by Misty Singer
Mia has a secret - she falls for Will and finds that he has some secrets of his own...
Have you ever felt like you were destined for something - something that would made you more than what you are? Something that would fill the missing pieces inside you, even though you had no idea what those missing pieces were or what that destiny might be…
I have felt this my entire life. Truth be told, there was never a time that I didn’t feel that something was missing in my life. My mother always told me it was because I missed the piece that should have been filled by my father. I knew she was right, in some aspects, but I felt deep inside, it was much more than just that.
I have been adored and loved completely by my mother my entire life . I was always more than taken care of, she provided well for both of us, while still keeping me grounded, respectful and responsible. I was strong – strong willed, strong minded and even physically strong, as opposed to most of the girls I knew. I wasn’t muscularly-strong, but I was quick and lithe – some might call it agile.
Even so, I felt incomplete in a way that I didn’t fully understand. It was always there, deep inside, like a voracious black void that could never be filled, no matter what was fed into it. As empty as that place was, it was a part of me, as much as any other of my body parts, having just always been there. I wouldn’t even be able to imagine how I might be if it were not there. Sometimes, in the dark of night when I couldn’t sleep, I wondered if I would miss it, like one would miss a leg or arm that had been amputated and no longer a part of them. But that was silly, right? Who wanted to live with a black void inside them? Fear, especially of the unknown, made you think funny, strange thoughts, even when the reason for that fear happened to be the one thing you desired most.
But the void had begun to feel like a purpose, more so recently than it ever had. I felt like someday, my path in life would lead to a place that would eventually fill that void and, finally, I would be complete.
As fearful as I was, I knew one day I would find it. Until then, I ambled on with life as usual. Today, life – or maybe more accurately, Mother Nature – brought freezing cold temperatures. Thirteen degrees to be exact, if the little purple dragonfly outside my bedroom window was accurate. Not exactly a nice welcome home present.
Nestled amidst the long stretch of Maine coastline, on the West side of Penobscot Bay, there is a timeless collection of little New England communities, one of which being my home town. I have lived in the small, east coast town of Rockport my entire life, with the exception of this last year. Fifteen months to be exact. As excited as I was to be back home, a huge part of me was nervous to face a few of the people I thought I had left behind.
All I've ever really known is the very loving, but slightly under-protective care of my mother, Karen. She has been a working single mother since my father, James Rose, died in a car accident just a few months after my first birthday, more than fifteen years ago. She has worked as a consultant for a world-wide information systems technology cooperation in Augusta for nearly six years now, which tended to mean long hours during the week and frequent trips across the country. Due to her comfortably paying vocation being located out of town, she would leave the house each morning well before I was even awake to make the forty mile, one hour and fifteen minute drive to her office. By the time she made it home in the evening - if she wasn't on one of her business trips - it was nearing eight or nine o'clock. Not that I minded. I was fully capable of taking care of myself and, quite honestly, tended to enjoy the quiet time alone.
About a year ago – close to halfway through my Sophomore year - my mother decided to move us closer to the big city, knowing it would reduce her travel time and thereby provide more time that she could spend with me. I willingly banished myself there, hating the very thought of leaving behind everyone and everything I had ever known for a big city full of strangers and strange things, but I knew it would make her happy – and ultimately, that was all that mattered.
Thankfully, my mom never could bear the thought of selling the only house she had ever shared with my father. This house - along with yours truly, some old pictures and a few home videos - were the only real things she had left as a reminder of her life with him. She had kept it closed up and off the market, with the intention that we would use it as a vacation home - so we could come back any time to visit our friends and get a good dose of normalcy before heading back to the big city once again. It was her belief that we would miss it less if we knew it was always waiting here for us.
In the end, we both missed our hometown, the thick forests and green parks and Camden Harbor with the lighthouse, waterfall and all the boats lining the harbor. We missed all the memories this house held, our friends and the only place either of us had ever known as a home. We moved back in last week, during Christmas Vacation, and today would be my first day back at my old school in over a year.
Although I tended to be liked by everyone, I was a bit of a loner - more comfortable by myself than with large groups of people. The two close friends that I do have - Kim, who I have known since Kindergarten, and Jack, a boy who had moved to Rockport about five years ago, but who I had bonded with instantly and nearly became inseparable from – I had kept in pretty close contact with and was very eager to see them now that I was back home.
With everyone else, I was friendly, but reserved. I was known as the quiet girl – except in competition, when I tended to come out of my timid shell.
Allowing myself one final moment of lethargic bliss, I reluctantly forced myself out of bed and padded my way down the short hallway to my bathroom. Having spent most of the last week unpacking, and most of my things had found their way into their proper place, but I still had a few things unaccounted for, including my toothpaste, soap and favorite shampoo. I would have to borrow my mom’s again, as I had the last several days. Hopefully the renegade box would show itself soon. My mother preferred powdery scented stuff, which was something we did not have in common.
After showering, brushing my teeth and dabbing a little makeup on, I attempted to tame my long, rebellious black curls into something resembling a hairstyle, only to give up and pull them back into a simple ponytail. I couldn't waste any more time, it was obviously not going to be my best hair day no matter how much time I spent on it.
I took at deep, assessing look at the girl staring back at me in the mirror. In my reflection I see a girl with a high forehead, almond shaped eyes that tipped slightly down at the corner and were framed by thick, curly lashes. Her short, gently sloping button nose is spotted with tiny freckles and had full lips that lifted just enough at each corner to give the impression she is always happy, even when she’s not. I probably wouldn’t give the girl staring back at me a second glance if I passed by her. She was no different than the vast majority of people in the world – pretty but average.
I gave my head a slight shake. I didn’t need to beautiful. What I needed was to get a move on and stop daydreaming about being something I’m not – I needed extra time to drive to school, the roads were sure to be icy this morning.
The drive to Rockport-Camden High School was a short one, only about ten minutes from my house, but on days like this, it was better to be safe than sorry. My mother was so worried about me driving in the ice and snow, since this was the first winter I was able to drive. I turned sixteen in August, and though I believed I was a perfectly good driver, she was constantly apprehensive. Of course, she had never fully gotten over my father's death - not that I blamed her - and I didn't want to cause her any more heartache, so I did my part to calm her fears and intentionally moved at a snail's pace as the weather took a turn for the worse.
I pulled in to an empty parking stall with fifteen minutes to spare, looking over the school with mild resentment. I wasn't in any great hurry to get to my first period class. When we met with the school to re-enroll me, I found out I would be studying Shakespeare in my Junior English class. Hamlet again, urgh.
Not that I didn't love English, it was actually one of my favorite classes, but for me, Hamlet truly left something to be desired. I realize it’s a tragedy, and therefore meant to be sad, but it was entirely too dark and disturbing, everyone died in the end and there was nothing even remotely close to any kind of happy ending. Not one of my favorites. I never really thought of myself as a hopeless romantic, but I guess I'm not much for tragic endings either. Besides, I had already finished Hamlet earlier in the year back in Augusta and now had to trudge through it all over again here.
Gathering all my notebooks in one arm, I locked the door to my car - a black Volkswagen Jetta, which according to my mother, was the perfect car, being safe, dependable and less than a year old - and headed for class.
"Mia!" shouted a high-pitched voice from across the parking lot.
I turned at the sound of my name to see a girl bouncing so quickly for me she had to hold her books tightly against her body so she wouldn't drop them. "Hi, Kate." I said, smiling at the beautiful teenager.
Kate Harvey was a girl I'd also known since kindergarten. Looking at her, you could see very clearly that she was everything I was not. Where I might have been considered pretty (more average than anything), she was downright gorgeous with her shoulder length strawberry-blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes. She was the bubbly cheerleader demanding to be the center of everyone's attention. I was the quiet, smart girl, perfectly happy to remain well outside of the spotlight. We were friends, but not the very best of. We were just a little too different to have very much in common.
Kate regarded my hair with faint disapproval – I remembered she wasn't much for comfort in style, opting for the more beauty queen approach to her personal flair - but she quickly cast aside whatever thoughts on my appearance she had and began to bubble over with her always effervescent enthusiasm. "I thought that was you!" She exclaimed, her voice squealing with barely contained excitement. “What are you doing here? Are you back?”
I nodded. “We moved back in last week.”
“Oh, this is perfect! I can give you all the need-to-know info you’ve missed out on this year.”
Oh, great. If I needed to know the latest on anyone or anything, there would be nobody better than Kate to get me up to speed. Frankly speaking, I wasn’t much for gossip, but it wouldn’t hurt to know what was happening on campus. I could weed through her montage and discard whatever I thought was irrelevant.
“Let me think.” She searched around the campus, as if all the gossipy-information she needed was hiding in the shadows of one of the pods. “Oh, Adam Martins is available. He and Jessica Johns just broke up right before break.” She slid me a sidelong glance. “In case you’re interested.”
I bit my lip to stifle a grimace. “Uh, I don’t think so.
For nearly three months during my sophomore year, I had dated Adam Martins. He was a junior then and was very cute, with his dark hair, chocolaty-brown eyes and an air of conceited charm. Apparently, quite a catch for me, or so Kate had been nice enough to inform me. Kate had always been the jealous type, and it was no secret that she had always liked him.
A jock to the core, Adam was one of Camden High's best wrestlers and star quarterback - you name the game, he played it, and played it well. I never quite understood why he wanted to date me in the first place - compared to Kate Harvey and Sally Jenkins, I wasn’t much of a prize. He was my first boyfriend - if you could call him that - and the relationship was awkward and uncomfortable for me right from the start.
About two weeks before I moved, Adam was over at my house watching a movie – an action flick that had plenty of blood and gore – always a favorite of his. That night he decided that if I didn't agree to take our relationship to the next level, then he couldn’t date me anymore.
I promptly showed him the door.
“Mia, are you listening?” Kate’s voice weaved its way through my thoughts and pulled me back to the present.
I nodded, plastering a sweet but horribly fake smile on my face. “Of course.” I lied, not wanting to admit my momentary distraction. I had never been a very accomplished liar. Some would say that is a good trait… I, on the other hand know just how horrible I am at it and wish I could at least tell a white lie with some miniscule amount of flair.
“Okay.” She smiled in return. “I just wanted to make sure.” Thankfully, Kate was about as good at being observant as I was at lying.
Launching into an epic on all the new relationships around the school - the perfect matches, the horrible ones and the downright strange ones, no detail was too small to leave out. I was amazed by the amount of information she could cover in the short walk from the parking lot to the classrooms.
Most of her information centered on some new kids. Twins, in fact - a boy and a girl. According to Kate, they’d had the whole school buzzing about them since they arrived.
Eyeing her warily, I tried to decide if she liked them or if she was about to spread some petty little rumors about them.
Our school was not a large one, housing a little more than 650 students from five small towns - Lincolnville, Hope, Appleton, Camden and Rockport. I knew from experience that rumors raged in small towns faster than you can blink an eye. I had been afforded the opportunity to be the center of a few of them already, thanks in large part to Adam.
"She went on and on about how amazing the Griffin's were. Well, mostly the boy. She referred to them as 'The Griffin's', but she didn't really say much about the sister, Hannah. She mentioned that she was pretty, but seemed fairly indifferent to her otherwise. “You seriously won't believe your eyes." She paused briefly in her montage, clutching my shoulder with her free hand to pull me to a stop and turning all googly-eyed. "He is sooo handsome!" Oh, boy. I remembered that look well - whoever he was, he had topped the list of Kate Harvey's intended conquests. Poor boy.
"Seriously, he is just the most handsome thing you will ever see in your entire life." She gushed, her voice raising in pitch with each word spoken. "I just couldn't stand it if Sally got her sharp little talons into him, but he doesn’t seem interested in her anyway, so I don't think I have anything to worry about there." Her brow creased slightly. "Actually, he doesn't seem interested in anyone, really." It was obvious that she didn’t like admitting it. "Most of the girls have given up hope, but I still think he's amazing."
She went on and on about him as we walked to our first period classes. William Griffin was his name, playing mouse would be his game. Well, not necessarily. In the past, guys didn't put up much of a fight when Kate let it be known that she wanted them. The vast majority of the boys would have given up their right arm - or any other body part she demanded as a price - to go out with her. Adam had been the exception to that rule, but he had grown up with Kate, their families were very close. I had asked him about it once – he just shrugged and said it would be like dating his sister. I could relate, Jack was like a brother to me and I couldn’t even imagine dating him.
But, most guys were drawn to her like a bee to honey. I was pretty sure William Griffin would be no different.
Kate talked about how in the last few months since they had arrived, neither of the Griffin’s had shown an interest in anyone, though initially the interest in them had been complete. They kept to themselves, and the fascination in them had slowly died down. Hannah already had a boyfriend and had made it clear that she was not at all interested, so most of the guys no longer try, though they couldn’t keep their eyes off her and would jump at the first available chance she gave them. As for William, only a few girls still harbor thoughts of any possibility with him.
Obviously, Kate was still one of them.
“He can’t resist forever, can he? I mean, really, he has to like someone here.”
Even if I hadn’t already known her popularity with boys, it would have been plain to see that she was not at all used to being turned down or disregarded, especially by someone she was working so hard for.
We were nearing my classroom and I was about to cut her off gently by telling her I had to talk to my teacher, Ms. Taylor, before class started, when her face snapped around to me, as if a thought just occurred to her. "You have to sit with us at lunch today. I won't take no for an answer." She stated bluntly. "We can catch up and I can tell you everything you’ve missed."
Not exactly what I wanted, but I didn’t want to be rude. She seemed to mean well. “Sure, I’ll try to find you.”
“Just wait till you see him today. Your jaw will positively drop to your knees!" She sighed again. "He's just so-"
"Amazing?" I asked, helpfully. Sarcasm all but dripping from my lips.
Kate was oblivious to my teasing. "Yes! Exactly. So amazing, you’ll see."
I grabbed the door to my classroom. "Ok. Well, I gotta go, Kate. See you at lunch, okay?" I practically flew through the door, anxious to make my escape.
"Okay, bye Mia." I heard her squeak as the door closed behind me. I felt a twinge of guilt at ditching her like that, but I really couldn't listen to her talk anymore at the moment. School hadn’t even started yet and I was already feeling a little overwhelmed. First day jitters were starting to set in.
Luckily, first and second period passed without incident. I made it through my first day reviewing Hamlet and even plodded easily enough through biology class, my least favorite subject. I was somehow able to bypass it last year by taking an IB Physical Science class, but that was only because nobody noticed that I hadn’t filled my Biology credit yet. I wasn’t so lucky this year.
I was on my way to my third period, advanced trig class, when a gust of chilling early-January wind hit me square in the back, loosening some errant curls from my ponytail and blowing straight up my jacket. It felt like someone threw ice down my shirt and I couldn't help the little "oh" of surprise I cried out.
I barely had time to catch my breath, when something else hit my back, causing me to pitch forward, my books spilling from my arms.
"Oh, my gosh!” Came a voice I knew well. “I'm so sorry, the wind caught me off guard. I-" The girl stopped, eyeing me distinctly, clarity lighting her face. “Mia?”
I laughed at my friend’s stricken expression. “Hi, Kim.”
“Oh!” Her enthusiasm at seeing me was marred only by the fact that she had caused me to throw my books everywhere. “Oh, I’m so sorry.”
"Don't worry about it." I said, kneeling down to pick up the books I'd dropped. Kim was one of my best friends, and frankly, one of the nicest people I'd ever known. She was the type that would do anything for you. She was a treasure, and I counted myself lucky to have her as my friend.
I flashed her a reassuring smile as I scooped up my scattered books.
"Jack will be so excited to see you. He's practically talked of nothing else but you." She rolled her eyes with a smile.
"I'm excited to see him, too. It's been so long since we all hung out." I sighed. “Too long.”
"Well, try to remember that the next time you think of moving away." Her tone was only slightly chiding.
I nodded my head mockingly. "Oh, okay. Because I had so much choice in the matter." I retorted.
"Hey, kids refuse their parents about stuff all the time these days. Don't you ever watch Lifetime?"
I snickered at that. Her playful sarcasm was exactly what I needed. Her humor was so refreshing that I could feel my humming nerves slowly begin to relax.
"Wow,” She said, her voice filled with genuine surprise. “Would you look at that."
"What?" I asked, glancing up at her.
She didn't answer me for a few seconds, just kept staring at whatever it was that had caught her attention. When she answered, her voice was a mix of disbelief and awe. "I think you are the first girl he's looked at for more than two seconds since he's been here. You’re certainly the first one I've ever seen him look at like that."