Authors: Paige Laurens
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica, #Romantic, #Romance, #Contemporary
“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”
- J. R. R. Tolkein
Table Of Contents
Prologue - Nostalgia Part I
Chapter 1 - Class Of 2002
Chapter 2 - First Day
Chapter 3 - September 11
Chapter 4 - If You Want To Get Technical
Chapter 5 - Lab Assistant
Chapter 6 - After School
Chapter 7 - Lunch
Chapter 8 - In Too Far
Chapter 9 - Shocked
Chapter 10 - Just One
Chapter 11 - Maybe One More
Chapter 12 - No Longer Innocent
Chapter 13 - Chocolates and Flowers
Chapter 14 - Spring Play
Chapter 15 - Prom
Chapter 16 - Dead Inside
Chapter 17 - Goodbye, MTHS
Epilogue - Nostalgia Part II
NOSTALGIA PART I
It’s been almost three years since I pulled my car into the familiar parking lot. I’ve imagined coming back so many times. I must have played out no less than five hundred scenarios on how this day would occur in my head.
None of them were like this.
I always pictured it happening on my terms, and not because Gracie forgot a term paper.
I’m not ready or prepared.
I turn off the engine, even though it’s January and I have no plans on getting out of the car anytime soon. I watch as my hot breath fills the freezing air, staring at the expansive brick high school in the background.
They changed the MTHS letters.
I liked the old ones better.
I bang my head against the steering wheel to stop the memories from flooding in. No one forgets their senior year, but shit, I’ve tried so hard to.
won’t be here today. Possibly luck will be on my side.
I close my eyes and envision the task at hand. All I have to do is sign in, make it down a hallway to the main office, and tell them I have a paper for Gracie Cunningham, then walk back down the
hallway, sign out, and be on my way. It’s a large school, what are my odds?
I’m planning on
I most likely
At least, that’s what I told myself this morning when I received Gracie’s text and rolled out of bed at 11 (
the life of a college student
). I threw on a pair of sweatpants, a bra, my t-shirt that says ‘so fancy’, and boots. Although, maybe it was a bad sign when I opened my bedroom door and the house alarm started blaring.
Dad forgot I was home on winter break. He does this every time.
I immediately tied my newly blond highlighted hair into a messy ponytail and ran to the front door to shut it off, just like I’ve had to do all week. That damn high pitch shrill nearly giving me a heart attack.
My hands start to shake as I lift my head and stare at my pale face in the rearview mirror. I didn’t bother with makeup today, and a memory pushes its way forward in my mind -
he calls me beautiful
. I attempt to will the flashback away, grabbing onto my sweatpants, but another one forces its way in.
I’m in sweatpants, and we’re kissing, touching each other for the very first time
No, this can’t happen! They’ve gone away!
I open the car door in a hurry and jump out, heaving. The cool air rushes up my nose and into my mouth, causing my eyes to sting, but the pain feels good.
It’s all I’ve known these past few years.
Get it together!
My phone dings and I look back into the car, watching as it lights up in the center console. It’s Gracie. She wonders why she hasn’t been called to the office yet.
Oh, the mindset of a high school senior, when the most horrible thing in life is not turning in a paper on time. I wonder if she realizes what an amazing sister coming here makes me?
She most likely does.
She’s the only one who knows what happened.
Walking towards the large front doors of the high school does weird things to me. There are far too many past moments floating around now, confusing me.
It’s hard to hate someone you love, and damn it if the stinging in my eyes doesn’t go away! I’ve gotten myself under control as time has passed, but it’s the familiar surroundings all around me now that are screwing with me.
The coldness of the metal door handle shocks me back to life, and I fumble through my purse for my license as I approach the makeshift sign in table. I end up not needing it though. The lady remembers me from my time here. Great.
I sign my name as she asks how I’ve been and where I’m going to school. I want to tell her not the same, and it doesn’t matter, but I’m much more pleasant than that. She hands me a white name sticker that I place on my shirt, and I immediately start down the hallway, past the library, and force myself not to look down any of the other corridors. If I continue to stare straight ahead I can’t see what (or who, really) may be down them.
It’s safer that way.
The smell is exactly the same, as is the eerie quietness of the school while classes are in session.
I used to love it all.
Thankfully, I make it to the main office unscathed, and hand over Gracie’s paper. I’m starting to relax now that my task is halfway over.
I can do this.
The lady behind the desk is making small talk, and I give her quick answers, not wanting to waste any time - easy in and easy out.
Looking back, I really shouldn’t have thought that. I should have known that luck
be on my side, not when it comes to
. That despite it being a large school, we’d run into each other at exactly the right time, in exactly the right second.
That’s just how it works with us.
I feel him before I see him, the former familiar sensation returning strong. I wasn’t intentionally looking down the hallway that sits in front of the main office, but it seems my eyes knew where to go all on their own. They meet his at exactly the right moment, causing us to both freeze abruptly. The air is sucked out of my lungs, and I’m tingling all over, my body reacting purely on old instincts. My heart is re-starting itself. It’s felt dead this whole time, but it’s beating again strong! Crap, is it going to rip out of my chest?
His lips part and I watch as his chest rises and falls with each quickening breath. He has facial hair now, a small amount of stubble around his mouth, and down his lower cheeks and chin. His dark hair frames his forehead, in desperate need of a cut.
It’s sexy as hell.
His blue irises shine; matching the shirt he’s wearing underneath his suit jacket.
I’ve always loved him all dressed up.
He looks far more professional than I remember - older, more authoritative; yet somehow still exactly the same, like nothing’s ever changed. My fists ball automatically, the need to run my fingers through his messy strands is overpowering.
He’s still as desirable as ever.
He shakes his head and blinks, like he thinks he’s imagining me. I wonder if he’s hoping for me to disappear, or praying that I’m real.
Neither of us is smiling. It seems we both don’t know what to do, but we’re locked onto one another, his eyes intently matching mine, full of surprise, hesitation, and something else,
The bell rings and students swarm into the hall out of nowhere, like a massive tsunami. The loudness and commotion is only a light buzz around us. We’re forever planted in our own world, boring into the depths of one another from this small distance. I want to both run
, but my legs are stuck in place, glued, as senior year hits me like a ton of bricks, replaying in my head from the very beginning.
CLASS OF 2002
By mid-August, I knew my schedule would arrive in the mail any day now. I chat on AIM with friends on how I hope we are in the same lunch period, and I spend my days walking around the mall with my best friend, Chloe, scoping out all the new clothes we’ll get for senior year, all while trying to avoid my little sister, Gracie. She’s always tagging along with her friends in that annoying sisterly fashion.
Like previous years, I swore this one would be different - that I’ll get amazing grades, make new friends, become really popular, and even finally get a boyfriend, maybe - hopefully. Of course, I promise myself this exact same thing every year, and by week two, I usually end up hating school, I’ll have gone through all my new outfits already, and it'll be just like every other year.
It’s funny how we think wearing new clothes, dating the hottest guys, and becoming popular are
all that matters, as if it’s important
. While my peers don’t yet realize it’s not like this in the real world, I learn the lesson much sooner. I go into senior year wanting the same exact things they do, but come out a completely changed and different person.
I swore to myself though, this year, things would be different, and not just because it’s my last year in this small, New York town, or because it’s some of last times I’ll step through the halls of the strangely odd, but unusually large, Maple Tree High School. The school where four elementary schools bleed into two middle schools, and whose two middle schools graduate into MTHS. With over 1600 students, 410 will (if the year goes well) be in my graduating class. Change is on the horizon.
"Luci," Mom yells. I type ‘brb’ to everyone, put up an away message, and head downstairs.
Nowadays, every time I leave my room I’m hit with a ping of sadness. How many more moments will I walk out of
before it’s no longer
? How many times will I come home, to the place I grew up in, and still think of it as where I live? Hundreds? Thousands?
I look out of the large window over the stairs on my way to the kitchen. All the other houses on the block look exactly the same as ours, minus some color changes, and the interior, obviously, because inside, ours, while clean, has never made it past the 70's, which is when my parents purchased it. Something about the shades of brown and orange, the crazy mirrors, and shag carpets, are oddly comforting. It's home and I’ll love it forever. The truth is, I actually feel bad about leaving next year. I love my parents and get along with them really well. They’re beside themselves over the fact that I don’t want to stay local for college. Granted, I’m unsure of exactly
I want to go, or
I even want to major in, but I do know I want to
something outside of this boring town.
Mom has always stayed at home with us, but recently started working part time at Dad's hardware store. She says she's excited to get out of the house, but really, I think she just needs to get her mind off the fact that both her kids are growing up. I’m a senior who’ll be gone next year; Gracie is starting her freshman year and will be gone in four. Our family is changing.
When I step into the kitchen I’m met with Gracie’s scared expression as she studies a sheet of paper.
Mom waives my piece of mail in front of her as I squeal in delight. I grab it, quickly tearing the perforated sides and tops to reveal the last high school schedule I'll ever get.
Lucinda P. Cunningham ---- Grade 12/Senior
Period Class Teacher Room
1 Math F. Stalling 010
2 PhEd A. Casssidy Main Gym
3 English D. Harrington 125
4 Spanish K. Pearl 226
5 Soc St M. Oliver 104
6. Lunch Staff Cafe
7. Lab/SH* J. Harrington 112/232
8. Chem J. Harrington 112
9. Pub. Sp. G. Martin 201
*Alternating days. Study hall is overseen by staff.
There are a couple of teaches I don’t recognize, but the first thing I notice are the two Harrington’s. There’s a husband and wife who teach biology and they are both awful. I had the wife last year and almost failed, so I’m praying this isn’t a similar situation.
When I look up, my smiling face meets Gracie’s nervous one, and Mom nudges me to say something positive.
“Let me see,” I take my smile down a notch as she hands me her schedule.
I’ve had two of her teachers, and tell her not to worry. “I’ll ask Chloe and Ashley about the rest. Most of them sound familiar.”
I hand the paper back to her, feeling a little bad, because she obviously wants to talk, but I’m already skipping back to my room, hoping all my friends have checked their mail too.
There are over 20 IM’s waiting for me when I return. I remove my away message and start typing away, comparing schedules with everyone I know.
It turns out no one knows much about the Harrington’s, which is why I was so shocked on the first day of school when I walked into chemistry.
I didn't expect him to be so… young.