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   Chapter 14 Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater

Cuddle Application By Anna Rae Characters: 15396

Updated: 2018-01-10 14:35


"All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity is easy. Stay away from easy."

~Scott Alexander

~~~

"And the matchbox in the story represents... what, class?"

My English teacher, Mrs. Seamore, stands at the front of the room, a bored look on her face. I shift in my desk, turning my phone around in my fingers.

"Yes, that's right, " she continues when no one answers. "It stands for oppression."

I click my phone on. No messages. I flip it around some more.

The kid behind me kicks my desk. A few noisy students yell from the hallway. Mrs. Seamore glares at the door. The clock ticks the time away.

I check my phone. Still no messages.

My fingernail chips away at a deep scratch in the wooden top of the desk I'm sitting at. Someone carved an eloquent "your mom sucks shlongs" into it in sharp, pointed letters.

Oh, high school.

The sun is shining, bright and warm, through the windows lining the far wall, and the students nearest to them stare, daydreaming.

A few random scribbles are noted on the whiteboard in the front of the classroom. I bite my lip. Class has to be almost over, I think, checking the time on my phone. When I click it on, disappointment seeps in when I see that there are - still - no new messages.

I click it open and read.

Oliver: I had fun at the fair. Thanks for an awesome day, Sorry.

Me: Eh, it was okay.

Oliver: Shoot... I thought for sure you had felt the magic too.

Me: I mean... it was okay. Your personality is a bit mediocre.

Oliver: Hmm. I knew I should have shown you my driving skills in the bumper cars

Me: I'm sure that really would have wowed me.

Oliver: Alas, it is too late. I missed my shot. You probably already deleted me from your memory.

Me: You'll find someone some day - someone who appreciates your bleak exterior

Oliver: I'm so hurt. Most girls love my exterior.

Me: That is truly shocking. What are they thinking??

Oliver: Go on another date with me.

Me: My mom taught me to say "please" when requesting something.

And he hadn't yet responded.

Why are you so nervous? I ask myself.

Before I can even think of answering, the bell rings, a shrill acoustic belting from the sound system.

I shove my notebook and pencil back into my backpack and follow the crowd of teenagers out the door. This close to summer, no one's paying any attention at all to the homework assigned, or the monotone voices of the teachers. Even the freshmen have senioritis.

The seniors graduate in three days, leaving the rest of us with a week left of school after that.

"Hey, Sky, " a deep voice calls as I walk past it. I turn, interrupting the flow of traffic. It's the cute senior guy from my Marketing class, Patrick Haw. He smiles widely, a sparkle in his dark blue eyes, and hollers as he walks backwards down the hallway, "You're coming to my party Friday night, right?"

I grin, "Wouldn't miss it!"

It's the annual Seniors-Are-Done-With-School-So-Everyone-Get-Wasted party. I went last year when I was going through my rebellious party phase. The phase never really stopped, I guess, but I definitely went out less.

I'll go if Lina and Cora do, I decide. Or if Oliver does, my brain adds as an afterthought.

An elbow to the rib causes me to whip to my left with an "Ow." Park gives me a cheesy smile and merges next to me in the flow of students.

"I'm famished, " he says, throwing an arm around my shoulders. "I'm praying the lunch menu has pizza today."

I smirk. "I'm just praying it doesn't serve that rancid meatloaf from last week."

He winces. "Yeah, that was rough. Still getting over that one, if you know what I mean, " he says, patting his stomach.

"Gross, " I laugh as I shrug his arm off me. I give him a side glance as we walk down the hall. He walks with a laid back, cocky attitude, a constant grin on his face. We haven't talked about what almost happened at the beach a week ago - how he almost kissed me. I haven't even really let myself think about it.

He turns to meet my eyes and I glance down quickly, so he doesn't see me staring.

Park is my best friend, I remind myself. Park, who I grew up loving like a brother, could not possibly want to be more than that, could he?

I shake the thought from my mind as we all flow through the cafeteria doors, entering a room lined with rows upon rows of tables. My flip flops smack against the linoleum as I head to the back corner, Park trailing me. We pass groups of screaming teenagers, a few couples making out, and a kid strumming a cello. The noises of high scho

nt's army. Oliver plucks a leaf from a neighboring branch and drops it. It sweeps to the ground like a green feather, falling slowly.

"Whatcha doing up there?" I ask.

"Oh, you know, " he starts, looking from one end of the road to the other, "just waiting for this one girl to show up."

I look in the direction I came from. "Hmm, yeah I don't see anyone coming."

He frowns and makes a face. "Shit. She was really hot, too."

I cross my arms and grin. "Sorry she stood you up, dude. She sounds like a bitch."

He peeks over the edge of the branch, eyes staring into mine. Time stops and speeds ahead all at once. Even twenty feet up, I can still see the captivating shade of his eyes.

"You ready to go on our second date?" He asks.

I give him a pointed look. "As long as it's not in that tree, I'm game."

He laughs, stands up - high above the ground on a branch six inches thick - and saunters to the base of the tree.

Scared of heights, I can barely watch him. "If you fall, " I warn, "I'm not scraping you off the pavement."

He disappears to the other side of the tree and yells, "Are you still afraid of heights?"

I smirk, remembering the night at the party when we climbed to the roof. "A fear of heights is completely unreasonable if you refuse to fall, " I say, repeating his words back to him.

Oliver steps from behind the tree, having climbed down the other side. He brushes a twig from the hem of his gray Pink Floyd t-shirt.

"Why are you always wearing band tees?" I ask, motioning towards his shirt.

He looks down, like he's seeing the shirt for the first time. "Cause I look damn good in them." I laugh and shove his arm.

"You're so full of shit, " I start to say, but he catches my hand and holds it pressed to chest. His eyes darken by at least three shades.

"Music, " he says. "It's full of life." He taps a beat onto the back of my hand with the fingers that hold it to his chest. "It's got a pulse, just like we do. It finds the words to express what we can't."

I look down, at our entwined fingers. I can feel his heart beat and the warmth of his skin under the thin, cotton material of his shirt.

"Music falls under my top five reasons-to-live list, " Oliver finishes. Then he drops my hand, walks past me, and hops on his bike. I stand, unsure of what to do.

He clears his throat from behind me. "So, uh, you gonna stand there all day contemplating my insightful words, or are you gonna get on my bike?"

I'll get on your di -- "Yeah, I'm coming, " I say, turning around and stepping towards him. I stop when I'm directly in front of the motorcycle, reminiscing of the last time I'd ridden it - how my hair flew in the wind and the humming contraption gave the allusion that we were flying. I want to experience it again. I look straight into Oliver's eyes and say, "But I'm driving."

A slow grin slides over his face and he shakes his head, taken aback. "My, my, " he starts. "Skylar Lane -" a shiver tumbles down my back when he says my name "- you're going to be my greatest adventure yet."

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