Chapter 1

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"We are gathered here today to celebrate the life of Katie Barren."

The first funeral I ever attended was my mom's. She died in March during my sophomore year of high school. I was 16. What I felt while I mourned was the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. It took me a couple weeks before I could go back to school. What was just as bad was seeing my dad so heartbroken. I had never seen him in so much pain before, and I couldn't help him.

When I returned back to school, I was showered with love by my friends and classmates. My best friend, Hallie, was there beside me in most of my classes. She was a great person to have around since she was silly and could always cheer me up.

A few days after I came back to school, I noticed a new kid who was in one of Hallie and I's classes.

"Who's that?" I asked.

"Uh, I think his name is Oliver," Hallie said.

"He's kind of cute," I mumbled.

"What was that?" Hallie asked, her eyebrows raising and a grin spreading across her face.

"Nothing," I said.

"You think he's cute?"

I nodded.

She smiled and stood up.

"What are you doing?"

Ignoring me, she walked her and started talking to him. I saw him look over at me and then look back to her, nodding.

Hallie came back to her desk and sat down.

"What was that?" I demanded.

"I asked him to sit with us at lunch."

"That's all you said?"

"Yep," she said.

Hallie liked to joke around me but I knew her well and I could tell she was being honest.

I went back to doing my work, but all I could think about was what I would say to him at lunchtime.

A few hours later, I sat down beside Hallie and a few of our other friends, both guys and girls, at lunch. When Oliver walked into the lunch room, Hallie waved him over.

He sat down across from me and she introduced him to everyone. He had bright green eyes, dark brown hair, and long eyelashes.

Before I was able to say anything to him, a particular peer of mine named Jessica walked over to our table and sat down beside Hallie and rested her elbows on the table, her chin in her hand.

"What are you doing here?" Hallie asked.

"Just wanted to say hi," she said, her eyes on Oliver. She stared at him for a few seconds, smiling.

Suddenly, she looked at me.

"Oh, hey Allie, I didn't notice you were back."

I nodded.

"Didn't your mom die or something?" she asked with a smirk.

I stayed silent.

"Just leave," Hallie said sternly.

"Ha, that's such a tragic life. First she gets pregnant in high school and then she dies at what, like 32 or something?"

"Fuck off," Hallie said, her voice raising.

I stood up and rushed to the bathroom, my eyes welling with tears. Hallie ran behind me.

When I got to the bathroom I leaned up against the wall and closed my eyes.

"You okay?" She asked, her hand on my shoulder.

I nodded and opened my eyes. Tears were streaming down my face. Hallie hugged me and I cried into her arms for a few minutes. I couldn't stop thinking about my mom. I missed her beyond words.

When I finally calmed down, I rinsed off my face and we left the bathroom. Oliver was waiting outside.

I tried to keep my head down as we passed him. I was humiliated.

"Hey, are you ok?" he asked, his arm gently touching my shoulder.

I turned to face him and nodded. "Yeah I'm fine."

We were silent for a moment.

"Oh and yeah, my mom died a few weeks ago from cancer," I said quietly. "And she had me when she was 16."

"Oh," he said.

"She's a bitch," Hallie said, breaking the awkward silence.

"Agreed," Oliver said. I looked up at him, a subtle smile spreading across my face. He looked back at me, a kind look on his face. He smiled as well.

For the next couple weeks he and I started talking more and more, but only within our friend group. I had a massive crush on him, but every time I imagined what it would be like to date him, I couldn't help but think about what my mom would think. I imagined how excited she would be, if she liked him of course. I thought about her loving, energetic smile and her wispy blonde hair. I felt her hugging me as I left to go on a date, and I felt her smiling at me when I talked to him on the phone.

I couldn't think about dating him without becoming sad about my mom, which to me was a sign that I was nowhere near ready to date. I slowly started to forget the idea and save it in the back of my mind, for later.

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