Dating Nick Addicks was every thing my teenage self wanted. He was a blonde quarterback- the kind of guy they talked about the popular girl dating on TV shows. And I couldn't believe my luck when Nick showed interest in me. At first I'd been skeptical- those same tv shows had lauded the star quarterback as a big dumb jock who only cared about sex or football. But then Nick and I spoke and I thought something was wrong.
He took me to the town's only arcade and spat dollar after dollar into the machines so he could see my face light up. He kissed me up against asteroids or pinball and suddenly the arcade became our thing. The popular kids didn't get it and the arcade was too lame even for the nerds. So we'd go every Tuesday after school, when nobody else was there and make-out in the middle of all the color and the sounds. Sometimes Nick would win enough tickets to buy something and I remember feeling so inspired every time he told me to get whatever I wanted. I filled up diaries furiously scribbling about Nick because the world needed to know that he was like Romeo, like Mr. Darcy like every man I'd ever dreamed about wrapped up into one. Even Jade liked him, so I could take him to our sacred diner whenever he didn't have practice. He'd always order three milkshakes and squeeze my hand under the table.
And then right before third period, Nick Addicks asked me to be his girlfriend and my head started to spin. My mom had started to become wary of Nick and she was right because I was eager to fall in love. Almost too eager. I wanted to forget about my dad- I needed to forget about my home, and Nick made it so easy. I broke curfew to eat dinner with him after practice and sometimes we'd eat with the rest of team. The whole offensive line and me crammed into one booth and I had never felt happier. Nick would drive me home in his dad's car and we would make out until my mom came outside. I was falling deeper and deeper in love and it must've been all she could see.
If I didn't break curfew, we'd stay up talking on the phone until one of us fell asleep. Nick would count the stars he could see and name them after me and I would wish on our stars that we would last forever. It was the typical teenage first love.
Nick and I had our problems of course, I was stubborn and crass and Nick was closed off. I wouldn't meet his mother until after she was first admitted to the hospital and I wouldn't know about the cancer until two weeks after that. Sitting in the hospital waiting room while Nick's dad talked to the doctors, I had a moment of clarity. I held his hand and he gripped it like it was his lifeline. That night, while his dad waited to hear more, Nick and I curled up in his bed. He held onto me like I was a raft and I kissed him because he was my everything. Neither one of us knew how to articulate our sadness or fear so we had sex instead. Nick Addicks told me he loved me but that was the only time I would ever think he truly did.
The championship game was coming up and Nick didn't have much time for the arcade anymore.The few times we did go, it didn't feel the same. I felt terrible for laughing while his mother was dying and Nick couldn't afford to play games anymore. He didn't drive me home anymore because he had to go straight to the hospital to see his mom. He never asked me to come with him again. Our phone calls were short and depressing- Nick didn't see the point in counting stars anymore and I was starting to realize that nothing could last forever. My mom didn't know what was going on so she came home earlier to enforce my curfew but I was always home on time. Jade and I always ordered three milkshakes just in case but Nick never showed up again. Then one morning, after reassuring me that he really did love me, Jade found him in the staircase attached to Amber Stanlis. Amber was a cheerleader but that was the only thing I would ever learn about her.
I wanted to forgive Nick but it seemed pointless.
He had wanted to ruin something so I had to let him do it.