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Simon huffed and laughed angrily. “She’s—she’s…she’s Awkward Abigail!”

“Yes?” Abigail said, stepping behind Simon.

His face turned redder as he turned to meet her stare. “Oh. Hi.” He gave her a big, fake grin.

Abigail smiled wider than him. “You have a perfect smile. Very white and pearly. Too bad they are going to have to pull out your wisdom teeth at one point because I’m sure those would be nice, too. I would like to eat with you guys but,” she glanced at her watch, “I’m behind schedule today. I’ll see you later, I’m sure. Simon, that yellow T-shirt is a great color for you. I thought maroon was good, but yellow’s better. Okay. Bye, you guys.”

With that, she swished away with her wind pants, leaving Simon with his mouth hung open and confusion in his stare. “She CANNOT eat with us anymore!”

“If you like her so much, just ask her out,” Levi said, biting into his chicken patty.

“You think I like Abigail? ABIGAIL?! Yeah right.” Simon laughed. “Just because she’s weird, and kind of beautiful and happens to be an exceptional baker, and has a little dimple on her right cheek next to a heart-shaped birthmark, and actually quotes some interesting things sometimes, and is funny, and odd, and probably great at kissing because she’s always running her mouth nonstop which makes me want to kiss her four times in a row—doesn’t mean I LIKE HER AND WANT HER COOKIES!” he screamed.

Levi and I sat silent as we stared wide-eyed at Simon, who had just given the most awkward, messed up monologue ever delivered by mankind. Our eyes moved over to Abigail, who had returned and was beet red, frozen in place and holding two packs of cookies. Simon turned to see Abigail. He blinked. She blinked.

He blinked again.

She blinked again.

Several awkward moments of blinking passed before she spoke up.

“I forgot to give Aria and Levi the cookies I baked for them.” She handed them our way, and then stood up straight. Her stare met Simon’s.

Simon blinked again.

Abigail blinked, too.

“I’m going to go now,” Abigail said.

“Yup, that sounds about right,” Simon agreed.

She hurried away, her high heels and swishing pants sounding her exit.

Simon flopped into his chair and buried his face into his hands. “Do you think she heard me?”

“No way.” Levi smirked. “I think you’re in the clear.”

* * *

When I wasn’t with Levi at school, I found myself thinking about him more than I should’ve been, and every time I received a message from him, my stomach flipped.

Levi: Eyesome – adjective | [ahy-suh m]: Pleasant to look at.

Me: Can you use it in a sentence, please?

Levi: You looked very eyesome when you walked into calculus today wearing two mismatched socks.

Me: You’re so crazy.

He didn’t respond.

I made dinner for my sisters, and checked my phone. I took a nap, woke up, and checked my phone. I weighed myself, stared in the mirror at my stomach, and checked my phone. I listened to Mom and Dad fight about me being homeschooled next semester, and then I checked my phone.

This was all before seven at night.

Levi: I hate that word. It’s my second least favorite word.

Me: Which one?

Levi: Crazy.

Me: Why?

He made me wait again.

I didn’t get a response until 7:39 P.M.

Levi: Because the people in my old town always called my mom crazy.

18 Levi

crazy | adjective | cra·zy | \kra-ze\

Mentally deranged, demented, insane.

Senseless, impractical; totally unsound.

Likely to break or fall to pieces.

Weak, infirm, or sickly.

My mom was the best mom in the world. Except for when she wasn’t. I hated her the same way I loved her: deeply. Both feelings came in waves. When I loved her, I loved her a lot. When I hated her, I couldn’t stand looking at her.

She never hated me, though, and maybe that was the problem. Maybe she loved me too much. It was hard being loved too much by someone because as time went by their love started feeling like a chokehold. I worried too much about disappointing her, or letting her down because if I did, she fell apart. She panicked, feeling unloved. She went crazy.

Being loved by a certain type of person was a tough job, and not everyone was right to fill that position.

I hadn’t always known she was unstable.

Growing up in the middle of the forest with only her and nature, I never knew there was anything wrong with her. We had fun together, laughing and singing and playing our instruments.

When my aunt Denise would come over, the two of them would always laugh and drink a lot of wine that Denise brought with her. Then Denise would leave for weeks, and Mom and I would go back to our normal routine. Denise was the only other person I saw for a long time except for when I wandered into town for groceries and stuff, where people would whisper about my mom and me.

“Is it genetic?” they would ask.

“Is he crazy like her, too?” they wondered out loud.

It took everything in me to not walk up to the strangers and punch them in their faces for talking about Mom. They didn’t know her. They didn’t know us. We kept to ourselves in our happy world. Why didn’t they mind their own business? Why did they think they were better than us?

I would return home, irritated with their hatred toward us when they didn’t even know who we were, but Mom would talk me down from my anger when she was in her right mindset.

“Words, Levi. Words. Those are just empty, meaningless words from empty meaningless people.”