The song featured is "I Drove All Night"- pick your artist, J. Watch out for the other half of this story coming soon : Gabriella's POV in "It's Like Catching Lightening". Let me know how you find this and remember THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR HSM3-DON'T READ IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN! Love Tink. xxxx
"What in this world
Keeps us from tearing apart
No matter where I go hear
The beating of our one heart
I think about you
When the night is cold and dark
No one can move me
The way that you do
Nothing erases this feeling between me and you"
I flicked on the radio, lost in my thoughts. An Oldies station, was that the song my mom loved? I Drove All Night? It had always sounded pretty lame in the past but now as it played I could totally understand, totally get it. As I drove I thought about the last time I'd seen her, our unknown awkward, stilted goodbye…………..
I'd surprised her with a midnight pizza picture and climbed up her balcony. We ate companionably, sharing secret smiles and kisses in the moonlight, enjoying the night, the peace, and the chance to just be together. But there was something on my mind, something I had to say to her.
"So here's the thing…. your freshman honors program at Stanford" I'd said nervously, wiping my mouth.
Her beautiful smile slipped and her body tensed "How'd you hear about that?" she asked me quietly, avoiding my eyes.
I sighed knowing this wasn't going to be pleasant "A lot of people heard about it but I wasn't one of em…why" I'd asked her unable to keep the hurt, the accusation from my voice.
She had frowned at me, an expression I had always found so adorable, now tearing me up inside.
"Because I knew what you would say," she said defensively
"Gabriella, you have to so that honors program" I'd told her fiercely; although a huge part of me was secretly thrilled she was having second thoughts.
I wanted to tell her no, beg her to stay at East High, to stay with me for our last few weeks but I couldn't do that, it wasn't fair, it wasn't right.
She sighed again, looking unsure of herself, torn "I've been thinking about asking my Mom to stay on another year, maybe take some classes at U of A, go to Stanford when I'm ready"
I felt elated yet cold inside. Gabriella wanted to stay because of me but I couldn't let her, couldn't let her pass this opportunity up, besides I didn't even know if I was going to U of A.
I shook my head "Brie, you can't just put off something as amazing as Stanford"
She looked so sad, it nearly broke my heart " I just want everything to slow down…. I don't know if I'm ready to graduate, ready to leave East High" she looked at me and her meaning was clear if unspoken, ready to leave you.
She had to know how it was, that there was no stopping the future "We're gonna graduate Gab, it's gonna happen, nothing is gonna stop that" I'd told her, my tone harsher than I'd meant it to be.
Unhappiness marred her face "I get it Troy" she said defensively "This is what's meant to happen right"
I looked at her for long seconds, desperately wanting to argue with her, contradict her but I couldn't, this was what had to happen. I remained mute.
She rose to her feet, her grace still a surprise to me after all this time. The midnight picnic was over, the tension between us now palpable.
"Don't say anything, it's okay….you should go, it's getting late" she told me softly.
I looked at her sensing the sadness inside her that echoed my own. She reached up a hand and touched my hair softly, caressing my cheek. I wanted to pull her to me and never let go.
"I am so much better at goodbyes than you are, I've had more practice," she said with an attempt at humor that's fell flat.
I looked down at her an icy fist closing around my heart at her words
"Why are you saying goodbye?"
She looked at me and then glanced away quickly "I meant goodnight" she murmured, rising on her toes to kiss me. Her lips were soft and warm against my cheek, her breath moist on my skin. I leaned into her touch, not knowing it would be one of the last times I kissed her.
"Goodnight Brie" I'd said before turning and escaping down her balcony, the image of her against the moonlight burned into my brain.
Two days later a For Sale sign appeared in the drive way and she was gone. Nobody knew she was leaving, not Taylor and not me. The letter she left me was brief, perfunctory even.
I couldn't face another painful goodbye. I'll call you once I'm settled at Stanford. Please forgive me.
And that was it, she was gone, just like that.
If I had known the night of the midnight picnic that she wasn't coming back, wasn't coming home to me, things would be different now. I wouldn't be here driving 1053 miles to hear her laugh, to taste her lips, to tell her goodbye, to let her go……………..
The most amazing thing about Gabriella isn't just her brain, it's her innate kindness, her ability to empathize and understand, to always do the right thing, no matter the cost to herself. When we starred together in Twinkle Town, it was like we had found our split apart, the other half of ourselves. She made me see things, to see people in a different light. She changed East High, she changed me for the better. One beautiful freaky genius girl became my world in an incredibly short space of time. She made me realize that there was something else in this life besides Basketball, she showed me what it was like to be myself, and she showed me what it was like to break free………………
As I drove through state after state, all I could see is my Brie, alone, thinking about what she'd said, what she'd done, unsure, unhappy. From our previous phone calls I know she claims to be enjoying herself, but I know my Brie too well not to realize what staying there is costing her.
Having moved so much in her past Gabriella had never had the chance to attend school dances or formals.
She had looked forward so much to this prom, not just because of me but also because of us, the Wildcats, because for the first time in a long time she'd had friends. Attending Prom would have meant she could celebrate with them too, feel accepted at last, feel part of something bigger than herself. Now she would believe she was gonna be alone on the night of her prom, the night most girls look forward to their entire life. I couldn't leave her like that while I partied back at East High; I had to go to her.
Darkness fell and the air grew cold around me, I knew it was time to call my folks and take a rest but all I could think about was Gabriella. Every mile that passed got me one step closer to where I needed to be. I spent a restless night, alternating between napping and drinking coffee. The road ahead long and straight. But she was always with me, there inside me, burning me, calling me, whispering to me of her presence. Hearing her inside my head, made me think again about the big choices I had to face, alone, nobody was suddenly gonna tell me what to do, nobody was gonna make these decisions for me. This time I had to figure it out for myself. But I kept coming back to the same thing, that my future was where Gabriella was, and right now she was at Stanford.
She haunted me, an almost a tangible presence as memory after memory accompanied me through the long solitary hours. I could see her smile, hear her voice, feel her touch, her hand in mine. I imagined what would happen when I finally found her and then suddenly I was plagued with insecurities, what would happen if she didn't want me there? Rejection was not something I had considered, it had never occurred to me. I had always assumed that she would want me, for as long as I wanted her. The thought that she wouldn't was too much for me to take.
By the time I reached one of the parking lots of Stanford, checked Gabriella's schedule and changed into my tux, the afternoon was drawing on. My thoughts invariably turned to my friends in Albuquerque and what they would be doing about now. Chad was probably up to his ears in hair product and Jason and Zeke would be hanging out together till the last minute. I felt a brief pang of regret but ultimately I knew I had made the right choice.
I had napped a few hours before and was eager to see her, my heart thudding in anticipation. I located her building and leaned against the trunk of a nearby tree, to wait for her, trying desperately to look as though I belonged there. I didn't exactly blend in, wearing a tux, basketball shoes and holding a frickin corsage. In those minutes I got a couple of hundred strange looks and unable to take the scrutiny anymore I climbed into the bough of the tree.
I suddenly had an inkling of how Gabriella had felt at our call back for Twinkle Town. People staring, well that was something I had grown used to during my time on the basketball squad but this was a whole different ball game. I felt nervous, awkward, and suddenly unsure. My heart was pounding, my palms sweating, as I noticed that her class was letting out at last, as students began to file out of the building, chatting animatedly.
This was it, my moment! My future was right here, right now and with this girl, who was walking my way, so beautiful in her ignorance of my presence. She walked alone, a sad wistful look on her face, making my heart twist painfully inside my chest. I drank in the sight of her for a few seconds, her very presence soothing my soul. She looked as beautiful as I remembered her hair loose and curling around her shoulders, her white sundress highlighting her soft olive skin.
I watched as she came to an abrupt stop, obviously spotting my truck and slowly a delighted grin spread across her face, transforming her, making her entire face light up.
This was is it; my future was now not just ahead of me but below me too, wearing a beautifully bemused expression.
"Figured you'd be the last one out of the building" I called down to her, the happiness I felt evident in my voice, our eyes meeting as she looked up at me. And in that second the future no longer seemed a scary place. Like I said before, my future was right here, right now, with my Gabriella.