• Meg Sechrest

Unbreakable - Preview


ONE

I suppose you could say I led a fairly simple life. I grew up in a small town, was raised a preacher’s daughter, had no big money to ever speak of. I had an average family and average dreams. I grew up in the suburbs with neighbors who waved to us as we got in the car to go to church on Sunday mornings, and we went to high school football games every Friday night or Saturday afternoon. Nothing terrible ever happened there and everyone knew everyone else, for the most part. Some would say I grew up in Mayberry and in part, I might agree. My life in retrospect was a typical Midwesterner’s life. In one sense, however, it was extraordinary.

I never dreamed I would fall in love at only 15 years old, but I also never dreamed life would take the drastic turn that it had either. The first day of my freshman year of high school was pretty much when my life began to change. People talk about life having defining moments, and I would say that for me, the first day of school, August 28, 2000, was the first big defining moment in my life and I hadn’t even known it at the time.

There would be many more defining moments to come, but this moment would be the moment to shape the rest of them for the rest of my life.

August 28, 2000

It began as any other day, really. Except for the fact that I was scared out of my mind to be starting high school, this day had begun like any other. I woke, shoveled down a bowl of cereal, and then my mom drove me and my older brother to school. I had a younger sister too, but dad always dropped her off at the grade school for reasons I won’t go into detail on now.

When I arrived to school that day, I walked into the cafeteria and searched out either one of two people who would be my saving grace over the next four years.

My band nerd bestie Kaitlyn, or my fiery redhead—whom I’d befriended way back in the 2nd grade when the teacher placed our desks together—Amy.

Glancing around the cafeteria, I didn’t immediately see either, but I saw Amy’s on and off again boyfriend— who was also a sophomore—and decided he was my next safest option and headed his way.

“Hey, Mike. Seen Amy this morning?” I asked, walking up to him where he stood with a few guys as he was chugging a Mountain Dew.

He capped his Dew and nodded, “Yeah. She’s in the bathroom.” He pointed to my t-shirt and smiled. “Nice shirt.”

I glanced down to my tee as I pulled it out slightly with my fingers Once in a while someone amazing comes along and here I am

“Thanks,” I replied. “I got it on vacation at the beach this summer.”

“Hey, girl!” Amy said as she approached from behind me. “What’s going on?”

I shrugged and took off my backpack, dropping it at my feet. “Nothing really. Ready for today?”

“As much as anyone, I guess. We were talking about homecoming before you got here.”

“Who?” I asked and looked around to the people standing near Mike, trying to notice if it was Mike’s jock friends.

My inner panic knew that I would ultimately have to go to homecoming with Amy and her boyfriend’s group since she was my best friend, but part of me was nervous about what friends would accompany them because Mike was a wrestler and technically a jock, which had never been my choice of company in spite of how Amy somehow fancied him and his broad shoulders, larger build, and rough demeanor. Mike and Amy were a wrong fit from the beginning, which was probably why they were so on and off again. Amy’s personality was very spunky and bubbly. While Mike was tough, serious, and could be very intimidating. I never really understood what they saw in each other. They were the couple who had an enormous amount of attraction for one another and were always hugging and kissing, but then an hour later, she’d be yelling at him and telling him she hated him, throwing a book at him and saying she wanted to break up over something dumb. Now, don’t go thinking that Amy was a crazy bitch, because she wasn’t like that at all. Mike had an angry streak and could be controlling and mean and he definitely didn’t treat her the way she deserved. Why she kept going back, I’ll never know. As I said, I never understood their relationship. But… I didn’t have to. She’s my friend and I love her, so, I accepted him.

“Mad?” Amy said when I had zoned out for a moment.

Zoning out had become kind of regular for me, though I hadn’t thought anything of it. I figured maybe it was the stress of starting high school, but as the episodes of mind blankness began to get more frequent, in the back of my mind, I thought of telling my mom.

“Earth to Madeline…” Amy said, waving her hand in front of my face. “C’mon, you’re freaking me out.”

I shook my head and blinked my eyes. “Who are you going with?”

“A few of Mike’s friends. Do you have a date yet?”

I glanced around the cafeteria thinking that no one in this school held any reasonable value for me to consider dating… none at all… and I shook my head. “No. Maybe I’ll skip.”

“Skip?! You can’t do that to me! I’m counting on you to be there, girl! I’ll get you a date.”

Before I could reply, the bell rang, sending me to my first class of the morning and also the only class of the morning I enjoyed until choir—English. Being a band nerd, I loved all things music, but I was also a literary buff and enjoyed immersing myself into a good novel or writing my thoughts down onto a page. English class allowed me to do that. However, the classes that fell between the two were pure torment. Math was like a trek through the desert without water simply because I was the worst math student to ever grace the planet. Okay, maybe not. I felt like it at least. Then came history, which wouldn’t have been so bad except I had literally the most boring and oldest teacher in existence, I was convinced.

English was great and I mostly grazed the pages of an interesting book I’d been wanting to read. Then I survived the torturous punishment that was math class and I had to figure out where the hell x belonged and y or whatever. X? Y? Freaking F of X? What the heck?! I thought math was freaking numbers?! Who said anything about letters?! Leave that for writing! I was fairly certain that math was invented as some sort of punishment for crimes I’d committed in a previous life because there was no way any of this could ever make sense… After surviving the confusing torture of algebra, I was pretty sure I counted 247 ceiling tiles in History, which was the only thing that kept me awake while Mr. Brady read the syllabus to us word… for… word… like we were freaking second graders. *insert major eye roll here*

Anywho, I considered it a miracle I even made it through my first three periods to choir, which after what I’d just survived, I was sure would be like water in the desert. Especially, since I would be with Amy and Kaitlyn, both of whom I’d been separated from for most of the morning. Leave it to my high school to have three different rotations for one grade, and one as small as mine.

I met Kaitlyn in the hall and we headed for the choir room together, which was kept all the way on the far side of the school in the basement.

“My morning pretty much was the worst day of my life,” she said as she shifted her backpack to carry it on one shoulder and grabbed the handle as we stepped down the stairs.

I glanced up to my tall, thickset friend, whose blonde hair was always beautifully set with crunchy curls and whose beautiful blue eyes were the envy of my friendship with her. Though she might’ve sometimes been self-conscious of her taller and sturdier—though not fat—build, I felt her far prettier than me any day of the week with my average-Jane brown hair, brown eyes, and five-foot, three-inch, medium build. Looking at me, there was nothing special about me… at all. My two friends, however, were gorgeous with Kate’s blonde hair and blue eyes, or Amy’s thin frame and red hair. But me? I was smack dab in the middle of “average girl” category.

“Yeah, I feel you there,” I responded as we walked across the courtyard to the music rooms. “High school is going to suck… majorly.”

We arrived to choir class and dropped our bags in the corner, each of us finding a place on the risers. Being an alto, I had the unfortunate displeasure of standing next to the guys. Fortunately, Kate was right there to support me in my misery.

“Hey,” she said following me up to the top. “I grabbed a folder for you.”

“Oh, thanks.”

As our teacher started on instructions, my mind wandered and that was it—the moment—the first defining moment of my life. Standing only three feet or so from me was the most gorgeous guy I had ever seen; I was sure of it. He was tall with wavy blond hair and blue eyes and a smile that lit up his entire face. His dimples left me breathless, so much so that I found myself staring, lip biting, mouth watering as though I was a dog staring at a huge juicy steak.

“Maddie,” Kate nudged me.

I glanced up at her, my eyes wide and alert, which gave her every reason to believe something was up.

“What are you staring at? I asked you something.”

“Oh. Nothing. What?”

“I asked if you were walking to band after school.”

I nodded with a smile. “Yeah. Walk with?”

The teacher sat at the piano and was ready for class to start, so Kate leaned in and whispered, “Definitely. Let’s stop by and get a snow cone first.”

Kaitlyn had been my band camp roomie and was pretty much my band nerd go-to girl whenever I needed someone to hang with at band practice.

The whole period, I found myself having a hard time focusing, especially when the teacher called my name along with a few others to come to the front and look at a list of songs for the upcoming state competition. I felt like all eyes were on me and it was a feeling I dreaded. After quickly scanning the list, I checked whichever song hadn’t been chosen by anyone else and hurried to my backpack to gather my things for lunch as the bell rang. I was sure to let my gaze wander back to my blue-eyed beauty as he jumped off the risers and went to grab his own backpack that was situated not too far from mine.

As he was doing that, I realized that he was chatting up Mike! Somehow, in my 15-year-old’s brain, I felt this was my connector to my blue-eyed stud and I took the opportunity in spite of the very obvious fact that he was far out of my league.

“Amy,” I said as she stood and tossed her bag on her back.

“Hm?”

Without wanting to attract notice, I turned my back to him and began walking to the door.

“Who is that tall guy talking to Mike?”

She looked back.

I smacked her arm and gave her stern eyes for practically giving me away.

“Don’t get all fussy. They don’t know what we are talking about. That’s Charlie. He’s Mike’s good friend, possibly his best friend. Why?”

I gave Amy my signature “are you serious?” look and immediately she got the hint.

“Oooh, right. Well, he’s a jock and is into sports and all that. I’m not really sure he’s your type, Mad.”

This time, I was the one to look back at the two guys who were now walking our way. When his beautiful eyes locked onto mine, panic surged through my body and I picked up my pace, darted out the door, up the stairs to the outside foyer, resting my back against the building to collect my thoughts.

“Maddie!” Amy hollered as she tried to catch up with me. When she emerged through the doors and saw me, she said, “What was that about?”

I shrugged for two reasons, really. The first was because I didn't want my best friend to know I was having a freak out episode over the stud that her boyfriend called "best friend". The second reason was mostly because I wasn’t sure what was coming over me if I was being completely honest. Perhaps it was my nervousness about the first day of high school. Maybe it was that gorgeous guy and knowing he was far out of my league. A combination of the two, perhaps? Or maybe it was something that was yet to be determined. Either way, Amy was right. I wasn’t acting like myself. Normally, I was determined, headstrong, and resilient. For some reason, however, I was acting unsure, confused, and vulnerable.

***

Now, some would say there was nothing unusual, exiting, or especially life-defining about that first day of school, but as I look back on my life and remember the pivotal points and shifting times, for some reason, the very first day I locked eyes with that blue-eyed angel will always be etched in my mind. Why do I call him an angel, you might wonder? That explanation is further into the story than we are at the moment. However, bear with me... we will get there. At this point in the story, I was oblivious to what the next three, six, or even nine months were going to bring me. All I could focus on was the reality that I had just seen the cutest guy in the whole world and in my mind, he would never be mine because I was the plainest girl in all of the world who in her own mind could never catch a guy like him.

But… if we skip forward a few weeks to October, we realize how important it was and how one moment can impact the future more than one person even knows. Take Homecoming, for instance, where he and I sat across from each other just an awkward pair, and understood that we both sat hating our current situation but also both oblivious to each other’s existence for most of the night, then we might’ve realized just a tad bit sooner what he would someday be for me and I for him. There we sat, two chip eaters, like two peas in a pod, unaware of what was to come. He was with a friend of his and I went with an arranged date (thanks to a certain unnamed friend whose name shall go unmentioned…). Our group shared a table and he sat the entire night and devoured the bowl of chips from our table and drank down five sodas to be exact. My thoughts were that maybe he was nervous, or that maybe he just plainly didn’t want to be there… I wasn’t sure which was the truth. But either way, it was very obvious to me—while we watched our friends dance every group dance there was in the year 2000—that he was miserable. I decided wanted to make conversation, but I wasn’t sure how to start or what to talk about. Then there was the issue of my date. Every time there was a slow dance, the boy I went with (I think his name was Jeremy…?) asked if I wanted to dance, but as kindly as I could, I refused on the grounds that… Well, I had no excuse, really. I just didn’t want to dance with him. About half-way through the evening, I grabbed another soda and after sitting for most of the evening in silence, I asked my new heart-throb if he wanted another, now making his grand total six.

“I’m grabbing a Coke. Do you want another Dew?”

Those blue eyes looked up at me and I swear I got lost in the waves of those oceans because I had no idea if he said “yes” or “no”; I simply nodded and walked away, scolding myself for being an idiot.

When I got to the drink table, I reached my arm into the tub of ice to dig for my Coke, but then a voice from behind me said, “I needed to stretch my legs.”

I jumped at the sound of his super sexy voice and yanked my arm out of the ice, flinging the water off my hand and practically whacking him in the chest with my icy hand.

He chuckled and caught my hand. “Ooo, your hand is freezing.”

“Ice has the tendency to do that to things,” I replied as he held my hand in his.

My inner panic was in barrels of commotion as my blue-eyed stud stared me directly in the eyes and now held my hand against his chest.

“I’m Charlie.”

I swear to everything in life and all the universe that I must’ve been biting my lip harder than was reasonable because I was pretty sure I began to taste blood when he said, “You are?”

“Maddie… well, Madeline… you can call me whatever.”

Ugh… I felt like an idiot. Great first impression, you loser! Call me whatever? What the heck was that?!

I snatched my arm away and hurried back to the table, plopping myself at our table. Trying my best to hide my embarrassment, I scooped a handful of chips and leaned my elbows onto the table as I watched everyone else Boot Scootin’ Boogie.

“You seem to be avoiding the dance floor just as much as I am,” he said when he sat in a chair just a few places down from me.

Caught off guard, I looked over, wide-eyed and alert. “Excuse me?”

“Not having fun?” he asked.

“Oh,” I replied and wiped my fingers on a napkin as I sipped my Coke. I nodded and replied, “I guess. I’d rather be at home… lost in a fantasy world… reading.”

“Gotcha.”

“What about you? You’ve been sitting here all evening.”

He shrugged. “Dancing isn’t really my thing.”

“Oh, then why did you come? I can’t imagine Mike made you.” I pointed to Mike a few feet away, leaning against the wall.

“Sam needed a date.”

“Ah, I see. It seems then, that you are her hero.” I smiled and returned to my chip eating. Out of the corner of my eye, however, I noticed his gaze remained on me and my internal critic turned on.

He is watching you. The super studly, blue-eyed hunk is staring at you! Stop eating the chips! For the love of everything good in life, Madeline put down the chips and be cool!

“I doubt that,” he said, and I’m very certain I saw his cheeks redden as his smile widened as he looked up to me from under his brow, his dimpled grin catching my complete attention.

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” I replied and shrugged, trying to keep things light. “You’re the very reason she isn’t sitting at home alone tonight and missing out on that.” I pointed to her dancing the YMCA.

He chuckled. “I suppose you’re right. It is pretty heroic of me.”

I smiled and grabbed a handful of chips, going back to my usual self: awkward and not likely to grab a hunky-licious guy like Charlie.

In spite of myself, every few minutes—as he continued our venture to devour the chip bowl—I glanced his way and etched his beautiful face into my memory in order to remember the brief conversation we’d had, not knowing what the future held and what he would eventually be for my life… neither of us having no idea… none at all.

Weeks and months would go by before either of us would make any kind of move, and it was Christmas break before he even spoke to me again. I waited with my usual level of impatience for him to talk to me every day during choir. But alas, nothing. That was until one day right before Christmas break…

“Madeline,” he said the day we were to leave before Christmas break.

I looked up at him as I gathered my things into my backpack, feeling a little skeptical since he hadn’t spoken to me in weeks, and when he had, I was his only option.

“Yeah?”

“Um… do you want to have lunch with me today?”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. I like you.”

After staring at my feet and chewing on my nail for as I deliberated on his proposition for a few moments—watching him sweat it out as a form of punishment for not having spoken to me for like six weeks—I nodded and said, “Okay, sure. But I don’t want to eat in the cafeteria. I never eat there.”

He smiled wider than I’d ever seen in class and motioned for us to head out the doors to the foyer.

As he tossed his backpack onto his shoulder he said, “Sometimes I go to the pub across the street. Where do you eat?”

“I usually go for pizza, but the pub is fine.”

Lunch was fabulous and we ate and laughed, and he flirted… a lot, and he even paid for my lunch—which I felt made it almost a date, if lunchtime dates at school were a possibility—and something in me knew from that moment that Charlie Doust was going to be something wonderful in my life, yet I neither of us knew what. But as I stared at him across the table from me at lunch that day and listened to him tell me corny jokes and watched his face light up when I said I’d have lunch with him the following day, I just knew he had to be something wonderful, because with what was transpiring, I needed something wonderful. Truth be told, I needed more than something wonderful. I needed a miracle.

TWO

“You have an appointment today. You need to get up,” my mom said as she flickered the lights to my bedroom. Groaning, I covered my face with my pillow because I knew it was an appointment for the blank stares and zoning out that had not gone away. In fact, they’d only gotten worse and my symptoms now included headaches, Déjà vu, and memory lapses. I also knew it meant I wouldn’t be going to school, thus, no lunch with Charlie. I hurried to log onto my computer since it was the year 2000 and everyone used AOL and this was the day before cell phones and texting. Charlie had given me his Messenger ID and, in a panic, I sent him a message to tell him I wouldn’t be at lunch, hoping he logged on in the morning and would see it.

FlowerGirl614: Hey Charlie, I won’t be at school today. I’ll miss our lunch date. Don’t replace me! I’ll be back Monday! *Hugs and Kisses*- Maddie

Only a few minutes went by as I was managing to muster up the energy to get myself dressed when I’d heard the ding come from my computer speakers, alerting me that he’d sent a reply.

StudMan13: No! Is everything okay? Are you sick? Do you need chicken noodle soup? Be there ASAP! XoXo- Charlie

Sighing heavily, flutters filled my stomach as I thought about what to say to him. There was no way I was going to tell him about my long drive up to the huge hospital for appointments with the cancer specialists and the epilepsy clinic.

Instead, I only replied:

I’ll be back Monday. No need for chicken soup. Thanks for the thought. 😊 I’ll miss you too.

The day was long and hard— the scans, the EEG, blood tests, and doctors… it was unremitting. Charlie’s smile and happy spirit were the only things on my mind. As I endured the testing and the appointments, his face and those dimpled cheeks were what I thought about. I couldn’t seem to focus on the reason I was there, which might have been a good thing. Looking back, he was the only reason I survived.

“Madeline,” the surgeon said.

I straightened my posture and looked up. Knocking myself out of the thought trance I was in, I replied, “Yes?”

“Do you understand what the doctor is saying to you?” Mom asked.

I hadn’t because my mind was off in Lalaland dreaming of far better things than brain tumors and cancer, seizures, and surgery… I was thinking about lunch with Charlie and the last things he had said to me…

Are you enjoying your fries?” he asked as I giggled over his previous comment.

I nodded and took a drink.

“Madeline, I hope you’ll come to lunch with me often. I don’t remember the last time I’ve smiled so much. You’re just different from other girls. Plus, I just think you’re so…” he paused and looked down at his burger.

“What?” I pushed him to continue, “You never have to be shy with me. I’m not judging you. I like you just as you are, Charlie.”

He looked up at me and continued, “I just think you’re so pretty. Your big brown eyes and your lips… Your beautiful brown hair… everything about you. Since the first day of school, I’d noticed you in class and thought you so pretty. But I’m shy and I was too nervous to make a move…”

“Madeline. We need you to concentrate,” my mother said, snapping me out of my daydreaming.

“Madeline, your option is to have it taken out…” the surgeon said, and continued into his explanation, but my mind went into some form of shock because it lost all ability to think beyond his words Taken out…

Brain surgery?! Were they out of their minds?! I couldn’t let someone cut into my head! I hardly had any thoughts that were somewhere in the realm of rational, let alone logical. I just sat, staring blankly for a few moments. I began looking around the room, trying to find my escape. After I located the window, I stared out it, feeling like I needed a way out of this situation. How would I ever explain this to Charlie? Would he even want anything to do with me now? There would be no way. I would be the girl with so much baggage.

“Are you going to shave my head?” I asked, looking at the doctor, completely terrified of his response.

“Madeline, we are talking about saving your life. There are many more serious things we need to consider here,” my mother replied.

Ignoring her, I repeated myself, “Are you going to shave my head?”

The doctor understood that I was legitimately concerned about returning to school looking like Mr. Clean, so he answered me, “We will have to shave some of your hair, but we will do our best to spare as much as we can…” That was when I lost it. I broke down, unable to contain myself, fountains flowing from my eyes and down my cheeks. My mind turned to endless thoughts of alienation, becoming the school outcast, and realizing I would no longer fit in anywhere. Never mind hiding the constant seizures, there’s no way I could hide a bald head.

A girlfriend that looks like Mr. Clean? There is no way Charlie will want me now… I’ll be cast out of the school! The school joke… My life will be a torment. Wigs don’t look real. Charlie will never look at me the same! I won’t be able to show my face there! Homeschooling it will be…

“Madeline?” the doctor said as my inner torment continued.

“Yes?” I answered, wiping the flowing tears.

“June 18. That is the day. You won’t have to miss school. You can spend the summer recovering.”

Perfect. Just how I want to spend my summer…

“Madeline, I understand that this is a lot for you to cope with, so we will have a psychologist speak with you…” the doctor continued, and that was where my mind wandered again.

They think I’m going crazy?! I’m not crazy! They’re all crazy! I haven’t done anything wrong! I didn’t do this! Something else did this to me! I just want to be left alone! I need to run away and hide! I need to leave and never come back… No one cares about how I feel. They don’t care that I’m scared… afraid… lonely…confused…

A psychologist? Perfect… that was exactly what I didn’t want— to be treated like a social outcast— like I was going crazy. Because I wasn’t. My body was turning its back on me. The world was turning its back on me. Life was turning its back on me.

“Is that really necessary?” I asked. The doctor nodded and so did my mom. My tears continued. I wanted to text Charlie but I knew he was still in school. I opened his smiling picture instead, focusing on the hope that perhaps he might be thinking about me.

The three hour car ride was pure torture. In my mind, I predicted this would happen. My distant and repressed mother didn’t say a word to me and I was left to swallow the magnitude of this great demon on my own. No one could possibly imagine what I was experiencing, but she didn’t even try. She never once said, “We are here for you and we love you,” or “Everything’s going to be okay.” Maybe she didn’t because she didn’t want to lie, not knowing the outcome. I suppose I wasn’t sure, but I knew that it hurt and I felt unloved. My thoughts went something like this…

It is possible there is no such thing as God. If there is a God, how could he do something like this to me? How could something/someone that people claim is so loving allow something so terrible to happen to a young girl who has done nothing wrong in her life? I’m innocent…

I’m going to die. Is there a heaven? Is there a hell? If so, where will I go? If God thought me deserving enough to allow this, then it’s quite possible he will allow me to go to hell…

I’m praying for a cure but no one hears me. I need an angel, a rescuer to save me from this torment. God sits up in heaven and treats us like his little puppets to play with. He could change this with the snap of his finger, yet he chooses to allow my prayers to go unanswered… There is no such thing as God.

My own thoughts felt like inescapable demons sent to torment me. I felt as though they were constantly speaking and whispering in my ear, never letting up, never letting go, just pushing me and pulling me until I would break. I put on my headphones to try and drown out my sorrows, but nothing would help, not even my favorite comforting song in my Walkman. My tears turned into sobs, yet my mother still said nothing as I laid on the back seat and she drove us home. I felt truly and utterly alone.

When we arrived home, I darted off to my room and opened my browser, praying for relief from the misery I felt. The only thing I wanted to see was a message from Charlie. Alas, like water in the desert, there was a message from Charlie and a notification that he’d added me to his contacts.

I opened my messages and my heart smiled. It was Charlie. My heart danced in my chest and a few tears fell from my eyes. I had never felt such happiness in my life. To some, it might seem like a trivial, silly thing, but to me it meant feeling like I belonged somewhere in a world where I was feeling out of place, rejected, obsolete, and broken.

Hi Maddie. I hope your day was good. I thought about you a lot. I missed you while I was sitting alone at lunch. You should call when you’re able.

Alas, in the middle of my journey of my descent into Hell, there did exist an angel… I smiled and my heart did somersaults in my chest. The simplest of messages could bring a girl such happiness. I messaged back.

Hey! Today was… eh. I thought about you a lot today too. 😊 In fact, you are mostly what transpired inside all of my thoughts. Alone? No… Didn’t you go with Mike? ☹ I’ll call you in a few. I can’t wait to see you. I missed you too. XOXO

Deciding to be nosy, I searched his AOL profile for a few minutes, desiring to get to know him a little better outside of the conversations we’d had at lunch. The profile picture was of some sports team insignia. Not being one who was a follower of sports in any way, shape, or form, I didn’t recognize the logo.

I did what I said and called when I was able.

“Hey, Maddie. It’s so good to hear your voice. Why weren’t you there today? Is everything all right?”

“Oh, my day was dreadful. I would have much preferred to be with you. How was yours?” I replied, almost incoherently as I absorbed his beautiful voice.

“Oh, I’m sorry yours was bad. Mine was alright. It would have been better had you been there. I missed seeing your bright eyes and hearing your laughter. Are you going to tell me why you were gone?”

I paused for a moment to think about what to say to him before I responded, “I had somewhere I needed to be with my mom. Nowhere new. We can talk about it another time. Tell me one of your silly jokes. I need it.”

“Ha. Okay… um… What did the letter say to the stamp?”

I thought for a moment and replied, giggling, “I have no idea!”

He chuckled and said, “Stick with me and you’ll go places!”

I laughed, and laid down on my bed, closing my eyes, praying he never leave my life. I needed his blue eyes, happy smile, corny jokes, and bright spirit. It would be my survival in a world gone crazy around me.

“Tell me another.”

“Alright. Um…where do you find a dog with no legs?”

Giggling, I responded, “I have no idea. Where?”

“Right where you left him, silly.”

We talked for hours until my house phone was ready to die and it was time to go to bed.

“Goodnight.”

“Goodnight. I’ll call you tomorrow,” he said, “Don’t meet anyone better than me in your dreams.”

I sighed and replied, “That’s not possible. You’re the best guy I’ve ever known. And you’re the man of my dreams.”

He told me he wished he could kiss me goodnight as I was preparing to hang up, and it was in that moment I realized that I loved him.

I had only known Charlie Doust a few weeks, three months at most, but I suppose that’s when I realized that three months was all it took for a girl of my age to fall in love—and there it was—defining moment of my life number two.

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© 2020 Meg Sechrest All Rights Reserved.

This is only an excerpt. This novel may soon be purchased in its entirety in either digital or paperback version.

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 © Meg Sechrest 2020

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