Author's Note: This is my first fanfiction. I have been obsessed with this site for quite some time now, and when I saw how few stories there were for the book Flipped, I decided to try my hand at writing for it. I have ideas floating around in my head for a series of one-shots, but for now, I just wanted to provide some (hopefully humorous) closure.
Disclaimer: Wendelin van Draanen gets all the credit for these awesome characters.
I don't know how in the world I fell asleep, but I did.
But that doesn't mean I stopped thinking about it, no sir. I couldn't get it off my mind, even in my dreams. I kept seeing her wave at me, the tiny smile on her face, but then everything would turn into a confusing blur. What did it mean? Was she just being polite? I mean, how could she really even THINK of forgiving the guy who'd insulted her uncle and embarrassed her in front of the whole school so quickly? I know I couldn't.
What am I thinking? Juli's a much better person than I am. She probably would forgive me. That's exactly why I don't deserve her.
I slumped downstairs to breakfast. The kitchen sounded pretty quiet, but I remembered that night after dinner with the Bakers too vividly to trust it. It might be a war zone ten minutes later. So I put on the only armor I had—the all-too-common "Hey I'm Bryce and I'm completely unaware of anything that's going on right now" face. Mom probably thinks I'm doing drugs or something by now.
"Good morning, Bryce. Did you sleep well?" I whirled around to see Chet with this knowing little smirk on his face. How does he do that? It's like he has X-ray vision made especially for my mind.
"Uh…I…yeah, I slept fine. Great, actually!" He gave me a look that told me he could see straight through my really terrible lie, but said nothing. Well, what did he expect? I wasn't exactly going to spill my guts about my obsessive dreams about Juli Baker.
Somehow my entire family got through breakfast without anyone stepping on a land mine. And luckily for me, my granddad decided not to mention how I'd been running around the Bakers' house yesterday like a crazy person. And let me tell you, my friend, I do not even want to THINK of the look my dad would give me if he knew that I had gone from being a carbon copy of him to a boy who was head over heels for the girl he despised.
Now that Garrett and I were practically enemies, I realized that I had no way to spend my Saturday. Usually I'd be over at his house playing video games, or basketball. But…I realized that I didn't want to do either of those things anyway. It was like someone had turned me completely inside out, and I was learning fast that there really wasn't much there. I didn't even really have a life. All of it was just doing what I thought I was supposed to do, and I'd never even stopped to think about what I wanted to do. Well, right now I wanted to be with Juli, but judging from her behavior yesterday, I could pretty much cross that off my list.
Then the doorbell rang.
When I used to watch Looney Tunes as a kid, I would laugh when Road Runner would go so fast, his legs looked like a continuous wheel or something. I never thought that real people could move that fast. But I proved myself wrong that morning.
Play it cool, Bryce. Yeah right. I swung the door open as fast as I could.
And there she was. She looked extremely nervous. She probably wanted to bolt right off that porch just as much as I was silently begging her not to, but being the polite person she was, she waved instead.
"Hi Bryce. Sorry for coming over so early, but I didn't want to miss you." All I could think about was how shiny her brown hair looked in the sun. "Ummm…may I come in?"
I didn't realize I'd been staring. Ugh! I was acting like a total weirdo! What happened to playing it cool?
"Sure! It isn't early at all! Actually, I—" Luckily, I stopped myself before I fell victim to a serious case of verbal diarrhea.
I led her over to the couch. Let's see, Dad's at work, Mom's out visiting friends. That left Lynetta and Chet to be avoided on pain of death, or at least serious embarrassment.
We sat awkwardly across from each other. I stared at the floor for several long minutes before glancing up to look at her face. She was looking straight at me, and when I looked up, her eyes immediately began searching mine. She was laying me bare, I knew it, and I was getting more and more worried by the minute that she'd realize it wasn't worth it and walk out the door. Instead, she sighed.
"Bryce, we've known each other for years…and I just think…well…we need to talk. You know, we never have before—that is, if you want to," she hurriedly finished. Was she worried that she was going out on a limb? That I might all of a sudden go back to treating her like dirt? I mentally kicked myself.
"Juli, don't worry. I'm not going to turn on you all of a sudden." I meant it kind of as a joke, but the truth behind it hit us both too hard for either of us to see the humor in it. "Before we do, I need to apologize for all the idiotic things I've done to you. Like trying to kiss you at lunch yesterday." Her cheeks turned beet red (really, I mean beet red). "Shelley and Miranda were being so stupid…talking about tans and yachts and all sorts of pointless stuff, and I saw you, and all I could think about was what you said in the article. About being 'held above the earth and brushed by wind' and 'kissed by beauty.'"
Her eyes lit up. "You read it?"
"Yeah. It was really, I don't know, inspiring. Anyway, I kept sitting there wishing I was talking to you instead, and then they started fighting. And I ran over to you…and…I don't know what got into me."
I could see the beginnings of a smile on her face, but she stayed serious. "Go on." Would I ever crack her?
"And of course the thing in the library with Garrett. By the way, he and I aren't friends anymore." Even though I knew what a douchebag he was, it still hurt a little to say that. "Anyway, that was all my fault. I'm sorry for blaming it on him, because you're right. It was me. I'm the one who laughed. Even though I didn't really feel like that, I laughed because I'm a coward."
Once again, I was afraid to look into her face. Yes, I know that I was doing the right thing, but admitting out loud what a complete jerk you are makes you feel crappy like nothing else.
"Juli, I could go on and on—which shows how horrible I've been to you—but I want you to know that I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make it up to you…starting with that tree."
Her eyes were slightly shiny, even though she never would have let me see her crying. But when I mentioned the tree, she smiled wider than I'd seen her smile at me in weeks. Months, maybe. I may or may not have been shouting for joy inside.
"I don't know what to say. Thank you." She tentatively put her hand over mine, and I grasped it hurriedly (I really hope she didn't notice that). "I didn't think you knew how much all that meant to me. I guess I have a lot to learn about you. And I have to apologize to you, too…"
If she said "For being angry at you," I definitely would have dropped through the floor out of pure shame and unworthiness.
"…for sniffing your hair."