What’s stronger? True love, or soulmates?
Strings
CHAPTER
9
Steps To Surviving
“So I saw you dancing with the new guy.” Leo says, as we’re walking home from the dance. My heart skips a beat.
“Yeah?” I ask, hoping he’ll elaborate.
“Do you like him, stupid?” He asks, hitting my shoulder lightly.
“No, he just asked me to dance because he was the new kid.” I say, and it’s not really lie. Mostly.
“Shame, you could use a boy friend.” Leo says, “maybe you wouldn’t bother me as much then.”
I’m stunned to say the least. My face must give it away because Leo quickly says, “Char, it’s a joke.”
I nod, “I know.” I say.
Leo stops and turns to me. “Char, are you okay?” He asks.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” I say. Except I’m not. I am so so far from fine, I am a million miles from okay, and oceans away from alright. I want to scream it, I want to scream it right in his face, I want him to know how much I love him. I want him to know that I love him more than words can explain. But I can’t make my mouth form those words, I can’t speak them, I can’t look him in the eye and say I love him. Because as much as him not knowing breaks my heart, telling him could completely destroy me.
“Charlotte Jem Cassidy, I have known you practically my entire life, I know when you’re lying to me. What’s wrong?” And there, I think I see something, in his blue eyes. A glimpse of hope, perhaps? A shred or something real, maybe? And for a moment I let myself think that maybe my love isn’t one way. But I quickly push that thought from my mind, I don’t let myself think like that. Because it just seems to make everything a little more tragic, and I have enough tragedy in my life to write a million John Green books, I don’t need any more.
“I’m fine, really Leo.” I say, my house is just a few yards away, keep walking, don’t look at him, survive this, just get home, then fall apart. Fall apart anywhere but here.
“You’d tell me if something were wrong, right?” Leo asks. And there that glimmer is again. That little unidentifiable feeling that I can’t quite place. I’ve never seen it in his eyes before, and I’ve known him most of my life, I could probably have a conversation with him just through looks. Our own little code, our own little secret language.
“Of course.” I lie, my temporarily rebuilt heart breaking a little bit again. But it doesn’t crumble, or shatter, it’s just right on the edge. Like something sitting just on the edge of a cliff, one little gust of wind will break it. It’s like that, one more word, or look, or glimpse of a feeling in his eyes, and I’ll shatter. I’ll turn to dust, and the wind will carry me away, hopefully to a better place.
I push past him and do my best to resist the urge to run into the house, run away, lock the door, and just hide under my bed like I used to. I used to love doing that, mostly when my parent fought, but other times too. Leo and I used to make pillow forts under our beds. We would bring flashlights, and books, and snacks, and we would build our little fort, lock ourselves away from the world, even if only for a little while.
But I walk, I walk into the house, I close the door, and then I run, then I break. Because the silence is like another word, another look, another shadow of a feeling in his eyes. And it’s just enough to make me fall apart, the wind does not take me away though. The world around me is still, the wind leaves me a pile of dust and emotion, sitting there on the cliff. Not even the wind is merciful enough to let me fly off to another world.
When I reach my room I grab a piece of paper and a pencil. And in my careful neat handwriting I write. Steps To Surviving: Love
It’s something my dad taught me to do, back when we were closer. When you’re confronted by something scary you think it out carefully and write the steps down.
Steps To Surviving: Love
1) You don’t

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