June 12th, 2010
"Fang, I can't believe you referenced Bacon so many times. Or Kesha. Or Lady Gaga. Or even Justin Bieber. For that matter, how do you know who these people are? I never knew you even knew what pop culture was."
"I'd love to know the answer to that question as much as you."
"And for not going to school, you have pretty good grammar and spelling."
"I feel like that was a back-handed compliment."
"And I can't believe you loved me that whole time. I honestly thought that the emotionless brick wall thing was who you actually were inside."
That was the conversation Max and I had a few hours ago.
Yeah. She read you.
Right after the Phoenix airport disaster that had gripped the world, I knew Max needed something to do, or otherwise she'd blame herself for all of the deaths. So I gave you to her to read, Diary, which she's been doing this whole week. She just finished this morning.
And she gave me her diary, too.
Her entries were a lot more… sane. Just three-paragraph entries that didn't reference the latest pop stars and didn't feature sex jokes. (Then again, it's not a diary without sex jokes. Keep that in mind for the future.)
Although, I've got to say it: you know Lady Gaga's new song, Alejandro, right? Alejandro is Spanish for Alexander, which is my name, and I totally feel that Lady Gaga wrote that song just for me. I know it. (I was surprised when Nudge told me that little fact about the name, though. I was just as surprised when I learned that the word quote is a verb and quotation is a noun, meaning that you can't have a favorite quote. It feels like everything I've ever known is a lie.)
A bit if an update as to what's been going on for the past few days: We're still on the hunt for Nathan, but Angel thinks she's got a lead. David has filed for a visa and he's trying to find a job in Mesa. Nudge bought eight tickets for the midnight premiere of Eclipse. Gazzy didn't cry in his sleep last night. Yesterday the contingent of Mexicans that Iggy pissed off in Kansas showed up at the door screaming for vengeance and his blood.
Excepting the blood stains on the wall due to the little…incident yesterday, it was a nice afternoon.
The whole family was scattered around the family room and the kitchen. Angel and Nudge were on the couch gathered around my laptop since they made it a personal goal to try and Rickroll every person on the Internet, and Gazzy was watching the latest World Cup match (okay, admit it: when you think of the World Cup, you think of Quidditch, not soccer. Sorry, FIFA) and he was screaming along with the crowd, even though he didn't care who won or lost. And that whole paragraph was one sentence; I'm impressed.
Max and I had been casually talking at the table. We were both floored that we'd both been in love with each other, and we hadn't said anything. Basically, that's the plotline of every rom-com out there.
"You know-" She started to say, but suddenly Gazzy jumped out of his seat in the family room and started swearing at the TV due to a bad shot on goal or something. "Do you want to…?" She nodded her head towards the door. I smiled.
(Yeah. A smile. With teeth. So shoot me.)
The Arizona heat can be torture during the day, but by now it had faded. It was the perfect evening; the sky was pink and blue and yellow and wow, did I really just make that observation? Next I'll be commenting on what we were wearing. (FYI, T-shirts and shorts for both of us.) Hand-in-hand, Max and I walked down the sidewalk towards the park.
We didn't talk until we both sat down on the swings.
We didn't start to swing, though; we just sat there on the rubbery seats. Even though the evening was so great, the park was completely empty except for us. "You know," I said, "This year I learned how to live by dying."
She tucked a piece of her hair behind her ear, since a breeze was starting to pick up. "It's not a year unless you can look back on it and laugh and cry. If you can't do both, then you really haven't lived that year to the fullest."
"I can do both."
"We all can." She laughed and looked down. She drew designs in the sand with toe of her sandal. "After reading your Diary… don't you worry that it will become outdated? In a few years, no one is going to remember that Tiger Woods cheated. No one is going to remember how popular Tik Tok was. No one is going to remember the oil spill. No one is going to remember anything we talk about today."
That was an interesting point she was making. But maybe unconsciously, I'd know what I'd been doing. "Isn't that the point?" I asked. "I write to make people remember. In ten years or so, when I look back on the year I was fifteen, I'll remember that Kanye West was a jackass. I'll remember that according to the Black Eyed Peas, every night is a good night. I'll remember Haiti. When everyone else forgets, I'll remember."
"You're different than what I expected." She grinned and kicked her foot to create a new canvas. "No one ever bothered to get to know the real you. I never even knew you were capable of saying that many words last year."
"Being shy isn't so bad."
"Being shy is cute," she said. I knew at that moment that no one else existed in the world. Heck, other than that swing set and that sunset, nothing else existed.
"It is not, because that would imply I am cute, which I am not. Feel free to call me handsome, or dashing, or fetching, or whatever else sounds somewhat manly… but cute? Really?" If you had told me a year ago that I would be openly flirting with Max, I think I would have laughed hysterically and dropped dead.
"Really." The smile faded slightly. "Fang…"
"Death is scary."
"But everyone on the planet has either done it or will do it, so it can't be that bad." She let out a stream of air through her lips in a huge sigh. "Maybe I'm just telling myself that so I won't be so scared."
"Max." I reached over and grabbed the metal chain that was attached to her swing. I shook it a bit to get her to realize what I was saying. "Have you ever thought that maybe this is Heaven? I think it might be, because I'm so happy, life can't get any better. Heaven is the only place that could be this perfect. And when we do die – because it's a fact of life – we'll be together. That's a promise, and I don't break promises, Max. I've spent a year trying to get you, and I won't let death take you away."
Her eyes widened slightly. "That was shockingly romantic."
I pulled back and dropped the chain. "Yeah. I'm going to have to go home and use dental floss to pick out all of the fluff from my teeth."
"Why do you think all of these deep conversations are happening on the swings all of a sudden?" She gestured to the empty park. "Although it's a shame people are too blinded by the little things to notice the Heaven around them."
"Maybe the swings are like life. They have their ups and downs but they're always fun."
She laughed again, and I made it a personal goal in life to hear the sound of her laugh as much as possible. "Well, aren't you the wise one? You would've given Socrates a run for his money. Maybe it's the Greek blood."
We watched the sun go down.
Sometimes it's what's not said that counts.
It was the holding of the hands and the glances and the grins and the smiles that made that sunset special. Words just weren't needed. The actions said it all.
It was nice to just... sit, and watch the world go by. Once the sun had set and non-capitalized twilight had grown around us, we hopped off the swings and started for home. We walked slowly, as if we didn't want the night to end.
"I love you," Max said once we were on the porch. She leaned forwards to kiss me softly on the lips before pulling back. I took a long look at her. She had wild eyes, tangled hair, a rosy complexion - and knew that this was the girl - the woman - I was going to spent my life with.
"I love you too."
It's been a great year.
"You're back!" Angel said the second we walked in the door. Everyone was exactly where we left them before. Angel jumped off the couch and ran over and hugged Max. "You know, I hope this whole relationship thing doesn't include too many PDA's. If I see Iggy and Ella kiss again, one of them isn't going to wake up one morning."
That's my little death-threat-giving Angel. You know, maybe one day... maybe we could get another dog. Or a lion or a shark or something cool like that. No one could replace Total, of course. "Of course not, Angel," Max said. Her voice was teasing. "Do you really think Fang is capable of emotions?"
Once, I would have agreed. But now, I wouldn't give that feeling I have for Max away for anything.
"Of course not," Iggy said, walking up to us. He and I bumped fists in that total badass awesomesauce way. (What would happen if you coated something awesome with awesomesauce? The world would explode in Bacon, I bet.) "But I bet you're capable of other things, hmm?"
"Don't dignify that with a response," Nudge yelled over from the couch. Ella was next to her, and the two girls suddenly laughed at some sort of private joke. "Just ignore him; that plan works best for me."
"My plan is to just give Iggy some sort of explosive element and his High School Musical album and lock him in his room. It works every time," Gazzy said, his eyes still glued to the TV. "There's nothing like explosives to really make your day."
"Touché," Iggy said, hopping onto the back of the couch and hanging his feet over the edge.
I smiled; not at all of the banter, but just at all of us… being together. I really had prepared myself to die, and now that I have a new lease on life, I'm going to use it to my advantage. "Or maybe you could lock him in with some Bacon," I added, and everyone agreed.
That scene you read happened about an hour ago. Right now, I'm spread out on the couch, writing in you in plain sight. Gazzy is teaching Ella's some of the intricacies of soccer/football/whateverits called. David is on the phone and he just laughed for the first time in days. Angel and Nudge are painting each other's nails. Iggy's listening to his iPod. Max is squashed in between me and the couch.
A year, Diary. A whole year.
We were betrayed, and we were betrayed badly. And there are my Mom's words, too, that I have to remember… "Remember that the people closest to you are the ones who hurt the most." But you know what? The people closest to you are also the ones who make you feel the best. They're the people who pick you up when you're down. They're the people who know you inside and out. They're the people who make you want to live.
This is it.
Weirdly enough, these are the the last few pages of you, Diary. How coincidental is that everything wraps up right now? Of course, I'm going to go out and buy another diary – but it won't be you. It won't be the same. We've been through so much.
A whole year, Diary – and we did it together.
Not too bad for a lovesick mutant, hmm?
Yesterday I went down to the Patent Office and filed a patent for Bacon furniture; the guy at the office seemed really into it and thinks we could be rich by the end of next year. The first thing I'll do is buy a swing set. And maybe, if we're ready, one day, we'll get a dog.
…So much has happened.
It was the longest year of my life. But it was also the best.
I fell in love; I laughed with my family; I sat on the Grand Canyon; I ran around Vegas; I saw Niagara Falls; I got a makeover; I went to Times Square on New Years Eve; I cried; I ate half of a cockroach; my heart was broken; I stole shoes and had a show-down in Wal-Mart; I was a wanted criminal; I kissed Max; I got in a car chase; I shaved off Jeb's moustache; I met Beyoncé Spears and Agnes and Oksana and Mary and Sue and everyone else; I discovered my parents; I was Harry Potter; I made more Lady Gaga references than what is considered appropriate; I danced without music; I read Twilight; I kicked ninjas' asses (sorta); I learned that emotions aren't all that bad; I loosened up; I ate copious amounts of Bacon. In short, I lived.
And you know what? I wouldn't have changed anything. The laughter, the tears, the smiles, the pain, the life and the death and the gain and the loss- it was worth it.
I have my life ahead of me. I have Max and I have my family. I have hopes and dreams and for the first time I have a future.
Goodnight and goodbye, Diary. I had fun.
A/N- I cried while reading your reviews and PM's and emails and Facebook messages.
If I ever get published, I'll add another chapter to this story.
A year. This has been the best year of my life. I've done things I never even dreamed of. Those 14 days in August changed my life, and in March I knew anything was possible. (Challenges are opportunities in disguise. Trust me.)
And even if this wasn't your best year, next year will be even better. I didn't lie on my profile. If you give up, I will buy a plane ticket to wherever you live and slap you.
I'm posting this story at 11:11 pm so that no matter what time it is when you read this, you can make a wish.
I planned on writing through the summer, but I've been accepted as an exchange student. I should post my next story in late August or early September; if you add me on Author Alerts, you'll get a handy-dandy email when that happens. I plan on writing for the rest of my life; let's do this together. I hope that you'll continue to read my stuff, because without you, I'm nothing.
The Layman went and counted out some interesting things; the word "bacon" or some form of it (so including things like "bakon vodka") appears 291 times; any form of the word "love" appears 302 times; a Lady Gaga reference or song was 18 times; "Mesa" was 39; "High School Musical" was 10; "Twilight" was 50; "Chuck Norris" was 9; "Fax" was 9 and "Spock" was 2; "strippers" was 28; and an event that was hinted at but not explained (like Iggy and the Mexicans) was 19. The Layman needs some serious applause.
James Patterson: If you ever read this (which would blow my mind so much it hurts to even think about) then I want to know that nothing would be possible without you and your wonderful characters that have given us all hope.
As far as I know, we only get to live life once, so live it as much as you can.
Feel free to join the Vegas party in ten years.
Natvv has started a CafePress for this story – you can buy shirts and things like that; the link is on my profile. If I ever see anyone wearing a shirt from there, I will tackle you in a fit of gleeful joy. (I'll admit I just accidentally capitalized "gleeful".)
Thanks a billion, axisfiraga. (Carnations? Squirrels?... Over 9000 pieces of Bacon?)
To M.R.E. and B.W. and I.W. and everyone else… I believe that no goodbye is forever and I hope that you can always get a spot on the swings.
If you ever need someone to talk to, PM me or add me on Facebook (the link is on my profile).
Thank you again.
I had fun and I hope you did too.
Phoenix Fanatic (Or, in that crazy thing known as "the real world," Liz.)