I think that everyone has to fall in love at least once in their life. That’s what they said, at least. My mother and my father, my aunt think that everyone has to fall in love at least once in their life. That’s what they said, at least. My mother and my father, my aunt and uncle, my older brother and his newly-wedded, bombshell bride. Countless times, I was forced to sit and listen to all of their stories. They seemed too cliche to be real. Mom and dad met in high school, they stayed together even through college. Aunt Carrie spilled coffee all over Uncle Mike’s suit at a coffee shop. Tyler was the college quarterback, and Tracy was head cheerleader. For me, on the other hand, my love life had not been nearly as fruitful as my family’s. Through my high school years, there had been various quests to find that same feeling that my relatives endlessly described. Each of them lasted only a few months, and they all seemed to be the same. At one point I’d grown tired of trying over and over. Starting over with a different person, having to get to know somebody that I hadn’t felt a click with. That was all up until I met him. I know, pretty cheesy… Dreadfully cheesy in fact. But that’s what it felt like. He was unlike every other prepubescent boy that I had dated in High School. Much less acne but still the slightest bit impulsive. Dark hair, that almost matched my own, and the clearest green color in his eyes, that far outshone the dull brown I have. Lucas Williams will forever be the person who seemingly changed my life.
“Shelly, class is over. Everybody left already.”
I’m shaken awake by that all too familiar voice. My head raised, while my eyes remained shut and I groaned,
“Already?” I questioned Lucas, who had been standing in front of the desk I had been napping on.
“You slept through one of the most fascinating lectures about adolescence. I can definitely send you the voice recording I took of it, if you’re interested.” He offered, sarcastically.
“I’ll pass,” I stood up and grabbed my bag, I lazily looked up into his annoyingly familiar eyes. His straight, emo-cut hair partially covered them. I had told him before that his hair looked like a failed bowl-cut, that he genuinely liked. Admittedly, looking at him now was hard. The raven color tresses reminded me too much of them. His eyes too, their cryptic stare and how they’d squint as he laughed. I’d get past it, I know. At least I hoped.
Time moved slowly as we walked together. Like one of those teen-romance movies. The girl, pretty and young, aimlessly swooning over a guy that was overly-attractive and mysterious. Except in this version, the guy doesn’t sparkle when he walks into the sunlight. Not that I’ve noticed, at least. We walked along the uneven, cracked surface of the concrete sidewalk. The usual routine was visiting a tiny book shop after our last lecture of the day. It was cramped, and sometimes uncomfortably warm, but it was the only one within a walking distance of the University. Lucas didn’t really enjoy reading as much as I did. He told me that he had nothing else to do, and that he had wanted to spend time with me outside of a boring lecture. We walked through the doors, and welcomed the wonderful aroma of books, new and old. This was my way of winding down for the day. Before coming to shop for new stories to read, I’d be left laying in bed for hours trying to fall asleep. It was someone from my past that introduced me to the seemingly therapeutic effect of books.
“Look at this one, Shelly! It has pictures in it!” Lucas childishly called from the other corner of the store. I shook my head, and laughed at his immaturity.
“I don’t know Lucas, that book looks a little long for you.” I said, scanning the inch-thick, hardcover book.
He looked back down at the book, his smile dropped,
“Ugh. It’s over thirty pages. That’s a no no.” He sighs, he placed the book back on the dusty shelf.
My mind raced as I took in the various books that lay upon their individual shelves. Some looked old, old enough to look like they belong in a museum. Others, were brand new, with not a single crease in their pages. One book caught my eye, gold lettering decorated the spine of an old red book. I reached for it, stood on my toes and focused hard on not knocking the rickety shelf over. Finally grasping onto the edge of the hard-cover, I gently pull it from its spot and step back from the shelf. I traced my digits along the book. The cover was rough, bumpy along the spine, showing that it had been opened and closed various times. My eyes assessed the faded-red of the cover, Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare, the front read. I frowned, turning over the book and flipping through the pages a bit more. Love stories were not my favorite, they all sound and end the same. Though, if you’ve read this book then you’d know it’s not quite like the other classic love stories that you know. I guess that’s what I’d describe what Lucas and I had. Except less morbid. Hopefully a little less bloody too. Anyways, you get the point. I’m Romeo in this story. A naive character, who fell too fast, but was reminded of his past love at the start. They would’ve thought this book was boring, there wouldn’t be enough drama in this for it to be likeable.
Interrupting my irrelevant thoughts, Lucas walked over and tapped my shoulder from behind my back. I turned around, the book still in hand, I looked at him. He isn’t looking at me this time though. His eyes remain downwards towards a brand-new looking book. His normally pale cheeks are flushed in the slightest and a nervous smile crosses his lips.
“Can I, uh, can you buy this book for me?” He asks, making me confused. I take the shiny paperback book from his hands and placed it under my own.
“Yeah, of course.” I said, while making my way over to the cashier. He stayed behind, yet I pay no mind to it, “I’ll do anything to get you to read something for once.” I placed the small stack onto the counter and I looked up to the smiling young girl there. Her crystal-blue eyes shone with genuine happiness, and I knew it was because no one except Lucas and I really ever came here. Business in a store like this in our town was undoubtedly slow. I smile back at her, and look back to see that Lucas was still standing at the shelf, staring up at the other books.
“Would you like separate bags for these, Miss?” The girl asks gently.
I turn back to look at her, she’s holding up the book Lucas had chosen. I look at it closer, forgetting her question. The cover was a bright yellow and in black, bold lettering it read, “101 Ways to Tell A Girl You Like Her, For Dummies” I freeze, and turn to see that Lucas had now moved to stand next to me, a hand nervously scratching at the back of his neck.
“Not the best way to do it, I guess. But it was all I could think of at the time. It’s kind of a stupid way, I guess.” He explained, fast. He talked fast whenever he was nervous. “I- uh just found that book the last time we came here and-”
“Yes, separate bags please.” I announced to the girl, while still looking over at Lucas. His smile dropped, and he stops talking. I heard the paper bag crinkle as she placed the two books in a bag, and she pushed them forward after taking the money I had placed on the counter. My cheeks had felt warm, and I turned to grab the bags, handing Lucas his own. He looked at me nervously, waiting for me to say something to him. “You’re right, that was a bit of a stupid way to tell me.” I say nervously. His eyebrows furrowed as his eyes avert to the ground once again. “But I’m glad that you finally did,” I laughed.
His head shoots back up and his smile is immediately slapped back onto his face,
“Wait what?” He questioned, “Oh god, I thought you were about to friend-zone me in the hardest way ever. That hasn’t happened to me since like, freshman year of High School.” I turned to exit the store, and turned my head over my shoulder to speak,
“I thought about it, but I decided to be nice and not screw with you.”
Suddenly, my front is met in a collision with another body. I stumbled backwards, and the bag holding my book fell from my grip.
“Oh, shit. Shelly, are you okay?” Lucas says, as he rushed over and helped me stand up. I nod, and laugh, reaching to grab the bag and book.
“Yeah, I’m good. Hope the book is too, the poor thing. It would’ve sucked to get blood on my new book.” I sighed.
“Oh gosh, I’m so sorry. I should’ve looked where I was going and I didn’t think that-” A familiar voice spoke from behind me.
I paused, and my eyes widen significantly. Slowly, I turned around and am met with eyes just like Lucas’s. Curly, black locks framed their face and I watched as their eyes widen as well.
“Jenny?” I say aloud, watched as her lips pulled into a smile.
“Shelly. It’s been awhile, huh?” She said.
“Uh, who’s this, Shell?” Lucas asked, tapping my shoulder once again.
Oh god. Yeah this definitely is my love story. I bet my family will get a kick out of this.