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A Girls First Bounty

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My less than inviting pasta pot sits at the cafeteria table, a fork grazing the top of it over and over, like the most ridiculous interpretive dance one could muster.

The bottom line is that I'm not hungry, because just a few lines above that in my head, my mind is pacing at a thousand miles a minute at the thought of Sterling Wesley opening the door to the music room earlier today only to find a boy standing in the middle of it, confused, dazed, and probably downright disappointed. 

And then my mind is no longer pacing...but sprinting. What if they know each other? What if he told her what happened? What if she knows I'm gay? What if she doesn't?

I'm watching her from afar, at her own table, conversation-deep with her sister, Blair. They're laughing now, heads leaned back in agreement that whatever was just ushered between them was nothing short of hilarious. Of course my thoughts go to dark places once again.

They're laughing at you, April.

They think you're just a tight-fisted know it all.

You mean nothing to Sterling Wesley.

If I theatrically shake my head in a comic-fashion, will my thoughts fall out of my ears? If they did, would they simply crash to the cafeteria floor for others to see, and laugh at? Would she laugh?

I sigh into my hands, pushing them back into my hair in an attempt to calm myself down, elbows planted firmly on the table. 

When Luke approaches, lunch tray in hand, and sits next to Sterling, my stomach starts doing flips. When he puts his arm around her, she smiles, and I have to look away. 

Does he realize just how lucky he is to be able to carry out such an act? When a simple graze of Sterling's shoulder hits me just right, I'm breathless. Is he ever breathless with her?

It quickly comes to my attention that this pasta pot is not being consumed today, and therefore, I have no real reason to be sitting in this room, watching the girl I'm in love with be in love with someone else, and so, I raise myself from my chair and make my way over to the bin, where my pasta pot, and whatever's left of my heart falls into it.

I could be doing something productive with my lunch time. There's plenty of class president posters that are in dire need of putting up, though I feel more 'insignificant' than 'president' in this present moment. I naively tell myself that the thoughts will subside, and therefore make my way over to the art room so that I can put the last finishing touches onto my posters.

Print-outs were never my style, and handmade posters seem far more personal. Once they're completed, they're going to be something to be admired.

And even if they aren't, the idea of doing something worthwhile might ease my conscience and in turn move my focus away from the fact that once lunch is over I will have to return to the classroom and sit next to Sterling for English.

Sitting next to the girl of my dreams shouldn't be so difficult, in fact, it should be sunshine and rainbows. Literally rainbows. 

I don't want her to wave a gay pride flag with me; I just want to be loved by her. 

Not thinking straight, I practically tell myself out loud to stop thinking about Sterling. There's work that needs to be done. Work unrelated to my love life, or lack thereof, and this is exactly what's going to get me found out. 

When I reach the art room, I'm greeted with a pleasant hug from Hannah who is lingering in the doorway, almost expectant of my arrival. Am I that predictable? She's campaigning this year too, and whilst she is my competition, she's also my friend first and foremost, and so, I hug her back.

"Your posters look simply amazing, April! I love the whole arts and crafts vibe going on with them" she says, sporting a toothy grin, her eyes creasing to small wrinkles on her face, head planted against the door frame once the hug ceases.

"Thanks Hannah" I smile back. "Yours look great too, and hey, everybody loves you, so I'm sure you're going to do great" I continue. Despite my positive words, deep down I'm praying that I gain the upper hand and become class president, though I can't help but feel a pang of guilt knowing that I am coveting popularity when I shouldn't be.

"Well, sure, people like me I suppose, but did you hear that Sterling Wesley is campaigning this year? Everybody likes her for some unknown reason, so that's pretty much me out of the picture, You should knock her down a few pegs, that girl thinks she's got everything coming to her" Hannah smirks, arms now folded as she awaits my inevitable comment of bitchiness. 

My heart is a bird in a cage of a skeleton, desperate to escape. I had no idea that she was campaigning for class president, but have every idea why everybody likes her. 

Everybody likes Sterling Wesley because she is brave, and beautiful at the same time. Everybody likes her because she is strong willed yet delicate.

Everybody likes her because she's not a heartless bitch like me.

I like her because she isn't me.

Alas, the knife is at my back again, and I am forced to do the thing I hate the most, which is lie.

"Ugh, of course she is. She has to get involved with everything. When will she learn that the whole world doesn't revolve around her?" 

The words are like acid on my tongue. The harshest part of this is that my words are true, they just aren't about her.

When I have to act the part, I turn the thoughts I feel about myself onto Sterling. That way I don't feel like I'm truly lying. If I consider myself the 'her' in that sentence, it isn't really a lie. 

"You're so right April. Even her face annoys me right now. I think it's just because I want to beat her at her own game so bad" Hannah comments.

There was once a short period of time in which I considered Sterling my enemy, and once I realized she was the opposite, it was too late to go back. The bridges I had built that relied upon friendship had burned, and rebuilding them could be dangerous, especially when the premise of friendship has since changed to much more than that for me. 

And so the bridges remain burned.

Sterling was never playing any games. And the fact that Hannah thinks she is makes me want to hit her.

But Hannah B is my friend, and Sterling Wesley is supposedly nothing more than a burnt bridge.

And burnt bridges cannot be rebuilt.

"Well then lets do it...lets beat her at her own game" I grin.

My smile is wide, believable I hope, because inside, I want nothing more than to defend Sterling Wesley with every fiber of my being.

Except my final strings are snapping.