For the first time in my life, I opened Facebook and changed my profile to say “in a relationship.” Then I went one step further and identified the boy I was in a relationship with: Forrest McCann. Joy bubbled up from a deep, unknown well inside my chest. It burst into a towering fountain when I went to Forrest’s page and saw he had done the same.
Tiny speck of a problem, though: Forrest is my almost-real boyfriend, my forever crush.
Oh, he’s not pretend, like an imaginary friend. He’s a real boy. But we’ve made a pact to pretend we are going out with each other. Or rather, he offered me this part and I took it. Forrest said he was worn out with girl trouble and wanted to be officially out of the dating scene for a while. Here was his plan: If I was his pretend girlfriend, no one would bother him. It would be like being on base when you’re playing tag. No one can touch you.
There was no chance I’d say no. I wanted to get closer to him and this seemed like one rung on that very long ladder. We already knew each other well, if not recently well. I’ve known Forrest since preschool because our parents are friends. But something changed along the way, at least for me, and I started to crush on him in an overwhelming way. Forrest is all grown up now and he absolutely fascinates me.
The trouble is Forrest fascinates lots of girls. There was Taylor and then Piper (briefly), and now the Bouchard sisters, Lauren and Charlotte, and—it seems—every great-looking girl in a 100-mile radius. Why? He plays football and sings in a band and his beachy brown hair falls over his left eye. Enough said?
I know what you are thinking. Jemma, duck! Get out of the way! Big mistake being made! Do not be someone’s pretend girlfriend!
Oh, how I wish you were there at the time to give me that good advice. But I was on my own when I accepted Forrest’s unusual proposal. I swore that I’d tell no one the truth about us. Why did I agree to this? Well, I guess it’s because Forrest had just told me something true about himself: He was having trouble with girl-boy relationships and wanted a break. It made me extraordinarily happy to help him solve this problem. When it comes to tall, broad-shouldered, green-eyed Forrest, I rarely use anything like logic or reasoning to guide my decisions. I rely instead on my crooked heart, which was about to send me on a meandering journey.
Looking back, being his pretend girlfriend was a lot like being in a foreign country, where I didn’t speak the language or understand the customs. But like all journeys of my heart, this one would start and end with Forrest McCann.
Copyright © 2011 by Debra Moffitt