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Grade
10

Her hands glided quickly among the buds, picking a daisy out of its resting place to stuff it in with the others. The white arrangement glistened with dew, sparkling in the Arizona sunrise. Her hands worked the flowers into patterns, twisting one here, placing one there, until she stepped back, placing her hands on her hips. The fragrance was intoxicating, stifling any other smells in the air. The girl nodded solemnly, then carefully picked the bouquet up and placed it in the fridge with the others. Dropping her apron over the counter of the workspace, the young woman clicked off the lights with a delicate flick and locking the door on her way out of the small shop. Stopping after a small walk at the door of a small, older house, the teen walked down the small concrete walkway, pausing to spin a little plastic pinwheel. Fumbling through the bag she held on one shoulder, she grabbed her keycard and swiped into her home.

    The small apartment didn’t hold much room, just a small dining area and two bedrooms. The kitchen was piled with dirty dishes and meals in Tupperware containers. The small table near the rusty fridge held newspapers from weeks past, and a tray of muffins. Luna swiped a muffin off the table on her way to her room, unwrapping it and tossing the wrapper in the trash after taking a bite. The sweet burst of blueberries filled her mouth, along with light sugary batter as she hummed with delight. She grabbed a cup of lukewarm water on her way to her escape from reality.

    Cacti and succulents lined the windowsill, and dangled in holdings above her room. Luna ducked and weaved around, giving each a little water from the cup. She plopped the cup down on her bedside table as the girl opened her laptop. Luna tossed some plush foxes and deer off the bed as she lay on it, wiping strands of flaxen hair away with her sleeve as she checked her emails, fingers clicking on the keyboard. Checking orders, replying with the usual, “Thank you! I’ll get to it as soon as possible”, it soon became a monotonous typing routine. Soon, she had nothing else to do, since her store didn’t open today. Opening a saved draft, fluttering feelings washed over her as her stormy eyes read it over. She was rewriting a final section of the email when she got a little popup.

Sara T. wants to talk to you!

Luna smiled sweetly and accepted the call, her cream face dusted with pink. A tanned face appeared on the screen, her grey eyes staring into deep blue ones. A bright red smile grew wider as the ponytailed girl exclaimed, “Hey, girlie! So glad to see you! Even though we just saw each other, like, two days ago.”

Luna bit her cheek, stifling a laugh, and replied, “H-hey Sara,” her Southern accent dripping off her tongue. Mentally cursing herself, Luna bit her lip for a second. Why did her stutter have to worsen when she talked to the one person she liked? Continuing after a moment, she apologized, “S-sorry I couldn’t respond earlier, I was b-busy making some more bouquets. Y’know, having a b-business and such.”

“You’re always so busy with those friggin’ bouquets. Damn, girlie, take a break!” Sara joked. Luna shot back, “Says the girl who w-wants to join me in my shop, but ‘can’t because her b-boss likes her talents’.” The girls laughed, and talked some more about their mornings. Luna began to shift around uncomfortably in her current position, so she sat up and shoved her back against the backboard of her bed to continue the chat. Opening her mouth slightly to say something, she was cut off by Sara asking, “Hey, what’s that?”

Luna froze. She had forgotten she had never shown Sara her room in a chat before, because of her succulents. The one Sara was pointing at was a big hedgehog aloe, one she had taken care of for years. Under its spiny limbs, the word “ANXIETY” could clearly be seen written on the ceramic pot in shaky, but clean handwriting. Luna swallowed a hard lump in her throat before saying quickly, “N-nothing!”

“No, that was something. That is something. Why is it labeled like that, Luna?” Sara interrogated, her cobalt eyes boring into the petite girl. Luna started to shake, her fingers on the keyboard trembling in fear. Her eyes widened, and her breath caught in her throat. She answered quietly, “We d-don’t talk about him.” She heard Sara growl quietly, “I’m coming over. Now,” before her screen went black with a click.

Starting to panic, Luna stood up and knocked her head against a succulent. Rubbing her forehead, she then continued her mad dash, throwing all the locks on her windows and doors up with shaking fingers. Sitting feebly against the main door, tears threatened to fall down her cheeks. That was so stupid of her! How could she have forgotten that she never took calls with Sara in her room? Now her lifelong friend and, honestly, crush knew about her secrets. 

After about a half-hour, Luna heard the smack of rubber on concrete. Oh god. Hearing banging on the door, she started to feel tears fall, following a muffled, “Hey, open up! It’s me! We have to talk.”

“Go away!” She sobbed, tears falling down her cheeks. “I kn-know you probably think of me as a f-freak and d-depressed, but I-I-I’m fine, so just l-leave m-me be.”

“No. I just want to talk to you.” The voice said firmly, a weight pressing against the door. “Well, if you don’t want to let me in, we can talk this way.”

Luna weakly buried her head in her knees, silent tears streaming down her face. She didn’t want Sara to think she was a freak. Just needing an out for all her negative feelings, she didn’t feel secure enough to talk about them. So, her options left were to bottle them up or to rage, and she chose to bottle up and push through, being too afraid to hurt someone if she lashed out.

Hearing her keycard slot beep, the door swung open, causing Luna to fall backwards in surprise. She laid there, stunned and mentally cursing herself again for ever thinking of giving Sara a keycard to her house. Shooting up from her sprawled position, she tried to close it, but it was too late. Her friend barged in through the small living room and flung open the door to Luna’s room, her long ponytail swaying with her momentum. Luna meekly closed the front door and followed her as Sara ducked around some succulents, her blue eyes scanning the labels. Her crush sat on the bed as Luna sat down next to her, her eyes red and puffy with tears long gone.

“Why didn’t you ever tell me?” Her friend asked. Luna paused and looked at the ground before stammering, “I-I didn’t want you to… y’know… th-think I was a freak… what w-with my stutter and all…” 

Sara looked over at the petite girl before answering, “I don’t think you’re a freak. In fact, I think you’re beautiful. I’m just worried about you. This isn’t healthy, girlie.” Looking up from the floor, Luna shifted her eyes over to the girl, tears starting to form. She started to cry again, soft whimpers echoing through the small house. Her friend leaned over and held Luna close, rubbing soft circles on her back. They sat like that for some time, until Luna blurted out unexpectedly, “I want you to r-read something.”

“Ok, what?” Sara inquired. Getting out her laptop yet again, Luna softly placed it into her lap, and opened the draft. She handed the computer over to Sara, scooching towards one of her succulents reading “NERVOUSNESS” and playing with it as Sara read. Accidentally breaking off one of the limbs, the strong scent of aloe filled the air. Luna’s friend turned to face her as she closed the laptop, her smile wide and blush dusting her cheeks. 

“Yes,” Was all Sara had to say. Luna’s eyes widened, her blush putting even the best tomatoes to shame. Sara giggled and pecked her on the cheek before recalling, “Well, I talked to my boss on my way here. I was trying to talk to him about leaving to join you, but he kept denying me. Turns out he’s only kept me for this long ‘cause he had a thing for me. Guess I can’t accept the promotion now! Or his date offer...”

Luna laughed, a real, tinkling laugh erupting from her lips. Doubling over, wet, hot tears poured out of her eyes as she processed what had just happened. Sara started to laugh as well, and so they sat, laughing about little things and the circumstances of today. Unbeknownst to both of them, in the little pot with “ANXIETY” written on it in shaky but clean handwriting, the succulent started to wilt just a little.

State
Connecticut
Zip Code
06066