Summer 2027

Cafeteria, Tree Hill High School

It was a beautiful summer day when my best friend Sawyer and I were sitting in the cafeteria of our High School and had lunch together. We were friends as long as I could remember, which was probably because our mothers had been best friends since High School, too. Precisely because I knew Sawyer so well, I immediately noticed that today she was silent and just picking at her food.

"Did something happen?" I asked, looking at her worriedly. As she shoved her plate to the side that she had barely touched, I knew I hit the nail on the head.

"He's leaving Tree Hill."

"Who are you talking about?" I asked, confused. But right after I had asked that question, I knew who she meant. I tried not to roll my eyes. For quite some time now, she had a crush on one of the trainers of the High School basketball team, the 'Ravens'. And I couldn't blame her because Justin Baker was really hot. But this crush would lead to nowhere. At age 21, he was five years older than Sawyer and I and knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish in his life. We were still in the middle of puberty and had no idea what we wanted to do for a living after school. But why should we decide even now, where there was still so much to discover, until we were grown-up? I looked worriedly at Sawyer, knowing that she wished nothing more than a fairy would appear to let her grow older.

"Justin," she admitted with a sigh. "Izzy told me that he wants to go to L.A. to become an actor."

Isabella Baker, also called 'Izzy', was Justin's little sister and the youngest daughter of my aunt Brooke and her husband Julian. She was one and a half years younger than me and in 10th grade. Unlike me, Izzy already knew exactly what she wanted to do when she was older; a fashion designer, like her mom. She had designed the outfits for the latest cheerleading season together with my aunt and I had to admit that she really did have an eye for fashion. "Put that idea right out of your mind!" I urged Sawyer.

"I can't. I love him," she said unhappily.

I rolled my eyes. "What do you know about love? Have you ever had a boyfriend before?"

She shook her head. "You don't need to have sexual experiences to love someone," she said defiantly.

I felt my cheeks burning. That comment was aimed at me because my boyfriend and I had touched each other in an intimate way without having sex. He had just stopped. But even though he hadn't been ready for the next step in our relationship, I had been more than willing to lose my innocence to him. "You can't compare what Jude and I have with each other, with your mindless crush!" I said more harsh than intended, causing her to flinch slightly. "Oh shit, Sawyer, I'm sorry!" I said contrite and reached over the table for her hand. "I didn't mean to make fun of it. But you know how absurd this is, right? You better should find someone your age," I suggested.

"And who? Justin's younger brother Davis?" She asked wryly.

"Why not?" I shrugged. "As far as I know, he's solo right now." When she glared at me, I knew that my suggestion had been a mistake. "Okay, maybe not exactly Davis," I said quickly. "He just wants to score with a girl and then drop her like a hot potato." I rolled my eyes. "I don't know how twin brothers can be so different."

"If you're just trying to lose your virginity as quickly as possible, then you could ask him," Sawyer said flippantly.

I looked at her in horror. "Just because I'm talking about it doesn't mean that I would do it with the first one that comes along! Besides, he is Jude's twin brother." I looked at my food in disgust, which now became cold. "But we are completely off topic. Was Justin the reason for your bad mood?"

Sawyer nodded. "I'm going to miss him, and I thought about giving him a farewell gift," she said softly.

"What kind of farewell gift?" I asked, frowning.

"I wanted to write a poem for him," she confessed with a shy grin. "Do you think he would like that?"

"If you want to make a fool of yourself, just do it." I sighed and pushed a strand of my dark blond hair out of my face.

"Anonymously," she added quickly. "And you've got to help me."

"Me?" Confused and with raised brows, I looked at her. "How should I help you with this?"

"You are Jamie's sister. I thought you could smuggle the poem into his locker," she suggested. "If I give it to you, then Jamie could put it in there. You don't have to say who wrote it. But I have no other way to get into the boys changing room."

I looked at her skeptically. "I don't know, Sawyer. Justin doesn't seem to be the kind of guy who likes romantic stuff. And as I said before, even if he reads your poem, he still doesn't know it's from you." I shrugged. "Maybe it would be easier if you tell him what you feel. I mean, it doesn't matter anyway, because he'll leave Tree Hill in a couple of days."

"Did you know that he sometimes looks at me when we have Cheerleader training?"

"Have you ever looked in the mirror?" I asked with a grin. "You're a natural beauty with your long, fair-haired curls and slender figure. One would have to be blind to not notice you."

Sawyer laughed. "Thanks for the description, but that applies to you as well."

"Only that my hair is shorter, dirty blond and I weigh more than you," I said dryly.

"But you have a boyfriend and I haven't. I really envy you," she admitted with a sigh.

She was right. Jude and I were perfect for each other. We had grown up together, had gone to the same kindergarten and later the same school, too. We had started out as friends but gradually it had turned into something more, something deeper.

"Lydia?"

I looked up. "What?"

"Will you do me the favor and give Jamie my poem so he can put it in Justin's locker?" She repeated again.

I nodded, sighing. "I'll do it. And I also don't tell Jamie that you were the sender, okay?" When she jumped up, walked around the table and hugged me, I laughed.

"We should go back to class now," Sawyer said, taking her tray off the table.

"Do you know when Justin is leaving for L.A.?" I asked.

"I don't know. Soon I guess." She shrugged. "They probably want to give a farewell party for him. At least Izzy mentioned something like that. I think, not before the next weekend. But I'll ask her later. We wanted to do homework together."

"At the Baker's house?"

Sawyer shook her head. "No, at our house. My mom invited Izzy's mom to coffee and cake. And Izzy and I will be doing our homework in the meantime."

My heart jumped for joy. "And where is her dad?"

"I suppose at the movie set," Sawyer shrugged. "As far as I know, he is currently shooting a new movie."

"And Justin and Jamie wanted to meet to play basketball," I mumbled thoughtfully. An idea suddenly crossed my mind. "Thanks for the info!" I jumped up and grabbed my tray as well. "You're right. We should go back to class. Let's go!" I ignored her puzzled look as we returned the trays to the service area and then went on to our classes.