inalandfarfaraway's story reads like a brief scene: the curtain goes up, we see a lovelorn girl, and the curtain goes down.
Every time I saw them it hurt. Every little look they gave each other, the playful teasing, the casual holding of hands, even the way they just talked, heads tilted slightly to the side. My friend walking next to me talks earnestly about the quiz over federalism we just took in government, but when I see him I lose her words. The soft glint off his light blonde hair sent pangs from my toes all the way up to my fingers, which used to be the ones he held.
Not anymore. Now, it was her hair he brushed away, her couch he watched movies on, her texts that sent a jolt of excitement through him. I almost wish we'd had a messy breakup, just so I'd have some excuse not to see him anymore. It's hard to completely avoid someone who's been your best friend since kindergarten, when he moved in next door.
Somehow a friendship formed on play-dough and pokemon cards withstands most anything. Summers apart, busy schedules, fights over mariokart. Heartbreak. From my porch, I can see his black corolla and his bent-in-half mailbox. I can see his hyper dog frantically yapping at moths, the pine tree that he got in third grade (we all got one actually, but my dad mowed over mine - I cried), and I can see her silver sentra parked neatly at the end of the driveway when she goes over.
It tears my heart a little every time. Don't get me wrong, I'm not Bella; I'm not in a state of numbness or desperation. I'm not going to go try and get myself killed. But it still hurts.. They are walking down the hallway together, laughing quietly over some joke he's made, and all I want right then is to be the one he's laughing with. The one whose books he's carrying.
But all I can do is smile. A painful tug deep inside my chest and I just keep walking, pretending to listen to my friend talk about her soccer team's chances at play-offs, and I smile.
My grandma used to tell me that everything would be ok if I kept positive. Gray skies would burst into blue and the world would light up, if I kept some gladness inside my heart.
The thing is, though, that's a lot easier said than done. It's a lot easier to say that you will smile than to actually force one on when all you want to do is cry. I wave goodbye to my friend as she reaches her math room, and I brave on, trying to warm up the muscles that will display a casual smile as he comes closer. It feels impossible.
Somehow I do it, though. "Hi," he says to me with a small wave, and then goes back to his conversation with her. I grin back (though it feels a little stiff) and keep walking, turning to look out of the window.
The sky is still gray. The clouds still stretch on in some endless, dull gray mess. My heart still aches.
But I know it's only temporary. I know that underneath the gray clouds there is a brilliant blue and a gush of sunshine. I know that underneath this heartbreak there is new strength and wisdom, hope and love.
So even though it hurts, for now.. I smile. And I wait for tomorrow.
Based on "Smile," by Michael Jackson Charlie Chaplin (sorry, Sparklers, that was my mistake! farfaraway sent me the correct artist originally, and I messed it up.)
Until I got to the last four sentences, I was cheering farfaraway for her allergy to melodrama. What do you think, Sparklers? Do we have a laudably plainspoken story here, or a vignette that loses its restraint toward the end?
To review the submission rules and read other finalists, check out this post.