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How To Get A Girlfriend

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 Camila, a well-known author, had always been a writer. When she was four, she wrote a book on how to make her mom smile- an excerpt goes, “Laf lowd nd kiss her chek”. Admittedly, she was never a speller extraordinaire, but her effort was there- and it was true nonetheless. Then, in Kindergarten she wrote a book titled How To Get a Girlfriend where she wrote “go to the toilet before you play so that you don’t have to go while you are playing with her.” Safe to say, her mom had not been surprised when Camila came out eleven years later.

 

~.~.~

 

At sixteen, Camila had developed a beautiful mind and learned about the hidden creases the world had open for her. She wrote endless amounts of rambles on her Tumblr, which conveniently landed her an opportunity with the school’s newspaper where she wrote about the social happenings or brought awareness to all the inequality in the world. She had a head full of words racing and bouncing against its walls, always thinking and analyzing.

 

But then she saw the emerald-eyed woman named Lauren. The words in her head halted to a stop.

 

Camila was completely taken and endeared by her. She was entranced with the way Lauren thought and how she articulated her words, entranced with how her body curved and how her hair fell past her chest and painted the air as the wind blew by. Little by little, angry rants on Tumblr turned into silent love letters to Lauren, “I saw this lovely girl yesterday. God, I’ve never seen someone so beautiful and the shouting words in my mind had stuttered and slowed down. It’s like she stilled them in their place and all that there was in that moment was her. She doesn’t even know I exist but I love her (maybe that’s an exaggeration…). But, fuck, I’m screwed.”

 

And when Camila finally met her, after days of far-away admiration, the words just disappeared and she found herself speechless.

 

When Camila comes home later that night, the cursor blinks twice before words start spilling from her fingertips. "We were put in pairs for a project in school and I've been getting to know her even better. And oh my God, she's so overwhelmingly cute and precious. (And oh my god, her mind is stunning!!!) I can't handle it and if I don't post anything in the next week, I've died a wonderful death. Death by Lauren. (This is so lame and cliché I cannot believe myself. I need to stop.)" 

 

Two weeks had passed since the project and Camila had subconsciously started looking for Lauren everywhere her path led her. That night she wrote in the empty text box, “I can’t get her out of my mind. I’m going insane.”

 

~.~.~

 

And then, for once, karma decides to side with Camila.

 

Her partner for the school newspaper falls ill and Camila ends up having to interview double the people for the upcoming Winter Formal. Lauren just so happens to be one of them. Camila would be lying if she said her heart didn’t stop and she almost stumbled on her own feet when Lauren flipped her hair, smiled at her and looked at her attentively. Camila was a mess, stuttering and fumbling around with the questions scrawled on her papers. She was normally more organized and confident. But normally, Lauren, aka her crush of two weeks, wouldn’t be standing in front her, giggling softly at the obvious nervousness that consumed Camila.

 

And then it evolves to this.

 

Somehow Camila pulls it together and asks Lauren out on a date about a month after the interview. Camila’s hands were sweaty and she kept fidgeting around on her feet and Camila’s sure she was on the verge of puking more than she’d be willing to admit. But Lauren breezily says yes and she smiles big at Camila, scrunching her nose and pecking her on the cheek.

Staring at the blue screen and the blinking cursor, Camila types out “JFASDJHFKJSDHF. She said yes. Holy shit she said yes. I need date ideas asap!!!!” And several minutes later Camila once again types into the empty text box, “She feels like a nice summer day. She’s so warm and bright and I think the sun might even be jealous of her. Being with her makes me feel sunny.”

 

As it turns out, Camila gets the idea for the date at three in the morning when she can’t sleep and has two tests the next day for school. And when it comes, Camila has two scrapes, one on her knee and the other on her elbow, but the stinging pain is worth it because the wonder in Lauren’s eyes gleams as the fairy lights twinkle from the treetops. Apparently, hanging lights from tree to tree is a dangerous thing to do- Camila knows this now.

 

And then the best thing happens.

 

During their date at the park, Lauren asks Camila to be her girlfriend as they lie on the grass making shapes from the clouds that were painted in the blue sky. Camila says yes faster than she’d say yes to fried plantains, which seemed impossible. Lauren kisses her when Camila’s smile stretches and her eyes glimmer with this undeniable happiness.

 

Camila writes to her followers the following morning, “I am so happy to be hers and to call her mine. The more moments I share with her, the harder I fall. I could fall in love with her; hell it’s happening now, I’m sure. And she is so bright- literally, metaphorically. She is so smart, the way she thinks is so wholesome and breathtaking. She makes me feel so comfortable, like I'm at home whenever I'm with her. I feel safe.”

 

~.~.~

 

Lauren somehow comes into possession of the book about getting a girlfriend Camila wrote in Kindergarten. She's sat on the kitchen table with Camila's mom, Sinu, while the russet-eyed girl ruffled with the contents in her fridge.

 

“Do you go to the toilet before you go to see me, Camz?”

 

Camila whips around with confusion written on her face.

 

“What?”

 

“Do you go pee before you see me so that you don’t have to go when you’re with me?”

 

Her eyebrows seem to furrow even deeper and Lauren can't help the giggle that bubbles out from her lips.

 

Flipping to the page of the book and pointing to the scrawled, multi-colored print, Camila almost dies of embarrassment when Sinu tells Lauren about that mini childhood crush she had on the girl a grade above her. And when Lauren plays along and feigns jealousy, Camila’s cheeks are radiating heat like the sun would. Covering her face with her hands and shaking her head with embarrassment, she peeks between the space her fingers provide and Lauren’s looking at her with endearment shining and something akin to love. Lauren kisses her plump lips softly and calls Camila the author of the century.

 

“So your book says that you should go before you play with me. Do you?”

 

“Yes. I do, in fact.”

 

Camila writes later that night, “I love her. She knows me like no one else and she looks at me like I’m all that matters. I love her, I love her.”

 

After escaping the senior prom, Camila tells Lauren she loves her as they swayed to the music flowing from her phone. It comes out as a whisper at first, the hot air coating Lauren’s neck, then it comes out in a gentle and sure voice that rings out into the night. Tightening the grip on Camila’s waist, Lauren kisses her with passion dripping off her tongue and whispers it into Camila’s ears.

 

Camila knew love could be expressed in many ways- with words, with actions. But she's never experienced how good it makes her heart feel as Lauren and her lie entwined and naked in their bed with love written on her neck, on the insides of her thighs, on the plane of her back.

 

Camila thinks professions of love sound even better when it sounds breathy as Lauren writhes and moans underneath her with euphoria.

 

~.~.~

 

As graduation comes along, Camila decked in her cap and gown writes, “I can’t believe it’s over. The best four years of our lives come to an end today and I don’t want to let go. But I do. High school is over and I accept that. I just don’t want to let go because I don't want to let her go. She will be states away from me. Lauren got into her dream med school and I got into my dream writing school. Which happens to be on different ends of the country. I don’t want to say goodbye to her, I know I'd miss her too much-the smell that’s so irrevocably her and the feel of her skin on mine. But I guess we'll roll with what life throws. We’re meant to be. I know it. We’ll last.”

 

The distance makes it harder for them to communicate and their schedules start getting hectic and they just…stop talking like they used to. Camila starts missing the warm body she’d hold at night and she starts becoming a shell. She isn’t as happy or as bright like she used to be. Lauren isn’t fairing too well either. She’s losing sleep and her grades are slipping. When they call each other on the rare free days they have, Camila sounds drained and Lauren's stress acts out on the girl over the phone.

 

It's difficult and they both learn they need to end it before it ruins them, before it ruins the good that was left in them.

 

Just because they know doesn't make ending it easier.

 

Suddenly, it ends at three in the morning.

 

Camila can feel her heart clenching in her chest and she can feel the sharpness of her nails digging into her flesh and she’s never wished more in that moment that it was Lauren’s digging angry red lines across her skin. Camila aches to feel the physical pain she endures in her arms as her nails create crescent moons in them- wants to hurt more than the crippling emotional pain in her chest. 

 

Camila wants to scream and cry harder than she’s ever cried before but she tries to silence her tears by covering her mouth and wills her voice to stay quiet but Lauren still hears her sniffling and the short choppy intakes of breath.

 

It’s utter hell for them.

 

When the dial tone hums into Camila’s receiver, the words on her screen blur and her fingers shake as she types into the text box, “It’s over. My heart feels like it’s just been ripped out and ran over. I've never felt something so close to death- death to the emotions coursing through me, death to the words flowing in my mind. It's like I couldn't breathe. I don’t know when I’ll come back to writing like I used to. But I need to learn to live without her again. I need to in order to be better for her when the time comes for us. I meant it. We’ll last. I don’t care what it takes.” 

 

~.~.~

 

It’s a painful three months moving on from Lauren. It just gets gradually easier to breathe as the time passes. But at night, Camila is still thinking about how Lauren would entwine their legs and fingers and kiss her until they drifted off to sleep. She wasn’t sure how Lauren was doing and if there was one thing Camila hated about breaking up with Lauren was that she never gets to talk to her like she used to. But from her last conversation with Normani, Lauren has started to heal as well, except she brings home girls with long brown hair and kind russet eyes. That pinches at Camila’s heart more than she wishes it would.

 

Camila eventually comes back to the dark blue screen and spends thirty minutes looking at the blinking cursor and she starts typing, “I think she might’ve moved on from me. But I’ve learned to breathe without her. I still miss her like hell and I hope she's still saving a place for me in her heart because I still am. I’m learning to be me again. And that’s refreshing, I suppose. My friends are telling me to move on and go out more. And I’m trying, but it’s hard. Everything reminds me of her and I don’t think I could move on until I know for sure she’s happy with someone else. I don’t know. It’s hard. But I’m doing it. I’m trying.”

 

Camila learns from Normani that Lauren is now someone else’s. A blonde, blue eyed someone else's. And Camila doesn’t like that, but she’s happy for Lauren, “I mean as long as she’s happy right? That’s all that matters…”

 

It doesn’t last long. A slip of the name and the blonde, blue-eyed woman disappears. Lauren missed Camila and she couldn’t help it if her name slipped out of her lips when the woman’s teeth scrape against her neck.

 

Lauren texts Camila at three in the morning, not even a day after the blue-eyed woman left.

 

“I miss you.”

 

Camila doesn’t reply because when her phone vibrates on her bed because she’s fallen asleep on her laptop, the finished paper stapled and put away. But when she wakes up the next morning and recharges her dead phone, Camila almost shouts in excitement. With shaking fingers and a stretched smile, she texts back and gets ready for the day with a bounce in her step.

 

“I’ve missed you too.”

 

 

~.~.~

 

They start talking more after that. Lauren’s grades are improving and her sleep is somewhat normal. It’s awkward at first but during a random session of Facetime, Camila stubs her toe against her chair and shouts curses mindlessly at the offender. Lauren giggles and it’s like how it used to be, but better. It seems improbable but the pair has gotten more mature and during their time apart, they grew to appreciate their relationship more.

 

They start working things out and they’re together, somewhat. It’s not official but they’re committed to each other. Camila’s text posts start getting happier. “Lauren’s coming over to visit for Christmas and I am so excited to see her again. I just want to hug her and kiss her over and over. I still love her. I’m so in love with her it’s lame.”

 

It’s Christmas Eve and Camila is tucked in Lauren’s arms, her head buried into the crook of Lauren’s neck, asleep, when the writer's phone lights up. The notification from Tumblr gets Lauren’s attention when she sees her name in the title. Sliding the lock screen and typing in the passcode, her heart melts as she reads what Camila wrote, “Lauren is back. She’s getting ready to sleep and it’s been so long since I’ve felt this happy. It’s like she’s gotten more beautiful (as if that were possible) and she still makes my palms sweat and she still gives me the dumb butterflies in my stomach. We can make it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.”

 

Lauren taps to Camila’s blog and she sees ask after ask about their relationship, various congratulations and words of positivity. Rifling through her old posts, reliving the past, Lauren decides to write something, “Thank you for looking out for Camila when I couldn’t. She means the world to me and I love her so incredibly much. When we broke up I never really knew how she was doing and now that I do, it's reassuring to know you guys were there for her. Thank you for supporting us and loving us the way you do. I am forever in your debt. But I can promise to you that I’ll love her with everything in me and that I’ll be her rock if she needs me to be. I can tell you guys have a special place in her heart with how she replies to you guys and if she loves you, I love you. And Camila, when you read this, I love you with all my heart and I want to scream it to the world and I am so lucky to have you. Merry Christmas, baby.”

 

Signing “Lauren” at the end of the message and kissing Camila’s head, Lauren holds the girl even tighter and strokes the brunette locks away from her face. Lauren knew it was a privilege to call Camila hers. And she loved her. She loved her the way a writer loved their words, the way an artist loved their colors.

 

When Camila checks Tumblr and sees a post she never recalled posting with more notes than usual, she smiles when she sees Lauren's note.

 

With a genuine smile on her lips, she simply types, ":)".

 

~.~.~

 

Fast forward a couple years and Camila is sat on the leather love seat with Lauren’s legs resting on her thighs. Balancing her laptop on Lauren’s thighs, she types the next paragraph of her highly anticipated book. In her peripheral sight, she sees Lauren put her book down and look at her with this tangible look of love in her eyes. Lauren's soft voice breaks the comfortable silence that surrounded them.

 

“I’m having an ‘oh wow’ moment right now.”

 

“Oh really?”

 

“You look really good in glasses and your eyebrows furrow when you get stuck on a sentence. It’s really cute and very ‘oh wow’.”

 

Putting her laptop down, she slides Lauren’s legs off her thighs and straddles her. Camila’s arms curl around her neck and she starts playing with the little hairs there and traces the dragonfly tattoo as she dips down to brush her lips against Lauren’s.

 

“Well thank you. But, did you know that you’re just as ‘oh wow’? It’s like I’m living in a constant state of ‘oh wow’ when I’m with you. You’re just so wow.”

 

“For a writer, your vocab is failing you.”

 

“You do that to me. You leave me wordless and all lovey dovey. Like you always have.”

 

“Well, I love it when you’re mushy. I love you.”

 

“I love me too.”

 

“Camila!”

 

“Okay. Maybe I do love you.”

 

“A lot.”

 

“Yes. I love you. A lot.”