If there had been any way to know, at the beginning of my senior year of high school, how completely crazy things would be before the end, I probably would have begged my mom to let me skip public school altogether and home-school me instead. But seeing as how reading the future has never been a talent of mine and how the first seventeen years of my life gave me no reason to fear the future, I spent the last few days of my summer break looking forward to the coming school year with high hopes and great expectations. I was eager to begin the last year of my mandatory school life and was determined that this was the year I had been waiting for, the year when all of my pining for Ian Wallace would finally come to an end. I was certain this would be the year that Ian would see that I, Lyla Andrews, was actually the girl of his dreams. Of course, that meant that first he would have to acknowledge my existence (something he hadn’t actually done since grade school) but I had no doubt that once he knew who I was, he would fall madly in love with me and we would live happily ever after.
I know, it’s silly to think that a guy who doesn’t know you exist would ever actually fall in love with you, but I had to hope. I had been in love with Ian since seventh grade and I was not going to let this year go by without at least some sort of an attempt at letting him know that I liked him. I didn’t know how I would do it, I just knew that if I didn’t tell him this year, I would never have the chance again; he would go off to some ivy league school and that would bring my one-sided love affair to a quick and miserable end.
The idea of being separated from Ian was more than I could bear so I made up my mind to tell him how I felt, I just needed to figure out how. Having no brilliant ideas of my own, I had invited my two best friends, Maggie Montgomery and Yuuki Kaoru, over to help me develop the perfect plan for getting Ian to fall in love with me.
Of course, with Maggie over, our discussion bent more toward our first day of school outfits than anything, but with Yuuki there to balance things out, we did finally manage to get back to the issue at hand; though looking back, I have to say, they really weren’t much help.
“I think you should just walk up to him and tell him how you feel,” Maggie suggested as she sank into the leopard print bean bag that lay in the corner of my eclectically decorated room.
“That’s easy for you to say,” I groaned as I rummaged through my closet in desperate search of my favorite shorts.
“Because you can talk to a guy without making an idiot out of yourself. If I tried that I’d just end up saying something stupid…if I ever got the chance to say anything at all.”
“And why wouldn’t you have a chance?”
“Probably because if he saw me coming he’d have no idea who I was or that I intended to talk to him and he’d walk away before I ever got the chance to say anything.”
“No he wouldn’t. You’re just being melodramatic.”
“No, I’m just being realistic. Ian doesn’t know I exist. I can’t just go up to him and tell him I like him. I’d be too embarrassed and nervous and…well, it just wouldn’t work.”
“Fine chicken, we’ll just have to think of something else.”
“You could write him a letter,” Yuuki suggested as she flipped through my latest sketch book.
“A letter?” I asked, as I pulled my pink plaid Bermuda shorts out of the pile of clothes that lay heaped in the back of my closet. “What kind of a letter?”
“I don’t know, just a letter.”
“Okay, that really helps.”
“Well, you’re wanting to tell Ian you like him, right?”
“Then you should probably introduce yourself. It’s not like he’s ever really acknowledged your existence.”
“That’s not entirely true, he did sit on me once.”
“Being pushed on the bus and falling into your lap doesn’t count, Lyla,” Maggie laughed as she grabbed the purple glitter nail polish off my desk and started painting her nails.
“Fine,” I grumbled as I recalled, with perfect clarity, the day Ian fell into my arms.
It was eighth grade and our class had just gotten back from a bowling party. Ian had been joking around with some of his friends and one of them had pushed him, as they were getting off the bus, and Ian had fallen right into my lap. His friends all laughed at the sight of him there and he jumped up almost before I had even realized what had happened. I probably would have forgotten all about it, but the look he gave me as he got off the bus was one of pure hatred. I never did understand why he was so mad at me when it was his buddies that had pushed him, but it didn’t matter, for one glorious second, Ian Wallace had been in my arms.
“I suppose you could remind him of that,” Yuuki suggested.
“No!” I cried, recalling the awful look he had given me that day.
“Alright, then just introduce yourself and then tell him that you like him.”
“You make it sound so easy,” I groaned, as I flopped onto my bed. “I can’t just tell him that, he’d think I’m an idiot.”
“Well I guess you’ll just have to suffer through another year alone,” Maggie sighed with an evil smile on her face.
“Thanks a lot,” I grumbled as I threw a pillow at her.
“Hey, you’re the one who’s had a crush on a guy, who doesn’t even know you exist, for the past five years. What’s one more year? He’ll be gone by the end of next summer anyway and then you’ll be able to move on with your life.”
“Oh, you are such a great comforter, thanks.”
“Don’t mention it,” Maggie laughed.
“Maybe you could e-mail him?” Yuuki suggested, still trying to come up with some way to help me with my current predicament. “Or call?”
“Calling’s out of the question,” Maggie laughed, “don’t you remember the Truth or Dare fiasco?”
“Oh yeah,” Yuuki laughed, “how could I have forgotten that?”
“Hey, that’s not fair! That was a long time ago.”
“Seventh grade wasn’t that long ago and you hung up as soon as he said hello.”
“I was nervous! I didn’t know what to say!”
“You were supposed to say ‘I love you’,” Maggie laughed.
“Okay, okay, okay, can we please change the subject?” I begged.
“Sure,” Yuuki shrugged, “so what are you going to wear tomorrow?”
“I don’t know, what are you wearing?”
We spent the rest of the day talking about what we were going to wear and what classes we were taking and who we hoped would be back and who we hoped had dropped off the face of the planet, you know, normal stuff. As we talked I couldn’t help but marvel at how three very different girls could be such good friends, but we were and we had been since second grade.
Margaret Anne Montgomery, or Maggie, was, is and always will be the Barbie of the bunch. Her long blonde hair, bright blue eyes and tall, athletic frame have made her the envy of practically every girl in school and the object of every guys desire since about sixth grade. Growing up with three brothers, Maggie developed a taste for sports very early on and was a member of the girls varsity volleyball, basketball and track teams as a result. I don’t really know how she ever found time to do all of that, and be in every school play since freshman year, but she did and she was good at it all. Maggie has always been, by far, the most outspoken of our group, never fearing to speak her mind or tell you like it is, she could be a bit brutal at times, but Yuuki and I could always count on her for an honest answer and a reality check. Despite her love of sports, Maggie’s, without a doubt, the girliest girl I know; she loves all things trendy and cute and is obsessed with shopping.
Next is the amazing Yuuki Kaoru, the five foot two wunderkind whose genius test scores at the age of seven won her state-wide fame. While the rest of the world was awed by Yuuki’s brain, Maggie and I were the only two who saw her as just a girl, something I think Yuuki will be grateful for, for the rest of her life. The only child of a pair of brilliant university professors, Yuuki has always considered Maggie and me as more sisters than friends, and of course, the feeling’s mutual. Besides being a genius, Yuuki is also an amazing drummer, an expert video gamer, the world’s greatest listener and the best person to turn to when you need a hug or a shoulder to cry on. As different as Yuuki and Maggie are on the outside, they share a passion for fashion, though their taste tends to run in opposite directions. Yuuki embraces the sometimes wild and bizarre fashion of Japan while Maggie tends to stick with whatever’s in the latest edition of Teen Vogue.
And then there’s me, Lyla. the-not-so-extraordinary, Andrews. With my long, stick straight brown hair, brown eyes and average height, I’m the one who most easily blends into the background. Well, I guess I shouldn’t really say that; my obsession with bright colors, crazy prints and a love of all things rock usually made me stand out in a crowd, but if I ever dressed like everyone else, I’d definitely blend in. I’m a pretty good student, making mostly A’s, I’m a better than average artist, I play the piano and have terrible eyesight, though I tend to wear contacts, rather than glasses, most of the time. I work at Stan’s Soda Shoppe after school, I love hot pink Converse All Stars, anything quirky, am a huge fan of classic rock and I drive a silver 1974 VW Beetle convertible, which I love, and that pretty well sums me up. Oh, and I’m also hopelessly in love with a guy who doesn’t even know I exist.
So that’s us, the three amigas. Inseparable since grade school, we have been there for each other through every major event in each other’s lives, from braces to glasses to chicken pox and dead-beat dads, we have always been there for each other and we always will be. So, it was natural for me to turn to Maggie and Yuuki as I faced the most important decision in my entire school life…how to tell Ian I liked him.
No one came up with any really great ideas that day and eventually Maggie and Yuuki went home so I spent the rest of the evening watching Cosby Show reruns with my mom and went to bed with visions of Ian dancing in my head. I had a dream that I actually told Ian how much I liked him and then he swept me into his arms and told me that he had been waiting to hear those words since seventh grade and then he kissed me. It was a fantastic dream until I woke up and realized the passionate kisses of my dream were actually coming from Bill Sparkles, my Great Dane. Now normally I wouldn’t mind kissing Bills but when you think you’re kissing the hottest guy in school and you wake to find that you’re actually kissing your hundred and fifty pound dog, it’s more than a little disappointing.
“Oh Bills!” I groaned as got out of bed to brush my teeth and rinse my mouth with Listerine.
Once my mouth was clean I tried to go back to sleep but I was so frustrated at not having come up with a way to tell Ian I liked him that I just sat in bed and started drawing in my latest sketch book. There were a couple of different things that I liked to do whenever I was stressing or upset and since it was 3:30 in the morning, playing the piano was out of the question; so I settled for my sketches, finding that my mind cleared quickly when I had something to focus on. I was soon lost in the world of my drawings while Bills slept at the foot of my bed. Eventually I started to get sleepy and I finally managed to doze off about an hour before my alarm went off to signal the start of my last first day of school.