I can't believe Bryce Loski! The nerve. Who does he think he is? We practically don't acknowledge each other's existence the past few years and suddenly he wants to be my friend? Suddenly he wants everything to change? How does that make sense? I hate him. He hates me. I can't understand why this is happening. I really can't. Why couldn't he just leave things the way they were?
Juli stormed inside her room, thoughts racing from what had just happened. She felt angry, confused, hurt, and anxious all at the same time. Bryce Loski, the boy she had mooned over for practically half of her life, the boy who had broken her heart, the boy she now hated with every cell in her body had spoken to her for the first time in years. She could clearly remember every moment of the conversation that had just occurred….
Juli had been outside, watering the grass in the front yard. It was Sunday, around noon, Juli's favorite time to fix up the yard. A trickle of sweat fell down her forehead as the heat began to settle on her. Suddenly, Juli heard footsteps coming towards her. She turned, thinking it might be her annoying, but lovable brothers sneaking up to play a joke on her. As she turned, Juli realized, this was no joke. This was Bryce Loski.
"Hi Juli," Bryce said awkwardly.
Juli was stunned. All she could do was look at him, standing there in front of her.
Bryce could tell she wasn't exactly ready to speak to him yet. "So…I see you're watering the grass. You know, after all these years, it still looks great." His eyes wandered over to the sycamore tree that still stood in Juli's front yard. Those dazzling eyes. They would always be dazzling to Juli, even if she did hate him.
Juli had contemplated chopping the tree down a few times after everything Bryce had done to her. He had broken her heart, something not easily forgotten or mended. But as hurt as she was, she could not find it in her heart to chop down the beautiful tree. In the end, she was happy with her decision. The tree was big and tall now, it was Juli's peaceful place. Anytime she needed to think things out on her own, she would just climb up and ponder, without a care in the world.
"Thanks," Juli finally managed to speak. She found herself avoiding eye contact. What was wrong with her? Juli Baker was confident and not afraid of anything. Why couldn't she look Bryce Loski in the eye? Even worse, she felt her cheeks burning up and her face becoming slightly red. Was she embarrassed or was it just hot outside? She convinced herself it was the latter.
"Look, you're probably wondering why I'm here, Juli. I don't blame you. But I had to talk to you. The thing is, I've been talking to my grandpa a lot. We're actually really close now. Who knew that would end up happening?" he said with a genuine smile to me. Suddenly Bryce's face became serious. "Juli, he's not doing so well lately. The other day we were talking, and he asked me if… he asked me to patch things up with you. It seems silly that we live across the street from each other, practically known each other our entire lives and never talk. I know I messed up in the past. But that is not me anymore. A lot of time has passed, and… I guess what I'm asking is if we could maybe be friends?"
Friends? He wants to be my friend when we've ignored each other for the past four years? Juli let this register for a second and tried to maintain calm. She felt so many emotions rushing through her, when suddenly she thought of Chet. Chet had been so wonderful to her and Juli respected and cared for him. She wasn't about to let a childhood romance stand in the way of that. She would honor Chet's request. "I'm sorry to hear that about Chet. Yeah, Bryce. We can do that." She paused for a second. For the first time in the past few years, she was looking Bryce straight in the eyes as he stared back at her. Memories started running through her mind and suddenly it all became too overwhelming. She needed to escape. "Umm, well I really need to help my mom... with a thing... inside. I'll see you around Bryce," Juli said darting inside her home. She couldn't take the tension anymore. She had to run away from the situation and these feelings Bryce Loski was stirring in her. For a second, everything flipped for Juli. She didn't like it. She didn't like it one bit.
Bryce had been planning this out in his head practically all weekend. He and Juli Baker had not spoken in years. How could he even begin to start a conversation with her now?
Hey, Juli. Sorry I've ignored you and been a jerk these past four years, even though we happen to live right across the street from each other. Oh...by the way, how have you been?
"Of course not, dummy," he said to himself out loud.
He was stuck. This would not be an easy task. He was pretty sure Juli Baker hated him, and he didn't blame her one bit. After planting the sycamore tree, Bryce didn't exactly do a good job of winning Juli's heart. During the next weeks few weeks after planting the tree, he had caved under peer pressure from Garrett, Sherry Stalls, his father, and practically everyone else at school. The rest of junior high would be miserable if he wasn't popular and well liked by everyone. Even if that meant being a coward, or worse: giving up Juli, he would go back to his old ways. Needless to say, their romance did not last long. After that, Juli hated Bryce, and rightfully so. Practically everyone Bryce was friends with, made fun of Juli. By the end of junior high, Bryce became an expert at acting like he hated Juli Baker. Truthfully, he could never hate Juli Baker. Part of him secretly missed being her friend, but he would never admit that to his friends. By the time they got to high school, it was all a blur. So much had happened and they never talked at all. Simple. They had moved on. Everything was just great… that is until Bryce's grandpa brought up Juli. Chet had always been a fan of Juli. He was less than thrilled when Bryce and Juli went their separate ways, but never meddled in his grandson's private life. That was not his place. Chet never brought the subject up, so when Bryce heard Juli Baker's name during a walk with his grandpa, it made him stop right in his tracks.
Why is grandpa asking about Juli? Did Juli ask him to? Maybe they talked. Probably not. Juli Baker hates me. We're not even friends anymore. Things are different now.
His attention went back to his grandfather and that name he once had feelings for, Juli. Somehow hearing it still caused Bryce's heartbeat to jump a little.
"What? Oh... Juli. Juli Baker?" Bryce asked aloofly, as if he knew multiple Juli's in his lifetime.
"Yes Bryce, Juli" Chet said, not buying into Bryce's act. He knew his grandson too well.
Bryce sighed. He would not be able to change the subject with grandfather. He already knew. "What about her?"
"How come you never spend time with her anymore? She's a wonderful girl. I had the impression that you both had a connection, one that would last, son" Chet said searching his grandson for an honest answer.
"Well, grandpa, sometimes things change. And Juli and I… we've changed. It's nothing against her. We just have gone in different directions." Bryce hoped this explanation would leave his grandpa satisfied. He really didn't want to be questioned anymore about Juli Baker.
"That sounds fair enough." Chet paused and seemed to be analyzing the situation for a second. Then he looked at Bryce, "Would you do your grandpa a favor?" Bryce nodded. "Talk to her. I'd hate to see you lose someone important to you."
Bryce opened his mouth, ready to protest and insist that Juli Baker was nothing important to him. But, he stopped himself as doing so would only extend the conversation about her. "Ok grandpa," he agreed. The rest of the walk was peaceful.
Thank goodness we stopped talking about Juli Baker. That's the last thing I wanted to talk about.
Two days later, it was time. It was time to finally confront Juli Baker. She was outside in her front yard. He had to man up and get this over with. He would do this for his grandpa. Bryce stood for a second and stared across the street as Juli watered the grass. He had not really allowed himself to look at Juli for a long amount of time since junior high. She had grown up. She had always been mature for her age, but there was something about her that seemed different… more confident, sure of who she was, after all this time she was still beautiful. He took a deep breath and crossed the street towards her yard.
"Hi Juli," Bryce said. Two words and he was already nervous. Great, already off to an awkward start.
Juli said nothing, she just looked at him. He already felt extremely uncomfortable. "So…I see you're watering the grass. You know, after all these years, it still looks great." He looked at the sycamore tree he had planted so many years ago. It still stood there in her yard. Maybe this meant she didn't completely hate him? Or at least it gave him some sort of hope.
"Thanks," Juli answered. By her one word reply, it was clear Juli Baker did not want to do much talking. More awkward silence.
Suddenly, Bryce could not contain what he needed to say and the words seemed to fly out of his mouth, without thinking. "Look, you're probably wondering why I'm here, Juli. I don't blame you. But I had to talk to you. The thing is, I've been talking to my grandpa a lot. We're actually really close now. Who knew that would end up happening? Juli, he's not doing so well lately. The other day we were talking, and he asked me if… he asked me to patch things up with you. It seems silly that we live across the street from each other, practically known each other our entire lives and never talk. I know I messed up in the past. But that is not me anymore. A lot of time has passed, and… I guess what I'm asking is if we could maybe be friends?" Bryce could not believe he had just said all that to Juli. They hadn't talked and now he was pouring out everything in his heart to her. What was it about Juli Baker that made him feel so nervous?
"I'm sorry to hear that about Chet. Yeah, Bryce. We can do that." She seemed genuinely concerned. Juli had always had a big heart and cared about people. "Umm, well I really need to help my mom... with a thing... inside. I'll see you around Bryce," Juli said and disappeared before Bryce could say anything else. He stood there for a second, wishing there exchange of words had not ended so soon. He missed Juli Baker. In fact, there was a good chance he had always missed her. He never understood how Juli Baker had this strange power over him. Had Bryce Loski flipped... again?
This is my first fanfic. I absolutely adore this story. Please read and review. Constructive criticism/ideas/feedback welcome. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks! :]