"I'm sorry, Rosalind. I don't understand." Rory questioned with a foolish expression as he tilted his head to the side. "What do you mean?"
The teen girl felt like she was going to be sick with his stupid question. She personally thought she were being quite clear with her admission, but she had a feeling she wanted him to hear she say it.
"I like you Rory." The blonde repeated, enunciating every syllable. "I like you. More than just being your childhood friend. I want to out with you."
Silence fell over the two of them as Rory took in her words and looked away, embarrassed.
"I don't know what to say, Rosie." He murmured in response, making her face redden with shame and heartbreak more and more.
"Nothing, you don't have to say anything. I got it. I'm sorry." Rosalind said as quickly as she could manage, before turning on the heels of her feet and running away from the situation before she became too upset.
There was no need to let him see her crying.
Rosalind was a patient girl, but she was not a saint. She could not wait for Rory to change his mind, and so it was best to just let it go.
That is what she tried to do. She had admitted her feelings for Rory well over a month ago, and since then, he had fallen quiet. She, then, avoided him, as he made his feelings on the matter pretty clear. She wanted to work on getting over him, as difficult as that was proving itself to be.
The days passed them by, and she were slowly recovering from her embarrassment and allowing herself to be around Rory regularly again, trying to pretend as if nothing had happened. She was an actress, she assured herself, she could do it. She could not abandon her friends just because a boy did not like her back.
She began to frequent the theatre once again and stopped third-wheeling her brother Oliver's dates with Erin, much to their collective relief. She even began to sit on their table once again for lunch.
On one of those occasions, while she was reading a library novel and picking on her packed lunch, Rosalind felt someone sit down next to her at the theatre kids' table, letting themselves fall to the bench.
"Anything interesting?" Rory's voice asked as he set his plate in front of him and began slowly eating his lunch.
"Same plot, only a different cover." She sighed, unamused by the lack of creativity from young adult novels, closed the book and set it down next to her.
Rory chuckled without looking up. He did that often nowadays, avoided eye contact with her.
"What a world." He muttered in appreciation.
"What a damn bad purchase list." She countered. "I wonder who makes those for the district."
He raised his sights only just slightly. "Are you free this afternoon?"
"Why?" The blond asked, uncommittedly.
"Do you want to go to the movies today with Ajay and I?" He offered and glanced her way with a smile. "We're going through the Oscars nominations and today they're showing The Green Book."
Biting her lip slightly, she shook her head softly.
"Thanks for inviting me, though." Rosalind answered ambiguously in an effort to hide her plans from Rory. She looked back down at the book and cracked it open, in a hope the conversation would end there.
"Do you already have plans?" He pressed further and turned his full attention to her.
For a moment, she was silent. She could lie, but she knew he could see right through her. He knew she too well. Thirteen years of friendship tended to do that to people.
She shifted gently and spoke quietly, "I do, actually."
Rory tiled his head to the side, curiously. A dread came up his oesophagus, but he repressed it down again. He wanted to know what she would be doing, just so his concerns are put down to rest.
"Yeah? Going to spend the day studying like normal?" He teased relentlessly, making her face sour.
Quickly, Rosalind shut her book with a thud and tucked it under her arm. "No, actually, I have a date at the mall this afternoon."
She watched as Rory's face reddened and he drew his eyebrows together. With that, she stood and walked away with her head held high.
"With who?" Rory questioned, voice wavering, as he followed in a rush after her, abandoning his school lunch at the table.
Rosalind stood tall on the doorway out the cafeteria and pressed her lips into an angry thin line. Her clear eyes held a glare that was drilling her neighbour like high-calibre bullets.
"That is really none of your concern." She half-snapped at him, looking away from his general direction.
Relentlessly, he followed still, hovering next to her. He needs answers, Goddamnit! He needs assurance that she was not slipping through her fingers. It was going to kill him.
"Since when? You usually tell me anything! What gives?" He badgered her further with a frustrated tone of voice.
Whirling around, and nearly causing him to run directly into she, she pointed her hand at him. "It stopped being your concern when you left me humiliated after I confessed my feelings for you! Just because I am trying to move on means you can try to pry your way back in!"
Unintentionally, her voice had risen to a shout and her face felt red and she felt embarrassed with the weight of the onlookers on her. However, her words finally leaving her mind and snapping at Rory felt absolutely amazing.
Rory stepped back, his face red and slack, and Rosalind turned away once more and left him standing in the corridor, alone and shocked at her words.
The next morning, after a bland and lacklustre date with Kieran Hale out of all people, Rosalind twirled her blond hair around her finger as she stared out the window, observing absentmindedly the pouring Spring rain outside.
He was not a bad kid, on the contrary, he was very kind, but he was meek and did not have much to talk about other than cheerleading. It was repetitive, and they had absolutely nothing in common with each other. So, by the end of the afternoon, they both decided that it would be their first and their last date.
A voice drew her from her reverie, speaking quietly and sheepishly. "How was your date?"
The young actress turned around, spotting Rory to her right, and then promptly looking away from him. His face was saddened and embarrassed, and she could tell it took him a lot to approach her.
"Quite nice." Rosalind lied smoothly through her teeth without sparing a single look at him. "He was a good guy, and conversation flued easily."
Rory hummed and hovered behind her, remaining quiet. As planned, she did not give him the light of day or the attention he wanted, as he did not deserve it in her eyes.
"I worked through a bit of the reservation feelings I've had." He explained as she heard him kick his feet on the ground. Still, she refused to look at him. "I suppose what I'm trying to say is that I like you too."
His voice was hesitant, as if he were not ready to admit it yet, as if he was faintly ashamed of them. Oddly enough, and completely against how Rory thought she'd react, anger surged through her.
Rosalind turned to him, her eyes sparking with anger. "Ah, so since I'm trying to get over you, and I'm not longer there for you to toy with my emotions, you suddenly are so interested in me? You act as if I am some moron, Rory, but I can see right through you. You might have feelings for me, and that's great, but I am not your first choice. I am a fallback plan of yours, there for when you need me, but cast away when you don't."
Her usually soft and low voice was broken, scratchy and hurt. Her own words, and the meaning of them sunk into her chest and made she feel all the more vulnerable and emotionally maimed.
Calming down ever so slightly, she furthered her point. "As much as I may like you, I am not going to be a second choice, and I am not going to be a fallback plan, and I am not going to be there for you whenever it is convenient to you."
As the young girl finished her discourse to Rory, she watched as his face whitened. He did not say a word, as she expected, and she turned from her spot on the windowsill and brushed by him, not before knocking her shoulder into his.
Her words were harsh and most likely uncalled for to the extreme, but at the same time, she felt that he needed to hear it. She was not going to let him walk all over her. She would not let him suddenly decide to only like her back when she tries to move on.
As Rosalind walked towards her next period's classroom, her head ached from the stress she put on herself. She heard footsteps following her, and knew more likely than not it was Rory, but she refused to turn and face him.
"Rosalind, wait!" His voice called.
With a huff, the blonde girl paused in her spot and turned towards him, deciding to give him a chance to talk.
"It's not how you think it is." He insisted in a pleading voice. "I just wasn't ready to admit it, but it's true. I've liked you for so long and was just surprised that you returned the feeling. I was caught by surprise, I was afraid of what was happening, and I shut down. I'm sorry about it, but I swear I mean it. I like you."
Shaking her head at him, she sighed. "You're going to have to do better than that to convince me, Rory. I don't trust you anymore."
With that, Rosalind turned away a final time, and he did not chase after her.