Carter and I wrote about a boy and a girl who meet in an abandoned schoolhouse and fall in love, but we got distracted talking about our real lives and never finished the story. Three days later I was his girlfriend. Three months later he called me his soulmate and I called him every night.
After missing each other like crazy (even though we’d never met in person), Carter drove six hours to see me. We held hands on the way to the lake, we kissed under the stars. It felt like someone blew bubbles into my stomach; I could feel them rising through my lungs, popping at my collarbone and tingling down my spine.
The weekend was followed by SMS conversations, midnight phone calls, and some serious FaceTime. I’d never been in a relationship before. I was afraid of what my parents would think. I didn’t tell them we’d met online, I didn’t tell them how serious it was. But love is hard to hide when you’re young and soon they found out. Mama thought he was using me: “He doesn’t really care about you, you’re just a game to him.” After all, Carter was older (18 to my 15) and “boys of that age only want one thing.” Dad knew not to trust someone from the Internet. The ultimatum: “If you ever speak to him again, we will make your life a living hell.”
But I couldn’t leave Carter. For months I acted like I was alone, but I talked to him every chance I got. Then one day, my carefully constructed façade came crashing down.
“Remember what I said would happen if you contacted him again?” Dad said. I had forgotten, so lost in love the threat had disappeared. I could see anger, resolve, and sadness on his face. “Did you think I was joking?” He invited his coworker to make sure he handled the situation fairly, to shame me, and to read aloud the chat they’d found open on my computer. My cheeks were red, but theirs were streaked with tears.
About one week before our one year anniversary, Dad said, “It’s me or him.” If I went back to Carter, I’d lose my parents’ trust for good. No going out, no license, no college funds.
To his credit, my father tried to arrange a chance for us to say goodbye in person. But Carter’s mom wouldn’t have it. In her mind, I was a selfish bitch who’d lured her son into some broken attachment. I never got to tell Carter “I really loved you, I never wanted to hurt you, I’m so sorry and hope you find happiness.” For so long, I was one half of one whole and then I was suddenly left incomplete. But I’ve moved on and lost my regret. I know we needed each other then, we were meant to learn from it, or we were made to be together because I haven’t felt the same way with anyone since. But that doesn’t keep me from trying.