Loves Me Not (PART ONE)
I have always hated my name. It was so conflicting. Laura just doesn’t go with Garcia. My parents emigrated from Spain two years before I was born and they wanted me to ‘fit in’ with the other British kids so they gave me an English name. I appreciated their concern, but I really don’t think I would’ve been treated worse with a Spanish name.
When I was ten, my Dad died. That of course shut down my already highly strung Mother. She started working two jobs just to keep us in our already tiny flat, and I barely saw her because she was asleep when I came home and was gone in the morning and late at night. My Dad was a great man; I mean he had to be if he was going to keep my Mum calm.
The guitar that he gave me before he died probably would’ve sat in the corner of my room if he hadn’t asked me to learn how to play. I spent the next two years perfecting guitar in the frustration of knowing that I had avoided it until he died. I was so angry with the world that I ended up turning on myself and felt that the only way to make it better was to learn to play, and be the best at it. Death does weird things to your brain like that.
On my first day of Secondary School I woke up five minutes late. I rushed about my room, pulling on a t-shirt and jeans. I hopped into my skate shoes and grabbed my board. “Laura, stop banging around.” My Mum moaned. I mumbled an apology and ran out the door, pulling my wavy caramel hair into a ponytail as I went.
I weaved through crowds of annoyed people on a high speed skate to school. “Hey Laura you’re late!” Jess shouted at me as I screeched to a stop in front of her. Jess was one of my few girlfriends. I mostly hung out at the skate park, which was filled with guys. Jess was even better on a skateboard than me and a lot of the guys too, making us instant friends.
I raised an eyebrow at her bright pink hair. She saw me eyeing it and said, “It’s my new look for a new school.” I laughed and we walked into the school together. “I’ve got Maths, so I’ll see you at lunch.” Jess punched my arm as she ran down the hallway. I checked my schedule, English. When I entered that classroom, I had no idea I would be meeting the boy that would consume over a decade of my life.
The teacher frowned at me, but said nothing. I slid into a seat behind a boy with dark hair and olive skin. Oliver Adams. Well, I didn’t know that yet. All I knew that every time the teacher asked a question, he had an answer. I rolled my eyes, and noticed that everyone else stopped answering because this ‘Olly’ had a better answer every time.
After an hour I got fed up and put my hand up for one of the questions. I never answered questions in class but this was a special occasion in which this boy needed to be taken down a peg. “Yes, Laura right?” The teacher seemed relieved to have someone else answering. “Can you repeat the question?” I asked, and Olly scoffed. I hate you, you pretentious-
“The question was, at what age did William Shakespeare die?” Oh crap, I had no idea. “Um,” I started, and Olly actually started laughing in front of me! Now I was mad. I stood up forcefully. “Well, I’m sure he lived longer than this idiot is going to.” I hissed, and he got up too, turning around to face me. He was just a bit taller than me, but I knew I could beat him if I wanted.
He flashed a smile at me but I kept my angry face on. “Settle down please.” The teacher said in a small voice. What a wimp. I thought as I slammed myself back into my seat. But I still couldn’t get in trouble on the first day. Olly lingered there for a moment, with a smug look on his face, and then finally sat down.
I spent the rest of the class staring into the back of his head, hoping he could feel my eyes burning into him. I discovered that I had two other classes with him. I was wondering if the day could get any worse when at lunch time Olly ran up to me. I scrunched my nose up at his presence. “I- I think we got off on the wrong foot. I’m Oliver, Oliver Adams.” He flashed me yet another smile, and I shook his outstretched hand. “I’m Laura.” I replied.
And that my friends, was the beginning of our relationship. Olly and I spent a lot of time together, even though we were MAJORLY different. For the first year we got teased, but that soon died down when everyone realised nothing would come of it. Besides, we fought over meaningless things at least once a day. By the next day everything was back to normal. I know, not exactly a healthy relationship.
Everything stayed the same until one day in year 10. It was the strangest thing. Suddenly, I got butterflies whenever we talked, and when we fought it seemed passionate, instead of just irritating. Of course, I wasn’t going to say anything to Olly. I talked to Jess about it, and she said something about teenagers having ‘rollercoaster hormones’ and that it was just a passing crush.
Thank goodness, I thought. If it was just a passing crush I would wait for it to go away. But it didn’t go away. It spread through the whole of year 10 and into year 11. It was our last year at Secondary School. I sat in the lunchroom one day, waiting for Olly to come. “Hey Laura, I want you to meet someone.” Olly said, and I looked up in horror, because there in front of me, was Sally Brown. Let me tell you a thing or two about Sally Brown.
Sally was your typical mean girl cheerleader. She was popular and ‘pretty’ with bouncing blonde hair and a knife behind her to stab you in the back with. That wasn’t the worst part. Sally and Olly were dating. My mouth opened to object, but there was nothing to say. My brain was telling me that something was wrong with that picture. Why would Sally, who could get any boy she wanted, pick a standard nerd like Olly? I mean, the boy wanted to be a journalist, not a football player. I squinted at her as Olly explained their ‘relationship’. She gave me a side smile and a wink.
The look that proved all of my suspicions, this was all a prank. I gave her the evil eye but she pretended not to notice me. She gushed over Olly, slapping his shoulder with heaves of fake laughter every time he talked. She made me sick. Olly sat at the table, talking about something I wasn’t interested in. In the distance I spotted the boys at the popular table, giggling.
That’s it. I thought, and prepared to out Sally and her minions right in front of Olly. But how could I? He looked so happy, and I knew what he was like. Olly was quick to think a lot of himself, and to be overly proud of his achievements; and what better achievement than getting the most popular and hottest girl in school?
I would have to talk to Sally in private. That’s when Jess came up to me in an excited frenzy. She pulled me over to a corner of the lunchroom. “What do you think of a post-graduation celebratory trip?” She asked with a big smile plastered on her face. “What do you mean?”
“What I mean is that my Mum can get us tickets half off to Spain!” She squealed at me, her now purple hair bobbing around. I smiled. I had gone to Spain three times before on visits to my family, and loved it. “Okay, but where am I supposed to get the other half?” I wasn’t ready to get excited quite yet.
“All you need is 105 pounds!” Jess shook my shoulders. “Just do some singing.” She folded her arms, happy with her argument. I sighed and glanced behind her, where Olly was sitting with Sally. “Well alright then.” I said and she squealed even louder, jumping up and down. Jess had never left the country, if you couldn’t tell.
When I was seven, I discovered I could sing quite well. My parents loved my singing. Instead of a radio they just wanted to listen to me. That of course boosted my confidence, and when I was nine I wanted a doll, so I tried singing out on my front pavement with one of my Dads hats like I had seen other people do. It worked well. I got enough money for the doll and then some.
For the rest of the day I avoided Olly. I could see him looking for me at the end of the day, but I sped down the pavement. I didn’t stop at home though. School ended in June and it was April. If I wanted to get enough money for Spain I needed to get started. I entered what I knew to be a trusty bar. It was a family-friendly restaurant too, and the owner was our neighbor. Tom wasn’t just a neighbor though; he and his wife had been in the flat across from us for a decade. Tom and my Dad were great friends, and he was like an Uncle to me.
“Alright, Lau,” Tom said as he sauntered up to me. “Hi Tom,” I answered and took a seat on a stool, where I got a few looks from people. “Orange Fanta,” Tom said as he plopped it in front of me. “You know me too well.” I laughed and took a sip. “You don’t happen to be looking for singers, do you?” I asked casually. “Well yeah, but only for between eight and ten pm…” To reasoned, cleaning a glass behind the bar. “I’ll take it.” I gave him a cheesy grin. Tom laughed heartily and put the glass back in the cupboard. “Oh, come on Tom! I need the money!” I whined. “You can’t be on the streets that late by yourself.”
“I’ll stay until closing and you can drive me.”
“You’re Mum won’t allow it.”
“She’ll be out as well.” I countered back. I stared at him with giant eyes until he finally groaned. “Alright, fine. But you’re only getting paid a tenner an hour.” I grinned. Maths was never my best subject, but even I knew that was enough. I worked there three nights a week. I sneaked out of the house and skateboarded down to the pub, my guitar strapped to my back. Tom said I was a big hit, but he could’ve just been saying that to make me feel better. At ten Tom would leave Levi in charge and drive me home.
I had been strategically avoiding Olly since Sally had shown up. I still intended to talk to her; it was just difficult to find her without Olly. One night in early May, I was singing Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol when I saw Olly leaned against the wall across from me. I was so startled that I messed up the last line. “Would you lie with me and just forget-the-the world?” A few concerned glances were shot at me but not many people seemed to notice.
Cautiously, I stepped off the small stage, guitar in tow. “You’re avoiding me.” Olly said calmly as I approached him. “No, I-I’ve been busy is all.” I lied. Olly nodded but I could tell he didn’t believe me. “So are you going to the graduation party?” He asked. I chuckled. “Of course I’m not! That’s like my worst nightmare!” I snorted. “Well, Sally and I are going.” I rolled my eyes. “Good for you.” Tom called my name in the background. “I have to go.” I almost whispered and slid by him.
Three weeks before graduation I was walking to Chemistry class when I heard Sally’s voice in the bathroom. Surely Olly couldn’t have gone in there with her. I walked as casually as I could into the bathroom to see she was just gossiping with her friends. I cleared my throat loudly. “Sally, I need to talk to you.” I blurted out, and she looked me up and down with a grimace.
With a flick of her hand she shooed her loyal followers away, leaving us alone. “I know this whole dating thing with Olly is a prank.” I said. She raised an eyebrow. “And what do you plan to do about it?” She asked. “It depends, what do you plan to do to him?” I retorted, putting my hands on my hips. “You’ll see at graduation.” She winked at me. “Fine, then I am telling him now.” I turned on my heel and headed for the door. “If you tell him, I’m telling him that you like him.” She said purposefully loudly as I opened the door. I let it slam back shut.
“What do you mean?” I hissed. Sally laughed in my face. “I’m not an idiot; I can see it just by the way you look at him.” My heart beat faster and my mouth got all dry. At a loss for words, I stormed out of the bathroom. I paced my room that night, undecided. I had a choice. I could save Olly from being emotionally and quite possibly physically hurt, or I could save our friendship.
I had to help Olly obviously. You’re underestimating him, I thought. He’ll understand. I ended up leaving our confrontation until the Friday before prom, which was on Monday. Okay, so maybe I wimped out. I was afraid of his reaction and that way I could tell him and be in Spain four days later. That way he could calm down and react appropriately.
It was the last day of the year, and therefore a lazy day. The English teachers leaned back in his chair and let us chat. I poked Olly and he turned around. “I have to tell you something.” I said grimly. His smile dropped gradually through my explanation. “I should’ve known.” He said hollowly. I gulped, “Just do me a favour and don’t break up with her until graduation.” He furrowed his brow at the unusual request. “Yeah, sure,” He replied, scratching his head.
I left school feeling pretty confident. My plan was going to work, I could feel it. I froze as someone tapped my shoulder. Oh no, I thought. He broke up with her and she told him. That thought only lasted a moment because I almost instantly knew that wasn’t his hands. They were cold and calloused. They were Ms. Anderson, the Principals hands. I turned round, relieved. Ms. Anderson was in her fifties and especially wrinkly, with dyed blonde hair and a thin smile.
“Laura dear, I’m so glad I caught you.” She huffed out. “You see, the band for the graduation party can’t show up for half an hour after the arty start, so we need music until then.” I didn’t like where this conversation was headed. I was wondering if you would fill in, I hear you have a beautiful voice.” She patted my arm. “Well actually I…”
“Wonderful,” She interrupted. “See you on Monday at eight.” Waddle back here, you little old manipulator! It thought as the left, I know you could hear me. I grouchily slammed the door when I got home, and searched my closet. I actually owned no dresses. I know that’s not what I should’ve been worried about, but I was preoccupying my brain before the inevitable happened. I stomped into my Mum’s room, happy she was working. Her closet was filled with dresses, but none would fit me. That’s when I spotted a plastic case glimmering from in the daylight.
It was a dress. I wondered if my Mum had kept it all this time just for me, but probably not. Even if she had planned to, she had probably forgotten by now. I pulled it gingerly out of its case and held it up. It was a turquoise colour that flared out at the waist and stopped at the knee. When I tried it on it fit like a glove. I ran my hand over the delicate beading on the top. The only problem was shoes.
There wasn’t a chance that I was wearing heels, not that I had any. I actually only had trainers and I was at least two sizes bigger than my Mum. Forget it, I’m wearing trainers. I thought as I changed into my pajamas and bit at my nails nervously. I spent the weekend inside as well, just worrying about Monday evening.
On Monday my Mum and I left at the same time. She paused in the hallway, and sighed. “You look muy bonito.” I turned around and smiled. “Gracias Mama,” I replied. “But the shoes…” She continued and let out a chuckle. I loved seeing my Mum smile, she was so pretty. “I know,” I said, looking down at my skate shoes and laughing along.
My Mum took my hair out of its trusty ponytail and rustled it around. She stepped back and smiled. “Have a good time.” She said in a hushed tone, and I wanted to say, ‘I’m not counting on it.’ But instead I just smiled and nodded, then pushed off on my skateboard. When I arrived at the school auditorium, I couldn’t help but gape at how different it looked.
Ms. Anderson literally pushed me onto the stage and patted my back encouragingly. I lingered in front of the microphone for a minute, scanning the buzzing crowd for Olly. I finally spotted him, and at the worst moment. Sally had her arms crossed and was telling him something smugly while he looked shocked and confused. I let out a frustrated breath into the mic and suddenly everyone was looking at me.
Olly was looking at me.
I strummed at my guitar and closed my eyes. The next half an hour went by too quickly. Ms. Anderson poked at my shoulder (what was it with that woman and poking) and thanked me for my help before introducing the band. I weaseled my way through the dancing crowd and out into the hallway. I didn’t realise how stuffy it was in there until I had gotten out. I made my way for the door, with my skateboard tucked under my arm.
“Laura,” His voice made me winces and I turned around slowly. “Sally told me everything.” His words were rigid and I didn’t want to know what he thought. “You-you’re just like all the other girls.” That was his opening statement. I raised an eyebrow as he continued. “They said me and you couldn’t just be friends, and they were right! You have ruined our friendship.” His words were like punches to my stomach. “Thank you,” I said. He frowned. “I forgot that you were such an inconsiderate jerk! You don’t have to worry about me liking you anymore.” I shouted.
I was furious. I stomped down the hallway. I growled internally as I heard him running after me. “Laura, wait,” He said, and this made me madder. I turned around, and stopped as I noticed for the first time he was wearing a suit. I didn’t let it faze me. “No, I will not wait! You were right, we can’t be friends. We can’t be friends because I never want to see you again.” I screamed so loud that I thought the whole auditorium might have heard me.
Olly grabbed my arm in an effort to slow me down, but I swiveled around and punched him square in the nose. With that I took off out the door, speeding down the pavement. I just wanted to go home.
And I never, ever wanted to see Oliver Adams again.
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