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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Beauty and the Beast 2017: A Movie Review

Beauty and the Beast has always been my favorite fairytale. Of all the stories I read, this one appeared to be as close to a real representation of love as a fairytale could be. Two outcasts, trapped in worlds that don't accept who they are, find comfort and solace in eachother through the relationship they build over time. 
As a live action adaption of the 1991 beloved animated classic, the story, music and casting did this movie justice. 
There were a few complaints that I heard of before I saw the film: 
Emma Watson's singing
The animation of the Beast
Belle's ballgown etc.
Emma Watson didn't have a strong singing voice, but I liked how pure it sounded. The animation of the Beast could have been better, but I didn't mind. As for the ballgown, I loved that when Belle twirled, it looked like a rose blooming. 
(Fun fact: Emma Watson requested a light and airy dress that was easy to move in. This emphasized the importance of freedom to Belle's story.) 
I guess if I were to complain about one thing, it would be the fact that Belle didn't walk "with her nose stuck in a book" during the village scene.
For me, the film was more than I could ever ask for in a remake. 
We witness the history of the characters, and we learn and grow with them. The songs that were added to the film give it an extra dimension that builds the world of the story. 
We learn why the Beast was so beastly in the first place, and we see what Gaston hides behind his vain mask.   
One of my favorite additions to the story was the fact that Belle (Beauty) asks her father for a rose as a keepsake from his journey. This is true to the original fairy tale and also influences Beauty to take her father's place. 
 All the original songs are there, including the best version of "Gaston" I have ever seen. But the addition of the Beast's ballad, "Evermore" will break your heart if you have one. The melody "Home" from the broadway musical is also used in a few important moments and an element of travel was woven throughout the imagery and the theme of the narrative. 
Without giving away spoilers, I give this film five out of five enchanted roses. 
Nothing will ever replace the original, but I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful tribute to a tale as old as time. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Poetry: A Riarkle Fanfiction

"Riles?" Maya asked. 
Riley stood, staring at a crumpled up piece of paper under Farkle's desk. She hadn't meant to pick it up, but she had heard Farkle scribbling furiously as her father went on and on about the history of Valentines Day. 
She wasn't with Lucas anymore, and Maya and Lucas had begun a relationship. It was an easier transition for Riley than she expected, and she was happy for both of her friends. It was Farkle she was worried about. Once he and Smackle broke up, a month ago, she knew Farkle hadn't been the same. 
It was hard not to notice his fidgeting while they were in class. She sat next to him after all, but his behavior in class was even more strange lately. He had scribbled and scribbled all during class, and her father hadn't even called on him once to answer a question. 
When the bell rang, Farkle hurried out the door, and a piece of paper fell from the desk. 
Riley waited until the class had cleared out before she bent down to pick up the crumbled piece of paper. 
It reminded her of a day, not too long ago when her father had encouraged them to write something impossible on a piece of paper, and then crumple it up and take a shot at throwing the very idea that it was impossible away. 
It was a day that she would never forget. She wanted a Cory and Topanga story. Farkle had wanted to be an athlete, but what did Farkle want now?
Her heart pounded as she slowly opened the paper. She stood and smoothed the wrinkles out across his desk. 
It was a poem. She read it quietly: 
 "Every day I look and see 
A beautiful girl who sits next to me
This girl will always have my heart
Because she is pretty... 
and very smart." 

The last two lines were scribbled out, but she noticed her name at the end
"Riley Matthews" 
Farkle loved her? 
She jumped. 
"Oh, Maya, sorry. I was, distracted." 
"By this?" Maya asked. She snatched the page out of Riley's hand with a grin, but when she read the words, her grin faded. 
"Farkle wrote this?" Maya asked. 
Riley nodded. 
"And it looks like it's about you..." Maya said. 
"But that's just not possible." Riley said, shaking her head. "Because he loved Smackle." 
 Maya looked at her. 
"It's very possible Riley. In fact, it makes a lot of sense." 
"No it doesn't," Riley said. 
"It does," Maya says, "Because I've seen the way he looks at you. Even Lucas mentioned it the other day." 
"That's crazy!" Riley said.
"What's crazy about it?" Maya asked, folding her arms and arching a brow.
"Well, Farkle and I, we've been friends for a long time. And he promised, when we met him. He loves us both the same." 
"Yet my name isn't in this poem," Maya said pointedly. 
Riley sighed. 
"That's not the point," Riley told her. 
"Okay then," Maya asked, "What is the point?" 
"The point is he can't know I found this." 
"Well, it is Valentine's Day," Maya said with a smirk. 
"You don't think-" Riley said. 
"I do think this is related to Valentine's Day," Maya said, "Why wouldn't it be? Anyway, that's not the point. The point is, how do you feel about Farkle, Riley?"
Riley blushed. But no words came out of her mouth. How did she feel about him? It was difficult to grasp. 
She cared for him, a lot. She knew that. From the moment she saw him hiding in the janitor's closet to the time she learned the truth about Farkle's ancestry, Riley could barely control her heart when she was around him. She just knew when he needed her. And she would be there. 
When Riley was upset, Farkle just knew, and he would be there, climbing through the bay window for a long talk about... everything. There was something there. Was it love? 
"I'm going to the library for a while," Riley told Maya, "I'll catch up with you later." 
Maya nodded. 
"Try not to think too much about it, Riles," Maya said. 
"I'll try," Riley said, "I just want to be alone for now." 
"Okay," Maya said. 
She handed Riley the poem and started to walk away. 
"Maya!" Riley said. 
Maya turned to face her. 
"Please don't tell Farkle, about any of this," 
"I won't," Maya said. "This is something for you two to figure out," 
Riley nodded. 
"You remember Science class?" Maya asked, "When you two passed and we all failed?" 
"Yeah," Riley said, her heart pounding. 
"I think it happened for a reason," Maya said, "Just something to keep in mind." 
Riley nodded. 
As Maya walked out, Riley grabbed her back pack and stuffed the paper inside it. She headed toward the library, her mind reeling with questions. 
How long? How was it possible? Had Farkle learned to understand love? Why was she so afraid? Was he afraid too? 
She set her bag down and pulled out a blank notebook. 
How did she feel about Farkle? How would she know her own heart? 
She pulled out a pen, opened the notebook to a blank sheet, and wrote Farkle's name on the top of the paper. 
"Farkle Minkus" 
What did that name mean to her? The words felt heavy as she wrote them. They had history. From the moment Farkle saved her life, when they were young, to the day he discovered he might have Autism. She would never forget his words, "Please don't let me not understand love." 
His words echoed in her mind. When she had first heard such a thing, it confused her. Hadn't Farkle always claimed to love her and Maya? He was the sweetest boy she had ever known, the most kind and caring guy she knew. She remembered the slight pang in her chest when Farkle and Smackle shared a hug at the Bay Window. Farkle had told Riley that she would love again, and Riley had thought that was true, but the truth turned out to be something more strange and confusing. She had never stopped loving Farkle. 
 She thought back to the argument they had on New Years. Farkle knew that Riley was covering up her own feelings. How? But her feelings weren't what Farkle claimed them to be. She could never reveal that, not when Farkle had appeared to be happy with Smackle. 
So she loved Farkle, but was she in love with him? 
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. 
She could never hurt Farkle, she had told him that, after their play of Romeo and Juliet, which became something else; Romeo and Juliet and Farkle. 
She had cheered him on. She would always cheer him on. She still did. 
She opened her eyes, and thought of the poem. 
"This girl will always have my heart" 
Hadn't Farkle told her, several times that he would always be there for her? Hadn't he claimed that he truly would take her side no matter what she was fighting for? 
She thought back to the science experiment that only she and Farkle understood, because they were able to work together, despite their different views. 
They worked well together. They always had. 
Riley sighed. What if she wrote back? Maybe by writing her own poem, she could understand just exactly what Farkle meant to her. 
How did Farkle's poem start again?
"Every day I look and see" 
What did she see? What was Farkle Minkus to Riley Matthews? 
She started to write: 
"Every day I seem to find 
A special boy in the back of my mind." 
She thought about him a lot. More than she ever thought about anyone in her life. Farkle was special to her. She had known that, even when he wasn't able to see it himself. 
Farkle had said always. Always. Was that how she felt too? 
Yes. Riley cared for him, and she would always be there for him. 
"This boy will always have my heart." 
It was true. She had never stopped caring for Farkle, and even when he made her mad, she never wanted anything bad to happen to him. 
"Because he is sweet and very smart." 
Both were true. Farkle was there when she needed him, and he was a genius. 
"When he takes over the world," He still wanted to, after he learned who he was. 
"I'll stand by him, as his girl." 
She put the pen down and read the words she had just written. Each word was true, and as she stared at that truth, her mind and heart spoke. Head and heart. Sense and Sensibility. Her mind and her heart agreed. It was Farkle. It had always been Farkle. 
She couldn't deny that anymore. 
She looked up. There was Farkle, books of poetry in his hands. 
She closed the notebook. 
"Farkle? What are you doing here?" 
Farkle laughed. 
"Well, it's Valentines Day. I thought I'd practice writing poetry." He said. 
Riley knew her cheeks were flushing. If he found that poem, she was done for. 
"I didn't know you were interested in poetry," Riley said as Farkle set the books down and joined her at the study table. 
"Well, I want to tell someone how I feel, and according to history and literature, the best way is writing a poem." 
Riley nodded. 
"I was working on a poem too," Riley said. 
"You were?" Farkle asked. 
"Yes," she said, smiling at him. 
"Who's it for?" 
Riley's heart pounded, but she opened the notebook and turned it to face him. 
"Maybe you can figure it out," Riley said, "Because I need to know what you think of it." 
Farkle's eyes went wide as he read her words. 
"Riley," he said, "This sounds like-" 
Riley blushed as she handed him the crumpled piece of paper. 
"I'd like to know what you wrote here," she said, pointing at the dark scribbles over the last two lines. 
"Riley," Farkle said, "Where did you find this?" 
"It was under your desk," Riley said. 
Farkle's eyes met hers. 
"Riley are you serious?" Farkle asked, "Because if this is a trick," 
"It's not," Riley said. "What did you think of my poem?" 
Farkle blushed. 
"Your poem was very... nice, Riley. I never knew you, uh, well," 
"I'm glad you liked it, Farkle," Riley said, "I'd like to know the ending of your poem." 
She handed him the pen, and pointed at the page. 
"Would you mind writing it down?" She asked. 
"I will," Farkle said, "But it's not Shakespeare." 
Riley laughed. 
"It doesn't need to be," she said. 
The library was quiet as Farkle wrote the poem down. Riley could hear the scratch of the pen on the page. 
When Farkle put the pen down, his eyes met hers, and he slid the notebook back across the table. 
"I wrote this poem in seventh grade," Farkle told her. "I was trying to change it, but honestly,  it's still true." 
Riley smiled. 
"My poem is also true, Farkle. It's always been true," Riley said. 
Farkle smiled, and Riley blushed.  
Farkle stood up. 
"Come with me," he said. 
Riley stood. Their hands were still linked over the table. Farkle guided her across the way, so they wouldn't have to let go. Riley didn't want to let go. 
As she walked past the corner of the table, Farkle lead her to a bookshelf. 
"Poetry," Riley read out loud. 
"I found one you might like," Farkle said softly, brushing his fingertips across the book spines. 
He pulled out a red book as Riley stepped closer, her shoulder touching his. 
"Love and Misadventure by Lang Leav," she read out loud. 
As Farkle held the book in one hand, Riley opened it with her other hand. 
He stopped at a short poem, but the title made Riley smile.
"Always," she read. 
"You were you," Farkle read, "And I was I."
"We were two," Riley read, "before our time."
"I was yours before I knew," Farkle said, "And you have always been mine too."
Riley smiled as they closed the book, and she met Farkle's gaze. 
Her eyes dropped to his lips, and she heard his intake of breath.
Farkle closed his eyes as Riley kissed him. It was a soft kiss, simple and meaningful like the words they had read on the page. She tasted like strawberries and the subtle scent of roses overwhelmed him. 
When she pulled away, Farkle opened his eyes and smiled. 
"I like poetry," he said, cupping her cheek.
"Me too," Riley replied. 
Farkle's eyes asked a question that Riley answered with a nod. 
He kissed her, and both got lost in the moment. 
When they pulled away, Farkle smiled. 
"Happy Valentines Day, Riley," he said, red tinting his cheeks. 
Riley gave him a quick peck on the lips. 
"Happy Valentines Day, Farkle," she said.  


Friday, January 27, 2017

Not Fine: A Riarkle Fanfiction


"Stop lying. You're not fine. I know you're not." 

Riley woke to a rainy day. Her new window overlooked a busy street in London where people walked by with umbrellas of every color she could imagine. 
It wasn't a school day, so she didn't feel compelled to get up, exactly, but she knew that her parents would worry if she didn't show at breakfast. 
Her father, Cory Matthews was making scrambled eggs, while her mother, Topanga Matthews typed away on her laptop at the table. Her brother Auggie texted Ava on his tablet while the sound of rain echoed in the kitchen. The tapping mimicked the pattering of raindrops. 
As the principal of the high school down the street, Riley's father wore his new title proudly.  And, as head of the London office for her law firm, her mother was always busy doing extra work, even on weekends. 
Riley poured a glass of orange juice and checked her phone. No new messages. It had been a few days since she heard from Maya, who was focused on her studies and had hinted that she was trying to be nicer to Lucas. Her video chat with Farkle the other night was mostly a conversation about Smackle and the new science fair that the school would hold in a few weeks. Lucas emailed occasionally, asking about Riley's new school and whether she was happy. 
They all asked if she was happy, all the time. 
"Riley, are you alright?" Her father asked. 
Riley looked up from her phone. 
"Yeah, dad. I'm fine." 
"Well I made the McScrambleface special," her father said, "but the price is a smile." 
Riley took a deep breath. She knew what face she would use. It was almost second nature." 
"There it is!" Her father said, "That's my girl." He set down the plate in front of her. 
"Don't forget the toast," Topanga said. She passed a plate to Riley, "And the special jam from the tea shop down the street. You'll love it." 
Riley nodded, chose a slice of bread and sighed. 
"Would you stop smiling?" - 
"I'm not smiling, Maya. This is my upset face."  
As she finished breakfast, her phone rang. 
"I'll be back," she said, barely glancing at her parents. 
She rushed back to the phone, and found Farkle's number, not Maya's on the screen. 
"Hey Farkle," Riley said, "Is everything okay?" 
"I'm fine," Farkle said, "What about you?" 
Riley paused. There was a weird tone in Farkle's voice, one she hadn't heard in a while. He sounded... angry. 
"Of course I'm fine, Farkle" Riley said, "I told you that last night." 
"I saw your face, remember?" Farkle said. 
"Yeah, that's why it's a video chat," Riley said, trying to lighten the mood. 
Riley took a deep breath. 
"Yes, Farkle?"
"Stop lying. You're not fine. I know you're not." 
His words were knives. Each word dug deeper in her heart. Each word revealed the painful truth that she didn't want to face. The reality she tried to run from. 
"Okay, Farkle," Riley said. 
"How do you really feel?" Farkle asked. 
"What?" Riley asked as a tear rolled down her face. 
"Tell the truth," Farkle said. 
The sound of the rain got louder as Riley closed her eyes, letting all the emotions she pushed back fall like rain drops from her eye lashes.
She knew Farkle was waiting for an answer. 
"Farkle," she said, "It's your birthday today. Maya and I were going to call you, together to chat like old times. I don't want you seeing me like this, hearing my voice shake." 
He stayed silent. 
Riley walked toward her window, watching the tops of umbrellas move across the road, the people barely visible beneath them. One red umbrella caught her eye. It moved slower than the rest, and it went back and forth, as if the owner was pacing. 
"Okay," Riley said, "I'm not okay, Farkle. I haven't been okay since we got here. I mean London isn't all bad, but it's not all good either. It's not the same without my friends. Without you." 
The umbrella stopped. One black umbrella nearly ran into it. The red one moved slowly out of the way of the people on the sidewalk, and it stopped next to a tree out of the walkway. 
Farkle remained silent. He knew her well. He knew she had more to say. 
"I know I'm supposed to start over, and that my parents wanted to take this opportunity. I know I need to support their decision, whatever they decide, but I can't pretend this was what I wanted. It's selfish, I know it is. It's also irresponsible, and lazy. I mean I have tried to make friends, and I've tried to be the happy Riley that everyone wants, but it's more difficult now than it's ever been before. I can't help feeling like it was the wrong decision." 
"Why?" Farkle asked, softly. 
"Because, Uncle Eric told us that day to listen to the heart. I'm not sure we did," Riley told him.  
"What does your heart say?" Farkle asked. 
Riley blinked.
"My heart is sad Farkle, very sad. Very lonely. So lonely that my mind can't distract it. I don't feel like I belong here at all." 
As soon as the words escaped her, Riley knew she would never be able to take them back. She wouldn't be able to deny it anymore. 
"I know you're sad, Riley," Farkle said, "Can you do me a favor?" 
"Of course!" Riley said, "It's your birthday." 
"Go outside, in front of your flat." 
"But it's raining," Riley said. 
"I know," Farkle said. 
The phone clicked and Riley looked at the screen. 
Farkle had hung up. 
She looked at the red umbrella, still stagnant, next to the tree. 
She wiped her eyes, grabbed her jacket and walked out of her room. 
"Where are you going?" Topanga asked. 
"Just a walk," Riley said. 
"Okay honey, just take an umbrella." 
Riley nodded and walked to the coat hangar and umbrella box near the door. 
She grabbed the black one, closest to the doorway. The rain was falling harder now, as she opened the door. She didn't even know what she was looking for, a sign from the universe maybe? Possibly a letter in the mail. What she didn't expect, was Farkle Minkus, standing under a red umbrella, waiting underneath a tree. 
She looked left and right, then ran. He stood, waiting as she rushed toward him. 
"Farkle!" She shouted. 
He turned toward her, and she saw tears in his eyes. 
"Farkle? What's wrong?" 
Riley dropped the black umbrella on the ground next to them. Her hand slowly cupped his cheek. A tear trailed across her fingertips. 
"Riley," Farkle said. 
His blue eyes focused on her, and she felt his pain. 
More tears fell, and Riley found her own running down her cheek. 
Farkle wiped a tear away with his thumb. And Riley stood still, shocked at the tenderness of his touch. 
"Farkle," she said, "Please tell me, what's wrong?" 
"Don't you know, Riley?" Farkle asked. 
Riley waited, her thumb stroking a tear from his cheek. 
"You're gone! You left," Farkle said, "I never wanted you to leave." 
"I never wanted to leave, Farkle. But I had to go with my family. It was my mother's choice, not mine." 
"But you're not okay!" Farkle said, "And I'm not okay! I wish I had never learned about Belgium 1831." 
Riley stepped forward and her hand slipped from his cheek. She wrapped her arms around him. 
"I'm here Farkle. I'm here, and I'll always be here for you. No matter where I am." 
As the rain fell, pattering on the red umbrella, Farkle slowly wrapped his arms around her, and the umbrella was pressed between them.
"Riley, I don't want you to stay here. You deserve to be happy." 
"You deserve happiness too, Farkle," Riley said, "aren't you excited about the science project that you've been working on, with Smackle?" 
The silence that followed was strange. 
Riley moved to look at him, but Farkle held her tightly. 
"Farkle?" She asked. 
"I'm not with Smackle anymore," Farkle said. 
"I'm so sorry, Farkle," Riley told him, she rubbed his back. 
Farkle pulled away from her, his eyes searching hers. 
"Do you mean that?" he asked her. 
"Yes. You were trying to understand love," Riley said, "And I pushed you. I know I did. I'm sorry Farkle. I just wanted you to be happy." 
"I know you did, Riley," Farkle said, "That's what I learned. That's what brought me here." 
"What do you mean?" Riley asked him. 
"You know what I mean," Farkle said. 
"But I'm here, in London. And I could have a boyfriend you don't know about," Riley said, looking away. 
"Do you?" Farkle asked, "answer honestly." 
Riley slowly looked up at him. 
"No," Riley said, "I don't," 
"That's good to hear," Farkle said. She felt his sigh of relief as he pulled her toward him. 
"Farkle," Riley said, "What do you want for your birthday?" 
"I want you to be happy," Farkle said. 
Riley pulled away from him. 
"I'll be happy, when you're happy," she said. 
"Okay," Farkle told her, "Then, may I kiss you?" 
Riley sucked in a breath. That was not the answer she expected. 
She thought of the last kiss she had shared with Farkle, all chin. 
Her first kiss, according to Maya. Was it? She certainly remembered that moment more than the quick peck she gave Lucas on the subway. It was a feeling she denied for fear that her feelings were not returned. That Farkle would only ever see her as the sun to Maya's night. Always loving her and Maya the same, equally. 
"Riley?" Farkle's eyes pleaded for an answer. She blushed. 
"Yes, Farkle," she said, "but I'm sorry that I'm a mess." 
She hadn't put on makeup, not expecting to go anywhere or do anything but chat on the phone. Riley dreaded to think what she looked like, but if Farkle wanted a kiss, and if that would make him happy. 
He stared at her still, as the thoughts ran through her head. 
"Do you mean that?" Farkle asked. 
"That I'm a mess?" Riley said with a nervous laugh, "Yes, I mean that." 
"No. You're not a mess Riley. Do you mean that I can kiss you?" Farkle asked. 
"Of course Farkle," Riley said, tilting her head at him, "Why would I lie to you?" 
The red umbrella fell to the ground, and the rain fell all around them. 
Farkle stepped forward and Riley closed her eyes. His lips were warm, while the cold rain fell in droplets that hit the top of her head, her cheek and her hands. Her arms moved as her hands grasped Farkle's shoulders. 
They moved together, and Riley forgot where she was, and what was going on around them. The emotions bloomed in her chest. The kiss was a message. In it, Riley understood just how much Farkle had missed her. 
The kiss was gentle at first, and then it grew more passionate. Farkle needed her. She felt that, and she was amazed to discover that she needed him too. She kissed back, locking her arms around his neck. She held on, otherwise she risked falling into the whirlpool of emotion they both created. 
When Farkle pulled away, they were both breathing hard, overwhelmed by the moment. 
Farkle pressed her to his chest, and she let the tears fall freely, her body shook with sobs. 
"Riley, I love you. I want you to be happy," Farkle said, "That's what love is. That's the bigger picture that I missed. I've always loved you Riley." 
"I love you too, Farkle," Riley said, "I miss you. It scares me how much I miss you. It's not the same, any of it. It just feels so wrong, Farkle. Being here, hiding how I feel. But this." 
Riley hugged him tightly. 
"This feels right. It's always felt right, Farkle." 
"Riley, we'll figure this out," Farkle said. "But you're coming to visit this summer in the mean time." 
"Okay," Riley said, "Hey, now that you're here, what do you want to do for your birthday?" 
"I want to spend time with you," Farkle said. 
Riley smiled. 
"You have me all day," she said, "And I bet my parents will let you sleep over, in the living room." 
"Um, about that," Farkle said, "I called your dad last week, and Maya. So, they already know." 
Riley laughed. 
"You really are a genius," she said. 
She took his hand and laced his fingers with hers. 
"Well, then," Riley said, "I think you'll love the museum here, and we have to go downtown and see the sights." 
"Okay," Farkle said, "I'm here for the weekend. We have until Monday." 
"Even better," Riley said, "I can't wait to show you Big Ben, and the Eye and we have to go to a phone booth." 
Farkle laughed. 
"Before we do any of that," Farkle said, "Can I have one more kiss?" 
Without hesitation, Riley put her arms around him and kissed him gently, the rain was still falling, and they were soaked to the shoulders, but neither of them cared. 
"Thank you," Farkle said. 
"Anything else, Farkle?" Riley asked. 
He kissed her again, and she giggled when they pulled away. 
"I missed that laugh," Farkle said. 
"I missed something too," Riley said. 
"Yeah?" Farkle asked. 
Riley waited. 
"Here?" Farkle asked. 
Riley nodded. 
Farkle blushed. 
"Okay, but only for you," he said. 
She smiled. 
He took a deep breath, and then looked at her. 
"HAAAAH" he said. 
Her grin was all the answer he needed. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Prince For Ms. Matthews: A Riarkle Fanfiction


Riley accidentally tells her fifth grade class that she’s in love with Farkle. However she doesn’t give names, but her class won’t stop asking questions about the guy she likes. And unfortunately Farkle is scheduled to come that day to talk to her class.

"Ms. Matthews?" 
Riley looked up from the quiz she was grading. 
A young girl with her blonde hair in a braid stared at her.
The class had been quiet during their reading time, and she knew that a guest speaker would be there to talk with them soon. Principal Harper hadn't said who the speaker was, but Riley liked to think she was prepared for anything.  
"Yes, Ashley?" she asked. 
It was Riley's idea to give the class reading time early. That way, they would be calm enough to respect the guest speaker. 
"I have a question," Ashley said, holding a book in her hand. 
Riley smiled at her. 
"What's your question?" she asked. 
"Why aren't you married?" Ashley asked. 
Riley blushed, but she also knew how blunt children could be. At times, it was almost endearing. There was something about how the truth always came out when children spoke. 
"Well," Riley said, "You know that book you're reading?" 
Riley pointed to the bright green chapter book in the girl's hands. A princess in a bright pink dress stared at a green frog, sitting on top of a well. 
Ashley nodded. 
"You remember how the princess has to kiss a frog to turn him back?" 
Ashley nodded again. 
"So far, I have found a lot of frogs, but no princes," Riley told her. 
Ashley laughed. 
A boy with red hair, Billy, looked up from his book. 
"My mom says you have to kiss all the frogs until you find a prince," Billy said. 
Riley shook her head. 
"That's not a good idea," she said, "Because then you'll just have a pile of frogs around you! Who wants that?" 
The class laughed. 
"So what would a prince be like to you?" Ashley asked her. 
Riley felt a pang in her chest. She had once dreamed of finding a hero, but he wasn't what she thought he was. And by the time she noticed that her prince had been there all along, it was too late.
Still, as the class looked at her, waiting for an explanation, Riley found that she couldn't lie. 
"Well," Riley said, placing her red pen on the desk- "to me a prince would be kind, smart and loving." 
"But what would he look like?" Ashley asked. 
Riley sighed. There would be no way around this. You could never satisfy a young, curious mind. 
 "He would be tall, with brown hair and blue eyes." 
"What would he wear?" 
Riley smiled. 
"Orange," she said, "My prince would wear orange, and he would be from Mars." 
"That's not possible!" Billy said, "How could he be from Mars?" 
"My mom told me that all men are from there," A raven haired girl, Vivian replied, putting her chapter book down. 
"Is he an alien?" Another boy with blonde hair, Steven asked. 
Riley smiled at the sci-fi book he had in his hands.
By now the whole class had given up on their stories, and they were far more interested in hers. 
She looked at the clock. When would the presentation start? Riley had not planned to speak of her love life in front of the entire class, and she couldn't even bear to think of what would happen if the principal heard this conversation. 
"What would his name be?" Vivian asked
A knock came on the door. 
Riley sighed in relief. She was saved. 
Principal Harper walked in. 
"Are you ready Ms. Matthews?" she said. 
"Ready, Principal Harper," Riley said with a smile. She was more than ready at that point. Any more questions, and she would have been as red as the apple on her desk.   
"Ms. Matthews," Principal Harper said. "Our guest speaker is here, and he's ready." 
"Great," Riley said, hoping the Prince topic would die quickly. 
"He'll need to use the projector," Principal Harper said, "Were you able to get it fixed?" 
"Oh," Riley said, blushing. She had been so distracted with the class conversation, that she had forgotten. 
"It should work," Riley said. 
She got a stepping stool and placed it directly below the projector. As a class, they used it rarely, since Riley enjoyed teaching with chalk like her father did. 
They used it so little in fact, that Riley had hung their solar system project right next to it. Vibrant styrofoam planets brushed against her as she turned the projector on. 
"Maybe you should move that," Principal Harper said.  
Riley laughed. 
"Okay. You don't have to wait for me though, it's rude to keep a guest speaker waiting." 
"If you're sure," Harper told her, but Riley didn't reply. She was very focused on pulling the hangar from one of the ceiling tiles next to the projector. 
The door opened and Riley heard the class clap and cheer.
"It's a prince!" Vivian shouted. 
Riley blushed. Apparently the topic wasn't over. 
"Is she alright?" A male voice asked. The voice seemed familiar to her somehow.
Riley was too embarrassed to turn around, and the stubborn ceiling tile didn't want to budge. 
"She's fine," Principal Harper said, "She just wanted to move that display for you." 
"Well, I can help," the male voice said. 
Riley's heart skipped a beat. She heard footsteps behind her. 
"That's okay," Riley said, "I've almost got it." 
She tugged on the hangar, and it finally broke free, but she lost her balance and her foot slipped on the stepping stool. 
She would have fallen, were it not for the strong arms that caught her. 
"Are you alright?" The now very familiar voice asked. 
Riley slowly opened her eyes, and she was stunned to see bright blue eyes staring at her underneath creased eyebrows and short brown hair. She blinked and noticed the NASA name tag on his shoulder.
She was in the arms of Farkle Minkus. 
The planets brushed against them as Riley realized she was still holding the planet display above her head. Pluto tickled her nose as Farkle brushed Mars aside. 
"Riley?" he asked. 
"Farkle?" Riley asked. 
They stayed there, just staring, until Principal Harper cleared her throat. 
"Ms. Matthews found her prince!" Ashley said. 
"Prince?" Farkle asked. 
Riley blushed and steadied herself, she pushed away from him. 
"I'm sorry about that," Riley said, "We don't use the projector very much." 
"Are you alright?" Farkle asked. 
"Yes. Thank you, for catching me," Riley said with a blush. 
"He's wearing orange," Billy said. 
Billy was right. Farkle stood there, briefcase in hand, wearing a black suit with an orange buttoned shirt. 
"Are you from Mars?" Steven asked. 
Farkle laughed.
"No," he told the boy, "but I plan to go there someday. Are you guys ready to learn about space?" 
The class cheered. 
Riley put the stepping stool away and walked toward the corner of the blackboard. 
Farkle set his bag down on her desk, along with his laptop. 
Riley couldn't help but smile. Of course he would have the latest technology. 
As Farkle opened the laptop, he turned to Riley, 
"Do you mind if I..." he said, picking up her nametag. 
"One second," Riley said. 
She took the name tag, and found a black marker. 
She flipped it over and wrote "Farkle" in big letters. 
When she set it down on the desk, away from the computer, Farkle smiled at her. 
"Thanks," he said. 
Riley smiled back. 
"Do you need anything?" Riley asked him. 
"Could you close the blinds?" Farkle said, "For this to work, it needs to be dark." 
Riley nodded and closed the blinds. Harper placed a piece of construction paper over the window on the door. 
"Perfect," Farkle said. 
Riley heard a click, and then the stars and the planets surrounded her.
The children gasped. 
"Welcome to the universe," Farkle said, "We are just one speck in a thing called space. Who knows the name of the planets? 
The kids raised their hands. 
"How about you?" he asked Vivian. "What planet do you want to see up close?" 
"Mars!" She said, "That's where Ms. Matthews' prince is." 
Farkle glanced at Riley. 
"It's a long story," Riley told him. 
"Mars it is, then," Farkle said. 
The stars zoomed in to a 3D map of Mars. 
"It's beautiful!" Riley said, before she could stop herself. 
"Thank you," Farkle said, "My team and I worked very hard on it." 
"What's on Mars?" Steven asked, "Are there aliens?" 
"Well, there might be," Farkle said with a wink. "You never know." 
Riley watched him. Was he joking? Farkle had never been one to believe in things without proof.
"I think Ms. Matthews's prince lives at the very top," Ashley said. 
Riley's cheeks burned. She was grateful for the darkness in the room. Farkle's eyes caught hers   again.
"I think I need to hear this story," he said. 
"You really don't," Riley replied with a nervous laugh.
"He'll be orange!" Steven said. 
Farkle's brows furrowed again as he looked at Riley. 
"Why orange?" He asked. 
Riley laughed. 
"It's a silly story," she said, "Didn't you want to show us Mars?" 
Farkle pressed a button, zooming in on what appeared to be a lake placed in a crater. 
"This is the Holden crater," Farkle said, "It's about a hundred forty kilometers wide. We believe it contains water, because a layer of it actually contains some type of clay." 
"Martians must live under it to survive," Steven said, very seriously. 
Riley smiled at him. 
"Maybe so," Farkle said. 
As Farkle showed the class different landmarks and places on Mars, Riley couldn't help noticing how his eyes shone with excitement. Science still fascinated him. 
"Maybe we'll go there!" Billy said. 
"Ms. Matthews wants to go to Mars!" Stephen said. 
Farkle looked over at Riley. With the projection of Mars and the darkness surrounding her, Riley couldn't read his expression. 
"Does she?" Farkle asked softly. 
The room got quiet, as if everyone anticipated how important Riley's answer would be. 
Farkle clicked a button, and Mars zoomed out again, a round red planet hovering above his head. 
"Do you want to go to Mars, Riley?" Farkle asked. 
She felt all eyes on her as Farkle stood up. 
Principal Harper clicked the lights on, and Riley finally saw Farkle's expression. 
His eyes were focused on her, eyebrows raised, and his lips were slightly parted.
She watched him take a step toward her. 
"I've always wanted to go to Mars, Farkle," Riley said. 
The bell rang, and the class hurried out the door excitedly.  Principal Harper, Farkle and Riley stayed where they were. 
"Farkle," Principal Harper said, "I'll have Riley escort you to the teacher's lounge for recess. Riley, I'll watch your class." 
As Principal Harper walked out of the classroom, and the door closed, Riley and Farkle continued to stare at each other, not moving. 
Finally, Riley broke the gaze, moving to open one of the blinds on the window behind her. 
"Riley," Farkle said. 
"Yes, Farkle?" Riley replied, facing the window. 
"How long have you wanted to go to Mars?" 
His question hung in the air between them, and she heard him step toward her. Her heart pounded as she replied. 
"I don't know," Riley said, "A very long time, longer than I can remember." 
"Riley," Farkle asked, "Why didn't you tell me?" 
"Because you were trying to understand love. I didn't want to get in your way." 
Farkle took another step toward her. She quickly walked to the other window and opened the blinds. 
"You wouldn't have been in my way," Farkle said. 
Riley looked around the room. She was running out of options to distract herself. She found the solar system display and walked toward it. 
"Riley," Farkle said. 
She stopped. 
Farkle walked toward the desk, picked up the display and found one small planet tied to the string furthest from the sun. It was painted bright orange. 
"What about Pluto?" He asked, "Do you still believe in it?" 
"Well, it hasn't been considered to be a planet again." 
"But you still have it, don't you?" Farkle asked. 
Riley slowly met his eyes. 
Farkle took the bright orange styrofoam ball and placed it in Riley's hand. 
"Do you still believe in Pluto, Riley?" he asked, "or did you stop believing in things?" 
Riley searched his eyes for an explanation. She thought back to the day she, Farkle, Maya and Lucas each placed a trinket in a time capsule. How had Farkle remembered what she said? After all those years?
"Do you believe in things, Farkle?" Riley asked, "Things that science can't explain?" 
Farkle placed his hand over hers and he stepped forward. 
"I do now," he said. 
Farkle gently pulled Riley over to her desk. 
Without explanation, he let go of her hand, shut the blinds for both windows, clicked the projector on and turned off the lights. 
As Farkle walked over to Riley, the stars surrounded them, and they watched one small planet grow closer and closer until Riley recognized its appearance. 
"Pluto will always be a planet to me," Farkle said.
Riley watched him, her heart racing.
She stepped toward him and he pulled her into a hug. As they stood there, Riley pulled back to look at Farkle again. 
"I didn't know you were speaking to the class today," Riley said, "Do you think it's a coincidence?" 
"I don't believe in coincidences anymore," Farkle told her, his gaze drawn to her lips. 
Riley leaned forward and Farkle kissed her gently, the universe surrounding them. 
When they broke apart, Riley saw a small red dot in the distance above Farkle's shoulder. 
"I guess I found my prince after all," Riley told him with a smile, "The kids are going to love this story."  

Last picture in aesthetic created by girlmeetsparkleyfarkley:

Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Beginnings: A Riarkle Fanfiction

Happy New Year! 
This fanfiction was inspired by "All This Time" by One Republic

She never told him. 
All those years of being Farkle's friend, and Riley never told him her feelings. 
Why? There were several reasons. 
First, there was his decision to go out with Smackle. Those two were steady for at least two years. Riley could never get in the way of that. 
As her own relationship with Lucas fell apart, and she learned just how selfish she had been, Riley Matthews had vowed to give herself a year. One year to really discover who she was. 
It wasn't easy. As the group all started their college semesters, Riley found that her roommate, Chai was trying to set her up with a friend of a friend. 
That was a test of her patience. While Chai pushed her, Riley decided to avoid the situation as much as possible. But she wouldn't be able to tonight. 
New Years Eve. 
Chai had convinced Riley that she had been out of the game long enough, and even though Riley protested, Chai refused to back down. 
"It's time you meet someone new," she said, "You need to get that guy you told me about off your mind. He's not here now, is he? Live in the moment!" 
But it wasn't that simple. Riley knew Farkle, more than anyone. But, as his relationship with Smackle grew, and he was accepted to NASA for astronaut training, she drifted away, in favor of his happiness. 
Farkle had always wanted to go to Mars. She knew that, but she felt guilty. She didn't want him to go, which was selfish. And she had been very selfish. 
Of all the lessons Riley learned in High School, the most important was being a true friend. Finally recognizing Maya's unhappiness helped her realize that if she told Farkle to stay, it wouldn't make him happy. 
He had seemed excited on the last day of High School, as Smackle stood with him, both wearing NASA shirts. 
And Riley was busy anyway, with college, and deciding what to major in. 
She texted Maya that morning. Maya was busy with her art college, and she and Lucas were going steady. Riley didn't want to intrude. 
She shook her head, as she stepped out of the closet in her best sparkly purple dress. 
The year was up, and it was time for new beginnings. 
As she brushed her hair, Riley looked in the mirror, and for the first time, in a long time, she was proud of the person staring back at her. 
The year had been a great lesson, and her father and mother had always reminded her that you were never too old for a lesson. Life was learning. 
She finally knew how to say no. And, she had learned that she actually loved fashion.
 As her first semester at NYU wrapped up, Riley was looking for study abroad trips in Paris and choosing special classes in fashion design. 
She still needed one more science class for credit. And she knew it would be Astronomy. Even though it reminded her of Farkle, Riley knew that no matter what class she chose, science itself would bring back the memory of a sweet boy with orange turtlenecks who grew into a handsome genius. But with Astronomy, they would talk about Pluto. And Riley had always believed in Pluto. 
As she put the finishing touches on her makeup, Chai knocked on the door. 
"Are you ready, roomy?" Chai asked. Riley noted that her roommate had also chosen a sparkly dress in silver.  
Riley nodded. 
"Ready as I'll ever be," she replied. 
"Oh come on!" Chai told her, "Your bizarre vow of single-hood is up. Tonight you snag a hunk! Let's see some enthusiasm!"
Riley tried to smile, but thoughts of Farkle intruded her mind. Hadn't Smackle called Farkle a hunk? Why hadn't she kept in contact with him since graduation? It wasn't like he had tried himself, but still. 
"Okay," she said, "So, where are we going? Do I need to grab some cash?"
"Only if you want to buy a drink. The punch should be free. The guy throwing this thing is filthy rich. He rented a whole ballroom! It's going to be fancy!" 
"I'll bring some cash just in case," Riley said, grabbing a formal purse. It was a purple cat. She smiled at the memory of her art projects, and her art teachers' frustration. 
"Well, we're ready to go," Chai said. 
They locked the apartment door and walked down to Chai's car.  
"How'd you hear about this party?" Riley asked her. 
"My classmate," Chai told her. "Her father works for the company." 
"What company?" Riley asked, sliding in the front seat. 
"I don't remember," Chai said, "but it's one of the most successful brands in the city. They just bought a new technology, and they might sell it to NASA!" 
"That's interesting," Riley said, but her chest tightened at the mention of NASA. Maybe it was time to move on. Farkle had, as far as she knew.
"So anyway, it's going to be crowded, plenty of guys you can flirt with," Chai said. 
"Okay," Riley replied. 
"What did I say about sulking?" Chai asked. 
"I know, I know," Riley said. "Let's just get there in one piece." 
She liked to tease her roommate about her driving habits. Chai was a speed demon with a lead foot. 
"Alright girl," Chai said, "Lets turn up the tunes and get moving." 
Riley listened to the music, trying to focus on every word, and push all thoughts of Farkle out of her mind. She remembered a time, not so long ago, when New Years had been very important to both of them. When Farkle was determined to let everyone know how she felt at exactly midnight.
It probably wasn't healthy to pine after him anyway. The last she had heard, he and Smackle were the dynamic duo of the science department. It would be hard to compete with that. 
"We're here," Chai said, parking the car. 
"There must be some mistake," Riley said horrified. 
Chai pulled a flyer from her purse. 
"No mistake, it's the right address. See?" She handed Riley the flyer. 
"Oh no," Riley said. 
"What?" Chai asked. 
"I can't go in there," Riley said. 
"Why not?" Chai asked. 
"You know that guy you told me not to think about?" Riley asked. 
"Yeah," Chai answered, "His name was kind of strange. Wasn't it ..." 
"Farkle Minkus," Riley said, pointing to the flyer. 
The name was right there, staring at her in bright orange letters. 
"No way!" Chai said, "I mean, this is probably a coincidence."
"I don't believe in coincidences," Riley told her, "I can't go in there!" 
"Why not?" Chai asked, "He won't be the only guy. There will be so many people, you may not even see him." 
"It's more important that he doesn't see me," Riley said. 
"Why?" Chai asked. 
Riley sighed. Her mind went back to the day after graduation. The day she had spoken to Farkle for the last time. 
"Congratulations on your acceptance at NASA," Riley told him. 
Farkle smiled. 
"Thanks Riley," he said. 
"I know Smackle's proud," Riley told him. 
"What about you?" Farkle asked her. 
"I'm always proud of you," Riley told him, "I knew you'd rule the world someday." 
"I don't know," Farkle said, "I'm nervous." 
"You'll do great!" Riley told him. 
"You think so?" Farkle asked. 
"I know you will," Riley said. 
"I am excited," Farkle said. 
"And you've wanted to go to Mars for a long time," Riley said. 
"Yeah," Farkle told her, "And Smackle will be there too!" 
Riley tried to smile. Smackle was an amazing person, and if Farkle loved her, then who was Riley to get in their way?
"Then you'll have all you need," Riley said. 
For a moment, Farkle met her eyes. 
"Do you mean that?" He asked her. 
"Every word," Riley said. 
"Well what about you, Riley?" Farkle asked. 
"I'll be fine," she said. 
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"Don't worry about me," Riley said. 
'But Riley..." Farkle said. 
Riley shook her head. 
"Not another word. I learned my lesson. I won't be looking for a relationship for at least a year." 
Farkle's eyes didn't leave hers. 
"Promise me that you'll find happiness," Farkle said. 
Riley's heart skipped a beat. 
"I promise," Riley said. "And in one year, I'll be back in the game." 
"A year," Farkle said. 
"That's right," Riley told him. "It'll be good for me. There's still so much I need to learn." 
"And in one year you'll be ready?" Farkle asked. 
"I think so," Riley told him, "A year away from guys would be a good thing." 
"All guys?" Farkle asked. 
"All guys," Riley answered. 
"If you're sure," Farkle replied. 
"I'm positive," Riley said. 
"Because if this is another act," Farkle said. 
"It's not," Riley said, "Farkle! Can't you just be happy and move on?"
 Her words rang through the air as the music died down. 
"I'll move on, Riley," Farkle said, "If you really want me to." 
Riley nodded. 
"Go, Farkle. Be the first man on Mars. Be the scientist you've always wanted to be," Riley said. 
Farkle took one step closer to Riley, and she moved one step back. The closer Farkle was to her, the more nervous she felt. 
"Alright Riley, one year." Farkle said, "I hope you find happiness." 
He stepped forward, and when she stepped back, he pulled her into a hug. 
Riley slowly returned it. 
"Be happy Farkle," Riley said. 
"You too," Farkle replied, "take care of yourself." 
Then he let go, and walked away. 
Riley tried to find him later during the graduation ceremony, but he was nowhere to be seen. She even went by the Minkus residence, but Farkle was long gone by the time Stuart answered the door. 
She sent texts. He never replied. She tried to email him. No answer. 
Eventually, halfway through the year, Riley stopped trying. Farkle had clearly made his decision. 
And now, here she was, with her new roommate on the night she was ready to move on. Unbelievable. 
"You can't turn back now!" Chai told her. "Maybe this is fate! You won't know if you still care unless you see this guy again." 
"I don't want to," Riley said, "Especially if he's happy." 
"Well you won't know until you see him," Chai said, "Didn't you tell me that you knew this guy more than anyone?" 
"I used to," Riley said, "And, it's been a year." 
"Well then," Chai said, "You're older and wiser." 
"Supposedly," Riley said. 
"Riley Matthews," Chai said, "If you don't walk in that building then you have no choice but to go out with the next blind date I find. Do you understand?" 
Riley looked at her roommate. She was serious. And deep down, she knew why Chai had threatened such a thing. This was an opportunity. Riley could finally learn the truth. She would finally learn what she meant to Farkle.
"Alright," she said, opening the car door and stepping out slowly. "Let's do this." 
"That's my girl!" Chai said. 
Riley clutched the purple cat purse for dear life. 
Questions flooded her mind. Would Farkle even recognize her? How would he look now? Can one year really change someone that much? 
As she walked into the ballroom, she noticed a specific color. Purple. 
It was everywhere, from the balloons on the ceiling to the ribbons tied on the wall. The room appeared to have a purple glow with the stars projected on the walls and the lights shining on the stage, dance floor and the tables where guests clinked champagne glasses and munched on snacks. 
The detail surprised her. Hadn't Farkle always liked orange? She thought back to his favorite orange turtleneck, buried in the time capsule they wouldn't open for another ten years. Had he forgotten? 
Chai gave their names and the host checked them off the list. 
"Please write on the board," the host said, gesturing to the right. 
Riley walked past the bright banners that read, "Happy New Year" to a giant chalk board, where people scribbled and chatted excitedly. At the top in bright purple letters, it read: New Years Resolutions. 
Chai tapped her on the shoulder. 
"We're supposed to write one resolution we have for the year." Chai said, handing Riley a piece of chalk. 
Riley thought for a moment, then she started writing on the board. 
"To understand true love," Chai read. "That sounds like a good goal." 
Riley smiled. "What are you going to write?" 
Chai scribbled on the board quickly. 
"To choose a major," Riley said, "That's a good goal too." 
"I like yours better," Chai said, "because you've been single long enough." 
Riley laughed. 
"I learned a lot this year," she said, "And I don't think that's a bad thing. Relationships aren't everything after all. As my Dad says, it's important to know who you are." 
"Well, now that you know who you are," Chai said, "Let's go learn who those hunks are," 
She pointed to some good looking guys that stood by the punch bowl. 
Riley saw the guys, but she also saw the purple curtain that hung behind them. Purple everywhere! It was starting to annoy her. If Farkle had arranged this party, why hadn't he used his favorite color? Had Smackle chosen the theme? Why purple? 
She walked up to the guys standing in front of the punch bowl. Chai giggled. 
As Chai introduced herself and Riley, all Riley could do was stare. 
The punch bowl had apples in it. 
"Oh," one of the guys, she thought his name was Fred, told her. "I know the apples are a little weird, but you just go around them for the punch." 
He demonstrated by taking a glass, and pouring the clear sparkly liquid in the cup. 
Riley noticed that her hand was shaking. 
"Thank you," she told Fred, trying to collect herself. There was only one thought in her head as she stared at the punch bowl. The moment Farkle Minkus saved her life. 
She was watching for him around every corner, expecting him to show up the moment she let her guard down. What even was the theme of this party? 
"Riley?" Chai said, "Fred just asked you something." 
"Huh?" Riley said, "Oh, sorry Fred, I guess I was a little distracted. Maybe it's the punch." 
"Did you want to sit down?" Fred asked. 
"Uh, yes," Riley said, "I think that would be a good idea." 
Fred offered Riley his arm as he walked over to a table. At the center of the table, Riley finally found something orange. A clock. Around the clock were party favors that said "Happy new year" and "Make a wish."
"I'm going to get some food," Fred said, "will you be okay?" 
Riley nodded, but she knew it was a lie. She hadn't been okay since she learned whose party this was. Still, Fred appeared to be a nice guy. Maybe Chai was right. She deserved some closure. Didn't she?
As Riley moved forward to pick up the clock, the music stopped. 
Everyone looked up at the stage, and there he was. Farkle Minkus. 
Riley was surprised at how fast she recognized him. He was dressed in a fine suit, and he was as handsome as she remembered him. If not more so. 
He stood, addressing the crowd that cheered. 
"Thank you," Farkle said, "Thank you all for coming to my New Years Celebration. In a half an hour, we will go to the roof to see the fireworks above Times Square." 
The crowd cheered. 
"I hope you all have written your resolutions and you keep your heart open to the possibility that they can come true. Someone very special in my life taught me that, and I hope she's here tonight." 
Riley waited for Smackle to walk on the stage, but she never came. 
Fred returned with the food. 
"So that's the guy," He said. 
"What do you know about him?" Riley asked. 
"Well, I know he's the most sought after bachelor in New York City."  
"Bachelor?" Riley asked. 
Fred nodded. 
But before he could explain, Farkle spoke again. 
"Tonight is the end and the beginning. I hope you all enjoyed what the year has brought you, and that you look forward to the future." 
The crowd applauded. 
"So, let's get this party started!" Farkle said. 
The crowd cheered again, and Farkle handed the microphone back to the DJ. 
Riley turned to Fred. 
"What did you mean by bachelor?" Riley said. 
Fred laughed. 
"You know exactly what I mean. And I'm afraid if I tell you anymore, you'll lose interest in me all together." 
Riley's heart skipped a beat. She watched Farkle walk off the stage. None of this made sense. 
She stood up to go find him but he disappeared in the crowd. As Riley walked toward the dance floor, Fred took her hand. 
"I'm sorry, Fred," Riley said, "I'm not really in the mood to dance right now. I have to talk to someone." 
"Come on," Fred said, "Just one dance? You won't regret it." 
Riley tried to free herself from his grip. 
"I'm not interested right now, please," she said. 
"You sure like to play hard to get, don't you?" Fred said. 
"Is there a problem?" 
Riley went numb. She knew that voice. 
"There shouldn't be," Fred said, "Right, Riley?"
Riley glared at him. 
"I said I don't want to dance right now!" 
She stomped on his foot, and he let go of her hand. 
Riley smirked, watching Fred slowly walk away. 
"Well," Farkle's voice came from behind her, "I was going to save you again, but it seems like you can save yourself." 
Riley slowly turned around. His soft, blue eyes met hers, and it was almost as though the year had never happened. That same gleam in his eye. The same proud smile. 
"Farkle," she said, unable to think of anything else. 
"Hello, Riley," Farkle told her, "how was your year?" 
"My year?" Riley asked him, "Oh, it was good. How was yours?" 
"Enlightening," Farkle said, "I learned more this year than all our High School years put together." 
"Oh," Riley said, "Well I guess my father wouldn't be happy to hear you say that." 
"This was a lesson your father couldn't teach," Farkle said. 
"Interesting," Riley told him. 
"But you still didn't answer my question," Farkle said, "How was your year away from guys?" 
Riley blushed. 
"You remembered that?" she asked. 
"I couldn't forget it," Farkle told her. 
"Why?" Riley asked him. 
"I'm saving that answer for midnight," Farkle said. 
Riley watched him. He wasn't smiling, and his eyes focused on her so intently that she couldn't help blushing. 
"What happens at midnight?" she asked, "I'm afraid you won't be able to blow Gabriel's horn again." 
Farkle smiled, and her heart pounded in her chest. 
"Are you sure about that?" he asked. 
Riley watched him. 
"Farkle," she asked, "What is all this? Why all the purple? And what's with the theme of this party?" 
"You don't approve?" he asked her. 
Riley laughed. 
"Why would it matter if I approved?" she asked him. 
"You haven't figured it out yet?" Farkle asked. 
"You're being cryptic," Riley told him. 
"Maybe," he said. 
"Then maybe I should go find another Charlie Gardner!" Riley said, anger boiling in her. Did he not care? Was he messing with her?
"Wait," Farkle said, taking her hand. 
Unlike Fred's harsh grip, Farkle's was gentle, almost hesitant. 
She searched his gaze. 
"What?" she asked him. 
"It will be midnight soon," Farkle told her, "and I want you standing next to me." 
"Me?" Riley asked. 
"Yes, you," Farkle told her. 
"Why?" Riley asked him, flustered. "We haven't spoken since graduation. I texted you, emailed you, and you never replied." 
Farkle nodded. 
"Well, at least you're not denying it," Riley said. "Okay then, here's my question. If you want me standing next to you at midnight, you have to answer it." 
Farkle nodded. 
"Why? Why didn't you write back?" 
Farkle looked away for a moment. 
"I had my own year of self discovery," he said, " and I needed to learn what I wanted." 
"That's fine and all," Riley told him, "but that doesn't explain why you just dropped all communication." 
"Yes it does," Farkle told her, "Remember what you said to me? You wanted a entire year, away from guys. All guys. Riley, I am a guy! You knew that when you told me. You shouldn't be surprised." 
"But we're friends, Farkle. And friends talk to eachother, and they listen, and they're there for each other, like we used to be." 
"Riley," Farkle said, his eyes locked on to hers, "This is what I learned, just this year. We have always been more than just friends." 
Riley gulped. Farkle was serious, and she couldn't escape his gaze. 
"And now!" the DJ announced, "It's nearly midnight. Time to head up to the roof. Five minutes until the fireworks." 
Everyone walked out of the ballroom. Everyone except Riley and Farkle. 
Riley stood there, trying to calm her pounding heart while Farkle watched her every move. 
"What do you mean, Farkle?" she asked. 
"You know what I mean," Farkle said, "You never treated me the same way you did Zay, or even Lucas. Riley, I know you! I've always known who you are. And, you've always known who I am." 
"But NASA," Riley said. 
"It all means nothing to me, if you're not there to share it with." 
"This is a joke, right?" Riley asked, waiting for some guy to pop out and say they were on candid camera. 
Farkle stared at her for a moment, then he pulled her hand gently. 
"Please, come with me," 
Riley allowed Farkle to lead them up the stairs. But there was no crowd eagerly waiting for the fireworks. 
"Where are we going?" Riley asked. 
"I've had a lot of time to plan this," Farkle said.
She didn't know what to say as Farkle opened a door that lead out to a single platform balcony. A single table with two chairs awaited them, and two glasses of champagne stood on the table, confetti stars sprinkled between them. 
Farkle let go of her hand and offered her a glass. 
"Farkle," Riley said, "Is this?" 
"For you?" he asked, "Yes Riley. It's all for you. The theme, the purple.  I even put apples in the punch! I wanted to remind you that we have a history. And it's important to me." 
"But what about Smackle?" 
"We broke up, not long after my first week at NASA," Farkle said. 
"Farkle, I'm sorry," Riley said. 
"I'm not, Riley. I learned a very important lesson." 
"What lesson?" Riley asked, stunned. 
"I need you." 
Riley blushed. 
"But I've been selfish, and blind," Riley said. 
"So have I," Farkle told her, "You remember that night in eighth grade, when we worked on that Thomas Jefferson project?" 
Riley nodded.
"You asked me a question, and it never left my mind. Did you ever think when you look through a microscope..." 
"You miss the bigger picture?" Riley finished. 
Farkle nodded. 
"I did," he said, "I missed the bigger picture, Riley. I missed you." 
Riley took a sip from her glass, unsure what to think. Was this really happening? How strong was that punch earlier? But, as she placed the glass back down on the table, and walked toward the balcony, Times Square in the distance, the pieces slowly came together. 
She heard Farkle walking behind her, and then when she looked to her left, there he was, by her side. He always had been, hadn't he?
"I missed you too, Farkle," Riley said. She could hear the countdown from the balcony below them, people cheering. 
She stepped closer to Farkle. 
She took his hand. 
She looked in his eyes, and he looked back. 
He smiled and leaned in. 
Their lips met. 
She heard the fireworks bursting in the air, and the people cheering, shouting Happy New Year. But none of that compared to the warmth and the gentle touch of Farkle's lips against her own. As they deepened the kiss, Farkle pulled her close and she wrapped her arms around his neck. Like two puzzle pieces, they fit perfectly. 
When they pulled apart, both breathless, Riley smiled. 
"I guess my resolution came true," she said. 
"What was it?" Farkle asked. 
"To understand true love," Riley told him. 
Farkle smiled. 
"Huh," he told her, "That was mine, too." 
"I love you, Farkle," Riley said. 
"I love you, Riley," Farkle said, "Happy New Year."