The Passed Note Issue 1 June 2016 - Page 22

I don’t talk to him for two minutes and he gets all clingy.” Sighing, she tugs the end of her ponytail. “Reminds me of my mom sometimes—no wonder she likes him so much.”

I don’t know much about Aunt Carol’s divorce, other than the fact that she didn’t want it. Even though her ex cheated, it took her ages to finally surrender and sign the papers; she wanted to win him back. It got pretty ugly, according to what I was able to worm out of Mom. I haven’t seen Des’s father since. And if I ever do, I’m not supposed to call him Uncle anymore.

“Do you want pizza or anything?” Des asks.

“Had some already. Thanks though.” I almost leave it at that, but then I say, “He’ll hold you back. Gavin. I can tell.”

For how deep a rivalry the two of us are entrenched in, Des and I don’t actually talk all that often anymore. We’ve stopped hanging at each other’s houses and pretending to be friends. We dodge each other when our teachers announce group projects. At holiday dinners, I always sit by Mom. I’m pretty positive we’ve never even exchanged cell numbers. So the two of us standing here on the verge of talking about feelings…it’s new.

I keep waiting for her to say she’s got to play hostess and rejoin her friends, but she doesn’t. She looks at me with wide eyes, like I’ve just handed her all the world’s answers. Not really, I want to tell her. I just know a thing or two about feeling trapped.

“You’ll get in.”

“What?” I’m positive I heard wrong.

“Bucknell. Your letter’ll be here tomorrow, I’m sure. Probably just got tossed in a different mail bin at the post office.”

I wish I had a drink in my hand. Something, anything to do besides stand here and open and close my mouth like a guppy.

“Our grades are identical,” she continues. “No way I got in and you didn’t.”

And finally, after years of this, I read it in her eyes. She needs the competition. Needs me as her gauge. Once she sees where I land, she’ll know to aim just a bit higher.

“Do you even want to go to Bucknell?” I snap. “Or are you just copying