The Worst Kind of Love
by Jonah Evarts
Genre: YA Fiction
Jaden is dealing with some major heart aches as he enters his first semester of college. All he wants is to forget about his ex, find a new girlfriend, and get semi-decent grades. But life has much more complicated plans for him. During his first day of class, he meets Cole, probably the most attractive male human being on the planet. Jaden is immediately overshadowed, throwing a wrench in his plans to find a girlfriend. It doesn't help that the single girl he is interested in wants absolutely nothing to do with him.
That soon becomes the least of his problems, as old enemies of his mental health, family, and way of thinking begin to overtake his life. Jaden tells a story of friendship, learning, and love as he uncovers truths about himself and life. A journey of endurance and self-growth awaits him as he skates through the roller-coaster that is life with many movie nights and plenty of good food to help him get by.
He isn't trying to have a love story, but he's getting one anyway. With himself.
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“Woah,” Cole said. “This is yours?”
I nodded, throwing my backpack in the back seat and unlocking the doors. Cole sat down carefully, so as not to ruin the already stained leather and cracked passenger side rearview mirror.
I never said I was a good driver, or a good holder of drinks.
“Where do you wanna go for lunch?” I asked.
Cole wrinkled his brow and rubbed at a non-existent beard. “McDonald’s?”
“Are you kidding me?”
He looked taken aback. “What do you mean? McDonald’s is never a bad choice.”
I opened my mouth to say something then shook my head and just started the car. Inside, I was shaking. You mean to tell me that underneath that rippling muscle and clear skin was a McChicken? I think not.
God, you gave all the good things to one person. Please stop.
We arrived a McDonald’s six minutes later, our backs drenched in sweat, and sunglasses plastered to our faces. We walked into the heavenly coolness of irresistible French fry smells, and I sat down as Cole ordered some food. He joined me in a booth just a couple minutes later.
“So,” he started, fanning his shirt. “Tell me some more about yourself. What kind of stuff do you like to do?”
I wasn’t sure if I should hate that he wanted to get to know me or be genuinely pleased that someone cared.
“I watch movies a lot. I sometimes play basketball. And I listen to tons of music.”
Cole sat up straight at the mention of music. “You make music?”
“What? No, that’s not what I said. Dear God, I’d be arrested for attempted murder if I sang in public.”
“Oh. Well, I make music sometimes. I play guitar and sing.”
“Really. I’ll show you some of my stuff in the car.”
A number was called from the counter, and Cole went to get his food. I kicked at his seat when he left.
How? How on my first day, in my first class, had I met a guy so perfect that he would overshadow me in every way everywhere we went? I just wanted a girlfriend, man. God.
Cole came back with a tray full of food, multiple fries and chicken nugget boxes clustered together.
“Jesus, man. What are you eating, Ronald McDonald himself?” I asked.
“Well, no. Half is for you,” he stated matter-of-factly. He proceeded to rip open a box of nuggets and indulge.
“You got me food?”
He didn’t even look up at me. “Of course.”
I almost didn’t want to take any. I felt bad, taking food from a guy I’d just met. But then again, it’s not like he was suffering at the moment. I indulged in the mounds of nuggets with him.
At some point, I checked my phone. You know, millennial stuff. I scrolled through social media and lightly chuckled at something that wasn’t really that funny. I switched apps, and immediately, a picture of Maddie with her best friend popped up. I almost dropped my phone, which I guess wouldn’t have been so bad. I wouldn’t have had to look at her face for another half a second before I was able to close out of the app.
I choked on my food and had to force myself to swallow, then I put my head in my hand and held my breath. It stung. A lot. Seeing her face was hard for me. I shouldn’t have opened the stupid app.
Cole, true to his perfect persona, saw my moment of heartbreak and looked up at me concernedly.
“Hey man, you good?”
I closed my eyes, picturing her face again. “Yeah. I’m fine. Food just got stuck in my throat.”
If I was close with him then, I would have told him the truth. The truth about how my gut had just fallen out of my stomach, and how an aching need to be with her filled my body. I just missed her was all. It was like when I lost my dad.
“You sure?” He asked. I nodded, then opened my eyes and realized we had already decimated all the food he’d bought.
“Yeah. We should get going. I have another class in thirty minutes.”
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I wrote my first novel from the ages fifteen to seventeen. It was a long, tiresome process that went through astronomical changes over the course of its creation. By the end, I was a completely different person than I had been when I began. Coupled with the fact that I’d kept the project in the dark until near the end of its time, I had gone about the process on my own, while going through puberty, and with an ever-changing concept of how I viewed the world. Those, in short, are the reasons that my first novel didn’t know what it wanted to be, and why I never gave it a chance to truly flourish.
Being a young author changes the way that you write in a multitude of areas. As I said, puberty affects a teenager in… quite a few ways. I started writing the book barely having hit my real growth spurts, only beginning to figure out who I was in a school setting, and still not truly understanding what the Pythagorean theorem was. That last one isn’t relevant to my journey as a writer, but god, math sucks. The reality was that I was constantly changing my identity, figuring out how life worked, and understanding new truths about the world every single day. And that changed the directions I took my writing. For instance, after a break up, I would focus more on a romantic aspect than an adventurous one. But then on days when I was in a really good mood, the mood would swing the other way. It created an unfocused feel for my book with flat characters that I never gave a chance to grow in the way I did.
Then there was the fact that in high-school, being yourself can be scary. I had been a jock for most of my life, playing baseball, basketball, football, and just about any other sport they would let me play. After a multitude of injuries and a loss of interest in some sports, I found myself at a crossroads. I decided that writing a book would be a good way to fill my time. The problem with that was, that’s totally lame. I didn’t tell anyone about what I was doing, save a couple close friends and family members. That was a huge mistake. Being non-inclusive with my writing, especially my very first novel, really pigeonholed me to my own narrow and limited experience on life thus far.
My first novel was a mess… and it was the absolutely most valuable thing I’ve ever done in my life. I regret not a single word written on those pages, and I never will. If I hadn’t gone through that process, I never would have believed that I could do it again. I never would have created something that some people go their whole lives wishing they could do. I encourage anyone who is wishing to write a book but isn’t sure of themselves to take a step back and realize that the first time doesn’t have to be perfect, not by a long shot.
While my youth highlighted the growth and constant change of life, those two things are a guarantee for every single person alive. You will change over the course of writing a book, that is a fact. You will want to never let anyone read it at some point, because it’s scary. Being a young author only made those two facts evident to me and helped me shape the course of my next novel, which I’m incredibly proud of and is a humongous step up from my first one. Writing will never be a set process, because human beings aren’t set creatures. Writing will never be easy to expose to the world, because fear of rejection is a human response. My youth exposed me to that very quickly, because as a teenager, you place yourself on a pedestal you believe the whole world is staring at. Growth doesn’t have to stop you from creating something beautiful, in fact, with time and experience, it helps you form a story better than you could have originally imagined.
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