Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Friend's Story

Pano's Story, Not mine, I take no Credit for it. Everyone has one memory they’ll always remember. One memory full of everything; sadness, laughter, love, and, even, losses. My memory flashbacked to when I first met Robin… and on, till I had enough of love. Be sure to see if he’s true, you’ll never know if your boyfriend would tell you, “Goodbye.” Sometimes… goodbyes really are forever. So, if you read this, make sure your boyfriend isn’t cheating on you… “Hey Daph.” “Hey Steph! I’ve been looking all over for you!” I was bewildered. What could she possibly mean? “Umm… what do you mean?” I asked. “I mean that I was looking for you everywhere to tell you this: There’s a new boy in our school!” I never was interested in boys, so why should I care? “Uhh… Daph?” “Yeah?” “What’s your point? You knew me since third grade. You know that I’m not interested in boys.” “I know, but why?” I tilted my head. “Huh?” “Why aren’t you interested in boys? You are the apple of every boy’s eyes!” Daphne said, trying to make me understand. When I still had my face in the state of confusion, she tried again. “Let’s just say every boy who sees you loves you!” I finally found my voice. “That’s ridiculous, Daph! No one can possibly love me!” Daph sighed. “I guess I can’t make you understand. I’m just jealous of your stunning beauty!” I shook my head. “Jealousy strikes everyone. But I never heard of beauty jealousy!” Daph said, “Weird. You have the looks, personality, style, body. Yet, you are not interested in boys.” “Don’t you start,” I warned. “Fine, fine. But don’t you, at least, want to meet him?” I stared at her hard. I sighed, giving up. She’ll chat about him all the time, if I don’t meet him. “Fine… Tell him that I’ll meet him at the front yard at 4 sharp. If you, guys, don’t show up, I’ll leave.” “Right. So, meet you there.” She waved, and in a flash, she fled. The late bell rang. Great… Late, and have to meet a boy. Hopefully, they won’t show up. And this better be worth it. ~ ~ ~ “Hey.” The boy looked up. “Hello.” “Your name is Robin, right?” “Yes. I am Robin. Robin Dudley, in fact.” “Nice name.” “Thanks. And yours is?” “Daphne. Daphne Reynolds.” “Such a beautiful name.” I blushed. In a few minutes, we hit it off! We were instantly friends. “In the front yard at 4 sharp?” “Yeah. Is it okay with you? I mean, do you have any plans?” “Nah. And sure, I’ll meet you there then.” “Perfect.” ~ ~ ~ Two specks ran here. Great… I guess hoping is not enough… Soon, the two specks came into view. Daphne was first to get to me. “Missed me?” she said, panting and chuckling at the same time. “Not by a long shot,” I said, joking. Before a boy came near us, she whispered in my ear, “You thought I wouldn’t come, did you?” I just stared at her. Just then, a boy came next to us. It was amazing since he wasn’t breathless, as I am. Oh my goodness! What am I thinking…? “So, Robin, this is my best friend, Stephanie, known as Steph.” “It’s a pleasure meeting you,” he said. I secretly smiled, not of his astonish appearance or politeness, but because he was the first person who wasn’t breathless of my “stunning beauty”. “Same here,” I said, casually. After a few moments, Daphne finally, cut the silence. “May I talk to you in private, please, Steph?” I shrugged. I was getting bored, anyways. We walked. “So, how is he?” “He who?” “Robin.” “Uhh… Robin who?” I teased. “Stephanie!” she said, looking at me with a glare. “What? I’m not serious with him. As you can see, I didn’t flirt with him. And for the thousandth time, I’m not interested in boys!” “Are you sure?” It was my turn to glare. “No… I’m very interested in him!” I said, sarcastically. “Really?” “No.” She sighed. “Fine. Let’s go back. Robin’s waiting.” “Okay,” I said, shrugging. When we came back, Robin suggested that we should go for some ice cream. I, somehow, said that I didn’t have a craving for ice cream (even though, I did). “No, thank you,” I said. “But it was a pleasure meeting you.” “The pleasure is all mine.” My friend, Daph, looked at me, gratefully. She mouthed, “I will tell you everything.” I shrugged, and mouthed, “Whatever.” I turned away and walked home. Halfway, I looked back. Daph was flirting with him. The amusing part about it was that Robin didn’t seem to be enjoying himself but, smiled. I giggled all the way home. Chapter 2 The phone rang. I bet it was Daph calling from her “date”. “Hey Daph. How was the date?” “Umm… date?” I froze. It couldn’t be him! “Robin?” “The one and only. What’s up?” Exactly… what was up…? How did he get my number? Suddenly, it all clicked. Daphne! Some friend she is… “Uhh… don’t tell me that Daph told you my number!” “She did.” “I’ll kill her!” I muttered. “What?” “Oh, nothing.” The phone rang again. “Err… please, excuse me.” “Sure.” “Hello?” “Steph?” “Daphne! How could you!” “Huh?” “You telling Robin my number!” “What?! I would never—” “Sure…” I said, rolling my eyes. “This time, you went overboard! This friendship is over!” “But—” “Don’t even bother talking, phoning, or e-mail me. You’re no friend; you are just a treacherous snake. Good-bye!” I, then, clicked off her line, and blocked her. Then, I went on line with Robin. “Sorry, I’ve been too long.” “It’s okay.” “Hey, look. I’m sorry, but I have to go.” And with that, I clicked the phone off. I fell on the bed, crying tears of fury. Or was it sorrow? ~ ~ ~ “Steph!” I could recognize that voice everywhere. Just to make sure, I turned around. I was right. Daphne… “Steph!” she shouted again. She was making her way through the swarms of people. I raced away, but I heard footsteps trailing in my path. Finally, I gave up running. “Stop following me!” I bellowed. “Just let me explain…” “No! Go away! I hate you!” “But—” “What word don’t you understand…?!” “Every word,” she joked. “Fine… spill. And this better be quick.” “Okay. I told him your phone number because you know that Romeo and Juliet play?” “Yeah… but what does that have to do with you giving him my number…? “Chill! I’m getting to that part! Okay. Remember that you’re trying out for the character, Juliet?” “Yeah.” “Well… I—” “Oh no! Don’t tell me that he’s auditioning for the part of Romeo!” There was a devilish smile showing. “Why not?” she said, sweetly. “If he makes the part, I’ll drop out of the play!” “You can’t,” she said, calmly. “What do you mean I can’t? Of course, I can! And I’ll do it right now! Watch me!” I said, stomping away. But she caught my hand and brang me face-to-face with her once more. “Remember our dare?” My face went pale. This can’t be true! No, no, no, no, no! I hate my life! “Our dare was to try out for Juliet? And remember that part of the dare was to not drop out of the play no matter what?” “Yes, but spare me! I’ve been tortured enough! Why do you have to ruin the day, still?!” “I don’t know, I have my reasons and ways. I’ll see you later. Oh yeah, auditions are today, so get ready.” Not unless I can help it… ~ ~ ~ “Stephanie Matthews! You’re up next!” “Break a leg,” a male voice said, behind me. I turned around. It was Robin. “Thanks,” I said. I guess he is friendly. I went on stage and sang, “Oh, Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?” Oh, I just remember something! When I always try to do my word, I do my best! It was weird, I know. And now I’m going to be Juliet! Err… I guess I have to get used to it… (Sigh). Anyhow… the judge’s comments: “Very good. You sang with such feeling. We need that kind of talent,” “Your beauty is equal as the fair Lady Juliet. You’ll do.” Then, I was dismissed. “Next, Robin Dudley.” I felt miserable, even though, he was stunning on the stage. And he, even, was wearing casual clothes. He sang beautifully, loud and clear. I guess the rumors turned into the truth. The Romeo and Juliet have been found. ~ ~ ~ “Hello?” “Hey Stephanie.” “Robin. How are you?” “I’m good, and yourself?” I wanted to tell him how I felt, my dare, the play, everything! But I couldn’t, so I lied. “I’m splendid. You were great upstage.” “Thanks. You were, too.” “The judges are going to pick who the characters are and put who is who on the bulletin board outside the auditorium.” “Yeah. I think we’ll be Romeo and Juliet, though. It sounds pretty stupid, doesn’t it?” “No, it’s okay. Imaginative. I, even, let my thoughts wander,” I said, giggling. “Sometimes I wander my mind too far, and it never comes back.” I heard him chuckle. “Thanks, that made me feel better. Chapter 3 I went to the bulletin board after school that day. My eyes fell onto the words, “Romeo and Juliet.” I was right. My name had taken part of Juliet. Robin was Romeo, as well. A figure stood by my side. I saw who it was with the corner of my eye. “Hey Robin. I guess your imagination became predictions,” I said, smiling. He turned. “Oh, hey Stephanie. And thanks. You did well, so of course, you would be Juliet, instantly.” “Thank you,” I said, sincerely. “So, when do you want to rehearse?” “Huh?” “We’re Romeo and Juliet. They are in love. And we got to rehearse our lines, so we don’t mess up at the play.” “Oh, but do I have to arrange the rehearsal meeting?” “Umm… you don’t want to?” “Never mind, how about my house at 4, okay?” “Sure, see you then.” ~ ~ ~ I heard the doorbell ring. “Mom, can you get the door for me?” “Sure, darling.” “Hun, it’s a boy,” she said, her voice in a shocked tone. “I’ll be down in a minute!” When I came downstairs, I got a snatch of their conversation. Mom: How did you meet my daughter, Steph? Robin: I met her when her best friend, Daphne, introduced her to me. Mom: But didn’t you know that she wasn’t interested in b— “Sorry that I was late. It’s just that I had to shower since I was sweaty,” I said, brushing a strand of blonde hair away. “However, you appear, you’ll always be beautiful,” Robin said. I blushed hotly. “Thanks,” I sensed that Mom was watching. “Uhh… let’s rehearse up in my room.” “Umm… okay,” he said. “Oh. Nice talking to you, Ms. Matthews.” She smiled. “Nice meeting you.” When we were upstairs in my room, Robin said, “She seems very nice. Does she have a husband?” My eyes began to fill. Always, unwanted tears spring from my eyes. I covered my tears with my hands, hoping Robin wouldn’t notice. Unfortunately, he saw the tears fall. “Stephanie? I’m sorry! Did I say anything to upset you?” “No… I’m fine,” I said, sobbing. “No, really,” he said, concerned. “Well… I was… I can’t say the word!” “It’s okay, I understand. You can tell me if you want to. If you don’t, you don’t have to force yourself to.” When I didn’t speak, he suggested that we should rehearse. I agreed. “…like a poor prisoner in its twisted jaws and with a silken thread, plucks it back again, so loving jealous of his liberty.” “I would, I would, thy bird.” “Sweet, so would I. Yet, I should kill thee with much cherishing. Good night, good night. Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say good night till it be morrow.” “Uh, hey. This is the part where we have to kiss, Stephanie.” “I know.” “Do you think we should rehearse that scene?” “Well—” There was a knock on the door. “Hey sis. Can I come in?” “Sure, Ken.” The door opened. There stood a muscular guy. Sandy hair. Hazel eyes. Lean. “Hi, Ken. What’s up?” “Nothing, Steph. And you?” “Rehearsing for Romeo and Juliet.” “Oh, cool. And lemme guess… You’re the fair Lady Juliet and he is charming Romeo, right?” he said, indicating Robin as Romeo. “You got that right,” I said, smiling up at him. Then, I realized Robin was there. “Oh, sorry. This is my great brother, Kenneth Matthews. He’s on the football team.” “Greetings. Nice meeting you,” Robin said. “Nice meeting you, too,” Ken said. “So, how’s the play coming out?” “Good, I guess.” “What scene are you, guys, doing for rehearsal?” he asked Robin. “When Romeo sneaks to Juliet’s balcony after the ball.” Ken gaped. “I’ll speak with you later, Steph,” he said, seriously. I sighed. “Okay.” “What was that about?” I shrugged. “I don’t know.” But of course, I knew. I was also grateful that Ken interrupted our “kiss scene”. He was always by my side when I needed him the most. And I was by his side. Guardian angels, I thought, smiling. ~ ~ ~ “Yes, Ken?” The first thing that comes out of his mouth: “The kiss scene? Are you crazy?!” Wow, you should be lucky that you’re my brother, and that I’m used to you being hot-headed… Yes, the kiss scene. So? It’s not like I’m having a romance relationship going on!” “You, teens, are forever using that excuse. Why not use a different excuse like: Oh, am I getting into a budding romance? Well… too bad!” My temper rose. “Look! I know I’m adopted, but I’m okay. I know that I’ve promised that I won’t be interested in boys or fall in love, but its okay. I never loved a boy, and I will never love one. So, get over it!” And with that, I burst out the door, ran down the stairs, and out the door. The last word I heard as I left the house was: “Steph!” Tonight was bleak. Weird for a mid-summer day. Should I go to Daph’s house? No. She would probably tell the Matthews where I was. Misty? No. Danielle? No. I ran while thinking. Who? Who? Hope? No. Faith? No. Christine? No. Angel? No. I fell onto the hard cement road, crying. “Stephanie? What are you doing on the road?” a voice asked. The voice sounded familiar… I forced my head to look up. It was. It was Robin. Tears ran down my face. When will I ever outgrow these tears…? “How did you find me?” I asked. “Oh, I live there,” he said, pointing to a white mansion I fancied as I walked to school. My eyes widened. Robin laughed at the expression on my face. “Great. You stopped crying,” he said, wiping away a tear that was rolling down my cheek. I smiled. He was so caring, understanding, loving… What am I thinking?! At first, I was arguing to my brother that I would never love someone, and here I am falling in love with Robin! “Thanks. I’ll head back now,” I said, turning. But his hand caught mine. “No.” I turned. “Excuse me?” “Sorry,” he said, releasing my hand. “It’s just that you’re shivering, and it’s too bleak to walk out here alone.” “I guess you have a point. Besides, I don’t want to go back. Ever!” “It’s okay. I won’t ask you what happened unless you want to tell me.” I forced myself to smile. “Thanks.” “In the meantime, I’ll introduce you to my parents.” “Okay.” We walked inside the mansion. “Dad? Mom?” “Yes?” A voice called from upstairs. “I want you to meet someone.” “Okay. Lead him to the living room. We’ll see him in a minute!” “The person is a her!” At that instant, there were 2 parents in front of us. The mother was magnificent. She had flaming red hair. Sparkling crystal-blue eyes, as mine, were deep-set under even eyebrows. Her nose was perfect—it was strong boned. She had high cheekbones. Pair of pure red lips was curled into a smile. Her attire was a flowery blouse and skirt, showing her snowy white skin. It was weird that a parent dresses like a teen. You don’t see people like that everyday. His father was stunning as his wife. He had sandy blonde hair. His brown eyes gave me a hint that he was friendly. His chin was roundly stubborn. He looked fantastic in a T-shirt, breeches, and a black leather jacket, as a person who’d ride a motorcycle. “Hello, young lady. Who may you be?” “Greetings,” I said, curtsying. “I am Stephanie Matthews, a friend of Robin’s,” I said, straightening up and smiling. When my eyes were even to Robin’s mother, she gasped, only to be cut off by her hand. After a moment, she recovered. “Welcome, Stephanie,” she said, smiling at me. “Go and show her the guest room, Robin,” she said, nodding to Robin. “Thank you for my hospitality,” I said, curtsying once more. Once in the room, he blurted, “You were charming!” I was flattered. “Thank You,” I said, blushing. “Well, good night,” he said, bowing. He, then, came close to me. “Sweet Dreams,” he whispered, kissing my cheek. After he left, I slept with my hand on the cheek. ~ ~ ~ “Good morning, Steph—” “Good morning,” I said, smiling up at Robin. “Uhh… you wake up at 7?” “No. I usually wake up at 5:30.” He stared at me for a long time. “Wow, you’re not as any other girl I’ve ever met.” “Tell me about it…” I said, groaning. He smiled and sat next to me. “That’s why I like you.” Those five words made me speechless. He changed the subject. “After school, want to hit to Bobson’s for ice cream and then, go to my house to rehearse? After all, the play’s tomorrow night.” I regained my consciousness. “I’d love to!” I exclaimed. “Fantastic,” he said, smiling. ~ ~ ~ “So… what flavor do you want?” Instantly, I said, “Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough!” “Cool, you like that flavor, too?” “Mmhmm,” I said, digging into my ice cream. We went on the bus and headed for Robin’s house. “Okay, Stephanie. Your choice. What scene do you want to do?” “Let’s do the scene when Romeo meets Lady Juliet at the ball.” “Are you sure?” Robin said, his humorous voice disappearing to be replaced by a serious one. “I don’t want to take advantage of you, but you really want to do that scene?” “What do you mean?” “Never mind. Come on; let’s go get a slow song from my CD. Your choice.” I smiled sweetly at him and began to wander around to look for the CD. Unfortunately, I happened to end up in the living room. Footsteps were heard walking in. I ducked behind the sofa that was nearby. “Charles!” “I know, I know, dear.” The voices sounded familiar… I took a peek and stuck my head behind the sofa, swiftly. Mr. and Mrs. Dudley! “No, you don’t know!” Mrs. Dudley’s voice cracked, but she continued. “I had a baby when I was a teenager. My father wouldn’t allow me to keep her. I had no choice, but to give her up. The girl’s name was Deliria. Deliria Darling, until I married you…” she said, trembling. “And what does this have to do with that fine, young lady, Stephanie?!” the father’s voice booming. I felt a tap on the shoulder. I turned around. Robin! He mouthed, “Follow me”. I felt frozen to the spot. I didn’t move. Halfway to the stairs, he noticed that I wasn’t behind him. He sighed, and crawled back to me. “Come on,” he whispered softly—his voice neither disappointment nor anger, but affable. When we were up the stairs, we walked. Neither of us said anything until we were in Robin’s room. “Well, I found a CD full of slow songs. Here,” he said, handing me the CD. I received the CD from him. However, instead of looking at the CD, I looked at Robin. It was amazing. He didn’t even mention anything about what happened downstairs. Robin saw that I was looking at him. He smiled. “Don’t look at me. There’s no list of slow songs on my face, is there?” he joked. I had to laugh. “No, sorry,” I said, looking at the list. After a few moments, I said, “Let’s dance to this one,” I said, pointing to a song called, “I’m Your Girl”. “That’s popular. Great choice,” he said, tuning on the song. He got up, and walked towards me. A shiver went up my spine. “Would mademoiselle like to dance?” “Delighted,” I said, flashing my brightest smiles. He escorted me to the center of his room. Strong hands gripped me on the waist; my hands linking around his shoulders. We danced while speaking our lines until finally… the kiss came. I was nervous. Utterly, he brought his mouth over to mine. The kiss was tender. It was my first kiss. My real kiss. Finally, we backed off. I shivered from the kiss. I shivered from fear. Fear that our friendship would go further. I don’t want to love me. Of course, I want to be his friend, but love? Forget it. Suddenly, the door opened. “You kiss by the book.” (That phrase means that he kisses well). In came Mrs. Dudley, beautiful as always. “Hello children,” she said, smiling. “You’re rehearsing for the play?” “Yes, we are,” I said, curtsying. “Oh, stop with the bowing. I don’t like people whom I’m interested in bowing.” My eyes widened. She’s interested in moi? “Sure.” She looked at Robin. “Can you give us a moment, please?” “Sure, Mom.” Then, he turned, and walked out. Mrs. Dudley shut the door. “So, Mrs. Dudley, what did you want to talk about?” After what seemed like hours, she turned to face me. Her eyes were red and puffy. Obviously, It seemed that she was crying. “You.” I was confused. Talk about me? Why? I don’t have an interesting life, so why am I the subject of conversation? “Didn’t you ever wonder who your biological parents are?” I looked at her for a long time. “How do you know that I am adopted? Robin couldn’t have told you since I didn’t tell him about it.” Her eyes softened. “Well, I am her.” Then, I, somehow, got angry at her. It was abnormal. Usually, people are ecstatic when they see their parents. “I can’t believe you! You left me in an adoption center! Didn’t you want me? Do you know how horrible it was to be there?! Without anyone to love me, I was there for three years! Three whole years!” I yelled, looking down for a moment, ashamed of myself. For about a minute, I looked up at her. Tears were filling her eyes. “Of course, I wanted you. I wanted you with all my heart ever since I put you there. But you have to understand—” “All I understand is that you left me when I was a baby! You couldn’t even take care of me for a few years! You just gave me up!” Her tears flowed down her cheeks. I looked away. I wasn’t thinking… What was I thinking…?! “I’m sorry,” I said, trembling. Before she could utter another word, I bolted out the door. I ran down the stairs, crying. Why did she give me up? Why, why, why? I felt like an idiot. Half of me for different reasons. One, I yelled at Mrs. Dudley. Two, I was going to run away, just like I did at home. But, I wasn’t so lucky this time. I found myself, somehow, in Robin’s arms, crying. “It’s okay, it’s okay,” he kept saying until I stopped crying—his voice kind of soothing. Generous… Kind-hearted.. “I guess it’s a bad time to rehearse, huh?” I shook my head. “Huh, no? Are you sure? Because you could sleep if you don’t want to. I don’t mind, really.” I cracked a smile. He gets concerned too much. “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.” At those words, he smiled at me. “Of course, you will,” he said, joking. ~ ~ ~ “I should be heading home now. Thanks for the ice cream.” “It was nothing. I hope you didn’t shed a lot of tears, for we wouldn’t want you to melt.” “I don’t think I’m that sweet,” I said, smiling. “Oh?” “Yep.” “You might think that, but not me,” he said. “See you.” I waved good-bye to him. “See you at school tomorrow.” I turned to go, but he caught my hand. “I heard what happened upstairs. I’m sorry…” Chapter 4 “You… did…?” “Sorry. I just overheard when I headed to my room to tell you that your ‘brother’ called,” he said, his face full of guilt. Usually, at these times, I get fired up, but I didn’t a flame starting. “It’s okay, I guess. After all, I need someone to open up, too.” He looked surprised, but soon, recovered. I didn’t blame him, though. I would be guilty to hear something as important. I looked at the time. Oh my God! It’s that time already??? “Hey, I gotta go. See you at the play tomorrow night.” ~ ~ ~ The play was great, but it seemed like a blur. But, the good news is that I recall some lines. “Here’s to my love, thy drugs are quick. Thus, with a kiss, I die.” “Who is it?” “Romeo.” “How long has he been there?” “For half an hour.” “What’s here? A cup closed in my true love’s hand. Poison, I see hath has been his timeless end. Oh, churl, drunk all, and left no friendly drop. To help me after, I will kiss thy lips happily. Some poison yet doth hang on them to make me die with a restorative. Thy lips are warm.” “Lead boy, which way?” “Yea, noise? Then, I will be brief. Oh, happy dagger, this is thy sheath. There, rust, and let me die.” The audience went crazy when it was over. The phone rang. “Hello?” “Hey Stephanie.” I smiled. “Hey Robin. You can call me Steph.” “’Kay. You were great out there.” “Thanks. You were, too.” “Thank you. See you tomorrow.” “Okay, see you.” ~ ~ ~ Late! Late! Late! For the third time this week. “Late again, Steph?” Mrs. Barnett asked, as she handed me a pass. “Yeah. My alarm didn’t go off since my brother,” I said, yawning. I was too exhausted to be fired up at him. She smiled. “You’re lucky that you have good grades.” It was true. I was a straight-A student. Now, I’m an average student. “Thanks for reminding me. Here.” I gave her the first half, she gave me the other. “Adios,” I said, racing to class. Unfortunately, since I ran fast, I bumped into a person. “I’m so sorry! Are you okay?” I said, helping him up. “Yeah, I think so. Are you?” That voice sounded familiar. “Yep. But I think I know you.” I hesitated. “What’s your name?” “Brad Millers. And yours is?” “Stephanie Matthews.” “Stephanie?! Is it really you??!” he said. His logical voice disappearing. I looked up. “Oh my God! Brad?!” “I hate to break this little reunion, but you, guys, have to go to class.” “Sure, Mr. Mason.” I turned towards Brad. I’ll meet you at Lunch, I mouthed. The periods went fast in a flash, so Lunch came in, swiftly. I scanned around the room to look for his cropped wheat hair. Not by long, I saw that familiar face. I ran across the noisy lunchroom to meet him. By the time I reached him, he ran halfway across the room. When we go to his table, his classmates were whispering. But, we didn’t care. We were just glad that we were reunited. We chatted about most everything. Until Brad brang a certain question up… “Have you ever fallen in love yet?” I hesitated. Did I love Robin? No. We’re just friends. Close friends, to be specific. I just shrugged, and said, “Nah.” “Oh. Well, if you’re going to fall in love, I won’t mind. Just be careful, someone perfect is out there for you, somewhere. Anyhow, it’s probably too early to say this, but, congratulations.” “Congrats? What for?” “Early celebration for when you will fall in love.” “Thanks, but no, thanks. Reuniting with you is enough. And, pigs will fly that I’ll fall in love.” Suddenly, a shadow came near us. I looked up. “Hey Robin.” He grinned. “Hey Steph. Sup?” “I found my lost best guy friend,” I said, smiling to Brad. He smiled at him. “Pleasure making your acquaintance,” he said, offering his hand. He took it. “Pleasure meeting you.” “Mind if I join you, guys?” “Not at all,” Brad replied. “Cool,” Robin said, sitting down. “So, Brad? How long has it been since we last met?” “Hmm… almost ten years ago. We were five. You were,” he stopped himself, knowing how I despised that awful word. “Anyhow… Robin, you want to go for ice cream at Bobson’s after school?” “Sure.” “Hey Brad. Want to join us?” He shrugged. “I’m fine with that.” “Okay, so meet you, guys, after school at the front yard, so we can walk together to Bobson’s. It can’t be that far, can it?” ~ ~ ~ “See what you make us do, Steph? You make us walk on our feet, and Bobson’s is blocks away,” Brad said, part moaning, part teasing. “I was certain it was up the block anyways. Oh well, more the better. Besides, you guys haven’t been exercising. Exercise is strong for the bones, you know.” “Ha! You should talk! You seem as exhausted as us.” “Who said us? I’m not one bit exhausted. I’ve been working out, you know. Not to show off to the ladies who’ve been fawning over me.” “Hey! Watch it over there! I’ve not been fawning over you,” she said, grinning at me. I grinned back. “And Brad, I am not exhausted. You’re just complaining that I’m not exhausted, and you are,” Steph snapped. “Well, whose idea was it to walk instead of taking the bus?” “Exercise is better than riding a bus. Transportation is not better than being healthy.” “Well, transportation may not be healthy, but it certainly, won’t get us anywhere than two blocks.” “Oh, stop your whining. It’s better off to exercise than sitting on a bus which is always crowded. And the sidewalk is never crowded!” “You may have a point there, but buses can transport faster than walking on a sidewalk when the sun is so hot.” “The sun is not hot! It’s beautiful out here anyways. You can’t explore the nature while riding a vehicle. It just doesn’t seem right.” “Well, if the sun’s not hot, why are we buying ice cream?” “Fine! The sun is hot, so who cares?” “I do!” “Well, go on a bus then!” I sighed. They always like to argue, I guess… “Hey, come on, you guys. We’ve barely even got to the ice cream parlor, and you guys are fighting,” I said, trying to calm them down. “Stay out of this,” Brad snapped. “Don’t snap at him! He’s trying to calm down someone who doesn’t appreciate the nature around us. Flowers blooming. Birds singing. The sun blazing. It’s such a beautiful day. It’s not the time to argue.” “Oh my God… Are you a peace girl or a modern girl? Get with the program here! This is the year 2000; there are no peace girls around anymore.” “Oh, stop complaining. You are a very pessimistic person.” “You got that right.” “Besides, I think I see the ice cream parlor a few blocks away. So, you better thank me.” “Thank you? Thank you?! Thanking you for what? For arguing with me? For letting me walk with you? For getting ice cream?” “Fine, if you don’t want to thank me, you can just stroll your way home now by taking the ‘bus’” “Fine with me,” he said, turning. “Hey guys. Break it up. You, guys have already reunited and this is the reunion you both are having? Tough. We should just celebrate by having ice cream together.” “Fine,” Steph said. “I’m so sorry… I guess you could’ve taken the bus. It’s just that I’m used to walking to school. I love walking. It’s just… my thing. I’ll be honest. I hated cheerleading… Do you know why I hate it?” He turned back to her. He shook his head. “Because I hated doing all those flips. You had to be flexible. In seventh grade, I was flexible as rubber. Suddenly, I got a disease, and couldn’t exercise, so I gave up cheerleading. I used to love cheerleading, but then, I realized there was more to life than cheerleading, so… here, I am, love to walk. I walk everywhere. Never took a bus. Even if I’m late, I didn’t ever catch a bus.” I looked at Brad. He smiled. “I’m sorry. I never knew that. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so crabby before. It’s just the heat. I always get grouchy when the sun is hot as can be.” Then, he looked at me. “Thanks for letting us understand. Good thing you came along with us.” I smiled. “Thanks.” I looked over to Steph. She was smiling. Suddenly, she suggested that we should have a party at her house. “Sure,” Brad replied. “I’ll bring the soda.” “Okay,” I agreed. “I’ll bring the chips.” “Great. I’ll invite Daph as well.” “Did anyone say my name?” ~ ~ ~ “Daph!” I said, shocked. “Yes?” she replied. “Where did you come from?” “Bobson’s. It was blazing hot today, so I just had to get some ice cream. Long line there if I do say so myself” I looked at Bobson’s. It sure was crowded there. “Anyhow, you want to come to my house to have a party?” “Sure.” Then, she looked at Brad. Then, Rob. Finally, me. She turned to go to the grassy field. She signaled me to follow. “Please, excuse me,” I said, smiling at Brad. “Sure,” Rob and Brad chorused. They looked at each other and started bursting with laughter. I shook my head. Typical… With that, I followed Daph’s path. When I got to her, I pretended to buckle the blast. “Hi, what’s up?” I asked, forcing a smile. “Haha, very funny…” she said, sarcastically. “So, who’s the cute boy?” Cute? Err… my eyesight doesn’t contain “cute” and “boy”. “Who?” “Him.” “Him who?” She pointed to Brad. “Oh, Brad?” “Oh my God! His name is Brad?! What an adorable name! Do you—Hey!” Damn… she spotted me edging to Brad and Robin. “Sorry, it’s just that I thought you were interested in Rob?” “Rob?” “Robin.” “Oh. Well… it’s obvious that you love him, so I won’t go into you territory.” “What?! I never loved him! I don’t even have plans to love someone. I just don’t have anytime!” “Oh? Then, what’s this going to his house? Kissing? Rehearsing? And so on? Hm?” “Oh, it’s nothing. We’re just friends.” “Yeah, boyfriend and girlfriend.” “Daph!” “What? It’s true, though, isn’t it? Rumors are going around the halls about you and him, anyways. I didn’t think it was true until I saw with my own eyes.” “Rumors?!” “Yeah.” “Hey, I know…” I said. Looking over to Brad, then back to Daph, I said, “I’ll introduce you to Brad.” “Yay! You are my truest bestest friend ever!” she exclaimed, hugging me. “On one condition,” I finished. She looked at me. “Uh-oh,” she murmured wickedly. “What is that supposed to mean?” “Oh, nothing,” she said, giggling. “So what’s the ‘one condition’?” “You have to stop the rumors in the hall.” “How may I supposed to do that?!” “I don’t know, but you better or no introduction.” “Fine…” “Write on it,” I said, taking out a notepad and a pencil. “Write it, and sign it.” “You don’t trust me, do you…?” “Not at all,” I said, smiling sweetly at her. “Fine,” she said, taking the pencil and notepad from me. I smiled. “Thank you for agreeing with me.” In a few moments, I had a signed agreement in my notepad. I looked it over, just in case, it had trickery in it. I found none. “Okay, so I’ll introduce you to him. Come on.” We walked back to the sidewalk where Brad and Rob were waiting. “Hey. Waited too long?” “Nah. We were talking, as well,” Robin replied. “So, who’s the girl?” “Her name’s Daphne, Daph for short.” “Hello,” she said melodically. One of Rob’s eyebrows raised, but not for long. He looked at me, his eyes in a confused matter. I signaled to follow my lead. “I have to call someone, be right back.” I smiled to Daph, and mouthed, “Buena suerte.” Good thing that Brad couldn’t read lips, and that he didn’t know Spanish. I trailed to the grassy field where Daph and I went to talk. “Hey. I’ll go with Steph. In case, she doesn’t get hurt or in trouble.” I saw him racing towards me. “So, what’s up with Daphne?” “Let’s just say she’s crushed.” “With Brad?” I nodded. “Ah. Does she know that we’re just close friends?” “Yeah, why?” “No reason.” But I knew there was a reason. Probably he wanted to be close friends, too. Or probably something more. I shivered at the thought. The unusual thing was strange, though. That was all Rob said on the matter. He just stood there, silently. After a couple of minutes, I suggested that we should go back to Daph and Brad to see how they’re getting along. He agreed. We saw Daph and Brad making conversation, so we decided not to interrupt. We sat nearby and kind of… eavesdropped. Daph: So, you’re a junior in high school? Brad: Yeah. My birthday is January 26. Daph: Cool! I’m a junior, too. And my birthday is March 24th. Brad: Great. Daph: What sports do you play? Brad: Football, basketball, baseball, anything. Except that I don’t like watching sports, I just like doing them. You can call me the athletic type. [Shrugs] Almost like Stephanie. She said that she liked to walk. She never took a bus, she told me. Anyways… what about you? Do you play any sports? Daph: Nope, but I’m a cheerleader of a football team. Steph was the cheerleader captain of the basketball team. Brad: So I’ve heard. Daph: Yeah, she quit when she had the disease. It was awful. “Hi, guys.” I couldn’t stand it, so I interrupted the conversation. Daph looked like she was having a hard time. In other words, she was in deep water. “Oh, hey Steph. What did you do while Brad and I were talking?” “Oh, we were talking about school, our classmates, you know, normal stuff. Right, Robin?” I said, turning to Rob. “Umm… yeah.” I looked at the sky. It was pitch black. Good grief! How time passes! “Hey, guys. Look, it’s dark. Let’s go to my house as we planned. We don’t have to have a party, it could be changed to be a sleep over at my house.” “Sure.” “Okay.” “I’ll be there.” “Great. I’ll inform my ‘guardian angels’. Be right back,” I said, heading to the grassy field once more. “Hello?” “Mother?” “Hey Steph. How is my little baby?” “Oh, mom, stop it. That is so the 19th century.” “Well, I was born there, you know.” “Mother!” “Yes?” I rolled my eyes. Mothers… “Can I have a sleep over?” “Who’s coming?” “Daph, Brad, Robin, and yours truly.” “Brad?!” I sighed. “Yes, Mother…” “Can you put him on the phone?” “No. So, the sleep over is available?” “If it pleases you.” “Thanks, Mom. You’re the best! Well, gotta run. So, see you later.” “Okay.” I came towards the group again, and told them the news. They were all ecstatic. I was ecstatic along with them. I wonder how the sleep over will turn out to be. A complete disaster or a success? Chapter 5 “Where do you guys want to sleep?” I asked, pointing to Rob and Brad. “There are three choices. One, living room. Two, backyard. Three, guest room.” “Guest room,” Robin said, immediately. “Anywhere.” “Okay, the backyard is where you’re going to sleep,” I teased. Daph elbowed me. “What?” I whispered to her. “I was just playing around. If I wasn’t, then what is the sleep over for?” “I know that,” she whispered back. “I just don’t want him to be so much interested in you.” “Me?” I whispered, laughing. “You got to be kidding me. He would never want to love me, but as a friend. We’re just friends.” “Easy for you to say,” she whispered. “Hmph.” Robin looked at me, winking. “Okay. Let’s order a pizza,” suggested Daph. “Great because I’m starving,” Brad said. “Okay then. What toppings do you guys want?” “Pepperoni.” “Cheese.” “Mushrooms.” “If we can just pick one topic?” I said, stressful. “Hey, how about combo? After all, they have pepperoni, cheese, mushrooms, and more…” Rob suggested. They thought for a minute, and finally agreed. We called Pizza Hut, and in a few minutes, the pizza came. The deliverer was a girl. She was beautiful as a sun setting near the ocean. She had marigold hair, which stopped at her waist. She had mysterious violet eyes. No one had violet eyes before. She was petite and slender. She had high cheekbones. Why would she want to work at a pizza job? I wondered. “Hello. Pizza Hut at your serivce, here is your pizza. That would be $8.40, please,” she said, her voice in a soft and low tone. “Here,” I said, while giving her $10.00. “Keep the change.” I felt sorry for her, so I told her to join us. “No, thank you. I don’t want to cause any trouble. Thank you for your offer, anyways, mi—” “Hey Steph! What’s up? We’re starving here!” Brad said, walking towards me. His jaw dropped wide open that I thought it would fall off. I tried to hide my laughter, but my smile gave it away. “Would you, please, join the party? It would be a pleasure for us to have you with us, right, Steph?” “Indeed,” I said, smiling a warm smile at her. “And I promise you that having you won’t cause any trouble. After all, you look like an angel.” “Thank you. But are you sure?” Brad and I exchanged glances. “Definitely!” we replied. “Great. I’ll deliver this cash to Pizza Hut, then, I’ll come over.” “Okay.” “Thank you so much for inviting me in, miss!” Brad grinned. “Thanks for the pizza!” She bowed. “It’s my pleasure to serve.” I bet she made every girl jealous and boys thinking that they would never stand a chance with her. No wonder she worked there. I guess that was why she didn’t hang out with her friends. “Hey, guys. Pizza’s served.” “What took you so long?” Rob teased. I smiled warmly at him. “Let’s just say another member is joining.” “Please, don’t tell me the person is Teresa Landrain. After all, she’s the snobbish girl I have ever met!” “Oh, come on, Daph. She’s not as snobbish. Besides, it’s not Teresa.” “Who, then?” Rob asked, curiously. “The most beautiful lady I’ve ever seen,” Brad replied. “Uhh…?” Rob and Daph said. “We’re totally clueless. Fill us in,” Daph informed. “Sure. It is the girl who delivered the pizza.” “Cool.” The doorbell rang. “Guess that’s her. I’ll get it,” I said, racing to the door. “Hey. What’s up?” “Nothing. Oh, by the way, my name is Terra.” “Welcome, Terra. We were just talking about you!” “We?” “Come on in. I’ll introduce you,” I said, leading her to the living room. “Hey gang. This is Terra. Terra, this is Robin, Daph, and Brad,” I said pointing to each person. “And my name is Stephanie, but everyone calls me Steph.” The whole gang gaped at Terra. The phone rang. I hurried to pick it up. “Hello?” “Stephanie?” “Hello, Mrs. Dudley. I’m very sorry about the—” “No time for that! Let me speak to Robin, please!” “Sure, Mrs. Dudley,” I said. “Robin, your mother called. Pick up the phone,” I said, as I came into the living room. Daph giggled. I glared at her. She kept her mouth shut. In a few seconds, Rob rushed to the door. “Rob, where are you going?!” To my surprise, when he faced me, he had tears in his eyes. “I-I-I need to go to Memorial Hospital. Enjoy your party,” he said, forcing to smile. “I’ll go with you!” I tried to persuade him, but he didn’t want himself to spoil the party—my party. “But, you don’t have to go through everything alone. Whatever the cause is, I’ll be there for you! That’s what friends are for.” “Fine… I guess it’s better taking you than arguing.” “But,” Brad started. Daph enclosed her hand on his mouth. “You, guys, go on. We’ll be okay.” Before we left, I turned to Terra. “We’ll be back. Just have fun.” I turned to Daph and Brad. “You, guys better not do anything weird,” I whispered. They just responded, smiling their devilish smiles. “Take care, guys.” Rob and I raced outside. “What happened, Rob? Please, tell me!” “I-I’ll tell you on the bus,” he said, running to the bus. I hesitated. He looked back. “You have to ride the bus, Steph! You can’t run all the way to the hospital. It’s miles away from here!” What was more important? My love of exercise and health? Or the suffering of my friend? I boarded the bus. I felt anxious to receive the big news. “Well,” he started. “My f-father is going to d-die,” he said, trying to not show his pain, but obviously, it wasn’t working. “Oh my God! I’m so sorry for you. I’m so sorry!” “It’s okay. Everyone has his t-time to go… And it’s father’s… t-time,” he said, his head in his hands. “People who come to Memorial Hospital, your stop is here,” the bus driver called. The people who had come, got up and went out. I shook Robin. “Robin, we’re here.” He got up and ran, clutching my hand. I squeezed his hand for encouragement. “Come on. My father needs me!” ~ ~ ~ “I’m sorry, Robin. But he died.” “No! It can’t be! I won’t believe it!” “But—” I raced to the lake where he and I always played when I was younger. But now… there won’t be any memories now that he is gone. Wow, I’m pathetic… it’s been a week, and I haven’t gotten over his death, I thought, crying. “Robin!” a distant, familiar voice called. Great… I came here to get away from my friends, family, pain… “Robin!” the voice repeated, not heard far away this time. I sighed, dried my tears, which were stinging my eyes. I walked toward the noise that was being made. “Hey Robin. Here,” Steph said, giving me a box wrapped in gift wrap. “Uhh… is there a holiday I haven’t been told about?” “No, silly. I just thought that this,” indicating to the box, “might cheer you up.” “Wow, that’s really sweet of you, but—” “It’s okay.” “I’ll pay you back,” I said, opening the box. “Hey! It’s cool, but do you want to know what’s better?” “Okay, what?” “This.” I tried to kiss her, but she blocked me with her hand. “Fat chance,” she said. “But, dare to try again?” she said, smiling mischievously. “You bet!” I reeled my face close to hers. This time, she didn’t bother blocking. “Robin!” my mother called out. “Robin! Where are you?” I sighed, but Steph stood there, her eyes alight of love or so I thought. I gave her one quick kiss, and told her to wait here. I rushed inside the house to meet Mother. “Yes, Mother? I am here!” She came in. “Oh, Robin. There you are.” “Yes, Mother. Here, I am. What need do you need me for?” “Nothing, but a chat, my dear son.” “Okay, so what is the topic?” “Your father, and then, Stephanie.” The topic about my father is understandable, but why Stephanie? “Okay. You start the conversation.” “Robin… I know the loss of your father is greatly missed. We all try to get over it. Please, try to understand that whatever happens, don’t let it get to you. You have to stay strong, in order to live long and prosper. I know I had a husband. He was so great. I wish he never would’ve leaved my side. We all miss him, but we don’t show it, do we?” I shook my head. “I love him as a husband, as you loved him as a father. Everyone has a time when they have to move on. So we have to be strong, to move along. Is that okay with you?” I thought for minutes. Finally, I thought that it was time to let go. The past should be turned behind me. He gave me a lot of precious memories… That’s enough for me. I have to get over him and say farewell to him as my father. I have to keep my head up and move on… “I suppose I can try.” “Really?” she said, hugging me. I nodded. “Okay. So the other thing I wanted to say is… this will be hard for you, but I have to protect you.” I tilted my head to show her that I was confused. “Well, you… can’t love Stephanie.” “Huh, why not, Mom?” “Because… she is related to me by blood and you are related to me by blood. So… I can’t allow you to love someone who is related to me by blood, if you are the same.” “But… you can’t be related to her by blood, I saw her mother…” “Yes, Robin… She was her adoptive mother,” she said, hesitating. “I’m planning to take her back. You can love her, but not as a girl. But as a sister. Do you think you can do that?” “I’m not sure… I have to think about it.” “Robin… I know this is tough for you; it’s tough for me, too. Think what’s right for once, instead of thinking about you.” “Okay, Mother… I’ll try,” I said, standing up, stiffly. “Great,” she said, standing up, too. She, utterly, squeezed my shoulder. I collapsed into her arms. She hugged me, tightly. “I know this is hard for you, but please, try to understand…” “It’s okay. I understand, perfectly.” With that, I pulled from her grasp, and ran downstairs, and burst out the door. Stephanie waited for me, out there. In the cold… I ran up to her, she was shivering. I put an arm around her. She smiled up at me, resting her head, gingerly, on me. I swallowed hard. I don’t want to break her heart… But I have to. “Steph?” “Yes?” she asked, lifting her head. “I do not love you,” I replied, in a strong tone. “What?” she squeaked. “I’m sorry,” I said, my heart going out to her. “There’s no passion between us. Well, for me.” “But… I love you. How can you give me up so fast? I even gave up my promise to love to love you… How can you do this to me? I love you, and then, you don’t love me back.” “Steph… if I could ever change my place, I would. Believe me, I would.” “If you will, why don’t you want to accept me or love me?” “Oh, Steph…” I said, murmuring into her hair. I felt her salty tears running down her angelic face. She finally pulled away from me. “Okay, I decided. I won’t love you. I’ll give you a week to accept me or isolate me. If you isolate me, I’ll give up love forever.” “Steph… I just want you to be free. I don’t want to lead you on. I don’t want to own you. It wouldn’t be right.” “Robin… I love you. Take care of yourself,” she said, smiling. ~ ~ ~ “Robin…” I looked up to see a blur. I thought there was something wrong with my eyesight, but as I rubbed my eye, I felt something wet. I realized it was tears. When I looked up again, I stared at Brad. “What did you do to Steph?” “She has been crying her tears hysterically over you…” I didn’t mean to! Please, try to understand! My heart screamed out to tell him. Somehow, I made myself turn away. I forced myself to turn back. Once I had the courage to see Brad’s straight face, it appeared that he wasn’t there at all. It seemed like a dream, but I knew it. It wasn’t, but I wished it was… Oh, why does my path lead here? Please, let my path cross hers once more... I sighed heavily, and went home. ~ ~ ~ “C’mon, Steph. Tell me what’s the matter.” “Nothing, Daph. Now, leave me alone.” “Come on, Steph. I’m your best friend, right?” “Yeah.” “So, you’re supposed to tell me stuff…” “I am?” “Yes!” “Alright… you see… a long time ago… in a galaxy far, far away…” “Wha-?!” “Forget it. I’m not in the mood. Go ask Robin…” With that, I dashed away. I heard Daphne say “Hey!” that’s all. Nothing more. She didn’t run after me, thank goodness. Once I got home, I didn’t even bother to rush into the arms of my loving, understanding mother. Instead, I went straight to my room. Bolting the door, I sank, helplessly, on the floor, my head in my hands, crying. That broke up with Robin left a broken heart in me. How can I live without him? After what seemed like an eternity, my mother called to me. She said, “Sweetie, Daphne’s here to see you.” I yelled for her to go away. I heard footsteps nearing my door. The doorknob above me rattled. Why can’t I ever get some peace around wherever I go? I’m just asking for peace… Is that too much to ask?? “Steph…” I cried noisily, hoping she’d take the hint and leave me alone. There was silence, but I still sensed her on the other side. “I’m here to help you…” she tried again. “Why won’t you let me into your room and in your heart? Why can’t you let me be there for you?” Like, how would you heal a broken heart…? I heard her finally sigh. I guess I’m being stubborn again… I sighed, too, and opened the door, slowly. At once, arms enfolded me. I struggled, helplessly, giggling. “Daph, cut it out,” I said, grinning. “Great, you’re smiling again.” “Thanks for being there for me.” “Hey. What are best friends for?” I smiled, warmly, at her. After a minute of smiling, I invited her in. She flopped on my bed, lazily, like she did whenever I invited her over. I smiled again. She hasn’t changed one bit. I’m glad for her. But… Robin and I have changed… A tear ran down my cheek. I brushed it away, quickly, so Daph didn’t see. Luckily, she didn’t. When she was settled in, she said, “So… can you tell me what happened between you and Robin?” She chose her words, carefully. I knew. I knew it would be time to open up to someone. I heaved a big sigh, as if I was going to face a big test I haven’t studied for. “Fine. But, it’s a long story.” “I have all the time in the world.” “Good, because you need ears to hear.” “What you think I don’t have ears?” “No, no. You do.” “I see,” she said, not seeming convinced. “Well… it’s like this…” ~ ~ ~ “Wow… that’s… harsh.” “Yep…” “I’m so sorry for you, Stephanie! Please, understand that I’m sorry for you!” I said, squeezing the life out of her. She wiggled to get free. “Daph, get off. You idiot,” she said, giggling, as wiggling to get free. After a short moment of hugging, I decided to stop squeezing her before she dies on me. “Sorry,” I said. Then, we burst into fits of giggles. Once we’ve calmed ourselves, Daph said, “Steph… you can’t let those things stop you. You have to keep on going, no matter what happens.” “But… Daph, how can I live without him?” “Steph… believe me, you’ll survive.” At once, Daph’s cell phone rang. “Hello?” “Daph.” “Robin?!” At the sound of his name, Steph reached out for the phone. I tried to dodge her, but Steph, swiftly, grabbed the phone from me. I should’ve known. She’d do anything to get back her true love. Stubborn little thing, I thought. But I don’t blame her. I’d be stubborn too, if an experience like this happened to me. “Robin!” I wish I could hear… “Yes, Robin, I’m fine. How are you? Yeah. Yeah. No. No, I will not go back. No, I’m sorry. No. Yes. Good-Bye. Okay. Bye.” She hung up, and gave the phone back to me. She sighed. I wish I could help her. But, there’s nothing for me to do. Unless… A slow grin appeared on my face. “Hey, Steph.” She tilted her head to look at me, with those sad eyes of hers. Though, she would be smiling again later. “If you’re yearning so much to meet him, why can’t you just see him?” She suddenly looked at me, surprised. “Why, I can’t see him, Daph. You know that.” “Umm… no, actually, I don’t. Why can’t you see him?” “Because if I see him, I’ll want to kiss him. And if I kiss him, he’ll reject me even more. I can’t let that happen. ” “Can’t you just hold your inner feelings for a moment?” “I can’t…” “Well, can’t you just give it a try?” I said, pleading her. One eyebrow cocked up. “Why does this mean so much to you?” Because I want you guys to get back together! “Because I can’t stand you throwing your life away just because one break up. So, why don’t you talk things out with Robin? You can probably get back with him, if you have a miracle.” “I guess. Besides, it’s worth a shot, huh?” I nodded, eagerly. “Can I go with you?” “What?” She looked at me horrified. “Of course not. No way.” “Why not?” “Because it’s between me and Robin.” “Aww… it isn’t fair.” “Yeah, I know. Life can be unfair, at times. Sorry,” she said, smiling a brilliant smile. I know that smile. It’s the smile of mischief. I grinned. “Go get him, tiger!” “Thank you for keeping my spirits high, when I needed it, Daph. You’re the best friend a girl could ever want,” she said, hugging me. “No more mushy stuff around here, go to the ball, Cinderella. No time to waste!” “You’re right! Bye!” Before she left, I yelled behind her. “If anything worse happens, come to my house! I’ll comfort you, as I always try to!” She smiled at me, and left. ~ ~ ~ Someone knocked on the door. More like pounded… “Robin!” Immediately, I sprang to the door. “Steph,” I breathed, when I saw her once again. “I thought I wouldn’t see you ever again…” “Rob, the week isn’t over. There’s three more days to choose. Just be sure to choose from the heart.” “Of course, it isn’t.” I reeled in to get a kiss. Instead, she backed away. “No, Rob.” I sighed. Get a grip, man! You’re supposed to get rid of her not love her all over again! No one’s here, though, the nasty side of my mind thought. That doesn’t mean I should invite her in! It isn’t right! “Can I… go in?” “No, sorry. My mother will be here in about one minute. You should go. Bye,” I said, slamming the door in her face. I locked it. I held the pain in my heart inside. It wouldn’t do me any good to scream out, helplessly. Won’t do me any good at all… It will just make it worse. The doorbell rang. Stop. Go away, Steph. I don’t want to hurt your feelings again! The doorbell kept ringing. Non-stopping… Finally, I gave in, and decided to let her in. I opened the door slowly. “Okay, fine, I’ll let—” It wasn’t Stephanie at all. It was, actually, Mother. “Of course, you’ll let me in… I live in this house, and I’m your mother.” “Sorry, Mother. I thought you were someone else.” An eyebrow rose. “Stephanie?” I gaped at her. “How do you know?” “Who else would you open a door to? But, I’m not worried. She just came as a sisterly visit, right?” “Not exactly, Mother…” She was drinking a glass of water. She spat it out. Eww… I’m not going to clean that up. “What do you mean?” she demanded. “She looked… bothered. Like, she wanted me to hold her in my arms.” She did seem bothered… “Though, I turned her away.” She sighed. “I know, this is hard for you, Robin. But, she’s your sister. You can’t love her. I’m sorry, son,” she said. The next moment I knew, she had her arms around me, and I felt something moist in my eyes. I rubbed on it. It was a tear. I couldn’t take it anymore… “Mother…” “Yes?” “I’m sorry, but… I can’t do this anymore. It isn’t fair to Stephanie.” “Son, life isn’t fa—” “Yes, I know, life isn’t fair, Mother. But, I can’t take this anymore. Stephanie is my love and will always be my love. No matter what you say or do, our love will overcome it all.” She slapped me. I looked at her in horror. “Don’t you dare, raise your voice at me, young man. As long as you live under this roof, you will follow my rules.” “Then, I’ll be on my way,” I said, opening the door. To my utter surprise, there was Stephanie! She was crying. “No, Robin. No. You can’t. Not because of me. I know I love you, but we can’t. I’m sorry…” she said, running away from me. “Stephanie!” I started after her. Before I took off, a firm hand gripped me. “No. It’s not your place.” “But…” “No,” she said, firmly. I drew my hand back. “I don’t care what you say. I love her more than life itself. I won’t let her get hurt. No matter what. Good-bye…” With that, I raced after her path. Where could she go? Where would she go…? Brad? No. Who? Who? Daphne? Yes! But, where is her house…? ~ ~ ~ I raced to Daphne’s house. Once I got there, I pounded on the door, tears streaming down my face. The door opened. “Stephanie? Is that you?” I tried to smile, but I couldn’t, so I nodded. “Come in, come in. I wouldn’t want my best friend crying in the rain,” she said, trying to make me laugh. It didn’t work. She took my hint, and kept quiet. She made tea. “Here. This will make you better.” I drank some. I spat it out, coughing. “What is this stuff?” I said, still coughing. “Hm? Is it too strong? Oh, sorry. Maybe, it’s too strong. Usually, you know, I’m used to it, so, I forget that it’s strong. Sorry,” she said, meaningfully. “Are you alright?” “About the tea stuff? Yeah. Robin? No.” After a moment, she grabbed the courage. “Stephanie, I can’t watch you fall like this. This is like a bullet going through my heart. Your feelings are attached to me. Please, tell me what happened.” I just shook my head. I didn’t want her to know… She’d totally kill him or never talk to him again. I can’t do that to Robin… Just because one break-up, I shouldn’t get so upset. Even though, I loved him with all my— No, what am I thinking…? This is absurd… Though, I knew I shouldn’t have fallen in love! It’s just what my father told me… the night he died… “Stephanie…” “Yes, daddy?” “I have to tell you something…” “What?” “You… have to promise you would never fall in love.” “Of course, daddy! I won’t ever fall in love, dad. Why would you think that? Boys are icky…” “Well, I’m a boy, do you hate me?” “Of course not! Besides, you’re a man. And why would you think I would ever fall in love?” He just looked away. I shook my head. Memories like that break my heart… The doorbell rang. Daphne went to open the door. I was too hurt to look who was at the door. Suddenly, I heard Daphne cry out, “Robin!” I turned around, making sure I wasn’t imagining this. Though, I saw that it was Robin! What is he doing here…? “What are you doing here?” I asked him. He walked over and sat in front of me. “To see you.” “But, how do you know this was Daphne’s house?” I demanded. “Brad,” he said, grinning towards a blushing Daphne. “Well, why would you want to see me? I got nothing of yours that I borrowed. And, we’re just friends.” “Or are we…?” “No, Robin. We’re just friends.” “Hm? But, I thought there was a connection between us.” Tears ran down my left cheek. “No, Robin. There’s no connection between us… We’re friends. Just… friends.” “But…” “No buts, Robin. It isn’t right. We’re… siblings…” I said, looking away. I heard Daphne gasp, but I didn’t care. Nothing would bring me to life now. I felt his hand on mine. “Please, look at me, Steph.” I couldn’t. Warm hands cupped me, and my heart resolved. I was lost in his loving, cute brown eyes. One moment, I turned back from Robin. The next, I was in his arms, crying. “Stephanie…” “Yes?” I asked, brushing away a tear flowing down. “Would you marry me? Of course, not now. After we finish college, would you marry me?” My eyes widened. “Robin… we can’t.” “Why not?” “Robin… we’re siblings. We can’t. We’re related in blood. Don’t you understand?” “But… you, yourself, know you can’t live without me…” “I know, darling,” I said, touching his cheek. “But, we can’t.” “Why not?” he demanded again. I sighed. This would take a while… “Daphne, what do you think we should do? Should she marry me after we graduate from college and get our diplomas? Or should she live in misery for the rest of her life without having a chance like this ever again?” I looked over at Daphne. “I think… she should marry you after you guys graduate from college and get your diplomas.” “But—” “Now, Steph, don’t be stubborn. I’ve been watching you lately, Steph. You’ve been down in the dumps, really. And, I’m worried for you. So, be grateful and accept his offer. I can’t just let you throw a chance like this down the drain. So, what’s it going to be? Are you going to marry him or not?” I trembled with love. Was I eager to follow the rules to not accept a chance that would never appear again? This is my moment to capture it… “I w-will…” “You will?” he said, standing up. “Yes, I will!” I exclaimed, finally regaining his love. “Yay!” he said. His hands on my waist and then, easily, lifting me up and twirling me around—like my dad… I laughed. “Put me down!” I said, crying out in between mid-laughter. Once he dropped me upon the ground again, giggles exploding from my mouth—once dissolved from his kiss. Feeling like it was an eternity, the kiss ended. I glanced at my watch. “Oh my god! It’s the time already?! Oh, I got to get home! See you at school on Monday, Daphne. Bye, Robin,” I said, winking at him. “See ya later,” Daphne and Robin said, waving. I raced home, my stomach growling. Ugh… I’m starving. I haven’t even eaten lunch… Come to think of it, I haven’t eaten breakfast! A block away from home, I crossed a street. Suddenly, something caught my eye. A van was coming towards this way. The unusual thing was that there were two drunk men—it looks like they are drunk—and a boy trying to grab the wheel from one of them. Why would a boy… Unless… that van is not stopping! It’s going to come right to me! And. I won’t be able to get out of the way on time! Next moment I knew, my world went black… When I woke up, I arrived at a hospital. I looked around. Doctors around me everywhere. “Huh? Where am I? Who are you? Are you my mother?” “No, dear,” a voice said, coming towards me. “I am a nurse. Doctor Puiern,” she said, nodding to a doctor, “said that you had a case of amnesia.” “A-A-Amnesa?” “No, amnesia. It’s memory loss.” “Memory lose?” “Loss.” “Loss,” I repeated. Then, I clapped, gleefully, thinking this was a game and I won. She looked at me with a strange expression on her face. “You may go,” she said, opening the door. I walked out the door. I sat on a wooden chair, confused at the situation I am in. Just then, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around, swiftly, to discover it was a boy. “Hello, mister,” I said, politely. “Mister? Don’t you know me, Steph?” “Steph?” “Yes, Steph. Isn’t that your name?” “I don’t know…” “Well… yes, Steph is your name. Stephanie is your full name.” “I don’t understand…” “You see, Stephanie is your full name, but friends—like me—call you Steph. Get it?” “Oh, yes, I get it. But, what’s your name?” “Brad. Umm… don’t you know me?” “Know you? Of course not! I have never seen you in my whole life.” He looked taken back. “No way… okay, drop the joke. I’m not laughing.” “Joke? I don’t know any joke.” “Okay, stop playing stupid…” “Umm…?” “By the way, why are you here?” the strange boy asked. “I don’t know. Why are you here?” “My grandfather… you know… he smokes, and the lungs… oh, you know what I mean…” “No, I don’t,” I said, pausing. “What do you mean?” “Okay… I’ll take you home, then…” “Where is home?” “God, Steph. Stop trying to be stupid, we both know you aren’t, so just… stop!” “But…” “No buts. Come on, let’s go.” ~ ~ ~ “Oh my god! What on earth happened to her?!” her mother cried. “I don’t know… It was like she didn’t know me, her house address, her name…” She looked at me, horrified. “Don’t tell me she caught amnesia!” “Amnesia?” I said. “What’s that?” “It’s a loss of memory.” “Oh… so, she wasn’t joking. And, to think, she was… I even yelled at her… She never lied, but why do I feel like I can’t trust her…?” “Trust her…? My boy, you have a lot to learn…” “I do?” “Yes, you do. Why don’t you spend more time with her and then, you’ll see if you can trust her. C’mon, give it a shot.” Her mother is weird as she is, just like I remembered. I grinned. They haven’t changed a bit… “Okay, fine. But, if it doesn’t work out, I’m calling it quits.” “You got it.” Sometimes, when I talk to Ms. Matthews, she acts pretty cool. Nowadays, you don’t find mothers pretty cool. Just bossy and annoying… They only give orders… Believe me, I know… I have a strict mother. Work is the best thing we have in life, she quotes. ~ ~ ~ “Hey Steph.” “Oh, Hello, Brad,” she said, looking up from a book she was reading. “How are you today?” “Great, and yourself? And, am I disturbing you here?” “Nah, not at all. Besides, that book was boring me a little. And, I’m doing fine. Did you want to come here to chat?” “Yes, and no…” “Huh?” she said, with a confused expression on her face. “You see… remember I told you I’m your friend?” “Err… yes, why?” “Well, before I didn’t know you that well since we just known each other from third grade and went different paths when we reached fifth grade. So… want to spend some time together?” “Umm… are you, like, asking me out?” “No, no! Not in that way…” I said, feeling my face redden. She giggled, and I quickly, said, “Well, I’ll take that as a no.” As I was about to leave, she grabbed my hand. “Nah, I’ll go with you, Brad. You seem like a nice guy to go out with. Where should we go?” “Umm… I’ll decide on Monday, ‘kay?” “’Kay!” she yelled while I headed my way home. Chapter 6 “Hi, mom,” I said, grabbing an apple from the counter (I hate breakfast). “Bye, mom,” I said, running out the door, leaving it open for my said-to-be brother, Ken. I spotted Brad at the front lawn of the school. “Hi, Brad!” I said. “Waited for me?” I teased. “Nah, I was waiting for the president,” he teased back. “C’mon, let’s go inside,” he said, putting an arm around me. “We have history first period. Your best subject.” I glanced at him for a moment. “It is?” “Yes.” “I thought my best subject was math.” “Err… I guess your memory is getting worse. Anyhow… no, that’s your worst subject.” “I see…” A strange sound screeched in the air. I covered my ears, blocking out the sound. “What is that sound?” I screamed in my ear. I think I made him deaf, since he was rubbing his ear. I giggled at the thought. When the loud, screeching sound passed, I let down my hands. After a moment, I regained my sense of sound. So has Brad. “Sorry,” I said, still giggling. “What are you laughing at?” “Oh, nothing. And, what was that sound?” “That was the bell,” he yelled in my ear. “Oww…” I said, wincing. “So mean…,” I said, slapping him, playfully on the shoulder. “But, I guess we’re even now.” “Yep. We are,” he replied, grinning. A hand clapped onto my shoulder. I moved away, thinking that it was on there, by accident. Though, when I moved away, the hand was on my shoulder still. Then another hand was on my other shoulder. I was confused. I looked back. There was a brown-haired boy, grinning. And, boy, was he cute! I looked at him with dreamy eyes. He backed away, caution, removing his hands. “Uhh… I know you love me, Steph. But, you don’t have to overreact.” “Wait…” I said, dropping the dreamy eyes look. “Do I know you, in particular?” “Umm… Steph. It’s me, Robin,” he said, shaking me, trying to get it into me. “No clue, sorry. But, you can be my friend,” I said, offering my hand. He didn’t even notice it. “I’m already your friend, Stephanie… What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you remember me?” Then, he noticed Brad. “Oh, I see… Ditching me after yesterday to go run into the arms of Miller there,” he said, indicating Brad. After his “speech,” he raced off. I followed his figure with my eyes ‘till he went around a corner. “What a jerk,” I muttered. “You love him?” Brad said, startled. “I don’t even know him, how do I know?” “Actually… you do know him. You guys are, umm… probably, best friends, I’d say. Heh, he was right. Sorry, Steph.” ~ ~ ~ Instead of her “usual attitude,” she didn’t get mad. She just cried… “Why can’t I do anything right? Why can’t I remember a single thing?!” she said, aloud, thinking. I wanted to wrap her in my arms, but I couldn’t… She loves another guy. Not me. I was hoping she’d love me. But, I acted as if I never knew. I know I can’t replace Robin. Even, if I want to. Though, I’d give anything to be in Robin’s shoes… Look at me… I’m being selfish. I can’t just be spoiled. There’s more to life than that… Besides, I should be thankful that I’m her friend, at least. It’s better than being a stranger. See, what she did to him? Thinking that he was a stranger. “You, two.” We looked up, startled to see another visitor. “Hello, sir,” Steph said, wiping her tears on her sleeve. “Is anything wrong?” “I suppose so, young lady. Hm? Crying?” he said, observing her tear-stained face. Then, he faced me. “Did you do anything to hurt this young girl, boy?” he said. Great… my life gets better and better… "No, sir,” she said, sniffing and smiling at me for a moment. “Then, why are you crying?” “No reason, sir. Just crying tears of joy,” she said. I looked at her, alarmed. She never told a lie in her whole entire life. Accepting the punishment, she just told the truth. Even though, most of the replies were a slap across the face or “Truth hurts! Don’t you know that?!” But, she just stood her ground, calmly. She always said, “Truth is better to be known. I’m not afraid to tell you the truth. You should learn that as well. I did.” I faced the man, seeing if he’d take it. It seemed like a lie to me, but since I knew she was lying, of course, I knew it was a lie. He just said, “Well, okay. As long as this man,” he said, glaring at me. “Didn’t hurt you, I guess, its okay. Run along now. You guys have class,” he said, glancing at his watch. “Okay, thank you,” Steph said, nodding thanks. I followed the routine, and trotted up to her. “Hey, why did you lie to him?” “Don’t I do that all the time?” “No.” “What?” “No, you never lied. At least, when I knew you, you didn’t. But, I doubt that lying was a habit, and is still going on.” “Gosh, thank you for looking after me, Mother…” she said, sarcastically. “But, really, don’t worry about me. I can take care of myself.” “Of course, you can,” I said, smiling. Even if I knew I couldn’t, I asked her out, still. She said yes. I was so happy that I… kissed her. She blushed furiously. “Err… I got to go to class. See you at Lunch, Brad,” she said, racing off. “See you…” I said. A pang of guilt came into my heart. The classes were so boring that I fell asleep. The teacher kept slapping me on the head to keep me awake. At the end of the class, she said that she’d pour water on me next class I sleep. That was no joke. She did pour water on my head next class I slept. I arrived at Lunch all wet. A figure shadowed me. “Hi, Brad!” a girl screamed in my ear, jumping on me. “Stop, Steph! You’ll get wet, too!” “Yep. That’s why I tackled you,” she said, with a mischievous smile. “How are ya?” “Wet.” “Ah, that’s obvious. So, how was your day?” “Wet.” “Anything else besides wet?” I shook my head. “Well, let’s grab a place on line,” she said, pointing to the line. My eyes widened at how long it was. “Great… my life gets really better and better…!” “Yeah, it’s fascinating, ain’t it?” she said, overhearing. “Fantastic…” I muttered. “Oh, it’s okay, grouch. At least, you have me to hang out with. Consider yourself lucky,” she said. “I guess…” “That’s the spirit!” A hand grabbed me and Steph. “Hey Brad. Sup, Steph?” a girl with marigold hair down to her waist. “Hey Terra,” I replied. I’ve always had a crush on Terra. But, I was out of her league, for sure. Steph, on the other hand… she’s easy to talk to. And, there’s no love without friendship. “Hello, Terra,” Steph copied. “And, nothing much, thanks. Yourself?” “Not bad. What happened to Robin? He looked annoyed when he walked into the classroom. And, he never seemed annoyed at anything once in a while. It was strange behavior. Speaking of Robin, here he comes,” she said, pointing to him. Stephanie turned around. Robin was indeed coming. “Excuse me for a moment,” she muttered, walking away. “Steph!” Robin’s voice called after her. She didn’t even turn around. Robin caught with me and Terra. “Hey Terra. What’s up?” “Nothing. What’s wrong with you and Steph?” “Oh, she’s just cheating.” “Cheating?” “Yes, cheating. With this person, here,” he said, pointing to me. Rude enough? “Maybe it’s a misunderstanding. Why don’t you try and reason with her? Be right back. I’ll go find Daphne, if she knows about this. As far as I know, I never saw Steph doing anything like this, suspicious.” I eyed Robin, once Terra was gone. He was looking at me, too. “What are you looking at?” I averted my eyes. “Nothing.” I didn’t want to cause a riot with him. “Do you know what you’ve done wrong?” “No, not really.” “What?” he said, grabbing my shirt and getting a fist ready. “Hey, off the shirt, I just got it cleaned.” “What’s the point when it’s wet?” He had a point there… “Well, I don’t know. And, I got another reason, anyways. You have no right to put your hand on my shirt.” “I do, if I want to,” he said, bringing the first close-up in my face. I got ready, squeezing my eyes shut. Instead of getting punched, I heard voices. I opened one eye, slowly. There was Stephanie and Robin arguing. Stephanie: What are you doing?! Robin: What am I doing? What are you doing? Stephanie: What is that supposed to mean…? Robin: Didn’t we say that we loved each other on Saturday? Stephanie: I don’t have a single idea what you’re talking about. So, leave me and Brad alone. Now, get away from me. Robin: But… Stephanie: I don’t want to see your face anymore. If you threaten Brad ever again, I’ll start telling the principal, so watch it. With that, she pushed me to the door. She winked at me. When I looked back, Robin was still looking at Stephanie, gaping. His hands clenching and unclenching. A friendship ends as soon as it began. And, I made my first enemy here… ~ ~ ~ The date was incredible. We went to this amazing café called “The Passion”. Music for teens, like, “Pieces of Me”, “Leave (Get Out)”, “Breakaway”, “A Moment like This”, “Burn”, “In Da Club”, and so forth. It was a café meant for teens, I guess. It was also, run by teens. “This is romantic,” my “date” cooed. “Yeah, this is my friend’s favorite café. No wonder she likes it a lot. It’s magnificent.” “Mmhmm,” she said, agreeing. We sat down on a cushion. It felt so warm with a fireplace since it was winter. She rested her head on my shoulder, filling her lungs with the flowery atmosphere (there were flower petals everywhere, fresh from spring). We ordered two cappuccinos. We discovered that we had a lot in common. She was excellent in naming books, and their storylines. I’ve known most of the books she’d named. She reads all kinds, famous ones, romance ones, historical ones, biographic ones. I have to admit, even though, I’m good-looking, I’m a nerd. A bookworm, actually. She wants to be a poet when she grew up. For me, journalist. She said whenever she reads a poem, she understands what it means. She loved this poem that a friend made her called “Lost Love”. She promised me she’d recite it later. Well, for me, I’d like to be a journalist since journalist writes and takes notes of everything around us. I always loved doing Current Events, and I love historical journals, as Anne Frank’s Diary. She describes her inner feelings to the book, like it was her best friend. I’d like to be famous, sometime, and discover a diary of someone important as her. Well, anyways, she decided to recite it now. She was embarrassed since she was going to say it on the stage. Too bad I couldn’t comfort her on the stage (one person on the stage at a time). She took a deep breath. “This poem that I’m going to recite is my friend’s poem, it is called… Lost Love. I hope you like it. And, if you want to give thanks to my friend, who is… in the hospital, and say your ‘get wells,’ put your names and memos down there,” she said, pointing to the paper and pencil. She took another breath, and began…: Lost Love I’m lost! I’m lost! Can you hear me call? These tears are now beginning to fall, All is lost, I have nothing to live for, When I knock you don’t open the door, Life and love all has past, This breath I take feels like my last, How can I start all over again, When I feel I have reached the end, I’m alone in the rain and I’m getting cold, I wish I had your hand to hold, I have visions of you being there, But when I blink all I see is air, I’m thinking about the cheerful days, I start to get in a gaze, You said you’d be there till the end, But now you’re not even my friend… There was applause. Some people nearby had tears in their eyes, feeling the emotion. I, personally, was on the verge of crying tears, and didn’t even bother to stop them from flowing. “Thank You, but I can’t have the credit. So, if you please…” she said, pointing to the piece of paper and pencil. All at once, everyone here (even the employees and me), went up to form a huge line. I wrote down “Great poem, loved by many, keep going. Get well soon, we’ll be praying for you! Never give up on your dreams. You’ll never know if they’ll come true.” I flashed a smile at Steph. She gave me a thumbs-up and mouthed that she’d be down there as soon as the line signed it. “Thank You, everyone. I’d make sure she’d get the best of her life with your blessings and inspirations. Thank you, again,” she said, curtsying to everyone. Some smiled in reply. Others nodded. Polite gentleman and ladies bowed/curtsied back. Once we left the café, we were in a fantastic mood, despite the part at school with Robin. I shuddered at the thought of him almost punching me. Thanks to Steph, I was saved, I thought, smiling down at her. She smiled back at me, and snuggled against me, when I put my arm around her. After a walk in the park, we sat on a bench. We didn’t say anything yet. Just sat there, silently. Finally, I decided to speak. “I hope your friend gets better.” “Thanks,” she replied, meaningfully. “Stephanie…” “Yes?” she said, tilting her head to face me. I didn’t know how we ended up kissing, but it was like little fireworks exploding inside me. Hot desire ran down my head to my toes. Electrical. Shocking. After a minute, we ended it. “Want me to walk you home?” “Sure,” she said, grinning. Then, she laughed. I looked at her, like she was a hyena. “Uhh… you okay?” “Yes, thank you for asking,” she said, regaining herself. “So, what’s so funny?” “Don’t move.” “Okay.” She kissed me again. This time longer. My hands on her waist, her hands in my hair, running through it. Kisses were romantic. Hugs can be okay. Kisses are the next level. It’s cool how people can change the level of hugs to kisses, if they want to go to the next level. It was a shock since this was my third kiss spent with her. And, we’ve been going out today. When we ended, I thought suddenly. What about Robin…? He had her first. Oh, well, the nasty thought said. I won’t give her up without a fight. I’m in love, I realized. Then, she touched my lip with her finger. I shivered from the touch. Then, she finally removed her finger, grinning. “See, lipstick. I had lipstick on, and I put some on your lips.” She started off giggled. That started me off. Then, we were laughing. Laughing till we got to her house. “Bye, I had a wonderful time with you today.” “Same, see ya tomorrow.” We hugged this time, and I watched her go inside. Then, I headed my way home, looking back. She gazed at me at her window. I grinned at her, and ran home. ~ ~ ~ “Hey Brad! Guess what!” “What?” I said, exhausted. (I wasn’t able to go to sleep yesterday because of the kisses. I mean, it’s normal. People go crazy after their first kisses, but I had three in one day, so I’d go beyond crazy…) “I got two poems. Want to hear it?” “Sure,” I said, brightening, suddenly. “’Kay. I haven’t figured names for them, so, I’ve decided to not give names to them. Is that okay?” “Sure.” “Okay.” She took a deep breath like she did yesterday on stage. First Poem: A kiss is just a kiss ..till you find the one you love.. A hug is just a hug ..till it’s the one you’re thinking of.. A dream is just a dream ..till you make it come true.. Love is just a word ..till its proven by you.. Second Poem: Sweet Sensation down My Spine Thinking about you all the time It’s unbelievable but so true I can’t help but be in love with you “So true and beautiful,” I committed. “I think you’d be a great poet, if you keep up those inspirational beautiful words into sentences of love and all that. Is that what you’re going to be? A love poet? A poet who creates poems of love?” She smiled. “Yes.” “Very nice. Beautiful. Inspirational. Magnificent. Fabulous. Fantastic…” She laughed. “I get your point, Brad.” I grinned. “Thanks for stopping me. I could’ve went on and on.” “No prob.” ~ ~ ~ A hand tapped on my left shoulder. I looked on my right. “Hey! That isn’t fair!” I looked oddly at the girl. Terra? No. This girl doesn’t have marigold hair. “What’s not fair?” “You’re supposed to look at the left side when someone taps you on the left.” “Then, why were you on the right?” “Trying to trick you, Steph. Duh. We did this in 3rd grade, and everyone knows this trick. And, I wanted to try it on you. Anyhow… what’s up?” she asked. ~ ~ ~ She, suddenly, noticed me. “Oh, hi, Brad.” Why isn’t anyone noticing me here? It’s not like I’m invisible… Well, not just anyone just notices me. Steph notices me, I thought, smiling at her. She smiled at me back. “Uhh… what’s wrong with you, two? Are you guys a couple?” Before I could reply no, Steph blurted everything out. “Yes, we are. And, who are you? Do I know you? Why? We can’t be a couple? Is that strange?” “Yes, and I’m Daphne, your best friend. And yes, you can’t be a couple. And, yes, it’s very strange.” “What parts are strange?” “Oh, you’re playing a trick on me this time! You’re still the same!” she said, hugging Steph. Steph tried to remove Daph off her. Finally, she got Daph off her. “No, I’m not playing a trick. I, seriously, don’t know you. And, why can’t we be a couple? Freedom of the country. That’s what we were taught. So, we’re free. Independent. We can do whatever we please. And, I say, we’re going out.” “Well, you can’t. You have to cut this connection. You’re in love with Robin!” “Robin… he’s a jerk,” I said, shaking my head. She looked at me with widened eyes and open mouth. “What do you mean a jerk?” she demanded. “He’s not a jerk. He’s your love. Your one and only true love,” she said, grabbing my hand. “I’ll prove it to you. C’mon, I’ll show you,” pulling her into a classroom. Daph glared at me. It was scary. Her eyes said to stay away from her. But, as I promised yesterday, I won’t give Steph up without a fight. I heard Robin’s voice. I stiffened, but I stayed strong and brave. I opened the door. There was Robin. He was shaking her, trying to make her understand. She was yelling at him to let go. I rammed in his stomach, he yelled in pain. She ran from Robin to me. She stood behind me, scared. I won’t give her up… Robin finally regained his strength. He threw a punch and hit me hard in my face. I fell, helplessly, on the tile floor. Robin sat on me and starting punching me, one blow after another. Just then, I heard a girl screaming. “Stephanie…” I said, weakly. Then, everything went black. Chapter 7 “Stephanie!” “Get away from me, you jerk! I hate you! You killed him! I’ll never forgive you! I hate you! Go to Hell!” I bellowed, not caring if anyone heard. My anger was only focused on him. Tears of sorrow and anger stung my eyes. I wept them away. “Stephanie,” he said, gripping my hand. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know—” “Of course, you didn’t,” I hissed. I drew my hand back. “I hate you, go away… I can take care of myself. Just get away!” “Please, listen. I think I can make you happy again!” he said, reaching for my hand again. I dodged his attempts to grab my hand once more. “Why? Are you leaving?” “No, but, please, try to understand…” “All I understand is that you hate him. And, that’s why you killed him? Hatred mixed with killing can make a dangerous weapon. That’s why I’m staying away from you. So, get away from me. Before, I report this to the principal that you won’t leave me alone. Plus, I can tell him, you killed a boy in our school. And, if you don’t get the Hell out of my life starting tomorrow, I’ll tell him everything. That will get you expelled or maybe better, prison,” I threatened. “Now, get the Hell out of my face…” “Make me…” “Watch me, then,” I said, walking back to the school. “No!” he said, gripping my hand, firmly. “I don’t care what you say. It won’t bring him back, that’s all I know.” “I know it won’t bring him back, but—” “I warned you before. You didn’t heed my warning, now pay the consequence,” I said, glaring at him with such rage welled up in me. “But—” “Just get out of my face and my life forever, and I’ll leave you completely alone…” He still held my hand. After a moment, he released it, and went across a street, around a corner, and disappeared. Once he disappeared, I fell on the stone cement ground, crying. I hate him! I hate him so much! I wish Robin would die! Let Hell eat him alive! I cried for hours. Then, decided to head home. I crossed the street, not looking out for cars. Why should I? I’d be happier if life ended right now. What was the point in living when your happiness has gone to Heaven? I fell on the ground, weakly, after a couple of blocks. Somehow, I ended up in my room. It is lonely without Brad… I decided to turn the radio on. Britney Spear’s voice blasted out the speaker. Oops… too much volume, I thought, while turning the volume low. “From the bottom of my broken heart…” “Oh, not today,” I moaned, turning off the radio. Though, I knew the song. Lyrics, rhythm, everything about the song. From the Bottom of My Broken Heart… Britney Spears. From the bottom of my broken heart There’s just a thing or two I’d like you to know You were my first love, You were my true love From the first kisses to the very last rose From the bottom of my broken heart Even though time may find me somebody new You were my real love, I never knew love ‘Til there was you From the bottom of my broken heart… It’s perfect for my condition… Then, I started crying over again… “And, I thought I finished crying hours ago,” I muttered, wiping the tears away. After a few minutes, I realized that I wouldn’t stop crying. I have a broken heart… I knew I had to spend some time alone. I unlocked the door, slowly. Looking around, I crept out of the room, down the stairs, and out the door, silently, not wanting Ken and Mother to know where I was going. I ran across the street, downcast. He was perfect… where’d everything go wrong…? While thinking, I didn’t notice a truck coming towards me. Next moment I knew, my world went black. I woke up with a start. “What?” I said, rubbing my head. Then, memories flew back to me. Once it was concealed into my brain, I yelled. “Oh my God! Robin KILLED Brad?!” Then, I realized that it was mostly Brad’s fault. If he wasn’t so in love with me… Robin wouldn’t have killed him… Though, I never thought Robin would turn out to be a KILLER! I didn’t know what to do… Should I call Daphne? No. She could be mad at me about before. But, I wasn’t really myself then… Robin? No… That’s a definite no to marriage, too. I’m not marrying a killer. Who knows? Probably, I’ll be the next victim on his to kill list… Mom? Possibly. Ken? Maybe. I ran back home, trying to get there as fast as possible. I found a note posted on the backdoor when I got there (I didn’t want to make an entrance like I did before). I’m going to the casino, dear. (There’s not that much money for all of us.) Please, stay home till I get back. Ask your brother for anything if you want. He’ll be the servant for the nights. I’m going to the casino every night to try my luck. See you till then! I grinned at the note. She’s just trying to find an excuse to get out of the house. Probably has a date. My grin weakened when I mentioned “date”. It reminded me of Brad… It was so uncomforting to think about Brad. Even if he is dead, his memory will always be with me. After a few minutes, I went inside. “Hey Steph. How’s it going?” “Hi Ken. What’s up?” “Nothing much. You?” “Miserable…” “What do you mean?” “Remember Brad and Robin? The tension between them?” “Ooh… sounds interesting,” he said, pulling a chair next to me. “What about them?” he asked. “Forget it,” I mumbled, going upstairs. “But—” “Drop it, Kenneth Matthews…” After a few minutes, there was a knock on the door. I groaned. “What do you want, Ken?” “You’re really Steph, aren’t you?” “Yeah, why?” “You seem different…” “Maybe because of my stupid, miserable mood…? Ever thought of it that way…?” I don’t want to start with him now… “Well, can we talk?” “Sure, why not…?” I said, dragging myself off my bed to unlock the door. “Hey kiddo,” he said. “Oh, stop calling me that, Ken. That’s so the 70’s…” Ken sighed. “I can’t keep up with you…” “Neither can I,” I joked. “I thought you were in a horrible mood.” “I am.” “So… what happened?” “I had amnesia, didn’t I?” “How did you—” he started, worried. Then, he smiled. “Mother?” I shook my head. “Okay, who are you and what have you done to Stephanie?” “Very funny, Ken…” I said, rolling my eyes. “Hey, I can’t try and joke around, can’t I?” “You can joke around all you want, but not here,” I said, glaring at him. “Okay, I get it. Horrible mood. Horrible. Very horrible…” “Yep.” “Okay, what happened at school?” “Fine… I’ll tell you! But, promise not to tell Mother?” “I’m a Christian, Stephanie,” he said, hurling a pillow at her. “I can promise. But, not to Lord’s name.” “Fine, just promise that you won’t.” “’Kay, I won’t. I won’t.” I examined him very closely… “Really…,” he said. “Can’t you trust me?” he replied to what I was about to say, looking innocently at me. “That won’t work, Ken. You’ve tried that in 4th and 5th grade. I’m used to it. And, even if I know you know what I’m going to say, the answer is no.” “Very amazing to hear…” he muttered. “Well… Brad loved me.” “That’s not surprising.” “And, we were going out and he kissed me…” “Whoa…” “And, then, the next day, we were being friends and stuff. Then, Daph came—” “What’s so amazing about Daph coming?” “You’ll find out. Anyways… then, Daph came. And, she found out that we were a couple. And, she was faithful to Robin, and—” “Then, what happened?” I elbowed him. “Haven’t Mother ever told you not to interrupt?” He chuckled. “Lots, but I can’t be patient as long as you can’t.” “Anyways… there was a riot between Robin and Brad. Thank goodness, no one was crowding to watch since the riot was in the classroom. Then… Robin killed him…” “WHAT?!” “Not too loud…” I whispered. You promised… “But…! You have to tell someone!!” “But… I love him a little… Not as much passion like before, but…” “But, you have to confront him,” he finished in his own opinion. “No giving in. Tell him before I tell someone. Like, Mother!” “Ken! You promised that you wouldn’t tell anyone!” I exclaimed. If he tells someone, consequences can occur. Robin will hate me for life and I don’t want my first love to be angry. After all, he did what I told. “I had my fingers crossed. You can’t know for sure if it’s this important…” “No…” I moaned. It’s all over… Unless… “I guess I’ll have to give in… There’s nothing I can do now. I surrender. I give up. You can tell Robin’s parents…” He looked at me, suspiciously. Then, he put on a clear expression. “I think I will. See you later, Steph. Glad to hear that you finished the amnesia. I was getting worried, there,” he said, putting on a coat and bolted out the door. I reached out to the phone, and dialed Robin’s cell phone number. “Hello?” “Robin!” Hung up. I phoned his cell phone number again. “Err… hello?” “Robin, I’m—” Hung up again… This time, I phoned his house. “Hello?” “Mrs. Dudley?” “Oh, hello, Stephanie.” “Hello, Mrs. Dudley. How’s it going?” “Not bad, and yourself?” “Horrible.” “Hm? How come?” “Well—” The doorbell rang. “Oh, wait a minute, hon. I’ll pass the phone to Robin.” “’kay.” “Steph… stop phoning me. You said yourself that you didn’t want to talk to me or see my face ever again. You didn’t want anything to do with me. You don’t have to give to say sorry. I’ve give in,” he said, his voice cold. “But… you seem desperate…” his voice warmed. “What’s up?” I quickly told him what happened. “What?! You told me you wouldn’t say anything to anyone!” “I know! But, I needed a person to rely to. To know what to do!” “But, you…” “Rob! Get over here NOW!” his mother yelled in the background. “Thanks to you, my life is done for…” he said, hanging up. I clicked off the phone, and ran outside. I had to get there. Before… who knows what would happen…? I ran on full speed. My legs ached with pain once I got there. I rang the doorbell, panting heavily. The door opened. “Stephanie, what are—” Ken said. “Get out of the way. You broke our promise,” I said, glaring at him. “I’ll never trust you again…” I said, running past him. A sound of a slap was coming from upstairs. I ran up the stairs with my last bit of strength. I collapsed onto the floor where Mrs. Dudley and Robin were fighting. They didn’t look at me. Mrs. Dudley didn’t since she was too busy with her son and too irate. Robin since he didn’t dare to stare at me, afraid to look away, meeting his mother’s eyes squarely. “How can you do that?!” yelled Mrs. Dudley, slapping him this time harder. Robin, who was shivering with fear, was taking the slap, not complaining. It’s the right thing. Complaining would only make it worse… One after another, she slapped him harder than the last. After a few slaps, Robin collapsed on the floor, breathing harshly. He’ll die… I can’t let him die… I know I’ve been helpless when I didn’t help Brad. But… I won’t be helpless again! “No, stop!” I yelled, grabbing Mrs. Dudley’s hand that was going to launch another attack at her son. She withdrew her hand, and slapped me. I was furious that she slapped me, but I didn’t have much power to hit her back since I used all my power on running. I just kept accepting the slaps, one after another. Finally, I was weak. Weaker than I’d ever imagined. Thinking that everything would be over, I was lifted up. But, I didn’t have the strength to even think about what was happening. “Robin, get back here this instant!” I heard Mrs. Dudley’s voice scream. Then, I understood the situation. Robin probably is carrying me since I can’t walk anymore for now. He’s still the gentleman I know, I thought, smiling. There was a cold breeze brushing on my face. I shivered from the cold. I was covered with a fleece jacket; I snuggled next to Robin, loving his warmth. After what seemed like an eternity, I was set down upon a soft, silky bed, or so it felt like it. I blinked out the world, its pain, everything. I rest my head on the pillow, and fell asleep. I woke up with a start. I blinked my eyes clearing my eyesight from a blur. I looked around me. This place wasn’t my room, where was this place? It certainly wasn’t Daph’s… Little snores filled the air, interrupting the peace. I looked next to me. Oh! To my surprise, there slept Robin. Poor boy, he must’ve been exhausted from yesterday. I kissed him on the forehead, he woke up, suddenly. He smiled at me. “’Morning.” “Good morning,” I said, shining my sunny smile. “Uhh… whose place is this?” “Brad’s… You know, I’m sorry about him. I never meant to… cause so much trouble. I never meant for that to happen. Believe me, I don’t.” “I believe you,” I said, giving him a warm smile. After a few minutes, he whispered. “Will you marry me?” I stared at him with horror and desire, not knowing what to do. I told him I would a long time ago. So long ago. But, ever after the experience of him killing Brad… I don’t know what to say anymore. Don’t know what to believe no more… “I’ll think about it. I need some time to think about it.” “Okay, I won’t push you into it. Just, remember, I’ll always keep my pledge of marriage to you. I will not cheat on you… Like… you did to me…” he said, his pride, obviously, hurt. “Robin… I wasn’t myself,” I said, tickling his palm. “I had amnesia. Amnesia made me lose my memories. I didn’t know what happened. I didn’t know what place Brad was… I thought it was okay to go out with him since it seemed we were just friends. I vow I would’ve never dated him, if, I knew it would turn this way,” I said, feeling tears flow. “It’s okay. I know how you feel… He was the one who told me where to find you… I feel very guilty. Please, trust me. I really do. If I could take anything back, I’d take that moment of me killing him. I mean, I never meant to do anything close to that. I just lost control of myself. I was just so angry…” “Thank you for understanding, Robin…” I said, smiling. “No problem, Steph. That’s what I’m here for. Understanding, trust, believing you can do it, supporting you… I could go on…” “Please, don’t,” I said, giggling. Suddenly, I felt guilty, as well. I treated him like dirt the past days when I had amnesia. “Sorry about all the trouble I cost you. I must be a tough girlfriend. If you want to break up…” “Where’d you get that idea?” “Well, I thought…” “Nothing can keep us away from each other, Steph. Nothing,” he said, smiling. I didn’t feel so guilty anymore. In fact… it was eerie, but… I don’t know how I got angry at him, but all I know for now is that he’s right. Nothing can keep us away from each other. “Oh, I got poems! Wait a moment! Do you have a piece of paper?” He reached in his pocket and gave me a piece of paper and pen. He read while I wrote. Third Poem: Life is for living, I live mine just for you Love is for giving, I give mine to you Dreams are for dreaming, I dream of you Hearts are for beating, mine beats for you Fourth Poem: Laugh when nothing’s funny.. Dance when there’s no music.. Sing like you’ve never sung before.. Love till it hurts.. Cry when you’re sad.. Smile when you’re happy.. but live each day like it’s your last Song From Lose Yourself (Eminem): If you had one shot or one Opportunity…to seize Everything you ever wanted. In one moment… would you Capture it or just let it Slip…? Fifth Poem: You’re the reason I live And the reason I die You’re the reason I smile Yet break down and cry You’re the reason I keep going And the reason I fall Because without you in my life I’m nothing at all Sixth Poem: Not all scars show Not all wounds heal Sometimes you can’t always see The pain someone feels “There,” I said, proud of myself. “Six poems so far. I’m making a lot of progress,” I said, staring at Robin, who finished reading it just now. “Very nice. I bet, you’ll be the greatest poet in poem history.” “Nah. More poets would win. They write their language fancy. I’d just be a love poet. Writing poems of love,” I said, smiling at him. “But, thanks for raising my spirits higher to my goal. You’re always there when I need you. Thank you,” I said, sincerely. “No prob. Though, I like the fifth poem. It’s romantic.” “Thanks.” Hot heat flooded through me again. Gosh… whenever I’m alone with Robin, I feel all nervous and all… We, then, closed in for a kiss. Just then, there was a knock on the door. We separated from each other, suddenly. Damn… perfect timing… “Yes?” Robin said. The door opened, slowly. “How’s she doing?” The person was Brad’s mother, Mrs. Miller. She was wearing a kind of silky fabric. She seemed like a teenage Indian (not meaning that in a bad way). She had silky, beautiful, black hair that flowed down her back stopping at her waist. No, actually… she looks like those Arabian Dancers. She was wearing fluffy, kind of, shirt and pants, both blue to match her hair scrunchie. She looked fabulous. “Fine, thank you,” I replied. “Nice to make your acquaintance, finally,” I said, hopping off the bed to meet her. “Yours too. Aren’t you a friend of Brad’s?” “Yes, Mrs. Millers. I was his friend from kindergarten till third grade, miss.” “Cool,” she said, smiling. “Aren’t you sweet… I bet you’re hungry.” “You won the bet,” I said, smiling warmly. “Well, come downstairs then. Breakfast is ready.” “Sure, in a moment!” I called downstairs. “Come on, Rob. I’m starving. Aren’t you?” I said, grabbing his hand, and, started running downstairs. Though, I felt a tug. I looked back. He signaled for me to sit next to him. I walked back, slowly. Taking step by step, cautiously, like I was preparing to get ambushed. When I got next to him, he told me to sit down. Then, silently, he shut the door. He showered a mischievous smile at me. With the same swift movement that he used when shutting the door, he crept forward. At last, our lips met. It was long ago when I last kissed him. It felt so good to kiss him like before. Wait… this is Robin, we’re talking about… Horrified, I backed away. He looked at me, puzzled. “Robin… I can’t… We shouldn’t…” “What does it matter?” he said, embracing me. I stepped back again. He sighed. “You’re right. Sorry. I just get obsessed sometimes. It’s crazy. I have a crazy body. Sometimes, my brain has a mind of its own,” he said, grinning. Before, I was about to protest that he didn’t have a crazy body, a voice called. “Breakfast is ready! Aren’t you guys starving? Come on! We don’t have all day…” Brad’s mother, I thought, grinning. Then, another voice seemed to be talking to Mrs. Millers. “But, yes, you do, Mother. You have the whole day off. And, we have guests, act polite, for once. Instead of being wild and crazy.” Then, he muttered, loudly. Probably wanted us to hear. “Like she does everyday…” “Oh, fine. But, just this once,” Mrs. Millers said. She was wagging her finger at her son when we got down there. She brightened when we appeared. “Hello children. How are you this morning? Do you want breakfast?” I tried to answer. But, apparently, my stomach did the talking for me. “Thought so,” she said, grinning. “This way,” she said, dancing her way to the kitchen. “Oh, Mother… what’d I say? Act normal, for once…” the boy on my left groaned, as I sat down, with Robin sitting on my right. “It’s okay. Really. I think it’s amazing that you have a mother for a dancer. Besides, she dances beautifully.” Then, I blushed. “She dances better than me. I don’t know how to dance at all.” “Really?” the boy asked, looking at me. Then, he gaped at the sight of me. Here we go again with the beauty… “But, you danced perfectly on the dance floor when we were doing the play,” Robin said. “Oh, I know the waltz, it’s easy. But, the hip-hop dancing and the 21st century ones, forget it…” “Sounds reasonable… You never danced at the prom, in matter of fact.” “Yep,” I said, avoiding the boy’s eyes. Finally, I sighed. “Should I give you an autographed picture of me?” I joked, turning my attention to the boy. He nodded in delight. “I’ll get one for you tomorrow,” I said, looking at him up and down. He looked about… sixteen. He has clear, sapphire eyes. He had the same cropped wheat hair as Brad. Tears welled up in my eyes, as I thought of him. I dabbed them away with the napkin, nearby. Oh, I wish you were here, Brad… However, in matter of fact, he looked kind of cute… I blushed, slightly and looked away. What am I doing…? I’m in love with Robin. Robin only now. If he dies or something tragic happens to him that will cause him to die early than of old age, I will abandon love… Forever. I mean it now. If I try to fall in love again, I’ll suicide myself… I got no choice. I have to… Love hurts; I can’t afford to have my heart broken again. “Want?” Robin said, nudging me with his elbow. I cleared back to the present scene of life. I looked at Robin. He was holding a bowl of fresh bacon and sausages. Delish. “Yes, thank you,” I said, taking the bowl from him. I poured my fill onto the plate set before me. “Here,” I said, passing the bowl to the boy. “Oh, and I’m sorry, but what’s your name? It’s rude to not know a member of Brad’s family’s name.” “My name’s Bret. Nice to meet you, mademoiselle,” he said, taking my hand and kissing it, gently. I blushed again. Why do I keep on blushing… when it’s not needed? Same thing goes for crying… When he let go of my hand, I withdrew my hand, slowly, “Nice name. My name’s Stephanie. Stephanie Matthews. And, nice to meet you, too,” I said, smiling. “Thank you,” he said, digging in. My stomach growled again. He grinned at me. I grinned back, instead of blushing this time (thankfully!). Remembering to say prayer, I finished praying, thanking Him for everything he’s done for me, my family (even though, a lot of tragics occurred), especially dying on the cross for us. After all that praying, I dug in. Since Bret said to act polite and all, I decided to just try to eat like royalties do. Though, it took some time to eat my fill. I wasn’t used to eating like royalty. I envied Robin, who gobbled down it all. I don’t want to act like a pig, but when you got to eat, you got to eat… After the delicious meal, I carried my plate to the sink, thanked Mrs. Millers for the wonderful meal, and smiled at her. She smiled back. Before I went back to the table, Mrs. Millers pulled me to a corner. “I can teach you some dancing moves. But, not here. How about this Saturday?” she whispered. “Really?” I whispered back, excitingly. “Yes. It wouldn’t be right for a young lady like you to not know some dances. Besides, there are not much waltz’s dances. Though, the waltz is my son’s favorite. You and Bret looks like the perfect couple. Well, Robin is a nice young lad, too, so I shouldn’t be complaining,” she said. He is? Oh, I think I know what’s happening. Robin didn’t tell Mrs. Millers that he killed her son, because… a) She wouldn’t provide shelter if she knew. b) She would murder him in return since she was “wild and crazy” <- Keywords. Though, this would result to child abuse -> Jail for her. I wouldn’t want two tragics to happen in one day. c) If she won’t kill him, she would call my house or his house that he was at her house. I shivered from the thought, that she would probably kill him. That would be scary… Being attacked by an adult. “Oh, dear. See. I can get carried away and blab on like this. Better stop, before you get bored. Though, you look bored now. Are you okay, dear?” “Yes, Mrs. Millers,” I said, smiling and nodding. Though, I had to agree. She was a motor mouth, but it was better than having a fire-breathing dragon as a mother, I thought, picturing her mother as a dragon. I stifled a giggle, remembering where I was. It would be completely rude if Mrs. Millers thought I was giggling at her. I wouldn’t even want to be laughed at. Praised would be a lot nicer. “Good, now run along, dear,” she said. “Thank you again, Mrs. Millers. And, that bacon and sausages were delish. Keep up the good cooking.” “Thanks,” she called out of the kitchen as I dashed back to the table. “What was that about?” Robin asked, eating the last bit of bacon. “Oh, mind your own business,” I teased, pinching him, lightly, “But, it’s a ‘girl’s thing’ called conversation!” He grinned. “Obviously,” he said, trying to kiss me. I saw that Bret was looking with the corner of my eye. I wanted to stop the kiss because… a) Grease. His lips are of grease. b) His hands, which were going to wrap me, were greasy. c) Bret was spying. I can’t tell him that I was unavailable. You may never know if someone was Mr. Right. But, didn’t you say that Robin was your only love right now? And, you said if anything tragic happened to him, you’d suicide yourself, the nasty, reasonable thought replied. I leaned backwards, bumping into Bret. “Oops… sorry,” I said, smiling up at him. He smiled back. “No prob.” But, Robin’s lips were moving forward. I leaned backwards more. His lips kept moving. “Err… Robin?” He opened his eyes. “Yeah?” “Personal space?” I asked, shooing him off my chair. “Sorry. Though, what’s wrong?” I mouthed to him, to look whose watching. He looked around. I sighed. Sometimes, he could be dumbfounded when he’s lovesick as in now. I averted my eyes to Bret, then, quickly, glanced back to Robin’s. He raised an eyebrow as in to say so. I couldn’t believe he did so not understand. He wasn’t this dumbfounded when he was lovesick. I blushed to show what I meant. Suddenly, (I didn’t know he was going to do this, but…) he dragged me to the bathroom. I looked back, before I vanished through the room. Bret had an eyebrow raised high. Once we were in the bathroom, he shut the door, locking it. “Are you saying you like him now?” “Well…” “Don’t you have any idea why polite boys are like that?” he shouted. I could’ve gone deaf right now, right then. “Do I?” I asked myself, loudly. “Don’t act stupid when you want to!” I was startled. He never spoke those words to me or that tone before. It was like… someone has replaced Robin with someone I never met before. “Pardon me?” I said. “Like I said, don’t act stupid when you want to… Unless, you don’t have ears, you want me to speak in sign language?” he snapped. “What’s wrong with you…?” My startled expression was replaced by the expression of disappointment. “And, I thought, I knew you…” I muttered. “What’d you say?” “Nothing…” “You better answer me,” he said, grabbing my chin in firm hands. I wiggled to get free, but his grasp was undeniably strong. No wonder Brad didn’t stand a chance against him… After a few moments, he dropped me on the ground, like dirt. He was about to step on me, but… miraculously, there was a knock on the door. “This is the Bathroom Police,” said Bret. “And, it has come to our attention that you, guys, have the loudest voice ever recorded in our house. We’re going to have to ask you to tone it down or else you’ll be dumped out on the street.” I burst out laughing. Bret seems like a real laugh. I should spend some time with him. Then, I remembered what kind of situation I was in. I looked up. Robin wasn’t laughing, not even a smile appeared on his face. “What are you laughing about…?” he shouted, obviously, wasn’t listening to what Bret said. I stiffened. He never… talked to me like this. What’s wrong with him…? Was he on drugs or something? “That’s it,” Bret called from outside. “This is your last warning. If you don’t tone it down, you’ll be on the street before you knew it…” he grilled, obviously, at Robin. “Shut up, already, Robin. Grow up…” I said, standing up and brushing myself off. Then, I headed for the door. “Ouch!” I yelped. Pain searing through my hair down my back to my toes. “Let go!” I said, trying to tug my hair free from Robin’s grasp. Though, I couldn’t get it free. “Let go, Robin! Why are you acting like this?!” I shouted. I tugged with all my might. Didn’t budge. Not even an inch. “Let go!” I said, feeling his grasp on my hair tighten. I felt tears roll down my cheeks. “Get off!” Utterly, he let go of my hair, which let me off balance. I fell on the cold floor, crying softly. “What are you crying for?!” I didn’t reply. The door, suddenly, broke open. I stared up in amazement. “Bret!” I cried. Crying in his shirt, I hugged him. “Thank You…” I said, sincerely. “There, there, Stephanie. It’s okay,” he said, gently patting my back, hugging me back. After my tears were dry, I lifted my head. “Pardon me, Stephanie. I have some business to take care of with this lad,” he said, pushing me, gently, out of the room. He walked a few steps into the room, cracking his knuckles. I closed my eyes till the fighting was all over. When I opened my eyes once more, I saw Robin on the ground with a black eye, bloody lip, cut cheek, and a broken nose. I didn’t even feel sorry for him, for once. I looked at charming Bret. He just had a few injuries around the arms and he had knuckles that oozed with blood. “Oh, are you okay?” I said. “I’m fine…” Robin replied, thinking I was talking to him. “Hmph… I wasn’t talking to you. I don’t talk to jerks and losers. And, you fit in the category of ‘both’. Our relationship is over. Bye…” I said, rushing towards Bret. “Are you okay?” I said, kissing his cheek. “Thank you for saving me,” I said. He grinned. “Your welcome. And, I am okay, thanks. Just need a few bandages,” he said, staring at his bloody knuckles. Then, he stared back at me. His sparkling eyes alight with love. Love that I felt, too, for him. “And, how about you?” he asked, interrupting the romantic vision. Apparently, it was my imagination. His eyes weren’t alight with love. At least, not anymore. “Well, it depends.” He looked at me, puzzled. “How so?” he asked, curious. “Since Brad…” Someone grabbed my leg. “Oww!” I screamed, looking at who grabbed my leg. Robin… “Stop it, Robin. Who in their right mind gave you the right to grab me?” I hissed. Not waiting for him to answer, I said, “And, I don’t care if you get in trouble or not. I hate you. And, no, I don’t have amnesia anymore.” Stepping on his hand with my other foot, he winced in pain. Eventually, he released his grasp on my leg. Then, I looked back at Bret, as if, the event didn’t happen. Though, when I turned back to Bret, he looked startled. “You had amnesia?” he asked, surprised. I nodded. “Well, mind if I ask what happened after you tell me your condition?” he said, looking concerned and interested. “Sure,” I said, smiling. “But, let’s go to another room. There are some people who are listening,” I said, glaring at Robin, for example. He chuckled. “Fine, let’s go to my room. It’s the only room available for now. Since, dad works in the office on the right. Mom is outside at the garden. The other rooms are audible, so dad might hear. And, if I’m not correct, this is a private talk, no?” he said, in what it seemed like was an English accent. I giggled. “Darling… yes, it is. How on earth did you know?” I said, in my best English accent. “Well… darling, I supposed that it was urgent. For, you didn’t want other people, nearby, listening,” he replied, grinning. “Shall we?” he said, speaking in his normal voice now, and offering his arm. I linked my arm around his. “We shall,” I replied. Ignoring Robin’s mumbles, we walked as if, we were attending a ball. It was fun. He was also a great laugh. Fun to be with. When we entered Bret’s room, I continued, crouching by the wall. Looking at my uncomfortable position, Bret insisted that I sit on the bed, while he sat on the chair, nearby. After a lot of arguing, I gave in. I wasn’t one who could hold a grudge that long. I flopped on the bed, and then, continued the story. He put his arm around me when I had difficulty saying some parts. When I had difficulty, he’d often say, “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. I’m fine with it. Honest.” I believed him, but I shook my head. I needed someone to rely on. And, I knew he wasn’t one of the people, like my traitor brother, Kenneth… Though, I shouldn’t have gone to help Robin. But, if I haven’t gone to help Robin, I wouldn’t have met Bret, so… everything’s tough. When I finished, he went cold. “He did that…?” I nodded, fearing he might tell his parents. “As much as I want to tell the police, I can’t. It’s your decision,” he said, still cold, but, inside he had a warm side. I looked at him, surprised. No one let me make the decision. They’d just either a) Kill Robin. b) Tell the police on the murderer. “Well… I don’t know. What do you think you would do in this case?” “Life is tough. Life is cold. We don’t have anything to live for. Others think power is the only thing that matters. Love is invisible to those who think it is. Love is visible to those who believe in it. Do you agree?” he said, looking at me. “Yes.” It’s weird. He’s been thinking all the things I’ve been thinking! Is he a mind reader? “But, in this case… I’m not sure, myself… However, my only opinion is that you stay away from him as possible.” I nodded. “No chance that I won’t…” I said. He laughed. I stared at him, strangely. “Sorry,” he said, calming down a few seconds later. “You’re just so cute when you’re angry or annoyed, for that matter.” He called me cute! That means he likes me! He really does! This time, I didn’t even bother ignoring my feelings, and my secrets. Especially, my thoughts. Because, I’d have to admit it. I’m in love once again. “Thank you. No one is as forward as you.” I wondered if he had a girlfriend… Of course he does! No one would abandon his good looks for nothing! The nasty thought was at it again… Then, as if reading my mind, he replied to my thoughts. “No, I don’t have a girlfriend,” he said, grinning. “Why? You think I love people on first sight?” he asked, leaning forward. I didn’t bother to move away, like I did with Robin. Though, it was strange… How could he read my mind? Is he really a mind reader? It’s fascinating to get to know a mind reader. “Yep. And, how do you read my mind?” I demanded. “You really want to know?” I nodded, eagerly. “Come here,” he requested. I walked over. I sat on the chair next to his. “You love me, don’t you?” he whispered. I blushed furiously. Then, I nodded. “Want a kissing session?” he said, winking. I thought he was playing around, so I just shrugged. Next moment I knew, his mouth was on mine. My heart resolved. His hands went around the back of my head, pushing my head towards him more. The kiss grew deeper. Finally, we came up for air. He grinned. “How was that?” As in to answer to the question, I started the kiss this time. I put my arms around his shoulder. My hands in his hair, twirling it within my slender fingers. He put his own hands on my back, this time. While my hands in his hair, I pushed him to move forward, as in commanding more. We came up for air, once more, both of us grinning this time. “Yes, I love you. Do you love me?” He gave me a sorry look. “No… I’m sorry. But, consider yourself lucky. We can still be friends, can’t we?” “Don’t worry, I do. And, yes, I’d like to be friends,” I said. Even though, I knew friends don’t kiss this much, I moved in for another kiss. I couldn’t stop myself. Then, I realized that I was feeling lovesick, and couldn’t stop. “Was this what you were talking to Robin about?” he asked, between kisses. He seemed to accept my kisses. “Uh-huh,” I said, caring if Robin was in this or not. I just cared for Bret. Bret, and Bret only. And, I’m positive that it is true love this time. Too bad he doesn’t love me, I thought, sadly. “So, you were saving these kisses for me only?” he said, astonished and awed with emotion. I nodded, wishing he’d do more kissing than talking for now. Reading my mind once more, Bret continued to cover me in soft kisses, straying from my neck to my collar bone. He reached to unbutton my shirt. Horrified now, realizing what was happening, I pushed him away, grabbing my shirt, which was halfway unbuttoned. “Bret, please! I never meant for this to go this far! Please, if I gave you more signs than kissing, let me know,” I cried out. “Sometimes, I get out of control. I get lovesick. But… not this lovesick!” My hands trembled, can’t buttoning it normally. Bret shook his head, and did the work for me. Once that was done, he stared at my eyes. “Sorry… I’m not used to people saying no to that stuff.” My eyes widened. He had sex already? You mean he isn’t a virgin, like me? He started laughing at my expression. “I’m twenty one, if you didn’t know. Finished college. Graduated, actually.” I shook my head, not believing it. He didn’t look twenty one. Sure, he looked sixteen or so, but twenty one? Got to be kidding me… “I got proof,” he countered. “Honest.” “Really? Show it to me,” I said, extending my hand. “’Kay. I’ll be a moment,” he said, going to the closet. I stared at his figure. Should I have stopped him? I could’ve touched him in places I never touched a boy. No, I thought, shaking my head. Besides, I have to be careful that I’m not going in a trap. No matter how realistic he is. I mean, I thought Robin was the ‘one’. Robin was just a big jerk that I thought it would work between us. So, I might be landing in a trap. He came out of the closet with a piece of paper. He gave it to my extended hand. I retrieved it, and read. It said: DIPLOMA THIS IS TO CERTIFY THAT Bret Millers HAS SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETELY THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM IN A COLLEGE AND HAS MERITED GRADUATION JUNE 2000 There were signatures at the bottom. I tried to make out the names. When I couldn’t, Brad laughed. I blushed. I handed it back to him. He really is twenty one, I thought, astonished. Though, he didn’t look twenty one. “I don’t understand… how are you twenty one? You look…” I hesitated. “Sixteen?” he finished. I nodded, afraid I hurt his feelings. “Sorry…” I started. “I get those a lot, so I’m not hurt. Though, the first one I thought made me feel young. So… yeah. Besides, men shouldn’t reveal their tricks. Huh?” he said, flashing his pearly whites. I smiled back, interested. “So… what college did you go to?” “Harvard.” I stared at him, wide-eyed. “Y-You went to H-H-Harvard?” I stuttered. “Y-Yes,” he said, joining in, grinning. “W-Why is it so a-a-amazing?” I made a face. “Stop that,” I said, gently pushing him. “It’s amazing because I’m attending that college next year.” “Cool.” “Anyhow… what are you aiming for now?” “France,” he said, smiling. “That’s why I was practicing being polite. Though, the kissing was the twenty first century, as in now.” “Except the kiss on the hand,” I acknowledged. “And, France! That’s the most romantic place ever. I always wanted to go to France. But, I’m short on money…” I said, sighing. “It’s hard to give up a dream,” he said, shaking his head, sadly. “When’s your birthday?” “Oh, that reminds me! It’s tomorrow!” He looked startled. I grinned. I was the one who astonished him now. “You’re kidding me!” “Nuh-uh! I have a birth certificate! And, it’s tomorrow! Tomorrow is December 21st! And, it’s my birthday tomorrow!” “Who are you going to invite?” he said, finally believing me after an argument. Now, when my birthday is the topic, I can hold a grudge. “Well… it would be rude not to invite the b—oops… man I love, won’t it?” I said, entwining my arms around his shoulders. “Yeah,” he said, smiling at me, landing his own arms on my waist. “But, who else will be coming besides me? There has to be some more people, or the party will be plain boring.” “Well… Daphne Reynolds, my best friend in the whole world. Misty, Danielle, Ashley, Hope, Faith, Christine, Angel, Terra…” “Ah. Girls. And, I’m assuming I’m the only guy there?” “Not exactly,” I said, grinning. “Besides, you won’t ditch me to go out with one of my friends, would you?” I asked, showing him a sad look. “Not in the world, but since we’re not actually going out, probably. But, I don’t love you for now. So, we’ll see in the future,” he said, kissing me gently. His kisses told me the sweetest things. He never told a lie to me, so I trusted him with all my heart (even though, we’ve met a half an hour ago). “So, there’s hope,” I said, finally parting. “Well… as I said, you’re not the only guy there. And, even if you ditch me, they all have boyfriends, so don’t you think about it. Except Daphne… she…” I hesitated, my face shadowed. Bret started to reach out to me, but I continued. “She fell in love with Brad… Brad never knew it… And, now he’s dead!” I said, crouching down, slowly, crying. He reached out for me. He folded me in his arms. “It’s alright…” he kept on saying, like it was some kind of chant he just created. I wept on his shirt. “Hey! You’re getting my shirt wet!” I laughed, looking up at him. He smiled, brushing away a tear. “There. That’s better. Better than being sad.” I stopped laughing. “Thank you, Bret! You’re all I need right now!” I said, hugging him. He hugged me back. “You’re, sincerely, welcome,” he said, pulling me away and kissing me on the forehead. I felt like a child since my mother used to do that when I went to bed. “Stephanie!” Mrs. Millers called. “Yes?” I called back. “You have to go home! It’s getting late!” “Can’t I stay here to sleep? I don’t feel ready to go home yet!” “You’re gladly welcome. But, where can we put you?” she said, finally coming in. “Aww… my son and Stephanie are together,” she said. “Stephanie and Bret sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love… Then, comes marriage…,” she said, teasing. We gave in different reactions. I, myself, blushed. Bret tossed something to his mother. “Oh, get real, mom. We discussed this before. To not embarrass people, as this young mademoiselle.” “I am real. This is my real side. ‘Wild and Crazy,’ remember? And, when did we discuss this? We just discussed it yesterday.” “Well, if we knew any friends, they wouldn’t want to come over. Because, a ‘CERTAIN SOMEONE!’” “Well… is it my fault?” “Yes! And, it’s your fault that you scare most of them away! Especially, those cookie sellers. I never even got to taste a chocolate chip cookie!” “You’re kidding…” I said, surprised that he never ate a chocolate chip cookie. “Yeah, I’m kidding. I have tasted a chocolate chip cookie, but I don’t want her to know,” he said, whispering in a low voice that only I can hear. Ignoring Bret’s reply, Mrs. Miller turned to me. “So, would you like to climb in the bed with Bret?” she said, grinning. Bret made a face. “Or, would you prefer to lie down on the sofa in the living room?” “Sofa would be fine,” I said, laughing at Bret’s expression. “Are you sure? Because, you can use my son as a blanket.” I blushed. “Mother…” Bret growled. “May I talk to you in private…?” “No, you may not,” she said, staring at Bret for a moment, and then, turning back to me. “So, are you sure?” “Yes, I am,” I managed to say. “Really?” I nodded. “Sure?” “Yeah…” I said, getting a little annoyed now. “Positive?” “Mother… stop it! Just because we like each other, doesn’t give you the right to tease us.” “Fine… I’m going, since you, guys need your ‘privacy’…” she mumbled, closing the door. I smiled, gratefully at Bret. He just shrugged. “Hey, what can I say? When she teases, no one can stop her sometimes.” ~ ~ ~ “’Morning, ‘Birthday Girl,’” a voice called behind me. I looked over my shoulder. Sure enough, it was Bret. “G’ morning, sleepy head,” I said, grinning. “Hey! I don’t wake up early on weekends!” I just grinned. “Well, breakfast is ready,” Mrs. Millers called. “And, your coffee is on the table.” “Thanks,” he called back. “Thankfully, she’s not hyper in the morning. She says that she hates eating sugar in the morning,” he whispered. I giggled. “What’s that giggling?” Mrs. Millers asked, staring at me with laughing eyes. “Nothing,” I said, finally, catching my breath. “Well, if it isn’t birthday girl?” I blushed. “Why do I always get that when I have birthdays?” “Hmm… I have no present for now. So, I should get one today,” Bret said, between eating his scrambled eggs. “Hmm… eat your breakfast first,” I said, smiling towards Bret. He made a face. I started all over again. “My, are you giggly today…” Bret observed. “Is it my fault you keep on making me laugh?” I demanded after a few giggles. “Yes.” “Is that how you usually talk to the birthday girls?” “Yes,” he repeated. “Did you have any other girlfriends?” I said, sensing Mrs. Millers tiptoeing out, but I didn’t care. She might want ‘us’ to spend some time alone. “Yes,” he said, sounding like a broken record that gives every answer to a yes. “How many did you have? Where did you meet them? At what age did you have any? What age were they? How did they look? What were their personalities? What were their names and what happened to them? When was your first kiss?” I challenged, wanting him to talk. “Hey! I have to answer one question by one!” he complained. I waited, tapping my foot which indicated that I’m impatient. He sighed, eating a piece of bacon. “Your wish is my command,” he finally answered. “But, just for today, so don’t get used to it.” I grinned. I’m such a spoiled brat… At least, that’s what my brother, Ken, said. I’m starting to believe it. “I had… three girlfriends. Met the first one at school. Middle school. Met the second at… high school. Met the third one at college.” he said. “The first one was fourteen. The second was sixteen. The third one was eighteen. The first one was a blonde, like yours. Had the most beautiful eyes. Silver-blue. Her name was Beth. The second one was a brunette. Had eyes of crystal-blue, like yours. And, her name was Diane,” he said, staring at me. “You know what’s strange?” I shook my head. “Each of these girlfriends has a piece of personality and looks like you.” I looked at him, astonished. “Well… the third one was the prettiest than the others. She had long, wavy, light brown hair. Wavy hair like yours. Eyes of emerald. Her face was heart-shaped. Her caressed mouth… I used to cover it with warm kisses. I’ll never forget her…” he said, sighing. “What happened to her?” “I’m getting to that part. Their personalities… Well… the two were certainly jealous of Esmeralda. That was my third girlfriend’s name. The first was… selfish, cruel to animals… stubborn, despite her beauty, just like the second. Beyond the beauties of those two, their hearts can be black holes. Though, Esmeralda had a heart of pure gold. She was an angel sent from Heaven. Her personalities… generous, charitable, passionate towards animals, never caring what people thought of her, her spirits were always buoyant, and she never stopped to help a person in need… She was all the girlfriend I wanted. The death of her was cancer. Lung cancer… There was a whole crowd when her funeral was held. Old, young, tall, short, woman, gentlemen, all kinds. She helped so many people…” he said, putting his head upon his hands, distressed. “Oh… I’m so sorry,” I said, reaching out for him. He didn’t need a hand to hold, he needed Esmeralda, I finally, realized. I can never make him happy, I thought, sadly. “I-I got to go,” I stuttered. “Mrs. Millers! I’m going home. Thank you for your hospitality. Good-bye!” I said, running out the door. Crying on the way home and still crying at home, I fell to the ground, weakly. I’ve been running. Seven blocks away. “’Morning, birthday girl,” Ken said, as if nothing happened the day before yesterday. It was weird, but I wasn’t in the mood to think about anything else, just felt like crying all my tears out. “Go away, Ken… I’m not in the mood.” “What’s wrong now…?” “Nothing, go away.” I heard him sigh. “How am I ever supposed to help you if you never let me?” he asked, walking away. I glared at him with tears flowing. Anger replaced my sadness. “Because you never help!” “What’s that supposed to mean?” he said, turning back. “Oh, nothing! Why can’t anyone leave me alone?! Especially, on my birthday! I don’t want any comfort. No presents. I only wish for everyone to leave me alone!” I said, racing out the door again. I sighed. Again with the running away. All I’ve been doing lately is running. Running from houses. Boy, I’m pathetic… I didn’t want any support from Daphne, too. I just want to be alone… I ran to the park nearby. I seated myself on a bench. It was so peaceful, today. Children were playing, some chasing one another, others eating. The wind was blowing, letting my hair go loose. The sun was blazing, which kept me warm from the breeze. “There you are!” a voice called, giving a sigh of relief. Bret… I wanted to stay to feel the wind and the sun, wanted to be at peace. But, not right now. I got up, and ran towards the lake that was next to a few houses away from the park. “Stephanie!” he called out, warning me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t looking where I was going. I slipped into the lake. I tried to swim with all my might. Then, I realized something. I couldn’t swim. Down, down, down, I went, like a rock sinking to the bottom. I heard a splash, but that’s all I heard, and my eyesight blurred. I’m not sure what time it was, but I, fluttered my eyes open. Bret was sitting at my side, instantly. He was dripping wet. It seemed he saved my life. “Never try to do that again!” he said, shaking me. I nodded, filling oxygen in my breathless lungs. Without warning, he kissed me. Wait… what was he doing here? I thought I could never make him happy, so… why did he come, and jump in the lake? He… he… loves me? No, that wouldn’t be it! He just did that since it was my birthday… He would never… Or could he? No! He wouldn’t possibly do that, he’s in love with Esmeralda! Alive or dead, he’ll always love her. For eternity. Till death and beyond. Even though, I wanted to taste his kisses on my lips again, I had to the right thing. I couldn’t be selfish… I stepped back a step. “No, Bret… We’re friends, remember?” He didn’t look as if he understood. “Esmeralda?” I said in a low voice, hinting. “Ah. Well… I thought a lot about that. And, I’ve decided… would you rather like a ticket to France or my love for your birthday?” “How about both?” “Being cute doesn’t take advantage of your presents. Remember Beth and Diane?” I nodded. “You wouldn’t want to turn out like them, do you?” “No way!” He laughed. “I knew your response would be that,” he said, still smiling, though his laughing stopped. “Well… I’d live your love. A ticket to France is buy-able. Love? People should look twice on love. But, where’s your explanation to all this?” “Long story…” “It’s better than sitting here bored, and just being wet,” I said, protesting. “Alright, alright. I give in. Okay. Well, when you left, my mother was screaming her head off at me. She thought I was the cause of it. And, I was. She said that she shouldn’t have left us at the first place. She knew it was going to happen. But, noooo… she had to be so nice. She complained, screeched, screamed, grr…,” he said, stopping. I was in my ‘giggly mode’ again. “Err… as I was saying…” he started, ignoring my giggles. I tried to regain myself; finally, I had myself under control. “I couldn’t even take that… I ran outside to find you. I thought while I ran. I thought that I was being selfish. I mean… you can’t just give up love, just because someone died. Even though, most people go on with life without love. I thought that you have to live life. No matter, what happens. So… basically of it all, I decided to give up love on Esmeralda. Though, she’ll always have a special place in my heart.” I guess I can accept that, I thought. “But…” “But?” I said, thinking there might be a bad part to this. “I’ll cancel the trip to France. I guess, I have a girlfriend who’s more value to me,” he said, smiling at me. What…? Girlfriend? I looked around. Of course, he’s surely talking about someone else! I stared at the direction of his eyes. I was mistaken. He was looking at me. He wants to be more than friends…? Girlfriend and boyfriend…? “Unless you don’t want to be…” he said, starting to redefine. “Because it’s fine with me, if you think I’m too—” I shook my hands at him. “No, no, no! It’s all right for me. But, are you sure…? I mean, can I trust you…?” “Girlie, yes, you can trust me,” he said, teasing me a bit. Then, he went serious again. “Have I ever lied to you for the past two days?” “No.” “And, have I told the police and my family members about… you get my point…” “Yes, I do… And, I get your point. I guess, I don’t have to worry. But, just in case, I will. So, if I’m distant a little, it’s just because hard times or worrying.” “Sure. I won’t push you unless you want me to. And, I won’t talk anything inappropriate. And, before I went out to look for you, I discussed with my mother that we won’t talk about me and you. To show how much I want you to trust me. I want you to trust me with the two pieces of your broken heart. I know, it’s heart-breaking of getting attacked, and dumped by your boyfriend, on the day before your birthday.” “Oh, puh-lease…” I said, flapping my hand at him. “I hardly miss him. He’s ancient history. Oh my god!” I said, glancing at my watch. “Got to run, I forgot I had a party to hold,” I said, starting to dash. Though, I felt a hand upon my right arm. “Why run, when you can ride?” Bret asked, whistling. A taxi came up from the corner. Angelic: He really does care… He’s taken care of all my worries… Devilish: No! What am I thinking? Remember Robin was being nice? He betrayed me! Angelic: But, Bret, is being ultra nice! Devilish: Still! Stop it! It’s not like, we’ll solve anything with you, guys, fighting! Devilish and Angelic: Says who?! Me! Grr… not with the twins of my mind… and my main thoughts! This is really sad… You see… I always have this thing. They love to argue like us humans. I’ve named the nasty thought, Devilish. The good side, Angelic. I sighed. The main thoughts were the thoughts that always try to settle things down in there. But, recently, Devilish, Angelic, and the main thoughts have been arguing. No wonder I’m all angry at times when I don’t want to be, and sad and blushing, and all those problems… Yeah, I know, idiotic and weird, huh? But, it’s reality. It happens to everyone. Once in a while. “Sure,” I said, taking Angelic’s side. It’s better than walking. But… just in case, we should take things slow. Holding his hand while going up to the taxi, I slipped into the seat. It was comfy, like my mom’s car. He slid next to me. I became all nervous again. The tingling feeling came back! But, I promised that I’d take things slowly, so… I’ll take things slowly! I thought, trying to remove the tingling feeling. Before I knew it, the taxi stopped. I looked around, thinking that there was traffic. It seemed that we were at my house, where the party was getting started. I slid outside the cab. Oh! Money! I checked my pockets. Empty. I ran over to the driver. “Mister… I’m sorry, but I don’t have any money… so, if you can wait, I can—” “But—“the driver interrupted. He seemed to have a French accent. “Please, mister. It’s very rude to interrupt people,” I said, wagging a finger at him, playfully. “Though, as I was saying, if you can wait, I can get some money from my room and pay the payment for the ride. Now, you can say your part of the subject.” “But, you don’t have to, already paid for,” he finished, grinning while pointing to Bret. “Your boyfriend seemed to pay the fee. Have a nice day, and happy birthday, sweetheart (I blushed when he said that word),” he said, tilting his hat in respect. I guess he’s polite, after all. Then, he sped away. I ran to my boy-friend. Something hit me, then. Two things, actually. This boy was my boyfriend. And, I should treat him like one. And, he does everything for me. Second, I should invite the polite driver to my party. I mean, it must be sweaty and tiring to do your job. “Wait a moment, Bret!” I said, racing after the cab. “Okay!” I, finally, reached the cab, breathless. I’ve ran two blocks, not stopping, with aching legs. Since I was good at running, I was successful into not getting a bad ache or anything. (NOT THAT I’M A GRANDMA OR ANYTHING!) I tapped on the window. The driver looked at me, startled and confused. He lowered the window. “Hello mister, again. I was wondering if you wanted to come to my party. Please? It’s all I can do, for you driving me and my friend. You don’t have to give me a present! Really! You can just hang around drinking punch, eating cake, watching TV, anything. Please, mister?” “Well, darling, I have a job to do. I’m sorry. But, it’s my duty to do this. And, I certainly would want to. But, no can do. Well, got to go,” the driver said, as the traffic light turned green. “But, sir! It would mean so much for me if you can! Please!” I said, shining him my best pleading look. I knew no one can resist my look. I saw him wince. Then, he smiled. And nodded. Just then, a few beeps followed in the back. Oh! Cars! I forgot! “Sir, follow me,” I said, walking onto the sidewalk once again. I turned onto a corner. The cab followed. “We have this DJ thing. My friend’s father’s friend is a DJ. So, whatever you want, they can play. You can be my guest in honor. This is so cool. I never invited someone that I didn’t know before!” He grinned. “Oh, dear, I’m talking way too much. Am I? Well, I can’t help it if I have so much to say,” I said, shrugging. “Anyways, my friends are going to be there. Along with my friends’ boyfriends. Except Daphne, she’s my best friend. She fell in love with Brad, that’s the boy would paid the fee’s brother. The boy who paid the fee is Bret…” I kept ratting on, telling him everything. I was really open-minded. It’s weird how I, always, get quiet. And, then, when I get close, I keep talking on and on and on and forever. Once we neared my house, I shut up, thinking that I was now talking way more than usual. Besides, he’s a stranger. “Well, what’s your name?” the driver asked. “Oh, my name?” I said, pointing to myself, innocently. “My name is Stephanie. Stephanie Matthews, at your service,” I said, stopping to curtsy. It would be rude to say your name and not curtsy. “Mind if I ask what your name is?” I questioned, standing straight once more. “Certainly. My name is Ian Fletcher. But, as you can see, I can’t be polite, though I want to, I can’t bow,” he said, waving at his position. “I can see that,” I said, smiling. Finally, we arrived at my house. My house was just around the corner. “Hi, again, Ian. What’s up?” “You know this guy?” I said, astonished. “Sure do. High school student, friend. He’s sixteen. Met at a deli. He works there, too. He has several part-time jobs.” “Wait… high school? Which and what grade?” I said, turning at him. He didn’t look sixteen… Twenty one, probably, but sixteen? Forget it… “Johnson’s,” he said, grinning. “And, a senior there.” “Oh my god! Me too, me too, and which college you aiming for?” “Harvard.” “Same!! Oh my god! This is so amazing!!” “Yeah,” he said, still grinning. Turning to Bret, he said, “Well, I’m here. She invited me. And, to think that I didn’t need a break.” “Lucky that she’s an angel from above. Always angelic and inviting.” I looked at Bret, with an innocent look. “Really? Because, I thought I was a devil, or so I heard,” I said, sarcastically. “Yes, really. But, let’s go. Don’t want to be late. Late Stephanie. Come on, Ian,” he said, helping Ian out of the cab.