With tears swimming in her eyes, Lily re-read the note she had written.
I love you with all my heart. Truly, I do. I think about you all the time, and you’re always the person I’m missing, you’re always the one on my mind. I wish you were here right now – here, so we could hold each other… I am nothing without you, Zachary . When I am around you, I feel so happy – though that happiness doesn’t last long. I smile, but then I remember all that happened between us, all that we could have been.. Each day I wonder why it ended, why you started dating her instead… each day I’m confused and heartbroken… I honestly don’t know what to do anymore, Zachary. I’m still in love with you. I know I’ve told you that a thousand times, but you’re not being much help. I’m getting by, but nothing’s the same without you. I feel as though my soul has been ripped away.. and it makes it even worse that you’re leaving soon, you’re moving far away and it’s possible I’ll never see you again. But before you go, I need you to answer me something …. I need to know if you still love me. I know there’s no chance for us, but please.. It’s agony, sitting here day by day, thinking about you when I’m pretty sure you’re not thinking about me.. please, Zachary, write me back..
Lily folded the note into the shape of a heart and wrote To Zachary – From Lily on the front of it. Suddenly the bell rang and everyone got out of their seats to go to their 3rd period. Lily, who was sitting at the back of the class with her pencil still in her shaking hand, tears running down her face, hadn’t noticed that the class was even close to ending. She got out of her chair slowly, wiped her face with her sleeve, smearing her make-up. But right now she couldn’t care less about what she looked like. Sniffling and a little embarrassed, she grabbed a tissue and continued out the door without even saying goodbye to her teacher.
Walking in the hallway and staring at the floor so no one would see her face, Lily couldn’t help but look up as Zachary and his girlfriend strolled by, hand in hand, her head on his shoulder. They were smiling, chatting… kissing. Lily wanted to look away, but couldn’t. She was mesmerized by them, mesmerized by the way she was so easily replaced by this new girl, this girl who, up until a week ago, Zachary hadn’t even known. The girl caught her gaze then, a murderous glare in her own, and smiled, this sickly sweet smile, this smile that said He’s mine now, and for the first time in her life, Lily hated someone. Truly hated someone. Not once had she felt so unimportant, so replaceable. She wanted to go up to this girl, this girl who had stolen the love of her life, and tell her where she belonged. But she couldn’t. She wanted to – wanted to desperately, but Lily wasn’t the confrontational type. So instead, she ran – she ran all the way to the girls’ bathroom and stayed there, in the corner, crying. What was left of her make-up was now completely gone – not that it mattered. No matter what she looked like, she was positive Zachary would never come back.
After school, as she was walking to the bus – the huge yellow school bus that she absolutely hated – she saw him again, walking with her. Lily wanted to march over there and slap that smile right off his face. Instead, she walked quickly to her bus and entered, sitting in her usual spot. She waited in silence while the bus driver made an announcement – something about not having any friends on the bus, blah, blah – and watched out of the corner of her eye as Zachary entered and sat down a couple seats in front of her. This is one thing that sucks about dating someone you live near, she thought, you have to see them all the time… But thankfully, soon after that, Lily fell asleep, exhausted mentally and physically from the harder-than-usual school day.
She awoke when the bus arrived at her stop about fifteen minutes later – strangely alert for having been asleep – and got off the bus as quickly as she could, just stopping briefly to murmur a quick “thank you” to her bus driver, who in turn murmured a quick “you’re welcome, see you soon” in response.
As she crossed the street, Lily was aware of Zachary’s presence behind her, just as she always was, but she took care not to let him know that. Flipping her hair over her shoulder, she walked briskly ahead of him until she had walked past his street, and waited for him to disappear around the corner. But instead of doing just that, he advanced towards her. She was just about to tell him to go away, to leave her alone, that she never wanted to talk to him ever again. But something stopped her. She was desperate to hear his voice. He slowed to a stop in front of her and stared at her in this way that made her uncomfortable – which was strange, though everything had been uncomfortable since he had left her. After a minute or so, growing impatient, she growled. She was just about to ask him what he wanted when she felt his arms gently envelop her. Breathing in the scent of his skin, the scent she had missed for so long, she blinked back the tears in her eyes and hesitantly hugged him back. The note was still in her backpack. Lily was waiting for the right time to give it to him – now seemed like that time. With the silence growing awkward between them, she slowly released her hold on him and he stepped back, giving her a confused expression.
“I..” her voice broke.
“I have a note for you…” she said, reaching in her backpack with a shaky hand. Finding the note, she grabbed it and held it out to him. By the time she zipped up her backpack again, he was already reading it, his face changing a little with each sentence. She was about to tell him to wait to read it until she left, but he embraced her again, this time with tears in his eyes. Lily couldn’t handle any more. She stepped away, looked away…walked away. The whole time, he stood there, motionless and silent.
Lily was sure he wasn’t going to say anything, that the note meant absolutely nothing to him – as did she – but when she turned around, she couldn’t ignore the pleading look in his eyes, the look that said please come back. So she did. She walked back over to him slowly, as one might approach a wild animal, and sat in the grass. He quickly followed suit. They sat in silence for a while, then suddenly without warning, he whispered, “I love you…”
She stayed silent for a while, trying to gauge the truth in his words.
Lily shook her head. “No you don’t..” she whispered back, “You never did…”
But something in his eyes told her he meant what he was saying.
“I do,” he said, “and I always have..”
He caressed her face, looked deep into her eyes, and moved his face just a bit closer to hers. And then he did something that surprised her; he kissed her, slowly, softly, as if he wasn’t sure she wanted him to. Tears rushed to her eyes – tears of happiness, of confusion, of longing. She was just thinking of how nice it felt, to finally have his lips brush against hers again, to feel his love for her, when he pulled away.
“Lily…” Zachary said slowly, “I… me and her broke up today…” For a brief second, the look of pain flashed on his face before he quickly concealed it.
“Before you ask, I’m fine,” he said, “it’s just… we didn’t get along. We were always fighting and it got to be too much to handle.”
Lily smiled a bit. “You mean like us..?” she asked.
He waited a second, seeing her smile and smiling a bit also. Then his smile faltered.
“Yeah…” he said, his voice full of pain. He looked at the ground and closed his eyes. “Hey… Lily…? Do you… do you think we can try again?” he asked, “I mean… try us again..? I miss you, Lily..”
It had been maybe 10 minutes, and Lily was supposed to be home by now, but she always did this – always sacrificed herself for him. She expected that. What she didn’t expect was for him to ask for her back. Speechless, she stared into his eyes, which had now filled with tears that reflected her own. She smiled a bit, half of her wanting this to be a dream because it hurt so much, and the other half of her wanting to say yes, wanting to be with him again. Before she knew it, she had kissed him, and with a semi-startled cry he kissed back. They stayed there for a while, on the grass kissing, until she got tired of it and simply wanted to hold him close. They were quiet for a while. The wind was kicking up and it was getting late – around 4 o’clock. She shivered in the breeze as he got up and then helped her to her feet. They stood there, awkwardly. He reached towards her for a hug and she gladly accepted.
“I love you, Zach,” she whispered, “and all I want is to spend the rest of eternity with you.”
He said nothing in return, but in his eyes she could see the one thing she had been longing for:
A second chance.