The Love Prayer

at 17 years old, Ellie jade could not be less socially awkward. she's not important or needed. Her ideas should be normal, her viewpoint should be normal, her mind should be normal, she should be normal... but she's not. That is until she meets Ansel, an Intelligent, sweet, kind, and attractive boy who turns her world upside down. She soon comes to realize there is no definition of normal. While sharing their ideas and philosophies with one another, Ellie feels herself change. They plan to spark a revolution when a destructive secret arises and threatens to break their relationship. Through tears, prayers, and love they face the difficult battles of life.

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1. Under the Stands

        I skip to the concession stand, lingering my eyes upon the abundant list of foods and beverages. The smell of hot dogs fills my nostrils as I lean against the counter.

        "Hello, Ellie!" says the woman behind the register. I recognize her instantly; her name is Rebecca, and she works with my mom at the community hospital. 

        "Hi! Uhm, can I have a blueberry snow cone and some gummy bears, please?" I smile.

        "Sure you can! That'll be $1.50." Rebecca turns around to retrieve the snow cone and gummy bears. As she turns on the ice machine, I see a tattoo on her left ankle. It's an elegant design; I absolutely adore it. Inside of a perfectly drawn infinity sign lays an anchor. The bottom of the anchor fills the bottom of the left conjoined circle, and the bottom of the right circle contains a phrase, which I cannot see. 

        "I love your tattoo! It's very pretty," I say as she turns around and hands me the package of gummy bears and the cold snow cone, "Thank you."

        "Oh, why thank you!" I hand her the money, and with one last glance at her tattoo, I walk away.

        I soon regret not applying sunscreen before I left. The early June sun seemed to become hotter and brighter with every step I took. I approach my eager family sitting in the stands. My aunt had asked us to come and support my cousin. His varsity team was supposedly one of the best in the region, and were playing in the state tournament today. Not being the biggest fan of baseball, I decide to cheer him on under the stands, no sun, no sand, and no awkward forced human interaction. 

        "Hey, Mom, can you hand me my book?" I notion to the book next to her.

        "Honey, are you really going to read while your cousin plays in the state tournament?" She gives me a very disapproving look.

        "No, I will also listen to music, breathe,and eat." I say as I hold up the package of gummy bears in my hand. Slowly, Mom finally hands me the book.

        "Thank you," I say as I slide under the stands. Slouching down, I walk until I am in the middle. I sit down gently, running my fingers through the cool grass. Criss-crossing  my leg, I open the gummy bears and the John Green book. I love reading. It's like reading the mind of the author; you can step out of the world you are currently in and venture into the life of a character completely conjured in the mind of a genius. 

         I quickly become absorbed and lost within the perfectly written piece of literature. I have no clue how long I have been reading when someone interrupts me. I look up to see a handsome teenage boy staring at me.

        Do not act stupid, I tell myself.

        "I'm sorry, did you say something?" I ask kindly.

        "Yes, I asked if you would mind me sitting by you?" He smiles. Whoa, he is very attractive.

         "Oh, you can't really see the game from here. Most sensible people sit on the stands, not under them."

        His laugh is simple, but it makes my stomach erupt with butterflies,"Ha, I know. That's kind of why I would like to sit with you."

        "Oh, OK. You can sit." I say as I bend the corner of the page I was on and close the book.

        "Gummy bear?" I offer.

        "Wouldn't mind if I do," He holds out his hand as he slides under the stand. I hand him a gummy bear, slowly sliding my hand away from his. "I'm Ansel, and may I ask who you are?"

        "I'm Ellie Jade, but most people just call me El for short." I respond. 

        "Beautiful name for a beautiful girl," Ansel says sweetly. 

        Am I crazy, or did he just call me beautiful? I'm not sure, so I just smile. 

        "You don't look familiar. Do you go to Hindsfill county?" I ask.

        "No, I am on vacation. I'm originally from Vermont." Ansel responds.

        "Vacation?! In Kentucky?! Why on earth would you come to Kentucky for vacation?" 

        "Oh, I don't know." Ansel smirks.

        "You're lying! Why did you actually come?" I interrogate.

        "I threw a penny on a map." He places his hands on the back of his head as the sun moves behind the clouds.

        "And it landed here?" I ask. He nods his head. 

        "That's cool."

        "Yeah. What book are you reading?" He motions to the book laying against my leg. 

        "Will Grayson, Will Grayson. It's a John Green book. I love him." 

        "Me too, actually. He wrote The Fault in Our Stars, didn't he?" 

        Part of me wants to correct his grammar, but I'm too shocked. "What? I mean, yes." I stutter. "Have you read it?"

        "Yeah. I know, that's weird. Most girls think I'm gay or something because I read more than they do." He looks down.

        "You actually do look gay." He looks up at me with a look of hurt in his eyes, "Not like that, though. It's just that most gay guys are extremely attractive. Neil Patrick Harris, for instance. He's gay, but he's still quite attractive." Heat rushes to my face as soon as I realize what came out of my mouth. 

        He smirks, "Oh, so you think I'm attractive?"

        "Uh... You're definitely not ugly."

        "Ha, okay."

        "I'm sorry." I murmur. 

        "You are? For what?" Ansel asks.

        "For acting odd," my voice is barely above a whisper. I'm embarrassed.

        "Odd? What's wrong with being odd? I'd rather be odd than even to be honest. This society has an off definition of what odd is. What they see as odd, I see as perfection."

        "That makes me feel much better." I smile.

        "I'm glad, Ellie Jade." Ansel's phone vibrates in his pocket. He takes it out and looks at it. "Ugh, I have to go. Here's my number. I hope to see you again." He takes a pen from his draw string bag and grabs my hand. He writes his number down.

        I cannot breathe. He's holding my hand. I feel like I am on the verge of exploding. Why do I feel like this? Am I getting a high from his cologne? Or maybe it's because of the way his green eyes seem to dance when he smiles. I have no idea.

        "Goodbye." He says as he stands and walks to the edge of the stand. 

        "Goodbye, Ansel." He smiles and then walks away. I can't help but watch him as he leaves. I lay back and smile. The beauty of his eyes still fresh in my mind...

 

                                      *                                          *                                        *

 

        I fall back on my bed. I am utterly exhausted, and I'm ready for some sleep. The best perk of summer break: sleeping in late. Sitting up, I pull the cover from under me and pull it over my body. The luxurious silk blanket covering every inch of me, wrapping me in a soft cocoon. I attempt to clear my head, but I fail. I cannot force Ansel to leave my mind. I should not even worry about him. A guy like him never goes for a girl like me. I remember his number written on my hand, but it is much too late to call him. So, I snuggle with my soft, pink pillow and allow sleep to fall upon me. 

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