"This is possibly the worst day of my life," I pause to sigh dramatically for effect and pout in Mike's general direction. I continue before he can interrupt me though and say, "And yes, that includes the day that my bicycle crashed into the ice cream vendor at the pier."
Mike laughs and I hate him a little bit. He chucks my chin and says, "I warned you to get the brakes on that death trap of a bike fixed."
I sit down on the front steps of the school and shake my head. "That is not helping."
Mike wraps his arm around me and I'm inundated with smells that are so Mike - soap and wintergreen and pencil shavings. I rest my head on his shoulder and close my eyes. In this moment, everything is okay and I can forget how my life has fallen apart in front of me."It'll be okay, Elaina. You always land on your feet."
I keep my eyes shut, but I'm back in my guidance counselor's office. Instead of guidance, he stomps all over my dream and tells me there is no way I'll get into Yale without animal sacrifice. He says it so easily, like it doesn't matter that every conversation with my father since I was five has been about Yale and following in his footsteps. He says it with crumbs stuck in his beard between hacking coughs and shrill phones ringing. Sucks to be you, Elaina.
"You didn't even want to go to Yale."
I roll my eyes and laugh mirthlessly. Mike nudges me in the side and says, "You'll figure it out."
"You seem so sure of that."
"Because I know you. You're relentless to a scary degree and you'll figure out what you want to do and where you want to go and god help anyone who stands in your way."
I smile reflexively. "Thanks, I think."
He slides a few inches away and turns to face me and suddenly we're in this moment where time slows down and my heart hammers in my chest and my head is screaming to move away, but I can't do it. All these feelings that I've been sitting on for months are bubbling up to the surface and the soft, endearing expression on Mike's face is all it takes for me to kiss him.
Logic and every reason best friends should not hook up begin to run through my head, but they're thwarted as Mike's fingers curl in my hair and he pulls me closer until I'm almost on his lap. He tastes a lot like he smells, less the pencil shavings, and I feel like I will never get enough of this.
He pulls back and caresses my face which freaks me out because he's Mike, but also makes me shiver in a way I'm not used to. He smiles and says, "I've been hoping you would do something like that for over a year."
I arch my eyebrow. "What?"
"I figured you knew how I felt about you, but didn't want to ruin our friendship...and I didn't want to mess things up, so-"
"-so you were a big chicken?" I say with a laugh.
He rests his forehead against mine and holds my hands in his. It's something we've done millions of times over the years, but it's different and exciting, my skin tingling. "Are you freaking out on me, Elaina?"
"Are you sure?"
"Surprisingly, yes," I say and I kiss him again. Maybe finding out I had no chance at Yale broke my brain and I no longer have impulse control. It's a brief kiss and I pull back to look at him, making sure that this is really happening and I'm not having hallucinations brought on from a nervous breakdown. I wouldn't be the first teenager to go crazy on the quest for the Ivy League.
"It really happened. No take backs," Mike says. He always can read my mind. He stands up and extends his hand to me, lifting me up onto my feet. He pushes back a stray piece of hair from my face and says, "We should get you home."
"Want to stay for dinner?"
"You need support when you break the news to the parents?"
I shrug and try to sound casual. "Well, yeah, but I also just want to hang out with you."
He grins and squeezes my hand, "Sure."
"Good," I respond, even though it hardly does justice to how I feel. In the span of one afternoon, I've gone from having one dream destroyed, but another one, one I was so scared of for so long, has been realized. And who knows what will happen, but I'm definitely enjoying the moment.
This week’s IndieInk Challenge came from transplantedx3, who gave me this prompt: "For every dream that's shattered, another one comes true." I challenged Amanda with the prompt "I can’t get you off my mind."
Note: This is a scene that features one of the characters I like to revisit, Elaina. Other pieces with her can be found here. Happy Thanksgiving to those that celebrate!