Do you remember what it was like to be in eighth grade?
I startled and turned at the sound of the male voice, heart hammering in my chest. I knew that voice from anywhere.
Owen Wilder. He was probably the most likable guy at school. He wasn’t the hottest, he wasn’t the tallest, or the biggest, but there was something about him that made every girl, from sixth grade to eighth, swoon at even the mention of his name.
Maybe it was his quirky grin, or the fact that he’d always pick the smallest kid when picking teams. Or the air of confidence that he took with each step, which was crazy for someone our age to have. But there was something about Owen that made everyone pause as you tried to figure him out.
We were at the stage in life where everyone seemed to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Hannah was currently seeing Scott (boyfriend number five). Despite being fourteen, Hannah was a serial dater and I could never keep up with whether Tim had been last week’s or last month’s boyfriend. According to her, she had to practice dating now so she’d be ready for when it was really important.
Mateo had recently been dating Kiera before she kissed another guy at the talent show and they had quickly split, leaving Matty crushed for weeks. He presently wanted to experience the “single life”, not particularly in the mood for backstabbing girls.
But I had never seen Owen with anyone.
I wondered if he was gay like Star, my cousin’s BFF, and just didn’t want to say anything to anyone yet. But no matter what kind of rumors circulated about Owen in school, he was as popular as ever with the girls, perhaps even more so with the possibility that he might be gay.
Many would envy the girl or guy who would snatch Owen Wilder.
I stood from my crouched position in front of these purple tulips and tried my darndest not to show how nervous I was.
“Hey, Callaghan,” he said, approaching me. “What are you doing?”
He dressed simply in a graphic t-shirt and jeans, holding his skateboard at his side.
I held up my phone. “Taking pictures.”
He nodded, noticing the rabbits nearby then grinned, eyes back on me. “Where are your sidekicks?”
I sighed. “They’re not my sidekicks, they’re my friends. Hannah and Mateo are at the mall.”
“And why aren’t you with them?”
“I’m waiting for my sister.”
He nodded then paused, brushing his dark hair off his face. “You want me to wait with you?”
My shoulders raised in reflex despite feeling nervous as ever inside. “If you want.”
Excerpt from Four Letters in Reverse, available on Amazon