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1.4 Parker

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PARKER

Miles Geller shitting his pants in the first grade was the second most painful moment of my life. He never admitted to the dirty deed. All day, Miles just lived in his own funk as if he wasn't a freaking animal and stunk up our corner of the classroom. During math, he turned towards me, looked me directly in the eyes, and smiled with all his teeth. I wailed, tears pouring down my face. Everyone called me a cry baby for years after that.

Miles Geller was spared the shame.

The most painful moment of my entire life was unfolding right in front of me.

Derek asked me out, which to me, took guts, and that level of confidence was attractive. He sat across the table from me, sporting a puffy jacket and a backward hat. The hat should have warned me.

Derek's get-up said he was a few centuries too late from wearing popped collars. Backward hats were the new popped collars. You could fight me on that. He looked ready to challenge the nearest dude-bro to an arm-wrestling contest. He looked like he'd challenge a girl to a fight after school, something he'd be sure to win. He looked like he ate burritos from the middle.

All the signs were there.

And yet, I said yes. No ordinary person could change my mind. I used to believe people willing to ask another person out on a date, they were bold. No. Derek asked me out because he was an idiot.

"Hey, why don't you order for me?" Derek suggested, and I took it like a bat to the stomach. I glued my eyes to the menu to keep from shooting him with my laser eyes or rolling my eyes right out of my skull. However, losing a couple of peepers might turn out to be a pro. If my eyes plopped down on the ground, I'd find something more interesting than Derek's frozen quirked brow. He's probably never had an interesting conversation in his life. He just wasn't that interesting.

Until that moment, Derek had a strong opinion on everything: the temperature of the room, the table we were given and its distance from the window and natural light, the lack of traffic getting here and most of all, the fact I chose Chinese food over getting pizza.

"I-" My face quirked with an added huff. "I just-" My brain worked slower than usual, thrown by the awkwardness. "I don't know what stuff you like."

"Pick anything," he insisted.

Right then and there, I should have just faked some period cramps. I should have texted my best friend Camille to call and say my cat was on fire. Anything to get out of this, but all I could hear was my mother's voice. My mother in that I've-lived-on-this-earth-forever-and-I've-experienced-everything-and-you-should-always-listen-to-me-tone that said, "Why don't you ever give people a chance? Ashley- I mean, Parker, you know you're beginning to become a one date wonder..."

The One Date Wonder!

The worst superhero of all time. I'd never get a franchise with a name like that.

Tightening my smile, I just nodded without a real answer. If I avoided talking, I couldn't say anything too mean. Maybe this was how I learned I wasn't a nice person. Derek picked up his red cup, eying the inside like he once watched a glass of water sell drugs to middle schoolers. He grumbled, "They didn't give us any straws."

"It's fine," I said. "It won't kill you."

"But like... it's weird?" His brows quirked, creating a riddle for me that I didn't ask for. Nothing ruins dinner conversation worse than politics, telling someone you've never seen their favorite movie and of course, riddles. "Who doesn't give out straws? Am I supposed to put my mouth on this?" He doesn't stop. "It's like so easy to give people straws. You drop the menus. You drop the straws. Boom! You're done. So, what's hard about that?"

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