Chapter 1

It's almost fall. I can tell.

I sit down on the front of my porch putting my headphones on. I know it's the twenty-first century. There is iPods and MP3 players and all of that stuff. You can download everything so much faster on the internet. But I take out my CD player. It looks like the same one I had when I was eight. They can update any MP3 player. But CD players have been the same for eight years. I'm old fashioned I guess. I still buy those old things like compact disks and I don't own an MP3 player. I might as well be back in the 90s where I grew up.

But honestly, I think CDs are better than files on a computer. I just don't admit that too often.

Dave should be coming in a few minutes. Driving down my street in his camaro. But I always come out early and sit and listen to whatever CD my gut tells me will suit me best today. My father always told me to trust my gut. So far that hasn't let me down.

If you've never been to Kerrington or any place like it- you're really missing out. It's a small-ish town. Not tiny a-gust-of-wind-can-blow-a-feather-through-it-in-two-minutes type small. Just a suburban town. Except it might as well be two towns. Because everything here- in my point of view- comes in twos. There are two high schools; Kerrington High School and Coolen J. High School. There are two coffeeshops, two hardware stores, two grocery stores, two higher class neighborhoods, two Kelly/Kellie Drives with two different spellings. There is two of everything.

Kerrington High School is where I go.

There isn't much I have to say about myself except for my name is Elisa. I'm short. I always have been. Not too short. Just average. I look like I'm twelve. I have freckles still. And my hair is a light brown. I wear band t-shirts to school. And I love music. You ask anyone about me you'll get the same answer. You'll get that I'm quiet, shy and emo. But most likely the person you are asking will ask if you're talking about the Elisa Simmons who is dating Dave Mandeville. The answer is yes. I am dating Dave Mandeville. The last thing I have to tell you is that I am in love.

I've been dating Dave for four months. We met back in the beginning of summer. And since then we've been happy and in love.

I was at a show for his band Three Cheers with my best friend Cass. We were walking around and we ran into them and started talking. I'm usually really quiet and awkward around everybody. But Dave just started talking to me. It was strange. I didn't feel awkward or nervous around him. We just started talking. And then two weeks later we were together and we've been perfect ever since.

His car is red with black stripes down the front. He comes down my street pulling up to the curb where he always does. And I walk over and climb into the front seat of his car. He smiles and kisses me. "Hello," He says smiling kissing me again. His voice still gives me butterflies sometimes in the morning when it's so sweet and awake.

I smile back at him. "Hi," He starts going down my street to turn at the culdesac at the end. I shut my CD player off and slide it into my bag.

He sighs like he does every morning when I have my CD player out. A light sweet sigh. "You still using that old CD player?" He asks.

I smile quietly at him. "Yeah,"

"I'm buying you an iPod for Christmas." He says looking over at me for a quick second. I shake my head smiling he pauses at the curve of the culdesac. Not all the way around. He kisses me again. His lips soft and so sweet against mine. "My little minimalist." His hand goes onto my knee. And it stays there as we continue driving again.

All I need is Dave. To brighten up my day. And if my day is already perfect, I just need him to make it better. He's everything I'm not. Ying and Yang, Cass says. I'm quiet, he's outgoing and friendly. He takes the attention away from me. He is always happy when I'm sad. He's always there. He's everything I would ever want in a person. I love him in every way.

I'm not a huge fam of Public Affection as some may say. I really just don't like people watching me. And Dave. But in the mornings we always kiss. We stand on the dge of the hallways where we both go off in our different ways. He's a senior and I'm a junior. We don't have any classes together but nearly every lunch except for Day 7. I'm happy though that we can walk together in the halls if we see each other. And if not we'll see each other at the end of the day always because in the mess of the halls we always find each other.

There is a short walk ot my locker from where Dave and I always kiss in school. Except it seems much further because it's never not been crowded. And though the shoulders and heads of the people all around me- jocks, cheerleaders, druggies, nerds, geeks, and emos- I can always see Cass.

Her hair is dyed yellow and orange. Bright and radiant like her personality. It's strange how she's my best friend not some other quiet girl. I guess the reason she is such a good friend to me is because she's so different. She's like Dave. In so many ways she is just everything I'm not. She sees me coming up to my locker beside hers. "Hey," She says smiling.


"Do you have your copy of Catcher in the Rye?" She asks quickly. The thing about her is she never does homework. She always saves a bit of it for homeroom. Always. No matter what. Usually it's English. I unzip my back pack and hand her my old faded and folded copy. It's ancient I swear.

"Ohmygosh, Thank you!" She takes it. "What would I do without you Elisa?"

"Your homework,"

She laughs and takes the book. "I was hanging out with Miles last night." She says. Miles is really good friends with Cass. You'd think they'd be going out or "together" but they're not. Their just friends. Miles is friends with all of the potheads and he's been straightedge all his life. He doesn't drink or do anything. He's also vegan and loves to watch movies. He reads Dr. Suess still because he swears it has a bigger meaning than a cat appearing into some kids' life who are bored on a rainy day. He and Cass just watch movies and talk and hang out while his friends are out in the woods somewhere.

"What did you guys do?" I ask emptyign my bag out into my locker. I keep it fairly organized. I have one of those locker shelfs and my mother is an organizing freak. Her label-machine is her best friend when she finds something out of order. I do it because organization is the best word for my house since I can remember.

"We watched The Breakfast Club again." She says. "He loves that movie so much. No matter how unrealistic it is, he never get's sick of it. "

"Cool," I say.

"What did you do last night?" Cass sayd looking at me while I shut my locker slinging my bag over my shoulder.

"I talked to Dave and read a lot of Catcher in the Rye. I like it. It's a really good book." I don't talk much about Dave to Cass anymore. It's not that she doesn't care. She does. It's just she doesn't like Dave that much. I know she doesn't. She's never said it to me but it's clear. Her and Dave just don't get along. He doesn't like her either. So at least it's mutual.

"You could have hung out with em and Miles. Just call us. Or hey, I'll call you next time." She said. I know Cass is a good friend. And I love her for that. I'm lucky to have her. Sometimes I miss just hvaing a bestfriend. No boyfriend, but I love Dave more than anything. Without him I'm nothing.

Our homeroom is a mess. It's all football players who just walk aorund and hit each other and shove and yell and fight. It sounds immature and it is. But really you don't know how stupid it is until you sit back and watch them slappign eachother in the back with books. It's only like this is you have a sportsdriven teacher like Mr. Calliber for homeroom. It's a mad house. I have no idea how Cass can stand reading in this.

She manages though. I watch the news. And look around. Sometimes though, watching football players acting like compltete idiots is more enteraining than two nerbs and a video camera with cue cards or sittign at your desk doing nothing.

English has to be my favorite class. I read a lot. I always have. But I don't say much. Which is weird having it be my favorite class, but I don't talk much in any of my classes. We all sit down. Tired zoning out, it being our first class and everything. My teacher is Ms. Masons. She's pretty young and is a good teacher. She likes discussions.

"What did you think of the first few chapters?" She asks. Nobody raises their hands. It's been a month, we learn quickly. "Bennett what about you?"

If you live in Kerrington and don't know who Bennett Williams- I'm sorry- you must be living under a rock. It's almost like not knowing who Oprah Winfrey is or George Washington or Ronald McDonald. He looks up. He had been writing. Who knows. He's Bennett Williams. That doesn't stop people from using their imagination.

He is really tall and skinny. He is actually very good-looking. He has long dark hair, but I've never seen him up close really. His clothes are skin tight. He's about as emo as you can get in Kerrington. He plays music and reads peotry and is Ms. Masons go-to when we're not responsive. Not because he's always eager to say anything. It's just what he says.

He talks. Picking up on things I never got out of my reading. And talking about all of this symbolism and meaning. You'd think he wrote the SparkNotes to this or had them memorized in the back of his brain. We all sit silently. All listening. No matter how much you hate him. What he says you always listen to.

Ms. Masons writes some things he says on the board as he says them. When he's done she's busy still writing. Going as fast as she can to catch up. That's when some kid from the football team says it. "Faggot."

It's something you catch onto quickly when you're around Bennett Williams. You're likely to hear the word "Faggot" a couple times.

"Alright," Ms. Masons says. "Any comments on what Bennett just said."

Some hands raise. I keep mine down and sit silently for the rest of the class. Letting the nerds and geeks talk. It's funny how Bennett Williams doesn't say anything after that. He just shrinks back. And sits quietly. Like me. But it's stupid comparing myself to a legend.

It's like comparing myself to Van Gogh.

Dave always seems to find me. Without him I think I'd just get lost in the crowds of people in the hallways. He runs up to me. Always and slides a hand around my waist. "Hi," He says. He kisses my cheek. "How was English?"

"The same." I say smiling a little at him. He always gives me butterflies no matter what.

"I know. english is such a drag." He says looking forward in the halls. When we walk he says Hi to at least five or seven people. Anyone who looks at him and lifts an hand in a wave he syas Hello to. I feel like the girl in all of those High School movies who finally finds the perfect guy and they walk down the hallways together.

I would never say that to anyone. Because first of all that's just plain cheesy. But really it's a great feeling. Especially when I'm with Dave walking down the hall. Because there's nobody I'd rather be with.