HI people of the world! This is officially my first story here on this platform. I hope ya’ll like it. I certainly had fun writing this. And I hope you also enjoy reading as much as I did. -JLuuu
I totally missed the wet floor sign. I slip and fall on my bottom because of it. You clumsy boy, the voice of my mother says in my head as heat rises from the embarrassment. I feel the glances of other passersby, their stares razor-sharp and screaming invisible remarks. I shrug it off as best I can. They’re petty comments don’t affect me anymore. I’ve gotten used to my reputation at this school by now – a nerdy freshman teenager nobody wants to be friends with.
Except her. Maybe?
I have to ask Harper to the dance this weekend. It’ll be great. Me asking her to the dance in the laboratory, her favorite place in the whole school. It was Julian’s idea. A great one too. And it’ll be perfect. It has to. That’s where I was supposed to be heading before I slipped.
Damnit, I’m wet now. Not dripping wet, but my trousers are damp. Ugh, how will it be perfect now that my pants are wet with mop water? Who cares, they’ll dry by the time I ask her. I still have at least an hour.
Out of habit, my hands fiddle with what’s inside my pocket. But I also made sure that I still had it. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost it. It cost me half of my savings!
I scurry along the hallway to the laboratory until Aidan appears from one of the classrooms.
I absolutely hate Aidan.
He’s all the things I want to be. No, all the things I can’t be. Athletic, tall, muscular. The perfect human being. All the girls murmur about him, mostly which among them he’ll take to the dance. Hell do I care. I want nothing to do with him, as long as he doesn’t get in my way.
Too late. He’s heading straight towards me.
I try not to panic and keep cool. Quick! Act like him, my head says. I follow my inner voice and puff out my chest as best as I could, even though I have none. I hate myself for being so thin. It’s bad enough I’m considered one of the nerds in my class. Being skinny is the last thing that I need to be. Still, I try my best to hide my hatred towards him. Not because I’m scared or anything.
“Hey, Adam,” Aidan says, waving his hand. “Where are you heading?”
“Nowhere that concerns you,” I mutter, never meeting his eyes. But when I do, I have to look up. How is he even that tall?
Aidan only chuckles. “Anyway, any plans on who you’re going to take to the dance this weekend? I heard that you’re going to ask Lynn.”
My heart almost dropped in my stomach. I thought he knew. I exhale a sigh of relief.
“I don’t plan on going to a dance full of people,” I say as to sound uninterested. I feel like it works. I need him to stop bothering me so I can ask Harper! “And who said I was going to ask Lynn? I have no interest in her, nor do I bet she has any in me.”
“Why not?,” Aidan says, brows semi-furrowed in worry. Pft, as if he cares about me. “Julius will be there, won’t he? And Lynn isn’t that bad. She’s friends with Harper, I know that.”
Harper. Would he stop bothering me? I need to get to that laboratory ASAP!
“Fine, I’ll go. Now, if you’ll excuse me, ” I say as I slip by him. “there’s someplace that I need to be.” I walk backwards for a second to hear what Aidan has left to say.
“Alright, man. Good luck asking whoever you’re going to ask,” Aidan says and with just my luck, I collide with someone. Or rather, they bumped into me. My mouth finds a mouthful of long jet-black hair and my nose, the scent of lilacs.
“Agh,” I say when our bodies collide.
“Sorry, sorry. I was distracted. See? You made me hit someone,” she mutters to someone at her side. I know that voice anywhere. I turn to find her eyes meeting mine. Another wave of heat bursts, this time from nervousness. Are my legs shaking?
“Hi, Harper,” Aidan says casually behind me.
Her gaze drifts from me to Aidan. She smiles lightly, showing pearly-white teeth. “Hey, Aidan. Oh, and hi Adam. Sorry again for running into you. Someone,”–she sneers at her friend, I think her name is Cait–”said something that made me lose track of what’s in front of me.” Harper and Cait exchange snickers.
“H… hey, Harper,” I say, my voice shaky. “I’m sorry also. I have no excuse. I was simply distracted. Anyway, can… do you mind meeting me in the–”
“I’m sorry?” she says, still trading side comments about what they’re talking about. “What were you saying? Also, why is my skirt damp a little?” She inspects the patches of her skirt that are a shade darker.
Damn you, trousers.
“Agh! Sorry, sorry, that’s my fault again. I missed the wet-floor sign and my trousers got wet. It might’ve gotten wet when you ran into me. I think there are some paper towels in the lab.” Smooth, Adam. Smooth.
“No, it’s fine, I think I’ll just clean up in the bathroom–”
“No!” The words jumped out of my mouth. “I mean, why not the lab? Like that’s your favorite place in the school right?”
“Uh… Who told you that? The roof has been my favorite for almost four months now.”
NOT SMOOTH. NOT SMOOTH. NOT SMOOTH.
“Oh… Right. Sometimes I forget, you know.”
RUN. RUN. RUN.
I want to die.
Harper laughs still. “It’s alright, Adam. I probably already forgot everything Mr. Palmer taught us. His class is so useless, honestly. So, you’re not alone.”
I chuckle a little. It helps ease a little of my nervousness. Only a little.
“Also, why did you want me to go to the lab? Is something waiting for me there? Or maybe someone?” She narrows her eyes and leans forward, making the distance between our faces a ruler’s length apart.
I start to sweat even more. By now, I feel like I’ve been doused in water. And the faucet is still leaking. My heart pounds as well, its beat like a drum in my ears.
“Uh…” I have one last thing to say, and that is to come clean.
In front of a hallway full of people.
This was not how I perfectly planned it. I’ve been planning this for weeks. I’ve been looking towards this for so long. But still, I have to do it. I have to ask Harper.
“Harper, will you–”
Then Aidan chimes in.
He easily pushes me aside like a pesky fruit fly. “Harper?” he asks.
A dab of pink appears on her cheeks. She tries to hide it. “Yeah?”
“I don’t have anything to ask you with,” Aidan says. And everyone passing by seems to have paused. “No sign, no flowers, nothing. But I was wondering if you would go to the dance with me this weekend?”
I feel as if my soul has left my body. Around us, I spot a few girls putting a hand on their hearts, too hurt to see the guy they dreamed of asking them asking another in front of them.
I can relate.
But worse. He asked her. I was supposed to ask her. I feel like an anchor has been tied to my heart and it’s been tossed in the ocean. No, this cannot be real. It can’t. If it is, take me now. It just can’t be real.
It doesn’t help what she says next.
“Of course,” Harper says. The two of them fall into a tight embrace, with me standing in pieces on the side, nothing to do but watch.
I don’t know what to do now.
My plan has been ruined. My future, stolen.
I tuck my hands in my pocket and take out the tiny black felt box. I open it on its hinges, only to reveal a silvery pearl necklace inside.
This is useless now, the voice inside my head says. Better leave it.
I follow the voice again, and the expensive box falls from my hand.