In this excerpt from THE PROS AND CONS OF BREATHING, After a summer away from her friends, her life, and finally coming clean, Ariel decides to eat her frog and talk to Tucker–who’s been avoiding her since school start. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go as well as she hoped!
Tucker ran his hands through his short, russet hair and bent over, placing his hands on his knees when they stopped. He glanced in my direction, then looked forward, and then did a double take back at me. He stood up straight, and a confused look came across his face—it was like he was looking at a ghost. I casually waved, just as the coach blew the whistle. They all huddled in, and as Tucker jogged over, he glanced over his shoulder, and shook his head.
“Hit the showers,” Coach Collins yelled pursing his lips together in frustration. “You guys stink.”
As the team passed me, they eyed me up and down, probably thinking foul thoughts of me. Tucker came near, his face was easier to read—he wasn’t pleased. Not that I was expecting anything at all from him.
“Hey,” I said, trying to smile.
He looked around, and wrapped his fingers around the strap of his bag, exhaled, and looked back at me.
“You changed your hair,” he said.
I pulled a strand forward and examined it. I cut six inches off, so it fell right on top of my shoulders, and ran a darker color through it, so it was a deep chocolate shade, but it didn’t seem too different.
“Is it a bad change?” I asked.
He sighed again, and glanced around, it was a clear sign that he didn’t want to be here, talking with me.
“I don’t know, Ariel.”
“Listen,” I said, my fingers running over one another. “I know we haven’t talked in awhile, I just thought, I don’t know—maybe we could try being friends again.”
He glanced around, his eyes shifting back and forth.
“We tried that, and if I remember correctly being friends with you involved fighting over pills and bring you to the emergency room,” he said, his voice low, full of shame.
“I know, but I’m not the same girl anymore,” I said. “I’m clean, I promise.”
He sighed, and stepped toward me, his hand brushing against mine.
“I need to move on, Ariel,” he said. “And that means I can’t be your friend, not now.”
I grabbed my elbow, pulling my arm close. Was I that horrible that he couldn’t even look at me anymore, or was it Kim’s brainwashing. She never liked me. I didn’t miss Tucker as a boyfriend, and I didn’t want to be with him, but something inside of me ached to be the girl again—the only who had a known identity, before everything started to go downhill.
“I’m sorry, I really am, but I miss my best friend—that’s what we were, remember? Before love ruined everything.”
He shook his head, looking down, before meeting my gaze.
“Love didn’t ruin us, Ariel. You did.”
Thoughts, comments, concersn? All welcomed!!