The Breakup Support Group

By: Cheyanne Young
Chapter One

My hand slips easily into Nate’s, and he gives it a little squeeze, his calloused palm fitting perfectly against mine. I draw in a deep breath of summer air and lean into his bicep as we walk through the parking lot of Deer Valley’s only movie theater. After spending the day indoors making a million school spirit pom-poms with my mom, the warm summer air is refreshing in my lungs. I close my eyes and draw in another deep breath. My free hand grabs Nate’s elbow, and I rest my cheek on his arm. I can never be too close to this boy. He is my boyfriend, my everything, and he has held that title since summer of seventh grade.

Nate makes a flourish of his hand as we approach the historic movie theater. “So are we seeing Mediocre Movie number one or Mediocre Movie number two?” he says.

The two screen facility is our town’s biggest attraction, although I am certain it’s because of the antique architecture and not the low-budget films it shows each week. If you want to see a good movie, you go to the massive cinema in the next town over. But for date night, when all you really care about is sharing popcorn and cuddling in the dark, you come to Hastings Cinema.

I purse my lips and gaze up at the vintage marquee. Nate’s gorgeous face glows from the red and yellow neon lights that surround the vertical HASTINGS CINEMA sign, a restored and renovated version of the original sign from the forties. His short brown hair looks like it’s on fire beneath the lights. He peers down at me, expecting an answer. I bite my lip, reminding myself that staring at my hot boyfriend all night isn’t an option. “I don’t know … maybe we should do a coin toss?”

He shakes his head. “Nope. You made me choose last time so you choose this time. Looks like we’ve got a movie about old people in love and an action flick about saving the president. What’ll it be, Rush?”

My boyfriend always calls me by my last name. I think it’s a football thing. I shrug. “Action flick. And a large popcorn. I’m starving.”

“Okay, but Tom Cooley is in this movie, and you hate him,” Nate says, stepping to the side so we can pass between two concrete pillars hand-in-hand. He’ll never get over how horrified I was freshman year when we watched the European actor portray a freakishly deformed party clown in a movie that was supposed to be a satirical take on a horror film. All of our friends were laughing their asses off in Nate’s rec room, and I was hiding behind his back, covering my eyes with a throw pillow.

“I think I can survive seeing him wielding a gun instead of that gigantic red nose.”

“Guns are definitely more terrifying than a big red nose,” he says with a snort. I shake my head and start to disagree, but he’s already slipped out of the conversation—and my grasp.

“Hastings! Man, what’s up?” Nate shouts across the remainder of the parking lot toward the lanky quarterback of Deer Valley High’s varsity team. He’s also the grandson of Alexander Hastings, owner of the theater. And he’s the reason we get all the free popcorn and soda we can consume. Alexander waves us over, and a few other massive guys from school shout out to my boyfriend. Even without their football uniforms, they all look similar. One of them calls my name as well, and waves for us to come over.

Nate heads toward his teammates and best friends, all smiles and hearty small-talk insults about last week’s football practice. I shimmy along the asphalt in an attempt to keep up with him, cursing myself for wearing heels. Actually, I curse myself for more than the heels. The heels aren’t what annoys me; they are just a symbol of it. My hot pink pumps, paired with this black lacy knee-length dress are the symbol of a girl on a date night.

I should have known this would turn into a group affair—Nate, the guys on the team, and me, the loyal girlfriend, Isla Rush. Alexander throws an arm around my shoulders, squeezing me in a one-armed hug and the scent of his woodsy deodorant fills the air. I force a smile and say hello to the guys, most of them seniors like Nate and me, and all of them the same guys I’ve known since kindergarten.

Disappointment seeps into my bones, starting with my aching feet that are shoved into these sexy shoes and ending in a vise grip around my heart. I love these guys, I swear I do, but is it so hard to expect a single night alone with my boyfriend? I can’t even remember the last epic make out session we’ve had. This summer has been a whirlwind of football practice and cheer clinics and preparing for senior year. There hasn’t been much time for being in love lately.

I untangle myself from Alexander’s arm and reach for Nate’s hand again, this time giving him a firm look. “Honey, we should get into the theater. I want a good seat this time.”

“All seats are good seats at Hasting’s!” Alexander says, projecting his voice like he was in an old-timey commercial.

“Bro, I think she means the good seats,” a guy we call Ford says, wiggling his eyebrows. “The seats in the way back of the theater.”

He throws me a not-so-subtle wink and the group of athletes whoop at the innuendo. Seizing the opportunity, however embarrassing, to take my boyfriend away from his friends, I don a sultry gaze and tug on Nate’s arm.

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