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romance novel

The Swan & the Crow Chapter 5: The First Date (Steph)

Note: NaNoWriMo is where writers work on a 50,000 word novel during the month of November without editing their work, including checking for spelling or punctuation. Therefore, my story The Swan & the Crow for NaNoWriMo is nowhere close to perfect. Please keep this in mind when reading this chapter and the rest of the chapters that will be following it. But I am open to hearing opinions on what I have written so far and am open to any feedback given. To read Chapter 4, click here. This chapter of The Swan & the Crow is the last Chapter I have written for NaNoWriMo and it has yet to be completed. 

Total word count for NaNoWriMo: 27,021

As the months quickly came and went, I kept thinking about the day Max and I finally got a chance to talk. We had been passing quick glances between each other back and forth in the Rockwell High School hallway for weeks when I decided I had enough.

I was going to make the first move. That is right—that is what I decided. I was going to talk to him because I could not stand to wait another minute. I could not wait another minute. Doing so would have led me to insanity, made me go mad.

So I did what any sane girl would do—I found a way of running into him so that we would have no choice but to talk.

And what better place than the cafeteria? Food is the heart of all men’s stomachs. I figured with Max, it would not be any different.

It was the perfect place for many reasons. Everyone at school would be there so it would not seem strange to want to go and talk to him. I would have his undivided attention because he would have no choice but to sit down and hear me out.

And because I knew he would listen. After what he said at the party, the way he acted, I knew that if I were to get him alone to talk, he would listen to whatever I say. I knew this as surely as I knew the color of my hair and the name of Rockwell High School.

Because he listened and opened up to me in ways I never expected from someone. Especially from someone I had just met. I knew that when he immediately opened up to me about helping his friend through suicide and saving him whenever he needed someone to be there for him.

He was definitely a listener. So I knew he would want to talk and that he would listen to what I had to say. I just had to find the perfect opportunity to talk to him. Whenever he least expected it and from someone who would be willing to get me near him.

I knew him and Matt were friends whenever we were at the party. Not only because Matt told me himself, but because I have seen the two of them converse together in the hallways. The two of them are friends so I knew Matt would definitely help me.

I just had to find a way of meeting with Max. A way that would work, that Matt would be completely clueless as to what was going on. Not that I wanted to keep him completely clueless about the situation, but because I did not want anyone to know just yet my feelings with regards to Max.

I like Max. A lot. I know that much for certain. And I do not know why exactly. I do not know if it was because of how willing he was to express his feelings, to open himself up to a complete stranger without giving a care to the world as to what I might possibly say to him. Or if it is all of the above.

Or if he somehow made a very good impression on me. Or maybe, it is because I could see how much he cares for people that I admit I want someone for me like that too. But at this point, I have no idea.

What I do know is that I like him. That he makes me feel emotions I have never before had for anyone. Because of the way my dad treats my mother, I have always kept guys at a respectable distance. Part of that is fear that I will one day end up in the same situation as Mom and will not be able to get out of it like the struggle we are having with it now.

Part of it is because I am scared. Scared to let anyone get close enough to me to be able to see into my world and all of the troubles I deal with. I have a hard enough time already with making friends and do not want to have a guy in my life who can not deal or help with all of the issues I already face now. Becca and Allison are proof of that. They are the only friends I currently have who know about all of the troubles I deal with at home and know exactly what to do in order to help me take my mind off of it.

And I do not want a guy who can not deal with any of that.

I am honestly surprised with all of this. Surprised by how I met Max, how things have gotten to the point where all I want to do is talk and spend time with him. I never thought I would ever—ever—meet someone—a guy—who I would want to spend time with. Besides Jason, I have not really had a whole lot of other guys in my life, even as friends.

Now, months later, I am doing something I never thought I would ever get to experience in my lifetime. I am going on my first date.

In case you are wondering, Max and I did start off as friends. We talked, conversed and spent a lot of our free time together. We go to know each other completely in ways I never interacted with other human beings.

For six full months, we did this. I learned about Max, what food he likes to eat, what he likes to do in his spare time, and everything and anything. And Max learned about me too. I told him as much as I could about myself without getting too deep and personal (at least, not yet) so that he could get a sense of me as a person.

But, over time, we discovered that us being friends was not going to completely work for us. Not because we were not willing to try but because our feelings for each other were so strong. Every moment we spent together was precious and neither one of us enjoyed pretending that there was not a growing connection between us bubbling to the surface.

So in the end, we said screw that. After six months, we became a couple officially. And ever since, I could not be happier. I could not wish for a more perfect opportunity for romance to fall onto my lap.

He asked me out in a way that would make most girls swoon. We were hanging out at Rockwell High School, eating lunch at our normal table, hanging out with Allison and Becca. At this point in our friendship, Max had met Allison and Becca and got along really well with them.

Both Allison and Becca knew exactly what was going on between us and why we had decided to start off friends.

While Allison was for the idea of us warming up to each other before going to first base, Becca thought we should be daredevils and to just go for it. She told me to live in the present and to not let any opportunity that comes my way go wasted. That if I liked him I might as well go for it instead of trying to make the whole situation different before becoming an item. She said it was the best way to do things because becoming friends with someone you want to date first never works out. Instead, it usually works against the person and the two people interested in being together never end up dating because they can never get past the fear that the other person does not feel the same way.

But I honestly think Becca said all of that because of what happened between her and Matt. Her and Matt were together, but it only lasted two months. Matt ended things because he did not think their relationship would work, called Becca too overwhelming to deal with and just was not into her as he thought he was. So Becca was cynical about the way Max and I were going about things and thought it would hurt me in the long run.

When Matt asked me out, he was completely honest about his feelings. He told me he had wanted to ask me out since the day I told him we should be friends first, but that he did not want to rock the boat. He was willing to try to be friends first to see if things would work out between us later. And to make sure he still was feeling the same way as the months went by and we got to know each other.

But he said he thought six months was enough for his heart to tell him that he was open to pushing things further. He then confessed to me how much he likes me and that he could not wait any longer. He said he understood if I was not ready to be in a relationship with him just yet, but that he could not wait any longer to tell me how he was feeling. He said he understood if I wanted to wait a little longer but that he wanted to try and go on a date with me first so that we could see how things would work out.

When Max told me that he wanted to go on a date with me, my heart fluttered in my chest like a fragile bird. I found my thoughts becoming hazy and unfocused as I tried to clear my head and make the right decision. I knew that I wanted to go on a date with him. Yet, I was not sure if that is something we should really be doing at the moment.

Then, I changed my mind. Fuck this waiting, I thought to myself as I looked into Max’s beautiful eyes.

I told him I was interested in taking things further and asked what he wanted to do. He looked at me and said that he was thinking we could go out for dinner and then go dancing. It was after all how we met to begin with so of course I liked the idea of us going out for dinner together and dancing. So I told him that sounded like a wonderful idea.

His eyes shone at me like fireworks and he beamed the most perfect smile I had ever seen. I could see in his eyes how elevated he was at the idea of us going on a date together.

But for me, it was still a shock.

I can not believe it, I thought to myself. I am going on a date. On a date. On my first date. With a boy. No, no, with a man.I can not believe this is happening. I can not believe I am going on a date. I never thought something like this would ever happen. Especially to me. I never thought I would meet someone… special. Especially with everything that is going on at home.

My home life is shit, I thought. Yet, I have met Max. He is such a great guy. He knows how to make me laugh, make me smile, and forget all of my problems going on at home. He is everything I want, everything I need in my life right now. I do not know what I would do without him in my life right now.

Ever since Max and I met, everything in my life changed. For the better too. I no longer went out to parties with friends. Instead, we spent our time hanging out with Max, doing other things. Each day with Max was a whole new adventure, one I did not mind being a part of.

Both Allison and Becca enjoyed spending time with him too. While both of them knew he was someone I like, I could tell they enjoyed being around him just as much as I did. Max became an integral part of my life in ways I did not expect. He became someone else I could rely on, another friend I could talk to about every facet in my life. I opened up to him more than I ever did with Becca and Allison. I became my real, true self around him and just let everything go.

I told him everything. About the issues I am currently dealing with at home, everything. And he listened. Just like I knew he would. He listened to everything I said as if it was the most important piece of information he had to hear. As if his own life and well-being were on the line if he did not listen. As if what I said was something he needed to know in order to understand me as a person.

And he understood. He understood everything. Why I acted the way I did, why I went to parties to begin with, everything. And he was there for me. Whenever I needed someone to talk to, to vent, he was present. He let me take out my anger and frustrations out on him as if it was the most important task he was given. And he told me what I needed to hear. That everything would be okay, that I would be fine, and that he thought I was the most wonderful person he had ever met.

For the past couple months, he has been one of my closest friends. But I am saying friends loosely because of how deeply I care about him as more than a friend.

So whenever he finally asked me out, asked me on a date, I was more than thrilled. I was exhilarated. I was excited and could not wait to see what would happen.

It would be great. This I absolutely know for certain.


It is the night of my date with Max. Classes at Rockwell High School came and went as quickly as normal. As in, the day passed by slowly like a calm wave in a storm. I was ready to get out so I could return home and get prepared for the date, but classes just would not pass quickly enough. I went from one class to the next, my inner soul cheering me on to stay positive that I would make it through the class. But the day just was not going by quickly enough.

Come on, I thought to myself, Please let me get to my next class. I am so ready to be done today with classes, just let this be over so I can go home. Come on, please!

So when my last class finally ended and I was allowed to go home, I was exuberant.

I quickly went down the steps to the entrance of Rockwell High School and walked home, walking about a mile or two until I reached the entrance to my front porch, taking my keys out of my backpack so I could unlock the door and get into the house.

But things were not good at home. As I walked into the house and was just about to put my stuff down by the door, I heard a lot of yelling and screaming coming from my parent’s bedroom.

Every time Mom and Dad get into an argument, it is always in their bedroom. Why even I do not know. I heard the yelling and screaming and immediately went into their room to find out what was going on.

But I was already too late. I came in right when my Dad stopped yelling at my Mom and started slapping her in the face. I then watched in horror as my Dad grabbed Mom by the hair and started slamming her against the wall.

Before I knew what I was doing, I grabbed the vase off the bedroom table and slammed it against my father’s head, knocking him unconscious.    

As the vase shattered in two, Dad fell on the floor, the glass from the vase shattering next to him.

Meanwhile, Mom was crumpled on the floor, sobbing and rocking back and forth. She was holding herself together as if her life depended on it as her tears streamed down her face. As she lay on the floor next to Dad’s crumpled form, I went in the bathroom to wet a washcloth. I then went to the kitchen to grab a pack of ice from the fridge and wrapped the washcloth around it so I could use it to clean up Mom’s face.

Once back in the bedroom, I went over to Mom’s crumpled form. I left Dad where he was, knowing he was knocked out cold and that he would completely forget what happened here tonight like he always does.

Even though Dad treated Mom like crap and she never left, Dad has never once hit me. I know there have been times where he has wanted to hit me, but he has never done so, ever. Even after incidents like this happened. He usually just yelled at me but would continue on his way as if everything were alright.

As Mom cried and tears streamed down her face, I held the iced washcloth to her face, gently patting it against the bruises left on her beautiful face. I was gentle, knowing that the slightest pressure to her face made Mom flinch. I spoke to her calmly, letting her know everything would be okay, holding her against me to offer her some comfort as I tried so hard not to break down myself.

Being strong all the time is hard. There are moments where Dad hurts Mom that I find myself wanting to break down and fall apart myself. But seeing Mom so vulnerable, so hurt, allows me the opportunity to hold myself together for her sake. To not cry when tears deserve to be shed, to not be upset and angry when I have the right to be so. To be strong while Mom feels weak, to not cry out when I feel like I need to. So while I feel as if my world around me is crumbling, I hold on to my strength, to being strong. Because while things are difficult for us right now, I know that we will be all right.

As Mom continues sobbing, I quickly clean up the mess I made with the vase, throwing the shattered glass away in the bathroom trashcan. I then hug Mom against me tightly one more time before I finally talk.

“I think I am going to go now,” I say to Mom. “I think tonight I am going to stay with Allison until this cools over with Dad. I know he will not remember exactly what happened, but I do not want to risk him waking up and finding out I was the one who hurt him. I know he will not be hurting you again tonight because I believe he will be out like this for the rest of the night, but if he does wake up, please let him know I am sorry. I just can not stay here another minute longer and I have things to get ready for tonight.”

“I am going on a date Mom,” I say, finally unloading to my Mom about Max at probably one of possibly the worst times to tell your Mom you are seeing a boy. “I was going to mention it whenever I returned home from school today to both you and Dad so that you would know I am going to be out late tonight. But with the way Dad is now, that is completely out of the question. But yeah, I have a date tonight. I will be going over to Allison’s house to get ready and then Max, that is his name, the guy I have been telling you so much about.”

During these incidents with my father, I tell Mom all sorts of things as I am taking care of her. Sometimes I forget what all I have told her about what has been going on in my life but I feel as if these moments are the only time I can be open and honest with Mom about everything that is going on in my life that does not involve what is going on at home.

My Mom, after listening to what I said, nodded her head in understanding. She did not say a word, just communicated with me via silent language.

My Mom is shy and does not talk all too much. Especially after violent drunken episodes with Dad. Today was no exception. But she was a hell of a listener. Whenever these incidents happened, which was quite often, I would tell her everything that happened at school. Even the bad and ugly stuff too. Usually, she did not say a word, like she was doing now, but would silently take in whatever I was saying. It was as if she needed me to speak, to tell her everything going on in my life in the hope that one day her own life would be just as normal as mine.

And she would not respond. Not say one word. Just take in what all I was saying. But I could tell. I could tell she was listening. The look in her eyes whenever we would have one of these talks indicated that for me. Her eyes would either be shining with a new glow or she would be quietly absorbing what I was saying and nod her head in acknowledgment. Either way, we communicated with each other silently. It was easier and whenever incidents happened, there was no guarantee that Dad would be nearby to hear what was being said.

Not to say that I would not mind father hearing our conversations. Under better circumstances, I would wish nothing more than for him to be a part of the conversations.

And I have tried. Tried to include him, that is. I have done this before with both of them only to be shut down, for Dad not to care about what I am saying. As if he has something better to do with his time then listen to what his daughter is saying. And in those times when Dad was around for the conversations, Mom typically acted like she was on his side so as to not cause another incident. The only way I knew she was not in agreeance with him was through our silent telepathy. So even though she would act like she agreed with Dad, I could tell that she did not.

But I find that I need these conversations with Mom. Not because I am trying to be selfish or anything, but so as to get both of us, Mom included, through this ordeal. I want us to try and make light of our situation so that we can make it through it so that we can make it to when things get better. It also allows both of us to take our minds off of what is currently going on in our lives and to try to not wallow in hatred towards Dad.

Because while he is my father, there are moments where I do hate Dad. A lot. I hate what he has done to us, his family. How he has treated us and continues to treat us as if we are pieces of meat that he can just abuse whenever he pleases. As if the only time we are important and exist in his life is when we are useful to him. Because the only time he seems to ever notice me is with the possibility of being able to get him more booze for him or to do something, anything that will be useful for him.

And yes, I will admit that he can sometimes be a wonderful father. Whenever he manages to stay sober, Dad is not the same person he is whenever he drinks. In fact, he is the complete opposite. He is a doting, unselfish father who cares about me.

And that is part of the problem. It is because of how he acts sober that Mom and I are still with him. He goes through periods where he refuses to drink, telling us that he wants to quit and get help. But whenever he goes through these periods, he always manages to find his way back to the bottle. Whether he is off the drink for one month or two, he always goes back to it at some point.

And I do not understand it. I do not understand how he is able to manage to stay sober for so long of a time before he decides to drink again and be the person he is whenever he drinks.

It is heart breaking. Absolutely heart breaking. To see father be strong for a short period of time only to grab onto alcohol as a source of relief. To see alcohol as the only source of protection he has against the obstacles life has decided to throw at him.

And to get our hopes up. To let us believe that things with him will get better, that we just need to give him time.

But anyway, I will not be staying at home tonight before my date with Max. I refuse to. Not because I not only do not want to be here whenever Dad wakes up, but because I know it will make it even more difficult for me to commit going on this date.

Not because I do not want to go on a date with Max or anything. That is not the problem. I just want to be, to pretend, that I live a somewhat normal life. That I can do things like this like normal teenage girls and the world will not fall all around me.

And I know that Mom will be okay. Dad is knocked out stone cold and will be for some time tonight. And even if he does manage to wake up, after these incidents, Dad always manages to go to bed and forget what happened by morning. As if he knows what he did was wrong, he also apologizes to Mom about the whole thing and behaves for a little while afterwards.

He sometimes even manages to stay sober for a couple days.

But since I have my date with Max tonight, I am not staying here.

“Well,” I say after I have completely cleaned Mom’s face, making sure all of the cuts and bruises are fine. “I am going to head to Allison’s place in a minute. But let me get you comfortable in bed first so that you can get some sleep. Or at least try to.”

I let out a smile for Mom to let her know I am doing okay and then help her get off the floor.

As my Mom wobbles as she walks towards their bed, me supporting her with my arms, she gets into bed silently without saying a word. She pulls the covers over her body, trying to get comfortable and I adjust her pillows to make sure her head is comfortable and supported. I turn off the lamp light by the bed on the desk and the room is surrounded by darkness.

As Mom adjusts to the dark, I quietly give her a quick kiss on her forehead being careful of not touching any of her bruises.

“Goodnight Mom,” I whisper quietly as she settles into bed and begins to drift off to sleep. “I will see you tomorrow and let you know how my date with Max goes. I promise I will not be out too late with him and that I will be on my best behavior. Love you.”

I quietly tuck her into bed and make sure she is sound asleep before going upstairs to my room.

Once in my room, I let out a sigh of relief.

Well, I think to myself. Now that that is done and Dad and Mom are okay, I guess it is time to pack my stuff. Should probably let Max know what is going on and let him know that he will be picking me up from Allison’s place. Should also let Allison know that she needs to come get me.

As I get my stuff for the night packed, I text both Allison and Max to let them know what is going on at home.

I try not to think too much about what happened because I am trying not to feel too excited about the date with Max tonight.

Well, I think to myself. While today has started off rough, I am glad that is done and over with. Now I can go out and enjoy my date with Max, not having to worry about my Dad or anything else crazy going on today. It will just be me and Max—and a little bit of time with Allison before we get going. I can not wait to be on this date, finally!

Once all of my stuff is packed, I go downstairs, checked on my sleeping mother one last time, and head outside, waiting for Allison to pull up to my house.


When Allison finally gets to my house, the daylight in the sky is slowly starting to fade, turning into black. She pulls up beside me in her bright red punch buggy, nervously adjusting her mirrors as I get into the car.

“I am sorry,” she says, breathless. “So sorry I am late. Jason and I were doing stuff so I completely lost track of the time. But anyway, time to get to my place so we can get you ready for this date.”

“If you do not mind,” she continues, “Becca texted me. She said she wants to help me get you ready too. So she is also going to be staying at my house tonight too. So yay! We are going to have a slumber party, minus the fact that you are going to be going on a date and not spending a whole lot of time with us. But that is okay. We both have already made our own plans without you.”

“Not to say that we are ditching you completely, or anything. But since you are going to be out, Becca and I figured we could spend time together watching movies. Figured you would not mind anyway, considering your hot and steamy date tonight with Max and all.”

A mysterious, gloating twinkle appears in her eyes almost as if Allison had set this date up herself.

She is happy that I am finally going on a date. Since we have been friends, Allison always wondered why I myself was not in a relationship with anyone. Or why, for that matter, I never seemed interested in anyone, even boys. And even though she knew about my crappy home life, she still thought I should live each moment as if it were my last, maybe even go so far as to be with a boy once a night.

And even though that is something Becca herself admitted to doing before she met Matt, I myself just could not do it. I refused to. Not only because I did not want to put myself in a potentially dangerous situation that could cause more harm than good, but also because I just did not meet any boys at Rockwell High School that I was really interested in.

Even at the frequent amount of parties I went to in my spare time, there was not one boy I had met that I was interested in. Not one. Not even any of the guys Allison and Becca knew that they were very insistent on setting me up with. Nobody seemed to catch my eye or seemed interesting enough to invite into my circle of friends.

It was not until that fateful night at Jason’s party that I finally met someone I was even remotely interested in.

And even I do not know why I am attracted to him. I do not know why I am so attracted to him, I just know I am. He catches my eye in ways other guys have never caught my attention before.

His voice, his mannerisms, everything about him—attracts me to him. He is everything in a guy I see myself liking, falling for. He is the type of guy who knows how to attract people to him, make them laugh, make them feel things in a certain way. I can not describe it any better than that, as lame as that sounds.

I do not know—I just feel drawn to him in ways I have never felt drawn to anyone. He is both calm and mysterious, all at once.

From the moments we have spent together so far, I have felt myself falling deeper for him.

And here is where I would love to tell you why.


Days after Max and I had initially talked in Rockwell High School’s cafeteria, we began eating lunch together. It was almost as if we had been waiting for this moment our whole lives, as if this moment had been planned right from the start.

But it was not planned. Not at all. Max just decided to sit at our table and we started talking back and forth with each other as if we were the best of friends.

“Hello there,” I said to Max as he took his place beside me in the cafeteria. “I see you have come to join my party. Welcome, I hope you enjoy your stay.”

“Here with me,” continued in my ridiculous banter, “Is Allison, Becca, Jason and last but not least, Matt.”

I pointed to each person as if he did not already know them, did not already meet them sometime before. Of course, I knew that was not the case. He had met them before, the night of the party to be exact.

The reason I know to begin with is because Allison and Becca told me themselves. After I had talked to him in the cafeteria about us being friends before we take things any further. So of course I knew me pretending like they did not already know him was a whole big charade. But I played my role anyway, pretending to be a gracious host to the boy I just recently met.

“Hello Max,” everyone greeted him, beaming smiles plastered on their faces as if they were waiting for this moment where I would bring a boy to our table. They all even went so far as to shake his hand, continuing to smile as he acknowledged their handshakes with a nod of his head.

But Max was generous about the whole thing too. He also acted as if this were his first time meeting everyone and appeared shy and nervous, as if this whole event were a bigger production than it needed to be.

“Hi everyone,” he greeted everyone cheerfully, a beaming smile plastered on his face. “Nice to meet you all. I hope I am allowed to sit here with you all.”

“If you do not know already, Steph and I were talking yesterday,” he continues saying. “We had met at your party Jason that we went to a little while ago. And we hit it off. Really well. At least, I think we hit it off well. Do not really know what Steph thinks of the whole thing, but—yeah.”

“Anyway, Steph and I talked yesterday. And we are thinking, we want to see more of each other. Because while we both like each other, a lot, we want to get to know each other a little bit better. Before we become more than… friends.”

“So, starting this week,” he finishes saying. “Steph and I are going to be spending more time with each other. And I was wondering, would it be okay if I sat and ate lunch with you guys too? I know you are Steph’s friends and all, but I feel like it would give all of us time together to get to know each other too. You are after all Steph’s friends and it would make it even easier to spend time with Steph during the next upcoming months.”

I waited quietly as Max set out to say what he was going to say, waiting to see what my friends thought of the whole thing. As they were taking in what Max said, I could see a lot of beaming smiles and friendly gestures on their faces.

They each nodded their head in understanding, acknowledging what Max said before Becca opened up her big mouth to respond.

“I think,” Becca said, turning to Allison first before continuing. “That is a wonderful idea. Yeah, I love it! Definitely, you can sit with us. Whenever you want, anytime you feel like it. You are more than welcome to be at this table with us. Especially since you are coming here to be with Steph. Well, hang out with her, at least.”

I can tell both Allison and Becca want to say more than give their approval of the whole situation, such as making fun of us for wanting to take things slow, but choose not to. Instead, they decide to give their approval and say nothing, knowing very well that whenever Max is not within earshot I am sure I will be hearing more from them about what they really think about the whole thing.

And Jason and Matt basically tell Max the same thing. Say they too, are okay with him sitting to eat with us.

“Anytime, friend,” I hear Matt saying. “We never really eat together usually but I am down with you coming to join us at this table, whenever I do decide to eat here. We are a friendly bunch. I promise we will not bite you, though I do not know for sure about Becca. She is a pretty feisty one, I can tell you that much.”

All of us let out a little chuckle, except for Becca who glares at Matt. I stop laughing once I realize that I completely forgot that her and Matt are currently on thin ice with each other right now. That they are not currently on good terms with each other, though both of them try their best to act normal, like everything is okay between them.

Of course, you can feel the tension between the two of them. And it is pretty easy to spot too. For one, they are both sitting as far away from each other as this small table allows them to. And avoiding each other’s eye contact as if they have the plague that they do not want to get.

You can also hear the pain in Becca’s voice too whenever Matt is mentioned or whenever he opens his mouth. The constant gibes each of them are giving to each other during conversation is also another classic giveaway.

Seeing the way the two of them are constantly hurting each other brings me pain. Because when they were together, even for a short period of time, they were wonderful. Happy even. But this—hurts to watch. Hurts to see. Just seeing how much they hate each other after their breakup pains me, makes me worry that the two of them will ever be alright with each other one day.

Geeze, I think to myself as the conversation at the lunch table continues without me. I hope this is not what I will have to expect if Max and I become more then friends. After everything, that is. I hope we will not be the same way Becca and Matt currently are with each other, that we will still get along, despite everything that has happened between us. That we will be okay, cool with each other.

Because I know breakups are hard and everything. But still, I do not know if I could be like they are. If I could deal with talking to Max in that way, in that tone of voice no matter how much hurt he caused me. I do not know if I could do it.

But I guess that is something I will have to deal with whenever it happens. Cross that bridge whenever I get to it. I also probably should not be talking as if Max and I are not going to end up together one day. Not exactly a good way to start our relationship.

As I am struggling deeply in my thoughts, I see Max looking over at me contemplatively.

“Hey, are you okay?” Max asks me as I continue struggling in my thoughts, a hint of concern deeply set in his eyes.

“Yeah, sorry,” I find myself mumbling. “I was distracted for a moment. But yeah, I am doing okay. Just thinking about things I probably should not be thinking about, that’s all. But I am okay, I can promise you that.”

Max nodded his head in understanding as if his own thoughts were on the same path as my own.

“Sometimes,” he said. “You can not help but think of the negative things, the things that can go wrong. In any relationship, whether it is the relationships you have built with your friends, new relationships that are just starting to grow, or old relationships that have been left behind that you are working on to improve. Sometimes you can not help but think of what all can go wrong, such as what could happen, will the relationship cause more harm than good, things like that.”

“But the thing is,” he continues, “You can think all of those things all you want, and do nothing but think negatively about how things will work out. But if you do not do anything, if you do not at least try and do something, you can not make those relationships work. You can not improve those relationships or make something out of them that can last and by doing so, the relationship in general will not work because you have not put your time and effort into it.”

“If any of that makes any sense, that is,” he ends, looking at me to see what I think of everything he just told me.

“No,” I say. “I get it. I get exactly what you mean.” I smile at him, letting him know that I am here, that even though we have just met, just gotten started, I have no intention of ending things right now.

He smiled back at me as if he got the message loud and clear and continued our conversation.

“So,” he asked me. “What did you think of everything I said? Of letting everyone know why I was going to be joining you guys at this table? Did I do okay? Was there anything I completely forgot to mention?”

“No,” I said. “I think you got everything. You were pretty straightforward and honest and everyone understands why you are here. If anything, I think they are happy. For me, for you. For having another person included in our group. For us, meeting someone new, for taking a leap of faith in this crazy life we live in.”

“Yeah, I think they are pretty happy about this,” I continued. “I know I am going to be getting an earful from Allison and Becca later on about all of this, but right now, they seem content with talking to each other. And yes, if I were you, I would work on talking to everyone else too as well as me. Because while your intentions to hang with us are me, I think you need to get to know everyone else as well so as to get a better feel of what you are getting yourself into with me.”

I say all of this with a smile on my face, a glimmer of a chuckle appearing in my eyes. Max tries to hide the smile currently appearing on his face too, but does not do a good job of covering it before it shows up.

Instead, we both find ourselves laughing for no apparent reason at all. As we continue laughing, everyone at the table turns to stare at both of us, curious and wondering looks on their faces. Wondering why we are laughing, what is so funny and what happened.

“What is so funny over there?” Becca demands from both of us, being the first person to ask what is going on.

Max and I immediately turn to each other and stop laughing, the laughter finally leaving our now expressionless faces.

“Oh, nothing,” Max says in order to stand up for me before Becca can make some sort of smart aleck remark. “An inside joke, that is all. Nothing you need to worry yourself about.”

Max turns to me, a snicker quickly appearing on his face before it is wiped away without a trace.

Becca lets out a huff in response, her attempt at being the voice of the group turning into a failure. Everyone else silently looks in our direction, still confused about what happened but deciding on not really saying anything else about it.

We continue chatting, talking as if it never happened.

Then the next thing we knew, the bell rang and it was time to go back to class.

“Well,” I say as Max and I gather my things, awkwardly standing in the hall way, waiting until one of us says goodbye until the next time. “This was really nice, Max. Thank you for coming to sit with me today. It felt good, having you there as company. Well, I will see you next time then. Does tomorrow, same time, same place work for you?”

“Yeah, I had a great time with you too,” Max said in agreeance. “It was nice to sit with you and just talk. Was a great distraction from normal everyday life. Thank you for letting me sit with you and your friends. I really enjoyed it. And yes, definitely down for seeing you tomorrow.”

“Well,” he continues to say as if he is hesitant to say this, to leave. “I will be seeing you tomorrow then. Bye Steph. Hope the rest of your day is wonderful.”

He looks at me with his beautifully startling blue eyes clear like the sky with hope and a look I can not quite fathom. I want to say the look is part admiration, maybe something else mixed within, but I am not completely sure. Looking at me as if I am the most important person in the world is the only other thing I can really guess, but I am not completely sure if that is the way he is looking at me or if it is just my imagination.

Either way, the look startles me, makes my heart race and my head spin in the most wonderful way. I find my face turning fifty shades of red as I try my best not to look directly at him as he walks away to go to his next class.

But as I turn to look in his direction, I swear he turns to look directly in my eyes. When he does, he beams a small smile at me, then gives me a wink before entering the doorway to his next class. My class is in the opposite direction so I find myself shyly shuffling down the hallway to my next class, still trying to calm down my still beating heart.


There are so many moments I can recall spending with Max when I realized how deeply I was falling for him. But most of those moments involved eating in the cafeteria with my friends Becca, Allison, Jason and Matt.

Just seeing Max, the way he was around my friends, the way he was with me, treating me as if I were the most important person in the world, set in stone the events that eventually led up to this first date.

During the time we spent together, I found out so much about him.

I found out that his biggest fear is snakes. I do not know why exactly, but he is traumatically frightened of them.

I also found out that he is literally the funniest guy I have ever met on the planet. Only in that he loves making puns and silly, stupid jokes that somehow still manage to make me laugh to tears. And I do not know why they are so funny. I do not know if it is because of the way he manages to say such things while looking so serious that you would never know that he is actually trying to pull your leg.

But while he is one of the funniest guys I have ever met, he is also the sweetest guy I have met too. When things were really rough with Mom and Dad, I found myself being able to open up and confide in him everything that was going on. Even the most horrible of things that I found I could not even tell Becca and Allison. He was there and allowed me to openly express how I felt about everything all without blinking an eye and oozed sympathy and understanding that I was never able to find in anyone else.

Sure, Becca and Allison were there for me and understood what I was going through (to a certain extent, at least), but Max took it to a whole new level. He understood me in ways nobody else did and was able to calm me down whenever tears were shed. Just by being there, Max brought with him calm to my already chaotic life.

He was able to understand what I was going to say before it was said, allowing me to openly express my anger, sadness and pain over everything my Dad has done to ruin my family.

He was the shoulder to cry on, the man I needed whenever tensions were high at home and emotions were purely raw and strong.

And the best part was that he understood. He understood completely what I was going through. Though his own experiences that have shaped him into the human being that he is are completely different from mine, he understands exactly what I am going through. He understands that what I am going through is rough, deadly and dangerous. That it could possibly harm, maybe even destroy, parts of my life. That it could destroy any chances I have left of having a perfectly normal future. And he has been helpful in guiding me into seeking help, into finding ways of handling the situation without causing a larger impact in my family that could potentially hurt us. Of helping me find ways of doing things that could protect Mom while also pleasing Dad.

He understands to the point that if I ever need help, he is more than willing to help me with whatever trouble Dad causes. In helping me protect Mom from Dad while keeping me safe too. In being supportive with whatever decisions and actions I make with regards to how I handle situations with Dad. Even if at times my decisions are not the most orthodox.

And he is not hesitant. Hesitant at telling me things like it is. At being honest with me, telling me exactly what all I need to hear whenever I truly need it. At handling me at my worst while continuing to love me at my best.

During the upcoming months we spent getting to know each other, Max truly became one of the most important men in my life. I do not know how this happened exactly, but it did. And I could tell, just from a quick glance in his eyes, that I was just as important to him as he was to me.

I trusted him and in return, he opened up and trusted me. He told me all of the important things about his life, such as what his family was like, how everything that happened with his friend Michele truly affected him—everything. Even the deep, the dark and the evil thoughts that sometimes plagued his mind in moments of loneliness and despair.

I quickly learned in the months leading up to this point so much about him. Both about his deepest hopes and his deepest fears, all at once. And while at times, I became terrified the more and more I learned about him, I was also in awe at how quickly everything fell into place. At how quickly we opened to each other, became more than just acquaintances.

Because we were not just friends to each other. In the months following our first meeting, we became more to each other than just that. We were the best of friends, the allies of one and the same cause.

We understood each other in a moment of months when it takes others years, maybe even a lifetime, to understand the people surrounding them. Especially those they hold closest to them.

These are some of the reasons, and many others I still have a hard time remembering, that I began falling in love with Max.


When I arrived at Allison’s house, it was very close to becoming pitch black outside. As she quickly drove out of my neighborhood and into hers, she was continuously apologizing to me about her tardiness, as if I did not already expect her to be late. Because let us face it—Allison is not the most punctual when it comes to time. Especially when it comes to being on time for something like a date with a really attractive guy.

“Steph,” she kept saying over and over again. “I am really, really, really, sorry. For getting to your place late. I am really, really sorry, friend. I hope you can forgive me.”

But while she was saying this, once more, I found myself laughing instead. Not because I found the whole situation to be hilarious. But because I honestly knew this was going to happen. Allison is never on time for anything. Ever. Not even when it comes to spending time with Jason, she is often late too. She is punctually late to every function she plans on attending, no matter how important the function is to her, no matter how many times she says she plans on being there early.

Being late is a part of Allison’s character. And while at times it causes me more problems, it is also something I find myself laughing at over and over again. Not because it is funny but because of seeing the excuses she uses to try and explain her tardiness. Because there is always some sort of excuse with her, whether it is Jason distracting her, her being so busy that she lost track of the time, or something else that she considers plausible but that I myself always see as an invalid reason for being late.

I know a lot of it is because of how long I have known Allison. I have known her since middle school and am completely used to it by now. But there are some times where her lateness can be a royal pain in the butt. And while today was one of those moments, I found myself amused by the whole thing because I just did not care. Her being late to pick me up was not stopping me from seeing and spending time with Max.

Because Max and I had planned this ahead of time. Knowing that Allison was going to be getting me ready for the date, we had already planned for the possibility of me getting to where I needed to be later than planned and so we scheduled our date time for later at night than most people are willing to go out.

But that was okay with both of us because we were not going anywhere tomorrow anyway. Tomorrow is Saturday anyway so neither one of us have to worry about being late to school or staying out so late that we do not get an adequate amount of sleep. And even if we did have school tomorrow, I was planning on skipping anyway so that I could spend more time with Max.

Because while I have stopped partying since I have met Max, I have decided to take my adventures to new heights. But I did things with Max that I would not normally do on my own.

Like the one time whenever we went skydiving into a lake so that we could then go kayaking on the lake.

And while I could go on and on about all of the adventures Max and I have been on since we have met, I want to get going and get ready for our first date.

As we arrived at Allison’s house, Becca greeted us on the front porch. She had gotten here a couple minutes before both Allison and I and was just waiting patiently for us to get here to get the party started.

“Well, well, well,” Becca said with a purr. “If it is not Allison and Steph. Took the two of you long enough. I almost did not think the both of you were going to show up and that I was going to just have to bust into the house without you. I am guessing you got here late though because of Allison and Jason, am I right?”

Becca gave Allison a quick wink, as if she knew what Allison and Jason were really up to. Though, it was pretty obvious to me too what they were busy doing, though I did not want to say it myself.

But Becca was daring. She decided to bring it up anyway, despite that we were supposed to be on a tight schedule and getting me ready for my date tonight.

“Oh, how daring of you,” Becca said. “To be banging at a time like this when we are supposed to be getting Steph ready for her first date. Her first date, with a boy, nonetheless. Something of which I was not expecting to be happening anytime soon. I am still surprised, shocked, that this is finally happening.”

“We are finally helping Steph, our little girl, get ready for her first date,” Becca said with a sniff, tearing up in the eyes, still sounded surprised by what is going on. “I feel as if she is finally growing up. Becoming the woman she was always meant to be. And with a really nice guy too, which is always a plus.”

“But anyway,” she continued saying, aiming her conversation more at Allison than me. “Less time for talking and getting emotional about this. We can save that for whenever Steph talks to us after the date with Max. Right now, we need to get her upstairs to your room so that she can be ready for the date. Get her all dolled up and beautiful so that Max can look at her in awe and be amazed at the girl he has caught for himself.”

“Not to say you are not beautiful already,” Becca said to me as they both steered me in the direction of Allison’s room. “Of course you are already. Just need to get you more properly dressed for this date. None of the clothes you have with you are going to do. I will be letting you borrow one of my outfits for this occasion because we want you to look perfect for this date.”

“And,” Becca continued. “The dress I want you to wear for this date I was planning on giving to you anyway. Mostly because it no longer fits on me but also because I think you will like it and that it will look really good on you. But I will let you be the judge of that once you put it on.”

Once in Allison’s room, Becca pulls out a dress she had somehow managed to hide in her bulky purse.

It was quite a beautiful dress. Purple, my absolute favorite color, as if Becca somehow knew exactly what I was thinking.

But it is interesting because I have never seen Becca wear this dress. Ever. This purple dress was made out of a light shear fabric and a dark shade of purple that I found absolutely endearing to my hour glass figure. Something I was more than happy to wear, especially for a special occasion like this.

As I continued inspecting the dress, looking at it with a fresh wave of awe on my face, I saw Allison turn to look at Becca.

She too was just as surprised as me at what dress Becca pulled out of her purse.

“Becca,” I heard her say as I continued giving the dress a good look. “I do not recall you wearing this dress before. Ever. How come I did not know that you had this, that either of us knew you had this? When exactly have you ever worn this dress? Because I certainly do not remember you wearing this.”

“That is because,” Becca said defensively. “I have never worn this dress around you two. Nether of you knew I had this dress because I only wear it on special occasions. It is normally stocked away at the back of my closet where neither of your greedy hands can get on it. But I have had it for a while now. Years actually. And the reason neither of you knew about it was because I did not wear it very often. Like I said, only on special occasions, whenever I felt the need to put it on, which has not been quite often. The last time I wore it was on my first date with Matt.”

Becca started tearing up, as if mentioning the dress in this way brought up all sorts of memories of her short time with Matt.

“But anyway, I thought Steph should keep it,” Becca continued. “I do not want it anymore because of the memories I have with Matt, which has ruined any chances of me wanting to wear it anymore. But I figured it would be in more capable hands with Steph because I do not see her having the same bad luck with Max that I had with Matt. So it is yours now Steph. That is, if you still want it after I have told you why I am letting you have it.”

“No, I am absolutely fine with wearing this,” I said to Becca, still studying the dress with awe. “It is the most beautiful dress I have ever seen. If anything, I am honored that you are giving this wonderful dress to me. And for my first date, nonetheless. Thank you, Becca. You really are a good friend.”

Becca beamed at me as I took the dress off the hanger, changing into it so that we could get me ready for my date with Max. Both Becca and Allison helping me fit into it, adjusting it to my body in all of the right places so that it would fit on me like a glove.

Once the dress was completely covering my full body, I turned to inspect myself in it in the mirror.

Oh wow, I thought to myself. Wow. This dress looks better on me than it does on the hanger. How is that even possible? How is it possible to find something as beautiful as this that looks just as beautiful on me as it does by itself? This must be some sort of witchcraft, some sort of weird magic that can not be explained.

Not that I am going to complain, I continue thinking. No, not at all. I am absolutely fine with this. Wow, this is just—perfect. The perfect dress, exactly what I was looking for. Exactly what I need for my date with Max.

Wow, I feel breathless, I continue thinking as both Becca and Allison start preparing me for my date with Max, gathering all of the makeup essentials to get me ready. I just can not believe this is finally happening. I am finally going on a date. For real this time. Please, please, please—let everything turn out how I want it to. Let everything be okay. Let this date go well so that I can see Max again. I just want everything to turn out okay. To work out the way it is supposed to, the way it is meant to.

As I find myself thinking these thoughts, getting all tangled up with overthinking everything like I typically tend to do, Becca and Allison continue getting me ready for the date, putting a splash of purple colored makeup on my face so that my eyes and dress are in synch with each other. As they are getting me ready, Allison begins working on my hair, letting Becca finish up my makeup.

Allison starts brushing my hair, gently pulling the tangled roots out as if my hair were a fragile fairy with its wings being cut off. She then gets out her curling iron, working on making my hair a gentle mess of curls, unlike what my hair typically tends out to be. She parts the curls around my face in a gentle wave like pattern so that my hair flows smoothly down the center of my back. She does not overdo it, but makes it curly enough that my hair looks both curly and straight all at once.

Even my bangs that are currently covering my forehead, have a nice curl to their sides that part over my forehead like a curtain.

Their transformation of my beauty takes roughly half an hour before it is complete. And when they are both done, Allison and Becca breathe out a sigh of relief before allowing me to look at my own reflection.

When I look in the mirror, I find my breath taken away. I feel as if I am looking at a complete stranger for the first time. Because the girl in the mirror can not be me. There is no way that I am the exact girl looking at this reflection. There is no possible way we are both one and the same person. It is impossible. She is too pretty to be me. Too beautiful, too different. Does not look like me at all.

Everything is perfect about this girl. She is everything I am not, everything I wish I were. But yet, when all is said and done, she is me.

Words can not describe the way I feel whenever I see that reflection looking back at me. Even now, after the fact, I am still in shock that I was ever able to look so beautiful.

And the dress. It fit perfectly on me. It hugged my body tightly, hugging my figure and shaping it into perfection.

Allison and Becca were just as surprised as I was feeling. Once they were done, they both looked at me, their jaws hitting the floor.

Then, they both let out excited squeals.

“Oh, my, gosh!” Becca exclaimed, jumping up and down while holding Allison’s hand in her grasp. “Steph, is that you? Is that really you? Wow, I can not believe it! Steph… you look so beautiful.”

“Wow,” Allison said, seeming almost completely speechless in her shock. “Steph, look at you. You look so beautiful.”

“I feel like I am about to tear up,” Becca said, tears appearing in the corners of her tiny eyes. “I just can not believe it. Wow, you really look so stunning, Steph.”

“Wow,” Allison said. “We did a really good job, did we not, Becca? I was not expecting Steph to look like this—to look so beautiful. And for her first date, nonetheless.”

I beamed a smile once I looked at my reflection once more, happy at my fortune. I not only was going on a date with such a wonderful guy, but I was doing so in a beautiful dress and looking the most beautiful I have ever felt.

He is going to be so stunned, I thought to myself as I looked at my reflection in the mirror, twirling around in the dress as if I have no care in the world. Because I know I sure as heck was. I still am actually. This is really surprising. Just was not expecting to look this way, to feel this way.

But anyway, my thoughts continued. I guess now it is time for this date. Just take a couple deep breaths, and smile. Everything is going to be okay. You are going to be okay. Just wait. This will be the best date you will ever go on.

As I continue smiling and looking at my reflection, I continue getting excited about my date with Max. So excited that I can not stop smiling.

But then, it hits me. I am finally going on my first date. It is here.

The only question is: will everything work out in the end?

Only time will tell. And nothing tells time better than the present.


Every time I look back on the moments Max and I spent together, I can not help but smile. They were some of the best times I had during my years of youth.

Our first date was no exception. Even now, many years later, our first date feels like it happened only yesterday. If only I could go back to it now, I would.

It happened on a clear and beautiful night.

After preparing me for my first date, Allison drove me to the restaurant Max and I had agreed to eating dinner at.

The Swan & the Crow Chapter 4: Seeing Her Again (Max)

Note: NaNoWriMo is where writers work on a 50,000 word novel during the month of November without editing their work, including checking for spelling or punctuation. Therefore, my story The Swan & the Crow for NaNoWriMo is nowhere close to perfect. Please keep this in mind when reading this chapter and the rest of the chapters that will be following it. But I am open to hearing opinions on what I have written so far and am open to any feedback given. To read Chapter 3, click here.

Current word count: 15,359

I could not get her out of my head. Steph, the girl I had met at the party. It has been a couple of days since that night. And yet, I was still thinking of her as if the whole thing had happened yesterday. I thought of her long dark hair, her beautiful eyelashes, and the way she held herself while we danced. The look of joy in her beautiful eyes as we danced as if she did not have any other care in the world.

I could not stop thinking of her. The way she looked at me, the way she talked, her voice—everything. At the party, I was immediately pulled into the vicinity of her presence. After the party, all I wanted to do was see her again. See her face, hear her voice. Talk to her, confined in her my life, everything about it. Tell her all my secrets, all my desires. What I wanted from life, how normal I wish I was. How normal I wish everyone else treated me. How all I wanted to do was have a normal teenage life without too many expectations placed on me by others.

How I wanted to meet someone. Someone like Steph. A person who would not judge my past mistakes, would not judge me as a person. Who would accept me as I am, flaws and all.

Steph is the first person I have yet to meet who was not immediately obsessed with talking about Michele’s attempt at suicide. It has been a year since that incident and people still want to talk about it as if it was yesterday’s morning news.

But I remember perfectly how Steph reacted when I talked about it. She looked at me with sympathy in her eyes, as if she were sorry about what happened to me. She did not look at me with awe and admiration but instead seemed to understand where I was coming from. She understood everything. How saving my friend made me feel. How talking about it, even now, still brought on fresh waves of pain and shame. She understood how helpless I felt and how I was still able to make a difference despite everything.

It was as if Steph understood my pain and sorrow. Almost as if she had pain and sorrow in her life herself that she was still trying to live through. Pain and sorrow similar to mine.

And that would make sense, I thought to myself. After all, I am sure she has problems of her own like I do that she has to deal with. What they are, I am not sure myself because she did not confide in me like I did with her. But I am sure in due time, that I will find out the next time I see her.

The question is, I continued thinking, when will I see her again? She mentioned us seeing each other again at school, but I have no clue what the chances are of us meeting at school. After all, I have not seen her at Rockwell High School since I have been there myself.

Wait, I think. Does that mean she does not want to see me again then?

That thought hit me like a pin stabbing my finger. And with that thought, a feeling of fear and pain hit me directly in the chest. The possibility that she might not want to see me again never crossed my mind until now. To think that I opened myself up to her to be rejected, to not want to be sought out and seen, really hurt me.

But it is something I really have to think about. Because what if she does not want to see me again? What if, maybe, she was just being friendly in saying that she would want to see me again? What if she was listening to me because she felt obliged to and in reality, she wants nothing more to do with me because I scared her off?

That is something I have to think about and accept. While the idea she might not want to see me again stings, I have to accept that she might possibly feel that way.

After all, we just had one night together. She could be thinking anything about me other than what I hope she is thinking. I just have to hope for the best and believe that everything will work out in the end.


I am at school the next time I see Steph. She is far away in the distance, almost as if I am seeing her in my dreams. It has been exactly four days since I saw her at the party. It feels almost like a lifetime ago, yet I know what happened that night is real. Proof of that is seen in her pretty face. She looks tired, almost as if she has not had a lot of sleep the past couple nights.

I see her as I am walking the halls, heading to my last class of the day. When I see her still far away, I stop in my tracks, look in her direction in the hope that she will notice and look back in my direction too. But she does not. She does not seem to notice because she looks as if she has had a rough couple days. She looks as if she wants to be alone, but also as if she needs someone to be there for her.

While my instincts say to go over to her, she is still very far away from where I am currently standing to go to class. And I know I will not get to her in time before I have to be in class.

But I am hopeful. Now that I have seen her, even if it is at a distance, I know I will see her again. I just have to wait and see what happens next.


I see Steph a couple more times whenever I am wandering the halls to my classes. Each time I see her, she seems to be looking a little better.

And I think she has seen me too. I have not gone completely unnoticed by her. Not yet. I do not know what exactly is going on between the both of us, why I feel compelled to want to talk to her again. What I do know is that I am becoming more and more hopeful that things will work out the way they are supposed to.

Because whenever I see her in the hallways, things have gone from us not acknowledging each other’s presence to giving each other a slight nod of the head or wave. Sometimes, I have even caught her giving me a smile before she heads to one of her classes. And each time I feel tempted to go after her, to call to her and ask if we can talk.

But I do not do it. I do not know why but I stop myself from going after her. I stop myself from talking to her, from asking if she wants to spend time together again.

I know part of it is fear, part nervous. I am fearful that if we talk again, I will open up again and make myself seem like a fool. At the same time though, I want to open up to her. I want to talk to her as if these past couple days never passed. As if time stood still and we did not miss any time talking to each other. But I am also nervous to do so too.

Because I like her. A lot. I know that now. I understand that is what I am feeling for her. From one night, Steph has changed me in ways I was not expecting. She has made me think, feel and act differently around people.

Since that night, I have changed. Not in a bad way, but I have become different. I know that now. My thoughts constantly gravitate to her, thinking of what she is doing, how she is feeling, and when will I see her again. My heart aches for her.

And I feel stupid. I feel stupid for feeling this way after spending one night with her. I feel silly because I have these feelings for someone I just met, someone I barely know. Yet, the feelings are there, I know for certain. And no matter how much I try, they will not go away. They will not disappear, no matter how much I ask them to.

All I can think about is her. Her and that night. Everything that happened, everything that was said, everything left unsaid. The way she looked at me, the way we danced together all through the night into the morning.

I can not get it out of my head. Any of it. I can not help but wonder what is going to happen next, how things are going to go from here.

And most importantly, when is the next time I will be seeing her again.

Because I want to see her again. I know that for certain just as certainly as I know the feelings I currently have for her. Just as deeply as I do not regret going to the party even though I have never done such things before. Because had I not gone to this party, I never would have met her. And this—none of this—would have happened.


At long last, we finally run into each other. Not in the hallway where we awkwardly acknowledge each other’s presence and do not say a word to each other. No, this time, we ran into each other in person. Literally.

It had been two weeks since the party when I saw Steph again. We were in the cafeteria, eating lunch, of all places to see each other again.

When I ran into her, it was completely unexpected. I had just finished eating lunch and was just about to throw my food away whenever Matt came over to where I was sitting. Along with him in the flesh was Steph.

It was as if my mind materialized her form in front of me. I felt as if I blinked, this would all be a dream and she would be gone, back to the hallway where we awkwardly said hello in unspoken syllables.

Instead, however, my mind took me back to the party. To the music, to the sounds. Everything, as if it all happened just yesterday.

But it did not. The party was two weeks ago, a lifetime ago. I felt as if I could finally breathe again now that Steph was so close to me.

Finally, we would talk again. After it had been so long since we had last spoken to each other. It felt as if we had left so many words left unspoken and that we needed to make up for that missing piece of time. And now we would, for certain. I would definitely make sure of that during this conversation.

But I had to play it cool in order to do so. Because I know Matt has no idea that Steph and I have already met each other.

“Hey Matt,” I said. “What brings you over to my side of the cafeteria? Do you usually sit outside to eat, especially whenever it is nice outside like it is today?”

Nice, I thought to myself. That is a good way to get things going. Let us see how this plays out and go from there.

“Well,” Matt said. “I am actually over here to introduce a friend to you.”

“She is someone I have actually been meaning to introduce to you for a while now because I think the two of you would get along,” he said with a wink, a mischievous twinkle in his eye. “But I just have not had the time. But anyway, Max, meet Steph.”

“And Steph,” he continued, pointing directly at me. “This is Max. He is a pretty cool guy, once you get to know him. Can be trouble sometimes too though so watch out for yourself around him, okay?”

“Okay, yeah, sure,” Steph said trying to keep herself from laughing at the look I gave her just now where I wiggled my eyebrows mischievously as if bad behavior was something I was commonly known for at Rockwell High School. “He definitely seems to be the definition of a ‘bad boy’ doesn’t he?”

“But yeah,” she continued. “I will try to keep my eyes on him. He definitely seems to smell of trouble so I am sure I will have to be careful around him.”

Matt tries to hold himself together, proud to have set the two of us up. He gives me a smug look as if he is proud that he has introduced the two of us though introductions were not necessary. Then again, Matt has no idea that we had already met at the party two weeks ago. Probably does not remember most of it anyway if he was too busy drinking while he was there.

Steph and I grin at each other back and forth, playing an invisible game with our minds that Matt does not seem to have caught on to. At least, not yet.

“Nice to meet you Steph,” I say in response, continuing the charade anyway so that Matt can have some pride in himself in setting this whole thing up.

Though truly, Jason should be the one getting all the credit. After all, it was at his party that Steph and I met to begin with. But whatever, does it really matter?

We shake hands, like what is normally done during introductions, trying my best not to giggle or say something stupid to clue the clueless Matt into what is going on here. And Steph just smiles.

And not any normal smile that I have ever seen. She lets out the most beautiful smile I have ever seen. It is a smile that makes any bad day good, any person that feels miserable happy once more. It was a ray of sunshine on my soul and made the growing fluttering of butterflies in my stomach increase tenfold.

I immediately become nervous, not really sure how she is going to respond to me pretending that I have not already met her yet. But looking at her now, she seems fine with it.

In many ways, it almost seems as if we are making a fresh start with each other. Almost like the party two weeks ago did not happen, though I would not wish that thought to cross her mind at all either.

But she is doing fine.

She shakes my hand real quick before responding.

“Hi, Max,” she says as she lets go of my hand. “It is very nice to meet you. I hope you have had a good day today and that you enjoyed your lunch. Would you mind me sitting with you? I know we just met and all, but Matt insists that we sit and each lunch together so we might as well make him happy, right?”

She winks at me to where Matt does not see it and lets out another mischievous smile to let me know that she is just playing along with Matt’s charade for now.

“So Matt,” she continues as she looks into my eyes. “Since you wanted us to eat together and talk, would you mind leaving us alone?”

Matt smiles once more and then says, “Sure that will not be a problem. I need to go find Becca anyway because I have something to ask her. Do you happen to know where she is Steph?”

“At our normal table,” she responds, pointing to one of the tables closest to the double doors leading out of the cafeteria and down the hallway to Rockwell High School.

As my eyes go to that table, I see both Allison and Becca looking over in our direction. Allison is looking at Steph and I with a smirk on her face as if she already knows we have met before and Becca’s eyes are focused on Matt with loving eyes. I see Allison quickly focus her gaze in my direction and she winks at me before her and Becca return to eating their food.

Well, I thought to myself. If I have learned anything from today, it is where Steph and her friends eat in the cafeteria. I have passed that table many times and have not noticed Steph at all. Weird, maybe she does not normally eat lunch at this time? Or maybe not very often?

“Okay, thanks,” he says as I return from my inward thoughts to focus on the conversation at hand. “I will go over there and say hi then. Have fun with Max here. I know you will.”

Before I or Steph can say anything else, Matt leaves us alone by heading over to the table where Steph normally eats with her friends.

As soon as Matt is gone with her friends, Steph lets out a sigh of relief.

“Sorry about that,” she says as I continue sitting there looking into her eyes. “I had to find a way of getting to talk to you. I did not know how else to do it other than pretending I wanted to meet you because of what you did to save your friend. Of course, Allison and Becca both know how full of shit I am with that, but it was the only thing I could think of to say that would persuade Matt to let me talk to you.”

“The reason I want to talk to you,” she continues. “Is because I want to thank you for the other night. For Jason’s party, I mean. I had a really good time and am glad I was able to meet you and get to dance with you that night. Since then, I have not been able to get that night out of my head. And the moments we see each other in the hallway were not really helping either.”

“Okay, what I am trying to say is that I like you. A lot. A lot more than I expected to. But even though I like you a lot, I think we should get to know each other a little more first before we do anything together, if you know what I am trying to say.”

She says this last part with a reddening blush growing on her face as if she has thought long and hard about this whole conversation and what she would say if this conversation were to happen.

But all I can think about is what she said. That she likes me too, just like I like her.

I can not believe it, I think to myself. She thinks the same way as me. She likes me too and even though she wants to get to know me first before we take things any further, she likes me. She likes me. She likes me. She likes me!

My thoughts are elevated to the highest level of ecstasy possible. How is it that I managed to meet a girl, a really great girl, for the first time, who likes me just as much as I do her? Yes, she does not want to be with me just yet, but there really is no rush anyway. Getting to know each other really is the best course of action right now. After all, we just met two weeks ago and we do not really know each other very well yet. I know I spilled my guts out to her at the party, but we still do not know each other very well so letting things take their course will definitely be the best decision all around for both of us.

And I am fine with this because she admitted that she too has really strong feelings for me. So even though there is no guarantee things will work out the way I hope, I am hopeful that everything will be alright.

“Yes,” I respond. “I completely understand what you are saying. And I feel the same. I like you a lot too. The party at Jason’s house two weeks ago was really amazing not because it was a party but because I got to meet you and spend my night with you. It was completely unexpected and I did not expect any of this to happen as a result. I especially did not expect to meet an incredible girl like you while I was there. You literally made my night and I hope we can continue spending time together even if it is as friends to begin with.”

“And I definitely understand why you want to be friends first before becoming more than friends,” I continue saying. “We barely know each other. I know that and you know that. We just met and we have not really said a whole lot to each other and yet, we have these feelings. And while I did open myself up to you at the party about Michele, you still do not know much else about me just like I do not know a whole lot about you either. All you know is what I have told you about myself so far and while I am okay with that, I know we need to take things slow.”

“Just know,” I continue. “That I have no idea how any of these type of things work. I have never had these type of feelings for anyone before I met you so I do not know how we can go about doing this. But I think that is something we can talk to each other about in the upcoming months as we continue exploring our feelings for each other and getting to know each other better.”

“And what we can do first,” I say. “Is sit here, right now, and talk. As long as you are okay with that Steph?”

I did not want to pressure Steph into wanting to talk to me right this minute if she did not want to. But I wanted to at least put the offer on the table since she was already here to see if she would be willing to begin getting to know each other while we were still in each other’s company. That way, we could talk in case we are unable to see each other again soon. I did not ask for the sake of rushing whatever it was we have, but to see if she was taking this conversation as serious as I was.

She nodded her head, understanding exactly where I was going with all of this.

“Yes,” she said with a smile blossoming on her face. “I completely agree. I feel as if that night was so long ago and it has been a really long time since we last talked that I think we should talk some more. I also have not felt this way about someone ever either so just getting to meet you has been an immense pleasure for me and I can not wait to see what this turns into in the next couple months.”

“Well, I am definitely glad we are on the same page then,” I say, trying my best to hold back the beaming smile I feel inside of me waiting to burst out. “But anyway, we do not have to talk about this right now. Let us enjoy lunch together and talk about whatever. Well, I will let you enjoy your lunch. I have already eaten my own lunch unfortunately so I will just be talking to you while you eat instead.”

“Anyway,” I continue. “How have you been doing these past couple weeks? How have classes been going?”

And this—this conversation—is how Steph and I started talking. We decided before taking our relationship or whatever this was to the next level that we would get to know each other better first.

And for the first three months, that is what we did. We got to know each other better and as time went on, we realized how much we liked each other and wanted to be around each other. While not dating at times was difficult, we both were okay with it. It allowed us the opportunity to talk, spend time together, and get to know each other all without the hassle of including romantic gestures and complicated feelings into the mix.

But soon enough, things were going to take an unexpected turn. A turn neither one of us were sure we wanted to take and that would change the course of both of our lives in ways neither one of us were ever expecting.

And it all started when we both started dating.






The Swan & the Crow Chapter 3: After the Party (Steph)

Note: NaNoWriMo is where writers work on a 50,000 word novel during the month of November without editing their work, including checking for spelling or punctuation. Therefore, my story The Swan & the Crow for NaNoWriMo is nowhere close to perfect. Please keep this in mind when reading this chapter and the rest of the chapters that will be following it. But I am open to hearing opinions on what I have written so far and am open to any feedback given. To read Chapter 2, click here

Current word count: 11,196

After the party at Jason’s house, I returned home to a lonely room. I had to sneak upstairs in order to get to my room if I wanted to avoid waking up Mom and Dad from their slumber.

But I was not alone. Not really. The butterflies in my stomach from the night were with me. I felt them nestled in the pit of my stomach, growing larger in size with each minute passing. The stirrings of a curious heart beat within me. I do not know nor do I understand where all of these feelings came from all of a sudden. But they were there. They were everywhere. In my stomach. In my heart. In my eyes. In my feet. In every breath and every thought I made.

And yet, for the first time in my short life, I felt alive. I remember each moment with Max with a sharp clarity that I was never able to handle with anything else.

I remember the moment our eyes met across from the crowd of dancing bodies. The moment when I beckoned him with my movements to come over. To dance, to do whatever it was we were doing. Whatever all of this is. When I asked if he wanted to dance, seeing his cute stammered reply. The way our bodies felt closely connected to one another, our hearts skipping beat to another time. The way his blue eyes, his dark brown hair intrigued me into curiosity, wanting to know who he was and all about him.

And oh yes, asked him I did. As the dancing picked up and we met each other movement for movement, we began to talk.

“So,” I remember saying. “How did you hear about this party? I do not think I have ever seen you at one of these things before.”

“A friend,” Max said. “Matt. He has been inviting me to all of the parties going on this year. But I was not really interested in going to any of them. But I decided to give this one a chance. I do not know why exactly, not like it is different from going to any other party. But I guess I just wanted to get out of my house, get out of the normalcy of life for a little bit.”

“What about you?” Max asked me. “What has you interested in a party like this? You do not exactly strike me as a party girl. Then again, I have just met you so maybe it is wrong of me to judge you like that.”

“Oh, I did not know that you know Matt,” I said. “Well, well, what a small world. And yeah, you are right. I do not strike a lot of people as a party girl, but yet, I am one. But not for the reasons most people would believe.”

“I do not get a thrill from drinking so much alcohol that I puke, from having conversations with people I barely know, or from being around other people. The reason I like to party is none of those things. I enjoy it because it allows me to get away. Away from life, the mundane things I have to deal with at home on a daily basis. It allows me to be normal for a change. To allow me to pretend that my life is not as bad as it seems, to find some peace and comfort from something, at least one thing in my hectic life.”

“It allows me to express myself in a safely creative outlet. And yes, while not all parties are considered safe, I only go to parties for the dancing, no alcohol allowed in my system. Mostly because I have no interest in drinking or getting caught as a minor. But also because I do not think alcohol will wash all of my problems away. It is the root of most of my problems to begin with anyway.”

As I talked, I realized that I had opened myself so much to this guy. All without him saying anything in return or offering up his own life experiences.

You are saying too much, I remember myself thinking afterwards, slowly regretting what I had just said.

But this guy—no excuse me—Max, did not say a word. Nothing. He just listened intently as if what I was saying was the most important thing in the world. He did not judge me, ask what was wrong or why life had me so down. It was almost as if he understood exactly what I was talking about. As if he himself had been there before just as many times as me. Almost as if we were of the same mind, the same identity.

The thought that there was someone in the world who knew exactly what I was talking about struck me like a chord. And also made me curious, wondering what Max’s story was. But before I could say anything more, Max spoke.

“Yeah, that definitely makes sense.” Max said.

“Especially with the way you dance. You look captivated, like a child seeing something new in the world for the first time. It is very enthralling to watch and see with my eyes. But I admire you for it too. I wish I could look at the world that way, see things just the way they are and have something to forget my problems. But I guess I am not built that way. Even when I have something I am doing to keep my mind preoccupied, away from my other problems, the thoughts I do not want to have always resurface. Against my will, they return to me and I can never find a way of shaking them out.”

“But some things in life work out that way. While you try and forget the problems you face on a daily basis, they appear when you least expect them to. And not always in the way you want. But you just have to work through the struggles, through the pain, through the tears. And in the end, you will be okay. You will have made it and you will be stronger than you started out. But you will never forget what has happened, even if you do not yet understand why.”

I stared at Max, surprised by what he said.

How?  I thought. How does this guy know exactly what I am thinking, what I am feeling? It is almost as if he has had some of the same experiences as me. Strange… have definitely never met someone like this before. Never met someone under these type of circumstances, that is for sure.

“So,” I said, doing the best I could to hold my emotions in, continue with what I was saying. “Why are you here? I mean, I know Matt invited you and everything. But you just admitted that parties are not your scene and that this is not something you would normally do. Besides getting out of the normalcy of everyday life, there is another reason, isn’t there? Something you do not really feel comfortable talking about?”

I sensed the change in Max’s mood immediately. He went from happy go lucky guy to silent and thoughtful at the drop of a hat. It was as if something changed, something that he did not want to talk about but felt that he wanted to share with me. I do not know why exactly, but I had a feeling about him. That there is more to him than what meets the eye.

And something familiar. It had something to do with his name, I am sure of it. Almost as if I had heard of him before, somewhere. Where even I am not really sure. But I could tell that I was right when he was able to collect himself piece by piece and began to talk.

“Well…” he began, hesitant to begin this discussion but talking about the subject at hand anyway. “A friend of mine here—attempted suicide. He and I have been close friends since middle school. But he tried to do it during our freshman year at Rockwell High School. He was trying to recover from a messed up relationship with his ex Emily, who cheated on him with another guy at this school. The guy she cheated on him with had no idea that she was already in another relationship and felt bad, trying to make things right.”

“But my friend wasn’t able to keep himself together. He started to feel depressed, as if the world were turning against him. He started cutting classes, leaving school early, and sometimes did not even come to class. I tried the best I could to help him, but it was not enough. Then one day, he skipped another one of his classes, without a word to me or to anyone. We all thought he was sick or just having a bad day and decided not to come to school. But when I was at lunch, I saw him.”

“And I had a feeling something was wrong,” he continues to say. “So I followed him without him even realizing it. And when he went to the rooftop of our school, that is when I realized what he was about to do. I called out to him, hoping he would hear me and stop. He was almost to the ledge when he finally heard my voice and turned around to look at me. The look he gave me in that moment was terrifying to behold. He looked… lost. Hopeless. As if the only way to solve the dilemma in front of him was to jump off the ledge. I was scared in that moment because I felt as if I had already lost my friend. That he had already made the jump and that I came a minute too late.”

“But I was not late. I had made it just in time apparently. When he heard my voice, you could also see the panic in his eyes. Partly because I was there, the one friend who cared about him, but also because he was still trying to decide to jump off the ledge and I was the one person he never expected in his plans. He asked me what I was doing there, how I had managed to know he was going to do this, and told me to not stop him. But I did not listen. I do not remember what I said exactly, but I know it was enough to pull him away from the temptation of the ledge and have him fall on his knees, crying. He said he was sorry that he almost made a bad mistake, that he had hurt me in ways that he never had wanted to, and told me how much he appreciated me being his one true friend.”

“I have that day,” he continued, “Ingrained in my head for the rest of my life. I remember it as if it happened only yesterday. The way he looked on the ledge, what he said that made him decide to take things too far. Everything. But he was lucky. Very lucky. Because of my heroic act, he was treated at the best hospital in the area for his depression and is now doing just fine. Apparently, this sort of incident with him was going to happen sooner or later, the doctors informed me. He was already depressed when he was in his relationship with Emily and battling with his inner demons. The end of the relationship was just the one thing that pushed him too far and caused his depression to go off the charts.”

“But that day has changed me. Changed me in ways I was not expecting. It has made me see the world in a completely different set of eyes, allowed me to understand my friend and everything he was going through differently. But it also put some pressure on me too. Because not only did I just talk my friend from jumping off a ledge, I also became known for saving him. Somehow, everyone knew about what happened. Even people who were not there heard about it from other friends. I do not know who told who exactly, but that day changed my days at Rockwell High School. People started calling me a hero, acting as if they completely cared about my friend and were thankful I was there to save his life. As if they were expecting to see great things from me moving forward. People I did not know well at school wanted to be my friend, wanted to hang out and be seen associated with me. They wanted me to be the friend I was for my friend, wanted someone who was willing to lend an ear whenever they needed it.”

“And it never seems to end. Even now, almost a year since the incident happened, people I do not know still come up to me and idolize me. And I hate it. I hate that I am now the hero of Rockwell High School because I did what any kid would do for a friend. I did not save my dear friend because I wanted recognition. I did not save my friend so that other people at school could gawk and stare at me as I am on my way to classes, talking about what happened as if it happened yesterday.”

“I just want to be a normal teenager,” Max said. “I do not want any of this. I did not ask for any of this. But people keep acting like I did something special. But I did not. I just saved one of my dearest friends.”

“So yes, I came to this party,” Max finally said. “But not only because I know Matt and to get away from life. I came to let loose. To have fun. To forget what happened. And most of all, to live this night and the many more to come as if they are my last. Because you never know what could happen to you day to day. You have no guarantees that you are going to be breathing and still living tomorrow. Or even next week, next month, and next year. There are no guarantees in our lives so why not spend a night out hanging out with strangers, having a good time, and forgetting what happened? Besides, being at home was starting to get lonely anyway.”

I was numbed into absolute silence. I did not expect Max to say all of that. To tell me every aspect of his life, the most important of details. I did not expect to hear someone openly admit all their faults, all their issues, all their mistakes in life. And to do so so completely stunned me most of all. It was as if he had been waiting for someone, anyone, even a complete stranger, to open up to as if he had been meaning to get these words off his chest for a very longtime now. Maybe even as long as a year, when the incident happened.

I knew more about this guy within a couple minutes than I did anyone else. I felt both honored and terrified all at once. I was honored that he wanted to confess to me all of his feelings and to tell me how he was feeling emotionally. But I was also terrified too because I was not expecting this much from our conversation together. I was expecting a simple conversation, telling each other a little bit about ourselves piece by piece. But definitely was not expecting any of this. At all. A total surprise, most definitely.

It scared me too because now I felt obligated to tell him everything about myself too. To open up to him, just like he did me. And while I did not mind having such a conversation with this guy, I did not expect this conversation to be happening so soon. Especially because neither one of us knew each other’s names. We were total strangers, suspended in time, having a conversation. About life. About our lives. Our own personal lives. Everything we have each been through and then some. Things so personal that most people would be surprised we were talking to each other about, considering how we just met and everything.

So saying that I am stunned into absolute silence does not sound like an understatement.

But what do I say? I thought to myself. What do I say in response? How do I tell him I am sorry, that I wish I could do more to help, and that I understood his pain only too well?

Because I most definitely did. While I did not almost lose one of my friends to suicide myself, just imagining such a thing happening to Becca and Allison made me shudder in appreciation at the fact that I had such wonderful friends who were always open with me about every aspect of their lives. In return, I treated them with the same, opening to them in ways that I was not open with everyone else at Rockwell High School. But this guy made me pause. While I do not know him, I felt absolutely drawn to him like a magnet. For some reason, I felt as if I could trust him completely. With anything. I know part of the appeal is because of his willingness to save one of his friends. You could definitely tell that this guy really cared about his friends and would do anything to help them, even talking them out of making a bad decision. So I definitely knew I could trust him.

I continue to think, contemplating what I should say before I come up with a response that I think he would be completely okay with.

“Well, I know what could help with that,” I said in response, a mischievous grin appearing on my face. “We could continue dancing if you would like. I think the music is definitely picking up so that should definitely help you forget your troubles.”

“And,” I continued. “I am so sorry about what happened. I can not even imagine going through what all you had to go through. Especially because of how everyone is reacting to it. And while I do think what you did was very heroic, I also understand why you did it and why you are tired of everyone treating you differently because of it. Just know that it will not change my opinion of you as a person in anyway and that I feel like I have no room to judge you for what happened. You can not control things like that happening to the people you care about and there is nothing you can do whenever they make those type of decisions. And people do not seem to understand that. Anyway, we can continue dancing as if this were our last day here.”

So Max and I continued to dance together as the music picked up in tempo. We danced at the party as if tonight was the last moment we had on the Earth. As if this was the last day we were going to be spending together. As if this night were the last we would see each other before saying our goodbyes and going our separate ways. Which of course, is absolutely possible. Because while I am enjoying my time with Max, I have no clue where this is all going. I have no clue what is going to happen next, what we will be doing next. And there is no guarantee that once I leave here, I will be seeing Max again.

Because before this night ever happened, I had never seen Max before. Yeah, I had heard all of the stories about the “Hero of Rockwell High School,” but I always thought they did not have any truth to them. That they were made up stories by my peers to make our school seem extra cool. And so did Becca and Allison. But that was because we did not know him that we did not believe his story to be true.

Until tonight. I am now able to put a face to the name of the person everyone at school has been talking so much about. For the first time, I have met someone who completely understands me as a person. Yes, I know that he does not know about my past and what I am currently dealing with just yet, but he is the type of person who would understand what it is I am currently going through. He has dealt with a lot already, so I know my issues would be something he would understand.

And he would listen. I know that for certain.

And that was partly what scared me. Meeting someone, a guy, who could relate to everything I was saying and would listen. I have never had a guy friend, guy anything present in my life. Unless you can count Allison’s boyfriend Jason, of course. The exception being my father, of course who was not much of a help with anything. He was too busy beating on Mom to give me sage advice on anything a teenager could possibly go through while in high school.

And I can not really ask Mom either. While she is one of the best people I have been able to get advice from throughout my life, I feel that she would not be of much help either. Considering her own life choices, I would be better off asking both of my best friends what they think I should do.

But that is neither here or there. Right now, I am living in the present, dealing with what is currently in front of me. I will work with what I am given and hope for the best.

It was well into the night and most of the morning by the time the party ended and we had to go our separate ways.

And it was difficult. I had such a good time that I did not want this particular party to end. Mostly because I did not want to say goodbye to Max, partly because I did not know where my future was heading. I did not know where all of this was going, where any of this was going. I just knew in the present moment I was in now that I did not want any of this to end. I did not want this party to end.

I want to continue seeing Max. I know that for certain. But what is going to happen next I still have yet to know. Whether Max and I will see each other again after this party is yet to be determined.

What I do remember though is that Max was of the same mind as me. Before we parted our separate ways, he asked for my name.

“So,” Max said hesitantly. “What is your name? Here I am, just opening my heart up to you and spending most of my night and morning dancing with you and yet, I do not even know your name. How impolite of me not to ask you until now. My name is Max, by the way.”

“Max, nice to meet you,” I remember responding. “And my name is Steph. I know what you mean. I did not even think to ask you either. Guess we were having too much fun in each other’s company to notice that we did not even ask the most basic of necessities sooner. But that is okay. We were having so much fun together that we did not even notice how quickly our time passed here.”

“That’s okay,” Max responded. “I just enjoyed getting to spend my night with a wonderful woman like you Steph. Speaking of which, when will we see each other again? I enjoyed my time with you and would like to see you again. Of course, as long as you want to see me too, that is.”

“Of course I do,” I responded. “I enjoyed my time with you as well Max. And I am not sure. I would enjoy nothing more than to see you again too. But I just do not know. We both go to the same school so maybe we can talk at school. Does that sound good to you?”

Max nodded his head, coming to the same understanding I did. Yes, I had a good time with Max, I will admit. But I am just not sure how this is all going to work yet. I do not know if we should see each other again or not.

What I do know is that these feelings are real. My heart was hammering in my chest like crazy during the whole night we were together, butterflies emitting from my stomach constantly. And I know I enjoyed the feeling too, that much I know for certain. But I do not know what is going to happen and do not want to rush this, whatever this things with Max is.

So as I sat in my lonely room, thinking about all of this, everything that happened, I contemplated what was going to happen next and where my future was taking me. And then, I got out of bed, got dressed and prepared myself for the weekend at home ahead.

The Swan & the Crow Chapter 2: A Strange Encounter (Max)

Note: NaNoWriMo is where writers work on a 50,000 word novel during the month of November without editing their work, including checking for spelling or punctuation. Therefore, my story The Swan & the Crow for NaNoWriMo is nowhere close to perfect. Please keep this in mind when reading this chapter and the rest of the chapters that will be following it. But I am open to hearing opinions on what I have written so far and am open to any feedback given. To read Chapter 1, click here.

Current word count: 6,944.

As the last bell for math class rang, I hurried out the doors of Rockwell High School. I needed to get home, fast. I need to get ready for the party going on at Jason’s house. As one of the most popular kids at this stupid school, I am normally invited to all of these stupid parties.

Normally, I do not go to them. Not because I think I am too cool for them or anything, but because I just do not feel like going. But with today being a Friday night and the weekend closely looming ahead, I feel as if I need to do something with my life. I need to get out, be around friends I care about. And get away from school. Get away from all the people who expect too much from me. My parents. Friends. People at this school who do not even know me. Everybody.

I do not know how this happened. How I went from being just a normal kid in middle school to becoming one of the most popular kids in high school. I did not do anything different or ask for any type of special treatment. I just existed and that was enough. I woke up one day, walked through the halls of Rockwell High School and everyone knew my name.

No, I think I do know how it happened. I saved someone. One of the students here. I saved them from death. From jumping off the ledge. From making a bad choice. From choosing death over life. From ending their life when it had just begun.

The person I saved was my best friend Michele. He was going through a rough time through the summer before we started high school. He had been in a serious relationship with a girl named Emily who cheated on him with another guy who when he found out felt guilty for hurting Michele in this way. This guy did not know Emily was with someone because she lied, told him that she did not have a boyfriend because her boyfriend had broken her heart so she needed something new. Said she just wanted to sleep with him, nothing else. So he complied, because why not?

He had no idea the damage he caused Michele. Ever since the cheating, Michele faced depression. He started becoming moody, less open to converse with friends. One thing lead to another and he tried committing suicide. Not just once, but multiple times. He was lucky though, because he always got caught before he could fully commit. But then one day, he tried killing himself at Rockwell High School. In front of our peers. In front of me. He was going to jump off the roof of the school. But I got there, just in time. I was able to convince him how life is worth living, that while things in life are difficult, he has friends and people who deeply care about him and are willing to help him.

I saved his life. In front of everyone. Friends. Family. Classmates. Teachers. Everyone.

It became a story on the front page of Rockwell High School News. A story I could never shake off me. Everyone started calling me the hero of Rockwell and wanted to be my friend. I never asked for any of this. I just wanted to help out my best friend and make sure he was okay. That is all I ever want is for my friends to be okay.

It was something I did not for myself, but my friend. Michele deserved to live, to not be distraught and heartbroken by Emily, the girl he thought he loved. In the end, everything turned out okay for him.

But it brought with it a permanent reminder of what had happened to him. No matter what happened in his life next, Michele would be remembered as the guy at Rockwell High School who tried to end his life. And I, Max, would be remembered as the friend and hero who came to his rescue, saving him from making a terrible choice.

But that is all over now, even though everyone here wants to act otherwise. I have moved on, and Michele has too. The only problem now is everyone else has not. Everyone still calls me a hero, tells me I will be doing great things with my life. And I am sick and tired of it. All of it. Dealing with people I do not know coming up to me, telling me about myself as if I do not already know who I am. Michele and I are not this one incident. We are human, just like everyone else. The sooner my peers and everyone around me realize that, the better.

As I headed out of the double doors to Rockwell High School, another student approached me with wide eyes.

“Hello,” he stammered in a quiet voice. “Are you Max? The guy who—you know—saved that guy who was going to jump?”

With a sigh, I looked into this student’s wide eyes which were growing bigger by the second as he looked up to my tall frame. I am used to this, people normally having to look up at me to talk to me. I am very tall for a high school freshman. Most of the freshman here are still shortly built, but I retained my growth spurt whenever we were all in middle school so I stand out here like a sore thumb. While being one of the tallest guys here does have some perks, it is also more of an inconvenience for me because most people here know who I am. They just do not realize how tall I am until they come into contact with me in person. And then the shock kicks in and they do not know what to say.

Because I am the guy who saved his best friend. To everyone around here, that is what all I will ever be. A damn hero. A label I never asked for and that I feel like I do not deserve.

After talking to this admirer, I walk away and go home.

I live in a normal home, a house with a white picket fence and a nicely trimmed front yard. It is usually nice being at home because besides my closet friends, my parents and siblings are the only ones who continue to treat me like a normal human being. I know mostly it is because they know Michele personally so they understand what he was going through and that all I did was try to help a friend in need. Which I honestly appreciate because I get enough of being called a hero at school and everywhere else I go that having normalcy at home is really nice.

Because while there are a lot of moments I do not mind being labeled a hero, it does get tiring after a while. It has been a year since the incident and you would think everyone here would have already moved on from what happened. Maybe it is because everyone here knows Michele (though not as well as me) and we all feel close together that the incident has impacted people more than expected. Our community is very small in size so I am not at all shocked that people here have banded together in support of getting Michele the help he needs. Everyone knows everyone (well, almost everyone. We occasionally have some new people here who even I do not know who come up to me and show their support for Michele and tell me what a wonderful job I did.) And there are people in this community I have not met at all. Mind you, I have seen them at school, but I just have not been involved in their lives and they have left me alone too, which is pretty nice. It feels nice to know that there are some people here who know about what I have done but that know to leave me be.

As I walk through our front door, I am warmly welcomed by our tabby cat Kim. Kim snuggles close to me as I close the front door, jumping and purring at me in welcome. She then nudges the toe of my shoe and angles her head to the side.

“Hello there Kim,” I say as I take my backpack off my shoulders and hang it up on our door rack. “Have you been fed yet? I assume not, considering you are coming over to me while I just walked through the door.”

I head into our kitchen, which is perpendicular to our living room space. We just recently got new renovations so everything in our house looks brand spanking new in comparison to how our house looked before. Everything in the kitchen included, looking shiny like a brand new car. I checked Kim’s food bowl, which we keep close to the fridge so that we can be reminded to give her more food. When I see that it is empty, I go to our food pantry, grab the cat food and pour it in.

As I hear the clink of cat food against the bowl, Kim perks her ears up and runs over excitedly. After taking a few nibbles out of her bowl, she rubs herself against me and purrs in appreciation. I bend down to pet her and mumble how excited I am to see her.

Then after giving her one more quick pet on the head, I leave the kitchen, round the corner to our staircase, and head upstairs to my bedroom. After the day I had at school today, I decide I might as well take a shower before going to the party. Besides, I have plenty of time until then. The party is not until seven so I will not be taking too long. And it always feels nice to take a shower anyway so no worries.

As I grab two towels from the hallway closet, one for my hair the other for my body, I head into the clean bathroom, shedding my school clothes off as I go. I jump into the shower, making sure I have all of the accessories needed to get clean.

After my shower, I towel off and head back into my bedroom, going directly to my clothes closet. I open the closet and grab the first pair of shirts and pants I can find and change. After I am changed, I go to the bathroom mirror to look at my reflection so I can make sure my hair is neat. I use my large hands to run my finger through my thin brown hair and check my face in the mirror to look for any chinks in my armor.

I see my brown hair, messy and disorderly from the shower wet and wild. My blue eyes foggy from having water exposed to their pours, trying to rub some of the water out to make my vision more clear and focus. I scrub my hair with my bare hands, trying to make it more neat and tidy for tonight’s party. I know I should probably dry my hair, but I honestly prefer having my hair air dry on its own. It allows me the time I need to do other things and it looks less messy for me.

I shake my head, hoping to get some of my hair out of my eyes, take one last quick look at my reflection in the mirror, and then leave the house, taking my keys with me as I go.

Jason’s house is just five houses down the street from my own. I got invited to this party by Matt, one of my closest high school friends since the incident with Michele. Like everyone else, he was impressed with my heroic deed. However, he was friendly and did not push me too much about all of the details. Instead, he wanted to get to know me as a person, asking me to hang out and do things together and become friends.

Matt knows Jason because they are in the same social circle. They had also been friends with each other since middle school so that helped. It helps that they are both dating girls in the same group as well. Jason has been dating the same girl since middle school, a blonde girl with a strong rebellious streak. Or so I have been told. While I have yet to meet her, she sounds like fun. But I have heard what a power couple her and Jason are. Then again, I have heard from a lot of people about Jason. How much of a nerd he is, the type of guy I had always wanted to be friends with but that my newfound celebrity status as high school hero has caused a chance of a less likely encounter.

Oh well. I will get to meet him today though. After all, I will be barging into his party. Time to deal with all of the looks I am sure I will be getting once I am in his house.

As I walk down the street, I can hear the loud music thumping several blocks away.

Wow, the music is really loud, I thought. I wonder how long it is going to take before the cops get called to stop the fun? Oh well, not really my problem, is it?

As I walk into the throng of the party, I search for Matt, the one friend I have that I definitely know is going to be here. I hear the electric beauty of the music as I pass the gaggle of guys and girls dancing as they consume the alcohol they are too young to be drinking.

It is not until I get away from the ruckus that I see him, hanging out with who must be Jason, clinging to a young blonde girl in his arms. And another young girl of similar age with dark skin who looked at Matt with loving eyes though he did not seem to even notice. When Matt notices me, he waves me over and points me out to the group.

“Hey guys!” Matt exclaims, a red plastic cup in his hands. “This is Max. I am sure not many of you know him personally, but he is one of the closest friends I have here.”

“And Max, these are some of the people I hang out with,” Matt continues, extending his arms to encompass the group around him. “Jason is the dorky guy with the glasses here, Allison is his girlfriend.”

“And this young lady,” Matt says with a wink as he points to the lady looking at him with such loving eyes. “Is Becca. Allison and Becca are part of a trio of chaos at our school. Their third member Steph is currently partying it up with the others. She loves partying so much that she just goes at it whenever she comes to one of these things. But she is polite about it. She usually greets the host first before she starts doing her own thing, which is really nice about her. But come join us here Max before you start thinking you are too good for all of us normal people.”

I shrug my shoulders at him and say hello to everyone he mentioned as I approach the group, being careful not to be too antisocial.

“Do not listen to him Max,” Becca said. “We are a friendly bunch. You are welcome with us anytime. And we are not exactly normal so to speak either. We are a bunch of dorks who are just looking for a good time. Partying is one of the many things we do together to have fun. It allows us to kick back and take our minds off our troubles for an hour or two.”

“Speaking of partying,” Allison says as she untangles herself from Jason’s arms. “Should we not be joining Steph? She has already started having a good time without us. I think the least we could do is go dance with her. We did promise we would not take too long and that we would catch up with her. And since there are now three guys in our group, maybe Max and Steph can dance together when we get to her. I know she normally prefers to dance alone and never with a guy, but she really needs to stop being so antisocial around other guys. I sometimes feel as if she never wants anything to do with the male population so I think it would be nice if she hung out with someone who does not belong here too.”

A look of mischief glimmered in Becca’s eyes as Allison spoke, showing a hint of trouble at the possibility of making one of her good friends dance with me, a complete stranger. While I so badly wanted to laugh at this whole exchange, I became intrigued the more I heard about Steph. She was someone at Rockwell High School that I had never heard about or even seen. Yes, I have heard a little bit about some of her friends, but I did not know anything about her.

I wonder what that is like, I thought. Not having a lot of people know about you. Not having to worry that people will see you and know who you are and call you a hero for one thing you did, just to save a friend. Being completely invisible, without any care in the world, leaving all your troubles behind and being able to focus on your own identity for a change.

Steph was definitely someone I was interested in meeting. But I had no idea how much meeting her would change my life.


When I went with Jason, Allison, Matt and Becca to join in the dancing with a throng of people, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I could definitely hear all of the people yelling and screaming, a look of pleasure plastered neatly on their shiny, sweaty faces. Some in the gaggle of young adults like myself had a cup of booze in their hands, half empty, maybe even full. Could not tell from the group who was already hammered from the night and who was still managing to remain sober despite having a few drinks to wind their night down.

I kept myself distant at first as I watched everyone in my party go into the crowd and dance. But then as I looked at the sea of faces that swam before me, I noticed a girl who was having a rather good time. I do not know what exactly about her caught my attention. I do not know if it was seeing the pure joy of exhilaration in her eyes as she danced in swift movements or that she called out to my adventurous personality. But she stood out to me like a beacon of light in a dark room. I was immediately drawn to her presence and wanted to dance just for the possibility of maybe being near her essence.

Right when these thoughts crossed my mind completely, she turned to look in my direction almost as if she had read my thoughts. She stopped in her dance as she looked at me. The expression on her face I could not read, but I felt as if by looking at me, she was beckoning me to join her.

I felt my heart hammer in my chest rapidly and stopped cold in my tracks.

Who is this girl? I thought as I turned to look at her only to discover she was no longer there. And how does she move so quickly? She is really good, I must admit. She really does seem to enjoy dancing.

But who is she? Who is she?

As this last thought entered my conscious mind, I felt a hand pulling me into the throng of dancing people. I turned to look to see who was bringing me into the crowd to find myself looking into her eyes once again.

“Want to dance?” I heard her beautiful voice say as I stared at the people around me in shock.

I felt as if I had been hypnotized. I do not know how I got here and why. I did not understand why this girl, this one girl, brought so many feelings to the forefront of my conscious thought. She drew me to her like a moth to a flame and her eyes entranced me into wanting to dance with her.

“S-sure,” I stammered, caught off guard that I was even able to speak while in her presence.

I looked into her eyes, trying to smile and be charming in the hope that she might want to not only dance but talk as well. She was a figure amidst those around me that caught my attention and knew how to drew me in.

And I do not know why exactly she captivated me.  I do not know if it was the way she moved when she danced, like a free spirit looking to have a good time, or if it was the look in her bright eyes, shining like the golden sun.

But in that moment, she captivated me like no other girl ever had. My eyes were drawn to her, only her and nobody else.

I had never felt this drawn to a person before. Especially a girl. Yes, I know girls am familiar with them and their charms. But I have never been close to one before to want to be more than friends with one. That is how enthralled with this one I was. Her spirit spoke to me, called to me in a way none of the other girls at Rockwell High School had ever done.

In that moment, I wanted to make a good impression on her. I wanted to charm her, to enthrall her, to be with her. I wanted to soak up that warm welcoming smile, that glow that shined all around her. I wanted to be with her, whether it was in her presence or near her enough to where I could talk to her in casual conversation.

I not only wanted to be like her best friend, but much much more. And I did not understand any of it. What was happening and why. I did not understand this at all. But whatever it was, whatever this was, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed every moment of it. And I did not want it to stop. I wanted this moment to last the rest of my lifetime, to be frozen in time in a picture frame. To be remembered for what it was: a good night, the best night of my life.

So for the first time in my life, I danced with a woman that enthralled me. And without knowing it and meaning for it to happen, I met Steph, the girl who I unexpectedly fell in love with.         

The Swan & the Crow Chapter 1: Another Night Out (Steph)

Swan & Crow Chp. 1
The beginning of Chapter One of The Swan & the Crow. Total word count since writing my first chapter is 3,080 words.

Note: NaNoWriMo is where writers work on a 50,000 word novel during the month of November without editing their work, including checking for spelling or punctuation. Therefore, my story The Swan & the Crow for NaNoWriMo is nowhere close to perfect. Please keep this in mind when reading this chapter and the rest of the chapters that will be following it. But I am open to hearing opinions on what I have written so far and am open to any feedback given. Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my attempt at a novel and I hope you have a nice day!

The last bell for class rang. I ran out, ready to get out and party with friends. I had enough of school for today and just wanted to go home, change clothes, and party.

For the past couple months, partying has been a big part of my life. I party to get away from life, to forget everything going on around me. To dull the pain home has caused me, to feel numb completely. To forget the past, live in the present and make it to the future. I live life everyday like it is the last day I will be living on the Earth.

But I have to. It is the only way I can stay sane. What with all the trouble I have to deal with at home.

My parents are a complete train wreck. My mom is a hot mess, constantly dealing with father’s abuse. She is too kind and forgiving for her own good. But she refuses to leave him, ever. Even after he leaves her bruised and beaten and bloody on the floor, crying for help.

Not to say my dad does not have good moments too. He does, but they are very frequently now that he drinks on a daily basis. I just wish he laid off on the booze and gave mom the love and support she deserves. Instead, I am the one left to pick up the pieces of her broken heart that refuses to give out.

Not that I mind too much, usually. Mom is so loving and supporting of everything I do, almost like a personal cheerleader that I have a hard time being mad at her. It is usually Dad that I am mad at whenever I am at home.

But this has been going on for a while now, since I was little when we first moved here. I have just now decided that I have had enough and need something to get away from it all.

That is when partying became a big part of my life. All of my friends go out on a daily basis so I decided to tag along with them, just for something to do away from home. Ever since, I have been hooked.

And tonight was not going to be any different.

As soon as I got home, I immediately went to my room, ignoring my Dad’s far cries for more alcohol.

“Steph!” I heard Dad yell in a drunken stupor as I ascended to my room. “Can you go into the refrigerator and get me more alcohol? I just finished this bottle here, and your mother is on the floor in our room, crying like a baby as usual.”

I closed the door with a slam once I was in my room in response, immediately going to my closet wardrobe looking for clothes. I found the navy button down t shirt I liked hanging up, took the shirt I was currently wearing off, and buttoned it up to perfection before closing the closet door.

I then went to my mirror hanging against my bedroom door to look at my reflection, making sure to adjust my shirt just right. When I looked into my dark brown eyes, all I saw was fear. Fear and excitement for the adrenalin I was going to be experiencing tonight at the party. My long black hair that ran all the way down to my waist I decided to pull up in a ponytail to keep away from my angular face. Once that was done, I went to my drawer at the end of my bed, pulling out a nose ring, which I quickly applied directly to my nose. The nose ring was a dark shade of purple, bringing out a nice sense of calm to my already dark face.

In order to make myself look more exotic and dangerous, I also got out of the drawer some dark purple eyeliner to apply around my eyes in order to match my newly acquired nose ring. I then put on some purple lipstick to make my whole exotic look more complete.

Once I put all of my accessories away, I knew my look was complete. Time to get out of here and go party with Allison and Becca, I thought as I closed the door in my room and descended the stairs, heading directly to the kitchen. I grabbed the last bottle of booze we had left in our refrigerator and went into the living room, quickly putting it in Dad’s hand.

“Here’s your damn booze,” I said. “Now I’m going to go check on Mom, but I am going out tonight. I have some things I have to do that are more important than staying here with you and Mom, but I will be back home later. Try not to kill Mom for me while I am gone, please.”

“Oh and one last thing,” I continued before going into their bedroom. “That is the last bottle of booze that was left in the fridge. Looks like you are going to have to stock up on some more. Such a shame. I know how much you hate having to leave the house for anything.”

I walked into their bedroom and could hear Mom weeping on the floor in a corner of the bedroom. The room was dark, a void of silence and emptiness accept for the sounds of Mom’s weeping. I turned on a light in order to brighten the place up and went to check on Mom for damages to her face.

Mom was hurt badly. I could see the damage just from looking at her face. She had bruises covering both her eyes and a cut directly on her forehead. She was also shaking from head to toe, rocking back and forth as if to numb her body of the pain she had just endured. And she was crying too. I could see the tears streaming down her face as I bent over her to calm her down.

“Shhh, Mom,” I whispered gently to her as if I were talking to a child. “There, there. It is okay. The pain is over now. You are okay. You will be alright. Dad is in the living room. He is drinking himself into a sleeping stupor again.”

I then hugged her against me as the weeping continued, pressing my hands gently against her back to calm her down. I rubbed my hands through her wind-blown curly black hair as her sobs echoed throughout the bedroom, hoping to calm her down and get her settled in for the night.

My Mom is not one for words. She is often very quiet, mostly because of Dad’s abuse but also because she does not have a whole lot to say. But when she does talk, her voice echoes words of wisdom I often repeat to myself to make it through the day. She is a gentle spirit, very childlike in nature that I am always protecting with my life. I both hate her and love her all at once. I hate how much crap she puts up with Dad and how she does not stand up to the pain he causes her. But I love her gentle spirit and how strong she is against the odds and her devotion to Dad, despite all of the trouble he causes both of us.

I held her against me for a long time. Eventually, she fell asleep laying on the floor in my arms and I was able to carry her and gently place her in their bed. I then covered the blankets over her sleeping frame, gently stroked her face, and gave her a gentle kiss on the cheek before leaving their bedroom and the house to go out with Allison and Becca for the party.


It was dark when Allison and Becca arrived at Jason’s house for the party. Jason is Allison’s long time sweetheart. They have been together since we were sixth grade middle schoolers. And their relationship shows no signs of being anywhere close to stopping. They are both the cutest and dorkiest couple I have ever met. But they are sweet and both of them love me for me. They understand my problems at home and have always been supportive of me getting out of the house. Even if it means partying my nights away.

When we walked in Jason’s house, the party was just starting. The smell of alcohol filled my lungs with exhilaration and got my heart pumping, ready to start jumping and dancing. The music was upbeat, coming up and down in waves of shock and electricity that filled the room of dancing bodies with bursting energy. But we had to find Jason first. After all, this is his house and his party. It would be rude not to say hello to the host of the night. Even though I wanted to dance and forget my troubles at home, I was polite at these occasions.

As Allison, Becca and I pushed through sweaty bodies, we found Jason over by the alcohol cooler, talking to his buddy Matt. Jason is a man with upper body strength and a very lean torso. About an inch or two taller than me, Jason has dark brown hair, parted on the left side of his face, matched with a pair of black framed glasses. He is cute, in a dorky sort of way that draws Allison’s attention to him.

While Jason isn’t my type, him and Allison are a cute couple. While Jason is much more dark in comparison, Allison is an angel in disguise. With blonde hair and perfectly shaped blue eyes, Allison is the type of girl who could get whatever guy she wanted. But she doesn’t because she only has her eyes and ears for Jason. But like me, Allison also has body piercings. She has one in her nose, similar to mine but also a belly ring and gauges. She is the type of girl that draws people to her like moths to a flame. There is always a guy everyday interested in talking to her, but she manages to avoid them and pretends like they don’t exist.

Sometimes I envy her. Not because of her looks or anything. I envy the easy way she carries herself. She oozes confidence everywhere she goes, confidence I wish I myself had. She is very perky too and very social. She can talk to anyone in a room and have that person laughing within minutes of their conversation. She is that social and I envy it every time I see it. She is also one of my best friends and I love her for taking time out of her day to talk to me about anything. She is a very good listener too which is something else I adore about her. She listens to anything I say and is able to offer the best advice I need for the occasion.

Her and Becca both are the light at the end of my tunnel. They bring me a sense of peace and calm my life at home has never been able to give to me. And I love them for it with each and every breath I breathe.

And Matt is the guy Becca currently has a crush on. With short cropped ginger red hair, Matt is of shorter build than Jason but is very strong. He is about an inch taller than me to where I could almost look him directly in his green lizard eyes.

While Allison is an angel in disguise, Becca is the complete opposite. She is the girl I rely on whenever I need to get in trouble. She is the life of any party that is going on around her. With her and Allison, we are a storm in a world of chaos. Allison knows how to calm me down while Becca knows how to rile me up. Like me, Becca too is very exotic looking. Born in Jamaica, Becca has very dark black skin and short cropped dark red hair recently dyed from its normal dark black color hue. Her brown almond shaped eyes give off a hint of mischief to those who gaze upon them. But unlike Allison and I, Becca’s dark skin is not graced with any sort of piercings. Instead, she wears bangled sets of jewelry that she claims to have gotten from her home in Jamaica. All of which are a beautiful golden color like the sun.

As we approach Jason and Matt, Allison runs to Jason and gives him a bear like hug. Becca on the other hand approaches Matt awkwardly, grasping his hand in a firm handshake and mumbling a quick “hello.”

Jason hugs Allison back and gives her a quick peck on the cheek. I turn away from the romantic interaction, trying to dull the numb pain inside of me in my isolation. Because I know I will never find love like there’s, no matter how hard I try.

I am too much of a loner for such a thing. I do not have time for boys when my world around me is too painful. When all the people left in my life are those few close friends I currently have. Allison, Becca, Jason and my Mom are the only ones I really have. They are the only ones I love, the only ones who understand my pain.

“So how are you ladies doing today?” I hear Jason say amidst my inner turmoil. “Are you not going to go ahead and party, enjoy the moment? Things are already starting to get pumped up here. Might as well get in on the action.”

As Jason holds Allison close to him, he gently strokes her hair as she leans her head on his shoulder.

“We wanted to say hello first,” Allison, Becca and I say in unison. “We just got here after all. Might as well say hello to the friendly host before we get the party really started.”

I look all around me at all the people dancing, laughing and having a good time. Well, I think, I might as well get started. I know Allison is going to want to be around Jason for a little bit and Becca is going to want to talk to Matt too.

“I think I am going to go ahead and join in the fun,” I tell Allison, Becca and Matt as Allison keeps her head on Jason’s shoulder and Becca looks at Matt in a romantic way. “You guys look like you are comfortable here but I think I need to clear my head for a little bit.”

“Okay,” Becca says, a smile gleaming in her eyes. “But try not to get into too much trouble without us. I will be there in a minute. I want to hang out with Matt for a little bit. I have something I want to talk to him about.”

“Oh, I am sure you do,” I say a smile hitting my eyes as I give her a quick wink before slinking off into the group of people.

I take a moment to listen to the pumping music for a little bit, then start fist pounding and jumping around, laughing and giggling like I am having the best time of my life. And I am. Usually parties give me this sense of inner peace and excitement I never get from anything else. They make me forget how shitty things at home are, even when a party turns out to be a complete bust. Which normally, is never the problem for me. Allison, Becca and I have good luck at finding just the right parties to have a good time at. Mostly because they know my need to party but also because we know how to make parties fun when things are not looking so good.

Tonight is no exception, even now when I am dancing alone. I can already feel the high I get from dancing around at parties, the magnetic electricity stinging the air and making my hair frizz up. Time passes as I continue to dance, not at all noticing more and more people joining in on the fun.

Allison and Becca eventually join in the fray with Jason and Matt in tow. Both dance with their respective partners, giggling in sheer joy at the beautiful music being played to provide us with a good time. It is while I am dancing with my friends that I notice a different atmosphere to the party. I do not know what it is exactly, but I all of a sudden notice my heart thumping hard in my chest. And when I turn to try and find the source of my beating heart problem, I see a beautiful pair of blue eyes of a male staring right into my soul. And for the first time ever since I have gone to one of these parties, I feel the moment frozen in time like a picture from a fairy tale story. I do not know what is going on, but I am drawn to this guy and want to find out his name.

He stands out from the pack of male guys already here at this party. I do not know if it is his attractive looks or that he has decided to distance himself from everyone else here. But he is standing alone, not at all dancing. Just looking straight at me, straight into my soul. His eyes draw me to him and make me want to go over and talk to him. But I do not know him. I do not know him at all.

But he is attractive. I can say that for sure. With his dark brown hair and ocean wave blue eyes, he draws me into his gaze. He is tall for a high school student, one of the tallest guys I have ever seen at this party. He towers over the rest of us in the sea of people dancing and having a good time. I do not know why, but something about him looks familiar. I do not know what it is exactly.

But I do not care. Because I want to go over to him, talk to him and find out his name. And find out why I feel as if I have seen him before.

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