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On My Way to Believing
I woke up to the sound of Paramore’s “That’s What You Get”. I let out a groan and rubbed my eyes, trying to get rid of sleep.
I took my time in the shower, slowly coming to my senses. I rubbed away the fog on the mirror so as to see my face. Then I wished I had left it there. Dark circles hung under my eyes, dark bruises from a fight with weariness. My lips were chap from the dry weather, as red as my favorite lips stick. My cheeks were pale, bleached. To put it in short, I looked like hell.
Well, I thought, it’s not like today is important for any reason, right?
I pulled on a pair of dark washed jeans and pulled on a shirt proclaiming “Misery Business” to go with the Paramore obsession I was in. I rummaged in my closet and found my combat boots, lacing those up nice and tight. I brushed out my short, auburn hair, put on some blush, and coated my lips with Chap Stick. I shoved my books and binders into my backpack and carried out to the entryway, where it was dumped for the time being. In the kitchen, I grabbed a bowl and poured myself some Cheerios – breakfast of champions.
“So, doing anything special today?” my mom asked. I raised an eyebrow (my mouth was full of milk and Cheerios).
“Yeah, sis, you doing anything?” pestered Suzie, my seven year old sister. I stared at them, confusion ostracizing me from the cosmic joke they seemed to be in on.
“Um, I wasn’t planning to do anything except, you know, go to school. It is Monday, right?” I took another bite of Cheerios, starting to get worried when Mom started smiling and Suzie started giggling into her own bowl of cereal.
“It’s Monday, the fourteenth of February? Valentine’s Day?” Mom reminded me.
My hand froze, spoon halfway to my mouth. I swallowed, blinked several times, then chucked my bowl into the granite sink, where it shattered into tiny ceramic pieces. I ignored the irony of one of them being slightly heart shaped.
School should be closed, I thought as I drove myself to the campus, so that I can go back to sleep and pretend today didn’t exist.
Last year’s Valentine’s Day suddenly surfaced from the vault specifically for painful experiences. I tried to ignore it as it pestered me, but, as I parked in front of the school, I couldn’t repress it any longer.
“Tiffany, it just isn’t going to work out between us.”
“You know what? We’ll make it work.”
“No, seriously, Tiffany. It. Isn’t. Going. To. Work.”
“Why do you keep saying that?”
“Because it’s true.”
“No, it’s not.”
Brian took a deep breath and rubbed his eyes. I crossed my arms, holding my chin high. He knew I was stubborn. I refused to accept that this was happening.
Because it isn’t, I told myself firmly. This isn’t going to happen.
“Tiffany, I don’t want you.”
“Well you know what, I want you.”
He ran a hand through his short blond hair.
“I’m going out with Brianna.”
“No, you’re not. You’re going out with me.”
“You want to know why I haven’t kissed you for a long time? Want to know why I haven’t been hanging out with you?”
No, I thought, holding back my dread. No. Ignorance is bliss, ignorance is bliss, ignorance is bliss…
“It doesn’t feel right to be with you when I don’t love you.”
“Don’t say that.”
“It doesn’t feel right to kiss you when I really want to kiss Brianna.”
“Stop saying that!”
“I don’t want to be with you anymore, Tiffany. I don’t love you anymore.”
“Shut UP! SHUT UP!”
He left me on that beach, cold and in tears. From my jacket pocket, I took out a paper heart that I had meant to give to him. I ripped it to pieces, and tossed it into the tormented sea, screaming out my pain.
It was then that I stopped believing in love.
School passed in a haze. I looked away from my friends that hugged one another and whispered “Happy Valentine’s Day”. I ignored their pitying glances. I wanted to plug up my ears and tear out my eyes so that I wouldn’t see love laughing in my face.
I wasn’t looking where I was putting my feet as I trudged up the hill to English, too enveloped in my misery to care. Maybe that was why I didn’t see him until we were both on the ground in a heap.
“I’m so sorry; I totally didn’t see you…”
“It’s fine, really.”
I looked over at him, sitting up abruptly as I did so. He leaned back on his elbows to stare right back.
“Do I know you?” I asked slowly. The boy smiled and shook his head.
“Probably not.” He noticed that my backpack had ejected its contents and began picking them up one by one, like some gentleman in an old movie.
“You don’t have to do that, really,” I said, standing up and collecting my things.
“I don’t mind,” he assured me, handing me my textbooks. He had a really sweet smile. “My name’s Jared, by the way.”
I paused, and took a moment to really look at him. I looked past the light brown hair, the sea-blue eyes, the baggy t-shirt, the skinny jeans and torn up Converse. I looked into him, and wondered at what I saw.
“I’m Tiffany.” I held out my hand, and he shook it cordially. “You know, I usually don’t believe in love at first sight. It usually sounds too cheesy and Hollywoodish too be true.”
“I agree.” He took a step closer, staring deep into my eyes. He smelled like surfboard wax, warm and welcoming. “But sometimes, it does exist.”
“‘Love sees not with the eyes, but with the mind,’” I quoted softly.
“‘Thus wing’d Cupid is painted blind,’” he finished.
“You know what is as cheesy as love at first sight?” he asked, a mischievous light in his features.
“Falling in love on Valentine’s Day.”
And he leaned in and kissed me.
I had found love inside of him, shining brightly, an exception to my firm belief.
It was then that I started to believe.
‘You are the only exception, and I’m on my way to believing.
And I’m on my way to believing.’
-“The Only Exception” by Paramore