Chapter 18: Fight
That afternoon, I sat at the table, staring down at the checkered tablecloth of our mahogany kitchen table, and feeling very sorry for myself.
I couldn’t seem to get the image of Logan with his arm around Marley out of my head. The way she looked at me, acted as if she didn’t even know - or care - who I was, and walk away as if I meant nothing to her, leaving me completely in the dust like we had no history at all, like she never kissed me, like we never pretended to date. Like she never even cared.
It frustrated me to no end that after everything I’d done to try and keep them apart, somehow Logan had still gotten her. After all of my scheming and endless planning and trying to keep Marley from harm, somehow Logan had still gotten his talons back into her.
And the way she treated me today. She could barely even look at me. She had just turned around and walked away, while I stood there feeling like a ton of bricks had just fallen on me.
Didn’t she know how much the silence was eating me up? Didn’t she know that she was the only girl I’d ever felt like this for before? The only girl I had ever wanted - or needed. She was different to all of the mindless bimbos that seemed to plague my school. She was sweet and kind and funny and modest, and, most of all, she didn’t care what anyone thought about her. She was her own person, strong and independent, and I wanted to be there for her. If only she would let me.
I think the worst part of this all wasn’t that all of my planning had gone to waste. It wasn’t that they had ended up together and I knew Logan was soon going to revert back to his old ways and walk all over Marley like a welcome mat—though that was a big part of it.
It was that I had begun to fall for Marley.
And I had been stupid and naïve enough to believe that maybe she was falling for me, too.
When we were little, I had thought I loved her. When we were eight I actually planned to ask her to marry me - in that immature way you do when you’re young and haven’t yet experienced real pain and heartbreak. We could get married under the maple tree in my backyard near the treehouse, with candy wedding rings that would also be our wedding dinner. She could wear her pretty white dress that she always used to wear to Sunday church, and we could live happily ever after.
But I never got the courage to ask her, even though I was sure she probably would’ve said yes, even if, at the time, it was just for kicks.
I didn’t think she felt that way towards me, anyway.
Then we were fourteen, and I turned into this jealous freak when that kid asked her out. Hence the huge argument we had that caused a rift between us, and made us split apart. She was fierce and stubborn, refusing to believe that could be the reason. She was frustrating and complicated and annoying, and she made me wanna tear my hair out and bang my head against a brick wall.
And yet I was still in love with her.
Then we grew further apart until we somehow turned into enemies. But I still loved her—she was just too blindsided by her love for Logan to even notice. I still thought about her, and it took everything in me not to call out to her window at night. But I was stupid, and maybe as hard-headed as her in the fact that I just couldn’t overcome the argument and start to renew our friendship.
But finally I started to get over her.
I went out with new girls, started playing football, went to parties, discovered alcohol - a fact that I’m not proud of. But the taste of beer seemed to make her evaporate from my mind - apparently along with my morals. I made good friends, went on with my life, until she just became a girl of the past, someone I used to like, the girl next door. My enemy that I refused to acknowledge. And it seemed to help numb the feelings I had for her.
And, just like that, as if she were aware of the fact that finally she was beginning to get erased from my mind, she waltzed back into my life and rekindled the feelings that were already inside of me, lying dormant until the time I started talking to that beautiful girl again, with the kind eyes and soft hair and smooth skin and sweet personality, and kind and forgiving heart.
I thought that maybe this was it. We could actually be together if I kept them apart. She could see that I was the one, and she was wrong all along. She was naive in thinking Logan could give her things that I could.
And now look what I’d done.
Congratulations, Noah. You did the exact opposite of what you intended to do. Now she’s back with the douche, and you’re sitting here like a pathetic loser wallowing in self-guilt. Well done, friend.
I sighed and rubbed my tired, achy eyes, just as my dad walked in. He turned on the coffee machine and turned towards me.
“Hey, Dad,” I said, but my voice lacked the usual enthusiasm I greeted my father with. It sounded dull and robotic.
He frowned at me, his dark eyebrows coming together. “What’s wrong?”
I shook my head, not wanting to bother him with my childish problems. “Nothing, dad.”
He sat down in the high-backed wooden seat across from me and laced his fingers on the table to form a sort of teepee, staring me down. “I know something’s up, Noah. What’s going on?”
There was no use pretending. I wasn’t in the mood to force a smile and pretend everything was fine and dandy. And maybe it would help to talk to my dad. I mean, from what I’d heard, he’d gone through his fair share of trials and tribulations when it came to love as well.
“Marley and Logan are back together,” I informed him, though it felt like knives in my mouth when I finally ground it out.
His face froze in shock, and I swear his jaw dropped a little. “What?”
I nodded. “Yeah. Logan came back to school today and there they were. He walked her to class, had his arm around her. They’re back to being the loved-up couple they were two months ago.”
“What are you going to do about it?”
I sighed. “Nothing.”
“What do you mean, ‘nothing’?”
“Well, what can I do, dad?” I asked, my voice raised. “I tried to keep them apart, but somehow I only managed to push them together. She already made her choice on who she wants. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
My dad regarded me carefully, his hazel eyes searching. “The Noah Fordman I know would never give up that easily.”
“I tried, dad. I gave it my all. I really did. But she made her choice. She chose him over me. What am I supposed to do?”
“Win her back,” my dad said, his eyes lighting up in excitement as a plan formed in his mind. “Come on, you can’t just let her go. You love her, don’t you?”
Was I really that transparent? Did everyone know I loved her? It really was seeming that way lately. I was getting accused by everyone about my feelings for her. Sheesh.
“Yeah,” I admitted finally. “I love her.”
“Then don’t give up. Fight for what you love. Fight for her.”
“How do I do that?”
He grinned at me. “Well…”