20 | wrapped around her earbuds

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| 20 |

You're so beautiful it's riddikulus.

"YOUR TOTAL IS $18.44," Charlotte recited to the older woman and her two young daughters.  She handed them their bag of books and their change. "Have a nice day!"

Without Hazel, Charlotte had to work extra at the bookstore. Everyone did.

Without her, it felt as if the whole world was at a standstill, a whole globe of people stuck in quicksand, barely moving along. Family dinners weren't the same, and neither was family movie night. In fact, the whole family wasn't the same.

Charlie had spent more time in her room than anywhere else, besides maybe Teddy's house or school.

Teddy.

Things with Theodore Orion had never been better.

Their friendship had increased to weird, made-up handshake level. Any time they saw each other, they'd have to slap hands and then bump fists and explode, and then wave their fingers and yell the first Harry Potter spell that came to mind.

He was perfect.

Speaking of perfect, the notes were absolutely perfect. Her collection of those miniature, folded pieces of paper had grown in the past months, filling her small wooden box that she had moved to her bedside table.

The box was overflowing with nerdy jokes and quirky pickup lines and lame, cheesy remarks. Like the note she had gotten today: You're so beautiful it's riddikulus. Gosh. What a nerd.

She had to admit, that was a good one. Harry Potter puns and a cheesy remark.  Nerdy, cheesy, and lame, all rolled into one.

It made her blush red enough to camouflage with Spider-Man's suit.

The more days that passed, the more confused she got. Every minute of the school day she was darting her eyes to the person next to her's writing to see if it matched up with the notes.

No luck yet.

Charlie was starting to wonder if she'd even find out who writes her the lovely notes.

Ever since she ruled out Teddy, she had been comparing the notes to his handwriting on the drawing of her he made (maybe just holding onto a sliver of hope that it was him who wrote them). Now that she looked it over, she realized that yeah, his handwriting wasn't exactly like the note-writer's. His handwriting was sloppy, one of the similarities to the note writer's. It was easily mistakable. Just she wasn't positive if it was a perfect pair. It was hard to tell.

(Again, she was clenching onto that thin piece of hope, dangling on the end of the very short string of possibility.)

She was also still hoping that the note-writer was maybe Malcolm, which was slightly impossible, but she could hope.

He had been absent a lot recently, because of...

Okay, there was no way it could be him. He was barely at school! He wouldn't be able to get her the notes.

Charlie created a deep growling noise in the back of her throat and she rubbed her sweaty hands on her jean shorts.

It always lead to a dead end.

The ring of the bell echoed in the small bookstore. Charlotte's elbows were rested on the wooden counter as she glanced up at the costumers, putting on a smile.  "Hi, and welcome to- why are you guys here?"

The two of them walked up to the counter, Teddy giving her a small, awkward wave, Shane winking towards her.

"Wanted to stop and say hello," Shane grinned, waltzing down an aisle. "This place is so cool."

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