More than a story

Haley Cavendale's first English assignment in a new school is about Edward Scissorhands. A tale of love and loss, no more. But elements of the film soon become apparent in Haley's life when she befriends an outcast who shows her a different side to the story...

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15. Kiss & Make up

"1. Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl."

I read the recipe aloud to myself as I followed the instructions in my favourite cookbook. Cooking was a distraction for me, and I was hoping to see Romeo. Whenever my friends or family were upset, I would bake a batch of cupcakes in an attempt to cheer them up. Would Romeo find it lame? Probably. But I had to try.

"2. Now beat in the eggs."

The fork chimed against the glass bowl as I pounded the eggs into a flurry of gooey orange. 

"3. Add the flour and baking powder, and whisk thoroughly."

It was Friday, a week ago since the disaster that was Jade's party. I was home alone, and again the rain was present, a drone of drops that refused to budge. It hammered against the windows, deafening and animalistic, but I was appreciative of it - the sound drowned out my thoughts.

"4. Pour the mixture into cases and bake for twenty minutes."

I followed this stage carefully, producing a perfect batch of cupcakes, ready to be iced. I piped delicate vanilla swirls on each cake and squished a strawberry into the centre of the rich buttercream. Packing them into a tin, I tucked them along with an umbrella into my satchel and journeyed outside.

I lived quite close to Romeo, and I knew he had a dog, a labrador puppy called Barney. I was sure that, now the rain had cleared, he would take the opportunity to take him for a walk in the park nearby. I cycled down there, in hope. My legs pumped the pedals with an energy I didn't know I possessed - perhaps it was the desperation to see him again. This time, maybe, he would offer some answers.

I chained my bike carefully to a rack and sauntered down towards a bench. The tree were dripping the remnants of rain, pattering softly against the path. I tried to look at ease - rearranging the contents of my bag, checking my phone, admiring the flowerbeds - but inside I was shaken up. What if he didn't show at all?

I felt something brush against my foot. I flinched away, but then stopped at the sight of an adorable dog, face fluffy, paws dipped in mud. He woofed gently, nudging my foot again with his head. I laughed and brushed his ears with my hand, dislodging some of the rain-soaked tangles that had gathered around his head.

"Barney!" a voice called. Romeo appeared around the corner, jogging to keep up with the tiny pup. At the sight of me, he slowed his pace. I didn't know what to think. I dragged a hand through my hair self consciously and concentrated on patting Barney's head gently.

"Hey, little man," said Romeo, tickling the pup's neck. He barked appreciatively and nuzzled into my leg again.

"He seems rather fond of you," Romeo said carefully, keeping his eyes on Barney.

"He's gorgeous." I said simply, dumbly, reaching out absent-mindly to stroke him again. But my hand collided with Romeo's. We both awkwardly moved apart.

Could this get any worse?

Romeo sighed. "Why is it so hard for me to stay away from you?" he said, his words lingering in the cool air.

I fidgeted uncomfortably, not sure how to answer. "Why are you trying to stay away from me at all?"

"It's... complicated," said Romeo.

"Is there someone else?" I blurted.

What did I say that for?! We weren't even properly together, and yet I couldn't hold back my jealously. I turned away slightly, hoping he wouldn't notice the blush that had invaded my cheeks. He laughed slightly.

"Not exactly," he said quietly. His cryptic answers were beginning to irk me. I turned to face him again.

"Then what? I'm sick of you being so erratic. Either you like me or you don't. It's simple!"

"It's far from simple!" he said loudly, with an aggression that shook me. I moved away slightly. He noticed, opened his mouth slightly, but no words came out. His eyes seemed pained, but I didn't know what to say or do to take that pain away.

Luckily, a distraction came. Barney headbutted my bag playfully, dislodging the cupcakes from their hiding place. The lid of the tin came loose, and the tiny cakes scattered across the gravelly ground.

"Oh no!" I instinctively cried, and then cringed at my pantomime-style voice. I knelt to the ground and rescued the cupcakes. All but one had gravel embedded in its surface. Barney didn't seem to mind, slobbering crazily at smears of cake, thoughtfully chewing on the paper cases before swallowing them whole. Romeo intervened, salvaging the ruined cupcakes from Barney's eager mouth and placing the one unharmed cupcake back in the tin. He handed it to me, but I shook my head.

"For you," I muttered, feeling too deflated to meet his gaze. He sat down again, a little closer this time. He carefully tore the cupcake in half, with equal amounts of buttercream on each section. 

"For you," he said, handing me half the cupcake.

"Thanks," I said awkwardly, raising my head to attempt eye contact before quickly breaking his gaze, concentrating on wiping away the crumbs from my lap. We ate in silence, Barney pandering at our feet for us to offer him a lump of the sugary cake. Romeo licked a smudge of buttercream from his thumb and turned to face me.

"Haley, I don't want to ignore you, really I don't," he said sincerely, reaching for my hands. I didn't pull away.

"But I'm not staying around here for long. I don't want to fall for you and then," he gulped, "have to leave you." 

Oh.

"Are you with Riley?" My mouth could hardly form the words.

"No," he said, cocking his head slightly. "What's he done to make you hate him so much?" 

I ignored the question and got to my feet. "I'd better be going," I said, reaching for my umbrella as another dose of rain began to fall from the sky. But Romeo stood up faster, grabbed my waist and spun me around. He crashed his lips to mine with an urgency that first surprised me, but then I sunk into, wrapping my arms around his shoulders and dragging my hands through his hair. I didn't want him to go anywhere. Not now, not ever.

He pulled away gently.

"Come on Barney," he said softly, his eyes still on my face, gently pulling at the tiny dog's lead. I sat down again, too overwhelmed to speak. I watched him walk away, Barney lolloping at his heels, blissfully oblivious to the sorrow I felt. It was only when they were out of sight that I crumbled, letting the tears on my face mingle with the raindrops.

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