I don't know how it happened. Middle school passed without incident. It was totally normal. Then I walked into High school and noticed that CeCe had chopped off her hair and died it blond. At first I thought she was crazy. That she looked perfectly fine before. Then I caught myself thinking that she looked better than fine.
I tried shaking the irrational thought out of my head, but it wouldn't go away. CeCe Jones was suppose to be my enemy. I could not let myself think like that.
But telling myself not to just meant I did. More than ever. I thought about her eyes and her sense of humor and everything else.
Everyday I noticed something new. I wanted to describe it as torture, but I couldn't. One day she dyed her hair again, this time brown. A chocolate brown. The same color as her eyes. Then I noticed how her personality changed. She became increasingly self-centered. Never once tried to rectify her mistakes. I just wanted to shake her until her ego shrunk.
That didn't happen.
And I found myself changing as well.
I let my platinum hair grow out and tried to be a little nicer. Tinka took the time to point out (Before she branded me a traitor.) that I had been losing my native accent. I sounded like a normal American teenager. None of Ty's stupid punk accent that he had me do years ago.
I couldn't stand it.
Tinka wouldn't talk to me, and I had girls falling at my feet for no reason. I didn't want any of them. I wanted to know what happened to me.
In time the color faded from CeCe's fiery hair. Though her red hair was slightly muted from the dye. Her attitude changed as well. She became so narcissistic that Rocky couldn't even stand to be around her. Once again I had the sudden urge to shake her. Instead I watched her walk around in seclusion.
It was impossible to watch.
One day I saw her seated on the front steps of the school after class. She looked very punk in her leather jacket and ripped, black jeans. As I approached I saw her motorcycle keys on a chain around her neck.
"CeCe," I ventured.
CeCe took one look at me and shied away. "Who are you, and why are you talking to me?"
With some difficulty, I slipped back into my native accent. "It's Gunther Hessenheffer, baby." My arms extended in front of me; one above my head and one below.
CeCe stopped her cowering and gave me one of those up and down looks. I suddenly felt awkward in my jeans and plain t-shirt. "Gunther, you look … normal."
I slipped back into the more comfortable American accent. "Thank you, CeCe." Her bright red lips parted as her mouth dropped in shock.
"You sound normal too. What happened?" CeCe asked. You'd think she'd notice that I was using an American accent when I first approached her, but oh well. Her flabbergasted look was so cute. I shook my head to remove the thought.
"I'm not to sure, actually." CeCe shook her head. Her cropped red hair formed a halo around her beautiful face. I shook my head in turn. Just a quick flick though.
"You're completely opposite from the boy I used to hate in Middle school."
CeCe stood up and turned to face me. She came up just below my chin. For a moment I found myself caught up in her eyes. "So," I said, trying to distract myself. "What have you been up to lately?"
"Not much." CeCe crossed her arms. "Just beating around town."
"That's not vague at all," I replied sarcastically.
"Okay." CeCe walked around me so that she was facing my back. I turned so that she could talk to me face-to-face. "Actually, I spend a lot of time online. YouTube is my favorite site."
"Yeah. I was so inspired by some of the other editors on there that I started editing myself. Let me tell you. It is a great stress reliever. Or so I'm told."
I was a little thrown off by the onslaught of information. Somehow it seemed like CeCe wanted to confide in me as a friend, yet it also seemed like she was holding back because she was scared.
"So how good are you?" I asked, regarding her video editing.
"I don't think I'm to good. But people do leave positive comments."
"What's your username?" I wanted to see what she did. I'm sure she knew it to, because she didn't waste any time in answering.
"39Clueless.(I don't know if this username exists, and if it does I mean no offense)"
"Like the book series?"
"No. My favorite number is thirty-nine, and I'm usually clueless," she explained.
I started chuckling. "Well I guess it's not the worse thing you could come up with."
CeCe looked offended. And rightly so. I coughed and straightened. "At least you didn't just choose a bunch of numbers. Then no one would be able to pronounce your name." CeCe cocked her head to the side. Epic fail on my part.
"As for the 'Clueless' part. I'm sure you're kinda street-savey."
"That is true. I do know where to avoid, but having a cop as a mom does help." CeCe started to laugh at her joke. I laughed too. It was pretty funny.
We met on the school steps everyday after that. And little by little CeCe opened up a bit more. She told me that the reason she didn't read much was because she was dyslexic. She even told me that once Rocky taught her how to type she started her own stories. Then, after a lot of hard begging, CeCe brought me some of her work. Other than some minor mistakes it was very good. The way she described things painted the clearest picture in my mind and made me believe what she was talking about really happened, and that she really saw it.
That day she ordered me to fix her mistakes. CeCe knew just how easily English came to me and exploited the fact for her own gain. She was getting back to her old self.
A few days later she made a remark. "You know, Gunther," she said. "You and I make a pretty good team." She was lying on the stone railing and looking up at the clouds. I had my laptop open on my lap and was fixing CeCe's latest masterpiece.
"If you count me fixing your mistakes teamwork, then yes. We do make a good team. CeCe pushed my shoulder with her booted foot. By the time I was able to right myself, CeCe was on the step next to me. I tore my gaze from the screen to say, "Don't blame me for telling the truth."
Instead I found her staring at me.
We sat like that for … I don't even know how long. The clearing of a voice behind us brought us back to our senses. I blinked and found my face only inches from hers. I pulled away.
CeCe did the same. "I'd better go," she informed me. She stood up and started walking toward her bike. I watched her drive away.
Only then did I turn to see who had coughed. It was Tinka. "Yes?" I asked her.
"It is past curfew. Mother and Father are worried. They asked me to find you, so I did. Sorry to interrupt your date."
"It wasn't a date." I stood up and started walking the path that would lead me home. Tinka's heels clacked on the sidewalk behind me.
"What was it then, if not a date?" she asked.
I slowed my pace. "We're just friends," I told her. Tinka snorted in a way that suggested she didn't believe me for a moment.
"You looked a lot more cozy than 'just friends.'"
"Then you're mistaken."
"Gunther. You do realize you were about to kiss her, right?"
"Then why interrupt us?" I fired back.
"It was an accident. I've been coughing all night long." Conveniently Tinka fell into a coughing fit at that moment.
"Never mind," I said. I didn't have the energy or the heart to get into an argument with her tonight.
We walked in silence after that. On the steps of our apartment building Tinka said, "Do you like her, Gunther?"
I pushed the door open, considering her question. It was true that I thought of CeCe often. But did I feel romantically attached to her? When we got to the elaborate door of our apartment I froze with my hand on the knob. "Yeah," I replied. "I like CeCe. A lot. More than I probably should."
Tinka rested her hand on my shoulder. "Then I wish you luck."
CeCe wasn't in school the next day. I had to have sent her a dozen texts. She didn't reply to any of them. I was so worried, and at lunch I felt to sick to eat. The next day was the same. In turn, Tinka became so worried about me that she started to hang around me. I was glad for her company.
It wasn't until Friday that I saw her again. She hadn't been in classes, but after school I found her seated in her usual spot.
"Hey," she said when she saw me. Many of the other students stopped to watch.
"Hey," I replied. Tinka detached herself from my side and began shooing the others away. Soon it was just CeCe and I on the stairs. "Did you get my messages?"
"Yeah," CeCe said, staring at her hands. She was twidling her thumbs in an effort to occupy her mind. "Yeah. I got them. Gunther, I'm confused, and, as awkward as this conversation will be, you're the only person I can talk to. I tried talking to my mom, but she was to busy. A big case needs to be wrapped up, you know? Then I tried talking to Rocky. I was glad that she didn't shut the door in my face immediately. But that's how she is. If someone's in trouble she'll try to help. So she listened to me, but I don't think she fully understood my problem, and her advice made my head spin around."
I waited for her to continue babbling. When she didn't I sat down. "What problem?"
"You used to annoy the heck out of me and I couldn't stand to be around you. Then we became friends. At first I thought it was because you were taking pity on me. I'd heard about some of the things you had done for the school and thought I was just another charity case. And then we almost kissed. Now I don't know what to think."
I took CeCe's hand. "I became your friend because I wanted to spend time with you. To be close to you. The thing is, CeCe, I've liked you, for awhile. I don't know how or why, but it seemed that for everything you were I became something that would match. It wasn't intentional. And that night, and many nights before that, I've wanted to kiss you. I'm sorry if my … attraction made you uncomfortable."
"It's okay," CeCe said, resting her head on my shoulder. "I think I like you too."
"So what now?" I asked. I directed my gaze skyward. The clouds were so puffy and white.
"Can we go back to the way things were before?"
"If that's what you want."
"It is." We sat side by side on the step until after dark. When we did go our own separate ways I felt like I was floating.
At school the next day everyone at school stared at me. People kept pushing me in CeCe's direction when I walked the other way. And when I went out the door to sit on the steps for lunch I had a group of followers. Through texts I learned that CeCe was going through the same torture. They were worse with her than with me. We agreed not to meet after school that day.
"Gah. I'm tired of this," CeCe complained to me over the phone. A full month had gone by since we started being stalked by our classmates and they hadn't become any more discrete. If anything, they've become worse.
"I know, CeCe. I can't stand it either. I almost miss fixing your grammatical mistakes it's so boring."
"I could always send you something via email," she suggested.
I could hear CeCe laugh on the other end. "Okay. I'll do it now. In other news, my Windows Movie Maker is getting quite the workout. I've been working on project after project."
"I know. I've seen. They look great. Although on the one your timing is off." I'm quite sure that if CeCe were with me she would have punched me.
"Yeah yeah yeah."
"Yup. So how are things going with Rocky? Are you guys talking again?" I found a baseball and began throwing it in the air.
"A little. We aren't as close as we once were, but I kinda expected that."
"I'm sure everything will work out. Opposites attract you know." The ball flew through the air in an arch. I had to lunge forward in order to catch it.
"Uh huh. Hey I've got to go. Dinner time. Maybe we can meet up tomorrow?"
"Yeah. See you." I hung up he phone and set it on my metallic desk. I all ready knew that the chances of seeing her tomorrow were slim and none. School sucks.
A knock sounded on my door. "Enter," I called.
"Hey," Tinka said from the doorway. I waved her in. In her pajamas Tinka looked very normal. Anyone at school would have trouble believing it was her. "How've you been?" she asked.
"Annoyed." I sat up in time to see Tinka turning to walk back out. "Not by you. By the kids at school."
"Really?" Tinka asked. She plopped down on the bed and curled her feet under her.
"Yeah. Everyone at school seems to think that CeCe and I are a couple, but to my knowledge that is false."
"But you've been acting like a couple for awhile."
"How so?" Weren't we acting more or less like normal friends? You know, before I confessed to her.
"I've seen you texting her during class. You've been looking very down and depressed since you stopped spending time with her. Anyone could see that. And you've called her every night. What else says 'couple'?" Tinka raised her hands in the quote sign.
"Spending actual time together?"
"That's your own fault. Being apart just makes the rumors fly more." Tinka stood up and started walking toward the door. "Talk to her tomorrow. Face-to-face. There's no reason not to." The knob was in her hand when she said, "Besides. I want to see you happy again."
I looked for CeCe at school the next day. Since we didn't share any classes I was only able to catch a glimpse now and then, and when I did CeCe looked like she carried the weight of the world on her shoulders. Suffice to say; I didn't like it.
When the last bell rang I booked it out the door to the parking lot so that I could catch CeCe before she left. I found her Harvey parked right where I expected it to be. I sat myself down on the seat.
She rounded the corner of the school with her head down. She didn't even notice me until she was standing in the parking space. "What are you doing?" she asked. She crossed her arms as she waited for an answer.
"Waiting for you. I want to talk."
I patted the seat beside me. CeCe dropped her bag on the concrete and sat on the back of the bike. "Now will you tell me?" she huffed.
"I've realized lately that it's hard to be separated for long. Especially since I've gotten to know you."
CeCe wrapped her hand in mine. "I feel the same. It's good to see you again." She rested her head on my shoulder. I took a risk and pecked her. "You missed," she said.
CeCe pealed her head from my shoulder. "I said you missed." She leaned forward and placed her lips against mine.
I kissed her back.
When we pulled away I stared into her big, brown eyes. "Does that mean you like me?" I said stupidly.
"Better question; Is it okay if I become your girlfriend?"
I kissed her again.
"I like that answer," CeCe giggled.