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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22. Conundrum

Conundrum

20th October, 8.26 a.m.

Molly POV

Can I just say that gym is the absolute worst? I have a new rant page in my sketchbook. I’m ranting about the lack of connection with Andrew and how we hardly have anything in common and how conceited his friends are and, now, the torture that is gym.

Here’s Why Gym Sucks

1. I can’t catch.

2. I can’t throw.

3. I’m totally uncoordinated.

4. I always get picked last for teams.

5. I hate sports.

6. I keep forgetting the rules.

7. I always have gym 1st period. Sweaty underwear is bad times.

And I hate changing for gym. Naturally, Elizabeth doesn’t have to worry about simple everyday things like changing. This is because she’s physically perfect. But I’m a different story. There’s this whole complicated production I have to go through every single day to change for gym. I try to keep this entire changing procedure under three-point-two seconds.

First I sniff the shirt that’s in my locker to make sure it doesn’t smell too bad. Even if it does, I still have to wear it. But then I know not to stand too close to anyone.

Next I look around to see if anyone’s watching. If no one is, I face the corner and quickly switch shirts. If someone’s looking, then I have to wait.

Putting on sweatpants is the most complicated part because this is when my whole gross butt is hanging out for everyone to see. And I hate my thighs. I’ve tried wrapping a towel around myself , changing in the bathroom, or not changing at all. But then everyone makes fun of me more for being so weird. Even though Elizabeth insists I look totally thin, I don’t really believe her.

Today we’re playing pickle ball. Pickle ball is this game where you get in a pair with these big paddles and a whiffle ball. Then you take turns smacking the ball against the wall. I like this game because it’s fun without being sweaty. And I can actually hit the ball sometimes.

“It’s Agassi’s serve, and Roddick waits eagerly to smash the ball to pieces.” I hunker down in front of the wall, shifting my weight back and forth and swinging my paddle.

“But, wait!” Elizabeth screams. She slams the ball. I jump up with my paddle over my head, but the ball is about ten miles away. “Roddick is experiencing technical difficulty. Please stand by for Agassi’s win.”

“Silence on the court!” I order.

After twenty more minutes of Agassi stomping Roddick, Ms Spencer blows her whistle. “OK, ladies!” she yells. “Let’s hit it!”

We walk out to the track to run a lap. This is so we can benefit from the added humiliation of the boys checking us out in our scuzzy gym clothes. It’s already freezing, and it’s only October. Hasn’t New Jersey ever heard of fall? Running in these arctic conditions makes my lungs ache and my throat burn. I refuse to believe it’s good for you. At least there’s the possibility of seeing Zayn to distract me.

We filter out on to the track. I reluctantly start running. Elizabeth’s talking about her parents. How they’re always fighting when her dad’s home. How miserable her mom is when he’s not.

“Did you find out what’s wrong yet?” I say.

“No one tells me anything. But I heard my mom saying how if my dad’s not attracted to her any more, he should admit it and stop running away.”

“What did he say?”

“I couldn’t hear. I think. . .”

“Have you been working out?” a voice screeches behind me. “Your arms are definitely bigger than before!”

I turn around to see what’s happening. I immediately wish I could take it back. Just turn back around and pretend that Zayn still likes me and only me.

Did Cynthia say “before”? Did he used to go out with her? She’s such a skanky ho-bag! I thought Zayn told Shania he likes me. Which was the whole reason for switching partners in Music Theory next week. So what is this?

I turn back around. I speed up.

“What’s wrong?” Elizabeth says.

“I’ll tell you later,” I mumble. I hate how jealous I feel.

I think about Zayn a lot. Way more than I think about Andrew. Which is so weird since I don’t even know him. But Zayn just seems so sweet. And those eyes. Sometimes I can’t even sleep. This conundrum calls for an emergency Burger King lunch conference.

 

It’s tradition for Shania and Elizabeth and me to go to Burger King whenever we have something major to discuss. But it’s not tradition for one of us to have a boyfriend waiting. We’re deciding what to tell him on the way to the cafeteria.

“Just tell him we’re going,” Elizabeth says.

“I can’t.”

“What?” Shania says. “Like he has you on a leash? You’re allowed to do what you want.”

“What’s the emergency anyway?” Elizabeth says.

“It’s too complicated to get into right now,” I say.

“Oh,” Shania says.

“I thought you might finally be ready to tell us about you and the object of your desire.”

“Something happened with Andrew?” Elizabeth asks.

I bite my lip. “Not exactly.”

Andrew’s already waiting for me at his table. When I first started sitting with him, seeing him saving me a seat next to Caitlin and Matt was so exciting. Now it feels constricting. Like I don’t have a choice about what I do. And the way I practically ignored Elizabeth and Shania just to have the opportunity to sit with him was bogus.

We go over to Andrew. He’s like, “I have no clue what this is supposed to be.” He points to his tray.

“Emu,” Shania says.

“Huh?”

“It’s emu,” Shania says. “A massive, flightless bird, indigenous to Australia. They must have had it imported.”

"Is there anything you don't know?" Andrew asks.

"Yes."

Everybody is quiet.

"Well, we're going to Burger King," I tell Andrew.

"Oh, but...I kind of wanted to stay here today."

"You can. I mean...WE'RE going."

Andrew looks pissed. "Oh. Whatever."

Matt and Caitlin arrive like celebrities.

Caitlin says, "Hey, Molly!" Totally ignoring my friends.

I look at Andrew. "So...bye."

He gets up. He kisses me on the mouth. Hard.

As we're leaving, I see Zayn across the cafeteria. He's pressing his hands over his face. I know he saw everything. I have this sudden compulsion to run over and tell him that the kiss didn't do it for me. That the whole reason we're leaving is to talk about him. I want him to know everything but of course, that's stupid. Everyone knows once you tell a guy how much you like him, he loses all interest.

The walk to Burger King takes five minutes. Lunch isn't even an hour. It's fifty minutes. We don't have a lot of time so I start talking.

"OK. Can I tell you guys something?"

"Anything," Elizabeth says.

"I didn't look at Zayn first."

"I knew it!" Shania screams. She points at me. "I knew this was about him!"

"Could you say that a little louder? I think there might be someone in China who didn't hear you."
"So you're finally admitting it."

Elizabeth's like, "Can someone please tell me what's going on?"

We get to Burger King, and I run to the door. I'm letting Shania fill Elizabeth ion on her side of it first. That way there'll be less interruptions when I tell my side.

After we get our orders and ait down in a booth, Elizabeth screeches, "I had no idea you liked him that  much! You didn't tell me that before!"

I'm very absorbed in opening mustard packets for my onion rigs.

"Must I remind you that we're pressed for time here?" Shania chomps down on her Whopper.

I forgot where I wanted to start. How do you explain something to your friends you can't even explain to yourself?
"Okay, I'll help," Shania says. "When we left off, Molly did not look at Zayn first. Which implies that Zayn looked at Molly first. Which then implies that he likes her, but we already know this because he told me. So my guess is that we're here to talk about how you like Zayn. Since you stare at each other every single day and since ,as a bonus, as if getting to be parents with Robert in a few days isn't enough of a reason to celebrate, I get to watch you stare at Zayn every single day and wipe the drool. Did I miss anything?"

"No. I think that covers it."

"So tell me this," Shania says. "What do you see in him? He has, like, a point -three GPA if we lived in America. Where's he going next year? Bradford County Community College?"

I put some more salt on my salad and chips.

"Just because someone isn't making straight A's doesn't mean they're stupid," Elizabeth says,. She looks at me "But why exactly do you like him? Other than he's cute, because Andrew is cuter."

"The way I feel about Zayn is totally different."

"And what way is that?" Shania demands.

"There's just...like the few times I've seen him, he makes me laugh...And he's so confident...There's something in the way he is that just keeps pulling me in." This is so hard to explain. How do you translate your heart? "And Andrew was so mean at the mall. With Robert and Joe?"

"That was atrocious." Elizabeth chews an ice cube.

"Well, I don't know what his problem is with the lunch-table thing," Shania says. "He obviously doesn't want us sitting over there."

"Excuse me," Elizabeth says. "Not that we'd want to."

"I mean, I like other stuff about him, but...it always feels like something's missing."

Elizabeth nods. "There's like...this void, right?"

"Yeah. It doesn't feel the way I wanted it to. It's like I'm forcing myself to be happy with him while I wait for it to turn into what I want."

"And what's that?" Shania asks.

"Something real." I smile across the table at Shania. She's never even gone out on a date, so I can't expect her to understand everything I'm saying but I know she gets this part of it.

Shania smiles back. "Well, it would be nice to have you back at our table full-time."

"I don't know what you see in those people," Elizabeth huffs. "Popularity is so overrated."

"Seriously," I say. "They come off like they're all that, and meanwhile Andrew's a virgin."

"I still can't get over that," Elizabeth says. "The boy is truly gorgeous.

"Is he still being an ass about the sex thing?" Shania asks.

He pulled that repulsive condom trick, like, a week ago, and since then he's been over twice. At least now he's decent enough to make out for a while before he starts begging. "I think he's embarrassed. He's still pushy, though."

"He's such a child," Elizabeth says.

"Zayn wouldn't be that pathetic," Shania adds.

"How do you know?"

Shania rolls he eyes. "Isn't it obvious?"

"What?" I go. "Now you like him?"

"I wasn't going to be the one to encourage you and Zayn getting together," Shania says. "But now..." Shania shakes her head. "When he was talking about you he had this look in his eyes, like...honesty and clarity and confidence. I haven't seen... I've never seen any guy here look that way."

Elizabeth and I stare at Shania.

"Oh my god," Elizabeth says. "Do you hear that?"

"What?"

"I think it's the sound of hell freezing over." Elizabeth laughs. "Is it just me, or did Shania admit she thinks a guy is cute?"

"I didn't say I like the whole guy," Shania insists.

"Just the eyes part."

Elizabeth and I go, "Wooo!" Hearing Shania say anything remotely positive about any guy is huge.

"Too bad guys aren't like Mr Potato Head," Elizabeth says. "Where you can pick and choose which parts you want. Then we might come up with a guy who meets your standards."

"Never gonna happen." Shania looks at me. "So what are you going to do?"

"I don't know."

"Don't you think you should break up with Andrew?" Shania asks yet another question.

"Wait," Elizabeth interrupts. "Aren't you switching partners next week?"

"Don't remind me!" Shania moans.

"You need to give it time," Elizabeth says. "Get to know Zayn and find out for sure if he's the right guy for you and in the meantime you can vacillate between them."

"Vacillate?" Shania says.

"Waver between different opinions." Elizabeth concurs.

Elizabeth puts her hands up in front of her like, Wait till you hear this one. "I'm reading the dictionary."

"What, like cover to cover?" I ask.

"No. I'm doing ten new words every day. Then I'm picking one to use at least three times that day so I can memorise it."

"What about the other nine?" Shania says.

"Oh, yeah I'm memorising those, too."

Shania turns back to me. "I think you should dump Andrew. If you already feel this way about another guy, what does that say about your relationship with Andrew?"

Elizabeth nods. "And Zayn totally seems like someone who'd sit at our table."

Walking back, Shania and Elizabeth continue to discuss my situation but I'm only half listening because what they said before is right. What I have with Andrew isn't enough for me. I visualize slow-dancing with Zayn, a Dave Matthews Band song playing, being completely happy with him. I put the image into a pink bubble and let the universe decide.

But it's obvious that I've already made up my mind.

 

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