How It All Began
"Well, look who I ran into." crowed Coincidence
"Please," flirted Fate "this was meant to be."
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt
I always used to laugh at the girls in movies who sat by their phones waiting for the boy they liked to call. It seemed ridiculous to me that some boy could occupy so much of a girl's time. There were better things to do than wait around for someone who might never like you back. Places to go and people to meet that were so much more important than finding your "soulmate". At least, that's what I used to think.
I've dated my fair share of boys. One night stands and summer flings that were nothing more than a little bit of excitement. I'd been told thousands of times that I was a tease or I was leading them on, but what did they expect? I wasn't in the business of finding love. Which is why I wasn't prepared when it hit me full on.
His name was Bellamy. I could barely remember how it all happened. One minute he was just another boy I had seen around town, the next we were making out in the front seat of his car. I expected it to be a one time thing until he was somehow pushing himself into my life. And at first, I didn't really mind.
My slow summer finally started to speed up. Days went by faster and I started losing track of the sun. Midnights were spent like afternoons, exploring places in town I never knew existed. It was like being on a first date that would never end. No pressure to feel more for him than I did and no strings attached. It was everything I had ever wanted, until late July rolled around.
We were sitting on the roof of his apartment building late one night, looking over our quiet little town like we did most nights that summer. Neither of us had really talked about ourselves much in the past two months, but for some reason that night just felt right. So, I started talking.
I told him about how my father had died and how my mother was full of regret. He told me about his little sister who was becoming quite the rebel and his mother who left them when he graduated high school. We told every secret we had until our mouths were dry and the sky turned bloody. And those goddamn strings began to show themselves.
About a week and a half after that, he told me he loved me. It was like being hit by a train. I had been standing on the tracks the whole time but hadn't noticed the ground shaking beneath me or the headlights coming my way until it was too late. Every defense I had built around myself came crashing down just by looking at his face, full of all these emotions I never thought anyone would have towards me. It was terrifying, probably because I loved him too. Yet, I never got the words out, which brings us full circle.
I always laughed at the girls in movies who sat by their phones waiting for the boy they liked to call. And because of Bellamy Blake, I was one of those girls.
The first thing I saw when I woke up was the telephone. The faded pink landline stared at me, as if daring me to pick it up and dial the number I now knew by heart. But I had fallen for that trick before and was starting to get sick of that dull beep and his bored voice telling me to leave a message. It was useless. The only thing I could do was wait, and I've never been very patient.
So instead, I heaved myself off the couch for the first time in who knows how long and attempted to compose myself. I trudged out of the boiling living room and into the boiling hall, straight into the boiling kitchen. There had been a heat wave rolling around that week that made everything feel like it was on the verge of melting. So basically, I was living in hell.
I pulled open the refrigerator door and stuck my head in, breathing in the barely cool air. If I tried hard enough, I could imagine I was swimming in a lake in Alaska, where there was no hot weather or hot boys who didn't call you back. It was peaceful for about two seconds until I heard my doorbell ring.
I glanced at the clock. It was three. The idea of him standing outside my front door was exhilarating and suddenly those few days of moping around didn't feel real. It was like a bucket of ice water was poured over my head and a new me came out. But the feeling didn't last. If he didn't answer the phone, why would he come to my house? My hope slowly faded.
It was probably Jasper and Monty bringing me yet another batch of desserts. It had only been three days, yet my kitchen was full of half eaten brownies, cookies, and cake. And also a few hidden bottles of moonshine they had made in their unlimited free time. I appreciated all they had been doing but they weren't exactly who I wanted to see.
I closed the refrigerator and walked to the door, the temporary cold seeping away. I quickly rubbed at my face, hoping I didn't look as horrible as I felt, before pulling open the front door. But no one was there.
I gingerly leaned out of the doorway and glanced around. My porch was vacant and my sunny street was quiet. I went to take a step but ran into something solid and heavy. Sitting innocently on my welcome mat was a box. A regular, brown, cardboard box with my name in neat letters on the top.
"What the hell is this?" I said to no one in particular, kneeling down and poking at the sturdy cardboard. Nothing moved or blew up. I kicked it with my foot. Nothing happened.
"Fine." I muttered, picking up the box and heading back inside, kicking the door shut behind me. "This better not be a bomb or I swear to God... "
I lowered myself onto the living room floor and set the box in front of me. So far, it seemed safe but I had an odd feeling in my stomach. Like something was about to happen that would change everything. Of course, that was ridiculous. It was just a box. The only question was what was inside?
"Here I go." I whispered to myself before ripping the tape off the top and carefully opening the flaps.
The box was filled to the brim with all kinds of things. There were papers and photos and books and objects that held no significance to me. At the very top was a little note with a coffee circle in the middle of it and the ripped edge from taking it out of a notebook.
"You are the risk I will always take"
I had never heard the phrase before, yet when I read it something clicked in my mind. It was like having a strong sense of deja vu that didn't go away. A chill went down my spine.
"Stupid." I muttered, setting the note aside and picking up a stack of pictures at the top of the pile. The first one was of a girl in a flapper dress posing on a little stage. The black and white quality made it hard to tell but the girl looked sort of familiar.
The next one was of a man wearing a crisp suit and a sharp hat that hid most of his face. The deja vu feeling ran through me again, this time even stronger. It felt like there was a dam in my mind, holding back a flood of memories that I was desperate to see. I flipped to the next picture and stopped in my tracks.
Both the flapper girl and the suited man were in this picture and you could clearly see their smiling faces. The man, who looked much younger in this photo, had his arm around the girl's waist and she had her face pressed close to his shoulder. But the scariest thing about the faded picture was that the faces were familiar.
It was Bellamy. And me.