It was a sunny day out, a perfect day to end the school year. I loaded up another box of my things into Luke's truck, which was parked in front of the huge mover's van that sat on our curb. Men were walking in and out of our house, loading furniture that was too big to fit into Luke's car. Pretty soon our entire house would be nothing but walls and flooring.
"Mom, do you need help loading anything else?" I asked her. She was just bringing a box of her stuff out when I felt my phone buzz. I read the text message and smiled. Jocelyn gave me knowing look and told me she had everything under control. I went over and pecked her on the cheek before getting into my car.
It was a short drive to the pizza place where we went after play practice about a month ago. I parked in one of the few empty spots and made sure my car was locked before going inside. The bell on the door dinged and right away I heard a voice shout my name.
"Over here, Clary!" I looked over to see Simon waving at me from the corner of the room. I smiled and walked over to the group of people already seated at the table. There were people from the plays over the last couple of years, my closest group of friends, and then a few people I had classes with. I greeted them all and a couple came up and hugged me.
It was greet seeing all my friends together for what would be the last time in a long time.
"How is packing?" Isabelle asked me as I took the seat next to her. I scooted my chair closer to the table and took a sip of the glass of water in front of me.
"Fine, we're almost done. The movers came early yesterday to help us pack everything up. They've been working all day. Pretty soon, my house will be empty, then I'll have a new place to call home."
"And you must promise me you will call me every day to tell me how things are going," she demanded. I rolled my eyes but couldn't help the smile that crossed my face. I would really miss Isabelle. She's been such a great friend to me throughout the years, and I have a hard time imagining my life without her.
"Really, Isabelle, everyday?" I joked. She nodded and shrugged.
"How else am I going to help you pick out your outfits for school?" I shook my head and laughed as Simon sat in the seat next to me.
"Well, I'm going to miss you, Clary," he said, lightly punching me on the shoulder. "Who's going to be our biggest fan now?" I laughed and reached over to hug him.
"I'm still your biggest fan, Si," I told him. He took off his glasses and wiped them on the edge of his shirt. When he put his glasses back on, he had a sad smile on his face.
"I know, Fray. I know." I had talked to Simon almost every day for as long as I can remember. He's been there for me for everything, from the time I threw up at school in fourth grade and was so embarrassed I never wanted to go back to the time I was rejected by Eddie Kofner in the 9th grade. Simon has picked me back up from every embarrassing moment, telling me he'd beat up anyone who tried to hold throwing up against me (even if he really couldn't) and that Eddie wasn't good enough for me anyway. I could always count on him to be there for me.
We ate our pizza while a conversation carried on around us. I told everyone about what my new school was like and the beautiful house Luke and my mother bought. I had only seen pictures online, but from what I saw, it looked comfy and cozy.
It still made me sad when I thought of leaving everyone here. I was so happy when I heard about the "Going Away" party Isabelle set up for me. I was grateful for that last chance to say goodbye to everyone before I left. We were leaving tomorrow morning, and I still didn't feel ready.
It had been a week since the play ended. I had spent the rest of the days hanging out with Simon, Isabelle, and Maia, and when I wasn't seeing my friends, I was packing up boxes and boxes of stuff to take with me. There was still one person I hadn't said goodbye to yet, and I knew I couldn't leave until I did.
Isabelle told me she invited Jace to this, but he hadn't shown up yet. I felt myself glancing towards the door every time the bell went off, expecting to see his face with a hidden smirk on it. But each ding brought on a new wave of disappointment.
Someone brought a cake, and we dug into that after we were all done with our pizza. Isabelle kept taking pictures with her camera, saying she'd send them to me when she got them developed. When it became about nine at night, the place was almost empty except for us and a few other people still eating their dinner.
The bell rang again, and I glanced over, my heart beating faster when I saw his blond hair. Alec, Isabelle's brother, followed closely behind him, looking as uncomfortable as ever. I tried not to let the relief show in my face as he made his way over to our table. Isabelle said something to Alec as Jace stood there somewhat awkwardly. I hadn't talked to him very much the past couple of days. The only time I ever saw him was in class, and he had made no attempt to talk to me there. I had convinced myself that he was over me and finally accepting that I was leaving, now wanting nothing to do with me.
I had to admit that it hurt to think about it like that. Whether Jace still had feelings for me or not, we were still friends. It made me wish I had gotten to know Jace earlier in the year, maybe then I would have seen who he really was sooner, and we'd have more time to become better friends.
Jace glanced at me and met my gaze. He gave the tinniest nod of his head towards the door, and then turned and walked out of the building. I told everyone I'd be back before standing up and walking outside myself.
I found Jace leaning against the wall, his hands stuffed down his pockets. He looked over at me as I joined him.
"So you're leaving tomorrow," he said, not as a question but as a statement; an inevitable fact. I nodded my head, not saying anything. He sighed and stood up straight, facing me.
"Look, Clary . . ." he trailed off, rubbing his hand over his face. I looked down at our shoes, only a few inches apart.
"What is it, Jace?" I asked him, waiting for him to continue. He sighed and closed his eyes for a moment before opening them again.
"When we were on stage, acting, during that last scene with you - I felt like it wasn't just acting. I felt like there was something more," he told me in a rush. I nodded slowly, trying to comprehend what he was saying. I knew his feelings, but I wasn't sure if he was asking me if I felt the same way, or if he was just stating that fact.
"What do you mean?" I asked him slowly. He let out his breath in a huff and looked down at me.
"Did you feel it at all? I mean even a little bit?" he asked me, looking me straight in the eye. I looked down again and he brought his hand up to my face, forcing me to meet his gaze.
I thought back to the little feeling in my stomach as he kissed me. I could tell Jace the truth and make things more complicated, knowing I'd have to leave tomorrow; or I could lie and not have to risk leading him on.
"Jace . . ." I didn't know what to do. If I said yes, I did feel something, even if it was just a little thing that might not even mean anything, I could give him false hope that would only lead to disappointment and hurt. But what if it did mean something? What if there was the chance that we could actually be together, even if I was far away from him? I closed my eyes and clenched my jaw. If this was a book, or a movie, or even a play, I'd say yes, and we'd kiss. I'd find a reason to stay and we'd be together and live happily ever after.
But this wasn't any of those things. This was real life.
"I'm sorry, Jace . . . I didn't," I lied. I watched his face fall, and he dropped his hand, taking a step back. He lowered his gaze, no longer able to hold mine. I swallowed back the lump in my throat as he nodded.
"I thought so . . . I just - hoped," he told me. I started to awkwardly play with my hands, hoping my face didn't give away my lie.
"But does it matter?" I asked him. He looked up at me in confusion. "I'm leaving, remember? Even if I had felt something . . . I'll still be gone by tomorrow."
"Right," he said in a voice that made it seem as if it was the worst thing in the world. I was never one for long distant relationships. It was just too hard, and I didn't want to have to go through with that, not when I wasn't even sure about us. It just seemed like too much work for a relationship that hadn't even started yet. How secure would our relationship be if it started out long distance? It never would have worked. That's just the way real life is.
"I'll miss you, Clary," he said after what felt like a long time. I gave him my attempt at a smile.
"I'll miss you, too, Jace. I'm glad I got to know you more. I can leave knowing I've made a new friend," I told him. I didn't miss his little cringe at the word "friend".
He opened his arms then, and I went into them, giving him one last hug. I ended up burying my face in his chest, memorizing his scent. He pulled back too soon, and I instantly felt the loss of him.
Someone walked out through the door, and we both looked over to find Alec standing there, waiting for Jace.
"Are you ready?" he asked Jace, looking relieved to leave the party inside.
"Yeah, just a sec," Jace told him. Alec looked from Jace to me, then back to Jace before nodding his head, wiping his black hair out of his face, and turning to go to wherever they parked their car.
"Well, I guess this is goodbye then," Jace said to me, a sad look in his eyes. I nodded, unable to say anything around the lump in my throat. I cleared it as best as I could.
"Bye, Jace," I said quietly. He looked unsure about something, but then leaned down and kissed my cheek lightly. I held on to the feeling of his lips against my cheek, even though it only lasted for a second. Then he walked past me and followed Alec to his car.
I stood there a moment, waiting until I collected myself before going back inside. Everything was how I left it. People were still eating the cake, and Simon was standing up, probably telling some joke that nobody else would understand.
I sat back down in my spot, and Isabelle looked over at me.
"Are you okay? You look . . . down," she told me. I shrugged.
"I'm fine," I said. She looked at me closely, studying me.
"Whatever you say . . . You know, you should have let me come over before this and let me do your make-up. Not that you need it or anything but it would have looked nice, and-"
I blocked her out as she rambled on about make-up and clothes. I leaned back in my chair and closed my eyes, forgetting for a moment that I'm at my own going away party, soon to be leaving for a whole new life in a whole new city. I forgot about missing my friends, and how I'd only be able to talk to them on the phone. I forgot about Luke's new job, and how different things would really turn out to be. And I forgot about Jace, and how I had let him walk away without even a second thought.
Instead I just relaxed and let my empty mind drown out the voices around me. They could all wait for a minute or two. I needed this time to collect myself, otherwise I'd go crazy. I thought of the play, and how good it felt to be on the stage. For those few moments, I got to be an entirely different person: new name, new personality, new story.
"Clary, are you even listening to a word I am saying? I'm trying to help you out here."
I looked over at Isabelle. She was staring at me, her eyebrows raised and her hands on her hips. She looked me up and down before rolling her eyes and folding her arms across her chest. Isabelle sighed and crossed her legs.
"Honestly, Clary, where does your mind go to?" she questioned, reaching forward to grab her glass of water. She took a sip before placing it back on the table. "You really need to be more observant. Everything will just end up passing you by if you let it."
Then she turned to talk to the guy next to her. I slumped in my chair and closed my eyes, wishing everything around me would just freeze so I could take the time to collect all my thoughts. I rubbed my temples, feeling a headache coming on.
"Hey, Isabelle?" She looked over at me. I knew I'd disappoint her, but I really didn't feel like partying. "Is it okay if I go?" Isabelle's face dropped and her eyebrows went down in confusion.
"But . . . why? Was this place not good? You know I could have picked another one, or maybe a different time? Or what-" I shook my head and cut her off.
"No, no, it's not any of that. I'm just not in the mood to be surrounded by people. I'd rather go home, take a shower, and spend my last night in my room," I explained. Isabelle nodded in understanding and told me she'd take care of everyone. I thanked her and stood up.
I gave a quick wave to Simon and said goodbye to a few others before walking out of the restaurant. The brisk air was refreshing and helped clear my head a little. I pulled out my phone to check the time before getting into my car. I sat there for a moment and leaned my head on the wheel. I don't know what's wrong with me. I thought I had accepted everything, but all of a sudden, if feels like there's so much more I have to do before I go. I feel like things are left undone, people I still have to say things to and priorities I have to straighten out.
I turned on my car and drove quickly from the pizza place, anxious to get home and to where I hoped my problems wouldn't follow me.
I woke up the next day feeling like I hadn't slept for months. I was groggy and the morning sun stung against my closed eye lids. I turned away from the window, burying my head in my pillow hoping to get a few more hours of sleep.
"Clary, come down and eat! Luke wants to hit the road at nine!" Jocelyn called up to me. I groaned and dug myself deeper into my blankets. I just wanted a few more minutes in my bed, which was the only thing in my room besides my dresser and a mirror. It was the cleanest my room had ever been. The movers were going to pack the rest of it up after we left.
I forced myself to get out of the safety of my bed and to face moving head on. I slowly walked down the stairs, still feeling like I was going to pass out from sleep deprivation.
"Would you like some pancakes and bacon, Clary?" my mother asked me as I trudged into the kitchen. I nodded and plopped down into a chair at the table. Jocelyn placed a plate filled with bacon and pancakes in front of me. The smell of the food made my mouth water, and I dug straight into it.
We all sat in silence as we ate our food. I couldn't think of anything to say that wouldn't just end in an awkward silence, so I picked up my plate and brought it over to the sink, cleaning it and sticking it in the box of dinnerware next to me.
"I'm going to grab the last box of clothes in my room," I told them before trudging back up the stairs. It felt much earlier than it actually was, and I wanted more than anything to just go back to bed and get lost in sleep.
I came home last night and fell straight into bed. I didn't feel anything anymore, just a numbness that seemed to take over my entire body.
New school, new house. A new city in a new state. New friends and new problems. It was the opposite of what I needed right now. After my conversation with Jace, which I knew would probably be the last one in a long time, I felt hardly anything. I was just done. Why did he have to do this to me? Why now? Why not before all this moving crap came up?
I leaned against my closed bedroom door, shutting my eyes and letting out a low groan. This was just my luck. A popular guy, who also loved to act, liked me. And if I were being honest with myself, I somewhat liked him back. But I couldn't tell him that. It would only complicate things even more. I couldn't do that to him, and I couldn't take it myself. I did the right thing lying. I know I did. And maybe one day I'll regret it, because I'll say to myself, "Why didn't you just see? What if something did happen? It could have changed everything." And then I'll reply, "But what if it didn't? What if it just ruined everything? It could have changed everything for the worse."
I guess I'll never know for sure.
I stood up straight and walked over to my desk before glancing at my phone. I had one missed call from Isabelle. I picked it up and redialed her number. It rang twice before she answered.
"Clary! So, Simon and I were wondering if we could come over before you go, just to say goodbye one last time. Would that be okay? Because if not, I mean, that's fine I guess . . . but-"
"Isabelle," I said, cutting her off, "it's fine. I'll see you in a little bit." I smiled at the thought of being able to see them again.
"Great! See you soon!" The call ended and I placed my phone back on my desk. I sighed and grabbed the box of clothes by my closet.
"Just stick it in the back next to the pictures from the living room," Luke said to me as I carried out my box. I did as he said and he smiled at me. I forced myself to smile back before heading back into the house.
I found my mother standing in the empty kitchen, her back to me.
"Mom?" I asked, getting her attention. She turned around, wiping her eyes. Her hair was falling out of its bun and she had dark bags under her eyes.
"Sweetie, hey," she said with a smile on her face, which I could see right through. The moving has obviously taken its toll on her.
"Are you okay?" She chucked and came over to put her hands on my shoulders.
"Yes. I'm just going to miss this place. It was where you grew up; there are so many memories here. I just don't want to leave them all behind," she explained.
"We're not leaving them, mom, we're taking them with us. You must have at least a thousand photos in the car," I said, causing her to laugh. She pulled me in for a hug, rubbing my back.
"I love you, Clary." I buried my face in her shoulder, closing my eyes.
"I love you too, mom," I mumbled into her shirt. She held me close for a second longer before releasing me.
"I'm going to go see if Luke needs any more help," she told me before patting me on the cheek and walking outside. I sighed and a car horn honked.
Simon and Isabelle got out of Simon's beat up car and strolled through the front door after saying a quick 'hello' to my parents. Isabelle instantly pulled me into a tight hug, rocking us back and forth.
"I'm going to miss you!" she said, pulling back to let me breathe. Her eyes were watery.
"I'll miss you, too, but don't worry, there are ways to keep in touch, and Jocelyn said we can come back and visit a lot," I reassured her. She sighed and nodded, stepping back to let Simon take her place.
"I'm gonna miss you, Fray," he said quietly. I smiled up at my long time best friend, trying to stop the tears that threatened to spill over.
"Come here, Si," I said, pulling him into a hug.
"You take care of yourself okay?" he whispered into my ear. "It's a tough world out there, and you don't have me to beat everyone up." I laughed and hugged him tighter.
"Oh, Simon, how will I ever survive?" I said sarcastically. He pulled back in time for me to see a smile grace his lips. Then he was serious.
"Honestly though, be careful. And don't forget to call, otherwise I'll have to come down there and drag you back." I nodded, giving him a tight-lipped smile.
"Okay," I replied. We stood there in the empty kitchen for a moment longer. Then Jocelyn came in and asked if I was ready to go.
This was it. It was really happening. I was moving to a new city; my friends, my home, my school, everything I knew was being left behind. I took a deep breath.
Simon and Isabelle hugged me one last time. Then they got back into the car and left, but not before making me promise to call every day.
Everything was packed up except for what the movers would get later. Luke got in the car, my mother following after him. I looked at the house one last time before turning my back on it.
I shut the car door behind me as I crawled into the back seat. Luke backed out of the driveway, and then we were off. Luke had one hand on the wheel, and he reached out with the other to take my mother's hand. She smiled at him and then turned to look at me.
I was looking out the window, watching and memorizing the world around me. It'd be awhile before we came back, but I knew it wouldn't seem like too long. I'd come back and see Isabelle and Simon, and Maia and some of the friends I met during the play. I'd even come back and see Jace.
My enemy. And then my co-star. And later my friend.
I knew I'd miss him. And maybe later I'd regret not letting things progress between us, but for now, I was glad we became friends. Even though it was me leaving behind another person, one more thing to add to the heartbreak, it was worth it. Because I learned that not everyone was who they portrayed on the outside. Even the best actors show their true selves at some point. And that's what Jace did. No matter how good he was at acting, I still saw the real him. And that's what eases the pain.
That's what makes me lucky.
So. I know this took forever to come out, but I didn't want to write when I had no idea what to write about. I know some of you are probably mad at me for:
1) taking forever to get this out, or:
2) not putting them together
3) ending it weirdly
But who knows, maybe she comes back and they realize they both are meant for each other. But that's open for your imagination.
Anyway, I hope you liked it, and please, tell me what you thought. I really enjoy hearing what everyone thinks, even if it's bad. ;)
I'm not going to write and epilogue where they end up together, sorry. /:
Thank you everyone for reading and to all those who gave me their thoughts on the story. You all are wonderful.