I enter into the student union building after Abby, wearing a smile. I didn’t expect to miss Aberdale U, but I can tell that I definitely did. It feels really nice to be back. Spotting the writing club booth, I walk over and greet the old members. We ask how each other is doing and then discuss our summers for a few minutes. I am about to ask if any of them have heard from Kendal, when I spot someone familiar from across the room. Smiling, I wander over.
“Janice! Is that you?” I ask. She looks a little different than she did last quarter, her long hair being the main difference.
Janice turns and grins. “Yes, in the flesh! How are you?”
“Good! Wow, you look different! Did you grow out your-”
“My hair? Yes I did.” Janice rolls her eyes. “It was my sister Sandra’s idea. She said she hadn’t seen me with long hair in years, so she made a bet with me. If she could beat me at a surfing contest, I would let it grow out.” Janice laughs. “Obviously I lost. She is the one person I can never beat out there in the waves.”
I smile. “Sounds like you had a great summer.”
“That I did. When the three of us are together, we always have a blast.”
“I’m so jealous. I’ve always wanted to go to Marina Beach.” Which is very true. Marina Beach is the ultimate getaway. Golden sandy beaches, surfing, and warm weather. It’s a wonder Janice decided to go to school way up here. Then again, Aberdale U does have an amazing physical education program.
Janice grins. “You should come visit sometime! Really! We have plenty of room and we don’t get a lot of visitors, apart from my grandfather. It is mostly just Sandra, Elsie and I.”
She looks a little sad when she says that last part, so I smile and say, “I would love that. We definitely have to plan to do that one of these summers.”
Janice nods. “That we do.”
Just then, I hear a beep from my phone. Glancing down at it, I grin. I just got a text reading:
“Saw you when I came in. You should come upstairs.”
I feel my cheeks heating up. I quickly text back, “Be up in a minute,” and stash my phone away, but not fast enough for Janice to miss.
“So that’s progressed, huh?” says Janice, wearing a sly grin.
I laugh. “I guess you can say that. I’m still taking it slow though.”
“Lizzie, it’s a new school year. I think you have taken it as slow as you can.”
I sigh. “I know, I know. I guess I’m just being cautious. With everything that happened between us and everyone else involved, I just…I don’t know.”
“Well, you are never going to know if you don’t give it a shot. Now go for it.”
I sigh again. “I guess you’re right.”
“Now go and see him. I’m pretty sure you two probably planned to meet up or something. We can catch up in a bit.”
I smile. “All right, I’ll see you.” I then head up the staircase.
The whole while I am climbing up the staircase, I can feel my heart pounding in my chest. Why was I so nervous? It’s not as if he didn’t already know how I feel. We had had a long talk about it before I left for the summer. So why was I feeling like I was going to faint?
These thoughts are rolling in my head as I approach the last step and arrive on the second floor. Looking up ahead, my breath catches in my throat as I see him standing up in front of me.
Taking a deep breath, I pull myself together and slowly walk over to him.
I stop short when I reach him by one of the booth tables. He is reading through one of the flyers.
I bite my lip. “Hey Michael,” I say, quietly, and for a minute, I think he didn’t hear me.
Michael turns around and smiles. “Lizzie, long time no see.”
I nod. “Yes, it’s been a while.”
He glances down at the ground looking slightly nervous. “You look nice,” he says.
I feel myself blush. “Thank you.” We both then stand in silence for a minute. Michael was looking really nervous, which I had never seen him look before.
I take a deep breath. If I don’t say something, who knows how long we would be standing here like this. After all, maybe this was all my fault. After my phone call with him back at the end of spring quarter, I did tell him that I wanted to take things slow. I wanted time to figure all my feelings out. After all, I had just ended things with Kendall a few weeks before. I just wanted to be sure that my feelings for Michael were true. Not that I doubted it that much.
“Look, about that phone call back in June, I’m sorry. I should have come to see you in person. I don’t know if that made you think that I was just messing with you or something, but I wasn’t. I…I really do want to be with you. I just needed some time to figure that out. But if you don’t feel the same way anymore, its ok-”
I stop and look up at him. Michael is just staring at me with a little smile on his face and I can feel my cheeks heating up again.
“I get it,” he says. “I know the whole thing with us has been pretty complicated, especially when you throw Kendal in the mix. I get why you needed some space to figure things out. I guess a part of me just thought that, I don’t know…” He drifts off and I look at him curiously.
“I guess I just thought that I’d hear from you after a while. When I didn’t, I thought that maybe you and Kendal had gotten back together.”
I shake my head. “Oh, no we didn’t! I actually haven’t spoken to Kendal since we broke up. He did send me an e-mail after he left in mid-July for the internship, but other than that, I haven’t heard from him. All that time, I was honestly just trying to figure things out in my head.”
Michael leans forward slightly. “And?”
I smile. “And, I think you already know the answer.”
We both smile at each other and I can feel my stomach doing somersaults.
“So,” I say, leaning slightly closer to him, “you know, I want to be with you, Michael. What I need to know, is if you still want to be with me.”
Michael stares at me for a few seconds and then he takes both of my hands into his. “Lizzie, I’ve wanted to be with you since we met and you nearly knocked me over on the sidewalk.”
I can’t help but laugh at that. I remember that day. I was in such a hurry that I practically almost plowed him over. Even from that moment, I felt a strange connection to him that I couldn’t explain. It was almost like it was fate.
“You’ve known since then?” I say, giving him a flirty smile and he returns it.
“Definitely,” he whispers, and I feel a warm tingle run through my entire body. I so badly want to wrap my wraps around him press his soft lips against mine, but just as I think he is about to do so, we are interrupted.
“Hey guys!” says Janice walking over to us. She then pauses and looks from Michael to me. “Uh oh, “do me eyes.” You two better get a room.”
I whip my head around and give her a look of surprise. “Janice!”
I bite my lip and look back at Michael. “I am so sorry about that.”
He smiles and then shrugs. “No big deal.” He then checks his watch. “I hate to just take off, but I should head to the admin office. Apparently, there is some issue with the apartment I was supposed to be staying in.”
“Everything okay?” I ask.
“I don’t know, I guess I will find out when I get there.”
“Okay.” I give his hand a little squeeze. “I guess we’ll finish this up later?”
Michael squeezes my hand back. “We most definitely will.”
He then hurries off to the stairs and I feel like a big weight has been lifted. All the tension between us is now gone and I actually can’t wait to see him again.
I then walk over to the bathroom and push the door open.
“You two done talking already?” Janice asks, as she washes her hands at the sink. “I hope I didn’t impose.”
I roll my eyes and enter one of the bathroom stalls. “Very funny.”
“Looks like you took my advice. So are you two a thing now?”
“Well, you kind of interrupted right at the moment when we were establishing that!”
Janice laughs. “I said I was sorry! Anyways, if Michael doesn’t ask you to be his girlfriend soon, he’s an idiot. I thought he would have done it a long time ago.”
“That’s because Lizzie told him she needed space,” says a voice. “He probably thought she was going back to Kendal.”
I am puzzled as to who said that, but then recognize the voice as Abby’s.
“It was complicated,” I protest, as I leave my stall.
Abby comes out of the stall next to me. “I’m just saying. You totally messed with his head.”
“How so?” Janice asks.
Abby smirks. “Lizzie called him up and told him that she wanted to be with him, but then said that she needed space to really figure everything out. If that doesn’t confuse a person I don’t know what else would.”
My jaw drops. “You should talk! You did the same thing with Charls!”
Abby laughs and walks over to the middle bathroom sink. “Yes, but I actually contacted him throughout the whole summer. He even came to visit me and we talked about everything. Can you say the same?”
I open my mouth to say something, but then clamp it shut. Abby had me there. I hadn’t contacted Michael all summer, except to wish him Happy fourth of July and labor day, which now that I think about it, was pretty lame. We only really started texting a couple weeks ago.
“Whatever,” I mumble and head over to an empty sink.
Janice shakes her head. “Wow, the whole summer Lizzie?”
I sigh. “Stop it you two. You are making me feel bad!”
“You should,” Janice says quietly, and I give her a look.
I hadn’t really thought about it until Abby had put it into words. I had in a way, left Michael hanging all summer. No wonder he had looked so nervous when I first saw him. He had really thought that I had changed my mind. I now felt extremely guilty.
I finish washing my hands and look at my reflection. “I can’t take back not talking to him during the summer, but I can make up for it now.”
“I know one way,” Janice mutters, and my eyes widen.
“Janice!” I say loudly, and she laughs.
“Again, just kidding!”
Janice stretches and moves toward the bathroom door. “Well, I’m heading back to the dorm. You two coming?”
Abby nods. “Yup. I was hoping to spend some alone time with Charls, but his frat is having a party tonight with the Alpha Beta Phis.”
I roll my eyes. “I thought we were done with all that sorority stuff.”
“We are, but Charls is still with the Alpha Annyas.”
“I’m surprised by that,” says Janice. “I would have thought that Brad would have tried to have him kicked out or something because of dating…well, you.”
Abby bites her lip. “He hasn’t really told him.”
I raise my eyebrows. “How long does he think he can hide it?”
“I don’t know. He says he’s going to tell him about us, but he hasn’t gotten around to it yet. I just hope Brad doesn’t make it bigger than it needs to be. After all, he is the one that screwed things up anyway.” Abby shrugs. “Not that I care. I am way happier with Charls.”
We all then file out of the bathroom and back onto the second floor lobby. I check my watch and notice that it is almost six.
“We should go get some dinner in the dining hall. They should have started serving by now.”
Janice nods. “Agreed.”
We all then head down the staircase and out to Abby’s car.
It’s a quick quiet drive to the dining hall, but all the while, I keep thinking about what Janice and Abby had said about Michael. I really had not thought about the way I had left things with him. I thought I had settle things by calling him, but I now realize that maybe I had just made things more complicated and confusing. I should have just waited and called him sometime over the summer.
Now when I think back, I can honestly say I had known the answer all along. I really had been connected to Michael since we met last fall, I had just tried to ignore it. That said, I am not going to do that anymore. I really do want to see what is store in for Michael and me, and this time nothing is going to get in the way of it. It’s a new year, and a great time for new starts.