The bargain I got in life was a fucking nightmare.
They say your teenage years contain the best and worst years of your life. You’re somehow supposed to figure out who you are, and make a bunch of life-altering decisions, all while rolled into a ball of pure raging hormones. I have no idea who they are, but I know they're dead wrong.
I certainly hadn’t experienced any 'best' in my teen years so far. I didn't see the 'best' part in the acne breakouts that appeared out of nowhere, popping up before Picture Day and leaving behind scars when they finally went away.
There was no way a 'best' managed to wiggle itself into the situation when I tripped on the staircase while practically the whole school was watching. It was the worst feeling ever, especially when I had to pretend the fall—which landed me on my hands and knees and left me decently grazed—didn't hurt. To top things off, once I got back on my feet, I lost my balance and fell... again.
Even at home, the teenage 'worsts' didn't leave me alone. They said 'what's up' when my parents expected me to make grown-up decisions while treating me like a child. Flaunted around in a rainbow cape and a sombrero while I had to bite down on my tongue and remain in a dark, damp closet—because God forbid I, Adrian Luis Gonzalez, actually had the courage to tell my parents about a date who wasn’t female. And it said 'hola' whenever a random boner decided to grace me with its presence at family events. I'd always wondered if it was my body’s sick attempt at a joke, just trying to put a little 'fun' in Aunt Camila's funeral.
I had the 'worsts,' sure, but what hurt was that the good parts seemingly tried to avoid me altogether. Teen years are supposed to be laced with a bunch of firsts—first kiss, first date, first love, first emotional meltdown—that sort of thing. The only parts of the above I managed to bag so far were the kiss, the date, and my first emotional meltdown. The latter was less awkward and went much better, if I do say so myself. I was on my thirty-sixth one.
The meltdown was aggravated when one of my teachers decided it would be totally logical to give our class a major assignment, which carried fifty percent of our grade—in the first week of school. For Biology.
The only thing I'd consider eerily close to a 'best' was seeing Parker Thompson, in all his loveliness, two seats in front of me when Mrs. Smith was giving out her death sentence of a project.
Parker groaned with the rest of the class when we were told the project was due in a week. He had even made a mild protest, smooth voice pleading with the teacher for an extension, while he riled up the class to join him. They did; I did.
It was a low chant. More time, more time. Repeated, and repeated, and repeated until Mrs. Smith finally unfolded her arms and pushed her glasses further up the bridge of her nose with a defeated expression. She gave in; we got an extra week.
I could only see the back of Parker's head and the slight curve of his cheek, but I knew he was doing it—displaying his swoon worthy smile, which had been barred by braces but a summer ago. I could picture how gorgeous he looked as his laughter rang out in the air, blending in and standing out amongst the cheers that rose.
In my semi-dazed state, I picked up my own chant, my own plea which flowed out from parted lips in a silent prayer. Look at me look at me look at me.
He looked at me.
Big mistake. Beautiful mistake. I was right about the smile, and yet I was so very wrong. It was beyond gorgeous. Like always.