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Part One: Browsing the Internet

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PARKER

Two weeks, one day, and ten minutes was by far the longest I have ever officially dated anyone. Or at least the longest I was able to stand being in a relationship. After a while, dating was nothing but a chore, eating away at the few precious minutes of my day. I always thought I wanted a girlfriend or a boyfriend, until I actually had one.

I was not a thing created to date.

As a girl, I was expected to crave things like dating and romance. Sure, sometimes, I felt the absence of intimacy, and the hunger for a connection and after a few mild spouts of depression caused by loneliness, I stepped up to the plate yet again. I continued taking swings, but I always hesitated and ended up missing. Strike after strike. Gross, a baseball metaphor. My dad would be way too pleased.

Stranded outside my place of work, The Frugal Finds Grocery Store, Camille and I sat on top of the hood of her car. Her groan rattled her entire body, her short legs flailing in the crisp air. "I'm so bored! Do you think this is a bad omen? Like the whiff of death?"

"All bad things do come in threes," I warned her.

"Don't threaten me."

"You asked."

Frugal Finds was one of those chains that promised a happy staff, so it was jam-packed with great actors. My customer service was on the level of Meryl Streep's acting. Convincing. Pragmatic. Still super fake. You have to be the best out there when there were scraggly middle-aged men telling me to "smile," even though all I asked was "if I could help them with anything else."

Camille's black Volkswagen Beetle had sputtered its last breath by the cart return. It decided to take the kind of nap that a person could never wake up from, stranding us in a sea of abandoned shopping carts and midsized sedans. Typical, trapped at work on my day off.

If I were a peasant back in the day, I would have never left my side of the village. Honestly, I probably would never even see the edge of my village. Walking farther than the length of a Target parking lot was too much effort for me.

Bored, I scrolled through my ex-girlfriend's Instagram. Her username was EmilybutSpooky. I pretended the cold wasn't slowly destroying the feeling I had in my fingers and toes. I imagined them breaking off and plopping into someone's lemonade to help quench their thirst. Emily hadn't blocked me yet on social media. I assumed she'd miss the extra "like" on her pictures too much to kick me to the obscure void of being muted.

Ex-girlfriend felt less passive than the name suggested.

She was a blemish I couldn't stop picking at, even though I knew leaving the scab alone would let it heal. I just loved to scratch at it for the quick relief.

Camille leaned into me, wrapping her arm around mine. We huddled for warmth, but I knew her true intent was just to siphon the heat out of me. and we were already struggling to survive the harsh autumn climate. But it was Camille's own fault she was shivering as bad as a shy girl presenting a powerpoint presentation. She wore black skinny jeans with a dozen rips and holes. Paired with a tight turtleneck, she invited the cold with open arms.

Clothes spoke to me. They told me everything I needed to know about a person. I wore a pair of high waisted skinny jeans and an oversized sweatshirt underneath a jean jacket I found at Goodwill. This outfit told everyone that I expected a food baby later, and I wanted to hide it. In this, I was comfortable. Approachable. Maybe down for a nap.

Meanwhile, Camille's clothing suggested that she awoke from her coffin this morning with the intent to exchange people's deepest darkest desire for their souls. She was like my fairy gothmother with bangs.

"Oh!" Camille perked up. She motioned to a woman pushing a cart full of groceries. On the bottom of her cart, three cases of soda rattled. I prayed one of them would pop open and scatter across the parking lot. Whoever placed a grocery store on a hill obviously never had to shop there.

Camille snickered. "This lady hates feet. She bleaches her socks all the time."

I nodded and stroked an invisible beard. "It's why she's afraid of clowns. Can you imagine the kind of feet in those things?" We didn't know if any of that was true, but it was a fun game to play while Camille and I watched people go by and leave in their more obliging cars.

"That guy." Camille nudged me. A man walked out of the store with his arms full of canvas bags and two water jugs, which were hanging from his trembling fingers. She grinned. "He's afraid of basements—"

"Everyone is afraid of basements," I talked over her. Holding my hand up, I wriggled my shoulders and spoke with a pitch of haughtiness. "He's petrified when he hears nursery rhymes. Come on, Cam. I thought you came to play."

Camille narrowed her eyes, her lips picking up slightly in the corner. "Are you picking a fight with me? Because you know I would destroy you."

"Is that a challenge?" I pressed my nose against hers.

"It's a promise." She jumped off her car and shoved my shoulder just a little. A spark jumped around my chest and I grinned nice and wide, revealing every dimple in my arsenal. I lunged for her tiny little frame and she shrieked, dashing behind the car. I raced the opposite way, ready for a head-on collision, but she dodged. We bobbed. We weaved. We mirrored each other's moves to run around the car over and over.

I forced her to the front of the car, faking her out like I was going to go right over the hood. But Camille took this as inspiration. She dove across the black metal for my stomach and my ribcage nearly cracked from laughing so hard. We wrestled the way actors did on stage, not a lot of action, but a lot of drama and we made all the right noises with the spirit of the Capulets and the Montagues. Ready for the grand finale, I grabbed Camille around the waist and hoisted her off the ground, whirling us around in a never-ending twister. She shrieked and kicked her legs in the air while I laughed manically.

With Camille, I was never alone. She was my lifeline, the one I would take with me to a deserted island. If she wasn't the first person I met after transferring here at the tail end of last year, I might have gone crazy. If only Camille didn't come with certain baggage. Certain girl-shaped baggage. 

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Author's Note

My new book! I was inspired by the lack of lesbian romcoms in YA. Like usual, if I can't find what I want, I'll just write it myself!

Historically, I'm actually a fantasy/paranormal writer. This is the first Contemporary novel I've written since high school! I've actually had this idea since high school too. lol. 

This book is based on my own dating horrors. I hope you enjoyed the chapter! Now that we've seen Parker and Lizzie's POV, what's your initial impression? Are you pumped to see them finally interact? It'll be in the next one!

Twitter: @AuburnMorrow

Instagram: @auburnmorrowbooks



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