I broke my own heart once. I gave it to someone who I knew didn’t want it, and had to take it back when he refused to hold it.

I could break my own heart again now. I could just tel Eli that Tess’s going to be moved. Thank him for everything. Tel him I’m sorry she didn’t wake up to see him. Never mention the kiss. Never mention anything I want to.

“Is she al right?” he says, looking at me now, and I see hurt in his eyes. I’m not imagining that. I know what hurt looks like. I spent ages with it written al over me.

“She’s—she’s the same,” I say. “But I … I actual y didn’t come here to talk about her.”

“You didn’t,” he says, and it’s not a question. His voice is flat, his eyes are stil so wary, and I—

I’ve hurt him.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “About the other day. I wanted …”

You, is al I have to say. You, just three letters and al true, so true.

“I didn’t mean what I said,” I say, because “You” is stuck inside me, trapped by fear.

It’s just—why now? Why me? I can’t answer those questions, and if I don’t know, then how can I move forward? I tried to create happiness before, tried to make myself a happily ever after, and it didn’t work.

I believed, and look what happened.

“What did you mean?” Eli says, stil looking at me, right at me, and that’s when I realize that this moment, this now—this is my chance, if I’m wil ing to take it.

If I can believe again.

And I do. “I meant that when you kissed me, I didn’t—”

“Know what to do?” Eli says and turns around, walking back onto the empty school grounds. Walking away from me.

“Wait a minute,” I say, and walk after him even though everything in me says to take the familiar path, to just yel something easy, to yel words that mean nothing and just go. But I don’t. “Could you at least let me finish what I want to say?”

He stops and turns to face me. “I said I was someone who wants to kiss you. I—I said that and you said you didn’t know what to do. That’s … it’s the kind of thing people say before they break your heart.”

“But I—”

“It’s what Jack said to you, right?” he says before I can say anything else. “It’s what my parents said to me before they sent me here. ‘We don’t know what to do about you, Eli. We just don’t know what to do.’ And then that was it. I was gone. My life with them—done.”

“But I—” I say again, and he shakes his head.

“I … why didn’t you want to kiss me?” he says.

And now I see what has been there al along, what I’ve noticed but never truly understood until now.

Eli is as uncertain as I am, as we al are. Life has surprised him like it has me. Has hurt him like it has me.

And for once I know that words wil not do. Words wil just fil up the space I built between us so easily.

So I don’t speak. I just kiss him.

“Oh,” he says when I pul away, and then smiles at me, a giddy, glorious smile that turns me inside out. “Why didn’t you just say that before?”

“I was trying—” I say, and break off, make myself stop.

Make myself be honest.

“I was afraid. You make me—I’m happy when I’m with you and I … I want that. I want you.”

He smiles again, a smile that should stop the world but doesn’t because it’s shining on me, just me, and leans in, touching my face with one hand.

“Abby,” he says, and he doesn’t have to say he wants me too because I see it. It’s written in his eyes, in his smile as our mouths meet again.

I kiss him back and open my arms to him, touching his shoulders, his arms, and his hair. Touching him. I let myself go. I let myself have this moment.

I let myself be here because this is where I want to be.

I let myself open my arms, my heart, because I’m ready to believe in happiness.

I’m ready to believe in me.

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