Chapter 32

December 16, 1979


Dear Shayla,


I promised you I would write you and I'm not breaking my promise. No matter how busy I get, I will always write you as much as possible.


The time we spent together was the absolute best and I hope I see you again. You know, I've been thinking, I might come to Ohio to visit you. Who cares if you have school? I want to see my girl!


Shayla, I just want you to know, you're my first love and I would like for you to be the only love I ever have. You're very special to me and I want you to know that.


Your smile brightens my day, your voice is literal music to my ears, your lips are as soft as... well, I don't know. Ha-ha. I'm sorry. I'm not all that good with stuff like that.


Now that you're gone, I just want to be with you. Gosh... I hope I don't sound like some punk...


I hope you understand what I'm trying to say.


I love you, Shayla.


Love,


Michael


I read over the letter and put it in the envelope. Just as I put the stamp on, I realized I didn't have the address to her dorm. Perfect... I put the envelope on my nightstand. I'll just ask her tomorrow. I lay in my bed and stared up at the ceiling. Maybe now would be a great time to write a song.


"Mike, I got a question," Randy came running into my room.


"What?" I stood up.


"If this long-distance thing between you and Shayla doesn't work out, do you mind if-"


"Man get out of here with all that nonsense."


"No, seriously! If it-"


"Randy, get out."


"But-"


"Out!"


"Fine," he sighed and walked out.


"That's just wrong in so many ways!" I shouted behind him. Who does that?


(Shayla)


"Shayla, rise and shine!" Lauren opened the drapes.


"Lauren..." I groaned and pulled the covers over my head.


"Come on, Shay!" she pulled the covers off of me.


"Let's hang out!"


"Since when do you want to hang out with me? What about Rex or Barbra?"


"Rex broke up with me to hook-up with Barbra."


"He what?!" I sat up.


"Yeah. It's not that big of a deal. It just shows who my true friends are," she shrugged. "Now, come on. I don't want to miss breakfast."


"How could he do that to you, Lauren? What happened after he broke up with you?"


"I simply told him there are more fish in the sea. Now come on, Shay. I obviously don't want to talk about it. Now, let's go!" She grunted as she pulled my arm to get out bed.


"Fine," I snatched my arm back and went to take a shower.


After I got ready, Lauren rushed me out to her car, "Lauren where are we going and what is this all about?" I whined as we got in her car.


"Alright, don't hate me, but... I'm cutting my hair and I want you to go with me."


"What?! No, Lauren! Why would you want to do that? You practically spent your whole life growing your hair out."


"I know, but Rex really loved it. He always ran his fingers through it and he always played with it I'd rather cut away all the memories."


"No, Lauren. I do not support you on this. You're gorgeous the way you are. Not saying you would look less gorgeous if you cut your hair, but everyone knows you best because of all the cool hairstyles you do with it."


"Shayla, it's time for a change. Whether you support me or not, I'm cutting it," she said as she backed out.


"Lauren, if you do this, you do realize that Rex will know he won, right?"


"Oh, he hasn't won, Shay. I won. I'm making decisions on my own now. I'm not letting him tell me what to do."


"Lauren..."


"What?"


"Don't do it."


"Why?"


"What will you do when it's all gone? When your long beautiful 4C hair is gone, what will you do? Wear wigs? Cry on my shoulder every night because you regret the decision?"


"...I don't know..." she sighed. "But Shayla, if Michael broke up with you for your best friend, what would you do?"


"I'd be heartbroken. But I wouldn't cut my hair. It wouldn't be worth it. Especially since it took me all my life to get it to this length."


"Then what would you do as a substitute for it?"


"Honestly, I'd call my brother Matt and we'd eat ice cream and watch movies. We did that all the time when he had a breakup. Then he'd complain about it afterward."


"Really?"


"Yeah! That would be so much better than cutting your hair, Lauren."


She sighed heavily, "what's your favorite ice cream?"


"You choose what kind, Lauren."


"Cookies and cream! Um... Do you think Matt would come over?"


"Sure. I'll call him up when we get back home."


"Why don't I just drop you off now? And you can-"


"Oh no! I have to keep a close eye on you. You're not taking me anywhere. I'm coming with you."


"Alright," she smiled. "Shayla, you're my best friend," she hugged me.


"You're my best friend too," I told her as we headed toward the grocery store.


(Michael)


"LaToya?" I asked as I knocked on her bedroom door.


"Come in, Michael," she called. I opened the door and shut it behind me.


"What's up? Missing Shayla?"


"Yeah, but I've got to talk to you about two things."


"Okay, shoot," she looked at me.


"First, I'm tired of my hair. I mean it gets hot and stuff. It gets annoying sometimes. So, do you have any ideas on what I can do to my hair?"


"Oh, Michael!" she patted my hair. "Well, what are your ideas for it?"


"I don't know," I shrugged. "I want to lay it down or something, you know?"


"So, you want a perm?"


"Um, what's that?"


"It lays down your hair, Michael. And judging by how much hair you have on your head, your hair is going to look really nice after a perm."


"You think so?"


"I know so. So, I'll call your stylist tonight and schedule an appointment tomorrow, okay?"


"Thanks, Toya."


"Anytime!" She smiled.


"Now the second thing," I sighed. "I love Shayla."


"We already knew that," she laughed.


"No, I'm serious!" I looked at her.


"I know."


"I really love her, LaToya."


"Michael, this can easily be a brief romance. Sooner or later, you're probably going to meet another girl."


"It's not a brief romance. I can tell. I can feel it. This is real love. I've never loved someone as much as I love her. I can surely say she's my first love and I want her to be my only love."


"Michael, are you talking marriage?"


"Not right now, but when I get a little older, yes, I want to marry her."


"Are you sure?"


"Yeah. Why wouldn't I be? No one can replace Shayla."


"Michael, I'm sorry, but I see puppy love. A cute, youthful romance that you just might forget someday."


"LaToya, I am twenty-one years old. It's not some puppy loving, youthful romance."


"Okay, I'm sorry, but did you forget she's a freshman in college?"


"No, I didn't. That's why I said I would wait until we're older."


She sighed, "look, Michael, I love you and I'm only trying to help you, so you wouldn't be in the same state I was when I was your age."


"But 'Toya, you're different."


"I know, but-"


"Never mind. Thanks for listening though."


"Michael..." she stood up as I walked out of her room and went downstairs. I know this isn't a brief romance. Shayla and I are different. What LaToya and her ex had is way different from what Shayla and I have...

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