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Foes & Cons
Author: Carrie Aarons








Two Years Ago

There is a very real chance that my heart may just pop right out of my throat.

As the bottle spins around and around, my fate hanging in the balance, I nearly watch my life flash before my eyes. Okay, so maybe not my life, because that’s a bit dramatic for a sixteen-year-old at her first real drinking party, or whatever you could call ten kids splitting a thirty rack of cheap beer in someone’s basement.

But if this was the only fight-or-flight situation I’ve faced in my short years, it would be a pretty decent excuse to see the whole timeline laid out before me. Because of the ten people who sit in this circle, five could be the boy to give me my first kiss. When someone jokingly brought up the idea of playing seven minutes in heaven, I laughed it off.

Until, of course, I was sitting in this stupid circle awaiting the verdict of who I’d go into that closet with.

There was Jimmy, the cute but cocky smart kid who sat behind me in math class. Or maybe it would be Scott, the junior varsity quarterback, who would plant one on me.

But, since fate was a cold-hearted bitch, I knew who would be on the other side of the bottle when it finished spinning.

Sawyer Roarke. The green-eyed, dark-haired boy who was growing into a man before my eyes. It was like puberty hit early for my childhood best friend, and every girl at our Chester, New Jersey high school had taken notice.

His arms were no longer that of a lean, skinny teenager, but growing muscles and veins in places that I had never before been attracted to on another person. Something had happened with his jaw, drawing my eyes to the sexy tic it does every other minute. For some reason, a simmer has ignited between us, one I never noticed before. I’d even had a dream about licking the dimple in his right cheek the other night and woken up with flaming hot skin on my face and chest.

Secretly, I’d been waiting most of my teenage life for him to be my first kiss. Having been best friends since before I can remember a time when we weren’t, our fathers ran an architecture firm together in our hometown. Our families were extremely close, we spent Thanksgiving together most every year, and it was a known inside joke between our mothers that we’d end up married someday.

That was, however, until two days ago. When I’d found the one thing that undid every school girl crush and daydream about our romantic future. When I’d stumbled upon Sawyer’s list of pros and cons about whether or not he could ever date me, or make me his girlfriend.

It was a humiliating piece of notebook paper, with each one of my biggest flaws laid out before me. There was no telling exactly when he put pen to paper, but by the descriptions in both columns, it had to be fairly recent, since “Hotter since her braces came off” had been on the pros side and I’d only gotten them off a month ago.

I found the list sticking out of one of his summer reading books, A Catcher in the Rye, to be specific. It was scribbled in his oh-too-familiar scrawl, and I shouldn’t have been snooping, but he was taking too long with grabbing popcorn for the scary movie marathon we were about to start. What I’d read was a list divided into two columns; reasons to date me and reasons to keep me in the friend zone.

Both of us had felt it this summer; the hazy, humid flirting on the line between friendship and love. It hadn’t always been this way, but as we hit puberty, it felt like our relationship was a speeding train heading for a breaking point. So apparently, Sawyer had decided to debate what it would mean to either be with me or not.

As we stared at each other across the circle, a snarky, cocky grin on his too full lips, I’m devastated by the emotion that grips me. What should be elation, or nervous wonder, or maybe even terrifying hope is just pain and anger. Because I know his innermost thoughts about me, the real way he feels about me when no one else is listening.

I know that a pro of dating me would be that I’m the funniest person he knows. Other positives included that I had a hot body, even if my rack was small—those were his words, verbatim. That I can tell what he’s feeling when no one else can, and that I’m the easiest person to talk to. Sawyer wrote that we had the same taste in movies, so going to the theater together would never be a fight. And he acknowledged that our families got along, obviously.

But as far as compliments, that’s where they stopped. The consequences of dating me were harsh, some of them downright mean, and they sliced through me with each word I read.

Not the cutest.

Doesn’t fit in with the popular crowd.

Could hold me back from dating someone prettier.

Cares too much about school, not enough about partying.

Can be rude, stuck up.




His reasons were all superficial, all about status or appearance. That’s what killed me the most. Because this person who I thought always had my back, who loved me no matter what way it was in, thought about me just like everyone else did. As the designated quirky girl, the one who was decently attractive but never going to be prom queen. I was on the outskirts of the popular crowd, and given his rising star status, Sawyer dating me would be a gamble. A risk.

So he was choosing not to go there, or so I assumed, because I couldn’t bring him recognition and golden couple vibes. All along, I’d thought our bond was deeper than that.

It stung like a bitch to discover that he was just as shallow as everyone else.

“Oh my God, how awkward!” Hailey, one of the most popular girl’s in our grade, cackled like a witch.

Next to me, my female best friend, Laura, snorts. “You two can’t kiss, it would be weird.”

“Rules are rules, dude. You have to go into the closet.” Glavin, Sawyer’s best friend and soccer teammate, points to Laura’s grungy basement closet.

The thing looks like something out of the seventies, with wood-paneling and slatted sliding doors. Multiple couples have already gone in there, coming out to whoops and cheers, but who knows if any of them actually kissed or went further than that.

“No.” I try to laugh, but the sound comes out choked.

Not only do I not want to go in there like this, with my emotions so screwed up from finding that list. But I don’t want our possible first kiss to be in a room full of these people. I’d always envisioned that this moment would be special, if it were to ever happen.

“Oh come on, Oden, I promise I don’t bite.” Sawyer’s eyes are full of jokes.

Of course, as he holds out his hand to help me up and lead me to the closet, Sawyer is none the wiser to what I found in his bedroom. He thinks this is funny, that we’re going in on this practical joke together. He probably thinks we’ll put on a show for them, or just bullshit about the scary movie marathon we had the other night.

But my feelings are crushed, my heart trampled in the stampede of his judgments and criticisms.

With leaden feet, I walk to the closet, feeling the walls going up around the organ in my chest.

He steps in behind me, encasing us in darkness.

“This is dumb,” I say, but my voice sounds strange.

“Of course, it would land on me. But hey, at least you’re not in here with Glavin,” he jokes.

I shrug my shoulders, trying to come off nonchalant and thanking God that it’s dark in here. I’ve been sitting on this information for too long, and maybe I should have said something when I found it. We could have fought or screamed at each other. Now I feel like I’m facing a complete stranger.

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