Matt. Matthew Espinosa. Matthew-I’m-So-Hot-I-Make-Girls-Fall-Down-At-My-Feet Espinosa. Yep, that was what everyone said whenever they talked about Matthew Espinosa. And I do mean whenever.
You’d walk through the halls in my school and you’d hear, “Matt is hot.” from each and every corner. And that’s literally the only thing about him you’d hear. Girls were infatuated with him. They did everything to be close to him. They would drop their books on purpose just so he would pick them up for them and grant them one of his million dollar smiles. They would wait for him at his locker. They would follow him around. Whenever they got him as a partner in any class they would celebrate with the rest of their no-brain friends like they’d won the lottery.
Me? I did none of that.
In fact I stayed away from it and him as far as possible.
I’m not going to go so far as to say that I didn’t appreciate his good looks. Oh, no. He was hot. I will admit that and I’m not even going to try to deny it, because it’s only stating a fact. There was a reason why every girl in school wanted to be close to him.
No, that wasn’t it. And it wasn’t that I was the only girl that somehow wasn’t interested in him in the slightest bit and then BOOM love story. No, that’s a cliche romance novel. Not that there’s anything wrong with cliche romance novels. They’re just not, you know, my life.
It was a completely different story when it came to me and Matt. The reason why I didn’t run around, chasing after him, besides having dignity not to drool over someone, was something completely different. Matt and I were childhood best friends.
Note the word were in that sentence. Ever since we’d gone to high school and he’d joined the soccer team he’d started ignoring me. As I said, there were girls falling at his feet and guys thinking he was a god because he was the team captain. What did he need his best friend for?
I hadn’t helped in the fact that we had grown apart either. I got my own group of friends and did the exact same thing he did to me. Ignored him.
I thought that that would be that for our friendship. That we would never recover from that bump in the road.
My thoughts didn’t change until that happened.
That wasn’t one event. No, no. It was a course of events that led me - and him - to think otherwise and rethink everything we’d ever been through together. I guess we hadn’t floated apart as much as I thought. I guess we were only just a bit disconnected.
For about two months Matt had tried to talk to me in the school halls, which was a first in the three years we’d been in high school together. I will admit I had still been mad at him about ignoring me the past three years and I might have blown him off a couple of times. Or all those times. Same thing. I also thought that he might be wanting a favor or whatever, so I never paid the slightest bit of attetion. Why should he all of a sudden start talking to me after all that time?
Anyway, as I said, it was a course of events. And one day came the time for the final one of those events to happen to make us realize that we were disconnected and that we had to reconnect. Or one of the last ones. I’m not even sure anymore.
My friend, Avery, had dragged me off to see a soccer game on one lovely Saturday morning. I had protested, before in what right mind does a person get up early to watch a school soccer game on a Saturday? Anyway, after a reasonable amount of pleading and a certain amount of me hanging up on her, I had acquisced to going to the stupid soccer game with her. Luckily she wasn’t going to see Matt as most of the girls in school were. She was actually going to see one of the other guys, who was actually a close second on the hot-o-meter to Matt. All I knew about him was that he played defense. That other guy, I mean. Not Matt. Matt was offense.
I’m pretty sure Avery crushed on Matt just like other girl in school, but she seemed to think that I had a crush on him, so she stayed away. I had tried to convince her otherwise every chance I got, but she never listened. She could be quite thick headed when she wanted to.
So, there I was, sitting on the bleachers, yawning and sipping some coffee out of a styrofoam cup. I knew zilch of soccer, so I just waited for everyone to cheer so I could cheer too. Avery knew even less of soccer than I did. At one point she accidentally started cheering for the opposite team. That was the highlight of that morning for me. Because it was all quite boring to me until it happened.
Our team had won and I walked down to the field where everyone was cheering and hugging each other. Matt had actually scored the winning goal and was currently getting lifted on his team-mates’ shoulders as they shouted his name. I stood to the side just watching the whole scene unravel. Suddenly our eyes met and he smiled at me.
"Will I see you at the victory party?" he asked hopefully. Every instinct told me to say no. He had ignored me for 3 years. 3 whole years. What did he want with me now?
"Yeah." I yelled up to him and he beamed at me before getting carried off by the crowd of people, who were still cheering. I couldn’t believe what I had just said, but there it was. The words had just stumbled out. As if out of their own accord.
And that was basically the first exchange - in which both parties participated - Matt and I had had in years. Apart from that one time I had dropped my book in the hall and he had picked it up for me. I think that’s what got Avery thinking I had a crush on him. Most of the girls in our school did the exact same thing on purpose.
And that’s how I, ladies and gentlemen, ended up going to Matt’s victory party. It was actually held at his house. Very understandable, because he had scored the winning goal.
I appeared at the party wearing a black sleeveless dress, flowing at the bottom, paired with my favorite black Vans. If it were up to me I would have ended up wearing jeans and a fan shirt, but Avery insisted I dress up. I even had to let her do my make up.
We’d both turned up at the house about half an hour after the party had started and it was already in full swing. The music was booming, practically shattering the walls, and teenagers were everywhere, doing their own thing. I wasn’t sure if the victory atmosphere was still in the air or if they were already drunk.
Avery went off on the dance floor with that guy, whatever his name was, and I was left alone, sitting on a bar stool. I sipped my drink and scanned the room. Disco lights were twinkling and a song with a booming beat I didn’t recognize was playing. The floor was even vibrating from the intensity of the beat. I didn’t want to pay attention to it, though, so I focused on the various objects in the room. Not that there were many of them. There was the makeshift bar, bar stools, a disco ball. Everything else had been cleared out of the living room to make place for the dance floor. I had been to Matt’s house before, but I hadn’t ever seen it like this.
A voice behind me pulled me away from my memories and sent me crashing down to reality.
"Trying to impress somebody?"
"Excuse me?" I swiveled around in my chair to see the person who had just spoken to me. It was one of Matt’s soccer mates. Theodore, I think his name was.
"The way you’re dressed." he simply stated.
"I’m not trying to impress anyone." I retaliated crisply and turned my attention back to my drink.
"Matthew perhaps?" his voice came up from my right. I turned to face him again and narrowed my eyes at him.
Before I could say another word someone cut me off.
"Tyler, leave her alone." I tilted my head to see Matt standing behind Theodore. I mean Tyler. My bad.
He told him something else, which I didn’t catch and Tyler grumbled something in reply and then left. Matt then smiled at me and sat on the stool next to me. He was dressed in a white shirt paired with black skinny jeans and converse sneakers. His hair was styled up in a quiff and you could see the gleam of his hazel eyes clearly.
"You look pretty tonight." he said to me.
"Thanks," I mumbled, not making any more eye contact.
"I’m glad you came." he continued. I was confused as to why he was all of a sudden trying to hold conversations with me. I wanted to stay cool. I didn’t want to bring the subject up. But then again, I’d never been all that good at keeping my feelings bottled up.
"Why did you invite me to this party?" I suddenly blurted out, quickly turning to face him. He looked slightly taken aback, but he swiftly recomposed himself.
"What do you mean?"
"Oh, you know exactly what I mean, Matthew." I said harshly, feeling the anger begin to boil within my veins. So this was it. These were the feelings I had been hiding for the past three years. I had thought that I was indifferent. I had thought that I didn’t care. I had thought that I was infallable. I had thought that I was only slightly mad at him and that it didn’t matter much to me. Well, I had been wrong. All that time I had been inexplicably angry at him for just forgetting about me and I had always known it, no matter how much I had tried to hide it from myself. What kind of best friend does that?
"You’re my best friend, (Y/N). Of course I would have invited you." he said coolly, which just made me blow up even more.
“Was. I was your best friend. Past tense, Matthew. I was your best friend until you decided to get all popular and forget about me. Do you want something? What favor do you want? Why all the sudden friendliness? We both know that you and I aren’t friends anymore. And we haven’t been for a long time.” I spat and grabbed my bag that was hanging at the back of stood, storming out of the room. I heard him call after me, but I didn’t care. I was seething. I was fuming. I didn’t want to talk to him. Not right now, at least.
I hurried out of the house and quickly grabbed my car keys out of my bag. I unlocked the car door and quickly turned the ignition on. The engine started up and I drove away, headed for home. I knew Avery wouldn’t mind me leaving, because I wasn’t her ride home. I decided to text her from when I got home telling her that I had already gone, so she wouldn’t be worried.
I was fretful that night. And the whole weekend, at that. I threw myself into doing my homework and watching a few movies. I ignored my calls by turning off my phone. Most of them were from Matt, anyway. How he had gotten hold of my telephone number, I didn’t know. I had changed the old one that he had. He must have asked somebody for it. However, I didn’t answer any of his calls, so him having it didn’t make any difference to me.
The only message I actually paid attention to and answered was one from Avery.
Can you meet me at the park in an hour? You’ve been holed up at home all through Saturday and most of Sunday. You need some fresh air. Avery xxx
I answered to her message saying that I would come, because she was right. I did need some fresh air. And I thought that some time with Avery would do me good. I quickly got dressed and left the house. She had told me to meet her at our usual spot. The bench under the oak tree. You can imagine my surprise when I didn’t see Avery there once I arrived. I saw the one and only person I didn’t want to see. Matt. Unfortunately for me he noticed me before I could turn around and leave.
"(Y/N)!" he called after me. Feeling trapped, I slowly turned around. He was already coming over to me. His hair looked messed up and the color had ebbed from his face making it look pale. He looked as if he had been worried. And I suppose he would have been. I hadn’t answered any of his calls. He might have thought that something had happened. And when I piece it all together, I’m guessing that Avery was the one that gave him my telephone number in the first place. Because I was pretty sure that this meeting was her arrangement. She was Matt’s accomplice.
"Look, we need to talk." he said once he reached me. I shook my head in reply and just as I was about to say something he shushed me to keep quiet. "No, listen to me."
The fact that his voice sounded so pained and that it sounded like he actually cared, which was a first in these three years, was what made me keep quiet and listen. I nodded as a signal for him to continue.
"You might think that I was ignoring you for these past three years. I wasn’t. I thought that you didn’t want to be friends with me anymore. Yeah, for a time I got wrapped up in all the soccer tournaments and all the people that suddenly wanted to be friends with me. But that doesn’t mean that I stopped caring about you. Until I realized how special our friendship was to me it was already too late. You had already found your way though life without me. And you seemed pretty happy. I didn’t want to wreck that. But this year I realized that what we had together was too special to be lost. I didn’t want to lose you. I couldn’t lose you. I tried talking to you, but you ignored me more than ever. When I invited you to the party and you said that you would come I had some hope. I wished that we could patch things up and go back to the way it all used to be. But apparently you didn’t want to have anything to do with me. I don’t know how I could have let you slip through my fingers. When our freshman year came I wanted to ask you to the Spring Dance, but you had already gotten a date before I had time to ask you. That was when I wanted to confess that I had feelings for you and had had them for some time. But now I don’t really care. I just want you to take me back. If it’s only as a friend that you want me, so be it. I’m not complaining. I just want you back in my life.”
I just stared at him, trying to wrap my head around what he had just said. So apparently I had been wrong. He did care. And he had cared all this time. I couldn’t help feeling that I had given up on him far to easily and far too early. Friendships are supposed to have bumps in the road, don’t they?
"So, you’re saying that all this time while I thought you didn’t care at all, you actually thought the same about me?" He nodded. "Why didn’t you tell me, Matt? We could have worked this out a lot earlier."
He grinned at me. “You called me Matt.” I arched an eyebrow and he started speaking again. “You kept calling me Matthew. You’ve never called me Matthew. When we used to be friends you always called me Matt. Does that mean that you and I can be friends again?”
And that’s when it hit me. All the feelings that I had had buried all this time were starting to come out. Ever since that party they were coming to the surface. And that’s when I realized it. Avery had been right. I might have just had more-than-friends feelings for him as well. But I’d never admitted it to myself.
"Not friends." I trailed off teasingly. I looked down at my shoes and scuffed the ground with them before looking back up at him. He was smirking and I realized that he had an arm snaked around my waist pulling me closer to him.
"So, what you’re saying is that all this time you and I have only been a bit disconnected and nothing else?" he asked, while leaning in.
"I guess you could say that." I answered, the corners of my lips tugging into a secretive smile.
"What do you say we reconnect?" he whispered, his lips only inches away from mine. "But on a different level this time." he breathed and connected his lips to mine. I felt electricity course through my veins when I felt the slight pressure of his lips onto mine. They fit together perfectly. It was as if we’d always been meant to be. And in a sense we had. Nobody said that soul mates don’t have bumps in the road. And even if we weren’t soul mates, I didn’t care. I felt that it was right and I didn’t care what anyone else thought. Not even Destiny.