28: Heartbreaker

28: Heartbreaker

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Preteens

Heartbreaker

First love is only a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity.

~George Bernard Shaw

I met Brett when I was in third grade and he was in fourth. Our parents were friends (thank God for that!) and we often doubled up and vacationed together. We went to the same small private school year after year together and I could honestly say I don’t think he ever noticed me. Looking back, I completely understand why. I was tall, skinny and dorky. He was tan and muscular. I understand why he didn’t want to be with me. Pretty girls always get the hot guys; it’s just a rule of nature.

Sometimes when my mother forgot to pick me up from middle school, she called her friend Margie (Brett’s mom) to pick me up instead. I always loved this because I thought it gave me a chance to flirt with Brett. I would sit in the car, legs crossed and silent, waiting for him to ask me a question or talk to me. Silence. Always. No matter what I asked him he’d always respond with “Uh-huh” or “Yeah.” Just once I wanted him to be enthusiastic about talking to me. I didn’t understand. I was throwing myself at him and he didn’t even see the signs!

“Don’t waste your time on boys at your age, especially ones like Brett. He’s a real heartbreaker,” my mom always said, but I never listened. Every time I knew I’d see him I split my hair up into two pigtails because I thought it looked cute and it would make him notice me. But, yet again, he couldn’t care less. My obsession with him continued all the way to the end of my seventh grade year, his last year at my junior high. I knew I had to make a move, so I built up enough courage to tell him that I had liked him for the previous four years.

My mother took me to the beauty store where I bought a flat iron, make-up, and nail polish. I tried to straighten my hair and make myself look prettier but yet again he didn’t notice. So one time, while on vacation at the beach, I just came out and said it: “Listen, I know you don’t know this but I really like you, Brett.” Every hope I had in the world hung on this statement, because this is when I thought he’d admit the feelings were mutual. I fantasized he would tell me he loved me and grab me with his strong arms and lay a passionate kiss on me. No, none of that happened. Instead, he broke out in laughter and told all his friends. I was humiliated. I felt pretty miserable and worthless.

For months after that I just tried to ignore him but that seemed impossible. He was always in the hallway with his friends, mocking me or making kiss faces and winking at me. It was so embarrassing and every time I looked at him I thought about the way he looked so repulsed when I told him I liked him. Was I that ugly? I didn’t understand. I did everything I could to look like what I thought was his type of girl and he just rejected me flat out.

Middle school came to an end and I was lucky I hadn’t been cursed with having to share another humiliating vacation with Brett. But just before school ended our families decided to throw one last, big trip. We all rented one large condo and shared rooms. No matter what, I was stuck seeing him every day. At first, the trip was admittedly awkward. No one seemed to be having fun and I couldn’t wait to go home so it could all be over.

To my surprise, one day he confronted me.

“Listen Carley,” he started, “I really like you and I just don’t understand why you haven’t been talking to me or even noticing me.”

Was he kidding? I was trying to avoid him only because I knew he probably couldn’t stand me, and because I had been so humiliated. Instantly I was filled with happiness.

“You like me? But, I thought you didn’t,” I said.

He explained, “I didn’t like you when you acted like you were obsessed with me, but now that you’ve shown me who you really are, I like it. I like you.”

At that moment he leaned in, grabbed my back, and kissed me. It was one of the happiest and most confusing moments of my life. I didn’t know what to feel, but I knew that his kiss felt good.

After I recovered from the shock and confusion of that day, I learned a very valuable lesson. Being a young girl is tough. We change so much during our preteen years, it’s hard to keep track of feelings and emotions. Looking back, I agree with my mom; I shouldn’t have cared so much about boys. Whether he liked me or not, Brett was a heartbreaker, and I was the naïve girl who tried to change who I was to make him happy. In the end, it was being myself that really got his attention — no matter how confusing that attention was.

~Carley Jackson

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