Page 28


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After school, a floral hatbox sits before me with its innards exposed. Luke’s apology letter in one hand and a photo of a happy couple in the other, I feel like my innards are exposed, too.
My mom didn’t seem surprised when I asked her about him. She led me right to the hatbox, with a look that bordered on patronizing.
“Well, that didn’t take long,” she said.
“It’s not over yet,” I replied, grabbing the hatbox and taking refuge in my room.
Now, in a word, I’m thrown.
I started at the beginning, and after reading about the first few times Luke and I spoke, I was ready to dial his number and accept his apology right then and there.
But then I read on, with his betrayal in mind. Every seemingly pleasant moment filtered through this new lens of lies became darker—dirtier. He was keeping a secret from me the whole time, never letting me know the real Luke.
Then again, I was keeping a secret from him, too.
In a way, we were both at fault.
Still, his lie was worse.
Wasn’t it?
My cell phone rings beside me and I know that it’s him, even though the number isn’t stored in my phone. I consider ignoring the call, but can’t help but answer.
“Hello?” I say quietly.
“Hi.” A smooth voice breathes into the phone, sending chills down my spine. Why did he lie? If I wasn’t mad at him, I could be staring into his blue eyes right now.
“Hi,” I say back.
“I know you said that you needed time, but I had to call,” Luke begins.
“You’re not exactly giving me space,” I say, determined not to be charmed so easily. Gorgeous or not, he hurt me.
“I know,” he says softly, sounding helpless. “What can I do?”
“You can’t do anything,” I say firmly. “I said I needed space to figure this out, and if you really care about me, you’ll respect that.”
I wince and think he might have, too, although I can’t be sure. He’s silent for a few seconds.
“Okay, London,” he says finally, with a sadness that breaks my heart a little. “I’ll leave you alone.”
Instead of telling him “never mind,” like I desperately want to, I simply say, “Thank you, Luke,” and disconnect before I make any promises I might not be able to keep.
Leaning against my bed with the gutted hatbox before me and chronicles of our relationship littering the floor, I can’t help but cry. I don’t want to be sensible. I don’t want to think about things. I don’t want to have to forgive him.
I don’t want him to have lied in the first place.
I shove the debris off my legs and climb up onto my bed, lying facedown in my pillow and sobbing for who knows how long. I don’t hear her come in but my mom appears, smoothing my hair and patting my back and telling me it’ll all be okay.
No, it won’t, I think to myself.
It won’t be okay at all.
Life blindsided me this morning.
It’s barely past seven o’clock on a Wednesday, and already I’m tired. It seems everything is wrong, so I focus on something small.
Page Thomas.
Yesterday’s note says that she served as a captain in gym class. When I was the last person on the bench, Page told Ms. Martinez and the class that she’d rather play one person short than have me on her team.
I moved on to reading about Luke, but then something in a note from four months ago caught my attention. It was around the time Luke moved to town:
Bring yoga pants, T-shirt for gym (had to borrow clothes from Page Fri.)
Yesterday, Page wouldn’t have lent me a square of toilet paper, let alone a shirt. I remember her tomorrow and there’s no way she’d lend me anything then, either. Curious, I spend the next hour searching through notes for entries about her. And what I realize is this:
I saved Page Thomas.
Okay, sure, it wasn’t from a forty-story building sent up in flames or anything. But, looking back now, I see clearly there was a time when I remembered Brad breaking Page’s heart. Demolishing it, actually.
But this morning, when I think of Page and Brad, I remember them together until I can’t remember them at all. I’ll hear at the senior party that they’re going to college together; that’s the last they’ll be in my life.
As far as I can tell from notes, things changed when I lied about Brad not liking girls. Page was forced to find another way into Brad’s arms, and it seems to have made all the difference.
So, yes, I am friendless. And, yes, I’ve been wronged by an apparently gorgeous and wonderful guy. I’m living with a mom I can’t trust and dreading the worst kind of heartbreak imaginable in the form of a dead child.
My life is screwed up, to say the least.
But the tiny smidgen of a tidbit of a crumb of a shaving of sunshine on this bleak Wednesday morning is that I saved Page Thomas from heartbreak. With one simple decision months ago, I changed something for the better.
And if I can help her, surely I can help myself.
I have the metal door positioned in a way that allows me to keep watch on Jamie Connor’s locker across the hall without being obvious about it. I’m staring into the magnetic vanity mirror, waiting. Of course, I look like I’m in love with myself, but no one is paying attention to me anyway.
Because I can see what’s behind me, I know that the boy I’m assuming is Luke, thanks to photos in my bedroom this morning, walked by earlier, slowly, hesitantly, like he wanted to stop.
But he didn’t.
He’s waiting; that’s good.
Finally, a familiar blunt blonde haircut catches my eye, and I turn to confirm that Jamie has arrived. She’s in too-tight faded jeans and a hot-pink top that seems innocent enough from the back but which I know, without having to look, is low-cut in the front.
I slam the metal door so that the lock catches securely and ease my way across two lanes of students, eyes on Jamie’s back the whole time. Once I reach her, I have to clear my throat before she notices me standing at her side.
“Hi, J,” I say brightly.
“Hi,” she mutters, turning back to her locker.
“How are you?” I ask.
“Do you care?” she says, not turning around.
“Of course I care, Jamie, you’re my best friend!” She glances at me, then back to the locker.
“Am I?” she says. “Or am I too much of a slut to be your friend anymore?”
“Jamie, that’s not fair!” I say. Jamie slams her locker door and turns to face me. Her eyes are cold, vacant.
“No, London. No, it isn’t,” she says bitterly, before walking off toward her first class.
My face flushes, and I’m so mad that I want to chase after her and shake her and tell her everything I know that she doesn’t. But just then, the bell signaling the start of the period rings, and chasing down Jamie might mean detention with her boyfriend, I mean Mr. Rice. So instead, I rush to the library.
Ms. Mason glares at me for being late, and Luke sits up expectantly when I fall into the chair opposite him, but something about my body language tells them both to back off. I work on Spanish homework the whole period and leave quickly when the bell sounds. I can feel Luke’s disappointment, and guilt creeps through me until I remember this morning’s notes. This is the guy who lied to me for four months. Four months. He deserves a little indecision. He deserves to sweat it out a bit.