It Was Meant To Be

Molly dreams of two things: getting into her first-choice university and finding true love. Music-loving slacker Zayn also dreams of two things:winning the battle of the bands- and winning Molly.He is determined to make her fall in love with him.

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21. A Better Plan

A Better Plan

20th October, 1st Period

 Zayn's POV

Now that it’s getting colder and it’s so early in the morning, all the girls are wearing so many layers that you can hardly tell who’s who. But I still see Molly right away.

Coach bustles out ahead of us. He yells a lot through his bullhorn. We never really know who he’s talking to or what he’s saying. He noticed that I was lifting weights over the summer because the first thing he said in September was, “Zayn! Bulking up?”

As I pass through the gates to the track now, he says, “Zayn! Still lifting?”

“Yeah,” I tell him.

“Maybe you’ll change your mind about spring track.” Ever since freshman year when Coach got me to join track for a nanosecond, he hasn’t given up on the idea that I’m coming back. I’m tall and thin, and these are supposed to be good qualities for running.

“I don’t think so,” I tell him. “But thanks.”

“Well, think about it.”

“Sure,” I say, so he’ll leave me alone.

As we start running, Mike says, “Are you gonna do it?”

“Yeah,” I tell him. Even though I thought of this plan a while ago, it needed some serious refining. I might even have to make more attempts before I get the results I want. We’ll see how it goes today.

We run. I look around for Molly. We have to do three laps but the girls only do one, so I usually only have one chance to pass her.

I see Molly running ahead of us with Elizabeth. I speed up to get to her.

“You the man!” Josh yells after me.

I’m running really fast, psyched by my plan. When I’m right behind Molly and Elizabeth, I slow down. I try to hear what they’re saying. These annoying loud girls are next to me. I turn to see who they are.

I couldn’t have planned it any better.

Normally, I try to avoid Cynthia. I never run with her or even let her get close to me. But now I need her.

“Oh, hi, Zayn!” Cynthia says loudly. Even though we’re over, she still acts all flirty whenever she sees me. She’s all, “Wow, you’re wearing shorts! Aren’t you cold?”

“No,” I say.

I watch Molly’s back. I can’t tell if she’s listening. “Have you been working out?” Cynthia says. She grabs my arm. “Your arms are definitely bigger than before!” Cynthia digs her nails into my bicep. She keeps running right next to me, smiling up at me, clenching my arm.

That’s when Molly turns around to look.

“Yeah,” I tell Cynthia. “You can tell?”

“Oh, definitely! Do you work out every day?”

“Yeah,” I say.

“You can totally tell,” she says. We get to the gate. The girls walk off the track, heading back inside.

“Bye, Zayn!” Cynthia calls over her shoulder.

I wave back and keep running.

 Molly doesn’t look back at all. She just keeps walking.

I let Mike and Josh catch up with me.

“Dude!” Josh says. “So what happened?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did it work or not?” Mike says.

“I think so,” I say. But instead of feeling all excited about it, I feel kind of guilty. “But it didn’t work out like I thought it would.”

“Did she see you?” Mike says.

“I saw you!” Josh says. “Could Cynthia be any more in your pants?”

“She saw,” I say. “She wasn’t happy about it.”

“Victorious!” Mike says. “You’re in!”

I know what happened had some effect on Molly. I could just feel it when she looked at me, how she walked away. So I should be stoked. . . .

*

Music is the only thing that can take me away from the pain. It’s my drug of choice. So that afternoon I ram on my guitar. We’ve decided to do a classic rock number for Battle of the Bands next month and one of our own as an encore. Mike thinks we have a better chance of making it to the final round that way.

The last two times we practised, Mike and Josh had to leave early to do homework. I hope that doesn’t happen tonight. I need this.

But then Mike is talking about that Spanish project, and he’s like, “Yo. I gotta bounce.”

“Seriously, man,” Josh says. “I haven’t even started the outline.”

Somehow I thought being in a band would be more exciting than this.

“Isn’t it due tomorrow?” Mike says.

“Yeah,” Josh says. They start packing up their stuff.

It wasn’t supposed to go like this

. “You guys can’t leave yet,” I say. “We didn’t even get through ‘Ahab’s Fish’.”

“Dude,” Mike says. “If I don’t go right now? My mom’s gonna freak. Plus, I have maths and . . . I don’t want to fall behind too much.”

“Why not?” I say. “What’s the difference?”

Mike walks up to me. He stands real close. “Why do you always do this to yourself?”

“What?”

“What are you up to on your project?”

“What makes you think I started it?”

“You’re a trip, Zayn.”

“I’m beginning to think you guys don’t care about the band any more,” I say.

“OK. Dude? I don’t know about you, but I want to go to a decent college next year. I don’t always have time to fuck around like you do.” Mike bends down to tie his sneaker.

“I’m not fucking around. This is what I want to do with my life. You know that.” What is it with everyone ganging up on me?

I take my guitar strap off.

“Look,” Mike says. “You should reconsider about the whole anti-college stance. Even Josh is going.”

“Hey!” Josh yells. “Thanks a lot!”

“You know what I mean,” Mike says.

“Yeah,” I say. “I get it.”

What I get is that even my friends think I’m wasting my life. It’s like everyone has this attitude that if you don’t go to college, you’re nothing. Screw that. If that’s what it takes to show everyone who I am, then fine. Maybe I will apply. Just to show them.

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