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 #theuniverseshipsstellar, THIS IS WHERE I POST MY STELLAR AUS OK!!
stella r. hines
 Posted: Aug 17 2014, 08:04 PM

written august 17th, 2014
having each other’s names on coke bottles and discovering it in the line to pay
It was her first day of college. Her very first day as some big hotshot college kid, taking a bunch of classes that were obnoxiously spread across the campus, writing essays on topics she didn't give a single fuck about, having so much homework she didn't even know where to start. And it was only the first day. Which was exactly why she had hopped in her bright yellow volkswagon, put the top down, and sped to the nearest Walmart with her music blasting and the cool wind in her hair.

When she pulled into the parking lot, her blonde locks a tangled mess, her eyes a little watery, her face bright red, she didn't actually have any idea as to what she was there to buy. She would've been just as well enough stopping at some fast food place or a 24 hour diner. She was already here though and so she grabbed her wallet and music player and practically stormed into the store. Yes, she was still angry at her professor for calling on her when her hand hadn't even been raised. Yes, she was still pissed at that bitch in the row behind her for constantly kicking her chair. Yes, she fucking hated this whole college thing.

Pinching the bridge of her nose and plugging her headphones in, she turned up the music until she couldn't hear whatever it was playing on the speakers above her. Wandering the store with absolutely no idea as to what she wanted or needed or had the money to afford, she finally ended up back near the front, eyeing the selection of cold drinks. Grabbing a bottle of coke, she made her way to one of the only two lines open this late at night. Of course, they were both three people deep.

Picking what she hoped was the register with the faster cashier, she stood there, tapping her foot impatiently, but also in some sort of attempt to go along with her music. It wasn't working. The line moved and she had room to set her soda down and so she did. She noticed the kid behind her and scooted up as far she could so he could do the same while also not invading her space because fuck that she didn't even know him. Never mind that he was kind of cute, she had to admit after shooting him a glance and an awkward smile when he caught her looking.

She looked at his purchase and had to stifle a laugh at the one bottle of coke. Go figure. A name printed in white font caught her eye and she tried her best to casually lean over and read it. Stella. What the fuck? They were writing names on bottles of soda now? Why? What was even the point of that? Had she grabbed one with a name? How had this guy managed to grab the one bottle that had her name on it? Well, shit, she definitely had to have it now, didn't she?

Taking the headphones out, she cleared her throat and made eye contact with him again, trying not to seem as awkward as before. "Uh. Trade?" She asked, gesturing at the bottles, not even giving him a bit of reasoning. He stared at her for a moment, as if not understanding and she didn't blame him, it was almost one in the morning, before looking at the bottles. She waited for him to ask why or what her problem was or to honestly not even get a reply, they were in line at Walmart after all.

She hadn't even looked at her bottle to see what the name on it was but she didn't really care. All she knew was that she wanted the bottle with her name on it so she could keep it for the rest of forever. "Why?" She heard the boy ask and she frowned, narrowing her eyes a little. "Does it matter?" Shit, don't come off as hostile to the poor kid. You're the one with the weird request. "It's just," she tried again, "that one has my name on it."

He picked up the bottle and read her name aloud (she ignored the tingles that ran down her spine) and laughed a little. "What's the name on yours?" Uh. Stella took hers and turned it around til she could find the name and of course she'd get a guys' name on hers. She really hoped this wasn't his name, she was sure that would be really awkward. "Eddie." He actually laughed this time, loudly, and she glanced around as if to find a way out because he was probably definitely an ax murderer (an excuse for her really liking his laugh, she wanted to hear more of it already).

"That's my-- well, sort of. It's Edgar, but I've been called Eddie." She scrunched up her nose at him but tried very hard otherwise to hide her dissatisfaction, "who in their right mind would name their kid Edgar?" Ignoring the fact that her mom had named her Estella, that was definitely not something anybody needed to know ever if she could avoid it. He glared at her and she held her hands up in a surrendering sort of motion, or tried to with a bottle in one of them, "sorry, wow, so can I have the bottle or what?"

The line had been moving slowly but surely except go figure, she'd picked the line with the couponing lady in it. Fuck off, nobody had the patience for that shit. And Stella would've said so had Edgar/Eddie/whoever the fuck hadn't spoke up. "Nah, I think I'll keep it." "What the fuck, why???" "I don't know, 'cause you didn't ask nicely? 'Cause it's for someone else?" She scowled at him, "and is her name Stella?" He paused, as if trying to decide whether or not he wanted to lie to her because that's definitely what he was, a big dumb liar.

"No." "Aha!" "What, I never said it was!" "But you said it was for someone else and it obviously isn't since you can't even give me a name!" "Wh-what?" He actually paused, as if floored by her reasoning. Duh, she thought, she was kind of brilliant. "It is for someone else, I don't even like Coke, I prefer Pepsi, and it's for my roommate who doesn't really even deserve this, he's kind of a prick--" "Like you're one to talk," she interrupted him with a vicious little victory smirk. "Well, that was just uncalled for."

The line moved forward and there was now one person (with a huge fucking order) ahead of her. She had to convince Edgar Allen Poe over here that she needed that particular bottle of soda or else she would just DIE. "Listen, Eddie, please, me getting that bottle is of the utmost importance." He rolled his eyes. "No, seriously, if I don't get that bottle, the world will end. I can promise you that." Okay, maybe it was just her world that would end. "I've never seen one with my name on it, like, ever. Do you even know how rare a name Stella is?" He opened his mouth as if to spout some facts at her and she held up a finger to stop him. "Don't."

For such a large amount of items and a total ending up over two hundred, the transaction finished horribly quick. The lady would be ringing up the wrong bottle soon and Stella was never going to be the same person again. She did not want a bottle with the name Eddie on it because now anytime she saw or thought of that name, she was going to shudder and just have awful flashbacks to this horrible fucking moment. "Dude. Please." He didn't even blink. Fuck.

Giving the cashier her attention, Stella faked a smile and faked her way through the conversation and faked wishing the lady have a good night. She didn't even look at the pretentious fucking asshole behind her when she grabbed her purchase and left. Thank fucking God she didn't have to go through shit like that on a daily basis, she was pretty sure she would've lost all sense of humor since then, and she definitely would have lost any hope for humanity.

Mashing the unlock button to her pretty little beetle, she tossed the total waste of money (she definitely wouldn't be drinking it) onto the passenger seat and opened the door. She fucking dared any of the cops tonight to try and pull her over when she inevitably went twenty over the speed limit. "Hey!" No fucking way. "Hey, Stella!" This had to be a joke.

Fingers just barely grasping the handle, she turned to look and lo and fucking behold, here came Eddie. Who the fuck did he think he was, being all cute and stuff??? "And just what do you want?" He laughed, a little breathless at having to catch up with her, and held out his hand. In which was the bottle with her name on it. "I was kidding, you can have it. I'm just gonna need the other one." Stella narrowed her eyes, looking from his face to the bottle and back. This had to be some practical joke. She was definitely on camera.

"Seriously, take it. I need to get going." Stella made a noise somewhere between disgust and annoyance and went around to grab the bottle from the other side of the car. She took the one from him before giving hers back and kept it close in case he changed his mind. "I bet it's not for your roommate and you just want an excuse to have a soda bottle with your name on it. Nobody likes Pepsi, jeez." He looked offended, pretend or not, and looked at the Coke in his hand. "I bet that I can't drink this without making a face." "What the fuck does that mean?" "I'll prove to you right now that I don't like Coke by drinking this and--" "Fine," Stella agreed, effectively cutting him off again.

They opened their bottles at the same time and Stella would never actually know whether or not he was telling the truth because his fizzed and then exploded soda all over his face and she actually fell over laughing because she definitely didn't think she'd shaken the bottle up that much, but holy shit, this was priceless, and she realized then how much she needed this stupid cute idiot in her life.

stella r. hines
 Posted: Dec 16 2014, 01:49 AM

written december 15th, 2014
found their phone number in a library book
It wasn't often she made use of the school library but when she did, she obviously wasted time by writing her phone number in the books she had used. It was totally a joke, and written in pencil anyway, so what if it was technically defacing school property? Like she cared. College was really the only joke here and she still wasn't sure why she was attending. But hey while here, why not be obnoxious, right? Of course, she never thought anything would come of it but here her phone was, ringing during one of her many movie marathons. And it was a number not in her contact list.

Pausing the second Santa Clause movie, she set aside her bowl of popcorn, and nestled the phone between her ear and shoulder. "Hello?"

"Who is this?"

"Uh, what?"

"Who is this???"

"You called me, dude, shouldn't I be asking who you are?"

"No! I'm not the one who scribbled their phone number on the first page of European History 102!"

"... Ohhh!!!! Wow, I can't believe somebody actually called it."

"What, nobody else has?"

"Nope, congrats you special snowflake you, you're the first to actually take time out of their day to call the girl who took a minute to write her number in a library book for the luls, and you're definitely the only one to actually be upset over it. It was a joke, y'know?"

"You talk a lot."


"Seriously, though, who is this? 'Cause the librarian would probably like to know who to send the bill to for a new--"

"It's in pencil."

"-- book because, what?"

"You got it there in front of you? The book?"

"I, uh, yeah."

"It's in pencil. Go ahead, take a second, find an eraser, do me the honor."

There was a pause on the other end during which she took a moment to hold the phone away and let out a snicker. What a dork. If anything, she expected some lame pick-up line or a prank call, but this kid was actually angry about it! How funny.

"Okay, fine."

"Yeah, we good?"

"I guess, sure, yes."

"Oh, don't sound so defeated!"

"What? I'm not! I wasn't even that annoyed by it, anyway."

"Sure, uh huh, okay. Alright well I'm in the middle of a movie marathon, so I'm gonna have to let you go. It was fun teasing you and all but I'm sure you have some studying to do, you adorable nerd kid."


"It's Stella, by the way."


"Stella, my name is Stella, make sure you put that in when you save my number."

"I wasn't going to sa--!"

Hanging up, laughing a little to herself and finding it surprisingly difficult to stop smiling, she grabbed the popcorn and resumed her movie, thinking maybe she should write her number in textbooks more often if it meant getting calls like that.

stella r. hines
 Posted: May 5 2015, 07:32 PM

written may 5th, 2015
i was walking by a roller coaster and SOMEONE’S SHOE FLEW OFF AND HIT ME IN THE HEAD
If you asked Stella to go to an amusement park with you, she'd ask how badass the roller coasters were. Were there dips and loops and how long would she be upside down for? Was it the type so intense it made you want to throw up or would she get off complaining about how tame it had been? Because, to Stella, all that mattered about trips to amusement parks was how great the roller coasters were. She didn't care about cotton candy and corn dogs and games. Roller coasters, roller coasters, roller coasters. So when her roommate and her boyfriend invited her out to the fair with them, well 1) that was so cool of them for inviting her along even though she'd totally be third-wheeling for them, and 2) she'd already heard throughout school that this year's fair had some really awesome new roller coasters, and hell yeah she wanted to go.

Stella knew her roommate was the coolest chick ever but she didn't realize she was so cool as to make sure Stella was included in every little thing they did that day. They took turns with Stella on rides that were two-seaters only and she couldn't believe that even the boyfriend was super cool. Like, that just didn't happen. Boyfriends were all needy and they got annoyed when they couldn't hold their girl's hand but this one let Stella walk between them and they all linked arms and it was basically the best day ever and they hadn't even gotten on the roller coasters yet. The first one was AMAZING and she found herself swaying around dizzily after they'd gotten off, laughing and leaning onto her roomie for balance. They'd ate after that, finding themselves surprisingly hungry. Funnel cake and hot dogs had never tasted so good.

The next roller coaster was a two-seater but she totally didn't mind sitting next to a stranger for this one. From the ground, this looked like the sort of roller coaster Stella added to her list of perfect roller coasters. And it wasn't disappointing. There was one teeny tiny thing she hadn't considered, though, and that was that she'd lose a shoe. It wasn't even like she was wearing sandals (not that she ever wore them anyway). Flats may have been the second worst option but she didn't want to wear boots and her running shoes were for running only and okay yeah she'd definitely lost a shoe. She was worried for only a millisecond before the next drop had her screaming and laughing again. It wasn't until they were finally slowing down and pulling back into the entrance that she remembered one foot was barefoot.

Shouting for her roommate and the boyfriend as they squeezed through the crowd to meet at their chosen meeting spot, Stella hobbled along for a moment before deciding whatever, she could totally walk around barefoot, it'd be fine. Just as the crowd cleared and she opened her mouth again to yell for her friends, a hand grabbed her wrist and pulled her off to the side. There was a lot more room here but she didn't have time to think about that because somebody had totally just kidnapped her. Mouth already open to scream, she started, only to look down and realize the stranger was holding onto her shoe. "Hey!!! That's mine!!!!" He rolled his eyes and gave her the most sarcastic, withering, annoyed look she had ever received in her life. "Yeah, I figured."

When she made to grab it, he pulled his arm away and glared at her some more. "It hit me in the head." Stella hadn't meant to, honestly, but the straight face and the irritated tone and the very idea, made her bend over laughing. "Oh-ohmyg-god, haha, ha-- jesus--, that's fucking-- holy shit," was all she managed between giggles. He stood there, glaring at her, not finding the situation funny. At all. Finally, she stood straight and wiped tears from her eyes, "ohmygod, I'm so sorry," she said, smiling and trying not to snicker through her apology, "I was on that roller coaster--" she pointed, "I didn' think--" "Yeah, apparently not." He looked so dead serious, she actually sobered up, and raised her eyebrows at him. "Are you actually mad?"

"Stella!" She turned around to see her roomie approaching. The boyfriend took one glance at her bare foot, at her shoe in the boy's hand, and laughed. "Here," she looked back at the stranger to see him holding the shoe out at her. She took it and balanced on one foot to pull the flat back on. "Are you okay?" He looked surprised for a second, as if finding it hard to believe that she'd ask, before her shrugged. "Yeah, it's not like it was a steel-toed boot or anything." Stella had to try to not laugh again, "well, thanks... most people would've left it on the ground, or tossed it." Her roommate was hanging back, whispering with the boyfriend. The boy shrugged again.

Stella smiled at him, and ignoring the rising blush in her cheeks, asked "do you wanna hang out with us?" She gestured to the pair behind her and the boy hesitated before shaking his head. "No, I- uh. I was supposed to meet my friends at the bumper cars like ten minutes ago." "Oh! I'm sorry for holding you up!" "No, really, this was fun." Stella blinked. "Uh. Interesting. It was, uhm... yeah. Okay, well... bye." He stepped around her and made to leave, but she grabbed his wrist much like he had hers earlier. "Wait! Er..." Dropping his wrist, she quickly moved towards her roommate, and grabbed her purse. She dug around until finding a pen and returned to the boy.

"I'm Stella," she said, grabbing his arm and holding onto his wrist, she wrote a phone number on his forearm. "Call me sometime." She finally let go of him and stepped back, smiling a little shyly. She certainly hoped she was getting the vibes she thought she was and not just imagining them. If not, whatever, she'd probably never see him around again, anyway. "Eddie," he said, smiling at her one last time, before heading off in the opposite direction. "Daaaaaaaaaaamn, girl!!!" Her roommate finally spoke and she turned around, blushing. "Is it weird that I might be sick with nerves from that but I can handle a roller coaster fine?" The couple laughed and deemed this moment worthy of ice cream.

stella r. hines
 Posted: May 28 2015, 06:16 PM

written may 28th, 2015
ghost!stella haunting the loser that rented her apartment
Some things never changed.

The landlord was still a piece of shit.

Her apartment still had the best view.

The elevator was still broken.

She missed living more and more each day.

You watch a lot of people come and go when you die young. Her parents, for example. She had visited them quite a lot after her untimely death. They mourned more than she would have liked them too. Live life to the fullest, she would've told them, go finish my bucket list for me; stop crying over photo albums. Oh well. She went to see some old school friends: Nahnie was as punk rock as she remembered, Jackson ended up marrying Grace, Aurora became a very successful author/photographer. She missed them; she missed hugs and sleeping and food and oh how she missed running.

She could deal with it pretty easily most days. Her apartment stayed empty for a long time after her death; probably because everybody thought it was haunted. Which it was. She definitely played with the lights and sinks. If it was up to her, this place would stay un-rented forever. It never did, though, and she always had to scare the new tenants away. It was easy, sometimes. And sometimes people shouldered through it just for the view alone. It was quiet for a little while again before she came back to her home to drills and hammers and shouted orders from construction workers. Well, shit, she had thought.

Almost everything was demolished and replaced. She had long since lost track of the date but she wondered if maybe years had passed and they were making way for more futuristic rooms. Sure enough, by the time they were finished -- which had felt like it took months, and she was tired, and lonely, and they had even redone the ceiling of her closet which had been splattered in neon paints and covered with glow in the dark stars, and she was sad. For awhile, no one moved in, and she thought it was probably because of all her crying and throwing things around. Maybe it was the price for such a view.

She left for a few days and came back to someone living in her home. This just wouldn't do, she thought. She tried to scare him away. Nothing phased him, though. He treated the flickering lights like faulty wiring and he took blame for accidentally leaving the faucets on and he just turned the radio right back on. The least he could do was reintroduce some color back into her home, but no. He was all grays and blacks and neutral, sometimes earthy, tones, and she hated it. The glowing blues and greens that seemed to always be associated with futuristic living were annoying enough.

She sincerely wondered what year it must be at some point and searched through his things to find out. He didn't have an actual calendar and she wondered if calendars just weren't things anymore. Eventually, she just talked to him. She never talked to the intruders in her home, but she just really wanted to know the date. He didn't seem to notice her, though. Not when she waved her arms through his torso or tugged on his hair or turned the pages of his book. Not when she finally resorted to just yelling at him, calling him every name under the sun, and insulting his awful decorating. She eventually gave up.

One day, he brought home a girl. Not home, she thought; he brought a girl over, because this was still her apartment, not his. She had pretty red hair and a nice voice and she seemed okay when asking about bringing the place to life with some color. The princess, which she decided to call her until she got a name, was sweet. And she actually seemed to sense that there was a fucking ghost hanging around. "Hey, Edgar?" She called into the kitchen and oh, so that was his name. "You know something is haunting you, right?" I'm haunting the apartment, she wanted to correct the princess, not this loser. My apartment.

"What?" He asked, joining the girl on the couch. "You can't feel the temperature difference?" She clicked the hallway light on and off for good measure and the princess laughed, pointing. "See?" "It's just bad wiring." "Is that what you've been telling yourself?" Oh thank Christ, this girl knew what she was talking about. The subject was easily changed and she learned later that the princess' name was Finnley and she was a little sad to see her go. From then on, Edgar seemed to actually pay attention to all of his things being flipped upside down, or the sheets being torn off the bed, or all the windows left open. It's kind of fun.

Finnley came over more and more until she was practically living there, too. She seemed to enjoy communicating with "the lil ghostie" which was kind of insulting but it was still interaction with a person. She answered yes and no questions and that was about it; sometimes she stopped because she was tired, sometimes she left until she was sure Finnley was gone because three people was a bit too many. Did she really count as a 'people,' though? She was dead, after all. She considered a few times that maybe it wouldn't be awful to leave but then how would she visit her parents and her friends?

"I think your ghost's name is Stella." Ow, that hurt. "Are you still talking about that?" Finnley laughed, "I know she's here." Edgar shook his head and went back to his book. Finnley continued reading something on her laptop. "Listen, it says here that, like, ten years ago, a girl named Stella died in this apartment." Yup, something about her name was seriously painful. "Yeah, and?" "What, you don't think that's spooky?" "I don't really care." Oh, rude. "Hey, Stella, I care!!" She played with the volume on the radio, trying to ignore the stabbing pain in her chest. "You can't say that wasn't on purpose, Edgar." "It's probably broken."

Finnley rolled her eyes. "You should try communicating with her. It could be fun." "Ghosts aren't real." She started to ignore them, thinking about how she had died ten years ago. Which would make this 2025... ish? Wow. Weird. She was dead and the shitty landlord wasn't and her view was starting to look like skyscrapers and it was probably time for her to move on. She went to see her parents one last time and found herself very sad at how wrinkled and gray they were, but they had crossed a few things off her bucket list, and they looked happy. Visiting her friends just made her upset and she returned home quickly for a little bit longer.

Finnley brought some color into the apartment, which was nice. It was familiar. She's leaving it in good hands -- in Finnley's, not Edgar's. He was still definitely a loser but she imagined it would've been nice getting to know him in real life. Super unlikely to happen, since he would've been, like, fourteen or something when she was twenty-three. He had to be her age now, or the age she was when she died, like, mid-twenties maybe. Well, whatever, no biggie. Okay, well, take care of my apartment, I guess. She had one more chat with Finnley and tried to direct the conversation in a "hey, I'm leaving" sort of way.

No such luck, which... again, was fine. She tried to leave a message for Edgar, something like "congrats on being the only one I couldn't scare away, you suck, and I hate you" which she managed to do part of with the refrigerator magnets Finnley had brought over. It ended up just being "congrats on stealig my plce y0u $vck i h@ u" because there were only two of each letter and various numbers and signs. She didn't stick around to see any reactions but she liked to imagine Finnley probably got a kick out of it. Edgar probably played it off as Finnley messing with him and she thought that was okay because they were kinda cute together. If anybody had to live in her home, she supposed they would do.

 Posted: May 29 2015, 04:04 AM

finished may 29th, 2015
"“I picked you up on the side of the road because goddammit hitchhiking is not safe what if I was a serial killer??”

Edgar actually hated driving at first. In fact, he only got his license so his mother would quit pestering him about it. "I want to see my boy driving!" she said. He guessed it was cool when he told her he got his license and she bought him a new car. It was a gray Lexus something or other and it had a really great sound system and rode really well, but he still felt guilty because he thought he'd never use it. Where would he even go, after all? It's not like Edgar Brooke had much of a night life.

Then one night his mom woke him up and had her run an errand for him. She was sick and needed something from the pharmacy. The family were staying at some timeshare thing. Edgar was the only one who didn't have food poisoning, and the closest drug store was 45 minutes away. Honestly, the drive had been wonderful and it allowed Edgar to be alone with his thoughts and listen to his music in peace.

Ever since then, he would go out on drives just for fun. He'd go in the morning, afternoon, evening, any time. It was especially nice to go when his parents were arguing, which was why he was out on this paricular venture. He didn't even stick around to hear what they were arguing about. Honestly, he didn't really care anymore. He was sick of it. This time he even brought extra clothes because he didn't want to come back for quite a while.

It was almost dark out and he was on some road somewhere. He wasn't actually sure where he was. Edgar usually just kind of drove until his heart was content and then used GPS to find his way home. Which was highly unrational and therefore uncharacteristic of Edgar, but these drives were the one time he didn't conpletely analyse his surroundings and just let himself think.

That is, until he saw someone on the side of the road in brightly colored running clothes, a stuffed-full backpack, and a thumb pointing in the direction he was going.

At first he drove on, but he kept thinking of the girl and how it was about to be dark out and how he might see her on the news as a missing person. He slammed on the brakes, made sure no one was behind him, and backed up all the way to where she was and rolled down the passenger side window.

"Uh... need a ride?" he asked, not being one to usually pick up hitchhikers. Though this girl looked... not like a hitchhiker. She didn't have a backpack, and was dressed in running clothes. Actually, they didn't even look like they were just running clothes. It looked like general clothes, just a bit more athletic. Realizing he was kind of staring, he checked behind him to make sure no one was coming. It really wasn't a busy road, so he knew there wouldn't be.

"Uh, yeah, duh. Why do you think I was sticking my thumb out." She rolled her eyes and got into his car without hesitation. Edgar was about to say something when she buckled her seat belt. Wow, maybe this girl wasn't completely and utterly reckless.

"Just enter the address into this," he said, and motioned toward the GPS. "Ooh, fancy," she muttered, and Edgar was honestly suprised and a little offended at how much attitude she had, but she entered the address in and the GPS said to continue driving on the road they were on.

He pressed on the gas and remained silent for a few minutes, being the quiet boy he was, but couldn't hold it in after the sun set and it was finally night time. He wasn't sure what it was, but this girl brought it out in him. "Do you know how dangerous it is to be out on a road like this at this time of night? Seriously, I could have been a serial killer or something."

"What are you, my mom?" He half expected a snarky comment like that, but her tone was kind of sad and he was a bit taken aback. "Besides, you look like too much of a nerd to be a serial killer." Edgar resisted the urge to angrily adjust his glasses and was about to say something when she continued on. "And you probably would have locked the doors or whatever by now if you were. I mean, are you? Because at this point it'd be a lot more interesting than what's going on at home... And plus, how do you know I'm not a serial killer? Hmmm?" She actually looked embarrassed and Edgar had to take a minute to process everything she said. It was a lot, and he really wasn't used to that amount of information being thrown at him at once.

"Well... still. It's not safe." He gave up trying to lecture her, because she seemed genuinely upset and not just about whatever was going on. "I'm Edgar," he said, looking at the GPS to make sure he was still going in the right direction.

"Stella." She looked down at his iPod, which was hooked up to his sound system, and picked it up, looking through his songs and . "Jeez, Eddie, don't you have any fun songs on here?" She finally settled on Radioactive by Imagine Dragons and set the iPod back in its place.

"It's Edgar." He didn't bother responding to the music thing. He was tired and the argument seemed like a lost cause anyway, and he was more curious about her. "So, what were you doing out there? Running away from your problems?"

He looked over at her and he saw that her eyes were tearing up a little bit, but she looked away and Edgar had to look back at the road, being a safe driver and all. "It's nothing. None of your business anyway."

"Look, if you can't tell some stranger that just picked you up on the side of the road so you wouldn't get kidnapped your problems, who can you tell?" He shrugged, and looked at the GPS, which still said to continue on this long and windy road.

"Okay, maybe I was running away from my problems. What are you doing? Driving away from your problems? Same difference, dude. At least I'm getting exercise."

"You've got a point. I was just trying to make conversation." This girl was going to be the death of him, he could tell. "I was driving away from my parents. They keep arguing and it sucks." He shrugged again, somehow having no problem opening up to this stranger he picked up on the side of the road.

"Well, my mom keeps forcing me into these stupid beauty pageants. I used to like them but I don't anymore but my mom doesn't care." She shrugged and stopped talking, which Eddie-- Edgar found surprising, considering how talkative she seemed right off the bat.

"Well I mean... are you trying to run away from home?" He wanted to know more about this girl. There was just something about her... like, he could tell how positively opposite they were, but somehow he felt connected.

"I guess I technically ran away from home, but I definitely yelled something about going out at my mom and I was planning on going back... eventually." She folded her arms and looked out the window, and Eddie realized something.

"Did... Did you really enter your address into the GPS?" He made it sound as gentle as possible. He wasn't mad, not really. He understood, in a way, wanting to get away from home. That's why he was here, after all.

"Yeah, dude, of course. I totally live at 1313 Disneyland Drive."

"Stella, we're on the east coast..." He looked at her, and got the worst idea he probably ever had. "You could have at least picked Walt Disney World..." he said, with a weird hint of mischief. It was stupid, reckless, and completely not something he would ever do if he were on his own.

Stella finally sat up and grinned at him. "Yeah, but California's gonna take longer to get to, right?" Okay, Eddie was a little concerned that this girl wasn't concerned about this, but maybe she felt what he did too.

"We'll probably have to stop for gas, and food. And you probably want to call your mom so I don't get arrested for kidnapping or something." That was probably the riskiest part about this. He pulled over when they finally reached civilization, which was one tiny gas station. Eddie pulled out his phone and texted his mom the details. Okay!!! Have fun!!! she replied. Jesus Christ, why was no one talking them out of this? Why wasn't he talking them or even himself out of this?

"My mom's not going to be cool with this at all. But I guess I can make something up." Eddie pumped the gas and motioned for Stella to go inside with him to buy some provisions. "Provisions" in this case ment junk food, and a lot of it, but Eddie could handle it because he had his card with him and lord knows his exorbitant allowance had been building up due to him rarely using it. Perks of being the son of two millionaires.

He checked his balance and it looked like he'd be able to afford the tickets and a two-bed hotel room. And probably a lot more, because his mom would likely put more money on there. She trusted him quite a bit, and for good reason.

When they were back on the road, Eddie stopped worrying about what was going to happen, and started thinking about what was happening. It was ridiculous. "Are we really doing this?" Stella had asked at one point. "Yeah, if you're okay with it," he replied. They talked more about each other as the trip went on, this spontaneous, reckless, and utterly ridiculous journey they were embarking on.

They were going to Disneyland.

stella r. hines
 Posted: Jun 7 2015, 06:46 AM

written june 7th, 2015
accidentally called your number while drunk asking for a ride and you actually came
Shit, she was drunk. Like, super duper gonna regret it in the morning drunk. Woops. It wasn't her fault, though, not reaaalllyyyy. She didn't ask for her boyfriend to dump her on their one year anniversary. It totally didn't happen at a restaurant down the street where she dumped her milkshake on his head. She definitely didn't come straight to this club after. No way. That's not what happened. And that was exactly how she would explain it to her friend when they came to pick her up and take her home. And if they tucked her into bed, that would be nice, but she wasn't even sure yet which friend she was calling. Jackson was on his honeymoon, Aurora was in Canada, Nahnie was probably definitely busy on a Friday night, and there was no way she could bother Finn.

Dialing a number into her super duper fancy phone, she held it up to her ear, and waited. Vaguely, she thought somebody picked up. It took her a moment to realize she had it upside down. "Shit," she swore, and put it right way up. "Hello???" She was pretty sure she had been expecting a female voice because she was again pretty sure she had put in Charity's number but when somebody said back "who is this?" it was a guy. What-- who was?? She groaned a little and slid down the wall she had been leaning against. "Is Charity there?" She asked, trying not to slur so the poor dude could understand her.

"No, sorry, I think you have the wrong number." "Fuck," she swore again and allowed herself to roll over until she was laying on the cold concrete. The vibrations of the music from the club still felt like they were rattling inside her rib cage and it was kind of chilly outside and she really wanted to go home. "Please don't hang up," she said quickly and hopefully not as pathetically as it felt, "can you do me a huge favor?" "I don't even know you?" "Hi, I'm Stella, I'm kinda drunk, and I need a ride home."

There's some shuffling on the other end and she continued in the silence, "It's that club on the corner of Wilmont and Rose -- jesus christ i can't believe i know that -- and I'm kinda laying down on the sidewalk outside? I totally understand if not, I'll call... Uh, whoever it was I said earlier. Maybe I'll go back to whatever-the-fuck that restaurant was, I think it's an Ihop? I bet they'll remember me, I was there like three hours ago, maybe, what time even is it? Oh my god, I'm sorry, I'll shut -- " The line went dead. She pulled the phone from her ear. The red battery light flashed back at her. "Fucking hell!!!" The short-lived screaming sapped whatever energy she had left and she opted for curling up in a little ball, holding the cell to her chest, and crying.

She hadn't cried all night, actually. Dumped by her really sweet (she thought) and funny (still true, she couldn't deny it) ex-boyfriend and she hadn't cried yet. The night was really a blur of french toast for a late dinner, leftover vanilla ice cream on her fingers, shot after shot with strangers cheering her on, dancing to the shitty techno music, and relishing in the neon lights behind her eyelids. Now it was just shivering at what felt like past midnight, not quite realizing how close she actually was to her apartment, and wishing she hadn't called some random guy on accident. How was she going to get in contact with Charity now? Thinking too much made her head spin more than it already was; she moaned pitifully and covered her face with her hands.

Somehow, the flash of white lights burned her retinas and she resisted the urge to claw her eyes out. A car door opened and she squinted from behind her fingers. "Are you Stella?" "Who's asking?" Leave it to her to give attitude to the one person who seemed to want to help her. "The guy you drunk dialed at two in the morning." She couldn't see him roll his eyes but she heard it in his voice. Oh. "You, uh... actually..." He moved so quickly she didn't have time to process it but he was suddenly pulling her up by her wrists and -- when she swayed dizzily -- wrapping an arm around her waist. "This doesn't look bad at all. Really hope nobody's around to call the cops on me."

She liked the way sarcasm dripped from each word and she clutched her phone in one hand while the other pressed against her forehead as if that would stop the pounding headache. He opened the passenger door and carefully guided her in. Being treated like this would normally send her into a fiery rage because she definitely didn't need to be coddled like ever but it was nice of him to be gentle. He even closed her door and then his door as quietly as he could and she shot him what she hoped was a smile and not a grimace thanks to the interior lights. "Where do you live?" "What, you aren't going to buy me dinner first?" She laughed a little, as if to prove that it's a joke, but even with drunk goggles on, he was really cute. He sighed, long and deep, and started the car.

"Jacobs Apartment Complex." He gave her an incredulous look and it seemed briefly like he wanted to strangle her. "That's literally two blocks away." Instead of apologizing like any normal human being, she said, "how d'you know?" and then thought about how she was two blocks from home this entire time. "I fucking live there." She couldn't decide if she wanted to laugh or swear so she did neither and instead shrugged, pulled her knees to her chest, and closed her eyes. "Can you... maybe not... put your shoes on the seat like that..." Gritting her teeth, she straightened back out and folded her arms across her chest. The sidewalk was starting to seem like a better option.

"What were you doing out there, anyway?" She very pointedly looked away from him and out the tinted windows. "None of your business," she paused and definitely didn't bitterly continue with, "not crying or cursing my stupid ex-boyfriend, that's for sure." He made a sound she was very familiar with: the trying-not-to-laugh noise, and when she looked at him, he was definitely forcing an indifferent look. "Wow, asshole, okay!! Just drop me off now, I'll walk home!!" He shook his head and kept his mouth shut, as if considering what totally offensive thing he wanted to say next. Because that's what he was, one hundred percent offensive, and she totally didn't want anything to do with him in the future. Like, at all, ever.

"I'm sorry, that was rude. It was just a really funny thing to imagine. Stella in all her drunken glory cursing her boyfriend and demanding the break up Gods to strike him down." Oh. Well then. "You said you were at the Ihop earlier. Please tell me you threw food at him or your drink in his face?" She hesitated; if there was one thing she didn't expect, it was for this guy to take her side on the whole thing. No 'well, what did you do to make him dump you' or 'it was bound to happen eventually,' just 'did he get his just desserts?' "I poured my milkshake over his head." He didn't try to hold his laughter in this time and she found herself smiling for the first time since leaving the club.

"That's incredible, I'm proud of you." She ignored the heat in her cheeks, assuming it had to do something with the alcohol in her system, and gave him a toothy grin. "Thanks, kind stranger. Also, thanks for the ride. Even though I hung up on you." "It's Edgar. Is your phone dead?" He pointed to the car charger and she plugged her cell in, "Can I call you Eddie?" No." "I'm gonna call you Eddie." He sighed again and she officially deemed that his 'Stella sigh' even though they had only just met. "Not even my closest friends call me Eddie. It's Edgar or nothing." "Hi, Nothing, I'm Dad."

The car was silent for a three painful seconds before they both burst into laughter. She, being as drunk as she was, found just about anything funny. And he just could not believe he had been dad-joked by a girl his age. "I cannot-- believe you just," "I can." They both laughed during the rest of the short drive; pulling into the parking lot of the complex seemed to calm her down, though, and she cringed when the headache slammed back against her eyes. Unplugging her phone and pocketing it, she let herself out of the car. Somehow, Eddie had come around just in time to catch her as she stumbled and she murmured a 'thank you,' finding it suddenly very difficult to not fall asleep against him. "Which apartment?" "Second floor."

He helped her up the stairs, what with the elevator being perpetually broken, and then they paused at the end of the hall. "Almost there," he said, looking at the list of tenants. He assumed she had to be S.H. and headed towards 4B. "You know, you have the same initials as Sherlock Holmes." "Dork," was all she answered back with, shoving something into his hand. Realizing it was the key, he unlocked the door once reaching it, and then stopped. Her head was definitely on his shoulder at this point and she was absolutely half asleep so she couldn't understand why they were stood outside of her apartment like weirdos. Shaking herself awake, she took control, and lead him in, straight to the bedroom.

He stammered a little, as if trying to find words, but she ignored him in favor of kicking her shoes off along the way. "I just need -- want, Jesus Chr-- will you tuck me in, please?" She never got to see the way his face flushed thanks to her shirt coming off next. Wiggling out of her jeans, she left both articles of clothing on the floor and climbed into bed. It wouldn't occur to her until the morning that she had definitely stripped down to her undergarments in front of a stranger but for now, she just wanted to be warm and cozy. "Eddie," she reached out for him and when he moved just close enough to be in reach, she took his hand in hers. As if drunk Stella wasn't enough, now she was Slap-Happy-Punch-Drunk Stella but actually intoxicated and not just sleep deprived.

She pulled him down onto the bed next to her, hoping he was sitting comfortably, before letting go of his hand. She missed the contact immediately but guessed it was probably only because she had just been dumped and was going to sleep alone. "Thank you again," she said, words slurring together, "I really appreciate it and I hope you... I hope you let me pay you back someday. May... maybe coffee or uh... uhm, anything but Ihop." She finished with a childish grin despite realizing Ihop probably wouldn't be a thing for awhile for her. Eddie was uncharacteristically quiet although for all she knew, he was usually like that, and she just talked a lot. Actually, she knew she talked a lot. "Sure thing, Stella." Oh good, he was still there.

Keeping her eyes shut, she waved her hand as if dismissing him. "You can go back to whatever it was you were doing at two in the morning before silly me called you." She felt him stand up and she started with a "good ni..." before her body gave into finally falling asleep. She never heard his "sleep well," but she did wake up to a glass of water and a bottle of Advil. (The bottle of pain killers were always there, she remembered days later, but he had gone out of his way to leave her a drink, and it took her a long while to realize that was one of the many reasons she eventually fell in love with him).

stella r. hines
 Posted: Sep 2 2015, 07:34 PM

tw: suicide attempt

Something was very wrong with Stella Hines.

The lack of confidence was not new. The bouts of anxiety were not new. The feelings of uselessness were not new.

The emptiness was. The silence was. The voice in her head was.

It was telling her over and over how worthless she was. How she wasted everybody's time. How she was obnoxious, annoying, loud. How nobody liked her, not her friends, not her parents, not Eddie.

Eddie was a shining light in all of this but she couldn't find him in the darkness. It was smothering. It was overwhelming and crushing and painful. It wasn't helping that she had pushed herself into a corner of the closet, doors shut, blankets piled on top of her. The darkness might have been smothering and overwhelming because she was hot and having trouble breathing. It was best that way, though. Maybe this way she would melt into a puddle or stop breathing all together.

Maybe I should cry for help.

The headphones in her ears were at full volume and her head hurt. Her mother was just a call away but Stella was too tired to pick up her phone. Her father could take her for ice cream but she wasn't hungry. Nahnie could bring her a flower crown but Stella knew it wouldn't work. Pennie could distract her with crafts but she didn't need another thing to fail at. Eddie could hug her until everything stopped hurting but she wasn't going to bother him.

Maybe I should kill myself.

Would it be that difficult? There were so many easy ways out but she didn't deserve easy. Maybe she didn't need to take it that far. Maybe if she just took what was left of her pain killers, she could sleep for awhile. Maybe things would be better after she woke up. You wouldn't be missed, anyway. That was... true. Jackson had better friends, her parents had each other, Nahnie had Aurora, Eddie had Pennie. The medicine was in the bathroom. The medicine was in her hand.

Her reflection in the mirror was distracting. Her wild blonde hair was pulled into a bun at the top of her head, the circles under her eyes were dark, her skin looked pale. She felt sick. Twisting the cap, Stella poured the remaining pills into her palm. There were five left. What else is in the cabinet? Advil, cough syrup, NyQuil, Midol, Benadryl. Why not a little bit of everything? It'll be a fun experiment, Stella, come on, don't you want to have fun?

The voice seemed so pleased at the suggestion. Stella did want to have fun; she wanted to shake the feeling of despair that had stuck with her since yesterday. Pouring the pills back into the bottle, Stella took the medicines in her hands, and went back to her closet. She left the door open so she could see and laid out the options. You don't even need water, how convenient. I bet washing those painkillers down with NyQuil will be delicious. The voice hadn't been wrong so far.

It tasted disgusting. Take another, maybe it'll get better. It didn't. One more. She felt like she was on auto-pilot. It's an acquired taste. She wondered if the cough syrup would be better. You won't know until you try it out. It wasn't better. Isn't it fun trying new things, Stella? She didn't like this experiment. We haven't even seen the results yet. She didn't think she wanted to. Are you giving up already? Anger struck her white hot and she struggled to understand what was happening.

Stella never gave up and she needed to prove that to the voice. Stella knew this was wrong but she was so close to taking a long nap. Stella should probably have called somebody. They're all busy. They don't have time for you. The painkillers were gone but she couldn't remember moving on to the allergy pills. The NyQuil was empty. She finished the cough syrup with the Midol. Aren't you feeling better already? There was a sharp edge to the question, glee and malice and stabbing.

"Estella, sweetie, hi!"

When had she called her mother? "Mom." Why had she called her mother? Hang up. No, she couldn't, not without raising suspicion. "How are you, honey?" "I... need help." Hang. Up. It was too late. "Help? Honey, what happened? Where are you?" Hysteria broke through the fog she was losing herself in, if only briefly. "My..." Where was she? What had happened? "I'm sorry." You're ruining everything. "No, Estella, don't-- Just. Tell me where you are, sweetie, can you tell me where you are?" She didn't need to know. "School." You're pathetic. "Okay. Okay, is there anybody near by?"

Look what you've done.

She was on the floor but she couldn't remember when she had laid down. How long had it been since her experiment? She was so tired. "Estella?" Her mother's voice, worried and frightened. Estella. The voice, mocking and disappointed. You'll never have any peace now. No, that wasn't fair, that was all she wanted. You're going to wake up in the hospital. You'll be sent to rehab. Your life is over. No, no. Why wasn't her mother talking to her still? "Mom." She's hung up, Stella. She doesn't care. Good riddance. That wasn't true, that couldn't be right. Have I been wrong yet?

It was getting difficult to keep her eyes open. She felt kind of cold. Why was it so hard to breathe?

A steady beeping woke her up. I told you. The beeping rose suddenly and she jumped, rocketing up, eyes wide, every part of her screaming, aching. "Oh, thank God," was all she heard before her vision was obscured by dyed brown locks. Mom. "Honey, sweetheart, oh my god, Estella." Something was squeezing her hand and she looked passed her mother to see her dad there, eyes red and brows furrowed. What had she done? It's what you didn't do that matters.

Her mother pulled back, grabbing Stella's shoulders, looking her in the eyes. Stella had never seen such worry in them. "Honey, why would you do something like that? Are you okay? I'm so sorry, I've been such a terrible parent." Stella didn't know what to say. Her throat felt dry. How many times now had she worn these gowns, slept in these beds? More in the last few months than in her life. Was she trying to get herself killed? If you could call what you attempted 'trying.' You quit before you even finished. Stella couldn't bring herself to make eye contact with the woman that raised her, loved her, cared for her.

She looked down and shrugged out from her mother's grasp, laying back down. "Sweetie?" "Let her rest, Victoria." Her father sounded like he hadn't slept. What had she done? All she wanted was to sleep for however long she needed. Here she was, awake and filled with regret and guilt. Her skin was crawling and she thought she might be sick. Her parents were worried. Did her friends know? She'd never be able to face them if they did. Coward. Her dad still held her hand and she wanted to take it from him, turn on her side away from them both, and hope they would realize that they would be better off without her.

The next thing to wake her was whispering. You don't want to know who it is. They weren't very good at being quiet. Don't open your eyes. She needed to tell them to stop. You'll regret it. She knew those voices. Panic swept through her and she heard her heart monitor rise but she ignored it, feigning sleep. "Stella?" No, no, no. Ignore him. "Is she okay?" "She tried to kill herself, what do you fucking think?" "Nahnie." Silence fell heavy and Stella thought she might suffocate in it. "Stella," he said again. He knew; he knew what she had done and he knew she was awake.

Don't do it. The voice was right most of the time but she couldn't put this off. She knew it was his hand holding hers and she squeezed. She felt the relief roll off of him in waves. She turned her head to look at him and only him, and opened her eyes. Eddie seemed brighter than usual and she wondered where he had been when she needed him most. She opened her mouth to try and speak but he cut her off, "don't you dare apologize." Pennie was crying. Stella felt small. How could she do this to them? Send them away.

y'know i'm ending it here because it feels wrong to write for any other characters. i'm pretty sure this should be canon but i'm not sure yet. i'm gonna crawl under a rock now.

july 17, 2015
 Posted: Sep 2 2015, 07:36 PM



probably july 17th/18th

somebody stole My car radio & now I just sit in silence I ponder of something terrifying Cause this time there's no sound to hide behind I find over the course of our human existence One thing consists of consistence & it's that we're all battling fear Oh dear I don't know if we know why we're here Oh my Too deep Please stop thinking I liked it better when my car had sound

{ not canon }

culpability noun 1. guilt or blame that is deserved; blameworthiness.

As soon as visiting hours were over, he went back to his dorm at Baum Academy, and cried. It was the most he had cried since he was a toddler and he had fallen down and scraped his knee, except this time it felt like someone had ripped his limbs clean off. He had been holding it together, keeping it in, but now his limbs turned to putty and he laid on his bed and he cried.

The only things he had said were "Stella?" and "Don't you dare apologize." He couldn't even say words to comfort Penelope, who was inconsolable, to Nahnie, who nearly got escorted out for screaming at the doctors when they told her to watch her language, to Aurora, who was trying to calm Nahnie down but failing. No, he couldn't face them. This was all his fault. All of this. He was responsible.

responsibility noun 1. the state or fact of being responsible, answerable, ot accountable for something within one's power, control, or management.

He got himself to stop crying after a while. This was what he had to do. Concentrating harder than he ever had to before, he got to the point where he was just laying there, in the silence, not moving. Practically catatonic. He wanted to play his guitar but one of the strings had broken and he hadn't had the chance to replace it yet. It was just him and the silence and he stared at the stars on his ceiling and had to think.

He didn't notice Penelope come in and lay next to him, still crying, her head on his shoulder. He didn't move. He didn't speak. She didn't mind, she just needed to be with someone who understood, and maybe she thought he needed someone. She said something about a nightmare but he didn't really hear it. She needed him to be there for her, but he needed no one. That was what he had to do. It was the only way to fix all of this, wasn't it?

Penelope stayed with him until cried her self to sleep, and he let her. But he couldn't sleep. He was reprogramming himself.

dereliction noun 1. deliberate or conscious neglect; negligence; delinquency. 2. the act of abandoning something.

This all started when he started feeling, right? If he hadn't, maybe Stella wouldn't have been affected by him and his lack of experience when he tried to express those feelings. She would have felt better about herself, wouldn't she have? He remembered clearly every negative comment he made towards her and it made his skin crawl. How could he be so cruel to her?

But those would be deleted momentarily, along with anything he felt for Stella Hines. It was more difficult than placing a memory in his mind palace. Feelings were so much more complex. But he stayed up all night, tuning out Penelope's snoring and shaking. She woke up a couple times, sitting up quickly, then scooting closer to him, as if he were a security blanket or a teddy bear for a child to hold on to when they were afraid.

He couldn't provide that level of comfort for himself, though.

No, he didn't need it. Not anymore. Deep in the cellars of his mind palace, he had placed every feeling he had, every rush of adrenaline when he was around Stella, every breathless moment he had with her, every time his heart raced with his mind.

Penelope left in the morning, still trying to talk to him, getting frustrated now. Was she screaming at him? Say something, Eddie! Why can't you talk to me? What's wrong with you? Please, Eddie, you have to talk to someone about this! You can't just hold it in! But he just looked at her, eyes as neutral and indifferent as they were when he met Penelope, and before he met Stella. "It's Edgar." His voice was monotone and cold and Penelope looked confused for a moment, and then understood and began to sob again, running out of his room.

Apparently she had run into someone in the hall, because suddenly his door burst open and Nahnie Strider came in, looking at him with rage in her puffy eyes. What the fuck is your problem, Brooke? Maybe Nahnie blamed him too, he didn't know. He was afraid but he didn't care. He didn't care about anything, not even when Nahnie stormed over to him, practically breathing fire as she put his face just inches from his, grabbing it to force him to look into her eyes.

You think that this is going to help? You think that going back to being a fucking robot is going to fix any of this? You think that's what Stella fucking needs? You think this is all about you? Well it's fucking not, get over yourself and look at me! He had looked away, concentrating on keeping the cellar door closed. This is way beyond you and her. This is shit she's had to deal with before and without you and it's not your fucking fault. It's nobody's fault. It's a disease. You hearing me, Brooke? Are you listening to me, Eddie? He nodded, but his eyes were still dull.

Nahnie's nostrils flared and she grabbed his arm. You're coming with me. We need to fix this bullshit. She dragged him along and he just went with her, knowing he could block out whatever she tried to do. They left Baum and took the subway, coming out at the stop nearest to the hospital. Predictable. He could handle it.

They went in and Nahnie had to convince the nurse that she wasn't going to cause any trouble, and also to fuck off, they needed to see their friend. The nurse must have seen the conviction in her eyes because she let them go back to Stella's room. They didn't go in, though. Her parents were there and she was asleep and Nahnie pushed him to the window. Look at her, Brooke. Look at her. You're just going to forget everything you both have been through, everything you feel about her, because what? You think that's going to make it all fucking better? She needs you, she needs her fucking friends to give a shit about her, you especially. I didn't take you for a coward, but if you really think this is what you have to do, then I must have been out of my fucking mind.

He did look at her. He stared at her for a long while. Her blonde hair and her steady breathing and her face, which looked much worse than the last time she was here, but still beauti- no. No. He didn't feel anything. He couldn't. He wouldn't. But a tear started streaming down his cheek and the cellar doors burst open and he crumpled to the floor, sobbing, and Nahnie sunk down after him and put her arm around him. "That's it. Let it all out. It's okay to feel grief, Eddie, you have to learn that. You can't have the good shit without the bad shit. It doesn't work like that."

"It's my fault," he mumbled through sobs, and Nahnie grabbed his face again, looking at him with much warmer eyes than before, eyes that were about to cry too.

"No, it's not. You might feel that way, but look at the facts. Depression is a disease. You didn't cause this. This was something that was there, and you had nothing to do with it. The facts, Eddie!" And he thought for a moment and nodded at her, still crying, and she hugged him and he cried into her shoulder. "Shh, it's okay, it's gonna be okay. She's alive, we're going to help her, and that's all that matters now. What happened, happened, and it fucking sucks. But we have to face it, and we have to help her, because we love her. Say it."

"We have to help her because we love her," he said, sincerity in his voice, and he disappeared back into Nahnie's mess of hair and she held him for a while, moving him into the chairs, and trying to comfort him as best as she could, and Eddie just cried, feeling everything at once.

stella r. hines
 Posted: Nov 17 2015, 09:03 PM

Today had not been going well for Stella.

It had started with her mother waking her at dawn. The house needed cleaning, errands need running, fabric needed delivering. Stella had protested, covering her face with her pillow, and begging for a few more hours. Her mother had threatened to grab the bucket. Not too keen on beginning her day being soaked by ice cold water, Stella rose, got dressed, and did what needed to be done.

Chores had never been her favorite. Growing up as she did, though, they weren’t easy to avoid. Even if she managed to sneak out before being assigned a task, she came home to a longer list than before. If she somehow didn’t finish those, either, she was sent to bed without dinner. Those nights were the worst, spent tossing and turning, her stomach growling; the regret was oftentimes stronger than the hunger. Her mother was a no-nonsense type of woman. She spent her days designing, sewing, stitching; her clients were impatient and harsh. They ordered dresses only days before they were needed and her mother would spend her nights by the fire, pricking her fingers, straining to keep her eyes open. Stella hated the upper class for it.

While running had always been Stella’s favorite, it wasn’t the same when it came to errands. That sort of running was stressful and rushed. Stella was usually the one to deliver the finished clothes; she would have to stand and wait while they judged her mother’s hard work. Each uncalled for comment set Stella’s blood boiling but she had to stay quiet each time, remaining still until they paid her. The markets weren’t much better. The merchants seemed to think because she was a child that they could sell her the oldest produce, the stalest breads, and the fattiest meats. She wasn’t a child and she argued with them on each sale until they gave in. They usually shut up when she showed she had the money. Sometimes, if there was extra, her mother allowed Stella to pick dessert for the night. She always tried to find the most delectable cakes, something her parents could enjoy as well. She was truly happy those nights, despite ungrateful buyers and shady shopkeepers.

Today had not been going well for Stella for a number of reasons.

Every woman was displeased with her dress. The men were refusing to sell her what she needed. The sky was dark with rainclouds and she had been on her way home when a boy crashed into her in an alley.

Watch where you’re going!” She had snapped, checking her pockets to make sure he wasn’t a thief. He looked slightly panicked and… very out of place. His cloak was dark but not tattered from being worn often, his boots were dirty but only recently so; despite being alarmed, he held himself with a sense of pride she didn’t see often. “You were the one not paying attention.” The accent surprised her so much that she struggled to find words for a moment. “I shouldn’t have to pay attention,” she finally answered, angrily, “nobody’s ever down this path and when they are, they know to be out of my way.” It was a benefit of being so quick; people saw her bright blonde hair and moved before she could knock them over.

He scoffed and rolled his eyes. Her hands curled into fists. This boy was asking for a fight and he’d only spoken a sentence to her. “I do not have time for this.” The stress had returned and with it came paranoia as he looked past her and then glanced over his shoulder. He made to step around her but she moved, stopping him in his tracks. “Aren’t you forgetting something?” He glared down at her and she felt the need to stand taller, if only to just make eye contact with him. The height difference wasn’t much but it was enough to bother her. “No.” “An apology.” He laughed though it was more of an annoyed sound than a pleasant one. “I don’t think so.” He, again, tried to pass her but she wasn’t having it.

Move!” “Apologize.” He seemed to be at war with himself for a moment, as if not quite sure what he wanted to do next. Stella had never seen someone so conflicted; she felt guilty for a fraction of a second, right up until he shoved her out of the way. Stella stumbled, throwing her arms out to keep her balance, and feeling relieved when she caught the wall. By the time she had composed herself, he was out of the alley, and into the town. “Hey!” she shouted, following him without hesitation, anger spurring her on. He either didn’t hear her or ignored her and while that should have been it, Stella was not letting him get away. Everything else had gone wrong with this day and she couldn’t do anything about it; this was something she could turn around and she hated that she almost needed it.

He wasn’t fast enough to get very far but that just as well could have been that she was known for her speed. It helped that she was used to weaving through the crowd whereas he seemed to be very bad at it. Stella caught him by the wrist and spun him around; she felt awkward, standing as close to him as she was, but people had to shuffle around them, and she could feel the strange looks they were receiving. “Let go,” he hissed, pulling his arm from her. Stella didn’t realize she had held on until he said something but now she definitely had no intention of releasing her grip. “Two words.” She couldn’t believe how stubborn he was being. The fierce look he was giving her was almost frightening but Stella had faced scarier people than him.

He twisted his arm suddenly and their positions were switched as he grabbed her by the crook of her arm. Stella tried to tug away but he apparently had other ideas. Before Stella could do much else, he was dragging her towards another quiet alley. She hit and swore at him, her face burning with irritation and humiliation. He let her go and she pushed him, hard. “What is your problem?!” “Do you have any idea who I am?!” Stella would have taken the time to figure it out if she weren’t so furious. “Apparently not a decent human being! How hard is it to say you’re sorry?!

In one swift motion, he took the hood down. Something about him was familiar but not in a good way. He looked a lot like the king and queen but she had only seen them once in person. It was impossible for this boy to be the prince. What reason was there for him to be out here, without any guards? “I don’t care who you are,” she said, trying to calm down because if he was the prince, she didn’t need to let the world know. “I just want an apology.” “You’re not getting one.” Stella threw an arm out, pointing to the bustling market. “I’m sure the bandits in town would love to know who you are.” He looked genuinely worried for a moment. Stella was bluffing, of course; she was much too close to want to be around when the crooks robbed him of whatever he had on him and left him for dead.

I’m sorry.” He said it haughtily and Stella could tell he didn’t mean it. That didn’t matter; she’d gotten it out of him and maybe he’d learn a little modesty from it. “Was that so difficult?” Sarcasm laced the question and she turned her back to him immediately after, “it wasn’t nice meeting you. Maybe learn to treat your subjects better, your highness.” Stella left, feeling satisfied at having the last word, and knowing he wouldn’t be able to follow her. She made it home just before the rain started. Her father asked what was wrong and she told him just that it had been a very long day. Stella hoped she would never see the pretentious prince again and that was why, obviously, she would be face to face with him again in the next year.

WORDS: 1,300 | TAGGED:
royalty au part one

Stella had all but forgotten about her first meeting with the prince. When her mother received a letter from the queen, asking for her service, Stella had been expected to come along. She wasn’t sure why. Stella only delivered the dresses and took the payment. It wasn’t like she would be needed to do so at the castle. Then again, Stella wasn’t really complaining. This was her chance to see what the inside of the palace looked like; the décor, the foods, the people. How different could it be? Stella wasn’t sure but she was actually kind of looking forward to this adventure. She would rather have taken it with her father but he had his own work to do. Stella supposed she could spend the time with her mother; maybe they would even be able to bond during it.

That all went out the window as soon as Stella found out what she was really there for. The queen was expecting company; girls that were Stella’s age and Stella’s build, and how else could her mother make the dresses without the proper measurements? Stella had been livid. As if that weren’t bad enough, the queen had insisted they stay in one of the guest rooms until the job was done. Stella hated it. The first week was growing accustomed to the schedule: meal times, off limit areas, working. Working was modeling. Not only did Stella have to stand still while her mother worked, she had to wander around to make sure everything was as should be. That meant pacing the halls, walking up and down the stairs, and practicing dancing.

As if all of this weren’t bad enough, Stella had to put up a front. She had to be polite to the king and queen. She had to bite her tongue so often she thought she would be better off without it. Exploring the castle lost its appeal when she discovered it was mostly empty rooms and libraries. The gardens were beautiful but she was only allowed during certain times. She couldn’t go to the kitchen for snacks. She couldn’t imagine how boring life must be for royalty. It was during this realization that she remembered the prince. No wonder he had left. Anything was more interesting than this, even if it meant putting himself amongst the commoners. How she hadn’t seen him yet was confusing but she didn’t mind so much; it was just a reminder of how rude he had been.

When her mother brought him up, the queen said he would be returning soon from a trip. She was vague about it and that bothered Stella but what bothered her more was that he would be back. She was a mix of emotions: worried about being called out for her behavior, frustration for having to see him again, embarrassed at being in this situation. It was one of her days for modeling and the queen had decided she wanted to see the dress in person this time. Stella and her mother had been summoned to what had to be one of the largest rooms Stella had ever seen; chandeliers hung from the ceiling, the floor was a beautiful rose gold, and there was a grand piano by the door leading out to the gardens.

The queen requested Stella be dolled up and so her hair was brushed and styled, jewelry adorned her wrists and neck, blush dusted her cheeks. She felt ridiculous. To make matters worse, in walked the prince. He must not have recognized her because he glanced only once before turning to his mother. They spoke amongst themselves and Stella turned to her own parent, the expression in her eyes begging. Of course, she didn’t understand, and stayed where she was. The prince approached and Stella swallowed down the irritation, ignored her shaking hands. He looked like he wanted to be anywhere but here. Stella knew the feeling.

I’m Edgar,” he introduced himself, holding a hand out for her to take. She stared at it, not quite comprehending what she was meant to do, until her mother cleared her throat. “Stella,” she responded, shaking his hand. Stella spared a glimpse towards her mother, who was curtsying very subtly, nodding as if to encourage her daughter to do the same. Seriously?! Stella dropped the princes’ hand and curtsied, crossing her ankles, and bending at the waist. She felt sick. All she wanted to do was step on his foot and curse at him and leave. Here she was, pretending to be someone she wasn’t. When she stood again, notes began to play from the piano, and she understood.

This was the very last thing she had expected. Modeling dresses for the sake of her mother earning more money than they had ever seen in their lives? Fine. Living in the castle for the time it took? Sure. Practice dancing with the prince instead of the usual youngest guard they had available? No. She couldn’t. She didn’t want to. She hated even looking at him. He hadn’t realized yet she was the girl who had hassled him in an alleyway months ago and for that she was grateful. The queen and her mother seemed to be waiting and Stella knew she wasn’t getting out of this one. The prince seemed confused by her standing still for so long.

Stella took his offered hand in hers and tried not to jump when his hand rested on her waist. She set her right hand on his shoulder and he seemed to nod his head, counting, before he stepped forward. Stella responded immediately by stepping back and she found it easy to fall back into the same routine she’d been dancing for the last week. Stella hoped they could go the entirety of the song without speaking but he had something to say almost instantly. “You’re familiar.” “Am I?” She did her best to keep the contempt at bay. “Have we met before?” “We have.” There was no way she was going to make this easy for him.

For being one of many words, Stella was determined to stay quiet on this. There were so many reasons she didn’t want him to know who she was. If she could just go the remainder of this stay avoiding the prince, then she would never have to see him again, and everything would be alright. “Where, might I ask? When?” Stella allowed him to twirl her and she ignored the way everything seemed to continue spinning even as she stopped. “Nowhere worth remembering.” He seemed a little put off by her answer. Good. The final note finished echoing throughout the room and Stella pulled away from him. Curtsying once more, Stella gave him a simple “your highness,” before returning to her mother, where she linked arms with her, and hurriedly left.

It was perhaps the worst thing she could have said to him. They saw each other that night for dinner and he knew. Stella knew he had connected the dots by the narrowed stare he gave her. Conversation was light. The queen and Stella’s mother discussed the project. Edgar recalled his journey with his father. Stella sat quietly, not touching her food. Stella was the first to leave the moment they were dismissed but to her dismay, Edgar caught up quickly. “It’s you,” he said, falling in step next to her. “Leave me alone.” “You almost had me fooled.” “I wasn’t trying to fool you.” Stella wished she didn’t sound as tired as she felt so she could give him a piece of her mind.

You didn’t mention it to my mother.” She paused to stare at him, “why would I?” He didn’t say anything and she continued, moving quicker than before. He continued after her, “how much longer are you here for?” “I don’t know.” They reached the bottom of the staircase that led to the room she shared with her mother. Stella turned to face the prince, “will that be all?” He seemed taken aback at her respectful tone. She wasn’t sure if it was courtesy or exhaustion. “Yes.” “Very well. Good night.” “Sleep well.” Stella tilted her head down before turning and taking her leave.

WORDS: 1,300 | TAGGED:
part two | the dress
 Posted: Dec 22 2015, 10:26 AM

12/22/15 fluffathon
"making Thanksgiving dinner together and then burning it all in the process"

"Stella, what are you doing??"

"Cooking, obviously. That's what we've been doing for the past two hours."

Rolling his eyes, Eddie turned the heat on the stove back down for the upteenth time in those two hours. "You're going to burn it. We have to follow the recipe."

"Eddie, the recipe is taking too long. I can't stay in this kitchen for another two hours. I'm going crazy." That familiar whine in her voice brought a smile to his face for a second before regaining his composure. This was a serious situation. Their friends and families were going to be there for Thanksgiving, and this was their first time hosting, and admittedly Eddie was kind of stressed out about it.

"The only way we'll be staying here for another two hours is if you burn everything again." Pausing for a moment, Eddie shot Stella an accusatory glance for a second. "Or are you just looking for an excuse to run to the store again?" That was... probably... a mistake...

She almost looked sheepish for a moment before the heat in her eyes turned up. "Eddie Brooke, how dare you first of all, and second of all, what makes you the big expert on cooking anyway? You have to use this stupid book!" She took the book from his hands and ran to the other side of the room, knowing that if it were going to be a chase, Eddie would never be able to keep up. That was one time, and they didn't like to talk about that much these days.

"Stella, give it back," he pleaded, crossing his arms and looking more frustrated than anything, and he was this close to losing it. "Do you realize how much pressure I'm under here? I've never cooked anything in my life, and I just want everything to be perfect. That's all. It's not too much to ask. Please give me the cook book back."

"No." Obstinate, as per usual. It's one of the things he loved about her. "Apologize first."

Sighing, he knew he could be just as stubborn. "Please."


They stood there going back and forth until Eddie smelled something burning and the smoke alarm went off.

"It should be here in about an hour."

The windows were all open and Eddie's pride was smashed into a thousand pieces, but all he could feel in that moment was relief that the catering company his family had worked with forever basically pulled some strings and was going to deliver them a Thanksgiving dinner. He didn't care that his mother and father would know. The lack of stress he felt about dinner was enough to make him calm. It wasn't all okay, though. It was quiet in the house and the tension was high and the smell of burning everything was not leaving the house and Eddie felt terrible. He knew Stella was sitting on the couch in the living room and he walked in there, breathing deep.

He sat next to her for a moment, trying to think of what to say, but that was always the hardest part. She didn't look at him, and Eddie decided maybe it was best to leave it alone for a few more minutes. Standing up, he sauntered over to the record player, looking for anything that would make the silence go away, but was still appropriate for the dinner later, which was pretty much either smooth jazz or nothing.

He knew she was there before he felt her arms wrap around him from behind and he knew what she was going to say before she said it.

"I'm sorry," she mumbled into his back, and he held her hands, looking over his shoulder.

"You don't need to apologize. It's my fault." It really was, honestly. He was the one who started the argument, and the dinner wouldn't have burned if they hadn't been too busy focusing on that.

"Yes i-"

Turning around, Eddie wrapped her arms around her, shaking his head. "No, it's not. I shouldn't have said that. It was too stressful, but that's not an excuse. I was an asshole." He felt like an asshole, to be honest. Petty arguments were something they were trying to swear off, and he fell off the wagon this time.

"So was I," he heard her mumble, and he shook his head again.

"Never." Yeah, maybe she was being immature, but Eddie still shouldn't have reacted that way. "You were right. I was relying on that book way too closely."

Sniffling, Stella looked up at him with a grin. "Yeah, because you're a nerd."

"That's why you married me, isn't it?" he laughed, before hearing the door knock. Someone was early, and they both went to see who it was, though they had a pretty good idea. Clearly, they had carpooled.

"Estie!!! Eddie!!!!!!!! Hi!!!!" Still as excitable as ever, Penelope ran in and hugged them both before jumping on the couch. This was pretty much her second home, so she was entitled.

"Hello! Sorry we're so early." Aurora had brought a pumpkin pie without being asked to, which surprised no one, but it would probably be the best item there.

"Is something burning in here? Without me?" Nahnie said, grinning wickedly.

The three people who had been so crucial to Stellar happening walked in, and somehow Eddie knew that this evening was going to go alright, even if not as planned.

stella r. hines
 Posted: May 13 2016, 01:45 AM

written april, 2016
i rear ended you but you were really nice about it and offered me a blanket because i was cold
Stella saw it coming before it happened.

Her grip on the steering wheel turned her knuckles white and she screwed her eyes shut, even as she uselessly pressed down on the brake pedal. The sound of metal slamming into metal wasn’t exactly music to her ears and the first word out of her mouth was a hissed fuck. There weren’t any airbags, her life didn’t flash before her, and nothing hurt (yet, anyway). Stella worked her jaw to stop herself from gritting her teeth any longer and opened her eyes.

Her first accident.


The lights on the car in front of her began blinking and she quickly followed suit, clicking on her own hazards. She put the car into park and undid her seatbelt. The driver was out of his car and approaching her, sparing only a glance at his bumper before stopping beside her window. Not thinking straight, she hit the button and let it roll down automatically. “Are you alright?” Not… exactly what she had been expecting. “I’m sorry,” she responded immediately, and like a dam bursting, more apologies came flooding out. “I’m so sorry,” she repeated, opening the door and stepping out as he moved back to give her space. “I wasn’t — I didn’t… I misjudged the distance, I… I thought I had more… I’m so sorry.” Stella finally looked to his car, horrified to see the bumper hanging in a way it very much was not supposed to, but finding silent relief in that it was still attached.

We should pull off to the side of the road,” he was saying and Stella blinked, looking back to him. “Can I have your driver's’ license?” Stella nodded, feeling a bit numb, as they exchanged cards. “Over there, alright?” Stella turned her gaze to the direction his finger pointed and she nodded again. Just before he set off to move, another apology slipped passed her lips, and she frowned when he waved at her, as if to tell her it wasn’t a big deal. Stella hurriedly caught up with him, giving the driver behind her a sorry expression, before moving slowly to the side of the freeway.

Stella rolled the windows up and shut the car off, grabbing her phone next. She sent a text to her boss, explaining the situation as quickly as she could, before typing a few more messages to her parents and roommates. The boy — although he wasn’t really, he had to be in his early twenties just like she — was standing at the rear of his car and talking on the phone. Not feeling comfortable exiting through her driver side door, Stella slid across to exit through the passenger door. It was no easy feat given how tiny her bug was and she felt a little winded as she finally got out of the car. Stella pocketed her cell phone and found that she couldn’t stop wringing her hands together once they were free. Her heart was hammering against her chest and she felt like she was going to be sick.

He hung up and looked to her, seeming startled to find her standing there. They met halfway and Stella found herself looking up at him, the few inches of height he had on her being enough that she felt a little intimidated. She had no reason to be, though, honestly. The first thing he had asked her was if she was okay. He hadn’t yelled at her. Nobody was hurt. He opened his mouth to say something but she, without meaning to, interrupted. “I’m sorry,” oh for God sake, “I have insurance. I’ve never… this is my first…” Her breaths were coming a little short and she was struggling to find right words, “I’m sorry.” She finished as lamely as she had started. To her surprise, he laughed. “It’s my first car accident, too. It’s fine. It happens. It’s a busy freeway.

He swung his arm out, gesturing to the morning traffic. “It looks like your car handled it well,” he said, eyeing her bright yellow beetle, “which is surprising, given how small it is.” Stella knew the consequences he must have been referring to; her father hadn’t been happy with her buying such a tiny vehicle. Less padding on the outside meant it would be a whole lot easier for the inside — where Stella would be unsafely tucked — to take damage. “She’s resilient,” Stella said without thinking, patting the car, a fond smile on her lips. Not shortly after, though, she pulled her hand back and crossed her arms over her chest, frowning. A shudder ran through her and she felt her shoulders tense, as if to ignore the cold. It wasn’t even that it was that chilly; it was that all she wore was a long-sleeved black v-neck and the wind chill was lower than the temperature.

Before she could do anything remotely helpful — grab her insurance card, take photos of the damage, apologize again — he was moving back towards his car, where he popped the trunk. Stella stood still, wondering what he could possibly be doing, when he returned suddenly with a blanket. “Are you cold?” He asked.

Stella stared dumbly at the fabric in his hands.

Her brain simply stopped working.

It wasn’t until he cleared his throat that Stella started and an apology tumbled from her lips. “You say sorry a lot, you know that?” Her cheeks felt hot and Stella looked away, back towards the busy freeway. “Here, take it.” Before Stella could do much else, the blanket was in her hands. She unfolded it, draping it over her shoulders, and pulling it tight around her. “Thank you,” she managed finally, wondering why she felt so meek and embarrassed. This wasn’t her normal Stella behavior. Where was her attitude, her sass, her louder-than-acceptable voice? The boy was speaking again and Stella forced her gaze back to him, tuning in a bit too late.

… insurance card?” She apparently didn’t miss too much. Stella nodded, returning to her car while he did the same. She opened the passenger door again, digging through the glove box until she found what she was looking for. Stella retrieved his driver's license from where she’d left it in one of the cup holders. They met halfway again and went through the simple process of exchanging information. The blanket was soft against her hands and where it brushed against the bare skin along her neck and shoulders. His gentle smile was enough to keep her from freaking out any more than she already had. “Your birthday is tomorrow?

Stella realized with a shock that, yes, it was. “Oh… uh… I suppose… yes?” Again, she tried to find her usual snark and came back empty-handed. “I don’t know how I forgot,” she said honestly, shrugging, “I worry more about birthdays that aren’t my own.” Ah yes, Stella, scare him away with your fear of growing old and dying alone. In a desperate attempt to change the topic, Stella dug deep for the obnoxious loudmouth within her. “So… Edgar, huh? Does anybody call you Eddie?” Hilariously enough, for the first time since she’d rear ended him, his mouth turned down into a scowl. “No.” “It’s very nice to meet you, Eddie.” He started to say something but was abruptly cut off when a police officer pulled up behind her car.

Stella’s heart leapt into her throat. The adrenaline that had been keeping her pain at bay ebbed away and she cringed as her back started to ache. He asked them both if they were okay, if insurance had been called, if they needed any further assistance. Edgar (Eddie, she thought, with a poorly timed grin) answered most of the questions while Stella just nodded along as if she’d suddenly gone mute. The officer and Eddie (Edgar, she tried to correct herself) tested the bumper on his car and seemed to deem it well enough to drive it to an auto shop. Once everything seemed squared away, Stella was left alone again with a few things: the cute (she was having a hard time denying it) boy she had rear ended, a dull throb radiating throughout her back, a rude reminder that she was turning twenty-two tomorrow, and the guilt still eating away at her.

It was the last one that prompted her to start talking, filter nowhere to be found. “I’m sorry,” damn it, “I really am, I’m so sorry, I… I should have been paying more attention and— and I… I know the insurance will take… take care of it but I feel… I think I should… Is there an-anyway I can make it up to… you?” Well, at least she was back to her chatterbox ways. He was grinning, a soft sort of smile that made her nervous in more ways than one. Butterflies took flight in her stomach and she tried to stop her shaking hands by folding them up in the blanket he had given her.

His own hands were on her shoulders a moment later and she found she couldn’t look away from those blue-green eyes even if she wanted to. “Stella,” her name sounded like music when he spoke it, “it’s okay.” It wasn’t but he continued before she could disagree. “Since we’re both going to miss work, anyway, why don’t you follow me to the repair shop and we can get a coffee?

Maybe they should have called an ambulance because her heart had definitely just stopped.

An hour later, she found herself sat across from him at a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, her drink having gone cold given how her hands no longer felt heat from within the cup. That was okay, she thought, listening as he spoke so enthusiastically about something she didn’t have much interest in. The way his eyes lit up, the way he gestured so excitedly, the smile she could only hope would be seared into her memory forever. It was all very cozy and warm on its own, like the way a peach cobbler made her feel on rainy days. She hoped he would contact her for something other than the insurance went through, thanks but she was sure she’d find some reason to text him, regardless.

stella r. hines
 Posted: Jan 27 2017, 04:52 PM

The sky was awake and so Stella was awake.

Peering out through the window of the room she shared with her mother, Stella watched as lights danced across the sky, blues and greens against deep black and twinkling stars. Okay, so maybe the sun hadn’t risen, but this was what her dad called an ‘aurora borealis’ and seeing as Stella normally slept through them, she no intentions of missing it this time. What fun was it to see this display of lights without her best friend, though?

Glancing to her mother to make sure she was still fast asleep, Stella snuck down from the window seat and passed the bed. She avoided the creaky floorboards in her path and very slowly opened the door so that it wouldn’t reach the point that it squeaked. Closing it just as carefully, once she was in the clear, Stella checked down both ends of the hall, before taking off at a run towards the prince’s room. The castle was quiet and the torches lit on the walls were spread further apart this time of night. Still, she could find her way blindfolded.

Eventually, her feet met carpet instead of smooth stone, and she tried to focus on that instead of the chill that had settled on her bare skin. The cloth boots she wore might have helped from scrapes but it didn’t do much for warmth. Winter was in a few weeks and the frigid weather of Autumn had done nothing to prepare Stella for the icier temperatures. Somehow, despite her aversion to the cold, the most fun Stella ever had was playing with the prince, especially when he did the magic.

Skidding to a halt at his door, Stella knocked five times in her signature pattern. She waited seven whole seconds before growing impatient and letting herself in. Judging by the shape of the bed, the prince was still as fast asleep as her mother had been. Stella huffed, hurrying along, peeping up over the edge. “Eddie! Pst!” She climbed up and over, propping herself on top of Eddie. He grumbled. “Eddie! Wake up, wake up, wake up!” She shook his shoulders, excitement rolling off of her in waves.

Stella,” he groaned, “go back to sleep.” Figured. He was always so grumpy right after waking up! “I just can’t,” she sighed dramatically, “the sky’s awake so I’m awake, so we have to play!” Eddie rolled over, knocking her off with his arm, so much so that she fell off the bed. Stella didn't think he’d meant to do it, he was too polite, but she didn’t let it dissuade her either way. “Go play by yourself,” she heard him say above her but his tone was light.

She flopped her feet back and forth, thinking. He was already awake and so she couldn’t just quit now! With a quiet gasp, an idea came to her. Jumping back up and onto the bed, she crowded his personal space, pressing her hands to his cheeks. “Do you wanna build a snowman?” A moment passed before he opened his eyes and looked at her, a smile crawling onto his face. Victory! She hopped back down and made for the door, waiting for him to get a move on. He was so slow sometimes!

Peeking out from the door to make sure no adults were going to ruin their fun, Stella was surprised at the heavy feeling of something being draped over her. She looked to find Eddie, his cheeks pink from the cold, standing closer to her than she expected. He’d offered her one of his coats and she gave him a bright smile, flattered that he remembered every time how much she actually preferred to be warm. “Thank you!” She chirped, “now let’s go!” And with that, she grabbed his hand, and headed for the grand ballroom.

He hushed her as they went and she really did try to giggle as quietly as she could. They made it without issue and as the door closed behind them, Stella came to a halt in the middle of the room. Stella laughed without care now, stepping back to give Eddie space. “Do the magic, do the magic,” she cheered, curling her hands close to her chest. Eddie hesitated a moment before moving his own hands around each other and Stella ooh’d in appreciation as ice and snow formed between his palms. “Ready?” He asked her and Stella lost herself for a moment in the way his eyes caught the light before focusing and nodding.

He threw the snowball to the ceiling and it began to snow. “This is amazing!” She cried, dancing on the spot. It would always be amazing, no matter how many times she had seen it. “Watch this,” he said, seeming encouraged by her enthusiasm. He rose one foot and then stomped it back down and ice swirled out from beneath, sending her slipping away. She laughed, pinwheeling her arms. From there, they made snow angels and built snowmen (she snuck to the kitchen to grab a carrot for the nose), slid down hills, and threw snowballs.

Stella wasn’t sure how she’d started, but she was jumping suddenly from pile to pile. The snow was always so soft and fluffy, Stella was surprised to find it held her weight, but her mother had always said how tiny she was. “Catch me,” she exclaimed, even as the piles grew higher as Eddie created them. “Gotcha,” he laughed in return. As per her usual behavior, she went quicker as she got the hang of it. “Again!” Her fear of heights didn’t seem to be bothering her but maybe it was that she trusted Eddie so wholly, knowing he wouldn’t let her fall.

Wait,” she thought she heard him say, but over the sound of her laughter, it might have been nothing. “Slow down!” Stella, slow?! Never! She leaped, whooping as she did, but the uncomfortable drop of her stomach felt wrong. “Stella!” That was definitely Eddie this time but then, there was only darkness.

WORDS: 954 |
frozen au pt two


She waves her arms towards the voice calling her name, as if she can bat it away.

Stella, it’s time to wake up.

She pulls the covers over head and curls up, tucking her knees against her chest. The noise she makes might be a no thank you but it mostly just sounds like a bunch of annoyed gibberish strung together. She’s too cold and if she gets out of bed, she’ll be even more cold.

I have a hot bath ready for you, sweetheart. And hot food when you finish and I’ve left your clothes by the fire so they are warm when you put them on.

Oh, the voice belongs to her mother. That should have been obvious sooner but when Stella slept, she really slept, and it took a lot to get through the cotton in her ears. “Okay,” she speaks clearly this time, rubbing at her still closed eyes to wipe away leftover dust from the Sandman. “Okay,” she repeats before springing into action.

Her mother doesn’t even look surprised nor does she gasp in shock. This is the usual for her daughter and, after what had happened the night before, she’s overcome with relief that everything seems… normal. She eventually follows her daughter to the washroom to make sure she cleans behind her ears, all the while rolling her eyes while Stella complains that she’s old enough to take care of herself, thank you very much!

Stella appreciates the hot food and the warm clothes more than she thought she would. The cold that had worked its way between her bones didn’t seem to have melted away with the bath and she was hoping that some time in the sun might. So with her last piece of buttered bread between her lips, Stella rushed down corridors and passed closed doors out to the courtyard. It was chilly still, which was unsurprising given the season, but the sun beaming down on her felt nice and… there was something missing.

Stella paced by the gardens and fountains and the extravagant hedges, all the while trying to figure out what was missing. Was it a thing? Or a person? Did she have some sort of task to do today? Her mother would have told her, right? Stella hummed as she wandered towards the gates, keen on browsing the markets, only to find them closed. She frowned up at the big heavy wooden doors, wondering when that had happened.

Oh, Miss Stella!

She turned to face the man calling her name to find one of the guards on patrol. “Hello, Reggie,” she answered cheerfully, “do you know why the gates are closed?” He came to stand beside her, one hand on his hip, the other ruffling her hair. She knocked his arm away, laughing. “The King and Queen ordered it be done last night. Didn’t really give us a reason.” He shrugged, not so subtly turning her around and directing her back towards the castle.

At the mention of their highnesses, Stella realized with a start what was missing. “Eddie isn’t here!” She said aloud and at the look of confusion on Reggie’s face, she continued. “I couldn’t figure out what felt so weird about today. Eddie isn’t with me!” And with that, she took off, leaving a slightly concerned guard in her wake.

Allowing her feet to carry her, trusting they’d always know the way, Stella tried to figure out why she hadn’t seen the prince yet today. Normally, she and her mother had breakfast with the royal family. Her mother made all of the queen’s gowns while her father worked in the guard and as such, Stella had only known life in the castle. It was why she knew her way wherever she went, knew of every nook and cranny to hide in, could tell you which door led to which room.

Eddie’s door was closed but it usually was. He was much less outgoing than she was and so he often hid in there (or the library) when he wasn’t busy with important prince lessons. Stella knocked, her signature five note pattern, and waited. “Eddie?” She called, knowing better than to burst in during the day. “Do you wanna build a snowman?

There was no answer.

That always worked, though!

Come on, let’s go and play!!” She shifted on her feet, hesitating for a few more minutes. Maybe he wasn’t in his room right now… Stella headed for the library instead. When she didn’t find him there, either, she began to search the castle until she found him or one of his tutors. When she happened upon one, she asked if Eddie would be busy with studying all day. “His lessons were cancelled today, sweet girl,” the older woman told her, “he hasn’t left his room at all.

With a pout permanently fixed on her face, Stella returned to Eddie’s door and knocked again. No five note pattern. “Eddie, come out the door… It’s like you’ve gone away.” Silence followed. Were they suddenly not best friends, anymore? Had she done something wrong? Couldn’t he just talk to her? “It doesn’t have to be a snowman,” she tried once more.

Go away, Stella.

Normally, Stella would say no. She would kick the door down herself and demand what his problem was. Normally, Stella wasn’t quite so cold. And being out here in the hallway, a barrier between her and her best friend, was only making that chill sink deeper. “Okay… bye…

WORDS: 954 |
frozen au pt two
stella r. hines
 Posted: Jun 25 2017, 02:43 AM

college stellar au

β€œBrooke and Hines.”

Stella had to give her professor credit. The absolute lack of emotion in his tone as he rattled off names was impressive. The man loved his job, Stella had no doubt, but it was always a relief to know he had Days, just like she did. Today seemed to be one, if his straight face and dead eyes were anything to go by. Blowing the bangs out of her eyes, Stella closed her notebook and stuffed it into her bag, looking around the room for Brooke. It was only the first semester and while Stella made friends easily, she seemed to have trouble doing so in Business Management 101. It was probably because her classmates were either stiffs with only education on their mind or slackers who were here for the credit. She liked to think herself in the middle of two extremes but had no doubt that most put her in the Slacker category.

Brooke probably assumed this of her and she tried not to get too bent out of shape about it. Dropping into the seat next to his, Stella did her best to not make the very same assumptions that were probably being made about her. Pennie was always telling her to be more open-minded and accepting of the way other people were; so even though Brooke seemed her complete opposite and someone she was going to fight with every step of the way on this project, she was going to do her best. Really. If there was one thing Stella was, it was… well, it was fast. No adjective could come before that. There’d been a point there.

Oh! Right! She was stubborn. And she would stubbornly do her best to be non-judgmental.

β€œI’m Hines,” she started, holding out a hand to shake, watching as the bright red glitter of her nails caught the light, β€œStella’s fine, too, though.”

Oh. Oh, that was a look, one that hadn't even been directed at her and yet felt all the same. Stella retracted her arm immediately, fingers curling into her palm. Okay. This was fine. First impressions. Take the high road, Stella. Don’t let him get to you, Stella.

β€œEdgar,” was all he gave her in return and Stella nodded, keeping a smile fixed on her face, no matter how painful it was becoming. β€œI can take care of this,” he said, not even looking at her, focused on his notes, β€œI’m sure you won’t have much to contribute.”

High road, Stella.

β€œI’m perfectly capable, actually. We can split the work evenly.”

He scoffed. He actually scoffed. To hell with what Pennie said.

β€œEx-fucking-cuse you,” Stella snapped, β€œsupposed genius you are, I’m sure you know what assumptions make out of you.”

β€œIt’s not exactly assuming,” the sarcasm attached to the word was clearly meant to be mocking her and she bristled, β€œwhen I’m right.”

Was she shaking? Just a bit. Was she grinding her teeth? Mother wouldn’t be happy about that. Deep breaths, Stella, don’t let him get to you. He still hadn’t bothered to glance at her and Stella fought every urge to grab him by the shoulder and force him to face her. β€œI feel like this is a bad start,” she tried, the customer service Barista voice making a sudden appearance, β€œlet’s try again.”

She wondered which part of that got him to finally turn to her. Stella wasn’t sure she’d ever seen such an unimpressed expression on a person. β€œI’m Stella. I want us to work on this project together.”

β€œThat’s nice, Stella, but I don’t have any intention of doing so.”

The bell picked that moment to ring.

Edgar packed his things and left without saying anything else.

Stella wasn’t sure which made her angrier: that he’d gotten the last word or that he’d not even given her a chance.

It was a Monday-Wednesday-Friday class which gave Stella time to mull it over. She’d talked it through with Nahnie who had suggested just kicking Edgar’s ass. Aurora had offered much better advice and while Stella would have gladly taken Nahnie’s first, she didn’t exactly want to land herself in the Dean’s office. While both girls understood Stella’s study habits, Aurora had flipped it on its head and suggested putting them to good use. Sure, she tended to procrastinate and aimed for the bare minimum.

β€œSome of your best grades come from your last minute work,” Aurora had said, β€œput that towards this project and prove him wrong.”

Stella hated admitting when other people were right but Aurora made a good point.

The next Business 101 lesson was practically a free period, given to its students to create outlines for their projects. Stella arrived early for once as opposed to making it on the bell and took her new seat next to Edgar. She would have been offended at his seemingly ignoring her until she saw he had earbuds in. Stella waited a few minutes, getting herself settled, before finally deciding she wasn’t going to let him pretend she wasn’t there.

Tapping him on the shoulder, Stella withheld a groan at the agonizingly slow pace of his movements. He took his sweet time pausing the music and removing the headphones before finally pivoting slightly in his chair towards her. β€œYes?”

Goodness, that neck was asking to be strangled, wasn’t it? β€œWe should settle on a topic before all the good ones are taken,” she said matter-of-factly, gesturing to the board where there was a list of unavailable themes. He didn’t bother taking a look and as such, Stella witnessed in full his withering eye roll. Second degree murder will land you in jail, Stella.

β€œI’ve already picked one,” he said it as if he were speaking to a kindergartner and she felt the tension building in her shoulders. He began to turn away again, reaching for the earphones. Stella’s hand shot out before she could stop herself, latching tightly around his wrist.

β€œThat’s great,” the comment came out sizzling like acid, seeming wrong from the smile formed around it, β€œwhy don’t you share it so we can get to work.” That was supposed to be a question, probably, but Stella was done playing nice.

He tugged away from her grip and she let go, flexing her fingers and crossing her arms over her chest. The look he gave her next was the most emotion she’d ever seen from him, a mix between unadulterated hatred and absolute fury. Huh, she knew the feeling.

β€œDon’t touch me,” was all he said and she couldn’t help the smirk her grin turned into at having gotten a rise out of him. It apparently worked, though, because he shoved his notebook towards her, before returning to work on the outline packet that’d be the rough draft of their project.

β€œI don’t know what his problem is,” Stella ranted, pacing back and forth in the shared room, β€œI didn’t do anything to him! Before being paired for this project, I’d never said a word!”

Her roommate strummed a bit on her ukulele, β€œmaybe he’s just having a bad week, Estie.”

Stella threw her arms up in the air, β€œI could only hope that that’s it! I don’t think I can work with his attitude for the rest of the semester.” Stella hurled herself onto her bed, staring up at the glow in the dark stickers on her ceiling. The stars were in the shapes of her favorite constellations and the planets made a trail to above Pennie’s bed where her own stickers decorated the surface. β€œI’m actually trying, too! Like you said! Less judgmental!”

Pennie gave her a big smile, playing a few notes, β€œI’m proud of you!”

Stella rolled over onto her side, propping her elbow on the mattress and her head on her hand. β€œThere’s no better feeling in the world than my bestie for the restie being proud of me,” she said happily, falling into an easy silence as Pennie started to play a song.

β€œWhat’s his name, by the way?”

β€œEdgar,” Stella answered, toying with the new filters on Snapchat, β€œwho names their kid Edgar?”

β€œOkay, Estella,” Pennie teased and Stella shot her an irritated look.

β€œYou know that name is forbidden in my presence,” she declared, throwing a pillow at her roommate. From there, it was an absolute war of fluff and feathers.

Stella arrived to Business 101 on Monday to find two styrofoam cups on the desk she shared with Edgar. He was sat down already, two closed books at his left elbow, another he was reading from in front of him, and his notebook open to a page and a half of fresh notes. He was listening to music again and was… Was he bobbing his head to the tune?

She took her seat slowly, a little confused.

Unlike two days prior, he responded to her arrival immediately. β€œMorning,” he greeted her and she jolted a little, her wide surprised stare narrowing into one of on guard suspicion. β€œI don’t know how you take your coffee,” he said, pointing to one of the cups. β€œI checked these out on Friday,” he continued, moving the textbooks to between them, β€œI haven’t had time to go through them yet.”

β€œWhat, you don’t spend your weekends in a book?” She couldn’t help it. This was too weird. This was too sudden a shift. She was rewarded a very brief glare before his expression fell neutral again. He seemed to take a moment, much like the moments she’d had to take when they first met.

β€œI talked to a friend—” β€œYou have those?” β€œAnd I’m taking their advice.”

She could see his patience ebbing away already. Prove him wrong, the part of her conscience that sounded like Aurora whispered. Stella took a deep breath and put on her customer service Barista smile. β€œI’ll get started on this one, then.” She took the first book and got her own notes out, beginning on a blank page.

It had been nice while it lasted. Stella wasn’t sure what it was. Their wildly conflicting personalities? The huge differences in their work ethic? Two stubborn, bullheaded, Always Had To Be Right attitudes?

It was probably all of the above.

β€œI can’t do this anymore,” Stella moaned, flopping over Jackson as if he were an ottoman. They’d gotten far too used to each other for him to bother shoving her off. Instead, he moved around her, shifting until he was comfortable again, and continued with his first person shooter.

β€œWhat, Edgar?”

It was really saying something that all of her friends knew what she was complaining about without needing specifics. β€œWe were good for, like, three lessons. I don’t even remember who ruined it. Me, probably.”

β€œMaybe you should take it out of the classroom,” Jackson suggested, followed closely by a loud whoop as Play of the Game flashed across the screen. Stella watched the clip, reaching up and patting him on the cheek, β€œproud of you.”

He laughed and pushed her off, then. She yelped, easily catching herself and rolling into a sat up position. β€œYou saying we’re supposed to go to the library, then?” She asked, bringing her knees to her chest and laying her arms across them. Jackson didn’t look at her, focused on the game, but answered as if he were giving the conversation his full attention. She needed to work on that.

β€œLibrary, coffeeshop with free WiFi, the quadβ€” Somewhere new. Fresh air will do you good after being cooped up inside for so long.”

Stella rolled her eyes. β€œI know it’ll do me good. I’m not sure about Edgar. He’s pretty much my complete opposite. He probably hates the outdoors.”

Jackson paused the game long enough to shoot her a suggestive look and waggle his eyebrows, β€œyou know what they say about opposites.”

β€œUgh!” Stella shouted, standing and shoving hard at his shoulder as she stomped out of his room.

She probably shouldn’t have suggested the cafΓ© she worked at.

Her coworkers kept sending her looks from behind the counter and she had to keep shooing them away as they approached the table, no doubt to cause trouble. Edgar was either unaware of his surroundings or was taking pity on her by pretending he didn’t notice it happening.

He found out that day how she took her coffee (ninety percent cream and sugar) but that she actually preferred sweet teas. She did in fact work better outside of the classroom and she was frustrated at knowing she’d have to thank Jackson later for the suggestion. β€œI think we’re going to ace this,” she said as they took a break, scrolling through her Twitter feed.

When he didn’t say anything in return, Stella looked up from her phone to see him watching her with a strange expression that she’d never seen on him before. β€œWhat?” She asked, reaching up as if she had crumbs on her face or something in her teeth.

β€œI have to go,” he said abruptly, standing so suddenly his chair squealed horribly against the floor as he pushed away from the table.

β€œExcuseβ€” Why?”

He offered her no explanation as he put his things in his bag and left.

β€œI’m not sure what I did wrong,” Stella murmured, a blanket wrapped tight around her. Her father’s voice came clearly through the headset she wore. The very same week Stella began her freshman year at Barrie, her parents had packed up and moved back to Arizona. It sucked, not having her dad nearby for when she especially needed his arm around her shoulders.

β€œHe might have some other things on his mind,” the look on Joshua’s face, despite being grainy in quality thanks to terrible college WiFi, was easy to read as concerned. β€œDon’t let yourself get too bothered by it, sunshine.”

Stella sighed, brushing a hand through her hair. β€œHow’s mom?” She asked by way of changing the topic, despite this new subject not being one she cared much for either.

β€œHappy,” her dad answered, β€œyou know one of the reasons we ever moved was because it was too warm for her out here but I think she’s thriving in the heat now. Too many harsh winters, I suppose.”

Stella couldn’t help the irritated growl, β€œimagine how I feel.” Her father laughed though it was one more out of sympathy than anything. The conversation lulled until they eventually put Star Wars on. It wasn't until her father fell asleep in the middle of Attack of the Clones (the romantic subplot had always bored him) that Stella allowed herself to try and get some rest of her own.

Business 101 was quickly becoming one of her least favorite times of the day.

With the rough draft due date quickly approaching and this portion of their project only half finished, Stella was beginning to feel the pressure. It hardly counted much towards their grade but oftentimes, the whole reason she procrastinated was because she was nervous of achieving anything but perfection, and as such was constantly putting off her inevitable failure.

Edgar wasn’t being weird anymore but he’d basically reverted to his old smart ass self and it was beginning to piss her off. She supposed it were possible that he was feeling the stress too but in the same breath, she doubted he knew what it felt like to be nervous about grades.

β€œDid you finish the sources page?”

Stella’s head snapped up from her note taking and she sent him a sharp look. β€œThe what?”

Ah, that’s right, the deadpan stares were back. β€œI texted you last night about it. The sources of the research for the project.”

β€œYou did not text me,” she responded without hesitation, pulling her phone out and opening up the messages. β€œThe last thing I have from you isβ€” Oh.” Stella stared, with growing horror, at the unread text from Edgar.

β€œPlease tell me this is a joke.” All she could offer in return was a strangled sort of noise as she set her phone screen down and buried her face in her hands. β€œYou’re not kidding.” Stella whimpered from behind her palms. β€œI’d say β€˜unbelievable’ but I’m really not surprised.”

That broke through the little bubble she was currently sinking in. β€œAnd just what is that supposed to mean?” She clung to the anger while she could, finding it much easier to deal with than the overwhelming sense of defeat that was threatening to drown her.

β€œExactly what it sounds like,” he was pinching the bridge of his nose, as if to fight an oncoming headache. β€œI should have known you’d ruin this somehow.”

β€œMaybe you should’ve have texted me again! Or called! Or done anything to make sure I actually got your message!” She was reaching an unacceptable volume for the classroom and in her peripheral, she could see their professor rising from behind his desk.

Edgar had far better control than she but she could hear the venom despite his steady tone, β€œor maybe you’re just too lazy and irresponsible to take care of these things without needing reminding like a child!”

β€œI’m not fucking doing this,” she screeched, standing so fiercely, her chair fell over, clattering noisily to the floor, gaining the attention of any classmates who had been politely trying to ignore the argument. β€œCongratu-fucking-lations, you got what you wanted,” she hissed, taking her things far more aggressively than was necessary, β€œhave fun finishing this on your own.”

She stormed by their professor as he tried to diffuse the altercation, slamming the door shut behind her.

β€œI hate him!” She shrieked, voice muffled hardly by the pillow she was currently pressing against her face. β€œI hate his stupid know-it-all attitude and his stupid glasses and his stupid bringing me coffee every day and his stupid… stupid!!!!!”

Pennie strummed away on her ukulele as she always did when Stella vented, humming a little as she did. β€œYou know, you haven’t actually told me yet what happened.”

Stella threw her pillow against the wall and retrieved her phone from her bedside table. β€œHe apparently sent me a text last night asking if I could finish the sources page and I didn’t get it and he called me lazy and irresponsible and he said I was a child and I hate him!!!!” She chucked her phone towards Pennie who narrowly caught it before it could bounce off the bed onto the floor.

β€œWait, Brooke?” Pennie asked the same moment there was a knock at the door.

β€œPenelope, can I come in? It’s important.”

Stella shot one stare at her roommate, eyes wide as saucers. β€œOh my God,” Pennie said and Stella screamed, launching herself off her bed and towards the door.

β€œYou!” She wailed, finding none other than Edgar fucking Brooke standing in the hall. β€œHave you been complaining about me all this time to my own roommate?!”

He looked as shocked as she felt but, ever the emotionless fucking robot he was, schooled his features easily into indifference. β€œI didn’t know Penelope was your—”



She grabbed him by the wrist and yanked him into the room while simultaneously thrusting herself into the hall, effectively switching spots with him. β€œFucking go for it! I’m sure you’ve got a lot to say this time!” And with that, she was gone, leaving him with the lingering image of tears gathered at the corners of her eyes.

β€œI really fucked up.”

β€œLanguage, honey.”

β€œI really hecked up.”

β€œAre you going to actually tell me what happened or just keep repeating over and over how much you… hecked… up?”

β€œNeither,” Stella sighed, pressing her phone between her ear and shoulder as she threaded eight strands of different colored string together. β€œI don’t know what I called for. Talking about it just makes me feel worse.”

β€œRemember what your therapist said,” her mother said, adopting the same soft tone she always used when talking about Stella’s therapy sessions. She couldn’t help but to roll her eyes.

β€œβ€™Don’t bottle it up.’ I know. Trust me, do I know.” The last time she’d bottled it up… Well, it was a good thing her high school roommate had returned early and kept calm in a crisis. Stella paused long enough to brush her fingertips against the scars normally hidden by the bracelets she wore before returning to the mind numbing task she’d set for herself.

Green over blue, green over blue. Blue over black, blue over black. Black over white, black over white.

β€œShould I schedule you anoth—”

β€œMom, you’re on the other side of the country. I can handle it if I need to.”

β€œI just worry about you, sweetheart.” God, Stella hated that tone.

β€œI’m fine. I’m working on a bracelet now and I kind of need to focus so…”

β€œIt’s a Chevron, isn’t it? You always did need quiet when working on those backward fours.”

That drew an amused snort despite her current mood. β€œYou got me there. I’ll text you later. I love you.”

β€œLove you, too, darling.”

Green over blue, green over blue. Blue over black, blue over black. Black over white, black over white. Black over black, black over black.


Her hands froze and she hated her body for going as still as it did. It was no surprise he’d found her so easily; she was in the library and he practically lived in the library. β€œEdgar,” she said in turn, continuing on the friendship bracelet.

β€œCan I sit here?”

β€œFree country.”

He seemed to hesitate before taking the seat across from her. Stella didn’t look up, even as a familiar plastic cup was set down in front of her. She could tell by its signature deep purple color that it was her favorite tea from the secret menu.

The conversation with her mother lingered still on her mind and Stella knew what she had to do. It was a matter of getting herself to do it. She was stubborn by nature and while she had a bad habit of apologizing (one she was entirely unaware of actually having), she was having trouble bringing herself to take fault for this particular fight. Most of their fights ultimately ended up shelved, showing up to class the next day as if it had never happened, and stepping carefully around whatever it was that had set them off.

It was with a silent bitter laugh that Stella wondered just who she might be if she’d met Edgar in high school. Would she have toned it down by now, been a bit closer to Earth, learned some humility?

β€œI’m sorry.”

They said it in the exact same heartbeat and Stella finally looked up from the bracelet, surprised. His gaze was directed elsewhere and she watched as he fidgeted β€” something she’d never seen from him. β€œMy behavior was uncalled for and the name calling was immature and unfair. I didn’t stop to think about why you might not have got the text and I should’ve given you a chance.”

Stella was pretty infamous for the speed of which she talked and so it really couldn’t have been a shock that when she began her apology, there wouldn’t be a foreseeable end to it. β€œNo, no, I’m sorry,” she stammered, β€œI should’ve paid closer attention, especially so close to the due date. I shouldn’t have even needed you asking in the first place, I should’ve taken responsibility and had it done already. We all pretty much live on our phones in this day, there’s really no excuse for me not having gotten a text, and I doubt I was asleep when you sent it since I don’t do much of that—” She missed the concerned look he sent her because she was too busy looking anywhere but at him.

β€œStella,” he interrupted her mid-apology rant and she realized how much she missed the sound of a ukulele just then. β€œWe’re both to blame, let’s just leave it at that, okay?”

It took every ounce of her willpower to not disagree, to not snap at him for not letting her finish. She took a deep breath and reached for the drink, sipping from it to keep herself quiet. β€œOkay,” she finally said after a moment, picking back up where she’d left off on her bracelet.

It was almost like every other argument they had in the past. By the next Business 101 class, they had returned to their back and forth, backhanded compliments and scathing remarks. Their professor seemed like he wanted to say something but Edgar must have given him a look of some sort because he left them well enough alone. Stella showed up with the sources sheet, slapping it onto the desk with a look of beaming pride on her face.

β€œThis deserves celebrating,” she decided, hands on her hips. β€œYou like superhero movies?”

β€œWho doesn’t like superhero movies?”

With the newest Marvel film set to come out that Friday, they chose a showtime after classes. Stella promised, tongue in cheek, that she wouldn’t be late and she’d keep an eye out for any texts from him. It was the same day their rough draft was due so they’d found out then if there truly was anything worth celebrating.

Β© laurie.

stella r. hines
 Posted: Jun 25 2017, 02:54 AM

stellar ballet au

You’ve been dancing since the moment you learned how to walk.

Stumbling towards your father, arms stretched to keep your balance, brows knit together in concentration, and tongue poking out between your lips; it’s caught on film, every second of it, every minute you spend on your feet.

Your mother puts you in a tutu at the very first chance she has. She signs you up for ballet the day after you turn four. It seems to be the only thing you know, the only thing that matters. Your grades are important, of course, and your mother would love for you to have a healthy social life, but ballet will always come first. Dance has to come first.

It’s not that you hate it. You like learning new things. You like seeing the look of pride on your mother’s face when she points you out to the other parents, like hearing it in her voice when she brags about you to cashiers at grocery stores. You like the flexibility, being able to do the splits. You like it. Really.

Except for the days you can barely stay standing. The bruises on your feet, your heels, your ankles, your knees. The muscle fatigue. The dizziness from spinning for too long. The sharp tongue of your instructor when you do something wrong. The disappointed expression from your mother when you fall during rehearsal.

But you could never stop. You could never tell her you don’t want to dance anymore. The only time you stand tall is when on the very tips of your toes. Never against your mother, never to tell her no.

Four becomes six and then ten. The girls in your class that you befriend come and go as they find other interests, less exhausting talents to pursue, leaving behind something they simply considered a hobby.

At thirteen, your mother says you’re moving from Arizona to New York.

Fourteen suddenly feels like four. You feel as if you are learning new things all over again, starting fresh, except New York doesn’t feel fresh. It’s dirty and muggy, the air isn’t as clear as it was in the desert, and the sky is obscured by skyscrapers every way you look. Winters are harsh and the people just as cold.

Baum Academy focuses heavily on the arts. It’s a given, you figure, what with its name. Your mother has you enrolled in dance before you can object and something inside of you… snaps.

But you could never stop. Ballet is in your blood now, it is the only constant you have in life. Now, though… you think now you could stand tall against everyone else. You can tell everyone else no.

So it is out with the old Estella and in with the new Stella. You shed your neutral, pastel colored clothes and opt for brighter shades. You let loose your high ponytails or tight buns and revel in the feeling of your long platinum hair on your skin. You speak your mind, raising your voice, finding solace in being able to finally stand up for yourself.

As best you can, you keep your dancing a secret. You sneak through the halls, ever light on your feet. It would be easy for anybody to discover; it’s not like it’s an easy thing to keep hidden. In fact, you’re sure that it’s stupid to even try. Ballet is all that you know. It is hard work and the results are always beautiful. You should be proud in your skills.

You try to convince yourself that you are.

And then you meet Edgar.

He hates you on sight. You think you hate him on sight, too. Judging a book by its cover, he is your opposite: grayscale, quiet, studious. Your mother raised you to be kind, though, and that is as much a part of you as ballet is. Still, you are Stella now and Stella stands up for herself. Estella might have let this boy insult her work ethic but Stella would never allow someone to call her lazy. He makes amends and you apologize and start on the project.

You get a passing grade, somehow. You are proud of your skills… really. Those skills are just very limited and academics doesn’t make the list. You expect to fail plainly because you are involved. You think it’s just Edgar balancing you out. You try not to think about that too much, given how much the two of you don’t get along, anyway.

Freshman year ends. You visit home for the summer. The hundred degree weather feels good and the sun melts away the sharp edges New York had carved into you. You catch up with your old dance friends and find most of them have moved on to bigger and better things; they want to be marine biologists, actresses, travelers of the world.

What do you want to do, Estella?

I really see a future in ballet, you tell them. Your dress is pale, your hair braided, your voice soft. You can imagine the beaming smile on your mother’s face if she were to hear you. You wonder which version of you is the real one.

Sophomore year begins. It brings new friends. It is assembly speeches with Jackson Horowitz. It is new roommate Charity Clarke who is as kind as her name. It is Chemistry tutoring with Xander Sykes. It is being taught how to ditch class by one of the infamous Davenport twins. It helps bridge the gap between you and Edgar Brooke.

It tugs you farther away from your mother.

Despite the appearance of a thick skin, of insults bouncing off your armor, every word burrows itself between your bones. Every criticism is a rope around your neck, being pulled tighter and tighter until you cannot breathe. It comes from your teachers. You are sure they don’t mean to hurt you; they are doing their jobs, trying to help you pass your classes, offering what assistance they can. It comes from your instructor: reminders to keep your toes pointed, your arms straight, your chin held high.

It comes from your mother.

Estella, I don’t understand. What is this about disruptive behavior in class?

She could never understand. She couldn’t even begin to understand. I’m sorry, Mother, you tell her, I’ll do better. She sighs and shakes her head and you know what she is going to say before she does.

I’m disappointed in you.

Panic does not allow you to hear anymore. You just nod and smile and apologize again. Panic steals the air from your lungs, wrapping tight around your windpipe. Panic reaches for you, sharp claws and jagged teeth. Panic does not allow you sleep until you pass out from lack of it.

You think your life might be over the day you decide to practice in the auditorium after school.

Music pours quietly from the speakers of an old radio, classical notes that you are agonizingly familiar with. Winter break is near. You’re avoiding leaving the academics building because that means going outside in the cold to get to the dorms. You need to work on your sautés. It is elementary and yet you’ve been struggling.

Focused as you are, you do not hear the creak of the door opening, nor the flood of light coming in from the outside. It is not until you’ve pirouetted across the stage and come to a stand still, breathing heavily, that you notice.

Why you are short of breath is a mystery though it might just be that there are too many possible reasons. You think it might be the panic attacks again because framed in the doorway is a figure and they are watching you. You can’t see them, silhouetted as they are, but you are practically on display. And yet, you are somehow the first to speak, despite not having been the one to interrupt. Ridiculously enough, you say: I’m sorry.

You see a physical jolt, an actual twitch to their shoulders. And then they turn around and leave.

One shuddering inhale is all it takes before you collapse on stage and cry.

Every classmate you make eye contact could be the one that saw you. This stupid reputation you’ve built as Stella, the “bright but only in a figurative sense” girl, could be ruined in a moment. Somehow, despite a year and a half at this school, it isn’t common knowledge your place on the dance team. Felice is pretentious but as long as you don’t try to best her, she’s harmless. You trust Gracie, a kindred spirit if you’ve ever met one, and Eva is far too focused on herself to care about anything you do. That is only to name a few and all of them are interesting but they seem to understand that what happens in the auditorium on Thursday evenings stays in the auditorium on Thursday evenings.

Morning, Stella.

Were it not for your finesse, your steady control over your limbs, you’d fall out of your chair. The look you give Edgar must make him realize how strange it really was for him to be greeting you first because he fidgets in his seat.

Good morning, Eddie, you tease, putting on your mask and tucking Estella away.

It works because he scowls at you for the nickname and turns his attention to the whiteboard.

You catch him glancing at you in your peripheral during each class you share. Since the successful History project during your first year at Baum, you’ve grown closer to him. Whether either of you cares to admit it, you think it’s okay to call him a friend. You find yourself hoping most days that he feels the same. You sit next to each other now which makes it easy for you to notice when something is off. During study hall, you ignore your Sciences worksheet, and turn to face him.

Is everything okay?

He doesn’t respond until he’s finished writing out the answer to a question that looks like Math. Yeah, why?

He looks at you with those sea glass eyes and you have to bat away the butterflies in your stomach. You’ve been acting weird today, you tell him, don’t think I haven’t noticed.

And then something you weren’t expecting happens. Edgar’s composure falters. It is minuscule: a crease in his brows, a frown twitches on his lips. It lasts a fraction of a second before he rolls his eyes. Figures you’d notice something like that instead of pay attention in class.

It hurts more than it should and so you drop it.

Finals are in a month which means summer break is so near, you can taste it. You decide everybody could use a good prank and it is presented to you in the form of Edgar coming to school so tired that he falls asleep in class. The mustache you draw on his face in permanent marker is a work of art. The laughter in the halls, the high five from an upperclassman, Edgar’s Boston accent when angry — every moment is worth it.

Right up until the truth comes out in the school chatroom. Right up until you find out he blames you for his less than spectacular grade in Chemistry. Right up until you realize you’ve ruined everything. Right up until you start to panic, thinking you’ve pushed away one of the few people you really, truly care about.

You aren’t sure what would help in this moment and so you turn to the one constant in your life: ballet.

You take your slippers and head for the auditorium. You pick a Spotify playlist on your phone at random and you dance. Blindly. Heartbroken. It hurts. It’s excruciating. What you’ve been doing since you were four suddenly seems impossible. A scream tries to slip from between clenched teeth. You allow yourself to sit, wiping the tears from your cheeks, holding your knees tight to your chest, and forcing deep breaths of air down your throat.


Somehow, you are not surprised. It was you. It had to be him. Of course it did.


Why didn’t you say anything?

You apologized that day.


You apologize for a lot of things.

What is he getting at? You find yourself growing frustrated. You are very still as he sits across from you.

My grades are my own fault. I shouldn’t have—

It’s fine, you snap, unsure whether it was intentional or not, I can handle you hating me for it. I’m not as fragile as these might make me seem. You gesture to your ballet slippers, bitter over what he must think of you now. Ballerinas are such weak girls.

He’d been looking at his clasped hands initially but his head whips up now. He stares at you with wide eyes, slightly parted lips, and you curse the uneven beat of your heart.

I don’t hate you. I could never hate you.

You and I both know that isn’t true.

You and I have changed since then.

People don’t really ever change.

I never took you for a pessimist.

For some reason, this really irks you. You don’t know anything about me.

I know you like soy milk even though you aren’t lactose intolerant. I know you prefer hot over cold. I know you’re smarter than you let on. I know your favorite hair extension is the purple one because you wear it the most often.

You curse the uneven beat of your heart. You stand up, grateful for the years of training that keeps your legs steady when you want nothing more than to fall back down. Nice talk, you say as you leave, not looking back.

I’ve never thought you fragile and I certainly don’t now.

You hate not having the last word but if you stay a moment longer, you will break.

Sophomore year ends and you spend another summer vacation back home in Arizona. This time, the sun does nothing for your edges. Edgar’s last comment weighs heavy on your mind and you think maybe it’ll help if you remove some of the weight from your head. Your mother screams when you come home with chopped, uneven hair.

Junior year, you reunite with Pennie. She does not know it, though. You wonder if you really are that different. Edgar didn’t remember you either, though. You don’t think a face full of makeup, high ponytails, and sweetheart neckline dresses would make such a big deal. You think about telling her but if you tell her, then Edgar will know as well, and you don’t want him to. He might know now that you dance but that doesn’t mean he has to remember who you used to be. That’ll just make Stella so much more disappointing. You aren’t sure why you care so much what he thinks.

Junior year, you meet Nahnie. Immediately, she sees over your walls. It’s kind of her job as Yearbook staff to know everything about everybody and so, of course, she knows that you do more than just dance. She digs up your history of trophies and medals, your appearances in tiny newspaper articles, but she does not care. She promises to not put it in the yearbook if you don’t want. She does give you a piece of advice: you do you, babe. Fuck everybody else.

You find Edgar in the library on the very same Wednesday Nahnie suggested tutoring for Math. You make a mental note to kick her ass before making your presence known by noisily dropping yourself into the chair across from him. It’s the first time you two have really been alone since the auditorium. Classes have been… awkward, to say the least, and you know it is your fault, but you try not to think about it. Now’s the chance to repair that burnt bridge.

Looks like I’ve found you in your natural habitat.

He doesn’t look up until he’s finished the problem and you’re reminded of study hall. He’d been acting strange that day because he’d seen you dancing. Not thinking about it, not thinking about it, not thinking—

Stella Hines? In a library? How uncharacteristic of you. I’m concerned, to be honest.

And just like that, it is easy. He makes Math easy, makes it understandable, but you keep that to yourself. Couldn’t have that genius ego of his getting any bigger, right? You didn’t realize how much you’d missed him, missed this. This back and forth, teasing one another. It makes sense. You wish you understood it like you do pliés.

You, inevitably, end up in the hospital. You’d spent the last few minutes in dance looking at Vine, admiring all of the seven second clips of performers, of how much they could do in so little time. You wanted to be that good. You wanted to impress your mother and your instructor, you wanted to show them that you weren’t slacking, that you were still eager to learn, eager to be better. You try too hard. After one too many failed attempts, desperate to do something right, you’d aimed too high, and next thing you know, pain is shooting up your leg.

Thankfully, you were in the auditorium where your cries echo and help comes in no time.

Your ankle is broken. After your parents leave at the end of visiting hours and your nurse adjusts your pain medicine, you send a text out to your friends. It’s a room number and an apology. You don’t realize how worrisome that could really be until you’re slipping under and into a drug induced sleep.

The next time you wake up, the first thing you see is flowers. The person carrying those flowers is Edgar. There’s also a crown of them on your head, you realize, upon reaching up to investigate the weight. You leave it there and give Edgar a tiny smile. The flowers aren’t from him and you try not to let your tiny smile fall away. Thank you for delivering them, you say, a bit confused.

He asks how you’re feeling and you answer honestly and he’s speaking suddenly far more than what you are used to. The feeling it gives you is similar to what criticism has always done to you except worse because it is Edgar and for some reason, you really don’t want to disappoint him. I’m sorry, you mumble, I didn’t want to bother you.

Things get fuzzy from there on out. You think there might be some flirting along the way. You think you meet Pennie’s older sister. You think there are some Snapchats and a broken heart monitor. You think you hear Edgar say short hair looks good on you before you let the medicine take you for another nap.

Edgar makes good on his promise and carries you around when he can. Mostly, he just carries your books so you can navigate easily with your crutches. He signs your cast first. He makes sure you take your painkillers when you’re supposed to. You miss dancing. He stops you from accidentally hurting yourself when you try too early to get back into it. At the end of an online chat with your friends, he comes over and tucks you in. You think you’d made a bet where the winner got an IOU kiss and when he kissed you on the forehead that night, you’d told him we haven’t done the challenge yet, I don’t deserve kisses. You wish you could be sure whether or not he’d said you always deserve kisses. For what would not be the last time, you cursed your pain meds for playing tricks on your memory.

So many things happen Junior year that you really wonder if the life you are living is still yours. You’re watching Frozen with Edgar, Pennie, and Ari, singing along to the music and having fun. Despite the likeness between Pennie and Anna, you can’t help but compare yourself and Edgar to the princess and Kristoff. Maybe everything had been leading up to this moment, lyrics being sung on recollection while you take a trip down memory lane.

It’s spring when it all comes crashing down around you. You’d skipped last period to sort through your muddled thoughts. It was embarrassing how long it’d taken you to realize when the signs were there all along. The butterflies in your stomach, the uneven beats of your heart, caring what he thought, not wanting to worry him— Everything eventually made its way back to Edgar. Maybe that is why your feet carry you to his room, where you don’t knock as per usual, and hesitate in his doorway when you catch him singing.

He’s unfairly talented. He’s as familiar with the guitar as you are with an entrechat. You watch him move around the room as he sings, as he plays the strings so effortlessly, acting the least like Edgar you’ve ever seen him be. He lays down and you step out of the frame, heart beating fast in your ribcage, as he starts anew.You lean against the wall, listening with closed eyes, a smile dancing at the corners of your mouth. You allow yourself a moment to hope it is you he's singing about before pushing off the wall and turning to head back to your dorm.


You come to a dead stop, your heart finding a home now in your throat. You should leave. If it were you, you’d want them to leave. And he had, if you think about it. The day he’d seen you in the auditorium. Despite what you should have done, what you would have wanted done, you pivot, and peek into his room.

Ridiculously enough, you say: I’m sorry.

He seems frozen and so you step further in, closing the door behind you. That was beautiful, you compliment him, as if you hadn’t discovered what was probably his one big secret. He comes to his senses and thanks you before offering to play the rest of it for you. With an invitation to sit, you do, perhaps too close, perhaps not close enough. He takes a moment, adjusts his posture, takes a deep breath. You admire the focus he puts into it.

You make eye contact on the first love and your face grows warm. You like him. It’s as simple as that. You’ve liked him for awhile now. Why have you been denying it for so long? You find yourself unable to stop staring until he finishes. The last note lingers and it isn’t until his sea glass eyes meet yours that you begin to panic. I’m sorry, you say again, I should have knocked. And while panic normally shuts you up, this time, it lets you speak freely.

Too freely.

As someone who knows what it’s like to have a secret, I should’ve known better than to interrupt. I guess I was just in a hurry to get over here. Thank you, though! you hurry to add, for sharing that with me.

It’s not really that big a deal, he tells you. What are you sorry about? He asks. You can come in any time, I don’t mind, he reassures. And you think that’ll be it, that he won’t have noticed— Why were you in such a hurry?

This is it, isn’t it? Every moment has led to this: dancing since you could walk, the aftereffects of a prank, the heart to heart after an online chat, the realization like a bolt of lightning during movie night with friends. You try to hesitate so you can figure out how you want to say it. Instead, the panic takes over: I like you.

But because nothing in life is that easy, you continue. I guess I just realized and it was, I don’t know, super important to tell you? Or something? It’s no big deal. It is more than a big deal. Words fail you.

I like you, too, no big deal. I’m glad we got past whatever differences we had freshman year.

Something inside of you snaps. Auto pilot clicks on and you aren’t sure even what you’re saying before the doorknob is turning in your hands and you are back out in the hallway, tears blurring your vision, heart ripping itself in half. Of course he’s followed you and your name on his lips grounds you and you turn back to look at him. He really likes you and that should be it, that should be all it takes to fix this, but somehow, it isn’t. Somehow, it doesn’t work. The embrace doesn’t, either. It helps but it does not stitch the pieces of your heart back together. You cry. You let yourself stay there, in his arms, until you’re out of tears.

And then you pull away. Take a couple of shaky breaths. I’m sorry, you finally say, feeling as if no amount of apologies will ever make up for… you. And that is when the problem becomes clear. It’s not you, you begin to tell him, before deciding he deserves so much more than a terrible cliché, so much more than terrible… you. So, you do the next best thing. Forget it, you say it harshly, as if that’ll convince him. You cross your arms, you put up your walls.

Forget what? He asks instead and you want to beg him to let it go, to let you go. I don’t even know what you’re upset about! He takes a deep breath, tries again. This is all new to me. It is to you, too. I just don’t know how to handle having feelings for someone and I’m sorry.

Panic did funny things to you. Sometimes, it shut you up. Sometimes, it wouldn’t let you breathe. Sometimes, it did this. You say a lot of things you don’t mean (you aren’t really done, you could never be done) but the world comes grinding to a halt at his confession. You can’t possibly, is all you manage, because how could anybody like you when you didn’t even like yourself most days? Isn’t that what your mother had always told you?

Nobody will love you until you learn to love yourself, Estella.

This time, you leave quickly enough to make it to your room. You lock the door behind you and slide down against it. You let yourself cry, not caring who hears. A few minutes pass, each of which you helplessly hope Edgar will come and knock on your door at. You get something better.

He’s halfway through the song by the time you get to your feet. Forehead pressed to the door, you allow yourself the rest of the serenade to breathe, to dry your eyes. Your name on his lips grounds you and you imagine opening the door is a metaphor to opening your heart. Honesty was going to be key here. You take his hand and pull him in, not letting go even as you sit down in the middle of the room, avoiding his eyes.

I’m sorry, you begin, which you think might be on its way to becoming a bad habit. You try to take the blame before telling Edgar just how much you like him (a lot) and then you let him in on your self esteem issues, of finding it hard to believe that he could ever like you, and how it was wrong of you to assume, and of course, because how else would you do it, you end with another apology. Not once did you let go of his hand.

You still don’t have anything to apologize for was a much better start than you’d had. His middle and end were better, too, but you find yourself unsurprised. He had always been the smarter one between you two so of course he’d know how to write this essay. I like you… Like you a lot, too.

You aren’t sure if the squealing is outside the door or if the butterflies in your stomach have learned new tricks.

Your insecurities are shouting at you because it’s impossible to be the most wonderful girl on the planet when there are girls like Aurora and Grace out there. Girls who are sweet and kind, who will make good wives, who knew what they were doing in life. (You try not to think too hard about the type of boys Aurora and Grace apparently attracted).

You stand and begin to pace and you know the panic is grasping at straws when it makes you ask: What about Finnley? You two hit if off, didn’t you? Finn was your roommate for all of half a semester before she had to leave due to family problems. Edgar brushes that off as easily as a horse would a fly.

He catches you by the shoulders, stopping you in your tracks, and finally locking gazes with you. Those damn sea glass eyes. For a moment longer, you keep that eye contact, before saying it once more: I’m sorry. Your voice cracks and you lean forward, resting your forehead against his shoulder. He holds you and it was then that it truly strikes you like lightning: Edgar likes you. He’d serenaded you in front of the entire dorm building, considered you his best friend, likes you. He likes you. Your arms wrap themselves around him and you aren’t sure for how long you stay like that before you have to pull away.

Not keen on losing this new, unfamiliar warmth, though, you take his hand in yours, and sit down on the bed. I don’t know what happens next but can we maybe… not make a big deal out of this? I’m… really happy about it. Don’t let the red eyes and tear streaks fool you, a truly excellent attempt at a joke, I just don’t know that I can handle much more for another, like… month. You doubt Nahnie or Aurora will let this go but maybe you can find comfort knowing that Edgar would be willing to let things go back to normal.

You chat a bit more after that, with some definite flirting thrown in for good measure, before you hug one last time, and finally crawl underneath every blanket you own, and put on some cheesy romantic Spotify playlist.

So many things happen Junior year that you really wonder if the life you are living is still yours.

Pennie finds out you and Edgar had admitted to your feelings; he tries to make things less awkward by roundabout insulting you, you tackle him in the hallway, you kiss him (some might say he kissed you, they are wrong). Panic reintroduces an old friend by the name of depression. And it hits you. Hard. You wish you hadn’t stopped taking your meds but you thought it was gone, what with the way things had been going so smoothly lately. In the span of less than an hour, you hit your highest high and your lowest low.

You think Edgar stopped you from making a very big mistake that day. Three simple words, a request to stay, extra soft blankets. Maybe one day we could do this without going through emotional trauma first gets a proper laugh out of you. You fall asleep on his shoulder, history documentary entirely forgotten. It’s a quiet nap, not a single dream or nightmare to disturb you.

You used to play Chess with your father back home in Arizona. He thought you might like a challenge since ballet was coming easier and easier to you each day. And you did. You really appreciated it. You’d always liked learning new things. So when Edgar challenges you to a Chess match, you know you stand a chance against him. That goes against this new image you’ve created, though. While you don’t think Edgar would judge you much if you actually showed you knew something intellectual, nearly the whole school is watching. Nahnie has her camera out for yearbook. Aurora and Jackson are there and so is Pennie and so you do the next best thing.

You flip the table.

It’s incredibly immature but it is perfectly Stella. Besides, losing this match apparently means attending a wedding as Edgar’s plus one. You didn’t have any ideas if you were to win, anyway. You like weddings but this means dressing up and you don’t like dressing up. It makes you uncomfortable. There’s no one Edgar would rather spend the four hour drive with, though, and you try to focus on that instead.

What you assume is the venue is actually his home. Big secret number two: Edgar comes from money. You don’t care but this explains suddenly why he’d insisted on paying for Pennie’s pizza and milkshake. The house is lovely, beautifully decorated for the event. His mother doesn’t seem nearly as smothering as your own but you’ve only had a two minute conversation and he’s had sixteen years. He takes your hand to lead the way to his room and you stare at your entwined fingers, far too distracted to take in the decor on the walls.

You grab some food from the kitchen, he continues to give you a tour, and tells the story of how his parents met. Aww, you say, that’s cute. And then you are talking about yourselves, sitting in an unfamiliar room in an unfamiliar city. It’s okay, though, because Edgar is sat across from you, telling you about his cousin and the tickle fights they used to have. You like hearing about his childhood. You’re distracted by those sea glass eyes when he reaches over and pokes you in the side and the next thing you know, you’re on your back on the floor.

Your own eyes blown wide, breath escaping you, cheeks burning hot. He doesn’t seem to notice the position you’re in and you finally admit defeat, if only just to earn a moment to relax. In a few years, you’ll think back on this day and realize that this moment is one of the first that helped you to fall in love. You share the bed and sleep soundly.

You wake up to the keys of a piano and for a minute, you just watch Edgar with half-lidded eyes.

The dress Aurora and Nahnie helped you pick has a zipper in the back and you curse them with bad luck for their weekend. Edgar’s face matches the color of the dress but you are still self-conscious, makeup done naturally, hair curled and tucked into a headband. He takes your hand again and leads the way to the garden. The decorations are pretty, the colors look nice together, and the vows make you cry.

© laurie.

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