh hi Sam, nice to see you. Yeah I’m at NCG,” he said, putting his hands in his pockets. His feet were facing hers, a sure sign he was attracted. I mean, why wouldn’t he be? She was blonde. She had the kind of blue eyes that made you look like you were staring at the night sky and an hourglass figure with a chest that puffed out in her low cut sweater.
“How are you liking it? You’ll have to tell me the next time there’s a good movie out, I’ll have to stop by.”
“It’s alright. For sure, you should come. Don’t come at night though, that’s when all the drunks show up.”
“Drunks?” I asked, laughing, “Do you put them in their place I bet?”
My voice must’ve been softer than usual because Kyle didn’t so much as look in my direction. Instead he looked right at Sam. She had a little Vera Bradley handbag curled around her wrist that was pink; my blue one was still in my car. “So this old dude walks in, right,” Kyle explained to Sam, even tapping her shoulder as he spoke, “and he starts pointing at me hysterically thinking I’m a flamingo and then runs out of the building.”
This time I made sure to talk louder. We were almost up to the front of the line, and Kyle pulled his wallet out. “A flamingo, really?” I blurted, “You should’ve messed with him and chased him or something.”
Thank god he heard me the second time. I felt miles away from Sam and Kyle even though I was standing right there because they were so much taller.
“Crap, I’m so tactless,” Kyle apologized, looking down at me, “Sam, this is Maya, and Maya, this is Sam. She was homeschooled but she’s with us this year. She’s gonna graduate with us.”
“Nice to meet you,” I told her, and she nodded at me. “Funny story,” he told Sam. “Maya and I got in a little fender bender, and we’re still waiting on the police for the paperwork and stuff.”
“There was a crash over on Clark. That’s why it’s taking them so long to get over here. They should be here any second,” she informed us. I wondered why she didn’t ask for more details about the crash.
“So Maya, you’re in our grade, right?”
I nodded. I hated how soft and sweet her voice was, how genuine she seemed. I wanted to hate her. But then I pinched myself in the arm and reminded myself this wasn’t even a date, that I had no right to be jealous. Yet I was. I couldn’t stop wondering if they’d ever dated, wanting to know their entire history at once, needing to know for my own sanity.
“So you have a brother?” I asked Kyle after we sat down. Sam decided to join us. She ate a salad with some ranch, and I had the same even though my stomach was begging me for a burger. I got extra dressing so I could hardly taste the cucumbers or tomatoes.
“Yeah,” Kyle answered, rubbing his hair out of his face. His hand went to reach for a napkin, but Sam took it and teased him with it, moving it back and forth in front of his face, until he caught it, taking her hand with it.
Oh how I wish I could have that skin-to-skin contact, or just for one guy anywhere in the world to want to touch me. “Sam dated him. He’s kinda a jackass. And Sam and I know him the best, we wouldn’t lie.”
Kyle put an entire quarter of his Big Mac into his mouth, not minding the giant stain of mustard on his upper lip. He took his sweet time wiping off, and suddenly I wasn’t so hungry anymore.
We were at a table in the corner next to the window so we could see our dented cars full-view. Sam looked like she was about to comment on it, but stopped herself. I wanted her to say something offensive, to say something that would really rattle Kyle’s cage the wrong way, but the only comment she made was how the sun was finally out.
Kyle sat across from me and Sam. Sam stabbed her crouton with her fork. “So,” I asked Kyle. “What’s wrong with your brother? Is he just better looking or something?”
“You think you’re so funny,” he teased. “No. He does whatever the hell he wants and it’s like our parents don’t even care. He should be at college, but he stays at home bringing girls over every night then dumping them the next morning. And he gets in the way of my work and my school and I have to clean up after him and I’m just so sick of him.”
“He cheated on me,” Sam added, speaking openly without a problem.
“He’s cheated on every girl he’s ever been with,” Kyle made sure to say, backing her up. Their hands were so close to touching.
“What a jackass,” I said, feeling like a winner after I saw I got Kyle to smile.
Soon enough we saw the red and blue lights outside. As we got up to leave, Sam lit up to say “Oh Maya, there’s a party tonight after the game if you wanna come. I’ll text you the address.”
I gave her my phone out of instinct. I hadn’t been to hardly any parties; I’d mostly heard about Joy’s adventures. For a second, I hesitated, thought of the puking in the bathrooms and drugs I saw on TV and almost said something to get myself out of it.
But Kyle told me “hope to see you there,” and that was all it took for me to not say anything; to sit there and realize maybe the reason I was so behind on my timeline to start with was because I never took risks like this.
“I’ll be there,” I shouted. “But first we got the police to deal with.”
“I say we tell them we both got attacked by a herd of angry racoons.”
“Like they’ll believe that,” I said.
Sam laughed with us. “I’ll be your guys’ alibi.” She used air quotes as she said it.
What I was no longer thinking about: THE CAR CRASH.
What I was thinking about now: TONIGHT I HAD TO BEAT SAM TO THE DANCE FLOOR AND GET TO KYLE FIRST.
I let Joy pick out my clothes for the party tonight. I closed my eyes and let her surprise me. When I turned to face her on my bed, she was standing right outside my closet holding a dress I was pretty sure I bought for my eighth grade farewell dance four years ago and never wore. It was still on the hanger; a sleeveless blue dress with the same lacy texture lingerie was made from. It ended at the thighs and put our high school’s dress code to shame.
Miles was sitting in my desk chair, right in the middle of Joy and me. It was a computer chair with wheels and he was spinning around in circles when Joy asked him, “What do you think?” She pointed to the dress and held it up against her waist, cradling it between her legs so it stayed flat. “Would this look good on Maya?”
“Yeah,” he said. “Maya can pull anything off.” He looked down at the floor, his head in a daze as he looked back up at me, smiling. “Why are you going to this party though, Maya, it’s never been your thing?”
Joy and I always teased Miles and told him he looked like a boy scout. All jokes aside, he kind of looked like a retired one; he was only about 5’ 8” and he had short hair the color of chestnuts—his sideburns were always combed. Right now he had on this Seahawks t-shirt he’d worn since second grade. The navy-blue matched his eyes. He was like a brother to me, a brother I’d never get in a fight with and be close to until the day one of us had to move out for college.
I got up from the bed. Joy was over by my vertical mirror attached to my wall behind my door, placing her red hair on the blue dress to see if they’d go good together. Any color was her color, just like any dress was her dress—including the short spring dress she wore now even though it was practically winter. It sprouted out like a flower, poofy at the end, with a pink flower design at the top. Sometimes I wished I could be her, just for a day.
“Kyle invited me,” I replied to Miles. “An actual guy wants me to go to a party, can you believe it?”
Miles swallowed the lump in his throat as he argued, “Wait, a guy? Is it a date? A party isn’t exactly a date, it’s just where guys take you to do the deed. Any decent guy would take a girl out to dinner. Just saying.”
“And I’ve been waiting for that for too long, Miles, you know I have. I’ve just faced it. The Notebook isn’t real life, and some guy isn’t going to just come up to me while I’m on a ferris wheel and ask me out.”
“You never know,” Joy joked. “With guys these days, you can expect anything.” She threw the hanger off the dress and chucked it straight at me so I had no choice but to catch it. I caught it one-handed. “Now go put that on unless you want me to put it on for you. You know I will. And I’ll meet you in the bathroom. I can do a mean smoky eye that Kyle will be drooling all over.”
“Don’t go,” Miles shouted at me as I got ready to skip down the hallway, “Stay with me. I’ll cook you food and watch the Titanic with you again.”
“You hate the Titanic.”
“What do you mean? You didn’t see me bawling my eyes out to the don’t-let-me-go scene at the end?”
“You were just crying because I was.”
“I’ll meet up with you after the party, how’s that?”
Miles arched his eyebrows up, crossing his legs in the chair. “Fine, but show up drunk and Kyle is dead.”
Joy and I both laughed.
The party was at Kyle’s house. Joy and I were making our way up his ridiculously long driveway. His house was at least three floors and it was a distinct light green, contrasting the surrounding white condos in his subdivision. As I made my way up to the front door past the little rows of purple violets, I couldn’t help but notice the white Crossover in the driveway that already looked good as new. It looked like it was repainted, the white looking neon as it glowed-up in the dark. The streetlights were on, and looking behind us, it was surprising to see so little cars here. I didn’t think anything of it.
“Who is she?” Joy sputtered out as we rang the doorbell. It sounded exactly like the iPhone church bell ringtone.
“What are you talking about?” I asked her.
“The girl you’re jealous of. I can see it all over your face.”
When no one was coming, Joy peeked through the small square window impatiently and I looked through the other one on the right, only seeing a wooden stairway with no carpet and a few lights on that were probably coming from the kitchen.
“Sam,” I confessed flat-out. I never bothered to keep anything from her anymore because I knew she’d find out sooner or later. Plus it was either I talk to her or talk to my mom, which was an easy choice. “Kyle and her seemed sort of cozy earlier. We bumped into her at McDonalds.”
“Maya, why didn’t you tell me before? You said it was only you and Kyle.” She paused. “Well, I can tell you Kyle is single, I know that much.”
“How do you know? Maybe he and Sam are a thing.”
“I know because I know everything,” she teased.
Joy knocked on the door. “Jeez, is this even the right place?” She looked back at me. “Anyway Maya, you’re a catch. He doesn’t like Sam. He’s just nice to everybody, don’t get in your head.”
“I didn’t even know Kyle was in our grade. How do you know so much about him? Oh my god, have you dated him?”
She shook her head.
“Hooked up with him?”
“No, I dated his brother. It was a short summer fling.”
I remembered all the bad things Kyle said about his brother the other day, about him being a cheater, my reminiscing getting interrupted by the creaking of the front door finally opening.
“Jake!” Joy shouted, and I knew immediately he was the devil we were speaking of. She hugged him, and all I could think about was how she could be more intimate with an ex of hers who she probably hated for a long time than I could be with anybody. Why did she make it look so easy?
“It’s been a while, what have you been up to?” she asked him, tapping on his muscular shoulders. He was 6’ 5”, a giant in a Lakers jersey and gray joggers that were way too attractive on him; the golden-brown, with curly brown hair and a curved jawline. He was huge, I could tell he probably lifted at least twice a day, and under his short sleeves I could see black ink that marked the beginning of whatever tattoo scarred his skin underneath. I had to wipe my mouth and swallow every few seconds to make sure I didn’t drool on myself. I guess good looks ran in the family.
“I’m good, you better not have been partying too hard without me,” he joked back to her, his eyes on her chest, sniffing her perfume that smelled like cherries and never even acknowledging me. “I have something I gotta show you upstairs. And I still have one of your tops I found the other day if you want it back.”
In a matter of minutes, my best friend was gone chatting away like the social butterfly she was and I was finding my way through the living room, stumbling on my own steps as I walked in on Kyle, Sam, and a new face all huddled up in a circle. A football game was on the flat screen TV above them, working as a background noise, the volume turned down on low.
“Hey,” I greeted. It wasn’t what I imagined. The house was mostly empty.
“Not what you were expecting?” Kyle teased me right off the bat. “We’re just playing a question game if you want to join?” He stood up and offered me his seat like a gentleman, crouching down onto the floor.
I went to join him on the floor, but he stopped me, his hand touching me on the waist accidentally. He hardly noticed. He probably thought he hit the couch or something. I took it he didn’t get the tingles in the lower chest like I did, the ones that made it hard to stop looking at his collarbone. “Don’t be ridiculous. Get on the couch,” he told me.
I hopped on the couch, and sunk into the low-lying soft cushion that made me feel like I was sitting on one of those fancy bungee chairs. “You already know Sam,” Kyle introduced me, “But this is Aiden, my football buddy.”
Aiden was on my right and Sam was on my left. Kyle was below me, but he was tall enough that it didn’t matter. Our feet were far enough away that we could avoid awkwardness but close enough that just in case some miracle happened, and Kyle wanted to make a move he could.
“So, you’re the girl who dented my buddy’s car,” Aiden joked right off the bat. He was similar to Kyle with dark hair and a toned body. But while Kyle chose jeans, Aiden wore sweats; and Aiden had thick caterpillars for eyebrows which I was kind of grateful Kyle didn’t have.
“High five,” Aiden said as he held his hand up and smacked it against my weak palm that did about five percent of the smacking. “Please tell me you crashed into him on purpose.”
“Shut up,” Kyle said. Looking up at me, he repositioned his legs into the crisscross position, then replied, “Don’t listen to him.”
“Aidan, if you crashed into Kyle he’d beat you up before the cops even got there,” Sam added.
“Exactly,” Kyle agreed, softly jamming his palm into Aidan’s kneecap, catching him off guard.
“I’d drive away so fast you wouldn’t even see my license plate, man.”
“We get it guys,” Sam said. “You both suck at driving.”
“Not as much as me,” I added.
“Well still, you’re a girl and not nearly as stupid as what I’ve seen these two do, you have no idea.”
“I bet,” I said, not expecting Sam to be so nice to me. I was waiting for her to throw me some passive-aggressive statement acting all alpha over Kyle — saying he was hers and to back off. But then I got to thinking she probably didn’t need to; that wasn’t necessary unless I was a threat to her — which I wasn’t. I was still trying to get over the fact this wasn’t a party date with dancing and music and teenagers being idiots. It was a simple hangout and I felt like the little sister Kyle let tag along just because he felt bad for me.
“What question were we on?” Aiden asked. He reached down into the arm of the couch and pulled out a deck of black and red playing cards, sharpie bleeding through their white bodies.
“Kyle was last,” Sam explained. She turned to her right side and flashed on the triangle-shaped lamp that was sitting there on the little nightstand next to the couch. That, and the football game that was now on a Coke commercial, were pretty much the only sources of light around us. I could still see Kyle’s innocent brown eyes though. “His question was about the wildest thing he ever did, and he said when he was a kid, he peed on someone else’s car in the parking lot and then his parents took off like it was a hit and run.” She rolled her eyes.
“Kyle, you should have to answer that one again,” Aiden said, “That’s not quite what we meant by wild. You’re always finding the loopholes.”
“There’s no rules. To me that was wild. We could’ve gotten sued or something, who knows.”
“My mom’s a lawyer,” I said. “So, I’ve got you covered.”
“See?” Kyle told Aiden, pointing at me. “At least someone’s on my side.”
I dug my feet into the carpet, feeling little bits of fuzz coming out from it when Aiden suggested, “Why don’t you go next Maya? New girls first.”
“I don’t know,” I joked. “I’d rather sit back and get a feel for how this goes first.”
“Nice try,” Kyle teased. “I know you’ve got some dirty secrets up there in that quiet mind of yours.” He sat up to reposition himself so he was sitting on his knees, and I lost my breath, thinking he was gonna get closer. It was disappointing when he moved backwards.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I shouted, getting more comfortable in my seat, sitting up straighter. “I’m an open book.”
Sam took a card out of Aiden’s hands, reaching over me, and she read the question out loud. “What was the worst kiss you’ve ever had?”
This was my worst fear, the question I would rather die than have to answer honestly. It was social suicide. Kyle was staring right at me, so were Aiden and Sam, and I decided to pretend to be the girl in my timeline. The second I told them I was a kissing virgin, they’d pity me and wonder what was wrong with me that not a single guy had so much as held my hand, which was still something I was wondering myself, and I didn’t want to ruin my one chance to fit in by admitting my ironically clean secret.
So I lied.
“It was some dude at this summer camp I went to a couple years ago.” I thought through all the gross kiss scenes in all my romcoms, using them as my guide of what to say. “He went to go for it, and as soon as he did, snot went everywhere.”
“Ewwwww,” Sam sputtered out on instinct. “That is proof guys really do have cooties.”
“Does he go to DeWitt with us?” Kyle asked.
I shook my head. “No, I don’t remember where he was from, but he was far away, I know that.”
“You should’ve made out with me, I was every girl’s first kiss in Pre-K, just as smooth as I am now,” Aiden bragged. Stopping himself, he asked me. “Wait, that snot guy, please tell me he wasn’t your first kiss?”
I nodded. “Of course he was.” I wasn’t about to make up another fictional kiss.
I grabbed a card and read it to Sam. “How many guys have you slept with?”
I sighed. At my sleepovers Joy and I only ever asked questions like what’s your favorite movie or artist, never any like this. I’d heard her talk about her wild get-togethers I never got the invite to, but it was different actually being a part of it. I kept waiting for a clean question, until I gave up and realized I’d be waiting all night.
“Six,” Sam answered. It was a solid number, not too low or too high for a teenager. I may not be experienced, but I knew of the numbers I was lacking.
So when they asked me the same question, I answered with a solid, “Two,” lying again.
Kyle smiled whenever I answered, and I couldn’t tell if it was because he wasn’t buying the lies or because he liked my answers. Or maybe he was really smiling at Sam and I was imagining his eyes on me.
I lied many more times after that, so much it became as easy as addition and subtraction; I did it without thinking. Aiden told this story about his mom walking in on him losing his v-card, and then it was Kyle’s turn again.
“Kiss someone in this room.”
“That’s a dare, not a question,” Kyle immediately argued.
“So? Just do it. Don’t be such a buzzkill like always.” I wondered what he was referring to. Kyle didn’t seem like the frat type like Aiden did. They reminded me of Joy and me; Aiden and Joy would hit it off instantly if her boyfriend Derek wasn’t in the picture. I wished I could say the same for me and Kyle. I guess opposites were supposed to attract anyway.
“Where’s Joy?” I blurted out, nervous.
“Still upstairs with Jake I think,” Sam said. “Don’t worry, we can trust them; they’d never get back together the way the breakup went down. Joy’s probably just pranking him or stealing his underwear or something again.” I hated that Sam knew more about the breakup than I did. I was Joy’s best friend. I thought she told me everything.
I couldn’t help but notice how calm Sam looked. Had she kissed Kyle before? She was probably a pro at it, probably knew exactly the right way to move her lips and everything, probably knew the right amount of tongue. All I had was a TV screen, I’d only watched it virtually. I thought my heart was about to beat out of my chest. My veins were all plump and purple, and I had to keep swallowing to clear my throat. The darkness outside looked blurry, the TV like a bunch of dotted lines as I could faintly hear the sports announcer yelling that there was a touchdown.
I looked at Kyle again, this time certain he was looking at me. I lost feeling in my fingers and I wanted him so bad. I wanted to have my first kiss and to be able to say I had it with a guy as hot as him. I wanted to be able to say I was cool like my best friend, Joy. I wanted to know how it felt, even if a few people were watching me.
Aiden was laughing, and I watched Kyle crouch into the direction where Sam and I were sitting, his hips facing us. I licked my lips quick. I figured he probably had already kissed Sam and his curiosity was leading him to me.
I leaned a little farther, only to watch him swipe past my face like the biggest blindside in history and collide his lips into Sam’s natural red ones. My heart stopped at that moment. I watched them like I did my romcoms, except I wasn’t a cheerleader behind the screen this time; it was like I was the third party on the screen with them, that one jealous girl who was watching them from afar, the one who didn’t get the guy.
Once it passed thirty seconds, ignoring Aiden’s gross side comments and puckering noises as Kyle had his hands in Sam’s hair, throwing it all behind her ears, I got up and raced for the door, faintly shouting, “I should get going. Tell Jake to give Joy a ride. My mom wants me home soon.”
What was one more lie anyway? Especially if it meant I could escape?
Kyle got up immediately, pulling away from Sam who was smiling in a red blush, and came after me. “Leaving already? Let me drive you at least.”
“I have a car here but thanks anyway.”
“I’m still driving you. That’s Joy’s car. She’ll take it home. You seem upset and it’s late, you shouldn’t be driving.” He paused. “Sorry if Aiden took the questions too far.”
“I’m fine,” I lied coldly.
The truth: I WAS NOT FINE.
Sydney Savage is an undergraduate at Michigan State University, who enjoys writing books based on her own life. She currently writes YA in the romance and chicklit genres; a lot of her novels are coming-of-age stories that tackle themes of love, friendship, and mental illness. Getting readers to feel things is her number one goal, whether it’s heartbreak from failed relationships, laughter, or feeling empowered by resilient and relatable characters. When she’s not writing, Sydney enjoys movies like The Fault in Our Stars, running outside, hanging with friends, and volunteering at The Listening Ear Crisis Center.