The Girl with the Silver Bracelet

Submitted into Contest #49 in response to: Write a story about two strangers chatting while waiting for something.... view prompt

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I have two tongues, I always wear my heart on my sleeve, and I’m always right behind you.

If you find out who I am and see me, I would like to know if we could go out for a coffee sometime. If not, thank you for indulging me and my letters to you anyway! :)

I crumple the paper in my hand ever so slightly. Despite not wanting to be here, I didn’t want to hurt the feelings of whoever wrote these letters.

Still, it is infuriating that whoever this person is, they didn’t even have the decency to list any physical characteristics of theirs and the clues they gave me were in riddle form. As much as I loved solving problems, I actually didn’t count on spending too much time here in this bland room with only a painting for decoration. 

I spend the next few minutes reading the last note again. There had to be something in here, even if I haven’t figured it out yet. Waiting for long periods of time made me antsy, and I couldn’t leave without knowing who sent the notes.

At this point, I feel like my life’s more like a crazy romance plot rather than real life. First, I fall head over heels for my best friend who happens to be my bandmate who also happens to be someone I’m known to publicly scorn. If that isn’t crazy enough, I start receiving letters in my locker. 

I know, it’s disgusting. It’s entirely too cheesy. God knows Marley finds it hopelessly romantic and though I see why she may think so, I don’t feel the same. I can’t find myself to appreciate love letters from a stranger when I, myself, am trapped in a situation of unrequited love. 

“Hey, Fraulein Autumn! Sorry I’m late.”

I look at my right and scoff. I can’t believe my luck. The unnecessary riddles were annoying enough, and then the most vexing person I had ever had the chance to meet shows up. “Max. Why are you here? Did Marley send you?”

Max shakes his head. He’s wearing one of our band’s shirts again, and even if it is my band too, I find the fact that Max wears it everywhere kind of gaudy and ostentatious. Especially this one. It was one of our first shirts, so the design was awful. The shirt had our faces on the front, back, and even on the sleeves. Even the shade of red it sported was disgusting. I visibly cringe as soon as I see the shirt, and his eyes are full of mirth when he sees my reaction.

Max sits beside me and wraps his arms around my shoulders. I struggle to get out of his grasp, but he’s more stubborn than I am. “Nein. I went here on my own accord. I wanted to see how it was going.” Max looks around the room, and then returns his focus to me. “If your secret admirer really liked you though, they would have known that you hated the color beige, ja?”

I make a face. That was basically code for I came here to see you suffer as you find out that this secret admirer, in fact, does not exist. “Max, if you’re here to make fun of me, you might as well leave.”

Max sends me an easy smile, unfazed by my hostile tone. Don’t swoon, I say to myself as a quiet mantra in my head.

“Nonsense,” Max says. He turns his gaze to the singular painting in the room. “The boy in red can’t simply leave the girl alone. That would be preposterous.”

For a moment, I scrunch my eyebrows up in confusion. Why would Max be talking about himself in third person? I look in the direction of his gaze and see that the painting does have a young boy in a red shirt, chasing a young girl his age. 

“What if the girl doesn’t want to be chased?” I retort. I don’t need his pity, or fake sympathy.

Max was fast. He had an answer ready, almost as if he expected me to say that. “Why wouldn’t she? The young boy is holding a balloon. He’s probably chasing the girl to offer it to her.”

“Nah. We don’t know, but maybe he’s chasing her for her silver bracelet.”

“You can’t possibly know that. You can’t just suspect people of ill intentions all the time, ja?”

Is he even still talking about the boy in the painting, or is he projecting? Well, two can play at this game. I rub the silver bracelet on my wrist, like I always do when I’m about to engage in verbal battle with Max. “Maybe she always expects the worst, because she’s tired of having people disappoint her all the time. Having low expectations for something that actually turns out well is better than hoping for something and realizing that you’ve just been let down.”

“But the girl, she looks like someone who people would hate to disappoint, rather than the opposite. She’s herrlich, don’t you think so?”

A few years ago, I would not have known what herrlich meant, but after dealing with Max’s eccentric german catchphrases over the years, I know what it meant. “Pfft, you don’t know how life has disappointed her. She’s not that pretty.”

“Oh, but she is. Her looks paired with her wild and distinctive personality are more than a catch. Not to forget, her noteworthy wit that brought her to where she is now.”

Max was definitely not talking about the painting anymore. Still, talking about the girl and boy in the painting was way easier than talking about ourselves openly. 

For some reason, the painting was a messenger that helped us express ourselves without any emotional barriers. In fact, I’ve talked more about myself to Max in this room than in all the other times we spent together. Band practice was always band practice, maybe a little bit of banter and arguing because we wouldn’t be Max and Autumn if we didn’t argue. In class, it was pretty much the same, if not amplified due to the fact that both of us were the top students. He was the more carefree one, while I mostly stuck to the rules. Remembering now, the fact that we were almost complete opposites was the butt of most of his jokes and insults to me.

And still, I considered him my best friend aside from Marley. Emotional conversations aside, we talked about things we loved to do, and we bonded a lot over our mutual love for math and science. 

I turned my focus back to the conversation. Marley said that I loved overthinking, so I allowed myself to stop thinking, just this once. “She’s more used to not getting what she wants, thus the reason behind she has such low expectations for everything else in her life.” 

Tired of talking about myself, I steered the topic towards Max. “The boy in red though, ha. He’s used to people loving him. Maybe that’s the reason why he isn’t afraid to chase opportunities.”

“How do you know he isn’t afraid? Everyone’s scared of rejection.” His voice becomes so quiet that I actually struggle to hear the next words. “Actually, the very fact that das Mädchen is running away is rejection in itself.”

Max? Scared of rejection? What does he have to be scared of? He’s single-handedly the most handsome guy in the batch. He easily flirts with everybody, and everyone’s under his spell. Not to forget, he’s in a band, and he’s got remarkable grades. He’s perfect, and he has everything he wants. I admit it’s a little irrational, but I got annoyed by his statement, especially since I, myself, was stuck pining for him of all people. “Scared of rejection? Just looking at him, he has the vibe of someone who’s used to people falling to their knees just to do anything for him.”

The words come out of my mouth before I even think about it, and the offended look on his face shocks me, even if it appears only for a split second. Immediately, he reverts to his usual, self-confident and cocky self. “Ah, but you don’t see the whole picture. Many people might fall to their knees for him, ja? But look at the painting.”

I look, just like he says. It’s still the same of course, so I turn back to him. “Okay?”

“The one girl who truly matters to him, the one he’s chasing, doesn’t really seem like she’s interested, ja? In fact, the girl seems to hate the boy in red.”

My face heats up. He thinks I hate him? We throw insults at each other all the time, so it’s inevitable that I’m puzzled at the scenario Max is painting. If only he knew that how I felt was the exact opposite. “What, no? They’re best friends. The girl doesn’t hate him.” For good measure, I decided to ask it straight out. “Why would she?”

Max snaps his finger the way he always does when he’s about to point out something terribly obvious that I somehow missed out. Usually, I found it annoying, but right now, it seemed like he only did it to find some semblance of the normal banter the two of us had instead of this surprisingly deep conversation we were having. “Ah, fraulein. Why would she indeed, I don’t know. But as you can see, she’s running away. The girl is avoiding the boy.”

I looked away from Max’s gaze to hide the tint of my cheeks. He thinks he’s running away because I hate him. I stay silent for a while, mainly because I was at a loss for words. In a normal conversation between the two of us, I would have never allowed him to get the last word. It was different now too though, and I think he knew that too. 

“I’m not going to run away anymore,” I say quietly. “I’m not running away anymore, actually. It’s the reason why I’m here. If I were running, why would I be here?”

Max looks me in the eye. “If you aren’t running, fraulein, then why haven’t you figured out who the writer of those letters are?” He points at the letters, his silver rings glistening under the dull light of the room.

Damn, he has a point. I choose to plead the fifth and switch the topic yet again. I find myself rubbing my silver bracelet again. “Why are you here with me Max? You have better things to do than wait for me to figure out who this person is.”

Max laughs. “Actually, I don’t. Contrary to popular belief, I actually care for you a lot and I don’t like the idea of you in this room alone.”

Okay, if we’re being honest here, I had zero idea as to how I should react to that. This guy used to call me some variation of short or dumb on a daily basis, and now he’s going to drop this bomb on me? I settled for a jab at his confession, since that was what I was used to. “That was a lot of actually’s.

“Huh?” He cocks his head to the left and then his eyebrows relax. “Ah, yeah. I guess so. I really do support you though, just in case you didn’t know. It’s why I joined you in our band too, even if I was initially against it. You remember that, ja?”

I look up at the ceiling and reminisce. I always thought Max would jump at the opportunity of playing in a band. It seemed like his kind of thing, especially with how flashy he was even before he played in a rock band. I grin at Max and point at him. “Of course. I never understood it, since you were really good at playing guitar and we liked the same music.”

“Ah, but you forget Fraulein. I was always right behind you in class, so I wanted to have the extra study time.”

“But you joined anyway.”

“Ja, of course! Music is one of my passions after all, and our band became mein Herz und meine Seele

My smile fades as I get this sinking feeling in my chest. I’m always right behind you. I take a deep breath. Mein Herz meant…

“Your heart? Our band is your heart?”

Max shrugs. He doesn’t seem bothered about that statement. “Ja. Fraulein, do you suddenly have short term memory loss? You usually don’t need this much repetition.”

I ignore his insult. It’s his defense mechanism when he gets nervous. I know him well enough to know that. “Max…”

He’s so good at acting nonchalant. “Hm?”

It all comes together at the same time. I didn’t want to hope because damn, things never went my way. I was used to people using me and playing tricks on me, so how could I ever believe this. Everything could just be one big joke. 

His eyes are staring at me innocently, questioningly, as he waits for me to reply. I gulp and look away. Maybe he’s right. Maybe the girl with the silver bracelet really is running away because she’s terrified. “You speak German and English.”

He nods, but the puzzled look on his face doesn’t go away. “...ja, I do.”

Two tongues. I look at his sleeve. Maybe whoever wrote the riddles, the clues, meant some of them literally. “And our band is your heart.”

“Not literally. But ja, Du hast recht.”

What was the last clue? I’m always right behind you. “And, you’re always right behind me. In class, and in supporting me.”

I didn’t look up. I couldn’t dare. This wasn’t the first time Max played a trick on me. What if he really knew, from the start, that I liked him? That he was the bandmate I could never get out of my mind. It wasn’t insane, it was a probability that was so high, and I didn’t want to risk it. 

Max is the first one to break the silence. “The boy in red wants to ask if the girl with the silver bracelet is okay.”

I laugh quietly, though I’m positive Max can hear me. Is it real? Normally, if I weren’t myself and I was watching this conversation happen to a different person, I would have screamed at the person to open their eyes, because only a person incapable of sight wouldn’t know

But I was myself, and I refused to believe it.

I suck in a deep breath, and I’m still looking down. I’ve fiddled with my bracelet so much that at this point, a few bright red scratches appear on my wrist. “She’s not sure if she’s delusional or if she’s right. She needs confirmation.”

Max’s voice is so hushed, I never knew it could sound like that. Soft and apprehensive. He’s skittish, and I feel slightly giddy that he’s nervous because of me. “For the record, I think she’s right. The boy in red wants to know how the girl feels. Disgusted? Angry? Weirded out?”

A small smile forms on my lips. “I think…”


I look up and see Max biting his nails. His lovely, pedicured nails. The very same nails that made him scream at me when I so much as accidentally hit them with my acoustic guitar. 

My small smile turns into a full grown grin. “I think the girl with the silver bracelet wants to go out for coffee with the biggest dumbass and hopeless romantic in the world.”

July 10, 2020 08:02

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1 comment

13:25 Jul 28, 2020

Geez, this rocked! Great ending, too. It wrapped everything up nice and neat but left room for more. Keep it up, Arie! ~A (Oh, and would you mind checking out my most recent story, “Tales Of Walmart”? If so, thank you so much!)


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