35 // Over the Rainbow

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"Oh Tyler, you're so funny!"

I giggled, probably a little too forcefully as I threw my hair over my shoulder and plastered a too-wide smile on my face. When my eyes met with the reflection, paused mid-laugh and looking absolutely ridiculous, my face immediately dropped.

"I'm sure if I work on it for the next fifty years, it'll come to me. Eventually." I sighed, running my fingers through my hair as I had been obsessively for the past hour. "Probably." 

Anticipation for Friday was the only thing that pushed my heart to trudge through the rest of the week, through lonely lunches tucked in the corner of the cafeteria and frost-bitten shoulders that seemed to meet me every time I rounded a corner in the hallways. The horizon held the promise of a date with Tyler, the one thing I felt like I'd been dreaming of since middle school, the long-awaited conclusion to our love story.

I just had to make it until Friday. And now, it was Friday. And it was finally the beginning of the rest of my life.

When I heard a vibration sound behind me, my eyes immediately shot open, heart leaping in my throat as I dove for my cellphone. A-la typical Stella, the jerky movement caused my foot to catch on one of the many sweaters that lay scattered on my floor, and gravity eagerly created a face-to-floor connection. A frustrated groan crawling up my throat, I blindly patted my bed, searching for my phone, and feeling a smile form despite the pain when my fingertips touched the glass surface.

I couldn't stop the wishful thinking from polluting my thoughts. Eva, or Savannah? An even smaller voice asked for a different name, one that was a little too close for comfort, but I swallowed that down forcefully. 

Disappointment pursed my lips as I read the name on my phone, seeing Chris light up on the screen. As I rolled over on my back, a groan falling from my lips, I forced myself to shake it off, painfully ignoring the twist in my stomach.

"We're on the same goddamn floor, you moron!"

"Suck it, Grandma! We're leaving in five!" Chris called back through the walls, causing me to roll my eyes.

As his words echoed through the room, a memory from the beginning of the school year involuntarily flashed before my eyes. Reese, blasting his music, grinning up at me with those infuriating dimples while I flipped him off from my window in the early hours of the morning. Despite only being months before, it felt like an eternity, and the thought brought a bitter taste to my mouth.

This was what I was always preparing for, anyway. There was always an expiration date to our weird relationship. This was just the inevitable end.

I shouldn't have even been thinking about Reese while Savannah and Eva weren't speaking to me. It felt as if it'd be betraying them even more, and yet, I couldn't take that one step forward to apologize to them face-to-face either.

The thought of either of them cutting me off in plain words, explicitly ending the friendship with cold, uncaring eyes, it hurt too much to even think about pushing up from the limbo I was lingering in.

And so- distraction. Swallowing the newly formed lump in my throat, I sat up, grabbed the familiar burgundy lipstick that was set on my nightstand, and drew a deep breath.

I was going on a date with Tyler. That was all that mattered. Everything else was just background noise.

Chris barely acknowledged my existence as I slipped into the passenger seat, only sparing a passing glance before he was revving out of the driveway and down the street. Just as we were passing by, Reese stepped out of the doorway, and for a moment the two of us locked eyes. My breath hitched in my throat, my heart stuttered, and my muscles seized up. But then the car was driving off, his eyes were replaced with blurred trees, and he vanished from my sight.

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