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impulsive devotion at best

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Hope moves to Los Angeles when she’s ten.

She’s on the playground, tolerating whoever she decides to for the day, when she sees her.

There is a strawberry blonde girl with plenty of freckles, crouched down and rubbing another little girl’s back.

“It’s okay Molly,” she coos gently. “They’ll have the book another time.”

Hope tilts her head curiously at the sight, intrigued by the mature gentleness this girl is displaying.

“But Amy,” the other girl practically wails through her tears. “I wanted to read that book next. Why did someone else have to check it out?”

The freckled girl - Amy, Hope corrects in her mind - twists her lips in thought before she says, “Let’s put your name on the check out list.”

Hope watches as the other girl - Molly, she thinks - lets out a sigh and pouts. She watches as Amy doesn’t get mad at her, but instead smiles just a little.

“You can have some of my snacks, too.”

Molly sniffs. “Okay,” she agrees before getting up.

And it’s the smallest of interactions, something minuscule really, but Hope will think about that moment - that girl - for a very long time.

 


 

Hope is twelve when dances start becoming somewhat of a big deal.

Who’s going with who, do you have a date yet, all those kinds of things are starting to bubble on the surface.

A boy in her math class asks her, and he seems harmless enough, so she says yes.

But if she’s being honest, something deep inside of her wants to ask Amy.

(Can girls even ask other girls to dances?

Maybe like, in a friend way?)

Amy, who is slowly circling around classes with Hope.

Amy, who has possibly the most annoying best friend in the entire world but is nothing like her.

Amy, who right now is being teased by stupid boys who are barely the same height as Hope.

Hope watches from across the room for a moment. She thinks the boys will just walk back to their seats, but they are pestering Amy without hesitation. The poor freckled girl shrinks in her seat, doe-eyes focused on the paper on her desk and not much else.

Usually, Molly is there to save her, but this is probably one of the only classes they don’t have together.

So, for whatever reason, Hope walks over to them.

“Leave her alone,” she says with force.

The boys look up to find Hope towering over them. Amy slowly looks up, and the surprise is clear in her face when she recognizes Hope.

“She’s such a nerd,” one of the boys jeer. “She can’t even get a date to our seventh grade dance.”

Amy’s cheeks flush pink and she looks down again. Something about it makes Hope’s stomach twist in the saddest of ways.

“Yeah well, last time I checked you don’t have a date either James,” she tells the boy with venom in her tone that she’s strangely getting comfortable using.

After a beat she adds, “Not like you’re tall enough for anyone to want to dance with you, anyway.”

The kids surrounding them all gape and whisper. Hope knows she might’ve been a little too harsh, but she doesn’t really care.

She can feel Amy staring at her, almost burning holes in her skin.

James and his friends gawk before walking away, mumbling something along the lines of “stupid Hope.”

“Thank you.”

Hope snaps her head to see Amy still looking at her with those big eyes, naive and hopeful. There are a lot of things she wants to say to Amy - like how those boys are stupid and how being a nerd isn’t a bad thing.

But Hope has never been good at these situations, so she just gives Amy one long look before returning to her seat.

 


 

Hope is fifteen when Amy comes out.

It’s only halfway through their first semester of sophomore year when it happens.

It’s not like she makes a huge announcement or anything - that’s totally not Amy’s style from what Hope knows.

Which, she knows because, maybe she’s been watching Amy from afar.

So what?

(She’s got a soft spot, that’s all.)

But Amy comes out as a lesbian and for some reason Hope cannot place, the news strikes her as more important than it is.

She watches as Amy navigates through the hallway the day after news breaks about her sexuality - which Hope thinks is stupid because no one should care that much about a girl’s sexuality - and Molly flanks her side, ready just in case.

Hope recognizes the apprehension in Amy’s features. Amy has never been one to have the spotlight on her - no, she’d leave that to Molly who gladly soaks it in. So, having her sexuality out there for everyone to talk about...well, Hope guesses that makes her mildly nervous for what they have to say.

When Amy looks up, her eyes lock on Hope's.

For a moment, Hope freezes. She doesn’t quite know what to do. Amy’s gaze lingers and it’s only a matter of time before Molly’s eyes follows their direction.

Hope offers Amy a head nod instead.

She hopes Amy understands what she means.

Nothing has changed. You’re still you.

But what can Hope even say to her? They’ve barely spoken over the years.

Despite this, Amy gives her a small smile, looking just the tiniest bit more relaxed than she had a moment ago.

Hope turns her head and smiles into her locker.

 


 

Hope is sixteen when she kisses her first girl.

It’s at some party her friend invited her to. She recognizes almost no one, and honestly, she kind of likes it this way.

This girl is eighteen and on the brink of starting college.

Hope is almost a junior in high school, nervous and wildly out of her element.

She likes it, she decides, kissing girls.

The only problem is when the girl kisses her again, Hope thinks of doe-eyes and freckles.

(However, she doesn’t do anything about it.)

 


 

Hope is seventeen when she realizes Amy has a crush.

She watches as Amy transforms into a lovesick puppy any time Ryan enters a room.

She watches as Amy stutters and stumbles and shrinks into herself when she tries to talk to Ryan.

She watches and wishes Amy would look at her the same way she looks at Ryan.

(She still does nothing about it.)

 


 

Hope is eighteen when Amy kisses her.

It comes completely by surprise, but Hope rolls right along with it.

Amy kisses her again, hungry and eager, and Hope falls into it all too easily. She lets Amy push her jacket off, lets Amy guide her to the ground. She lets Amy take the lead even though they both know she has no clue what she’s doing.

But the whole time Hope is looking at her like she’s come straight down from heaven.

And Amy is so, so nervous with her trembling fingers and nervous laughs, but Hope soaks it all in.

It doesn’t go perfect - in fact, it quickly turns into a shit show, but Hope walks out of the shower ten minutes later wanting to chase Amy down and try again.

And she does, eventually, showing up to her doorstep to return her underwear and leave her number.

Amy leaves for Botswana at the end of the week.

Hope wonders what will become of them.

 


 

Hope is nineteen when Amy comes home and moves to New York.

NYU and Columbia aren’t too far from each other.

When they hang out for the first time in over a year, it takes Hope all of ten minutes before she has Amy pressed up against a wall, kissing her firmly.

(Yes, she has always had a weakness for Amy and her dumb smile.)

And they kiss and kiss and kiss until there are no clothes and they are underneath bed sheets and it may still be new, but it is not nearly as disastrous as the first time.

Hearing her name fall out of Amy’s mouth in that way sends Hope to another level. She learns, quickly, the ins and outs of Amy’s body, what Amy likes and what she doesn’t like.

They keep it casual, they say, just something easy and light.

(Hope hates that, hates that it’s Amy’s idea and that she goes right along with it.)

“You’re cool with that, right?” Amy asks, tilting her head.

Hope nods without hesitation, forcing a smile. “Yeah, totally. Just casual.”

But Amy comes over and they watch movies and eat takeout and have sex and something about all of this seems a lot more than just hooking up. This seems like Hope is falling harder and harder with no signs of stopping and Amy is completely unaffected.

She loves the way Amy laughs at anything, and the way her nose scrunches up when she thinks too hard. She loves how Amy looks in Hope's old vintage band t-shirts and how she looks in the morning when she stays over.

She loves when Amy comes to watch her new film projects or reads over a new writing piece and tells Hope how talented she is. She loves going back to California with Amy and hanging out like they should have done years ago.

She loves everything about Amy, and that should be a warning sign.

 


 

Hope is twenty when things fall apart.

They’ve been doing this for a months now - almost a year maybe - this casual thing.

Hope thinks she wants to tell Amy she loves her, that she’s loved her all along.

Amy, however, has other plans.

“I met someone,” she says over coffee one day, at their favorite coffee spot. “She...I work with her on campus. She’s really cool - and she’s sweet.”

“Oh” is all Hope says.

She doesn’t quite know what this means. Or more so, she doesn’t want to think this means what she thinks it means.

The feeling in her stomach tells her otherwise.

“And I don’t know,” Amy sighs. “She wants to take me on like, a big date and...I kind of want to see where this goes. We’ve been hanging out for a while.”

Something about this makes Hope’s heart plummet straight down her chest.

Is that where you are when you aren’t with me?

“That’s...that’s great dude,” Hope tells her with her best effort.

It’s a lie and she knows it, but Amy can’t seem to tell the difference. She lights up at Hope’s encouragement.

“Really?” she beams, looking relieved. “I just...I think I really like her.”

“Awesome,” Hope deadpans, steeling herself because she can’t take much more of this.

“Thank you Hope,” she suddenly says. “For, you know, all of it. I...you’re one of my best friends.”

Hope swallows, trying not to let any emotions show.

The difference between her and Amy is that Amy isn’t in love with her best friend; Hope is.

This whole time, Hope has been in love with her and Amy has not. Their whole casual arrangement had been just that for Amy - casual.

Amy leaves with the impression that they’ll still be friends.

Hope decides she shouldn’t talk to Amy anymore.

 


 

Hope is twenty-two when she hits one year with her first real girlfriend.

And it’s nice, really.

They have an apartment together as they finish off their senior year of college. She is funny and smart and insanely creative and she helps Hope forget. With her, Hope is not afraid that this will all end at any moment. With her, Hope knows she is in love and is loved in return. With her, there is no line that they’re pushing.

Hope doesn’t speak to Amy, doesn’t really know what she’s up to besides the occasional social media post.

She tries to tell herself she doesn’t care.

But she knows deep down it’s a lie because she always wonders what if when it comes to Amy.

“I love you,” her girlfriend tells her always.

“I love you too,” Hope says and sometimes she wishes it wasn’t such a forced response.

 


 

Hope is twenty-four when their paths cross again.

She is single and still in New York. She’s an aspiring screenwriter and filmmaker, working with a small company, but doing her own freelance when she can.

She’s back home for a week, coincidentally working on a project in Los Angeles so she figures she should visit her old stomping grounds for old times sake.

This might be a mistake when she runs into Amy at a local coffee joint.

“Hope,” Amy says, and something about the way she says Hope’s name leaves the taller woman in a knot.

Hope blinks, taken completely by surprise.

“Amy.”

“W...what are you doing here?” Amy asks.

And sure, Amy has grown out of her meek and naive stage by a lot, but here in this coffee place Hope thinks she catches a glimpse of that Amy again.

“I’m just visiting,” Hope tells her, somehow remembering how to speak. “Working on a film project for the week and figured I’d come home.”

“Oh,” Amy nods. “I...I’m visiting too. A week off working on nonprofits.”

Hope resists the urge to grin, because of course Amy is working with nonprofits.

“That’s cool,” she says instead, unsure what to do with herself.

“Oh my god! My two best friends, Amy and Hope!”

They both jump at that, turning to find Gigi at the counter grabbing a drink.

“Jesus Christ Gigi,” Hope says.

At the same time Amy yelps, “What the fuck.”

“So good to see both of you,” she gushes, coming up to both of them with a wide smile. “We all must catch up!”

“I don’t...” Amy trails off

“No,” Hope says with a shake of her head.

But because Gigi is Gigi, the three of them sit in that coffee shop and catch up on things that they’ve missed out on. Amy and Hope keep quiet about what used to be in New York, when they were two dumb teenagers with no clue how the world worked.

Gigi disappears at some point, but neither of them seem to mind. Amy is just as quirky and dorky as she remembers, and Hope knows she is falling once again.

“Our main offices are in New York,” Amy tells her. “So I’m mainly there. Will I see you when I get back?”

“Sure,” Hope says without hesitation, no thinking behind it.

Hope thinks she might be screwed.

They start doing this thing again, the thing they did back in college but this time as adults. They go on what Hope is pretty sure constitutes as dates, Amy is always coming over, and they are spending more time together than apart.

They haven’t kissed though, yet.

Hope is too scared of repeating the past.

She isn’t too sure what Amy is holding back from.

If Amy is holding back.

Maybe Hope is misreading this situation terribly and Amy just wanted to be friends again.

Either way, Hope knows she won’t stop.

 


 

Hope turns twenty-five when Amy kisses her again.

They have friends over at Hope’s apartment, and they’re cleaning up after everyone’s gone when it happens.

Amy has icing on her face. Hope can’t help but wipe it off with her thumb gently, carefully. 

Amy stares at her for a beat too long, one where Hope has time to swallow the lump in her throat, before she leans forward and kisses her.

“Oh,” is all Hope can say, but she can’t say she’s the least bit disappointed

Amy kisses her again, this time with more purpose. Hope suddenly feels like she is eighteen again and in some bathroom falling prey to the girl freckled girl with doe-like eyes.

“Amy,” she breathes out, pulling away when she gets a grasp of what’s happening here.

“Date me,” Amy murmurs in response, eyes still half closed. “Be my girlfriend, Hope.”

Hope blinks, reality suspending for a moment. “What?”

“I love you,” Amy says, pulling away just a little, just enough to get a full view of Hope’s face. “I fucked up in college.”

“Amy,” Hope repeats, the nerves getting the best of her.

She isn’t sure if this is really happening, if this is some birthday hallucination or if maybe, just maybe her wishes are coming true.

(Not that she actually made a wish for her candles, but you know.)

“I fell in love with you,” Amy tells her, a soft laugh escaping her lips. “I fell in love with you, Hope, the year I was in Botswana and we texted all the time. I fell in love with you again when I came back and we were in New York.”

Hope’s eyebrows scrunch together. She can’t believe what she’s hearing. She’s searching Amy’s features for a trace of deceit.

She can’t find any.

“I was so stupid,” Amy continues, beginning to ramble. This is the Amy Hope remembers from high school. “God, I - I was so scared you didn’t feel the same way. You were so cool and I just wanted to keep up. But then I found someone who didn’t scare me. She wasn’t intimidating or challenging at all and she was into me so I thought - I chose the safe option, Hope. Shit, Hope, I was so stupid back then.”

Hope lets her talk, lets her spill everything she has been bottling up. Her chest is growing warmer and the look in Amy’s eyes makes her feel like things are finally falling into place.

She knows the way Amy is looking at her. It’s the way she’s always wished Amy would look at her.

“But I’m here now,” Amy tells her firmly, eyes never wavering away from Hope’s. “And I want this, completely. I’m not scared anymore.”

Hope pauses, lets Amy’s words sink in. She watches as Amy waits with baited breath, eyeing Hope carefully to find any trace of a reaction.

Hope then smiles, a small smile that doesn’t give too much away, before she reaches to tuck a strand of Amy’s loose hair behind her ear.

“What if I told you I’ve been in love with you since we were kids?” Hope questions.

The way Amy’s eyes light up at the confession make Hope want to combust.

“Wh...really?”

Hope nods, biting her lip. “This whole time, Ames.”

“God I was so stupid,” Amy repeats, smacking her forehead.

Hope laughs, tugging her close. “You already said that.”

“Forgive me?”

“I think I can this once,” Hope teases, leaning forward and kissing her again.

Hope wakes up to Amy in her bed, the sun streaming across her bare back. She grins, taking it all in.

When Amy wakes up, she turns and smiles sleepily at Hope.

“I love you,” she says, her words words of the day.

Hope grins, wide and unashamed. “I love you too, dork.”

And as she reaches over and pulls Amy close to her, Amy laughing as she digs her face into Hope’s shoulder, Hope knows that things are finally falling into place.