I laugh, a forced and fake laugh that sounds crazy even to my own ears. People turn around and look at us. “Apology accepted! Ancient history!” And then I bolt. I run faster than I’ve ever run. All the way to the girls’ locker room.
How did this even happen?
I sink to the floor. I’ve had the going-to-school-naked dream before. I’ve had the going-to-school-naked-forgot-to-study-for-an-exam-in-a-class-I-never-signed-up-for combo, the naked-exam-somebody-trying-to-kill-me combo. This is all that times infinity.
And then, because there’s nothing left for me to do, I take the letter out of the envelope and I read it.
Dear Peter K,
First of all I refuse to call you Kavinsky. You think you’re so cool, going by your last name all of a sudden. Just so you know, Kavinsky sounds like the name of an old man with a long white beard.
Did you know that when you kissed me, I would come to love you? Sometimes I think yes. Definitely yes. You know why? Because you think EVERYONE loves you, Peter. That’s what I hate about you. Because everyone does love you. Including me. I did. Not anymore.
Here are all your worst qualities:
You burp and you don’t say excuse me. You just assume everyone else will find it charming. And if they don’t, who cares, right? Wrong! You do care. You care a lot about what people think of you.
You always take the last piece of pizza. You never ask if anyone else wants it. That’s rude.
You’re so good at everything. Too good. You could’ve given other guys a chance to be good, but you never did.
You kissed me for no reason. Even though I knew you liked Gen, and you knew you liked Gen, and Gen knew you liked Gen. But you still did it. Just because you could. I really want to know: Why would you do that to me? My first kiss was supposed to be something special. I’ve read about it, what it’s supposed to feel like—fireworks and lightning bolts and the sound of waves crashing in your ears. I didn’t have any of that. Thanks to you it was as unspecial as a kiss could be.
The worst part of it is, that stupid nothing kiss is what made me start liking you. I never did before. I never even thought about you before. Gen has always said that you are the best-looking boy in our grade, and I agreed, because sure, you are. But I still didn’t see the allure of you. Plenty of people are good-looking. That doesn’t make them interesting or intriguing or cool.
Maybe that’s why you kissed me. To do mind control on me, to make me see you that way. It worked. Your little trick worked. From then on, I saw you. Up close, your face wasn’t so much handsome as beautiful. How many beautiful boys have you ever seen? For me it was just one. You. I think it’s a lot to do with your lashes. You have really long lashes. Unfairly long.
Even though you don’t deserve it, fine, I’ll go into all the things I like(d) about you:
One time in science, nobody wanted to be partners with Jeffrey Suttleman because he has BO, and you volunteered like it was no big deal. Suddenly everybody thought Jeffrey wasn’t so bad.
You’re still in chorus, even though all the other boys take band and orchestra now. You even sing solos. And you dance, and you’re not embarrassed.
You were the last boy to get tall. And now you’re the tallest, but it’s like you earned it. Also, when you were short, no one even cared that you were short—the girls still liked you and the boys still picked you first for basketball in gym.
After you kissed me, I liked you for the rest of seventh grade and most of eighth. It hasn’t been easy, watching you with Gen, holding hands and making out at the bus loop. You probably make her feel very special. Because that’s your talent, right? You’re good at making people feel special.
Do you know what it’s like to like someone so much you can’t stand it and know that they’ll never feel the same way? Probably not. People like you don’t have to suffer through those kinds of things. It was easier after Gen moved and we stopped being friends. At least then I didn’t have to hear about it.
And now that the year is almost over, I know for sure that I am also over you. I’m immune to you now, Peter. I’m really proud to say that I’m the only girl in this school who has been immunized to the charms of Peter Kavinsky. All because I had a really bad dose of you in seventh grade and most of eighth. Now I never ever have to worry about catching you again. What a relief! I bet if I did ever kiss you again, I would definitely catch something, and it wouldn’t be love. It would be an STD!
Lara Jean Song
IF I COULD CRAWL INTO a hole and burrow in it comfortably and live out the rest of my days in it, well, then that is what I would do.
Why did I have to bring up that kiss? Why?
I still remember everything about that day at John Ambrose McClaren’s house. We were in the basement, and it smelled like mildew and laundry detergent. I was wearing white shorts and an embroidered blue-and-white halter top I stole out of Margot’s closet. I had on a strapless bra for the first time ever. It was one of Chris’s, and I kept adjusting it because it felt unnatural.
It was one of our first boy-girl hangouts on a weekend and at night. That was a weird thing too, because it felt purposeful. Not the same as going over to Allie’s house after school and neighborhood boys are there hanging out with her twin brother. Also not the same as going to the arcade at the mall knowing we would probably run into boys. This was making a plan, getting dropped off, wearing a special bra, all on a Saturday night. No parents around, just us in John’s ultraprivate basement. John’s older brother was supposed to be watching us, but John paid him ten dollars to stay in his room.
Not that anything exciting happened, for instance an impromptu game of spin the bottle or seven minutes in heaven—two possibilities for which us girls had prepared for with gum and lip gloss. All that happened was the boys played video games and us girls watched and played on our phones and whispered to each other. And then people’s moms and dads were picking them up, and it was so anticlimactic after all that planning and anticipation. It was disappointing for me, not because I liked anyone, but because I liked romance and drama and I was hoping something exciting would happen to someone.
Peter and I were downstairs alone, the last two people to be picked up. We were sitting on the couch. I kept texting my dad, Where are uuuuuu? Peter was playing a game on his phone.
And then, out of nowhere, he said, “Your hair smells like coconuts.”
We weren’t even sitting that close. I said, “Really? You can smell it from there?”