Written by Ella I.
This one's a little different than my other stories... It's set up north in Minnesota, where I'm from, and the romance - Well, you'll see! Hope you like it!
PS: This story is going to be in two parts. I promise that the part II for this one'll come faster then with 'Jack & Jill'!
When I was fourteen years old, and in my freshman year of high school, my whole life changed. In some ways, that change was quite small, but in others, it changed the way that my life was heading at the time.
That change revolved around a few things in that wonderful, heartbreaking year. They included one beautiful expanse of freshwater, one secret, and (as maybe all love stories have to have), a girl. I was head-over-heels in love with her. She was beautiful, kind and smart, and understood me worlds more than anyone else ever had.
Her name was Georgia.
Fate and the present mingle. Most disagree, but that - That has been my everyday.
You craft your own fate with decisions that you make every day of your life. Simple things. I mean, that path that you chose to take on your hike? If you hadn’t chosen it, and gone the other way, maybe you never would have met the person you are married to today.
If you had chosen to go to the other ice cream place that one evening, maybe you would have seen the president when he came to town.
If you hadn’t chosen to go to the school you’re at now, or if you’d chosen to move the neighborhood other than the one that you’re living in right now, maybe you wouldn’t have the amazing community that you are a part of today.
If I hadn’t chosen to sit on the swing in front of our house that day, I never would have known that Georgie existed. If I hadn’t gone to the beach a few days later, I never would have met her. My choices impacted my future life, my fate… Everything.
The day that I made my first choice was gorgeous. The sun was shining bright, and school would be starting again in my sleepy little North Shore town, up by Lake Superior, and so close to Canada that you could almost feel it in the air. Summer’s warm winds were starting to gain a bit of bite when it got dark, just cold enough so that you went to bed with an extra blanket, just in case. The tourists were slowly trickling back out, the lake regaining some of it’s infamous bone-numbing cold.
On that day, though, it felt like it was right in the middle of July. The air was warm, the sun was shining, and I could feel my scalp burning under the intensity of our bright star’s glare, even through the thick, green leaf cover. Dad was out in our family bakery, my brother and sister were in town with him, Mom was inside working on the draft of her next novel, and I was reading on the board swing that my grandpa had put up outside of our house back when I was younger, before he had passed away.
When I heard the rumble of a car engine, I looked up, thinking that it could have been Dad, coming home early, which was not at all likely, because it was two in the afternoon, and the bakery didn’t close until four. But it wasn’t our families car that came bouncing into view, but a rusty old Volkswagen Beetle painted a strange shade of green. The car’s windows were rolled down, and faint strains of music drifted from it. The back of the car was crammed with luggage, which was strange, because the off-season was starting, and in the front seats…. In the front seats… A woman who looked like she was around my mom’s age, and a-
I swallowed. The girl was beautiful, you couldn’t deny that. She was looking out into the woods, singing along to the radio shamelessly, and for a second, she met my gaze. I don’t know how, considering how deep in the woods I was, but she saw me, and my eyes widened. I looked back down at the pages of my book, surprised by that chance encounter.
It struck me then that maybe I should have stood up and walked to the road, to see where they were going. But I didn’t. I let them go, and waited until the cough of the rusty old car’s engine was long out of earshot before going inside.
And I thought that that was that. Chances are, in a town like this, that when you see someone so fleetingly like that, you’ll never see hide nor hair of them again.
But that wasn’t going to be the case here, although I didn’t know that at the time. I just closed my book and clutched it to me, standing up slowly before going inside.
There was no reason to think anything more of that.
Not at the time.
Another point to make, that may also be contested, is that meeting and seeing someone for the very first time are completely different things.
You may see your new neighbors moving in, but you haven’t actually met them until you’ve carried on a conversation with them, and gotten to know each other. You can see an actress in the movies, but you haven’t met her until you’ve spoken face to face, or something like that. That’s what I mean.
The time with the swing was the first time I saw Georgia Smith, but the first time we ever talked was quite a bit later.
It was only a few days after I saw her in that green VW Bug. Around that time, the news that a new family had moved into town had spread like wildfire through town. They were living in the old cabin down the road from ours that had sat empty since it’s previous owner had passed away unexpectedly, and my parents kept on saying that we should go and say hello, but we kept on getting side-tracked.
I was at the beach, a sandy, pebbly thing full of driftwood and pieces of what my siblings call sea glass - really just old bits of broken glass bottles that had been tossed around in the waves for a while, their sheen wearing away, and a certain cloudy element creeping in to replace it. There’s another beach, a larger, nicer one farther down the shore, on the other side of town, but that’s the one that all the tourists populate, and even though it was probably empty at the time… I preferred to take my chances with the one that only my family, and only a few others knew about.
I was sopping wet, and laying on my back on my beach towel, watching the clouds drift by and trying to sun dry before getting my bike’s seat all wet. My book, The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay, was lying next to me in the sand.
Usually, I came to the beach with my family, but that time, I was alone. I smiled, softly, and just thought for a while. Freshman year was starting. I would still be with most of my old classmates from middle school, but otherwise it would be a fresh start. Maybe I’d meet-
“Hi.” Someone said, and my eyes snapped open. I hadn’t even realised that I’d closed them. I sat up, fast, and stared. It was her. The girl who’d been singing in the VW. The really pretty one. She smiled. “Sorry to bother you. I was told that I can swim here?”
“Um. Yeah.” I muttered. “No one really knows about it, though… The beach, I mean.”
She grinned. “Yes, Ms. Wilkinson told me that. My new neighbor.”
My eyes widened, and I coughed. “What.” I stated, startled. My last name is Wilkinson. Mom?
“Oh. Yeah. I’m Georgia Smith, but please call me Georgie, everyone does. I just moved in down the street from that family, do you know them?” She asked me in one long breath.
“Oh. Um, actually… I’m Alex. Alex Wilkinson.” I murmured, still thinking over that whole ridiculous scenario. She was my neighbor. And she was also staring at me intently.
“What?” I asked again.
“You weren’t paying attention.” She stated, giving me a look. “So, Ms. Wilkinson is your mom?”
“Yep.” I said, stupidly. Her eyes were the prettiest shade of green. She grinned. “Yeah. You look like her, now that I think about it. Is the water nice today?” The sudden subject change took me by surprise.
“Yeah. I was just drying off… It felt really good, swimming. Probably the last chance I’m gonna get before school starts again and the weather cools down.”
“Hmm.” She smiled at me again, mischief glittering in her eyes. Then she pulled off her black cover-up, revealing a bathing suit underneath. With a look back over her shoulder at me, she laughed and raced into the surf, shrieking at the chill, and promptly tripped, falling on her face into the water. My eyes widened, and I called her name, then flushed red when she surfaced, cackling. “You liar! It’s freezing!” she hollered at me, and I grinned back.
“Warm for a North Shore kid!” I called, and with that she stood, and vaulted out of the water, to stand, dripping, in front of me. And then she did the unexpected. She hugged me. Still dripping wet.
The water clinging to her body was, in fact, really cold, and I screamed as she dragged me back towards the water, and then threw me in. I spluttered, and broke through to the surface coughing. Georgie looked at me, and tried her level best to suppress a smile.
Somehow, we managed to stop smiling, and then made the mistake of looking at each other again, and cracked up all over again.
Within seconds, I found myself standing in front of her, smirking. And then I let some of strangeness slip. Could have been a terribly bad move, but then again… I bowed crisply at the waist, doffing an invisible hat, proclaiming: “Welcome, fair lady, to the North Shore of the great Lake Superior, on the chilly northern tip of the state of Minnesota in the country of the United States of America, on the continent of North America, on the face of planet Earth, in our Solar System, which finds itself in a branch of the Milky Way galaxy, in a small fraction of a barely touched, hardly explored universe.”
“I feel like an ant under a giants microscope.” She said wryly.
“Who knows, we may be! They say that a giant named Paul, and his equally large, very blue ox, are the ones who created the lake in front of you. They may be watching us right now…” I wiggled my fingers beside my ears.
“Alex!” She exclaimed, “Stop it!” I just laughed.
Fate and beginnings. That sums it all up, those beautiful weeks.
We ignored the fact that school was starting soon, and chose to lose ourselves in the last gasp of summer. We met at the lake, and hung around on the little beach as long as we wanted to.
Mom and Dad were thrilled that I had made a new friend, of course, and I think that we were all hoping that Georgia was going to go to the same high school that I was - Not that there was much choice. There was either the one in town, or the high school in the next town over… My siblings, Lauren and Samuel, were mostly just sad that Georgia didn’t have any little sisters or brothers to play with them.
Quite a few times Georgie and I walked into town, and checked in on my dad at the bakery, and on Georgia’s mom at the cafe she had opened. Most of the time, we bought a snack, and then washed our hands and went to help in the kitchens. Sometimes, we just said hello, and went for a walk along the main beach. Alone. Not that that meant anything. I think.
That week was wonderful, and I wish that it could have gone on for so much longer. But school was starting, and that meant books and folders, notebooks and pencils and paper and other supplies - An outfit and a new pair of sneakers - My first year of high school was turning out to be some serious stuff in the eyes of my mother. Dad, however, just gave me a hug and said it would turn out fine. And maybe it would have, but I don’t think I would have been able to get through it without Georgie there with me. She saved me that year, and supported me through everything, thick and thin. She helped me come to terms with myself, and with the world. And I fell for her.
Every time that week, that I looked at her, my heart skipped a beat, and every time, I flushed red and stared at my feet, nervous. Suddenly, I was self-conscious, or at least more so than I usually was. Every time I walked with her, I wanted to take her hand. But I didn’t. I was in love, and I was scared and confused, and looking back - I shouldn’t have been. We loved each other, I see that, and she loved me for who I was.
Those summer weeks may have been heaven on earth, but on the first day of high school, I felt like the universe was out to get me. Everything was falling apart, coming undone, tearing at the seams. Endings and beginnings colliding.
I was lying down on my bed, above the covers, fully dressed, with music pounding through my earbuds. Not my usual soundtrack of Fathom Lane, Dan Wilson, Ruby Falls and Queen, but something even louder and more powerful.
Riot Grrrl music. Team Dresch, who I still love for their hardcore, take-no-prisoners and hear-no-B.S. style, and the power of their drums and electric guitars. To this day, I listen to them and Bikini Kill when I need the kick and bite of their music.
Because that day, I really, really needed that power. It was the first day of high school. And I had been too scared to ask Georgia where she was going to school when it started up again, and she hadn’t mentioned it, so I was freaking out. I was hoping that she would come with, join me on the bus and protect me from the crowd… Stupid. I had to do it myself. I had to take control.
‘I’m Illegal’ pounded into my ears, and over the music I could hear my dad yelling at me to get downstairs, because I’m going to miss the bus. I sighed, and rolled out of the bed, landing hard on the floor, my phone clutched in my hand like a lifeline. I had to do it. I couldn’t be late on my first day of classes.
So, I grabbed my backpack and my book and raced downstairs, ducking into the passenger seat just as my dad started the car. Mom was at the bakery opening up that morning, and dad was in charge of getting us to the bus stop. The whole ride long, my Ren and Sammy were chattering about how excited they were that school was starting, and the entire ride long I drowned them out with my music.
Then I’m gonna set. Them. On. Fire!
Watch them leave! Watch my words disappear!
Watch me from inside my room! Crouched down on all fours!
Take one step back! (107, pick me up.)
It’s one step forward! (Give me your word!)
Give. Me. Your. WORD!
I wasn’t the only one at the bus stop. There were a handful of other kids there, but none of them were the one person I wanted to see. Georgia. So I just did what I would have done without her. I turned up my music so that it was the only thing I could hear, closed my eyes and prayed that the bus would come soon and spare me this awful waiting and anticipating. Stupid.
When the bus rolled up, I almost didn’t notice it. Almost. I opened my eyes in time to see the bus settle down and to see the doors swing open. I sighed, and turned down my music, my ears ringing with the noise of it all.
Georgia still hadn’t shown up. I guessed she was at the other school, and groaned internally. Great. What a great start. I stepped up to the bus, looked around hesitantly and then stepped in.
High school had begun.
The school was small, so, so small, with bodies pressed against the lockers like a surging tidal wave of humanity. I winced every time someone bumped into me, and could hardly manage to stumble into my AP English class without going into a full on nervous sweat. I was going to do fine, I kept reminding myself, trying to convince myself, but it didn’t work.
Chest heaving, I sat down heavily, my chair rocking back for a second as my body crashed into it. I pulled my class materials out of my bag, and set them up in a stack on my desk, and then I snagged my book and opened it, falling into the pages of black and white, and set storylines, a world of magic and quests and inhuman beauty before class started.
A class where I knew nobody.
A few hours later, the math teacher, a pretty woman named Ms. Dobbs had introduced herself, and was calling the role when the door burst open, and a girl stumbled into the room. Her bag alone was enough for me to recognise her.
I didn’t give a crap about what everyone thought of me in that moment. I rocketed to my feet, stumbled over to her and hugged her tight, my fingers digging into her thick, curly hair. She laughed. “Alex! I missed the bus, and -”
I stepped back, grinning, my heart pounding. Yes. Yes! “Georgia.” I said quietly. Then I realised that everyone was staring at us, and I went red, dragging Georgie over to the accidentally empty seat next to mine.
“Thank you, you two. Please sit down.” Ms. Dobbs said, although I could tell that she was trying to suppress a smile. Then she calmly continued the roll.
“Carson Reyes.” The boy nodded and muttered a few words.
“Georgia Smith.” Georgie raised her hand.
“Lainie Underwood.” Lainie smiled and said something cheeky. She was shut up really fast, and was red-faced for the rest of the class.
“Alexandria Wilkinson.” I reddened at the use of my full, way too long, hard to spell name, and said my hellos, trying to ignore Georgia’s accusatory look. She hissed:
“Your full name is Alexandria? I thought is was, I don’t know, Alexis, or… You’re named after the library! Alex, that’s such a gorgeous name! I don’t know why I didn’t ask, or…”
I smiled at her. “It’s fine.” I lift my head. “Um, Ms. Dobbs? Could you please call me Alex?” I tucked a long strand of hair behind my ear, and looked down at my desk. Ms Dobbs laughed. “Of course, Alex. And you and Georgia had better be quiet, or I’m splitting you two up.” I blushed. Whoops.
The day dragged on, made much better by the fact that Georgia was in the same building as me. When I walked into the lunch room on the first day, my heart leapt into my throat, looking around at the masses of people laughing at crowded tables, their lunches spread out in front of them. I almost turned around and left. I couldn’t handle this…
But then my gaze snagged on Georgie, who was waving wildly at me, her tightly curled black hair bouncing around her face. I could feel myself smile and blush, but then I was moving again, weaving through the crowds of people who I hardly knew, with one goal in mind.
On the one hand, I hated how much I was relying on Georgie as my life line, how clingy I felt like I was being, but on the hand, this school was freakin’ scary.
Georgia hugged me again when I got to her table, and she patted the spot next to her. I slid into the seat gratefully, dropping my bag to the floor and burying my face in my folded arms. “My God. Why does this have to be so stressful?” I asked everyone and no one. She laughed. “Because it’s high school. You go through it all with your head held high, pretending not to notice everyone’s stupid staring faces.” I looked over at her, questioning. “Hmm?”
“I’m Black and pretty much everyone else here is white.” she stated calmly, and I could feel my cheeks heat up. “Oh, oh… Georgie, I’m sorry…”
“Nah, Alex, it’s fine. You don’t make a big deal out of it. I’m just another person to you. A friend. That’s amazing. But to them… Well. It seems like most of them are unsure of how to act around me. They don’t make eye contact, and their body language is stiff. It’s not a great feeling, being the minority.” Georgia sighs, and shook her head. Then she looks at me, her eyes dancing. I was still red, I could feel it.
“Georgia, really. I don’t think that I can get away from this without apologizing on behalf of my idiotic fellow students.” I say, serious. Georgie’s lip twitches. “You are adorable.” She says, and hugs me. I go even redder, and I wish that we could stay that way forever, her strong arms around my body. But we pull away anyway, our fingers lingering on each other’s shoulders. “Do you always use so many words for a sentence that requires only a few?” She asks me, jokingly.
“I always use more words than are strictly necessary.” I say in one quick breath. Then I look at Georgia and laugh. “In other, more mundane terms, yep!”
The first day ended in a blur. Classes were fine. Most of my classmates were fine. I met Georgia just outside of the high school’s front doors, and we walked to the bus together. Theoretically, it was close enough to the bakery, coffee shop and home that we could walk or bike, but for the first day, it seemed like both of us had wanted to ride the bus and take school one small step at a time.
Georgie and I laughed and talked on the bus, and then we walked on home together, Georgie continuing on without me when we passed my driveway. I walked into the house with a smile on my face, said a brief hello to my dad and siblings, before escaping upstairs and falling onto the bed. Almost instantly my phone dinged. I tapped the screen, and a text popped up.
GS: Fun first day! Wanna come over tomorrow after school and do homework / hang out? Hugs, -Georgia
I smiled, and texted back:
AW: Sure! I have to let my parents know, but definitely! Hugs back, -Alex
Around a minute later my phone buzzes again.
GS: Sweet! Also, Alexandria, I looked up your library on Wiki. Check it out: ‘The Great Library of Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt, was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world. The library was part of a larger research institution called the Mouseion, which was dedicated to the Muses, the nine goddesses of the arts.’
AW: Wow. Also, please don’t call me Alexandria. My name is Alex. And didn’t the Library of Alexandria burn down? ;)
GS: Ok. :) Yeah, sadly it did. Julius Caesar did it.
AW: Stupid Caesar. My library!
GS: Sorry, Alex. And don’t curse out the emperor!
AW: Freakin’ Caesar.
AW: :p Don’t call me that. :(
AW: YOU WOULDN’T
GS: And that’s it.
AW: I’m gonna kill you.
GS: :) Love you, too. I have to go. Sorry. Bye!
My heart thundered the second those words popped up on my screen. It was just an expression and didn’t mean anything, I reminded myself. And I’m a girl. Why was my heart pounding like that? I waited a few moments longer, and then I tapped out a shaky smile, and a goodbye.
Her words spiraled through my head. Love you, too. God, was I hopeless. Something was going on with me. That day, with that text, was when I first realized it. Something… Love. Maybe. In love. Me. With another girl.
So. Fate, beginnings, meetings and friendship. And then love has to mix itself in.
The Ancient Greeks had six names for love, each one with a slightly different meaning. Somehow, this concept has always spoken to me. There’s ‘Eros’, romantic love, ‘Pragma’, long standing love, like the one that keeps a couple together for years on end, ‘Philia’, the love that binds family and friends, ‘Philautia’, the love of self, ‘Ludus’, playful love that expresses itself in teasing between friends, flirting and more.
And, finally, there’s my favourite form of the Greek concept.
‘Agape’. The love for everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from. The love that expresses itself in simple acts of kindness towards strangers. Love that transcends all.
Eros, Agape, Philia. Everyone has witnessed the Greek forms of love, but those, those most everyone has experienced.
Agape may be, to me, the most beautiful and kind, but Eros influenced my life in so many ways. You never know who you’ll fall in love with, and sometimes it’s not the person who society expects you to.
My freshman year went on, and I somehow stumbled on through. I made another friend, Jessica.
I had finally, finally realised that there was nothing I could do. Georgia was here, so close, and I loved her. Even though I was a girl. I had told no one, I was so scared, and I was sure that my mom was starting to see through me, straight into my soul. She sometimes creeped me out that way.
Whenever I left the house, she always asked if I was meeting Georgia, and I always smiled. Usually, the answer was yes. Always either Georgia, or Jess.
A few months had gone by since I had met Georgia on the beach, and winter had set in. It was cold, unusually wet, and beautiful. Mom was despairing about all of the shoveling that we had to do with all of the snow. Dad shook his head, thinking about the aspects of global warming that were affecting the weather. My siblings, Lauren and Samuel, just wrestled in the fresh snow.
I ignored it all, went out, grinned, and twirled in the snow, Georgia laughing at me from a snow drift, and the kids at the bus stop looking at us like we were out of our minds.
Yes, we laughed, and we played, but we also walked along the empty main beach, and most of the time our hands found each other as we walked (They fell apart every time walked by us). I couldn’t deny the way my heart sped up, and the way my palms sweat every time we did this. But I didn’t know how Georgia felt. We joked, and slept over at each other’s houses, we did homework, and we ignored the high school system of popularity. Who cared what they thought? We didn’t.
Georgia and I never talked about what was going on with us. We pretended that nothing was happening. We pretended that everything was fine. Nothing was confusing, all of that. But then everything almost fell apart.
One night, Georgia and I went to a small party. Jess was there, but she chose to hang around inside the house, grinning at Georgia and I as we skirted the knots of people. There was bad music, a bunch of people we didn’t mix with, and the heavy scent of to-strong perfume hanging in the air, making me feel light-headed. Georgia and I wound up outside. She was wobbling on these ridiculous heels, trying not to fall on the ice-slick pavement of the guy’s driveway, and me in sensible boots. She shivered, and our hands found each other in the dark, our fingers twining together instead of slipping between finger and thumb, for the first time ever. And my heart exploded. This was us.
And yet, I wasn’t sure of anything. I didn’t know exactly who I was, or who this girl was. I wasn’t even sure how to define myself. I wasn’t out to anyone. My heart sank, thinking of that.
But then I caught a glimpse of Georgia’s profile, outlined by the faint light of the moon, and a few drifting flakes of snow. Maybe there was one thing that I was sure of. Maybe.
The next day, I was talking with Jess, when the terrifying topic of crushes came up. We were video chatting, my phone propped up on a pile of books on my nightstand while I did homework sitting on my bed. She suddenly laughed, and I looked over. “What?”
“So… Last night at the party… I was wondering…” Jess said slowly, and I knew that something was up. True to her nature, instead of saying it aloud, Jess held up a pad of paper.
‘Do you have a crush??’ Followed by a few hearts. I went red. Paused. Laughed. “Mayyyyybe…” I grinned. All in good fun. Anyway, I went around easily with Jess - Although, not as easily as with Georgie.
‘Girl?’ I froze. My eyes widened. My heart pounded. This was it. The first person that I could come out to. Did I want this? Was I sure enough? Was this ‘maybe’ with Georgia enough evidence, enough reassurance that I was… Gay? Lesbian? Queer. Was it?
Before I could rethink anything, before I could stop myself from backing out, I nodded. I felt lightheaded. I had done it.
The paper disappeared, revealing Jess’s face. She grinned at me, and bowed her head over the paper before I could ask anything. A pen scratched on paper. My palms were sweating again. Oh no.
‘Georgia?!’ There was a heart over the ‘I’.
My heart skipped a beat. I turned an even deeper shade of red. I couldn’t deny it. I didn’t like to lie. Was I that obvious? “...Am I really that obvious?”
Jess squealed. “Ohmigosh! That is adorable. Are you gonna tell her?”
“Jess! Don’t tell!” I grinned. I had done it. I started to relax. Jess didn’t seem to care. She smiled her bright, carefree smile, her fly-away blond hair floating around her face, and I trusted her. Great, Alex. Sure. Then I paused. I took a breath, and I asked my question. “Wait- You don’t care? You know that I’m-”
“Alexandria Wilkinson, I don’t give a fig who you fall in love with, so long as I get to tease you.” I laughed again, and flopped, squealing, into my pillow.
Someone knew. She didn’t care!
I felt like flying, and nothing could take me down.
A few days passed, Jess elbowing me or smirking cheekily every time she saw Georgie and I together.
A few more days, and Georgia kept looking at me weird. I ignored it, telling myself that it was absolutely nothing. We were fine. We talked and laughed as usual… And then one day right before our lunch period, I saw Jess whispering to Georgie in the corner.
“...Tell her?...” I heard her say, and my eyes widened. I shook my head. Probably nothing to worry about. I sat down to lunch as usual, and ate silently, ignoring but them, a bad habit of mine that came out every single time that I was nervous.
And nothing happened. Until after school. I had just stepped outside, when Jess pulled me aside, a smile written in big, bold letters across her face.
“Alex - Oh my gosh, you will not believe this. I just talked to Georgie!” My heart skyrocketed, my palms sweat, and I reddened. “Yeah?” I dreaded what was coming…
“So.” Jess paused, looked at the sky. “Um.” Then she pulled out her sheet of paper.
‘G <3 A’
“What?” I asked, my eyes widening. No way. No darn way. I looked up at Jess. “You don’t mean?”
Jessica laughed. “Yes! Yes, Alex! Also, so sorry, but…”
I deflated. “You told? JESS! I’m gonna be forced to kill you now.” But I was laughing. In that moment, I didn’t care. I was shaking, nerves and emotion flooding my body. My heart had never felt so full, my body had never felt so light. She loved me? She was, well, like me, and out of all of the cute girls at school, she loved me?
Then I paled, as all of this sank in. I had to talk to her. “Oh my gosh. I have to find her! Where is she?”
“I think that she took the bus.” I stared at Jess for a long moment, and then down at my watch. I swore. “Sorry. I missed the bus! Oh, my dad is going to kill me.”
“Good luck! Don’t murder me until you tell me what happens!” Jess yelled at my retreating figure. I spun, waved at her, squeaked at the thought of talking to Georgia, and raced off. I had to get home. Get home. But then what was I going to do?
I couldn’t think about that. I slowed for a second to turn on my music. Music helps everything.
Of course, it was ‘Ring of Fire’, by Johnny Cash. Of course it was.
Love - Is a burning thing.
And it makes a fiery ring!
Bound by wild desire -
I fell into a ring of fire!
I shook my head, shutting off the music. Not helping today. Instead, I grinned like an idiot, my hands shaking, and broke into a run, focusing on the pounding rythm of my boots on the slushy snow, and I tried to drown everything else out.
Georgia was sprawled on her bed, staring up at the ceiling, earbuds in, when I came up the stairs and peeked through the open door into her room.
Music. Of course.
I paused, nervous, in the doorframe. “Hey.” I said softly, looking at her. This new notion, that we liked each other, was so foreign to me. Georgia rolled her head to the side, to look at me. “Hi, Alex.” She said just as softly, and I could sense a note of hesitation in those two words. She didn’t know what I knew.
“You want to take a walk?” I asked her, and her eyes widened. She opened her mouth, closed it, and then smiled, stunned. She knew what I wanted to talk about. If it were anything else, we could just have talked in her room. But her mom was home from the coffee shop, having left it in the capable hands of the co-owner, her sister, who’d moved up here a few weeks ago. We didn’t want anyone to overhear us yet. Not just yet.
“The beach?” Georgie asked, smiling.
“The little one?”
The air was chilly, the snow was slowly melting away, and the lake was roaring at the frozen sand, gray waves rolling up, almost licking at the toes of our boots. We were alone. She was beautiful. Her hair was loose, and haloed her face in a black cloud, her eyes glinting.
“So. Jess.” She whispered, and suddenly I felt uncomfortably warm, my face burning.
“Yeah. She told me?” I said, and it sounded strangely like a question, even to my own ears.
“I-” Georgia stopped. “You go first?”
“No! Um. Please.” I exclaimed, and Georgia smiled faintly, her cheeks pinking.
“So.” Georgia sighed. “I’m gay. And I’ve liked you since a few months after we met. You’re just - You’re you. Kind, funny. Smart. I - Yeah. I like you, a lot.”
“Same here. But I fell for you soon after we met…” I said quietly, staring down at the icy, pebbly sand. “You’re wonderful, Georgie. You saved me. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t met you. You’ve been there for me to be lean on. I just hope that I’ve been there for you…”
“You have been!” Georgia laughed, rubbing the back of her neck with one gloved hand. “You have been.”
I smiled. “Thanks.” We stood there in silence for a few moments, facing each other. I took a breath. I couldn’t back out now. Not now.
“What now?” I asked. Georgie looked at me, and then down at my hands, which I was wringing together constantly. I shoved them in my pockets, and bit my lip.
“I’m not out to anyone but you and Jess.” I blurted. “And that just over the course of the past weeks or so. I don’t know what to do.”
Georgia looked at me for a long moment. “Alex, I know how you feel. I didn’t come out to my mom until the end of eighth grade. She, and now you two, are the only people I’ve told. But I want to be out. It’s so much better, to have people know who you are. I feel like - Well. It feels like lying by omission. To me. When I’m masquerading as someone I’m not. I like girls. That’s a huge part of me. I hate it when people don’t see that part of me. And I like you.”
I blushed, and scuffed the toe of my boot against the ground. “I like you too.” And again, Georgia’s arms were around me, and mine were around her, my face buried in her hair. We just stood there for a few long moments. And then I pulled away, and sank to the ground, not caring that I was going to melt the snow underneath me, and wind up wet. Georgie sat down beside me, so close that our arms were brushing.
“But what now?” she whispered to me, and I shook my head.
“I don’t know. What are my parents going to say?”
“There’s no way of knowing. Not until we tell them. Chances are, my mom is going to freak out for a few minutes, until she wraps her head around the concept of me… Of us being… Us.” She said. My breath caught. Us.
“My parents, too. Chances are, sleepovers are going to be banned, if it’s just us.” I laughed. Stalling… Stallingstallingstalling…
“What are we going to do? I mean, why would sleepovers be banned, and not one-on-one walks? That’s strange.”
“We’re probably never going to have any privacy. Never again.” We laughed, and she rested her hand on mine in the snow. I twisted my hand around so that I could curl my fingers between hers. Us.
“So are we - Oh, I don’t want to sound - I don’t want to mess anything up.” I broke off, and Georgia looked at me. “Nothing you say is going to sound too forward. Nothing you say is going to stop me from loving you.” she whispered back, her head bent. My heart rate sped up, and my palms, unsurprisingly, grew clammy.
I took a breath, and looked at her. “What are… We?”
“Oh… I - Do you want to be -” She hesitated. “I -”
This was it. Another moment in my maddeningly insane life. I took a breath. So, I couldn’t mess things up. I thought. I could ask this. I exhaled, and then decided to ask her what I had been wondering since I had asked Georgia, this beautiful girl on a walk. My heart thundering even harder, if that was even possible, I asked it. “Are we - Do you want to be together?”
A pause. I froze. My fingers twitched.
‘Oh no. No. Please don’t mess this up, Alex. Please don’t… Please say yes, Georgia Smith.’ And then Georgia broke the silence.
“God, yes.” Georgia said in a rush. “Yes.”
We looked at eachother, and that light, floaty feeling that had come over me earlier that day, washed over me again. “I never thought that this would actually happen…” I said quietly. “I never really thought, even asking you out here to the beach, I never thought that this would happen. I never thought that you would say yes.”
“I’d say yes any day, Alex. Always.”
We shifted closer, until our arms were wrapped around each other’s waists, and our heads were resting on the other’s. This was us. The waves pounded on the beach, icy cold water leaving frosty marks on the sand. The roar of the water filled my ears.
“We met here.” she said, and I nodded. “We did.”
“Full circle, huh?” Georgia whispered. “Lady Fate, the Universe, God, something brought us here.”
“Fate.” I said, smiling, and remembering my surprise when I saw Georgia standing over me here months ago. “I love you, Georgia.” I whispered into her ear, and her arm tightened around my shoulder.
“I love you too, Alex. And that’s all that really matters.”
It was. It really was. Fate, and Eros, Agape and us.
Soon, we’d tell our parents. Our worlds wouldn’t fall apart. We wouldn’t be banned from seeing each other ever again. My mom would just nod with a smug ‘I knew it’ look, and my dad would grin, happy. Georgia’s mom would tear up, and hug me, welcoming me to her family.
Soon, the whole school would have picked up on rumors of the first lesbian couple that the high school had seen for the past few years. And bless our small, liberal town, the other students would just exchange knowing looks any time they saw Georgia and I talking in the hallways. Jess would tease us all the time, and apologize over and over again for almost messing our relationship up, with that first notepad note about crushes and girls.
Soon, in a few months, I’d get up the nerve to kiss her.
I’d tell her that I loved her every time we ended a phone call, or left the house, or went to bed.
And I did. I loved her.