Published Jan 7, 2018

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Aiden Smart was your normal teenager. He lived in a decent home in a decent neighbourhood with his parents. He was no one special. In fact, you may have overlooked the shy teen if you would have seen him at your high school.
Aiden moved to Pleasant View years back after his father, Ken, retired from the military and took up residency to have a stable home for his family. His mother, Lula, a former backup singer met Ken during one of his trips. They fell in love and married within three months of their first date. To complete their family, his parents also adopted a toddler while stationed in another country.
An aspiring music writer, Aiden fell in love with music after he heard the score to Star Wars and he knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. So far he could play up to three instruments thanks to his mother’s musical background.
Aiden, for the most part, kept to himself. He had friends from school but no one that he truly confided in. Again, he was shy and felt more comfortable sitting in his room playing and writing music than hanging out with other teens his age.
Aiden sat in his room trying to write as he had done every day when his sister, Emily, came knocking on the door. She didn't wait for a reply.
Emily: Did you see? Someone finally moved in next door.
Aiden followed her to his window that had a good view at the house.

The house next door had been on the market for months. He looked out the window to see the moving truck backing up in the driveway. He watched as two people came out of the car that was leading the truck. One an older female. She looked like a model, but she dressed like she was ready to work. She looked almost too young to be a parent. He couldn’t make out the other person with her but could tell they were just about the same height only scrawnier. He wasn't as interested as his little sister and went back to his guitar. Emily: Aren't you going to stop by and say hello.
Aiden: No.
Emily: Why not? Mom is always talking about you making friends.
Aiden: Get out of here Em.
Emily: Okay....well mom told me to tell you that dinner will be ready in a few minutes.
Aiden: Thanks.
Lula: So someone finally moved into Ms Emma's old house. I thought that thing was never going to sell.
Aiden and Ken were so busy stuffing their face for dinner they weren't paying attention to every word she was saying.
Lula: After dinner tomorrow, I wanted to stop by with a dessert and say hello.
Ken: That's a great idea hon.
Lula: Great. We'll all go.
Aiden: Wait what- I thought you were going.
Lula: No. We are going. I can't just go there by myself. I can't be the only one greeting the new neighbours. That would be so awkward.
Aiden: Do I have to go?
Lula: You do and you will. I heard she is a single mother and has a teen son your age. It might be nice for you to meet someone new. They may need help getting to know people before school starts at the end of summer.
Aiden: Mom, you can't be serious. I have a lot of writing this weekend.
Lula: And your writing will still be here when we are done. Stop being anti-social.
Aiden: Dad.
His father shrugged his shoulders.
Ken: Son, there are two things you will learn in life with women. I'm sorry and yes dear. And the more you say yes, the least you have to say I'm sorry.
The next evening:

Eve: Pleased to meet you. My name is Eve Ford. Come, come in. I have to say this is the friendliest neighbourhood I have lived in. Everyone has been stopping by today and introducing themselves.
The Smart family put on their biggest smiles. As they walked into the home, Lula initiated the greeting by introducing the members of the family.
Lula: I also brought my famous peach cobbler. It can stand by itself but I prefer a little ice cream.
Eve: Me too.
She placed the pie inches above her nose to smell it and her eyes lit up.
Eve: Ash is outside playing basketball if you want to say hello and not listen to boring adults.
Ken gave Aiden a small nudge and he knew what that meant. He excused himself and walked to the backyard where he could hear a ball bouncing.
Ken and Lula looked around the living room. It had been remodeled heavily since the last time they were there.
Lula: I love what you've done with the place. It looks a little more modern.
Eve: Well I didn't do much. Most of it had been done before we bought it. I guess it looked more like an old lady lived in it than that of a young family.
Lula: Ms Emma was up there in age. Her family didn't want her living alone so they sold the house and she lives across town with her kids.
Lula: So it's just the two of you. You and...
Eve: Ash. Yes. So a home like this is great. We lived in the city for the past 4 years but I wanted something more homey for Ash. Like we used to have.
Lula: How old is Ash.
Eve: 14.
Lula: Same as our Aiden. We've been here since Emily was a toddler. Pleasant View is a great place to raise a family. Everyone knows everyone.
As Aiden rounded the house towards the backyard, the sound of sneakers and the basketball bouncing against the pavement was getting louder. He stopped for a moment. Thinking he could just avoid all this by just going home. But his parents would be upset, especially his mom. He stood and watched. There was no way he would be friends with a jock.
Aiden was known as a band geek. And band geeks were never seen hanging with the school athletes. What would they talk about?
Aiden rolled his eyes and took a deep breath. This was going to go nowhere and a big waste of time.

Lula: So Ash plans on playing basketball. We have a great basketball team. Our boys went to the state championship last 3 years.
Eve: That's great. And what about the girl's team.
Lula: No so much. But all they need is a few more good players.
Eve: Sad.
Eve: Does Aiden play sports?
Lula: No. He's a musician. He likes to write music. He has been in band and orchestra since elementary. I taught him how to play the piano but everything else he either learned in school or taught himself.
Eve: That's so cool. For Ash it's just sports. Basketball, swimming, track, gymnastics.
Aiden walked closer to the basketball court.
Aiden: Hi, I came by cause I live next door. I'm Aiden Smart.
They dropped their ball and looked up come the pavement.
Ash: Hi. I'm Ashley. But I prefer Ash for short.
Aiden couldn't believe it. A girl? Ash is a girl. He stood there without saying a word.
Ash: Yo. Are you okay? Hello!
Aiden: Sorry. I'm Aiden your neighbor.
Ash: Yeah, you already said that.
Aiden: Right.
Lula: Wait. Ash is your sister?
Eve: Yes. Our mother passed away while I was away in college. So I put off school so I could take care of Ashley. It's been us since she was a little girl. I wanted her to go to a nice high school and looking up good towns, Pleasant View was listed in the top 5 near the city where I work.
Aiden: Sorry if I look surprised. My mom was told that your mom had a son.
Ash: A And Eve is not my mom. She's my sister. My mom died a few years ago and so it's just been her and I ever since. I lived in the city with my mom. But Eve said she wanted me to go to a nicer school. She used the insurance and we bought the house.
Ash: What about you?
Aiden: What about?
Ash: Have you lived here all your life?
Aiden: I'm from a little of everywhere but here mostly. My dad was in the military, met my mom, had me and so when I was little we travelled a lot. Then when I got older, my dad retired. We've been here since then.
The two teens stood outside and talked until it was time for the Smart's to leave. Aiden was surprised to know they liked the same things. Aside from the sports and Aiden's love for classical music, they both enjoyed the same video games and movies. Ash was also part of the math-letes in middle school and stayed in the honour society.
Lula: Well I enjoyed myself.
Aiden: It was okay I guess.
Lula: And to think, they're sisters.
It was Ash that initiated their first outing. She heard about the arcade and invited Aiden to go with her. He wouldn't pass up a chance to go to one of his favorite places in town. They would go there throughout the summer And when they were not playing video games, they would go out bowling. On weekends the Smarts grilled during the summer months while the kids played in the pool. Sometimes they hosted cookouts for the entire block. Aiden was antisocial and would often stay in his room while all the kids played in his backyard. But with Ash he joined in. Mostly because she would playfully threaten him. Freshmen year:

It was the first day of school and Aiden was nervous about starting school. His nerves disappeared when he saw Ash standing at her locker. He waved but there were too many people in his way for her to notice him. And as he approached her locker a group of girls stepped in his way to greet the new girl in town. So he retreated to what he knew best.
Ash stood listening to him play. It was a song he had played for her all summer. It was unfinished and he always claimed to be missing something.
Ash: I knew you would be here.
Aiden: What?
Ash: I didn't see you in the halls so I followed the music. I knew it was you. I thought you were going to meet me by the lockers.
Aiden: I did but you looked occupied.
Ash: Whatevs'. I can't believe you stood me up.
Aiden: You mean you wanted me to come.
Ash: We talked about this. I felt so out of place. I was late for class on the first day waiting for you.
Aiden: Sorry. I thought you forgot. So I just went to class.
So after lunch, Aiden met Ash right before class as promised. The rest of the day, they met each period and walked each other to class. Talking about classes and teachers on the way. Ash was more outgoing than Aiden so her personality made people notice Aiden much to his reluctance. He liked being a hermit and staying to himself. And when they weren't hanging out, they were Instachatting each other constantly. Aiden had finally met someone he could call his friend. It didn't matter that she was a girl. Ash was everything he wasn't. He was Yin and she was Yang. Whenever he would retreat to being quiet, she would push him into the limelight with her. She even tried to convince him to play at the school's talent show. He didn't but for the first time, he considered doing it. Sophomore year:

Once a month they would go to the Movie Lounge. It was their favorite hangout spot. There they would sit and watch old sci-fi double features good, bad, and the Cult Classics. It was a tradition they kept up over the past two school years.
Ash: Have you thought about college yet? My sister keeps nagging me to begin searching for places I want to go.
Aiden: Yeah. Well, I really want to go to Sim State they have a great music program. Then New York after college.
Ash: Why there? Why not Hollywood?
Aiden: I want to write for the theatre first. My aunt took me to plays when I was little. I paid more attention to the music and singing then what was actually going on. That's where the real fame lies. Then I'll move to LA and begin writing scores for movies. That's how all the greats did it.
Ash: Just don't forget about all the little people on your way up.
Aiden: Whatever. You'll be there the whole time.
Ash: I thought about Sim State. But I won't be far. I'm going to Sim Tech.
Aiden: How do you know?
Ash: If you speak it, it will happen. I just have to keep my grades up and that's a piece of cake. We'll just be down the river from each other.
Aiden: We can see each other whenever we want. Who knows after our first year we can be roommates.
Ash: Exactly.
Aiden: You know I'm really happy my parents made me come over to meet you last year.
Ash: Aiden Smart, are you getting sentimental on me.
Aiden: No. I'm serious. I don't know if you were aware but I didn't venture out much or have many people I trusted. But I trust you.
Ash: I'm touched. You are my best friend Aiden. I can talk to you about any and everything. You know more of my secrets and biggest fears than my own sister. So...I guess I trust you too.
They did their special handshake and continued to watch the second movie.
Aiden and Ash began planning for college from that day. They studied hard and wanted to make sure that both of them got into the colleges they wanted to after high school. Junior Year:

Aiden stood at her locker waiting for her to show up. Ash had a surprise for him. This past summer both had gone away and so he was missing his friend. He was away at music camp while she was visiting different family members.
He looked down at his watch again. It was almost 15 minutes before school began so most of the halls were empty. The only people that could get in this early were the athletes and music kids for their morning practices. He could feel someone next to him and looked up at the girl standing next to him. His eyes looked past her down the hall and then to the other side. She coughed and he looked at her again. Aiden: Ash!?
Ash: Hi.
It looked like Ash, it sounded like Ash but it couldn't be her. The hair was longer. He could tell she had a small, subtle amount of makeup on her face and her braces were off.
Aiden: Wha-
He took another step back. She was wearing a short skirt showing her legs. Even worse, she was wearing a cheerleading uniform. Aiden: What happened?
Ash: What do you mean?
Aiden: What do I mean? What is this? Is this a joke?
Ash: Excuse me?
Aiden: You a cheerleader. What happened to basketball?
Ash: This summer I visited my grandparents and they had Tumblers Camp. So I joined. And one of the coaches suggested I try cheerleading since we don't have a program like that here. Stop looking at me like that.
Aiden: I'm sorry. I just can't picture like those girls on the squad. They are worse than the jocks.
They are all self-involved and all about how they look. Everyone calls them the Barbies. You're not like them, Ash. You're... Ash.
Ash: Well while you were away I tried out for the team a few weeks and made it to varsity. I was getting tired of playing basketball. I wanted a change. I thought you would be happy for me.
Aiden: How can I be happy? You are hanging out with THEM! What's next, you're going to going to the mall, wearing dresses, and going on dates.
Ash was looking forward to possibly going out to the mall. She also bought a few dresses over the summer with her sister. Eve was happy to finally have a sister that she could bond with and have Girl talk moments. And Ash enjoyed seeing that side of her sister that she often made fun of.
Each comment from Aiden was like a needle poking her in the chest. Her throat was closing as she was trying to not cry of embarrassment in front of him.
She could not hear the doors open as other students began to fill the halls. All she could do was stand and listen to Aiden talk more and more negatively about her new look. He accused her of going mainstream and losing her originality and the "thing that made her one of a kind". And when she couldn't take it anymore she grunted, fists balled, and stomped away from him. Aiden called to her as she disappeared into the crowd ahead of him. They hadn't had time to go over their class periods so he had no idea where she was going.
Aiden: Was it something I said?
It had been a week and Ash had been avoiding Aiden. She wouldn't return his calls or his text messages. Desperate he went to talk to the only person he knew would be able to shed some light on the situation.
Lula: So you hurt her feelings.
Aiden: I wasn't trying to. I just said the first things that came to my brain.
Lula: Sometimes it's best that you keep those to yourself. Especially when it comes to females.
Aiden: So what do I do now.
Lula: Apologies to her.
Aiden: But she won't talk to me. She won't answer her phone. I tried talking to her at school and she just goes in the opposite direction when she sees me.
Lula: Tell you what, leave it to me. I will create the opportunity but you will have to take the next steps. Otherwise, she will stay mad at you. And a woman can hold a grudge for a long time.
Lula called Eve and invited them over for dinner. Eve was happy to help the two teens. She was tired of seeing her sister mope around the house. Ash was stubborn and wouldn't admit how hurt she was. But Eve knew. She knew the look.

Dinner began with a small silence. Then two women began talking about work and the latest gossip in the neighborhood.
Ken was on the wrong side of the table. He could feel the tension between Ash and Aiden. He too knew that look on her face and knew it was the face he would see when he said the wrong thing to Lula. He decided to speak up. Ken: So how are those applications going.
Aiden: Fine. I narrowed it down but we all know where I want to go. The others are just backups.
Ken: Good. Always good to have a plan B and C. And what about you Ash?
Ash: Fine. Although I haven't narrowed anything down. I am open to anywhere.
Ash expression dropped. This was not what he and she promised just months ago. Aiden wanted to say something but bit his tongue. Think before you speak he thought. Dinner was ending. Eve and Lula retreated to the living room for dessert and coffee while Emily gathered the dishes.
Ken: Why don't you walk Ash home.
Ash: That won't be necessary. I live right next door.
Ken: Well then why don't you both go get some fresh air.
Ash didn't want to be rude so she did as she was told. Reluctantly.
Aiden: How long are you going to stay mad at me?
Ash: I don't know. All year.
Aiden: Come on Ash. I'm sorry okay.
Ash: For what?
Aiden: For hurting your feelings. I should have said you looked nice. But instead, I talked about you. A real friend would have been supportive and I was not being a friend.
Ash: Did you memorize that speech?
Aiden: Look. I am ashamed of how I acted. I was upset and thought you were changing on me. I was scared of losing my friend.
Ash: Truthfully?
Aiden: Honest. What I should have said was "You look great" and I am proud of you that you got on the team. And now you actually look like a girl.
Ash: Seriously?
Aiden: Okay. Maybe not that last line.
Ash: Just because I'm changing doesn't mean I am going to stop being friends with you.
Aiden: I know. I was an idiot.
Ash: Yes you were. But you're my best idiot friend.
Aiden: Gee thanks.
By the end of the Junior year, Aiden's popularity was growing since he was friends with Ash the varsity cheerleader. No longer were they sitting secluded at the lunch table but at the center table with all the jocks, homecoming court, best dressed, and student council execs. Although he often sat observing the different conversations, Ash always included him when she could move the topics to video games and movies. So when the Junior dance came he didn't have to wait in the corner for one of the girls to ask him to the dance floor. His shyness made him more appealing and mysterious to the girls of the "It Crowds". Little did they know this was not intentional. Girls made him nervous so he barely talked to any besides Ash. Just hours ago he was talking to his dad about girls and asked him an important question.
Aiden: How do you know when a girl wants to be kissed without asking her?
Ken: Well it's always better to ask. But there are a few signs. If she closes her eyes and brings herself so close that she almost makes the first move. She'll come but not enough to kiss you. But just enough to let you lean into her. That's when I knew your mother wanted me to kiss her.
It was the last song of the night and Aiden realized he hadn't danced with Ash at all. He walked over to her as she sat with the other girls laughing and giggling. She complied, taking his hand and he led her to the middle of the floor.
Ash: I see teaching you how to dance has paid off great.
Aiden: Yep. I can at least do the basic steps to at least not look like I'm on fire.
The moment was great and soon the two friends danced in silence, every now and then she would blush as his eyes caught hers.
Ash: I feel funny.
Aiden: Me too. Do you want to stop dancing?
Ash: No.
She looked down at her feet trying to not make eye contact. It was something in the way he looked at her this time. It was unfamiliar yet comforting all at the same time. She wrapped her arms more around his shoulders bringing her chest closer to him. This was her favorite song. She swayed to the music singing the lyrics in her head. She closed her eyes to drown out the other noise and just listen to the song. Then she felt something warm and soft against her mouth. At first, she enjoyed the sensation of the touch, making her feel like she was on a cloud. Her body felt numb. But then reality hit. She opened her eyes. It was Aiden. She was kissing Aiden. She pushed him away and ran out of the building. Aiden yelled back to her. He was confused. He followed her out of the building, yelling her name. He finally caught up with her before she could get to the school's parking lot.
Aiden: What's wrong?
Ash: How can you ask me that? You just kissed me. In front of EVERYONE.
Aiden: But I thought you wanted to be kissed.
Ash: How could you think that?
Aiden: But you...nevermind. I'm sorry. I thought with the mood that it was the next thing to do.
Ash: We are friends. You shouldn't have done that. I never wanted to be kissed. I can't believe you did that. To think my first kiss was with, with you.
Aiden: Your first kiss?
Ash: I've never been kissed before THAT! And now my first moment has been ruined.
Aiden: I said I was sorry. I got the wrong message.
Ash: There was no message Aiden. I was just enjoying the music.
He could see she was getting more angrier as she paced in front of him.
Aiden: Let me walk you home.
Ash: Forget it Aiden. I'll get a ride with Veronica. I just can't be around you right now. She walked back into the building leaving Aiden by himself.
Aiden: It was my first kiss too.

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#1Bo0GeRBELLFeb 25, 2018

Aww, poor Aiden. Can't wait for the next episode. Great as usual, taj!

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