The next night, I’m back at camp, facedown in my pillow. I’ve got speakers hooked up to my iPod with quiet music playing. Rob calls it my “emo music”. He just doesn’t like anything that isn’t on Today’s Top 20.
Everyone else is at the fire. Occasionally I can hear people talking or an outburst of laughter. I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to laugh. People keep offering me stupid clichés like it will get better with time or there’s plenty of fish in the sea. That doesn’t help me today, on day one.
I hear creaks in the hallway growing louder until they stop outside my room. Someone walks in slowly and sits on the edge of the bed. Assuming it’s Rob, I groan for him to go away, leaving my face buried in the fabric.
“Come take a walk with me,” an unfamiliar girl’s voice answers. “Laying around listening to sad music isn’t going to make things better.”
I turn my head, my cheeks hot and wet. In a normal situation, I would feel embarrassed revealing to a stranger that I’ve been crying. But breaking up with the first girl who ever loved me isn’t normal. At this point, my life can’t get any lower.
I look up to see a girl with green eyes staring down at me. Unlike everyone else who’s looked at me since yesterday, she doesn’t show concern or pity. She looks hopeful for me, like she can see me in a future where I’m happy.
“This isn’t sad music”, I say. I’m not sure why this girl is talking to me, but I don’t want everyone calling me emo. “A quiet voice and acoustic guitar doesn’t automatically make a song sad.”
“I agree”, she says, “but this song actually is sad. He’s afraid she doesn’t love him. That’s literally the title, ‘The Fear You Won’t Fall.’”
“Whatever.” I sit up and pause the iPod, impressed that she knows the song. I look at her again and recognize her. Her brown hair falls to her shoulders, resting against the straps of her green tank top. The top matches her eyes perfectly.
Despite the fact that I’ve been crying for the last hour over a two year relationship ending, I notice how pretty she is. “Did Rob tell you to come lure me outside?” I ask her. It would be just like Rob to tell a cute girl to try and cheer me up.
“My room is across the hall,” she gestures toward the door. “I was just going to grab a sweatshirt and then walk up to the field with a friend, and I heard the music. You should come with.”
I consider my options. Part of me would rather be alone, but then again I already feel alone, even when I’m in a group of people. I might as well spend my time with a cute girl who is interested in my well-being. She watches me, still looking at me hopefully. Then as if she’s read my mind, she smiles and stands up.
“So um...” I say, suddenly feeling shy under her gaze. “What’s your name? I’ve seen you around but I don’t think we’ve ever talked.”
“We haven’t. I’m Marie.” She looks directly into my eyes when she says it, pushing her name into my memory.
“I’m Will”. I pull on a hoodie and grab my camera, hoping I can get some night shots of the cornfield. Not even a breakup can keep me from photography.
She walks out into the hall and I follow her. The floor creaks again. When we reach her room I stay in the doorway and lean against the frame.
“You’re friends with those sisters, Elizabeth and Jess, right?” she asks. “I saw you guys playing cards at the lake.” My mind focuses at the sound of Elizabeth’s name. I had almost forgotten that there’s a reason I’m putting myself through Hell. I nod, then realizing Marie has her back toward me, I say yes.
“They’re really pretty.” She grabs a sweatshirt from the bed. As she pulls her door shut, I get a glimpse of her Beauty and the Beast pillowcase. “All the guys kept talking about how jealous they were of you hanging out with them all week.”
I laugh at the idea that someone could feel jealous of me right now. Especially if they’ve been spending time with Marie.
“That’s the spirit,” she says.