The bell rang, signifying the end of class—and for me, lunch. I rose from my seat, packing everything into my backpack and zipping it closed. Walking past my Calculus teacher, I waved him a quick goodbye before heading out the door.
Our school actually consisted of two lunch periods instead of one. First lunch was in between third and fourth period, and second lunch—the one I had—was in between fourth and fifth. I happened to like second lunch better than first, mostly due to the fact that I had less school left afterwards than before. I also tended to have more friends in second lunch than first, and that was definitely helpful at certain times.
I scoured the lunchroom, looking for a place to sit. Up ahead, I saw Kara, texting away furiously on her phone. I made a move to head over to her—after all, I did promise that I would talk to her later about everything—but the second I did so, Oliver slid in beside her, sweeping her away with a passionate kiss. I immediately stopped in my tracks and wrinkled my nose in disgust. Gross. I didn’t believe in huge displays of affection in public—but to each their own, I guess.
Now that I clearly knew that sitting with Kara was definitely no longer an option, I let out a sigh and started looking for a spot next to someone else I knew. It shouldn’t have been difficult, after all—I did help more than half these girls at the school, but whether they considered me a friend—or not—I really had no clue.
Luckily for me, I quickly spotted Lissa’s bouncy red curls all the way across on the other side of the room. I made my way over to her, noting ironically that she was just the person I needed to see.
Time to see if I could end up being a matchmaker after all.
“Hey Lissa,” I greeted her, pulling up a chair to the table.
She turned around to face me in surprise. “Oh hey, Abby! How’s your first day of school going?” She probably thought that she would never see me again in school apart from our session.
I gave her a smile. “It’s going pretty alright. How about you?”
She shrugged. “I mean, I guess it’s okay. It would have been better if I hadn’t seen him though.”
By him, I knew exactly who she was referring to. I instantly became concerned. “Oh no, are you okay? What happened?”
She pursed her lips, looking down as if she suddenly found the hard plastic material of the table to be very interesting. “Nothing. Nothing happened.”
“Lissa…” I vaguely got a sense of Déjà vu from earlier on today when I had repeated those same words to Matt in Chemistry.
She fixed my with a helpless stare. “Is it wrong that after all this time, I still feel like he has torn my heart from my chest?”
Oh. Oh no. Although it didn’t happen very frequently, situations like these still happened. Girls who took his words during sex too far—girls who fell a whole lot deeper than they should have. It broke my heart to realize that Lissa happened to be one of those girls.
Unfortunately, she was able to catch my feeling of brokenness as it was written all over my face. She shook her head back and forth, her voice immediately breaking. “Don’t look at me like that.”
I sighed. “I know that what he said that night made you feel like you were the only girl in the world, and it’s not wrong to enjoy that memory—but Lissa, you’ve got to let it go. The sooner you accept that it’s over, the happier you’ll be.”
“But how?” she whispered. “I see him every day in the halls, laughing and joking around with his friends, and flirting with other girls. It hurts, Abby—it really does. It hurts to realize that I meant absolutely nothing to him.”
“I know it does,” I soothed her. “Trust me, Lissa. I know. But you’ll get through this. I know you will.”
“But how?” she asked again.
“With Matt,” I said, my lips starting to form a huge grin.
She stared at me in confusion. “Who?”
I immediately backtracked, realizing that she probably had no clue who this guy was. I frowned a little—Poor Matt. It would be especially unfortunate if he had been in love with Lissa for the past two years while she had no idea that he existed. “Oh, sorry. Do you know who Matt Southerland is?”
Her eyebrows knitted together as she concentrated on shifting through her mental contact list. “Hmm, the name doesn’t sound familiar. What does he look like?”
I began to give her a brief description, emphasizing the features that I knew she would immediately find attractive. I could literally see her eyes light up as she took in my words. I felt my inner cheerleader start doing her thing as I saw that things were heading in the right direction.
“Wow, he sounds amazing!” she exclaimed, letting out a dreamy sigh. “It’s a shame that I have no idea who he is!”
I immediately felt the grin drop from my face at that statement. My inner cheerleader froze midair amongst her cheering. Well shit, how do I go on from here? I just decided to go on with the truth. “Lissa, are you sure? You haven’t seen him around in any classes, maybe in the hall?”
She shrugged. “No, sorry. I honestly don’t know who he is.”
“Hmm, well…” I gave her something between a smile and a grimace. “He’s my lab partner in Chemistry this year and—“
“Whoa, you’re taking Chemistry as a sophomore? You must be so fucking smart!” she gasped, her eyes going wide.
I decided to ignore her interruption, continuing on with what I was saying. “He knew who I was—teenage girl therapist, or whatever.” I shrugged. “Anyway, he was asking me if I also specialized as a matchmaker and—“
Lissa fixed me with a level stare, raising an eyebrow. “Well, do you?”
I shrugged again. “I don’t know. I mean, it’s not something I have ever really considered doing, I guess. I asked him if there was anyone who he specifically wanted me to talk to—and he mentioned you.”
Almost immediately, Lissa’s eyes grew wide, her mouth dropping open to form the shape of an ‘o’. “Me? Really?”
I looked at her warily. “Yeah, you, Lissa. Remember what I told you about not giving hope in finding your Prince Charming? I think Matt Southerland might be it. He’s been in love with you for the past two years—it’s just a shame that you have no idea who he is.”
Her shoulders drooped. “Yeah, he seems like an amazing guy. I just wish I had known sooner. Maybe I could’ve avoided the whole mess with Justin if Matt and I had been going out instead.”
“Well, it’s not too late,” I offered. “I have his number in my phone, so if you want, I can give it you and you can start texting him. Just start flirting for now, and maybe go on a date this weekend.”
“Would you really do that?” Her eyes were filled to the brim with hope.
I smiled at her. “Of course. You know I would. I promised you that I would help you whenever you needed me to, didn’t I?”
She smiled back. “Yeah. Wow, I can’t believe that this is actually happening.”
“I told you one day you’d find your Prince Charming,” I teased, laughing a little as I saw her begin to blush. I unlocked my phone, scrolling through my contacts until I found where Matt’s name was listed. I recited it out loud to Lissa while she typed the numbers down furiously.
She had made it to the messaging screen before she stopped. She glanced at me, her expression sheepish. “What do I say?”
“Why don’t you just start off with a simple, ‘Hey’?” I suggested. “Just make sure to sign your name afterwards. I think that getting a text from you would already capture his attention.”
Lissa giggled. “You think so?”
“Hell yeah,” I replied. “I mean, he’s been in love with you for two years—“ The rest of my words were soon swallowed up before I could finish what I was saying. The cafeteria doors immediately burst open as a curvy blonde haired girl ran through, loud sobs coming out from her mouth. I immediately tensed up as I realized what the reason was behind her violent outburst.
It could only mean one thing, and he wasn’t very far away.
It was always funny how I always knew when he was coming. Or more like, how everyone knew. The loud cries of a girl were what usually set off the alarm, almost as if he had planned for that specific sound to announce his presence. I wouldn’t have put it past him if he had done something like that.
A couple of seconds after the girl had come barreling through, the cafeteria doors opened once again to signal the arrival of another loud group.
A great man is never complete without his entourage to follow him, and although Justin was in no way a great man, he did have an entourage that certainly showed that he was not one person to be messed with.
Alfredo Flores, Chaz Somers, and Ryan Sheckler stood by him, their eyes sweeping the cafeteria and looking one hundred percent douchey as he did.
Alfredo—well, I heard he was actually the sweetheart of the group. Supposedly, he disapproved of Justin’s ways and was the complete opposite in his own. However, considering the fact that he hung out with Justin, I doubted that the apple fell very far from the tree, and scrapped those rumors almost immediately upon hearing them.
Chaz—Rumor had it that carried at least a couple of STD’s. He was rich, beyond rich and spent his summers down in Puerto Rico, skinny dipping with a bunch of Portuguese models. Extreme? Yeah, I know. But one hundred percent douchey? Definitely.
Ryan—There wasn’t much to be said about Ryan. He was quiet and mysterious, always observing everyone else instead of doing anything himself. One thing was for sure—he wasn’t nice. I had also heard that he wasn’t very smart either, and wanted to drop out of school in order to become the world’s best skateboarder or something. That kid had guts—and maybe, just maybe, I was a little impressed. But honestly? The whole no-brains thing was definitely a huge turn-off.
The three of them very perfect for Justin, complementing his rotten personality perfectly. I hadn’t realized that I had been staring at them until I made eye contact with Ryan. I looked down quickly, breaking it instantly and pretending that that didn’t just happen. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed him lean in and whisper something in Justin’s ear. I immediately tensed as I saw a slow smirk spread across his features, eyes sliding over to where Lissa and I were sitting.
Luckily, another girl soon caught his eye before he could say anything. I felt my shoulders sag in relief as he started talking to her instead—but that quickly turned to disgust as he all but grabbed her to do a quickie in the janitor’s closet.
Disgusting. And no doubt I’d end up seeing that girl within 24 hours from now. Not that I minded too much, of course. I loved helping those girls with everything left in me.
“Ohmygod, Abby, he replied!” Lissa squealed, suddenly wrenching me from my thoughts. I shook my head a couple of times to clear everything away, giving her a broad smile.
“He did? Wow, that’s great Lissa! Has he asked you out yet?”
She shook her head, giggling. “No, not yet! But I think he’s about to! What should I say?”
“Just say yes,” I coaxed her. “And if you need help getting ready or anything, I’d be happy to oblige.”
“Really? Wow, thank you so much!”
I laughed. “It’s no problem, Lissa. After all, it is what I do best.” I had never really talked to any of the girls outside of their sessions, much less become friends with them, but sharing a bond with Lissa showed me that becoming friends was definitely worth doing, because after all—I was the one picking up the pieces—helping them get everything back together with friendship and trust, and maybe even a new guy all in the process of healing.