"Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here."
This is how it started.
Me:” I love you”
Him: “I was watching this documentary about pigs and…wait what did you say?”
Me: “Nothing, what about the pigs?”
Him: “So mother pigs…like, sing to their piglets when they’re just born. Isn’t that crazy?”
Me: “Yeah, crazy.”
This is how it ended:
Me: “So I decided to watch that pig documentary you kept telling me to watch and…”
Him: “I heard you.”
Him: “You said I love you that day. I heard you and I didn’t say anything back because I didn’t love you.”
It started on December sixth. Linus walked up to me, stuck a bear into my arms and, blushing, ran away. We were thirteen. I was ugly. He was not. It was a dare from the older boys, to go up to the least attractive girls on Valentine’s Day and give them a gift. I wasn’t fooled, I stood against the wall with my ears warming up, eyeing the boys laughing against their fists. In an alternative world, I would have marched up to them, put my face against theirs and said, “I bet you think you’re so funny, huh?”
But in the real world, this world, I was me. I placed the teddy bear on the ground, beside me on the wall and looked away. Covering my face with my hair, I stared at the doorknob as class started, letting the stream of students into the room. As soon as I sank into my seat in Geometry, I started to cry. I know, I know, it’s pathetic. Why would I cry over a stupid prank? But it wasn’t stupid, not to me at least. I had been in love with Linus Weathers all my life.
After that, I stopped staring at Linus. I stopped sketching his face in the coordinate grids, writing his name in Elvish language, imagining my arm looping through his. He was from the world of baseball and after school hangouts; I was from the world of trigonometric ratios and cosine curves. It was doomed from the start.
So when Linus showed up in my Peer Help group in eleventh grade, a ball of fire rose in my stomach and dissolved into small rays in my bones. What was he doing here? Peer Help was the only place I felt safe revealing my fears, telling the people the how and why. And now the sanctuary was all ruined, because what the hell? What did Linus Weathers need help with? How could he of all people have problems?
“I would like to introduce Linus to our group,” Ms. Matthews said, gesturing to the boy standing outside the group.
The Crazies assessed them, narrowing their eyes, with their brains whirring like fans. I could practically hear their thoughts:
How can someone look like that and be here? –Ann
What a cocky piece of shit – Jane
Ohmygodohmygodohmygoadkjsadkakdkjas – Me
His gaze landed on mine and I couldn’t help it, I shivered. I stared at my hands, sweaty in my lap and tried to press the resurfacing memory into the back of my head. I couldn’t help but remember.
“Be mine,” he had mumbled, and almost violently, shoved the stuffed animal into my gut.
I cast my eyes away from his and cleared my throat.
Linus took a seat across from me and I wished that God would one day do me a freaking favor and show up with some lightning rod or something to strike this curse away from my life.
But he let me down, per usual.
What did I expect? A miracle?