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segment thirty

I'd never dreaded this much before to go home after school. There was just this strong feeling inside me that told me I wasn't wanted. But Taylor wouldn't be able to stay silent forever, or could he?

I reached up and felt the halfed choker around my neck. I hadn't the heart to take it off. Maybe it would help show him what he meant to me. Even if Ike and Zac could get him to talk to me, we probably wouldn't be able to change his decision about dating me. If only life wasn't this hard!

Zac saved me the trouble of facing everyone inside by meeting me out on the front lawn. He smiled at me.

"What's up? Feeling better?"

"Sort of, but not quite. Any luck with Tay?"

"No, not yet. Ike and I tried to get him to think about apologizing but he kept telling us to get lost."

"Is he really that mad?"

"Aww, forget it. He gets moody sometimes. Doesn't everyone?"

"Well, this is different. It's not the regular wrong-side-of- the-bed moody feeling. He's mad because of how I acted to him."

"Well, he's partly to blame you know. Tay was the one who stubborned up in the first place."

"Well, maybe. I guess you're right, but he does have a right to his own opinion." I sighed and we skipped up the steps inside.

I barely had time to hang my coat up when Ike yelled at me from the top of the stairs. "Hey Jennifer! Catch!" he called and tossed something to me. I hadn't been expecting anything so I almost dropped whtever he'd thrown. It certainly got me awake.

"Huh?" I asked as I studdied it in my hands. It was a small shoebox almost. "Okay, why did you just throw this at me?" I asked him and held it up.

"Look inside." I let my backpack land on the floor with a thud so I could open the box. I was even more puzzeled. Inside the box were tons of little objects of different sorts. A dried flower, an old hallmark card, a few chokers, a few torn brochures, a cracked robin's egg complete with a nest, a torn piece of yellow fabric, a few photos, a blank book, and a couple of other odds and ends.

"It's all just a bunch of junk," I said and shrugged my shoulders.

"Don't call it junk around Taylor. It's his little secret stash. We figured it might help," Zac told me.

"You mean he keeps all his fave stuff in here and carries it with him?"

"Yuppers, it goes everywhere. It's always in his backpack."

Ike jumped down the stairway and took the box from me. "My favorite is this thing," he said and took out the small yellow fabric fluff. "It used to his baby blanket until that fell apart." I laughed and reached inside.

I took out a pile of pictures laid inside with a rubber band around them. As I shuffled through them, I smiled at the cute poses of Tay as a baby and a little boy in South America with a baseball cap on and sword in hand. There were a few of them performing in Tulsa, a few of the whole family, their old pets, and scenes from places I didn't recognize. Must be from traveling, I thought. My hand stopped when I came across a familiar picture. One I'd seen many times before. It was my school picture that I'd sent to Alex.

"Well, what do ya know! Tay even has his favorite girl in here," Zac cooed and laughed.

"Or his ex-favorite girl," I corrected him.


I made my way up to the couch and sat down. Tay actually kept my picture with him wherever he went. That was weird. Oh well, he'd probably tear it up soon anyway. "So, what's this got to do with anything?" I asked, looking up from the box.

"Well, what we figured is that we could use this thing to find Tay's weak spots and maybe we could use these for blackmailing if we have to."

"Uh! How rude! I don't want to blackmail Tay or tease him or hurt him anymore than I already have," I told them sincerely.

"Why don't you just go up and apologize?"

"Because he won't listen."

"Have you even tried yet?" Ike asked me.

"Well... no."

"First thing's first then! Here take this flower along with you. We know now that he likes 'em. That could help," Zac said and pulled me up. I hesitated.

"Well, okay. But how about a different flower? I think he would recognize this one."

"Okay. I'll get one from out back if there's one I can find. There's always hope. I mean, hey, he's still got your photo with him. There's got to be some feelings for you still."

I managed a weak giggle as they headed out back to search for a pretty plant... if there was one. What flowers grow in February anyway?

I found Tay downstairs at the computer on the internet. I wondered where he had gotten my password from because it was obvious he had logged onto the network. He was probably updating Hansonline or checking his mail.

Slowly, I made my way up to him. We hadn't found any alive flowers out in the cold so we'd picked one off of my mom's plant instead. If she found out then we'd all be in big trouble. I carried the soft blooming flower in my hand.

My heart started to beat faster as I approached Wonder Boy. He didn't even notice me come up behind him. Either that or he was choosing not too. 'Click, click, click, click' went the keyboard. I could see his face through the reflection on the monitor. Silence. He was thinking of what to type next. I didn't want to interupt him.

"Um, Taylor?" I asked softly and waited for him to notice. He began to type some more without turning around.

"Taylor, look, I'm sorry. Please forgive me? I... I want to be friends again like before." I bit my lip while waiting for him to respond. I just wanted to hear his voice again!

"Taylor, please talk to me. I didn't mean to act like a huge jerk." I was desperate. It was obvious now that he didn't want to have anything to do with me. He was mad, he was silent, he was ignoring me! It wasn't fair!

Here I was, being as sweet as anyone could be while apologizing and he still wasn't forgiving me. I felt my eyes swell up with tears again, but choked them back. Tay sat in front of the computer, innocently typing away as if I wasn't even there.

I sniffled once, loud enough for the next door neighbors and there dog to hear, or at least that's how it sounded. "Tay, please. I'm trying to be nice. I didn't mean for anything like this to happen! Here, I brought you these." I thrusted the flowers down on the table beside him. He didn't even turn to look at them.

I looked at the monitor and saw his inbox at Hotmail come up. He clicked on a new message from someone I didn't recognize. As he stopped to read his email, I felt one small tear escape down my cheek. Angry, I brushed it away. I didn't want Monday afternoon to repeat itself.

"Oh God," I choked out between falling tears and a red with anger face. Realizing that I wasn't getting anywhere, I stormed off back upstairs to where Ike and Zac were watching the television waiting for me. They both noticed my tears again.

"Oh, no, now what?" Ike muttered.

"I'll give you two words, Isaac. Mission: Impossible!"

With that, I jumped into my favorite chair and flipped to MTV to watch some TV for a change. Ike and Zac stared at me while I said a few words that I wasn't allowed to say in front of my parents.

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