winter heartbreak

dave caruso

The alarm was blaring, as it was the start of the school week. I just wanted more sleep, but no; on to school I had to go. Was I going to be late? Yes. Could I have done something about it? Yes. Did I, you already know I didn’t? Today was just another day of my 10th grade career. Another normal Tuesday, but this one would spark something interesting. My first two classes went by as usual, but then right as I was entering the halls, someone tapped me on the shoulder.

“Hi Julia,” they spoke, softly. I turned around to see one of my classmates from the class. Liam; slightly taller than me, had blond hair, and a red patterned t-shirt.

“Liam, right?” I confirmed. This class was the first with him, so I didn’t know of his existence until a few months ago. Even then, he sat across the room, meaning I didn’t get to talk to him like I did with Ashley and the others at my table.

“Yes! So... I, uhm,” Liam replied, trembling with nervousness. “I’m not sure how else to say this, but I kind of... like you?” He spoke in a manner that was almost questioning himself, as if he wasn’t sure of his feelings, or unsure how to express them. The sentence came out weak, but I could still tell he put his all into it.

I accidentally scoffed at his offer, which might have made him feel bad about it. How do I reject this guy, with good intentions, but isn’t my type? “I think it’s a bit early for relationships, at least for me. I don’t want to get into them yet,” I responded. There weren’t tears in his eyes, but I could feel them. This isn’t how I wanted to reject him, but it was too late.

Midst of this, everyone was walking to their next class, and we only had a few minutes to get to ours. “Sorry, I’ll go now,” he says before leaving through the vacant halls.

My next class was across the building, and I ended up being late for it, citing the bathroom for why I was late. Life continued as normal, as nothing ever happened. I felt bad for him because I think I crushed his heart in that moment. It went by so fast, yet it felt like hours to go through, and I was just rejecting him. He was the one going through the emotions. Man, am I really that broken?

A few days later, I got to talk to Liam some more, but it seemed as if he forgot about what happened earlier. The only reason was that everyone had to pair with a randomized partner.

“I’m sorry about earlier,” I started.

“No, it’s okay. I knew you were too out of my league anyways,” he complimented, “but we should do the worksheet.” He brushed off the encounter, but I could feel he wasn’t over it. “Wow, these questions are pretty easy.”

“You know all this already?” I questioned, knowing we were supposed to fetch stuff from a textbook.

“Ah,” he chuckled, “I’m quite a history nerd myself. Could you open your book to the page just in case?” He was already on the fourth question, just carrying the assignment.

I grabbed the thick book out of my purple backpack. That stupid thing is the reason I hate history class: It’s heavy, it’s all memorization, and I’m not going to really use the information in my future, let alone remember it the next day. Flipping through the vandalized pages of this ancient resource, I finally got to page 174.

“Hey Liam, I got the book,” I stated.

“Great, can you find what countries were on each side of the war?” he asked, letting me do some of the assignment that he was originally going to completely carry. I thought it was nice that I wasn’t forcing him to do the whole thing, but of course I still hated every bit of the work.

We powered through the rest of the assignment over six minutes. It was a fill in the blank fetch job, but we did it faster than anyone else. The rest of the room was loud with chatter from others “working together.” I saw myself stare at the various posters around the room, vibrant and informational. Some cheesy, others plain. Spread around the room, a mix of historical figures and references, and grammar and reading fun facts. I’ve already read everything tens of times, but I still found myself rereading them.

“Um…”, Liam started, “About that before, I have one thing that’s been on my mind.” “Yeah?”

“Could I at least, be your friend?” he asked, hesitantly.

“Of course you can! Don’t we all need friends?” I said, making fun of myself. “You aren’t going to just use me for my history answers?”

“As long as you don’t keep staring at like that?” We both laughed at that.

That’s the story of why I am friends with Liam, and how I got an A in history this year, but that’s only the start of this adventure. From then on, I talked to him at least one word every day – At least a “heya.” Sometimes we talked about classes, life, and the fun teen drama that would go through my friend group with the girls. On Friday of that week, the day right before winter break. he caught me after 6th hour with an interesting comment.

“Hey, Julia!” he called to me. “‘Sup Liam.”

“Your friends with Sarah, right? Actually it doesn’t matter. The news is we’re dating now!” he excitedly told me.

“No way.” I was surprised

“If you don’t believe me, you can stalk us at the mall; First date vibes!”

“Wooo! I’m happy for you,” I responded. though in a way, I wasn’t happy. “How’d you do it?”, I asked, knowing Sarah, unlike me, wasn’t a huge people person. She sometimes says mean things accidentally because she was bad at keeping her mouth shut.

“It was the same reason I asked you out. I had a few crushes on some girls, so instead of keeping everything inside forever, I decided to shoot my shot,” he explained, “starting with the biggest crush then working the way down the few in my list.”

“Nice. Sounds fun for sure. I got to go now for the bus. Have a good break!”

That’s the last I’d hear from him until our winter break would end. I never got his contact info, but that was okay. I spent parts of the winter break playing in the fluffy snow like a child, which isn’t something I ever let my friends see. I made a snowman taller than my dad, all on my own. Meanwhile, my mom was making the best hot cocoa known to man, rich with flavor. We had an electric fireplace that was set up, keeping us warm and cozy while we watched Christmas movies. Like every other teenager, I totally spent hours upon hours scrolling through Instagram and Snapchat.

Then I dropped my phone, right on its corner on the wood floor. CRACK. The screen shattered. Well, that was stupid, but it was fixable. I had been saving my money for a pretty homecoming dress for next year, but I really should get my screen fixed. Something I use every day, or something I’ll wear twice before I outgrow it.

A day later, my mom agreed to drive me to the mall, as I got my phone from one of the stores there. Instead of helping me, she just went to look at clothes or whatever adults’ shop for. I was on my own – no big issue, I knew where I needed to go. While I was on my way towards my destination, I saw Liam and Sarah. They were still dating, what a cute couple. Liam had a baseball cap and Sarah just had a crop top, both acting like the weather didn’t exist. I wanted to say hi, but I ended up letting them be. In a way, I was sort of jealous, but it was okay. I was happy for Liam. I continued to the packed store, where I got an overpriced repair, but at least I had all my apps and photos left over.

After the adventure, life returned to the relaxation it was. Lying in bed on Netflix, Instagram, admiring the snowman, hot cocoa, and Christmas movies and songs. It was easy going, a nice pace change from rushing near missed assignments at school.

Christmas came and went, and before I knew it, it was the new year. I wondered how Liam and Sarah were doing, so I sent her a message on snapchat.

Happy new year

How’s you and Liam

What I got back about a minute later,

Oh him?

I broke up with him

Too annoying and clingy

Tbh just wanted someone to spend Christmas with.

completely broke my heart.

What the fuck

I couldn’t comprehend what was going on. I’m not even the one in the relationship, but I feel as if my heart was jabbed out with a steel sword.

What the fuck is wrong with you sarah

If he was smart he would have realized I never liked him back

Get over it

I blocked that bitch after that.

I felt sore, tears dried on my eyes, nothing was okay. There were still two days of break left, but I no longer wanted them. Break was ruined. I spent the remaining time laying on my bed, not even doing anything. Just laying down, crying.

After the last few days of break, I walked into school exhausted, without any rest on the last day. Lucky for me, there wasn’t any true learning to be done on day from break, but I still had one thing I knew I had to do. Liam. I felt sorry, even though I did absolutely nothing. The clock moved slower than the race for the slowest snail, I just wanted first hour to go away. I don’t think anyone actually likes math class anyways, it was cool until they shoved algebra and trig into our faces.

The bell finally rang, and I ran. I ran, not caring about hallway rules or other people. I had to go around other people and make sure I didn’t hit them. Most just slid out of the way like a magnet with the same polarity though. Liam was already there, but already looked dead from his breakup.

“Liam!” I nearly screamed.

“Julia! How was your break?” he calmly asked.

“I… I heard what happened to you and Sarah.”

“Oh. That was kind of mean, I’m over it now,” he answered, but I didn’t believe it. I saw the same thing I saw in my mirror. I cannot explain how, but I can tell from his eyes that he was crying but trying to hide it.

“I feel bad for you though, and also…”, I started. “No no no, it’s fine. I’m okay,” he insisted.

“You don’t look okay” “Trust me, I’m. Fine.” “Can I tell you one thing”

“Of course, if you’re okay sharing.”

I took a deep breath. I was not ready for what I was about to say, but I had to say it.

“Ever since I said no that one day, I kind of wished… I didn’t,” I blurted.

“Oh man”, he started, “Julia, I think it’s a bit late for relationships, at least for me. I don’t want to get into them anymore. I am truly sorry.”

“O-“, I tried to say before being shushed.

“You seem super down; not the cheery girl I knew a month ago. Is everything alright?”

“I am-“, shushed again.

“No matter which way it goes, I’ll be here for you, Julia. As your friend. Maybe if I’m cool enough, a best friend.” He spoke softly, bringing me close to tears again.

He backed a few inches back out of my face, and spoke this: “Want a hug?”