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Author: Sarah Manly
Age: 10
Posted: January 14, 2000

One Summer's Week

One day a girl named Kristy was riding down a road on her horse,
Reggie was a female quarter horse. Kristy had a crush on a boy at her school, his name was Chris.
They were both in middle school with the same schedules for classes.
Kristy was riding Reggie down the road Chris lived on. This fine
couple both had horses also. At this time Chris was going for a ride on his
horse Brett was a male quarter horse in the fields. "turn on in reggie" She
said. after a while Chris and Kristy were riding together in the fields.
"want to come over for a pajama party" Kristy asked. "sure" Chris said.
so when the p.j. party started it turned to a makeout party.
Then the party was over and Chris and Kristy rode home in his brother's
car, one thing was Chris was drunk driving and smashed into someone, Kristy's
parents. Kristy saw the accident outside the car too. she looked in the car
and saw her sitting there and her mother and father critically injured. Chris
was arrested for drunk driving under aged. his horse went to Kristy's farm.
all Chris didn't know was, she was dead.

Author: Johanna
Posted: November 25, 1999


Dearest Antonio,
We met but for the first time today, and my heart will never be the same again. I don’t know if you feel the same for me, but as you have probably heard: I am one to take risks. Please send word of your feelings through my messenger Caleb. I await your response and hope it is to my liking.
Eternally yours,
Jade Azura de Cyelo

Principessa Jordanna Azurina de Cyelo, or Jade as the idle rich, royalties, and courtiers called her, lit a blue wax candle once she signed the letter with a flourish. She tipped the candle over the crease of the rolled scroll, allowing a drop of wax to seal it. She then pressed the ensign ring that was on her pointer finger against the cooling wax to seal it with the family crest of a Griffin with a halo.
“Caleb you must take heed. This letter must reach no one but the artist Odalyss Antonio Monte.”
“You have my word, your majesty. I’ll go with the speed of a thousand horses.” Caleb took the letter.
“Go with care, my Caleb. Speed matters naught.” Jade placed a kiss on the midnight curls of her cherubic page.
“Aye, your highness. I shall see you in a day’s time.” With that, seven year old Caleb was gone.

My Lady Jade,
Have I been blind all my years? For I have never seen true beauty ‘til this night. I wish to paint your beauty for my canvas so that I may admire it each passing hour. I have lost my heart to my lady of the sky.
Eternally yours,
Odalyss Antonio Monte

Antonio had no wax to seal the letter, no ring to mark it with. All he had was a kiss he placed upon the crease.
“Come, young Hermes, and take this letter to your awaiting Principessa.” Antonio gestured to Caleb.
Caleb looked at Antonio in confusion. “My name is not Hermes, master, it is Caleb.”
“Caleb, do you know naught of Greek religion or the religions of the Upper World ?”
“I know only that which her highness wishes me to know. I know of dragons, and knights and goddesses and maidens, and mystical creatures of the forest. I am to be a knight you know.” Caleb spoke as if it were common knowledge. “One day, I’ll be the Principessa’s personal guard.”
“Well now you shall know what I teach you as well. Hermes was the messenger of the gods, who flew on wings of angels.”
“Angels?” Caleb was fascinated despite his skepticism. He had learned not to trust men of the court for they were evil and had bad qualities. They had a tendency to badmouth the Principessa for she was not ordinary, as other women were. She was intellectual, philosophical, and a warrior, as well as mystical, a trait the superstitious members of this world feared and envied.
“Angels.” Antonio assured. “I shall show you paintings and tell you stories upon your return. That is a promise.”
Caleb stared at him, not sure if trust was a good move. “Your word?” A man’s word was his life.
“My word.”

My Antonio,
My heart sings with the knowledge that you feel as I feel. If it is true that you wish to paint my likeness then I shall commission a painting by way of the king. My father can refuse me naught. We shall see each other soon, my love.”
Eternally yours,
Jade Azura de Cyelo

Once the letter was in the hands of Caleb, Jade descended from her suite of rooms in the east wing of Castle Nuvola Niche. The master scriptorium in Nuvola Niche was where the king could be found with his master purser. They sat before a large stone table that held pounds of gold bullion, coins with the replica of his face, the blood, sweat, tears and taxes of the peasant people of Bellaria.
They were separating coins into leather pouches, making marks in a large leather ledger.
“Pardon my intrusion, sire.” Jade bowed her head politely, withholding her contempt for the king of Bellaria. He was nothing more then a greedy, self involved ruler, who worried more about the state of his treasury then the state of his people and daughter. His only son, and heir to his kingdom now cavorted through out the main land, in Isaltia, trying his fortune at the hands of the courtesans in the royal court. Luckily, Jade’s brother Justin was not as greedy as their father was. Unfortunately, he was just a bit too rampant with his romances.
“What is it you want, Jordanna?” her father was the only person who called her by her true name.
“By your leave sire, I would like to commission a painting by an unknown local artist.”
“Why not Augustine? He is excellent and we know his work, daughter.”
“Sire, wouldn’t you desire to take credit for the discovery of a new artist? If his painting is pleasing to you and the court, mayhap we can commission him for the ballroom’s mural. What think you of that papa?” Jade’s voice took on the charm her brother was so good at, calling the king papa, a name that had never come easily from her lips.
“Do as you will, Jordanna. He must be inexpensive as well, all things considered. Very well, indeed. Have the private guard take you in and have that page of yours stay with you for safety. The heathens on this island are barbaric.”
Vicenzo de Cyelo had not been born on Bellaria. He was an Isaltian prince, who, as a favor to the court, had come to the little island of Bellaria twenty-six years ago. He had met the Principessa Ellysandra the only child of the elderly widowed king of Bellaria. He despised the island, finding it archaic, ancient and socially disagreeable. Yet Ellysandra had fallen in love with him. She found him charming, eloquent and the complete opposite of all the men of Bellaria, who were nothing more then warriors and farmers.
For Vicenzo it had been an easy decision. In Isaltia he had been nothing more then the third son to a great king. In Bellaria, he was a man who could one day soon be king. It didn’t matter that he did not love Ellysandra. These were not the times for love, but for political marriages. His connection to the crown made it possible to petition for the marriage, and Bellaria’s isolation made it possible to win it with no problem.
Vicenzo handed his daughter a money pouch.
“Might I remind you, daughter, Rhys Villamar, of the Merwinian Villamars, will be arriving within two nights’ time.”
Jade hesitated at the doorway, an image in deerskin leggings, tall black boots, and short black tunic.
“Rhys Villamar?” She looked at him in confusion.
“Your betrothed, Jordanna. Don’t tell me you have forgotten. I told you this when you were six.”
“I have not forgotten sire. It has just been so long since I have been to is just shocking to hear the news.”
“Well, you have reached your sixteenth winter, and will soon be on your seventeenth. The time has come to give your hand. Although I do regret giving up the Ceralimo lands. Ah well, it is the way of the times.”
Withholding her opinion of the “times” as her father had put it, she bowed her head slightly, took the coin bag and exited the room.
“Pig.” She murmured under her breath, making her way to her chambers. Now was not the time to deal with her wayward sire.

Sweet Jade,
I have gladly received your formal commission, as well as your informal one. I await the hour in which you shall arrive. My heart races in expectation as my eyes itch to upon your beauty once more. I shall see you on the ‘morrow’s morning. I hope to paint two master works, one, which you may show to high society and the other that only our eyes shall see. I await for thee, my love.
Eternally yours,
Odalyss Antonio Monte

Caleb left clutching letter and scriptures of legends between young fists.
Antonio watched him leave. He sprawled himself down upon the brocade settee he kept for his models. What a heathen island, this Bellaria was. Nothing more then slaves and courtesans in the making. It was a lovely spot to spend a season in but the living was for the farmers, and the woods’ men. It was a kingdom of superstition and magic, science a myth from the Upper World, and that could still be worked to his advantage. Yet the island was a bit on the poor side and had no real coin to spend on the fine works that were his art. Yet, to his fortune, the courtiers, if one could call them courtiers, were hungry for the civilization of Isaltia, their mother country, they were hungry for that which he could give them. Art, pleasure, sensuality. That is what he provided. In return they gave him coin, fortune, and sex. What more could one man need?
His painting littered the large room which was his home as well as his art studio. Large windows let in the fading light of day. In less then a night’s time there would be a delectable princess awaiting his amorous attentions as well as his artistic talents. Upon the stretched canvases were nude paintings of the many ladies...if one could call the half of them ladies...that provided him with the services of their bodies. Some were gypsies, hungry for the free meal he provided once their services had been rendered. They were the exotic ones, their images portraying a harsh reality, as well as quite a few risqué poses, deliciously sensual, with one another. They were the maidens of the night yet they could not compete with the experimentation of the ladies of the court.
Those who were demure in the eyes of society were the wildest once their inhibitions were released to the eyes of an artist. They were bored with the life of courtiers, and their fun was had in front of the canvas.
The young virginal ladies of the far-flung kingdoms, those ladies-in-waiting whom had no one but him to release their tension, they were his favorite. They were shy and easy to manipulate, although hesitant at first.
The young Principessa was most promising. She was liberal, especially in these times, where women were nothing more then ornaments and tools. She was rebellious, and passion seemed to simmer at the very surface of her. She was ripe for the plucking, especially ripe for the things he wished her to perform on the morrow. What fun he would have with Principessa Jade.
She was exotic like no other royal was. She was tall and slender, yet curvaceous where it counted with a beautifully rounded derriere, and upright round full breasts, not sagging melons, but ripe rich fruit made for a man- or woman’s- mouth or hand. She had a coloring unlike the women of court. She was not pale but golden, like a farm girl, but with softer skin, begging to be touched. Her eyes were shaped like almonds, such as were the Asian slaves stolen from the Upper World, or the gypsy girls, but they were gray in color, like a rainy day. She had a beautiful mouth, not small but pouty, and he could picture it slightly open in passion.
Her hair was an abnormal shade of black, so deep it went beyond midnight to almost reaching blue, like the hair of the Asian slaves, falling in a thick braid past her waist. Antonio could only picture it as it would be, loose around her.
She was strong yet delicate, vixen-like, yet virginal. She dressed as an archer would, in leather leggings, tall boots, tunics and fitted vests. She did not seem to notice that this only enhanced that which was so female in her, rather then hide it as she so obviously tried.
Picturing her as she would be, day and night, a mixture of cream and darkness, beauty, light, passion, smooth skin, long hair, soft lips, spread open to his inviting hands prepared to be taken to heights unknown, by him, he could feel himself grow hard with anticipation. She would no longer be the Principessa of some remote Isaltian island. She would be a creature of pleasure, learning the secrets only the most skilled courtesans knew.
All his talk of love was bait. The trap was already set. He could hardly wait.

Jade did not take the private guard, nor did her father remember that she was going. She informed no one of her whereabouts, except for Caleb, who was not happy at the prospect of being left behind. Instead she wore black leggings, of a suede leather material, black boots that came to her knees, a laced up corset-style leather vest that pushed her breasts up to form a tight creamy cleavage out of the two globes of touchable flesh, and a hooded fur-lined black cloak that fell to the floor, and covered her from head to toe.
She braided her thigh length black waves, pulled the hood of her cloak up, almost covering her face and made her escape.

She reached the paved court of the town square within ten breaths on the back of her black stallion, Niche. She swung off her large stallion, leaving it with horseman at a nearby inn for a silvened piece. She then headed in to the wooden two-floor building where Antonio’s studio was.
She headed up the back stairs and entered the passageway leading to the studio. She knocked on the door hesitantly after taking a deep breath.
“I am honored, Principessa.” Antonio opened the heavy oak door, bowing low. She entered her heaven.
“Call me Jade.”

Jade sat upon the settee nervously playing with the lining of her cloak. This was not the behavior of a Principessa who constantly defied her father, the king.
“Are you nervous, my love?” Antonio poured a bit of ale into a cup and handed it to her.
She drank it fast. It was strong a local ale that did not have the novelty of being watered down as it was in the inns and in the royal house. She felt the soothing warm effects almost immediately.
“Not really. Well, maybe a little.” She confessed, passing back the cup into which he poured some more of the ale and passed back.
“You should not be nervous. It is only I.” Antonio watched her toss back the ale as if it were not more then water. That was enough to loosen her up just a bit. A little more later on would get rid of all her inhibitions. If not, he would slip her an herb some old gypsy woman had given him as payment for some tarot cards he made for her.
“I know this. I just…I have never done this. I am one used to taking risks, but risks of the heart are unknown to me.” Jade put the cup down upon the floor and lay back more comfortably against the settee.
“Let me do with you what I will, love, let me direct you for this painting that is for our eyes only. Let me do anything, and have all power regardless of things that you may otherwise not do. Then you will no longer feel that you cannot trust me. You will know that what I do is for us. Nervous will no longer be a word to describe the state of your body. Allow me freedom Jade, and you will not be sorry.”
Antonio kneeled before her, staring into her gray eyes. She stared back, the ale taking affect, along with the emotions that she had felt.
Antonio stood in front of her. He held out his hand.
“Are you hot?” before she could answer he went on, “Hand me your cloak.”
Jade removed the cloak, and Antonio spread it on the settee. It would come in handy. Such high quality was rare to come by.
Antonio leaned forward, his lips a breaths away from hers.
"Would you like me to kiss you?"
"Ye-" she began before a pounding on the door interrupted.
"Where is Jordanna?" The voice was not that of the head of guard. It was a strangers voice, yet it brought fear to Jade's heart.

Author: Megs Coleman
Age: 14
Megs Coleman's Homepage
Posted: November 19, 1999

A Love to Die For

Rachel and Marc had been best friends since before they could remember.

Marc knew Rachel's life wasn't perfect. Her parents were in the middle of a divorce. Rachel's boyfriend, Steve had been killed in a motorcycle accident just 3 months before. Marc was afraid, afraid for Rachel. He was sure she was going to do something that she'd regret. Rachel's friends were going to leave her if she didn't stop being friends with Marc. See, Marc wasn't in the in crowd, and it was damaging Rachel's appearance.

One day Rachel wasn't at school. Marc knew something was wrong, he was very worried. It wasn't like Rachel to be away, she was always in perfect health, and if she was sick, of course she would go to school, grades were very important to Rachel. After school Marc raced to Rachel's home on his bicycle. He found no one was home, her parents must be at work, he thought. But just to be sure Marc went inside.

Max, Rachel's beloved Golden Retriever, recognized Marc immediate, after all Marc and Rachel had found him when they were three. Max ran over to Marc and started pulling his shirt sleeve towards Rachel's bedroom.

Marc pushed her door open gently. There was Rachel, lying in a growing pool of blood.

Marc rushed to her side, "Rachel!" he cried, "Rachel, what happened to your wrists?"

Rachel stirred from her unconsciousness at the sound of his voice. "Marc?" she whispered, "My Marc."

"We need to get you to a hospital, Rachel." He said caressing the locks of wavy brown hair that fell by her ear. "C'mon Rachel, we have to go!"

"No," she protested, "I don't want. I don't want to die. Help me Marc."

"You don't have to die, just come with me." Marc tried to lift her up but couldn't. Rachel was so drained of energy from the loss of blood she could barely keep her eyes open.

"My Marc." she said, " I love you my Marc."

Marc was stunned, She must be delirious, he thought.

"I love you." Rachel said one more time before she closed her eyes and let her head rest in his lap.

Marc started to cry, "Why? Why my Rachel?" He sobbed, "Rachel!"


"Rachel was my best friend." Marc stood at her funeral. "Her last words were that she loved me." Tears streamed from his cheeks. "And I want her to know that I love her too." Marc looked up to the sky, and put his hand to his heart.

"I love you too."

Author: Amanda
Posted: July 22, 1998

Be With You

I sat in the back of the room, which I refer to as my black hole. The only spot in the school that seems to make me invisible is my black hole. It swallows up everything that is part of me. I have the ability to not be heard or even thought of.

That is how I like things to be. I want to be back in my own little world. It helps me think deeply about whatever is on my mind. My main object of thought is not even a thing, but a name. One name makes me feel as if the walls are crumbling down around me and warning sirens are ringing.

Alan Keaton. Just seeing the name written causes hundreds of memories to come pulsing to my brain. Sometimes I swear I can feel my heart shudder under the pressure of his very name.

It was the last week of school until summer vacation. One more week of torture until the inhabitants of Emerson Ridge High School would be released into the warm summer atmosphere and not expected to return for three long, carefree months. And you can bet that I was as happy as the rest of the students. A whole summer to once again attempt to get my life back together was lying just five days away.

The week seemed to drag on like bells and cans tied to the back of a “Just Married” horse drawn carriage that pulls away with a newlywed couple in love. Only I was pretty far from being the happy bride. I was anything but.

I couldn’t stop thinking of the way things had been with Alan. With every other relationship I’d ever had, it was more physical. With Alan, we had a strong mental connection. We didn’t have to hang all over each other to show how we felt. Just meeting his eye or seeing him smile at me was enough.

Alan and I always said we were meant to be. Others, however, claimed there was a two-hour gap between us for a reason. We managed to ignore them for a year we were in too deep to back out then. The best year of my seventeen-year life, it was.

Until the day it all fell apart. It was a mere six months ago, yet it felt like a century of heartache. Alan gave into his peers’ senseless babble and said we’d have no future with a state border separating us. He said he knew it would hurt me, and that it would hurt him too, but it had to be done. “I’m sure we’ll both realize it was for the best,” he had said.

I had spent the whole week following that day lounging on the couch, watching My So-Called Life reruns from the time I taped a marathon. Seeing some of the sad episodes as well as the happy ones put me in a deep slump. I couldn’t imagine life without knowing that I belonged to Alan Keaton. I didn’t know that there was life without him, and if there was, then I didn’t want to see it. Finally, I realized that I had to go on with life, no matter how hard it was. I couldn’t spend the rest of the year on the couch with a tear-stained face. I had to seem to be strong physically and mentally, although I felt the exact opposite.

Since then, I’d tried to erase Alan’s existence. I moved on. I gained a few new friends and a new boyfriend, Jacob. I’d seemed to fool everyone into thinking that my life was back on track, even the people closest to me.

Despite my newfound life without Alan, I yearned to have things the way they used to be. I longed for another five-hour phone call or another long-awaited weekend visit. I wished to be with him again on the Ferris wheel at his state fair, resting my head on his shoulder and laughing at the idiot he’d made of himself trying to win a stuffed giraffe for me.

Living so far from Alan hadn’t been as hard as it may seem. It had actually brought us closer together. When we were parted, we felt the lack of the other half of ourselves. We were like a book of two volumes of which the first had been lost. And when we were joined, the book was complete and wonderful.

Back in my quiet hole, I tapped the fingernails of my left hand on the hard desktop. For a moment, I saw his ring still there, on my third finger, reflecting light onto the ceiling. But when I blinked, it was replaced with Jacob’s class ring, coiled with blue yarn to fit.

It made me think back to the time that I took the train to Alan’s house in the summer. I had stayed in the guestroom and we’d stayed up real late each night just talking and reading to each other. We could talk about the most serious things or the silliest things that came to mind. I taught him how to braid hair and he taught me how to drive a stick shift. The last night, he jumped up and ran out of the room quickly. When he returned, both of his hands were clenched in loose fists.

“Guess which hand,” he said.

I’d pointed to the right one and he opened it. It was empty. He opened his left hand next and inside was a small emerald ring, sparkling in the dim lamp light. I gasped as he grinned down at me. Right then, when my heart seemed to drop in my chest, I knew that Alan would be the only one for me.

Jacob took things too fast and too serious. He did not qualify for half of the traits I looked for in a boyfriend, but I over-looked that just to have someone to be with. He told me he loved me, even though I’d considered our relationship still beginning, and basically a total loss since it started. I didn’t feel as special as I had when I belonged to Alan. I felt cheap and horrible for using Jacob.

Maybe I could have loved Jacob, but my heart still belonged to Alan. And Jacob just wasn’t what I wanted. The only way I could explain what I wanted was someone like Alan, preferably Alan himself.

The bell rang and released me from my quiet black hole. I pushed through the door with the other students. I passed Jacob’s locker on the way to my own, and he pulled me over just to say good-bye and tell me he loved me. I replied the same, feeling terrible for using such a powerful word when I didn’t mean it.

Alan never told me he loved me, but he let it be felt instead. Because of that, I never felt the need to say it to him either. Once, I thought that if we were to say it out loud, it wouldn’t be felt any longer. I suppose there was really no need to worry about that anyway, for we’d fallen apart nevertheless. But right then, I didn’t care whether he told me he loved me or not. I just wanted him back, although I knew it was impossible.

At long last, the final day of school arrived. Everyone seemed to be excited to be getting out of school, but I knew my life wouldn’t change much. I spent half the day wondering how Alan was and what he was doing. His school year had ended the day before. I was sure that he had some other girl to spend the day with. I had a premonition that another girl would be feeling the same way I had when my heart used to beat steadily in my chest every time I heard Alan’s voice or saw his beautiful face.

The other half of the day, I felt awful for prolonging my love-less relationship with Jacob. I came to a decision. I would break up with him by way of a long, apologetic letter. I began to cry as I wrote the painful words explaining why we should not see each other any further. In my lonely black hole, no one noticed as the clear liquid spilled onto the paper.

I’d tried to explain to Jacob that I was just unhappy. I made my best attempt at assuring him that he did nothing wrong and it was entirely my fault. I wrote that I needed to be alone for a while to think about the things that had gone wrong and how I could fix them.

I knew that Jacob would assume that Alan had a part of our break-up, but I didn’t want him to know for sure. So I left Alan’s name out of the letter, although he was the main reason for writing it.

The day and my junior year of high school ended with the ring of a bell. In the halls, joyous students cheered and hollered at friends along the way to their lockers. Jacob was already at his, and before he could say a word, I slipped the note into his hand.

I met up with my best friend Kara and we made our way through the crowds of people to our lockers. I informed her of the letter to Jacob as best I could with the happy cries exploding around us.

“Why did you do it?” she asked, even though I’m sure she had an idea. Kara was the only person that knew of my unhappiness. She and I had been friends since kindergarten, and it was hard keeping things from her.

“Alan,” I replied simply. Kara nodded her head and looked forward again.

“Oh! Alex!” she cried out unexpectedly.

“What is it?” I asked curiously.

She continued to look forward through the crowd, which blocked my vision of everything in the hall. I could see four inches in front of me, and even that was a head with short black hair.

“Kara! What is it?” I demanded.

“Alan,” she answered laconically.

Then it seemed like time had frozen, and I realized that I was the only thing that had. And as if his name was a prayer to the gods, the crowd broke apart and I could finally view my locker.

“Oh lord,” I mumbled. Kara squeezed my arm tightly.

There he was. His tall, lean body was propped against my locker and his eyes were searching the crowd until they landed on me. A half-smile appeared on his face as I stared in disbelief. His mouth formed the words “I need to talk to you.”

I blinked. I shook my head quickly and blinked again. I rubbed my eyes and blinked once more.

He was still there, his hair neatly combed and his eyes shining. He began to walk toward me.

For the second time that day, tears streamed from my eyes. These, however, were the good tears, the kind you let roll down your cheeks because the absolute feeling of joy has numbed every part of your body. Except for your heart, which is filled with such emotion that you can feel it healing whatever pain it once felt.

Alan held his arms out and I fell into them, my body trembling with happiness and surprise.

“I was wrong,” he whispered. “I was so wrong. I hope I’m not too late.”

I could not find the breath to talk, and by meeting Alan’s apologetic and sincere brown eyes, I knew he understood.

He stroked my hair and said, “I’ve missed you so much. God, I hope I’m not too late.”

Filled with power and happiness that I had finally discovered, I found the strength to speak. I murmured something into his shirt.

He pulled away to hear me better. “What was that?” he asked.

I cleared my throat to assure that it wouldn’t crack.

“You’re just in time.”

Author: Mirella
Age: 13
Mirella's Bio
Posted: July 28, 1998

Longing For Love


There he was. Standing alone, leaning against his locker, reading his biology book. The way his eyebrows crossed in made my heart melt. I slowly and confidently walked over. Brian Cever looked up. "Hey Marie! What's up?" he asked. I smiled at him. "Nothing much!" Brian just shrugged. "Well, I got to get to class. I hate biology but I need an education I guess. I'll see you at the Burger Palace right?" Hearing him mention the Burger Palace reminded me that we were just good friends. We always went there after school, but it wasn't a place to bring your girlfriend or even a girl you liked. So that plainly meant that Brian didn't like me as I like him. "Sure I'll be there as usual," I told him. "I'll bring Sylvia if you want!" Brian's face lit up. "Sure bring Sylvia." Sylvia Baker is my best friend. She doesn't like Brian but he has had a crush on her for as long as I can remember. Brian walked off excited, leaving me alone in the hallway.

* * *

Sylvia and I walked into the Burger Palace right after school. We walked to a booth where Brian and Mark Wallis were sitting. Mark is Brian's best friend. Sylvia liked Mark but according to Brian, Mark liked me. Everything was jumbled up. Mark stood up as we walked over. "Hey Marie!" he called. He paused then added, "Hi Sylvia!" Sylvia smiled widely and sat down.

I didn't order anything. I just sat there staring at Brian who was staring at Sylvia who was staring at Mark who was staring at me. I felt uncomfortable. Finally, Sylvia and I left. She was coming over to sleep at my house. We settled into our sleeping bags. "Marie, do you think Mark liked me? Please be honest!" I shrugged. "Honestly, Brian told me that Mark liked me but I know for a fact that Brian likes you!"

Sylvia frowned. "I don't want Brian," she wailed. I didn't see why she was pouting. I would have died to have Brian like me. "I know," she said grinning. "We will ask Brian and Mark to the dance and get them to like us," I smiled. Maybe Sylvia's plan would work.

* * *

I cleared my throat. Brian and I were standing by his locker at school the next morning. Brian looked up. His sandy-blonde hair was hanging in his face and his baby-blue eyes looked curious. "Why do you keep clearing your throat, Marie?" he asked. I stared up at him. "Well, I was wondering if maybe...well just maybe there was a slight chance.... would you want to come to the dance with me?"

Brian smiled. "Sure, Marie," he said. "I never went to a dance with my good friend before." I looked down the hall. Mark was smiling at Sylvia. I knew that meant yes. I couldn't wait for the dance. When the big day came, Sylvia and I spent the whole day getting ready. Finally, Brian's car pulled into the driveway. The car ride there was quiet. When we got there, Brian took my arm. "You look nice," he told me.

We danced the first few songs without saying much. When we sat down and talked about things that I didn't want to talk about.

"So Marie, do you like Mark because he just LOVES you," he said smiling. I shifted in my seat. It was time for the moment of truth. "No Brian, I don't like Mark. I like you." Brian just gaped at me. "Oh Marie," he whispered. "You know I like Sylvia." I swallowed hard. "Yeah but she doesn't like you." He looked straight ahead. "Who does she like?" he asked. "Mark," I replied. Brian stood up and left the gym.

"Wait Brian," I called down the hall. Suddenly he stopped. He was staring at something. I looked. Sylvia and Mark were kissing. Brian looked at me. His hair was hanging in his face and his eyes were searching mine. He leaned over to kiss me. I backed away. "Brian if this kiss is to get back at Mark, I don't want it," I assured him. He shook his head. "It isn't," he replied. "I'm just realizing now that Sylvia and I are two different people. You and I have so much in common. You are my best friend. Please let me kiss you." I smiled and leaned over. Just as our lips touched, I knew that my happiness with Brian had just begun.

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