An Autistic Cinderella, if you will, Part III
by Jennifer E.B.
My senior year, at the art school, would all be very different, a roller-coaster of ups-and-downs between me and Alexander, yet growing strong with Penelope.
For the first month, besides the occasional hello, I did not talk to Alexander. We weren't in any classes together, and I knew we would drift apart. Despite his appearance, he's very bright, and got into AP Calculus. I, on the other hand, had never even mastered long division. Yet still I was determined, and with a great deal of acting, weaseled my way into his AP class. Even though I knew it was almost hopeless, I at least deserved a chance.
While we did sit beside each other, we hardly ever talked. The first month, for me, was devastating and I lost my appetite again.
Then in the first week of October, for the first time, he spoke. We were in the upstairs student study, just the two of us together, and he asked how I was doing in Calculus, and I told him that I was struggling. He was smiley and offered to help me sometime.
I, being a genius, told him maybe.
When I spoke to my mother that night, explaining the way he spoke to me, she said he sounded flirtatious. I later found out he had gotten into a fight with his girlfriend. There you go.
But after that, we started talking again in class. It was only a 'hello, how are you?' but still better than silence. And then it was quiet. And then we talked. Then it died down again for a week or so...
Then it peaked again, just before Christmas. Our conversations in class were longer, even though I always struggled. He always kept to safe topics, like the Heads and the bass guitar. He even let me wear his headphones one day to show me a Jimi Hendrix song he liked. And still, it was no big deal.
But still, it made my school days brighter.
And even though he had a girlfriend - a different girl, this time - I decided before Christmas break that I would bake him cookies. I did the same for Penelope, who I was on our third story with, which would top 150 pages, as well as for my teachers. Even with Penelope, I felt kind of funny. But this time, when I bluntly handed them over and said "here you go" - I felt temptation to strangle him. He made a huge deal out of it, in front of our math class, and everyone was watching me. He wasn't insulting, yet exaggerated his compliments, practically shouting.
The next few months grew dull, after Christmas. We had a different class this year, one he was always late for, so I hardly had a chance to talk to him. And of course, he was back with summer girl, and I figured I was left behind. Things were always very casual, and purely friendly, to the degree that I even had a hard time considering him a school-friend. I was disappointed, but accepted the situation. I did try my best.
I spent more time with Penelope during the school day, sitting under our maple on the grounds, finishing our third book and getting ready to write the next. Each book was getting longer, and sillier, and we would often joke about how many in the series we would write. She
then brought up finishing our tales through e-mail over the summer, but I did not want our friendship to end. Things seemed over with Alexander - I couldn't leave art school empty handed. Too much time, effort, and money had been put into this second chance, one last try to fit in. My grades were at an all-time low and I was planning to go for my GED. I at least had to do something right.
So I mentioned my favorite Italian bakery a town over, joking that we could wear berets like hipsters and our sunglasses indoors, writing our stories on her laptop and drinking coffee. She laughed, and I smiled. Perhaps this one I could keep.
May came quickly. Things had been very quiet between me and Alex, though Penelope and I had - finally - exchanged e-mail addresses and made plans for the summer, which helped to cheer me up a bit. I was glad about things between she and I. But while it had always been a simple relationship, I still missed Alexander.
And then one day, in the quiet reading room, on one of the crappy beanbag chairs, my nose as always in a book, he lay down on the chair next to me. And we talked. And we smiled.
And this became a habit. And it almost killed me inside, because over the absence, I was nearly ready to say good-bye to him. Why did he have to do this right before graduation?
He always had an odd sense of humor, so one day, in the midst of another pause in conversation, I just thought he was being quirky.
"When are we going to be best friends?"
But I guess it wasn't, because over the last few weeks of school, he continued to come to see me, and on quite a few occasions, asked "when are we going to hangout?" I still thought it was a joke until he asked me for my number.
So it's been about two, almost three, weeks since school let out. Penelope and I are writing our chapters back-and-forth until we can meet for coffee, hopefully soon, because I admit that I do miss her.
Our art school caters to different areas, and both she and Alexander live in different towns than I do, although Penelope lives the greater distance at over an hour away. Alexander and I have e-mail conversations about two or three times a week. He says it will be hard for him to meet up much until he has a car of his own. I do not drive, so this is delaying both occasions.
But for the first time since my youngest years, since 1994, I am finally on the brink of happiness. He and I will be at the same college next year. Penelope will be at a different school, yet we both are determined to be in touch. And I myself will be working towards a career in special education.
And though there may be some delay this summer, I know it's worth the wait. I cannot wait to see them.
I may have finally found my place.
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