Sparks of different hues rocketed to the air and came to a majestic explosion marking the sky briefly with their colors. Tonight was a special night. A great number of students had gathered in front of the oldest building of our school, staring in awe at the evening sky with a festive grin. Chants and cheers were started which they well deserved. Across the football field the marching band had started their parade to start off the festivities.
“We’ve finally done it!” I said out loud, triumphantly raising my arms to the air. Well, half triumphantly and half stretching out my bones because of exhaustion. It had been a tiring and stressful day for me. It had been one of those really long days that you just wanted to end.
“Yeah I know! It’s been a decade since this school had done this!” Jane started, also raising an arm to the air to cheer with the crowd with a wide smile. She paused for a moment, looking at her companions.
Everyone was staring at the sky except for me I guess. As I said, long day. After the band and the fireworks there was supposed to be a school-wide party to celebrate the basketball team’s victory just over an hour ago. But I had half a mind to call it a day before the booze began to flood the streets. Not that I hated the stuff. I just couldn’t bring myself to join and celebrate.
“So guys and gals, who’s up for some partying tonight?” Roy said swinging both his arms in the air. Everyone in the group was in a partying mood I guess because they had crowded around Roy like a leader. I wasn’t really paying attention to what they were talking about at this point.
I was just in a daze I guess, thinking about the events earlier that day.
Oh by the way, my name’s Lance. 18, not exactly tall, not really short. A mop of black hair, deep brown eyes and probably average on everything you can think of about a person. Laid-back attitude though most of the time cynical and obviously I’m not good in talking about myself. Okay so there we go for introductions.
So today was the big day for our school. It’s been 10 years or so since we held a basketball crown, and basketball was a huge deal for us college students. It would finally give us something to brag about to other schools for a year at least.
Class started around 7am this morning with the most boring professor ever, Mr Philips and his English class. I wasn’t there though. Instead, I was standing in line to buy tickets for the finals game in the afternoon. I was with a friend by the way, Sadie. She was a classmate of mine, so that meant she also cut class. Sadie is a petite girl with an 8 foot tall attitude. Long dark hair with bronze highlights, brownish eyes, and a won’t-be-caught-dead-without-make-up look. All in all, charming in a way that a rose with steel thorns is. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a good friend. She just has an attitude problem.
“Hey, Lance” Jane started with a pinch on the arm.
“Ow! What?!” I said kinda disoriented.
I looked over at the guys and Roy was raising an eyebrow questioningly. I’d guessed that they wanted to know if I’d be joining them in the party.
“Oh no, I’m heading home in a bit. Tired as heck from the day.”
“Sure dude.” Roy said contentedly with a smug look on his face. I knew Roy well enough to know that what he had on his mind was actually “Cool more chicks for me.”
Roy was one of those guys who always seemed to have at least one girl hanging around him. He fits into the tall, dark, rich, and handsome profiles. He just flexes his arms around as often as he can and its like girls get intoxicated and swoon on the spot. I swear It’s like his sweat is made of aphrodisiac or something. Unfortunately for the girls though, he changes girlfriends more often than he changes shoes.
“Aw come on, don’t be a wet blanket. Stay a while? For me?” Jane batted her long eye lashes and smiled teasingly.
For her... right...
Now I wasn’t entirely sure what she meant by that. I’m pretty sure it’s a joke for her, like me, a joke. I mean we weren’t exactly Romeo and Juliet or anything. I wasn’t anything for her, and she was... isn’t anything for me. Just friends, plain old friends.
Ok so I admit it. I did have sort of a crush on the girl. But the keyword there is DID. I couldn’t help but fall for this quirky girl with all her charms. I mean who wouldn’t?
Her hair wasn’t the typical oh so long and beautiful. It just hung below her shoulders, she had the tips cut in a way the they would go to different directions, some curling towards her neck and the other curling outwards but the best part about it is that her hair always smelled like fresh strawberries. A guy could very easily be lost staring at her distinct deep honey colored eyes, and believe me its hard not to stare at them. She also had one of those to-die-for-lips, full yet not overly plump although she rarely put any lipstick on. When she turns them into a sweet smile, which also shows off her delightful cheeks, you just couldn’t help returning the smile. Oh the charms that this girl had. Her style by the way was just simple. None of those flashy and showy vulgar styles women come up with now a days. She was reserved and laid back. A simple shirt, jeans or slacks and there you go. Although the occasional dress she wears is definitely a sight you wouldn’t want to miss.
If I’m this intoxicated by this beauty why is it then that I say now that she isn’t anything to me?
Well a few days ago, the game before the end of the finals, we were watching live in the stadium. Our team at the time was losing badly by the way. The champs were up by 12 points if I remember correctly. Even then the massive crowd was still behind our team, cheering them on, screaming their lungs out. You could just imagine a huge torrent of voices shouting “GO!!! WIN THIS ONE!!!” and all sorts of curses both at the champs and at our own team’s flops. Anyway that aside, our group was watching as well as cheering when this one guy from the champions’ team kinda show-boated. He did a double cross-over, passed to a teammate, positioned himself under the ring and jumped in the air with a hand extended above his head. Our players were too stunned to even react at what was happening. Before they knew it the ball was in the air and show-boat’s hand was just there waiting for the catch. He threw down a hammer of a dunk and silenced our crowd for a second or two. Chris Matthews. Tall, freakishly rich, athletic, and he had a face that could make a girl faint with just a passing glance. God’s gift to women and the bane of all other men. Anyway, after the silence he caused with his little stunt, the whole stadium erupts into cheers for him. The irony is about 70% of the crowd that day was from our school and yet almost all the people had shouted cheers for the cheeky bastard. Its like a fan club was instantly born at that moment worshipping Chris. And the worst news, Jane would’ve probably been their club president. She was on her feet jumping with her arms in the air and screaming at the top of her lungs the reason why I would probably remodel Chris’s nose on sight if I ever came across him. “I love you Chris! Marry me! I want to have your children Chris!” And there it was, I just sat there staring at the floor. Probably even with a dumb look on my face, which didn’t matter at the time because the fact was staring me at the face as hard as the concrete floor was staring as well. “She’s in love with the bastard.” I whispered to myself. Far as I could tell they continued jumping and screaming for the pompous brat. The game didn’t matter anymore. Only consolation though is that during the last 2 minutes, our team clawed its way back into the game and won earning us this final match.
So back to the present...
Jane was still waiting for an answer, still hoping that I’d join them. But with the things being as they are, I saw no point in staying and rest sounded like the better option.
“Really sorry,” I started but Jane already had her hands clasped together her eyes shut and that lovely crooked smile.
She opened up one eye to check if her antics had any effect. I wasn’t giving her anything to go on. I still had the tired eyes, my hands in my pockets, and an unpromising look on my face but damn her charms.
I’d already given up on this girl, I’ll just make it harder on myself if I let her get to me, I thought to myself.
“I wish I could, really Jane, just not up to it.” I said with a convincing sigh.
“Everyone else is still here for the party.”
Sadie stood up from the bench she was sitting on. I had forgotten she was also there, she’d been quiet all this time.
“Yeah, well except for me too. I’m beat.” She said with a distant yawn.
I do understand her since she’d been the one with me all the day running around, lining up everywhere to get those tickets. I doubt she enjoyed all the running and standing in line for hours in her designer high heels.
“I’m heading off the south exit. How bout you Lance?” she asked.
“Well my place is nearer the West exit so I’ll take that way”
Jane was just stood there with her hands still together just looking at both of us.
“You guys take care then!” She said with a smile and a hug to Sadie
Those two have always gotten along even though they didn’t exactly see eye to eye when it came to style and personality. With a squeeze on my hand Sadie was off to her exit.
While Sadie walked away, Jane still stood there with her uncharacteristic silence. Usually she’s the one trying to brighten up the day with her sunny personality but it looked like something was bothering her. But then again, why should I be concerned? I’m going to move on and get over whatever I had for her. Focus Lance.
“I’m off too! Enjoy guys!” I said with a salute to Roy who really didn’t pay attention. I don’t think Jane heard me either cause she still had a far away look. But in any case, I walked away from the crowd across the stone sidewalk along the road to the exit of the campus. So here I am, all in all I guess I’m contented with how things turned out. Tired as heck, we didn’t get the tickets we wanted.
Earlier, Sadie and I ran into some trouble. As I was saying, we were in a very long line to buy tickets to the big game. I would say the number of people standing in the line was enough to fill the football field across the school. A few minutes after the line started, some genius thought of a rule that only allowed each person to buy 2 tickets. We were supposed to buy 9 tickets, 5 for her gang and 4 for mine. At most we could get 4. So yeah, we were screwed.
We got 5 tickets. Don’t ask me how Sadie got an extra one, she can be scary and persuasive at the same time when she tries.
I’ll try to give you the summarized version of how things went down from that point.
Basically, after that, Sadie and I decided to go to the arena hoping that they still had some tickets to sell. We stood in line again for another 10 years or so only to find out that the tickets were sold out before we bought any. We got stuck with the 5 tickets and Sadie’s group took them. My gang was bummed out, decided to drown the negativity in Rootbeer. Yes, Rootbeer. Sadie decided she could not enjoy herself at our expense so she bailed on the group. Jane also came soon after and then her whole group bailed on the idea. Since the tickets were not enough for either gang, we sold them to late-comers at a higher price and used the money to hang out at a sports bar and watch the game there.
We had a heck of a time, and our team won the crown so yeah no complaints here. But somehow, I knew that I had lost something along the way. As I walked along the curb, I couldn’t help but look across the sky. The fireworks show was still on. Painting the sky majestically with their sparks and inspiring awe from the spectators below. I was across the football field now and along the grass, I saw some couples sitting on blankets laid down on the field. They held each other as watched the night sky blaze with color. I had to admit, it was romantic.
Well for them yeah it was pretty nice. But for me, it just added more to the feeling of emptiness.
With another deep sigh I told myself that it wasn’t going to help me if I dwell on it so might as well act aloof and cool. Especially around her the next time I see her. I made a promise to myself to end the hope and just move along. Nothing there for me anyway. I realized I had stood there beside the tree for a while watching the fireworks. Just before I had made up my mind to continue, a saw a figure move towards me at the corner of my eye.
She was wearing the same yellow cotton shirt she’d been wearing the whole day along with the unflattering black pants and her white running shoes. Nothing flashy but gorgeous in her simplicity. Yet at the back of my mind I was thinking “great just when I made up my mind”
“Yo!” Jane approached copying the same salute I had given Roy earlier along with that crooked smile that I had just decided was another bane to my existence. Her hair, floating about her as she came to a halt, curling around her neck and coating the air with a tinge of fresh strawberries.
“Hey” I gave her a brief glance and turned to the sky again.
“What happened to the gang?”
“Still there, just decided I had enough of the day as well. Thought I might catch up to you and sure enough here you are” She now had that sunny smile again. It was refreshing to see her happy and vibrant again but not really good for me moving on.
She had her arms in intertwined behind her and her legs crossed together making a very sweet posture which she does so quite often. Even her mannerisms had been too hard not to like. Ah the charms this girl had. I’m not sure if she has any idea how attractive she makes herself. But I’d swear if only I had been given the chance a week ago I would have made this beautiful creature mine...
Then my thoughts wandered again to the smug sonuva—
“Let’s get going, if you plan to stay might as well be with the gang you know” She said with push on my back.
She kept pushing me off the curb and onto the stone pathway along the grass of the field. Which was nice by the way, being in between the trees had a nice romantic view of the fountain nearby and you could also see the pavilions along the path.
I was walking rather slowly trying to keep my attention on the surroundings and not on her. The stone pavilion filled with students trying to get a better view at the fireworks, the couples who still held each other with not a care in the world, the fountain silently spewing the water in the air with a couple of lights aimed at the statue of a woman pouring the water from her urn, along the drive way were a couple of seniors behind a pick-up truck cheering in triumph that at least before they had graduated, they got a taste of a championship to be proud of. All of these sights kept my mind from turning towards the person walking beside me.
“Hey, you okay?” She asked with a sudden nudge to my arm
“Mm-hmm, just taking in the sights you know, first championship in a long while.” I said without looking at her.
“You know..” She started again, this time she gently pressed her shoulder against mine.
“Today was really fun. It was really cool of you to get us tickets and all...”
She had continued on going on about how the day was and the events or at least I think that was what she was saying.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t paying attention. Now it’s not because I had my attention on other things or I was still trying to distract myself from her. Its actually the opposite. The moment she pressed her shoulder against me, it’s like a spark in my head had ignited.
I looked at her slowly. I saw her gingerly twining her arms, her shoulder still against mine. She didn’t have her lovely eyes on me, she just gave brief glances the way she would when she was telling you a story that made her happy. Her eyes slightly curved and full of the sunny personality she had, beyond the honey-colored ring in her eyes was a sparkle where I often got lost in. The crooked smile she had radiated the glee within her. I still didn’t know what she had been saying all this time. I had been lost in my own thoughts adoring and enjoying the warmth of her smile.
“Wait... This is it. This is my chance!” I thought to myself and finally the spark of hope turned into a blaze that erupted and awakened all my senses.
I could feel the cold night’s air sweep across the field, see deep into the brilliant sparkle within her eyes, smell the aroma of strawberries now coating around her fine neck, hear the loud thumping of my chest and somehow the distant thumping of hers and how I wish I could feel that soft thump. A bead of sweat was coming down my brow and the cold night air chilled my palms. My lips felt dry and my throat parched but I knew there was only one thing that could quench the thirst.
I looked at her lips. How lovely and luscious they had looked and how my own was telling me “Come on, this is it! Just even a soft touch on it.”
“But no! That would be too sudden. Knowing her she would slap me back and forth for that” I thought to myself.
“But how about if I started by holding her hand first?”
I looked at her arms still intertwined and thought how warm might her hands feel in mine? I imagine it would fit perfectly in mine.
If I could just have it. If I could just hold it. I would never let it go. Never.
I looked at my own and saw that my hands were trembling. Was it fear? Was it excitement? Was it anticipation? Was it anxiety?
It was too hard to tell and I would probably just crack down before my hand actually reached her delicate and soft hands.
“It’s cold tonight, maybe putting my arm around her shoulder would be okay?” I thought instead.
I can’t imagine why she would protest, I would just softly caress her into my arms and feel her heart beating inside her. But again, too sudden. And I would just end up with a broken nose courtesy of an uppercut.
My mind was racing with the thoughts and ideas about what to do, what not to do, how to do things, Why and why not? Honestly it was insane. I thought my brain was going to burn out just by thinking about it all. I did not know what to do and how to do it now that I was here. I longed for it all. To clasp her hands in mine, to feel her warmth in my arms, have a small taste of what her lips would be like...
I slowed down my pace. I tried to clear my mind. I looked away for a second and closed my eyes. I told myself “This is definitely it. No mess ups” I took a deep breath this time and slowly turned my eyes on her again.
I noticed she had slowed down when I had. She had just been staring up at my eyes with her own honey-colored eyes when I looked at her. She wasn’t smiling anymore although for some reason her brows were knit together, her mouth slightly open as if she was about to say something. She may be wondering what the matter was, why had I slowed down or why I was now staring at her. It didn’t matter. I had decided when I took that deep breath. I decided on what I’m going to do. I’m going to take her hand, clasp it tightly into mine. I’m going stare into her lovely eyes and I will tell her the secret I had been keeping. What’s inside my heart. How I felt for the past few weeks. How I had adored her all this time. I don’t care what happens next. This is it for me.
I steeled myself for what was to come. I opened my left hand and aimed it at her delicate right hand dangling on her side.
I gathered my wits, my strength, and my love for this woman.
“At the count of three,” I told myself