I turned up in front of her house with a bouquet of flowers.
I handpicked them myself, from my neighbour’s garden.
It’s a good thing she didn’t see me, otherwise, she would have shouted at me.
That would be loud.
I rang the doorbell.
She opened the door.
We stared at each other for a while.
Her eyes were red and puffy.
She had been crying.
“What are you doing here Ollie?”
What was I doing here?
To ask for forgiveness.
I gave the flowers to her.
She took them with a small smile.
She wasn’t happy. That I could see.
It was more of a sad smile.
Like when someone says something stupid and you smile to make them feel like it wasn't stupid.
That kind of smile.
I don’t know.
Feelings are confusing.
“We’re not dating, Ollie.”
I knew that.
Disgusting, by the way.
It would be like dating my sister.
“Flowers are still a nice gift though, right?”
She looked at me.
The smile was gone now.
I don’t know if I want it to be back.
“Flowers are not enough, Ollie.
“You really hurt me.”
She gave me back my flowers and closed the door.
I stare at the piece of wood for a good 5 minutes before I leave.
The next day I approach her with a cup of coffee.
She was sitting with Jade.
I set the cup in front of her.
She looked at me.
She looked at the coffee again, then at me.
Then she got angry.
She started shouting at me.
I don’t like shouting.
I caught a few words. Something like “how dare you” and “it won’t fix it”.
Then I heard Jade whispering something.
She looked shocked.
Then she left.
I don’t know what Jade has said.
I don’t want to know.
I was alone with Jade now.
I think she asked me if I was alright.
I couldn’t think.
My mind felt blank.
I knew that I was shaking.
My eye was twitching.
Jade knew I wasn’t.
She took me home.
It’s a good thing I didn’t drive.
I would have probably crashed the car.
I got home, opened the door, and dropped on my bed.
I fell asleep.
I’ve known her since I was seven.
That was her name.
She doesn’t like her real name.
She says it’s too girly.
So she changed it to Robin.
We met on my first day of school.
I moved from another city.
I changed schools.
But I knew it was going to be the same.
I’d be the outcast.
She stood up for me on that day.
The schoolgirl standing up for the new kid.
It cost her.
She was now the social outcast.
But she said it was fine.
She had me.
I had her.
That was all that mattered.
That was 18 years ago.
Now we were 25.
She was still here.
She understood me.
How I think, how I act.
She rarely shouted at me.
She knows I hate it.
But today she did.
It’s my fault really.
I shouldn’t have said it.
Now she hates me.
Robin was going through a tough time.
She told me so.
She said that she was worried.
About her body.
She had been looking at fashion magazines lately.
Commenting on all the slim women.
With their long dresses and tall figures.
She wanted to be more like them.
I don’t know why she was so worried.
She was fine.
She wasn’t the prettiest.
But she was Robin.
If she changed she wouldn’t be special anymore.
She would be just like any other women in the crowd.
A boring woman with a pretty face and a plastic smile who tries to
hide her anger when I talk.
But I can see past their mask.
I see more than anyone gives me credit for.
I’m not stupid after all.
Then she asked me the question.
“Am I pretty?”
I shouldn’t have said it.
But I did.
I wanted to be honest.
I thought being honest was good.
There was a saying.
Being honest is the way to go
So I said it.
She was stunned.
Then she left without a word.
Perhaps sometimes being honest is not the way to go.
I know I’m a jerk.
I’m not completely detached from feelings after all.
I feel bad.
I hurt her feelings.
She stopped talking to me.
She won’t reply to my texts or answer my calls.
At first, I didn’t understand why.
My therapist explained it to me.
Sometimes being honest can hurt people.
Then I felt guilty.
That was why I was at her house two days ago.
To make amends.
But that didn’t work.
I’m not going to give up though.
I can’t lose Robin.
I won’t have anyone left.
No one understands me like Robin.
I decided to try the flowers again.
I know they didn’t work last time, but maybe I did it wrong.
She likes flowers, especially roses.
She says it’s hilarious when people get pricked by their thorns.
I don’t know why she thinks that.
Personally, I think it’s quite sad.
But she laughs at it, so I do too.
I can’t go to my neighbour’s house to get flowers.
She doesn’t grow roses.
Besides, she is constantly looking out of her window now.
I think she’s trying to catch me.
So I went to a flower shop and bought a bouquet of flowers.
I added a teddy bear as an afterthought.
Robin likes cuddly things, even if she doesn’t show it most of the time.
The cashier looked at the flowers, then at me.
She had a small smile on her lips.
She was amused.
“Who’s the lucky girl?”
I got confused. Why would Robin be lucky? I hurt her. The flowers were an apology.
But the cashier was trying to make conversation. I didn’t want to hurt her too by saying something rude.
So I went along.
“These are for a friend.”
“Right…” She winked at me. “A friend.”
Now I’m even more confused.
Why the wink?
“She’s just a friend.”
She smiled and pushed the roses and the teddy towards me.
I think she meant something completely different, but I’m going to take it.
The sun was setting by the time I found her.
She was in the parking lot of her favourite bar.
She liked to go here when she was feeling down.
She told me that booze made her feel better.
I don’t know why.
She was in the parking lot.
She was leaning against her car.
She looked so sad.
I felt really bad.
Then something happened.
A drunk man came out of the back door.
He couldn’t be more than 30.
He saw Robin and made his way towards her.
None of them saw me yet.
I was more confused than ever.
Robin saw him and frowned, she made a move to get into her car.
But he sprinted forward and tore her hand away from the handle.
He was advancing closer and closer to her.
She was uncomfortable.
I can see it in her face.
He wanted to kiss her.
But she didn’t want him.
I could see that very clearly.
So I did the only thing I thought of.
I ran up to him, grabbed him by his collar, and threw him onto the ground.
Then I straddled him and punched him in his face.
I was angry.
No one treats Robin this way.
She’s my friend.
I have to help her.
Stand up for her.
Like how she stood up for me on my first day of school.
Suddenly I felt myself being pulled off of the man.
It was Robin.
I blinked, finally registering what had happened.
I attacked him.
Robin stopped me.
It was probably for the best, if I had continued I might have killed him.
He was already unconscious.
Robin was staring at me.
I couldn’t read her expression.
“What are you doing here Ollie?”
“I’m sorry.” I blurted out. “I’m sorry that I said that you weren’t pretty the other day and I shouldn’t have said it because it was mean and it made you feel sad and I hate seeing you sad so I wanted to apologise but you didn’t forgive me so I went to the flower shop to buy roses and a teddy for you because I know you love them even if you don’t show it but,” I stared at my empty hands. “But they’re gone now because I hit that guy because he was making you uncomfortable and you shouldn’t be uncomfortable and I’m sorry that your gift is gone but I hope you will forgive me because I can’t bear to lose you because you mean everything to me and-”
She pulled me into a hug.
“It’s ok Ollie. I forgive you.”
Tears were streaming down her face.
I was confused.
“Why are you crying? Did I say something wrong?”
A genuine laugh.
She was happy.
“No Ollie. You didn’t. These are happy tears. I’m happy.”
She pulled me towards her car and planted a kiss on my cheek.
“Let’s take you home.”
The car pulled out of the parking lot and drove off into the night.