8️⃣

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My Monday alarm broke out into tune half an hour before seven. I groaned and rolled onto my side, begging the device to shut up in my croaky sleep voice. The start of the week had gotten here all too soon. I wasn't ready to deal with all the things I needed to.

But I had to. I had to grow up and deal with things, because that was what responsible adults did. So, after silencing my alarm, I dragged myself out of the sheets and into the bathroom. I took my time going through my routine, mostly because my thoughts were distracting and slowing me down.

Although facing Mr. Whitaker again would be awkward, that held no flame to the anxiety I felt about breaking up with Mateo. What would happen after I did it? Would we eat at different tables? Would our friends disown me? Well, Rachel wouldn't. At least, I hoped she wouldn't.

Once I had thrown an outfit on—a black long-sleeve shirt, blue jeans, and leather boots—I grabbed my backpack and marched downstairs. My dad had already left for work, but my mom was still moving about the kitchen. I realized she was unloading the dishwasher as I fetched myself a protein bar.

"Are you working today?" I asked, hoping she wasn't. I needed the van today. Just in case I had to make a speedy getaway after ending things with Mateo.

"No, but I have a doctor's appointment this afternoon," she replied, turning to smile at me. "Just drive home right after school, and it should be fine."

"Okay. Thanks, Mom." I gave her a quick hug and split for the door.

"Have a good day!" she shouted after me.

I grimaced but hoped I would, indeed, manage to enjoy today.

>>>

Things were already not going well. Mateo was standing in my parking spot when I whipped in, and I almost ran him over. After the dummy moved and my car was safely parked and off, he started knocking on my window. He had this dejected, apologetic look on his face.

Snatching my backpack from the passenger seat, I pushed the door open and steeled myself. Mateo was spewing apologies left and right about Craig and being a jerk and other things that I was trying very hard to tune out. Finally, I lifted my open palm in the gesture for silence. He stopped speaking and worriedly waited for me.

"This isn't just about Craig," I told him, somehow mustering the courage. "This is about how our relationship isn't going anywhere, especially when we'll be going to different colleges, and how I don't feel like we're in a place to be dating. You want to do what you want to do: hang out with Craig. I have to learn how to compromise. It's—"

"Stop."

My eyes widened at the anger in his voice.

"You're not breaking up with me right now," he said, though it sounded more like a question.

"Except...I am."

"Hazel, why?"

Sighing, I pinched the bridge of my nose. "I just tried to tell you why, Mat."

"Those are stupid reasons. We can work through them, okay? We don't have to give up."

"I'm not giving up," I growled, pushing past him to start towards the school. "I'm doing what I think is best for both you and me."

"You're doing what's best for you!" he shouted.

I ignored him and pressed on towards class. However, his exclamation never left my mind. It plagued me all through my day. Was my motivation for the break up completely self-centered? I didn't want to believe so. If Mateo wasn't the right match for me, then surely I wasn't the right match for him.

He didn't come to lunch, and, according to our friends, nobody had seen him in class. I rested my head on my propped elbow while trying to drown out the guilt. Rachel asked if I knew where he was. I told her I didn't. She asked what was wrong. I just shook my head.

The rest of the day crawled by. My attention span seemed to have shortened, and, unfortunately, my physics teacher noticed. She made a huge scene in front of the whole class about my day dreaming. I tried to murder her with my eyes, but it wasn't working. That was probably for the best.

When Literature came around, I was ready to just walk right out of the building and ditch. I didn't, though. My feet carried me straight to Mr. Whitaker's classroom, where he stood outside the door to greet his students. I wasn't sure I had it in me to keep pretending like my mood didn't represent the sinking Titanic.

"Good afternoon, Hazel," my teacher greeted warmly.

"Hi," I replied with a quick nod, no eye contact.

Disappointed that Rachel hadn't arrived yet, I went straight to my seat and sat down. I wrestled with my bag until my Literature binder squeezed out. Then my eyes flickered up to the board and a moment of panic set in. Our Hamlet test was today? Today of all days? On a Monday?

"How are you doing, Hazel?" Mr. Whitaker asked. He'd come to my desk without my notice. "You look distracted."

"I just have a lot going on," I explained, swallowing down the rush of adrenaline in my blood.

"Did you forget the test was today?"

My blush answered for me.

"A lot of students have forgotten," he remarked. "Why do you think that is?"

"Well, it is a Monday. Maybe that's why."

Nodding his head, he said, "Maybe." Then he walked over to his desk.

I was just reaching into my bag for my phone when Rachel walked into the classroom. My shoulders relaxed until I noticed the expression on her face. She didn't look happy, to say the least.

"Why didn't you tell me?" she hissed, dramatically throwing her backpack down onto her desk.

"About...Mateo?"

"What else?"

I slid further down into my seat. "I was afraid you would talk me out of it. Or make me feel more guilty than I already do. I don't really know."

Her face softened as she told me, "You have got to stop caring so much about what other people think. Besides, I never thought you two would make a good couple. No offense. I'm glad you did it; I just wish you would've warned me."

"Why does it matter?"

"Because you're my best friend! I could've been there for you. You look like crap, by the way. All depressed and gloomy."

Just what every girl wants to hear.

"Gee, thanks," I muttered with a fake grin. "I feel all peachy on the inside, too."

"You are—"

"Okay, class," Mr. Whitaker declared as he shut the classroom door. "Let's begin, shall we?"

I suddenly remembered we had a test and almost started laughing. My luck was astounding. Then, to my surprise, he started wiping off the "Test Today, Get Out Your Pencils" note on the board.

"I'm moving the test to tomorrow," he informed us. A round of grateful sighs and hallelujahs went around the room. "We'll just review today. Take out textbooks and turn to page three-hundred and two."

Meeting Mr. WhitakerWhere stories live. Discover now