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oems and stories by tyra bowman

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authors note

I realize that this is kind of cluttered, and amateur but I feel like it’s a complete and honest representation of me as not only a writer but as a person.

table of contents poetry mulatto . . . . . p. 3 fleur . . . . . . . p. 4 parts of you . . . . . . p. 4 ‘because of you’ . . . .p. 5 various haiku and short poems scattered throughout p. 3-5

micro fiction assorted mirco fiction pieces on p. 6

flash waiting . . . . . . .p. 7 one could do worse . . . p. 9

short fiction truth will set you free . . . p. 10 better this way. . . . p. 15 love notes . . . . p. 20

Poetry 3


Mulatto When she was four, she didn't realize she was different.

Ha

She was raised by grandparents who never drew attention to the fact she was golden brown like the sand in her sandbox and not milky white like the rest of her family. When she was ten, She hated that she looked different. Her classmates pointed out that her hair was kinky and nappy and Her skin was sometimes ashen like a bonfire log. When she was fifteen, She started to grow into her different.

Ones worth is measured By giving help to those who Cannot return it. When I think of you my heart starts to smile and my face starts to too.

A new school, a fresh start brought Kinder peers; ones who were curious. She started to blossom into the kind of person she wanted to be. When she was nineteen, She finally realized that

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She craved a future so full of joy and passion, that it'd overflow.


there are many things

Fleur

i now understand because of you.

If all the world were flowers let me not be a daisy or a rose.

first impressions are Daisies are picked apart definitely

you’re my sun, my moon andmake all of the you didn’t my heart halt Roses are overly dainty but god,pretty when my eyesstars find and frankly overrated. yours, it doesin now my galaxy.

they to be taken withasa if grain of can somehow decide your salt fate. ‘cause when I first saw you,

Let me be a dandelion,

because of you.

parts of you

everyone, even beautiful when you’re nothas around fantastic you, insecurities. i don’t just think about you, but you embrace i think about mythem; favorite parts of you wear them like gems on your skin, i think of those lips;

and i’mred, learning to do the same plump, swollen, and mine. because of you. i imagine your chest; you cover your body with art, my pillow on lazy Sundays wear sunglasses when it rains, the place that literally holds your and show all your emotions heart. freely not giving damnhands; what they’ll i fixate onayour think. usually a mess of paint or ink, and now, i’m becoming but always soft, and on my body. indifferent

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to their looks

for you my love, are the sun & i, the moon, we live such opposite lives, yet


micro fiction She was like the snow, beautiful but cold. Yet you couldn’t help but want to hold her in your hands and hope that she’d melt.

When we first met you said I was as lovely as a butterfly, last week I saw you swat one away as you left my apartment. Three months ago you said I smelled like wildflowers, yesterday I saw you step on a bunch of honeysuckles. Will I be the next thing you destroy? We Used To Love Each Other Once we'd decided that this thing we had going was love, or at least our silly version of it, I'd look at you and say "forever" and you'd respond with "always." Sure it wasn't much but it was ours. As time went on and life got busier, no matter what we had forever and always. But recently whenever I send you a hopeful look and muse "forever," I get a "sure" or a grunt, never my "always." I'm not sure where it went wrong, but now I'm thinking forever won't always be with you.

flash fiction 6


“Waiting” Lauren always loved being in the car by herself. For her it meant she was free from her annoying little siblings, and was in control. But today her journey would end in a place that was the complete opposite of freedom. Today she was visiting her mom in a women’s correctional facility. Lauren lived with her mothers’ parents, who she regarded as her actual parents since her biological ones were such a mess. But even so, Lauren and her mom were close in a really weird way, they were almost like sisters but with more authority attached to her mothers end. Her mother was young when she’d had Lauren, only nineteen and already halfway down the wrong path. She did almost any drug imaginable, shoplifted; you name the illegal activity, she was most likely involved in it. Sixteen years later, her ways had finally caught up with her and she ended up with a four-year sentence for possession and credit card fraud. The initial shock of her mother going to prison was long gone, as it had been over three years, but Lauren always felt a little uneasy going to visit her mother. Today was different though, as this was the first time Lauren was visiting her mother by herself. She’d had her eighteenth birthday just two weeks ago, and her mother had almost begged over a recorded phone call for her to come visit. So being the dutiful daughter, she took off a morning from work, gave up a Friday night with her friends, and woke up at the crack of dawn to make the 75 mile trip to see her. When she arrived at the compound, she was shocked to find a parking space pretty close to the main entrance; visiting days could be like a madhouse. So she parked her little green car, put her cell phone in the glove box and looked over her outfit one last time, to ensure it was “appropriate.” There were so many rules for even the outsiders when visiting the prison; no necklaces, only one ring,

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nothing too short, no dresses, nothing too revealing, the list went on forever. But finally when she deemed her choice of a collegiate hoodie and an old pair of jeans (with no belt!) acceptable, she grabbed her bag of change and headed to the massive red building. She recognized the guard manning the desk and gave her a nod before taking her shoes off and handing the guard her ID. “Well happy belated birthday Miss Lauren.” Officer Chavez acknowledged as he checked her ID. She smiled and thanked the old man before walking through the metal detector. After Chavez cleared her in the system, took her keys, counted her money, and checked her shoes, he stamped her hand with invisible ink. It was almost funny when she thought about it, as this was the same system they used at Chuck E. Cheese to ensure the right kids left with the right adults. And ironically, this worked in the same way, but it ensured only visitors, not inmates, came through the door to the waiting room. After a few more groups of visitors had arrived and been checked in, Chavez opened the heavy metal door to let them into a narrow hallway with the door to the visiting room. The visitors silently walked in a straight line to the end of the hall to show their marked hands to another guard before finally making their way into the huge visiting room. The room was decorated, for lack of a better word, with drawings and paintings inmates had done over the years, and all of the chairs in the room were pink, Lauren guessed because it was more “feminine”. She took a seat at one of the smaller tables, as the bigger round tables were reserved for larger groups and patiently waited for her mom to come into the room. She sighed to herself, thinking that she was where no one else had ever been before: the waiting room of a women’s correctional facility on a January Saturday morning. One Could Do Worse Charlotte walked down the busy street toward the corner deli where she was supposed to meet Joshua. She was late, as usual, but took her time walking up the street, enjoying the spring weather. She spotted him sitting on the patio under an 8


umbrella in that god-awful tuxedo shirt. Even though the pair had been together just over three years, her stomach went topsy-turvy when she laid eyes on him. He was nefariously good looking, all tan skin, gold hair, and piercing blue eyes. She could still remember when they met at their college’s showing of Poltergeist on Halloween. They always joked that it was kismet that they met at a showing of both of their favorite horror film. As soon as she caught his eye, he got up and waved her over. She leaned in to kiss him and noticed he was sweating despite the light breeze that hung around them. “What’s wrong with you? You’re sweating like a stuck pig and it’s not even hot outside.” She eyed him suspiciously. He grinned at her before replying, “I’m kind of nervous. You see today could be a life changing day.” Her brow furrowed in confusion but when he rose from his seat and got down on one knee. “Babe, I love you so much and if you would agree to be my wife you’d make me the happiest man alive.” A huge smile crossed her face as she jumped out of her seat and squealed, “Yes!” She leaned in for another kiss and burst out laughing. “What’s so funny Char?” “Only you would propose at a delicatessen.”

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short fiction Truth Will Set You Free Many can boast that their brain or their looks are their moneymakers, but Elsa? Elsas' is her gut. As the head of a crisis management firm, she's got to be quick with decisions that can make or break a case. So when a 21 year old man stumbled into her office covered in blood, insisting that he didn't kill his girlfriend, she looked into his eyes and decided that he was telling the truth. But now Elsa had to prove it. See this client wasn't just any 21 year-old man, he was Harrison McAllister, the son of US senator, Eliza McAllister, a super outspoken anti-gay, pro-life conservative who also happened to be up for reelection the next week. "I need you to tell me exactly what happened. Start with the beginning of the day and I need you to be completely honest with me." Harrison shifted in his seat, the color draining from his face. "I mean, it was just a normal day I guess I went to classes, had a study group in the campus library, and after that, that's when I started trying to get ahold of Jules. She didn't pick up so I just assumed she was out or something. So I went to a bar with some buddies and then decided to go to our apartment because she never called me back. I walked in and she was just—" A sob escaped the man, his shoulders quaking like leaves. "I just can't believe my best friend is gone." Elsa leaned toward the man, and took his hand in hers. "My associate Charles has extra shirts in his office down the hall, I want you to put one on and head back to your apartment, I need you to leave your cell phone here and give me the name of the bar you 10


were at tonight so I can start trying to find your alibi. Then first thing in the morning come back here." A flash of what looked like fear mixed with dread crossed his face before he did as she said. *** Elsa was trying, damn hard. She still felt in her gut that he was telling the truth, but upon looking further into the case, it looked like an alibi was easier said that actually found. The coroner estimated the TOD to be between 3 and 4 PM, which was during Harrison's study group at the NYU library. She spoke to the few kids in his study group, but they said he'd left early that day, around 2:30. She asked around at the bar he'd been at, and luckily the bartender could attest that he was a regular, and remembered him getting there around 4:30, but that wouldn't be enough of an alibi seeing as it left plenty of time for him to go back to the apartment. Elsa called Harrison and asked him to meet her at the Starbucks around the corner from her office. "What aren't you telling me, Harrison?" Harrison looked at her like she was crazy. "I already told you; classes, study group, bar. That's really it." Elsa leaned closer, her eyes narrowing like a snake stalking it's prey. "I talked to your friends in the study group and they told me you left at 2:30, and the bartender said you didn't get to the bar until 4:30, where were you during those two hours? Have you been lying to me? Your mother is about to have a panic attack, and I thought we had an agreement Harrison. No lying!" She growled lowly, making sure not to draw their attention. Harrison averted his gaze, his face turning paler than buttermilk.

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"I was visiting my friend Zach, in Brooklyn. He came to the bar with me but I don't want him to be involved in this mess, he's an outspoken opposer of my mom, I mean social media, protests the whole lot, so please just forget about it." Something was off. She could tell he was being sincere, but this was the key to his innocence, wouldn't it be better to be friends with someone who hates your mothers political stance than to be convicted of a murder? "Give me a few hours Harrison. I'll try to see if there's security footage of you at the bar, maybe we can get it without your friends face, if not you really should rethink keeping him out of it." Harrison agreed and they parted ways. Elsa had a genius computer hacker/guru at her firm, Jake, and she already had him on the task of finding security footage that could exonerate Harrison. She was in her office working on another case when he burst into the room. "Elsa you're not going to believe what I found on Mr. McAllister, the footage should be in your inbox." She minimized her files and refreshed her mail and opened the link. It was footage from outside of the bar, it look like it was around 6 or so, it was getting darker. Harrison walked out to the alleyway next to the bar and his friend walked out after him. The next thing she saw made her jaw hit the floor. Harrison and Zach were in a movie style lip lock. She thanked Jake and threw on her coat, headed to Eliza's penthouse here Harrison was staying.

When she got there, Harrison looked defeated. Like he knew she knew his secrets. He led him into a study away from his family and avoided her gaze.

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"She really was just your best friend wasn't she? Zach is your boyfriend isn't he?" Harrison crumpled into himself, tears flowing freely down his face. "Yes, I just couldn't bear to say it out loud. I guess by letting you figure it out I was trying to pretend it wasn't true. My moms gonna kill me." "If she killed you, she'd definitely lose her senate seat." Elsa joked, trying to lighten the mood in the room. "Can you get my mom and dad? The truth needs to come out sooner than later." Elsa left the study and found the McAllisters sitting nervously in the living room. She let them know he wanted to talk to them, and worry was apparent on their faces. "I'll let you have some privacy, I'll be right outside if you need me." Elsa sat in the living room, going through some emails on her phone. The three were in the office for about an hour when she decided to go check in on them, when she opened the door she was surprised at what she saw. The family was crying together, Eliza embracing her son. "So we're good to release his statement with the true alibi?" Elsa asked, unsure about what had occurred in the room.

Eliza spoke up, "yes, but I want you to spin it as a flighty indiscretion, they were drunk, it's not really a relationship." Eliza turned toward her son, "I don't want you involved in any of the Election Day appearances. I need you to distance yourself from my campaign. I can't just abandon my stance you

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know. I guess I'd rather have a homosexual son than a convicted murderer." Harrison reluctantly nodded and said goodbye to his parents. He and Elsa walked together toward the elevator. "I'm only doing this if it's what you want Harrison. You're an adult, you can make this decision for yourself." Harrison looked at her, determination in his eyes. "You know what? Tell the truth. I'm tired of hiding, I love Zach. He's my family now, and she'll just have to deal with whatever backlash she receives." Elsa nodded, and hugged him before hailing a taxi back to her office. She called her best friend, Nora, a reporter for the Times and gave her the real story. The next morning, while drinking her latte she couldn't help but smile at the title of the article Nora had written. Innocence Through True Love For Harrison McAllister

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Better This Way "Can you believe we're getting married tomorrow?" I mumbled, playing with his long fingers that were callused from years of playing the guitar. It was weird to think that tomorrow, the stupid skull ring he'd worn on his middle finger since high school would have a new neighbor. "It's fucking crazy." He sighed, happiness evident in his voice. "Zach!" I scolded, even though I was used to his perpetual potty mouth. Honestly it was the least of my worries these days, as his early days touring with the band were full of crazy antics. But he'd definitely matured over the years. "Hey my wedding's tomorrow, let me off." He chuckled, as he wrapped his arm around my shoulder and took a swig of his beer. I was starting to worry he might turn up hung over to the wedding, and there was no way I was going to be to blame. "So are you excited?" He asked, turning to look at me. "You're definitely going to look incredible." I blushed despite myself. "It's a big dress-" "It doesn't matter what the dress looks like." He scoffed. "You're going to look gorgeous Tess, and every man in that church is going to wish you were marrying them." "Oh shut up." I laughed, grabbing the bottle from him and taking a sip. Figuring if we shared neither of us would be drunk or hungover. I looked down at my hands and started fiddling with my engagement ring. "Are you nervous?" He asked quietly, the whole mood changing around us. "If you're scared you can tell me you know. I'm scared too." "It's just such a big step, you know?" I mumbled, running a hand through my hair.

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"Yeah, I do. I feel like it makes the whole parenthood thing look like a walk in the park. I mean this is choosing to tie yourself down to someone." He commented, looking over at me. "I don't just wanna be a good dad to a kid someday, I want to be a good husband." I put my head on his shoulder, my eyes wandering over the edge of the roof. Joel didn't like anyone on his roof after Zach broke his wrist from jumping off years ago, but he decided to make an exception for the soon to be newlyweds. "Zach, you're going to be an amazing husband." I murmured. "You gotta help me out okay?" He asked softly. "We gotta work at this whole married life stuff together. Y'know, share cheats." "Oh you know I will." I laughed. "I mean we have been doing it since high school." "God that seems like such a long time ago now, doesn't it? I haven't known anyone as long as I've known you. Not even Charlie." "I guess it's weird how things turn out, huh?" I mused, looking at my ring again. "Not quite what you expect-" "Or exactly what you expect." Zach said quietly. "Did you know when you dad finally saw that ring on your finger and I was on tour, he called me and told me I needed to protect you with my life." He laughed at the memory. "Seriously?" I asked, my eyes getting wide. My dad did always have a soft spot for Zach, all throughout our childhood. "Seriously. And I said I would." he responded, looking over at me. "I always will darlin'."

I looked back out to the yard, breaking eye contact. There was a wedding happening tomorrow. A marriage was beginning. I'd walk down the aisle in my dress, ready to tether myself to a man I'd known for a good portion of my life. Sometimes the 16


thought was overwhelming, but sometimes it was exciting. But most of the time I was just scared shitless. No matter how much I loved him, there was always a little voice of doubt in the back of my mind. I think Zach knew that too, and I hated it. I hated how well he knew me sometimes. But I guess if I was getting married tomorrow I had to get used to someone knowing everything about me. "But, Zach O'Malley's getting married, eh?" I teased. "Never thought I'd see the day." "Oh wow thanks for the vote of confidence, babe." He scoffed taking back his bottle. "But it is true, we are two of the most unlikely people to get hitched, yet here we are." "What about you?" I asked, looking back in his direction. I could only picture him in the tux he was supposed to wear tomorrow. A tux was so not his thing, but he didn't have the choice. My dress was pretty, yet over the top and not quite my style, but my mother insisted it was 'every girls dream,' so I went with it. Zach and I both were very simplistic people, but that definitely wouldn't be apparent tomorrow. Wedding traditions, I guess. "What about me?" He asked, look up at the stars above us. The noise inside was slowly dwindling and we'd have to get down from the roof soon, much to my dismay. I didn't want this night to ever end. "Are you nervous?" I asked, taking a deep breath and facing him once again. Without missing a beat he responded, "of course I am. I never thought I'd settle down." "Do you ever regret proposing?" He looked at me suspiciously. "Of course not.. wait, are you having cold feet?" I shook my head quickly, but maybe I was. "'Course not, I just.. I'm only twenty-two y'know? I'm young.." I trailed off.

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"Hey, so's twenty-four. You think I'm not freaking out over this too?" he scoffed. "Just go with the flow, darlin'. I'll always be there for you, you're not doing this thing alone." But I didn't know how long that would be true; everything was changing tomorrow. Absolutely everything was changing tomorrow. I saw Charlie walk out to his car from out position on the roof, and knew I should be expecting a call soon. I took a deep breath and stood from my spot, Zach holding on to my leg to steady me. "I should get going." I said softly, my eyes following Charlie. "Yeah.." Zach murmured, looking down at one of his oldest friends. "I'll see you soon." "Good luck.. with tomorrow." I said, unable to look down at him without tears filling my eyes. "Congratulations." "You too, darlin'." he whispered, his voice small. "I'm happy for you and Charlie." "Sucks you aren't gonna be there." I said, attempting a chuckle but ending up choking on tears. "We both know it's better that I'm not there." He sighed, rubbing my leg. "You're marrying Charlie tomorrow and I'm marrying Ashleigh. It's meant to be this way—" "No, I know," I nodded, heading back for the window into Joel's room. "It just sucks we're missing each others wedding day, that's all." "Tessa.." He sighed, turning around to look at me. "I'll see you in a few weeks. Where's your honeymoon again?" I asked, knowing the ache in my heart matched his. "Paris.." He mumbled. I nodded, realizing what the rest of our lives had in store 18


for us, suddenly weighing in on me. "We always said we'd go to Ireland, so we could explore where your family came from." "Tessa, please don't do this." He pleaded. I heard Charlie yelling from the car, waving me down and threatening to kill Zach if I fell off the roof and broke my neck. "You said you made. We made respect them, at a loss for

were okay with this- with the sacrifices we our choices and we said we'd be faithful and we've got to follow through..." He trailed off, words.

"But breaking up is easier than divorce, I didn't think we'd get his far—" "Tessa we aren't.. we're not going to end up together." He said firmly, cutting me off. "We can't do that to them- hell I especially can't do that to Charlie, he's my best friend." "And he's my fiancé." I mumbled, my future flashing before my eyes. Charlie. I really did love him. My future was with Charlie. "Exactly. You love him, and I love Ash." Zach said, not bothering to sound convincing. "Of course I do." I scoffed climbing back through the window. I almost reached the door and heard my name once more. "Tessa, I really can't be there," he sighed. "Because I meant what I said about every guy in the room wanting to marry you."

Love Notes The notes only started about three months after Ella and Louise moved in together. The pair, while trying to maintain that they were “just friends,” was completely inseparable. So naturally, when one was without the other it was an issue for the both of them. They missed each other like crazy, not that

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they’d ever admit it. Even the little things got a note; Lou going to a club while Ella stayed in because of a migraine, Ella getting ice cream with her sister while Louise stayed home to work on her art. The pair was dependent on each other, like a baby bird and its mother, tucked in their little apartment, whispering jokes and promises and ridiculous things that just screamed I seriously can’t live without you. And in all actuality, they couldn’t. So when Lou was awoken by a phone call from her friend Callie on a lazy Sunday morning, begging her to help her put together a bookshelf from Ikea because her boyfriend was busy and bribing her with lunch and margaritas, she felt bad leaving Ella alone all day. She was still sleeping when Lou poked her head in the room, snoring slightly, the sun hitting her face in the most gorgeous fashion. And well, she couldn’t just leave her there. She definitely wasn’t going to wake her either. And texting was out the window because Ella was constantly losing her phone in their shared quarters. Louise knew that technically, she had no obligation to let Ella know where she was going, and technically she should just leave her there and go out without a second thought. But she didn’t. She couldn’t. She shifted through the kitchen drawers before finding a stack of sticky note and a pen that actually worked. She wrote a quick message and stuck it on Ellas bedroom door.

Hey El, I went over to Callies for lunch and to help her put a shelf together. Stop by if you want, idk how long I’ll be gone. - Lou xo Neither of them mentioned the note, but when Ella popped into Callies place later that afternoon, there was a knowing smile 20


playing on her lips while she smiled at Louise in an adoring way. Louise liked that. The next note was from Ella, about a week later. She was venturing out to get groceries for the week. Ella definitely could’ve texted Louise, her phone was basically glued to her hand, but she loved the note Lou had left her. It was oddly domestic and sweet and- no, Lou was just her best friend. Any more than that would get complicated. Yet she still took the note off her nightstand, flipped it over, scrawled a message of her own. LouGirl, I’ve run to do the grocery shopping, anything in particular you want? Text me if so. I’ll only be gone about an hour or so, unless I decide I need some Bread Co. - EllaBella And yes, she left out the part about wishing Lou was coming with her, but those thoughts were better left unwritten and not out in the open, because her world would be upturned if they came out. But halfway through her shopping escapade, she got a text from Louise that wiped those thoughts out of her head and plastered a smile on her face.

LouLou: Get me some oatmeal crème pies! Oooh, better yet get the ingredients and make me them instead, cuz you loooooove me! Xoxo So Ella did just that. She grabbed what she needed, made the short drive back home, blared some Johnny Cash, and danced around the kitchen while baking the cookies. After that, the notes kept coming as the months pads of paper, tape, and markers were scattered apartment, used all the time. It became sort of two; who could write the cheesiest note, or who

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went on. Soon throughout the a game for the could leave it


in the most ridiculous place, and soon enough, it was just a part of their routines. Ella Darling, I’m over at Melanie’s, her and Rian got in a fight, so ice cream and Nicholas Sparks movies await! Feel free to crash the sob-fest. Love you sweet pea! LouGirl xx Although their antics wasted a lot of paper, Ella wasn’t too surprised when a mini dry erase board appeared on the wall between their rooms. Louise didn’t say a word about it, just smiled that coy smile and left the room with a slight shrug. Doodles and pictures soon adorned the board and the space around it, and soon enough it was very much theirs. Notes varied, little messages and each got more…. lovey-dovey, you could say. The words ‘girl’ and ‘hun’ disappeared, replaced by ‘love’ and ‘babe’. It was friendly, all in a day’s fun, but it was kind of getting carried away yet neither did anything to stop it. Ella started leaving more ‘xoxo’s when Lou got a boyfriend; she hated the fact that she no longer had those lavender eye’s attention. LouBearrr, I’m off to see Gemma, I’ll text you later. And hey, do some laundry you lazy bitch! Haha, you know I’m just messing with you, love. Anyways, I’ll get going before this gets too clingy, cause you know I love youuu! Your ElBug xx What Ella did like, the only upside to Lou having John, was the fact that even though Lou was gone more often, her messages got cuter and cuter. Each one contained a little apology, like Ella deserved her attention more than John did 22


and, while she knew that wasn’t necessarily true, she liked the feeling. But the jealousy got to her sometimes, coursing through her body and sometimes making her irritable. Along with that, came sadness. She couldn’t stand when Louise would come home and rave about a date, she hated when she talked about being in his arms or kissing him. But Ella couldn’t find the energy to get mad or frustrated anymore, she was mostly just sad. One night when Lou went out to see John, leaving while Ella was still in the shower, she finally gave in. She finally cried when she read the cute message with hearts around it. She could hear Louises’ sarcastic voice as she started at the familiar scrawl. Hey bae, I went to Dick’s with John, he needed new cleats or something, and since I’m the world’s most supportive girlfriend, of course I agreed to go! ;) While you’re home if you’re not too terribly busy, mind cleaning the living room? And maybe my room too cause you love me? You do love me don’t you darlin’? Don’t cha?! You’re grinning like a fool right now, I know it. I’ll be back later with some cake-pops, because I’m just the best. Love you babe, sorry I left you all alone! - BooBear xxx It was the BooBear that got her. Louise hated that nickname, she hated it so much she rarely even let Ella use it, and signing her name like that? It was suddenly just too much. Louise found her later, leaned up against the wall with her knees pulled up to her chest, tears staining her cheeks. She just couldn’t keep on with this anymore. She couldn’t just lie, flirt, or laugh it off. All because of a stupid note. “Ella? El, come on sweetie. Tell me what’s wrong?” Louise begged, starting to tear up herself. “I love you.” Ella managed to get out, but knew immediately that Lou didn’t understand.

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“Well, I love you too, silly. Now tell me what’s wrong!” Lousie exclaimed, while Ella sighed. She was tired, and didn’t even bother to lie. “It’s all wrong, y’know? You being with John. The fact that you love him, and you date him. And not me. I want you to want me the way you want him. But you won’t and you never will and then you had to go and write BooBear and just stomp on what’s left of my heart.. I can’t take this anymore Lou, I just can’t.” Ella cried, choking on tears. Louise frowned, and as realization hit, she slowly backed away and went to her room, locking the door behind her. Ella didn’t bother begging or pleading, she just got up and wiped the board off and grabbed a marker. At Gemma’s. It seemed that even after everything, she couldn’t just leave without a note.

Ella spent the night at her sisters place, crying on her shoulder between bites of Ben & Jerry’s, while the fiery redhead insisted that she was better than Lou, that she didn’t need Lou, and could have anyone she pleased. But all Ella wanted was Louise. The next night when she finally went home, Lou wasn’t there. The message she’d left the previous night was still on the whiteboard, as if to taunt her. She rushed past it into her bedroom, blaring music and breaking things like her lamp, her clock, a framed picture of the two of them at a concert from years ago. Louise heard it all. Louise hated herself, she hated the situation, and right then, she hated everything. The blaring Coldplay, the crashes of glass breaking, the sobs; it was the soundtrack to her pity party. She didn’t leave her bed, ignoring calls from John, texts from Melanie, even calls from her mom. She ignored everything for a week.

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That week was terrible for both of them. They tiptoed around each other, barely speaking or making eye contact. They avoided each other like the plague around their small apartment, but only left when the absolutely needed to. And when they did, despite all the crazy shit going on, they left a note. Getting groceries Or, At Callie’s. And the worst of all, Out. Those notes stung the worst. Slowly but surely, they started to drift apart. No more gossip, no more Grey’s Anatomy marathons, no more cooking together, much less looking at one another. But Ella knew that Lou did look at her, when she thought she wouldn’t see. Ella did the same; wishing, wanting, needing to talk to Louise. As weeks passed, Ella went out to the bar in hopes of forgetting. Forgetting the bullshit. At this point, she didn’t even want to be with Louise anymore, didn’t need to be with her romantically. She just needed her best friend back. So maybe that’s what made her go out in the hall late one night, wipe down the rarely used board, and write two words. I’m sorry. And she knew exactly when Lou read it when she heard a crash. Lou had just gotten home from a date with John, a date that did not go well, and when she passed the board she froze seeing those two words. Something just made her snap. Ella had no reason to be sorry. This was all her fault, and the fact that Ella, her sweet ElBug thought she was to blame at all was enough for indescribable emotions to erupt, tears

25


to start falling, and a whimper to get out as she tore the board from the wall and threw it toward the living room. And she just sat there, because she couldn’t handle it. She noticed Ella stick her head out of her door, look her way and retreat back into her bedroom. And for a moment, she thought that was it. But Ella reappeared, walked past her, and out the door. Dropping a folded note as she went. Louise unfolded the note carefully and read through her tears. I miss you, Lou. And god, she missed the other girl so much. So she grabbed the whiteboard off the floor, spent a good ten minutes trying to get it back on the wall (she ended up duct taping it, because well, she was no miracle worker), wiped it clean, and wrote a note in hopes that Ella would see it when she got back. I miss you too, ElBug. Ella saw the note when she got home, stumbling backwards, lips attached to a random girl from the bar. When she took in what the note said, she froze up. But Louise still didn’t want her; she still loved John. So she led the girl into her room, aware that Lou could probably hear them, and let herself forget, if just for a little while. The girl (she couldn’t remember her name) was gone when Ella woke up to see Louise standing in her doorway, biting her lip. “Hi.” Ella said, taking the plunge. “Hey” Louise muttered softly. “I.. I really do miss you.” “I miss you too.” Ella replied, getting out of bed and slipping on her robe. She was aware that Louise slightly frowned at the hickie on her neck, but she ignored it. “Can we.. I just need my best friend back. I need you.” Louise struggled to say, and Ella smiled. 26


“I need you too, we’ll always be best friends, even in the retirement home when we’re racing around on our motor scooters.” Ella teased with a grin. Louise laughed, that familiar sound that Ella had missed so much over the last few weeks. “Can I hug you?” Ella asked timidly, not wanting to ruin the progress they’d just made. “Of course you moron, since when do you need to ask?” Louise joked, their banter flowing like it had never stopped. And for the next few weeks, everything was awesome again. They talked about everything, teased each other, go drunk on wine together. It was all the same, almost painfully so, but still a huge improvement over the weeks of silence they’d agreed would never happen again. But they never spoke of Ella’s confession, never discussed that the younger girl may have been in love with the older, who was her best friend and in love with an awesome guy already. Except she didn’t really love him, but out of fear she never confessed that. Notes became a good thing again; they were filled with nicknames, hearts, and apologies. Ella dear, I’m going to see Zoe.. I’m pretty sure she knows what happened… did you tell her? Not that I care. Want me to pick up some dinner on the way back? Maybe some 54th? Let me know babe! Love you, so glad we’re back, Louuuuu After that, they were Lou and Ella again. Ella would cook them breakfast like she used to, and Louise did the laundry. They lounged around and gossiped and watched their favorite shows together. They were perfect again. But not really, there was still the whole John isn’t me thing that hung above them like

27


a cloud, until one day Ella just opened her mouth without thinking one night while watching tv. “How are things with John?” She asked on a commercial break. She noticed Lou tense up and started to panic, but calmed down when she began to speak. “Good.” Louise replied simply, and Ella thought that was that. “Well that’s good.” There was a long pause before finally, Lou grabbed the remote and muted the show they were watching. “Except its not.” Louise muttered while Ella drew back in surprise. “Good I mean.” “What’s wrong? I mean, I get it if you don’t want to say.. you know because of me. But I’m hear to listen, even if you just want to complain about him. Quite frankly, I think I’d like that.” Ella added with a slight chuckle. “I’m sure you would.” Louise smirked and wait, did they just address what happened? “So?” “So.. he’s kind of boring. Like, don’t get me wrong, I like him. He’s hot and smart and everything I want, but I just don’t know..” she trailed off. “Yeah you do, you just don’t want to say it.” Ella replied, catching on quickly. She wasn’t stupid. “How did you…?” Louise trailed, raising an eyebrow. “You have a tell. I can always tell when you’re lying. I know you better than anyone you dork.” Ella smiled. “I, okay fine. I just.. I keep wanting him to be more like you. I want him to make some stupid joke, or a bad pun, or laugh like an idiot at the childish things I laugh at but he doesn’t, and I know it’s stupid but I just.. I want that. I 28


want everything that is.. well you.” She sighed, and Ella felt her heart soar. “But I can’t break up with him, I love him. Okay, no I don’t but I should. I should love him. I just can’t hurt him. I should stay with him, right?” Lou asked and Ella’s stomach dropped. “You know I can’t make that decision for you.” “Yeah, you really could. It would make my life ten times easier.” Louise mumbled, avoiding Ella’s green eyes. “You know I can’t stand him, so I’d be ecstatic if you left him. But if you don’t, I’ll stick by you. You’re my BooBear after all.” Ella laughed, and settled back next to Lou on the couch. And it was as if the conversation never happened, like they’d never breached the topic, her feelings toward the younger girl had never gotten out. Somehow, that was worse. The next day, Louise woke up to the smell of bacon and music coming from the kitchen. Surprisingly, there was a note on the new whiteboard. Sweetheart, I’m making you pancakes. Can John make you pancakes? I don’t think so. Come and get this deliciousness! -El xoxoxo P.S. You look at your hands when you lie. That’s your tell. And Louise just grinned, ignoring the ache in her chest and how true the note was and how obvious the feelings attached were, and instead she went and hugged Ella from behind before shouting “Guess who?!” They fed each other bites of pancakes and they both tired to ignore how couple-like it was, and how much that hurt. For about a week, everything was fine. The messages were more frequent, written as they passed the board, not just when they

29


went out. They’d reply to each other in different colors, and giggle when they saw each other read it, and occasionally blush at them.

So Ella, If you’re getting with the ladies now, are you the guy or the girl in the relationship? I can’t imagine you taking the shots from someone else. -Lou xx Hey Lou, Shut the fuck up, don’t be a bitch! -Ella xx Hey Elliot, I’m gonna call you Elliot now. -Lou xx Fine Louis, no issue with me. Asshole! I went there. Don’t make me take my earrings out!! Guuuurrrrrrl What are we even doing right now?! Idk, but it’s hilarious. 30


That, my friend, is so true. I could be more than a friend, you know.

And Louise felt herself pale upon reading that message, emotions coursing through her body. God, why did she have to go and write that? Why’d she have to ruin what they’d built back up the last few weeks? Things were good, great even. And now Ella had to go and be a loveable, innocent idiot and write that. But it struck a chord. Because while she felt dread hit her, she also felt long buried butterflies flutter around in her tummy. Not once, ever, had she felt that with John. But Ella, with one scrawled line had her feeling like she was in middle school again. And that might have meant something, so she replied. I know. And Ella wasn’t really surprised to see the short reply, not at all really, so she said nothing and things went on as normal as they could after the knowledge that the girls wanted each other, and could potentially have each other, but just didn’t. And it sucked. Hey Louuuuuu, I’m going shopping with Kylee; I need some new clothes. She mentioned something about wanting a new biker jacket, but I like wearing yours so I’ll just keep stealing it. Anywho, I’ll be back later! Text me lovely. -ElBugg xxxoo But when Ella got back, the apartment was dark and quiet, and she assumed Lou had left, and maybe went out with John, so she hung up Lou’s jacket and padded over to see the whiteboard. She felt her heart stutter.

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I broke up with him. -Louise With that, Ella rushed straight to Lous’ bedroom, and opened the door quickly. Frowning, she walked into her own room and found her wrapped in her bed, eyes dry but sad, Love Actually playing on the television. “Hey.” Ella mumbled. Louise’s head snapped toward her, gorgeous lavender eyes darkening. “Hey, love.” “You.. do you want me to..” Ella stuttered, cursing herself for being so awkward. “Just hug me and promise to hold me all night? Yeah, that’d be nice.” Lou murmured, her voice barely above a whisper. Like it was her instinct, Ella was across the room in seconds, getting under the duvet and wrapping her arms around Lou, who held onto her somewhat desperately. She tried not to be happy, because even though it gave her hope for being happy, her best friend was hurting. “Are you sad?” Ella asked simply, biting her lip as she leaned back, arms still around Lou’s waist. “I should be. But I’m just not. I think I’m sad that I’m not sad, y’know?” Louise asked softly. “Yeah, I know.” Ella reassured her, and kissed her forehead lightly, trying to control herself. They were silent for a bit, occasionally catching each others eyes studying each others faces. Ella realized she may have lingered a little too long on Lou’s perfect pink lips when they turned up into a smirk. “You never could lie, El.” She said, just above a whisper. 32


“And you?” Ella questioned. Louise’s eyes flickered to Ella’s lips, and though she blushed, her gaze didn’t falter. “Yeah, me either.” A beat of silence came after, before Ella took a shaky breath. She knew it was a risky move, but there wasn’t an alternative, at least not in her mind. “You could kiss me if you want.” Ella whispered, so quietly she barely heard it herself. “Yeah.” Lou breathed. And Ella couldn’t help but smile when Louise closed the gap between the two of them, softly pressing their lips together. Nerves zinged, butterflies fluttered, but nothing mattered because their mouths were finally against each others, moving sweetly and gently like they were the only people in the world. It didn’t last long, but it was fairly perfect. Neither of them tried to push it any further, their hands didn’t move from the others torso. “Love you.” Ella murmured when they pulled away, her green eyes sparkling, and Lou’s finally brightening as well. “Yeah.” Louise whispered, curling into Ella’s side. They fell asleep soon after, and when Ella woke up the next morning, Louise was gone. She felt her stomach hit the floor as regret washed over her. She had made a big mistake. She shouldn’t have been so stupid. But when she pulled the covers off of her and moved into the hallway, a grin came across her face. Hey love,

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Don’t you think for a second that I regret last night, because I don’t. I just went to the gym to clear my head. I don’t regret you Ella. I love you so much. That being said, I need some time to think. Give me a few days, okay? I’m kind of confused, but the one thing I do know is I need you. I’ll be back soon, and you better be here waiting for me. After all, you always are. Love you. -Lou xx And Ella did wait. She waited until she got home, and they cuddled on the couch eating popcorn and drinking wine. She waited that night, when without a word, Louise crawled into her bed just to cuddle. She waited the next day too, when Louise acted like nothing had changed. Ella waited for nearly a week and a half, constantly being a good friend, cooking her dinner and singing for her like she knew she loved. Her waiting paid off 9 days later, when Ella got home from a jog. Ella hopped straight into the shower after giving Lou a peck on the cheek, tired and sweaty from the August sun. Once she’d somewhat tamed her curly hair, she wrapped a towel around her body and walked into the hall to find a new message. Hello there you babe. We’re going to play a little game (and yes I know that sounds like a Saw movie, but just go with it.) Just follow my instructions for the sake of romance, okay?

1. Go to the kitchen and make us our favorite chai. 2. Grab some food, also. 3. Take the stairs by the elevator and go all the way to the

roof. 4. I’ll be waiting. 34


I love you more than you realize. -Your Louise xxoo A huge smile formed on Ella’s face, her dimples in full effect. She slipped on a sundress, and anxiously did as the note said. She prepared the chai and grabbed a box of mint malanos, and made her way out of their apartment. She slowly trekked up the stairs, careful not to spill their tea and upon reaching the top, pushed the door open carefully. It was still warm, but with a slight breeze, as the suns pink and orange rays were setting over the horizon. It was gorgeous, but nothing compared to the way Lou looked sitting on a patio chair her eyes twinkling and a look of contentment gracing her features. “Hey there Jigsaw.” Ella teased hoping to make the atmosphere a little less tense. “Hey, let me help you with those, then come sit, we need to talk.” Louise instructed grabbing a mug from Ella and directing her over to a blanket she’d laid out for them. Ella laid on her side, and Louise joined sitting cross-legged next to her taking a deep breath. “So?” Ella sighed. “So I wanted to tell you something. I know you know that when I get attached to someone, and I need to say something important, I always freeze up. So I figured if it all started with notes, maybe it should end with one. Well not that this, we’re ending, just.. ugh read this, yeah?” Louise stumbled over her words turning an adorable shade of pink as she handed Ella a crinkled up piece of paper. Ella, There are so many things I could apologize for in my life. For not sharing my crayons in kindergarten, for knocking down my brothers lego towers, for not visiting my dad enough. Hell

35


even for all those times I yelled at you and the girls because I was PMSing. But the thing I regret most out of my twentythree years is hurting you. You mean more to me than I think you realize, and I can’t live without you. Those few weeks we didn’t speak? The absolute worst of my life. I missed you so, so much and lately I’ve been missing you again, but in a completely different way. This time, I miss what I had for all of five minutes. When I kissed you.. I felt like I was floating on a fucking cloud or something equally amazing and cheesy. You give me butterflies Ella, and I’ve never felt that with anyone else. When I saw that you’d written that you could be mine, I just got this perfect image in my head. And that’s when it hit me, if we’re not sitting next to each other sharing kisses and whispers and maybe even wearing wedding rings in a few years, then something’s wrong. I want everything with you. I want to wake up in your arms, and fall asleep next to you. Also sex, because well its sex. But my point is, I realized why I hated hurting you so much. Everyone knows I love you, lore than almost anyone. But.. I also love you, love you. If you catch my drift. And hopefully this letter wasn’t too dumb or overdone because I have a feeling you’re gonna be smirking by now like the little tart you are and I’ll be as red as the rose tattoo on your arm. But it’s okay because I really needed you to know, El. So now I need to know, will you be mine? Do all of those things with me? Cause if you can agree to put up with all of my bullshit, I can make it so, so worth it. I love you dollface. -Louise, your hopeful girlfriend in about a minute. xoxoxoxoxo Louise bit her lip nervously as Ella read further and further down, her green eyes glistening, lighting up and beaming. Her smile grew steadily, more and more until she was grinning, her adorable dimples showing on her cheeks. When Ella finally looked up, Lou was crying from the nerves and Ella was crying because, well Louise wasn’t sure why. 36


“So? Yeah, I know it was cheesy as shit, but I just really love you and-” “Shh!” Ella interrupted. “Oh my god, did you just shush me?!” Louise asked faking anger. “I’m trying to pour my heart out and my bestfriend decides to shush me!” “I’m pretty sure your girlfriend is allowed to shush you.” Ella corrected, and Louise swore her heart stopped right then and there. “So that’s a yes?” She asked meekly, a small smile forming on her lips. Ella simply reached down and grabbled the note, flipped it over, and took the pen that was conveniently sitting next to her. Yes. A year later, after a late night out with her old college roommate, Louise came home to little notes all over their apartment, with arrows directing her to their bedroom. She opened the door to find her girlfriend sitting on the bed with the whiteboard Lou hadn’t even noticed was missing in her hands, a simple message scrawled across it. Louise, Marry me? -Ella xx

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