The Thing about her

My first novel, special thanks to Annie Ning for helping me out in the middle, just wanted to share this with everyone that submitted a piece into this competition!

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1. The Thing about her

The Thing about her

“Ryan, you get your butt down here RIGHT NOW!”

“What now Ma?”

“YOU tell me, NOW GET DOWN HERE RIGHT THIS MOMENT!”

Annoyed, I turned off my music player. The speakers are just simply amazing. Go ahead ask anyone in our school whose speakers do you want the most. Let me tell you, the answer would simply be “Of course Ryan’s AMCK. Hello? Don’t you know?  It’s a beast machine dude.” That’s right, they are amazing, I mean, extending the max volume to 100 dB, bass boost to 5.0! What more could you possibly want from a speaker?

“Coming Ma…”

I rushed downstairs to see what the hell has happened for her to scream like that.

“What’s wrong?”

“Come here Ryan.”

Oh god don’t you sound pissed, I thought. I trailed the voice of her that led me to the back yard.

“Tell me, WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED HERE.”

She found out.

“Oh damn it.” I murmured.

Right in front of me were pots and pots of flowers, crashed into pieces. Here comes the worst bit. My basketball that was signed by Kobe, my favorite basketball player, was right in the middle of the pile of broken stems and plastic. You should see my room, its filled with his posters and his stuff. Once I luckily got one of his shoes after a post-season match win against the Mavs.

“All right, tell me how did THAT happen?”

“Well,” I started. “I was admiring my posters along with this signed basketball, holding it outside of the window, enjoying the breeze as well, then… I kinda let it slip out of my hands.”

“Oh KINDA slipped huh? IDIOT! You’re gonna help me with the work this weekend to revive this garden, my poor plants.” What made me really angry wasn’t the fact that she didn’t even care about my basketball; it was that she was actually sobbing by this point. I bet if I was injured during a game she wouldn’t even care, maybe she’d just laugh at me.

“Whatever” I said to myself quietly, as I stepped into the garden to get my basketball back.

“OH LOOK WHAT’VE YOU DONE AGAIN! YOU KILLED THIS PLANT!!! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU!”

Whoops. I rushed back inside the house, back into my room again, turning on my music. Man, the bass boost just adds so much more grooving into the music.

“What you want, what you need, I’m gonna be your savior…” the music sung on as I looked down from my window to see that Ma is still shouting at “me”, even though I couldn’t hear crap. The music is written by Skillet, “Savior”. Surprising how I only knew this awesome band after watching The Transformers.

Anyways, time to introduce my own family. My mom, “Ma” is a gardener, who is supposedly famous in our neighbor hood, even though I know nothing about it. My dad, a businessman, who is quite successful, since we ain’t starving or anything. He always gets paranoid about my report cards and overreacts even when I get straight B’s, which is an average score, but a tremendously well score for a basketball freak like me, who’s got a full basketball scholarship at Lawrence North High, Indianapolis, Indiana when I am only 13. He worries about my future, I don’t get why these adults just don’t treat the road to begin my career of basketball seriously. All I know is that they don’t think it’s realistic, that they want me to be the same as my dad, a businessman, oh how exciting huh. And there’s my beloved dog, Harry. It’s a Labrador, with a beautiful color of gold for his fur. His fur is always so smooth and tremendously adorable, it feels so comfortable that I can lay my head on it and just sleep through the night.

I had to again, turn off my music because its 6:30am, almost time for school. You know, the usual brushing teeth and showering and styling my hair. I don’t eat breakfast, because that is just gonna make your breath stink at school, making you unpopular. Hey don’t think just because I’m a basketball player who gets average grades, it don’t mean I don’t take care of my outfit, first impressions are always important. It tells the coaches or the opponents whether you have confidence in beating them or not in a game.

“RYAN!!!!”

Ok now that scared me half to death, and it ruined my imposing manner for the start of the day, when it matters the most. Startling up the stairs, anxiously to find out what had happened to Ma, whether she was hurt or anything. And that is exactly why I almost fainted due to anger of the next thing she says.

“You mind helping me switch on the screen for my iPad, I forgot where the button is.”

“Is that all? Is that why you screamed so loud, scaring me half to death, BECAUSE YOU CAN’T SWITCH ON YOUR iPad?”

“Err...yea…?”

“JEEZ! FIGURE IT OUT YOURSELF! CUZ’ OF YOU I’M LATE FOR THE BUS, THANKS.”

And there I went, flying out of my house, I was sprinting, wind blew past me  supersonically, I couldn’t hear a thing, I felt like a hero. The next thing I know, I was on the floor, tripped over a pebble. Then I noticed something, why is it that I don’t feel any weight on my back?

“GOD DAMN IT!” I screamed as I sprinted back to my house again to get my bag.

Finally when I caught up to the bus, I was still in time, and was still glad that I made it before Bob, the slowest amongst us all. The way he walks, and the way his face is shaped, is just such a typical weakling, basically born to have the fate of being bullied as a part of his daily routine. I wondered into the back of the bus, and I couldn’t believe my eyes, Frank was sitting with Joe. “What a traitor he is.” I thought, and gave him my “stare” as I got to the back of the bus. There’s an old saying in China saying that if you lose something, you will earn something as well. It looks like they were right, the next moment as I turned my head around to seek for places to sit, comes the highlight of the day, no, maybe the highlight of my life would be fair to say so. Oh ain’t I starting to like the ancient people.

There she is, sitting on the inside, one arm resting on the frame of the window. Her lustrous black hair, which flows down the back of her at the height of her shoulder blades, “Gorgeous” I thought. Now that, is the first impression that I was stressing about, she is astonishing.

“Excuse me… can I take this seat?” I said to her as I was pointing to the seat next to her. I can’t believe that I was actually stammering, seriously? My other nickname other then Basketball freak is Mr. Love. Hell yea, girls are one of the easiest things to handle in this world other than basketball. Just a wink or maybe even a smile can get the work done. If I manage to meet a girl who is a little bit harder to handle, then maybe one or two sentences of complementing should do the job just fine as well, which is the situation a “Mr. Love” like me encounter rarely. But now I’m stammering in front of a girl when I was supposed to have her under control already?  “She is definitely different,” I thought. She slightly nodded after hearing my question.

Throughout the whole bus ride, I tried to concentrate on my own music played on my iPod Shuffle, but I just couldn’t help myself from raising my head to look at her, which almost turned into a stare from a peek at first. I just couldn’t get my eyes off her well-formed face. But what’s so special about her? What makes her so different and stunningly pretty? Was it because of the confidence she gave off? No, that’s not it, was it simply because she looked good? I wasn’t quite sure. Her eyes weren’t big, her eyebrows were quite faint, her nose… weren’t exactly the nose that would stand out among all of the girls’ noses, her mouth is quite small, with lips that are pink-ish peach, which makes the mouth alone look unbalanced and the ears of hers were quite small too. Her face is small overall. Despite all these so-called “flaws” of a girl’s facial features, she looks amazingly angelic. Probably because all together it was a harmonic face? Not really quite sure.

Then my focus moved on to the accessories she has. She has this silver necklace around her neck, which obviously makes her even classier, and her bag, it was a handbag overloaded with the amount of books that I have never seen in my life until today. One of the sheets showed, as I glanced at it, I was shocked, an A* in Geography! It’s virtually impossible to get such a good test result in geography. That completely changed my knowledge towards girls who are good academically. Usually, I’d picture those “nerds” as having those thick glasses with fingerprints all over them, and are usually quite ugly. Not my taste, basically. But again, this girl is special. I moved my focus on to her earphones. She only had one of them on, and the other one hanging slightly below her shoulders. My eyes followed the wires, which lead them to a shining white iPhone sitting on her lap. Her family is probably quite rich, could that be one of her rare flaws? Her ego? The fact that she may like to boast? With that question in my mind, it bothered me even more for the rest of the trip to school.

The bus trip felt as if it lasted for an eternity, even though it was only 5 minutes. As soon as we got off the bus, I was nearly out of breath, since I barely even dared to let loose of one single breath. I was afraid that it might some how disgust her. Am I still me? Being so careful in front of girl? That’s not my style. I thought. Did I actually check her out? It should’ve been HER checking ME out, now that was abnormal. I thought of trailing her to her classroom, I was desperate to find out which class she belonged to. It was probably the most urgent thing I had to do in my whole life. This is just not me! One side of me said. The other side fought back. So you’re telling me that you don’t want to find out the truth? Can you stand the curiosity inside you? Huh? Well I guess the second side won the battle in my mind, just when I decided to follow her. She went straight down the road, took a right, then a left after two corridors, we met Bob there, I was about to shove him out of my way, but surprisingly, she stopped an said “Hi” to him. That just answered my question, telling me that she does NOT have any flaws at all, at least in my understanding now anyway. Then she took a flight up the stairs and stopped. Whoa wait a second, I thought. This is my class!

“No way!” I exclaimed out loud. Everybody turned around to look at me, including the girl. So my “spying” ended with everybody treating me like a moron, and me blushing as I lowered my head. Felt like digging a hole on the ground and diving into it to hide for the rest of my life.

As the day got on, my concentration on… well everything became worse and worse. Like in Chemistry, my “second best” subject, I got all of the questions of the little quiz in the lesson wrong, even with questions like “which one is more reactive, gold or sodium”. And even questions like what does H stand for on a periodic chart,” I put down Helium. For some reason, I just couldn’t get my eyesight off her. I still don’t really get how come I didn’t notice her existence on this world until today. And now I know she’s there, it became so obvious that she’s… there. All right, I told myself, I’m gonna act normal from now on, no looking at her anymore. I was determined this time to stop myself to just gaze at her endlessly. So it was P.E afterwards, and unsurprisingly, I kept on looking towards her direction during P.E, and wasn’t concentrating at all in my ultimate BEST subject! Well the end result being me getting hit by the baseball twice in the stomach because I wasn’t concentrating enough in the catching session… ended up going to the nurse while everyone choked on their laughter. Yea, you’d better die due to the choking, go to hell all of you was basically my speech that was going on inside my mind. What I couldn’t stand the most was that I actually got myself into an extremely awkward position in front of her, TWICE!

That’s it, I’ve had enough, I thought, I’m going to charm her. That’s it. Nobody can resist the powers of Mr. Love can they?  I was a little bit unsure though when I had this thought, and I can tell you normally I’m pretty confident. So this is what happens. I pretended to walk in her direction and meet her by co-incidence and went for the wink. Then the funny thing happened; nothing had happened. No reaction from her what so ever, at least no positive ones… Well to make this straight forward for you, she stared at me while I was winking at her, like I was some kind of idiot. Seriously? What’s wrong with me? Or is it her? So I decided to try it on those usual girls, walking by them swiftly and giving them a wink, but even more to my surprise, none of them fell for my charm, one of them even kicked me in my stomach. DAMN IT! I thought. What’s wrong? Have I really lost my charm? Or is it by some odd reason the girls could see what I was thinking, I can tell you, I was thinking of “her”. Frustrated, I walked down to our classroom, swearing at myself.

Well, surprise surprise; it got worse in the afternoon, my best friend Frank was sitting next to me during English.

“What’s wrong with you today Love?”

“Hey don’t you talk to me like that, you know I HATE it when people are being sarcastic to me.”

“To be honest, I’m really worried about you today… Clearly you’ve not been focusing on anything today.”

“No… you’re thinking to much Frank, go grab some water, take a break yea?”

“ Man you don’t want my advices then fine, but you gotta at least tell me what’s going on dude.”

“Yo, piss off before I get real serious with you, ya feel me?”

“FINE, YOU GO TALK TO YOURSELF THEN, LOVE.”

You think I have a hard day today? Tell me about it… I just lost a good friend because of some girl who ignores me, great. I decided to walk back home, and also decided to act mental, walking on the fast lanes specialized for buses, somehow hoping that I’d get driven over by one. At least make it quick, I thought, and that was how much of a loser I became since that day went by.

Statistics shows that almost 80% of the reasons for teenagers committing suicide always had something to do with an incident involving another person that is a different gender. Well, looks like I’m gonna be another record of statistics for people to look at, well done to me huh. What’s even more bothering right now, is that I’m actually starting to miss her already, when school just ended 2 hours ago. With all these thoughts in my mind, I decide to go for a shower to clear them, and concentrate on the basketball game that’s going to take place the day after tomorrow. And SOMEHOW, I can always link everything back to “her”, so before I even realized, I was already imagining what’s going to happen during the scenario of me asking her to come to the ball game to watch and support me in school.

“DAMN IT!!!!!!” I shouted, “DAMN IT, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME???” as I begin to slap myself in the face hard, really hard, so hard that after the shower it felt as if I lost half of my cheekbone, that about 10 million skin cells had just died in that last 30 seconds of consecutive hardcore slapping session…

After sleeping through a disturbing, bothering, and painful night, I woke up feeling worse than a sick snail. I was exhausted, for no reason at all. I literally dragged myself out of the bed, to do my daily chores. What I don’t understand is, why do I suddenly find styling my hair, brushing my teeth so annoying. So, for the first time since I was 8 years old, I ate breakfast…

“Are you ok?”

“I’m fine Ma.”

“Ok… why do you suddenly feel like eating breakfast though?”

“I DON’T KNOW, JUST STOP BOTHERING ME!”

“Ok, alright, whatever you say.”

Well ain’t that another bad start of the day for me again? I left my house earlier than usual, seeking for a little peace on my own as I walked towards the bus stop. And guess what, there she is. What the… I thought to myself, She lives on the same street as I do? That’s so weird though, funny I haven’t seen her around. Well I guess anything that has a connection with her would be quite odd. I just couldn’t resist my attraction to her, so I decided to walk right up and talk to her. I stretched my whole body, my arms, legs, head, neck, releasing the tension and the nervy feeling I have.

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

“So how’s it going lately?”

“I’m fine.” And she walked away from me.

Now THAT, put me in even more of an awkward position, thanks goodness there weren’t anyone around to see me loose all my dignity towards talking to this girl. I’m even starting to consider that every time I’m going to talk to her, it’s best for me to bring a shovel with me, you know, just in case.

The bus came about 5 minutes later as students came to the bus stop one by one. As I hopped on, I spotted that there weren’t anyone sitting beside Frank, but after several considerations, I decided to go for the seat beside the girl. She glanced up at me, but faced her head back outside the window again. See, the thing about her is non-definable. It’s basically out of what humans can understand and interpret about attention. She just gets your attention (once you’ve actually noticed her), for no reason at all. She’s more than a girl most definitely, probably Medusa’s sister or something, similar to Medusa, except she makes boys fall in love with her on the first eyesight.

Well, I blushed, and I’m starting to get used to being embarrassed in front of because of her. I no longer have the pride of being a boy, a basketball legend. Usually it never happens, as I said before. I turned my head around towards Frank, to see him looking at me.

“What now Frankie.”

“Why aren’t you sitting beside me?”

“Because…” I tilted my head towards the girl, trying to get him to understand that I was going after her.

“What? I don’t get you.”

“Never mind,” as I let out a big sigh. How can someone be so retarded? But the look in his eyes, it was different than it usually is. I can see that he is really confused, he was staring at her, but somehow not really focusing on her. It’s like he was looking at the right direction, but just not finding where she is…

Oh well, it’s probably because he’s still not really used to me changing, going after one particular girl, I thought. I noticed that in our class, her seat is behind mine, a little to the left, beside the window as well. Again, I just couldn’t stop myself turning my head around to see her, it felt like I was afraid she might disappear… At recess, I finally made up my mind to explain to Frank what he just doesn’t understand.

“You see that girl over there? By the lockers? Standing? With long, black hair streaming down her back?”

“What? I don’t get what you mean.”

“Dude, what’s wrong with you, go get new glasses dawg. Do you seriously not see her? She looks amazing doesn’t she.”

“Ok… you’re starting to freak me out Ryan, just tell me the truth, don’t play these lame jokes on me.”

“What? What are you talking about? SHE’S THERE!”

“Err… Ryan… there’s nothing there except… a wall.”

“Oh go and screw yourself man, you know what? Forget it.”

After saying that I walked away from him, feeling all weird. Then I started to replay those words Frank said in my head. Yea he’s right… I don’t really remember lockers being there. Trust me, I would know if there were new lockers around the school, I’d be the first one to get to them, (cuz mine’s all messed up, and I need a new one), and I’ve been here since Grade 1. Well they might’ve put them up yesterday, you’d never know. Don’t let Frank get you with his stupid tricks, you’d know what you see and what you don’t… Right?

Then I started to picture how the seating arrangements in our class were before I noticed her. So it was (right to left, 1st row to last row): Mary, Joseph, Jack, Jill, Morris; Jessica, Frank, Me, Danny, Ted; Eduardo, Dyane, Diane, Me, Bob; Mike, Michel, Ann, Monica… and an empty seat. What the hell? I thought. Where the girl is sitting right now was an empty seat… and I’m pretty sure about of it as well. Aw screw that, she’s there, I can see her, I know she’s there, just don’t have any extra thoughts. You’ll be fine.

Ignoring all my extra thoughts, I walked up to the girl.

“Hey”

“Yes?”

Wow, she sounds annoyed already for some reason.

“You fancy coming to the ball game tomorrow after school? You know, supporting the school team, and…umm…maybe cheer for me?”

“Sorry, but no, thanks for the invitation though…”

I can’t believe my ears! She rejected me, which was my first rejection, ever. How’s that even possible? If it were other girls, they’d say yes when I just mentioned the word “Hey”… I think so at least right now, only if I hadn’t loose my touch in girls already…

At that moment, for the first time I actually felt like there was nothing that I should live for anymore. Feeling unwell, I went home earlier than usual as well, on my way back thinking: Another dull, boring, embarrassing day just had, and going back to my dull, boring house for another dull, boring half day… Well things didn’t go as badly as I expected, I got half a day of resting, still listening to songs by Skillet on my great music player. There’s also my dog, Harry, who is obviously the only person/thing in this entire universe that could see that I’m actually in a middle of a trauma, that I’m in pain, he stayed by my side, allowing me to pet him as much as I wanted to, ain’t Harry a great dog?

Well, skipping to the basketball game here, since there weren’t any sparks during the next day, felt like the day went by so slow that I was almost 60 years old when school finally ended.

Before the game started, my brain were still filled with images of her. I couldn’t seem to be focused on what coach D was saying, missing out all the tactics and defensive techniques. But as soon as the ref. threw the ball up in the air for the tip off, everything cleared away. All the thoughts, all the images, it was as if I just had a massive brainwash. I dominated the game, I was the person in control once again, and I was in charge. Although I missed out all the tactics and plays we were gonna use in this game, but nobody gave a damn anymore. Whenever I got the ball, I could easily dribble past everyone else on the court, like time had just stopped specifically for me to own the game. In the last few minutes, it became even more dramatic. The opponent stopped to even try to defend me, and they made absolutely no baskets. As the timer started to count down from 10 seconds, I was soloing a lay-up, but I decided to go for a dunk. Noting that I was only 13 when this happened, and I was only 179, 180-ish, I still went for the dunk. As I jumped up, time froze. Everybody had they’re mouths and eyes wide-open, with me on central stage, eyes focusing on me, alone. I wasn’t sure if I would’ve made it normally, but for some strange reason I felt an unknown strength allowing me the sore through the sky from the ground, and BANG, down the ball goes, through the net, through everyone’s heart.

Everybody was cheering, the small stadium with only an audience with only approximately 100 people inside was filled with the roaring of the crowds, with coaches and players on the court just gaping at me. Before anyone knew what was going on in the last 3 seconds, I quickly stole the ball from the opposition team, and when for the step-back 3 pointer from the arch. Swoosh, down the ball went through the net once again, swiftly, for a majestic buzzer-beater.

And so the game ended with a huge win for our school. 87-39, in a 40-minute game. As for me personally, I scored an awe-inspiring 57 points, along with 15 assists, and 12 rebounds, also an immensely skillful 75% of field goal percentage!

“Yo, Ryan,” called coach D, “What happened out there today, your performance was almost professional!”

“YEA, WE CRUSHED THEM!”

I guess that was a little too loud, that everybody turned around to look at me. Doesn’t that remind you readers of a scenario that happened once ago? Except this time I didn’t blush, I wasn't embarrassed of myself, I stood there heroically, accepting all their looks. I’m pretty sure all of them were filled with awe, maybe except for the opposing team though… But still, that wasn’t exactly the best moment of the day. When I stepped out of the changing room, there were actually people who wanted my signature. This wasn’t what I was talking about though. She was there, standing in between the crowds. I went to get her, and we made our way through those reporters, which I have no idea when and where they came from.

“Ryan, can you please turn around for us to take a picture?” one of the reporters said.

“I think I’d better leave now Ryan.”

“No, please stay and lets take the photo together.”

We stood together for the first photo, but as the temperature in the hallway rose, my feelings towards her became warmer, I’m sure she felt the same way, and that’s when I decided to go for the next step. I raised my arm, and gently rested it down on her shoulders as she turned her head around to me cautiously. Probably because she got the message in my eye saying its ok, I gotcha, nothing’s gonna happen, she relaxed, I could feel her dropping her shoulders, and naturally putting her arms around my waist, as we were in position for our 2nd picture.

“Great… thanks Ryan.”

“Come on, let’s go.” I said to the girl.

We walked out of the school gate together, feeling the gentle breeze blowing on us. Our shoulders were only about 10 cm apart, occasionally touching each other as we strode along. The moment, it was peaceful. I felt calmer then ever, and I didn’t want to try any of my stupid charming techniques right now, since it’s not going to help me in the situation I’m in now. I was happier than usual.

“I saw your game today.”

“Really? You were there the whole time?”

“Yea, and somehow… you were different on the court then you were in school. The energetic feeling you expressed to the audience was great, and the amount of confidence you showed, not only did it frighten the opposing teams and the coaches, but I’m pretty sure all of the audience were amazed too. It was different, your confidence, I’d say the confidence you expressed in school are pretty fake, that you can only show your real confidence on the court.” I blushed at that instinct, couldn’t help it though, being complemented by a girl that I cherished, and also because she spotted that my confidence in school were all fake.

No wonder she didn’t fall for my charms, I thought.

“I like the you better when you’re enjoying yourself on court you know?” she said.

“I felt like everything that was going inside my brain was cleared once I started playing. It was like time froze for me in the game.”

We kept on walking, as we fell into a slight gap of silence. It was 5:00 in the afternoon. The sun shone of a beautiful orange color, the warm light enlivened us, and we continued our walk as our shadows stretched a long way behind us.

“You… wanna get lunch sometime? Together?” I splat out.

“Sure, I think that it’ll be great!”

“Cool,” I said, with a poker face, when my heart pumped 10 times faster then usual, and trying not to show the excitement on my face.”

“But only under one condition,” she added, “ You let me decide on where we should go and should do.”

“Fair enough.” I replied. Normally, I would’ve strongly disagreed to that rule, but for some reason I am a different person in front of her, maybe in front of all people now.

Again, our conversation came to a dead end, until she spoke once again.

“You mind taking me to your house? I want to see what a room of a basketball legend looks like.”

Wow you’re  fast aren’t you, I thought, but I still agreed to her request. Suddenly, the weather changed, the sky was filled with clouds, and strong winds were attacking us as we continued our walk to my place along the curb. We got closer and closer to each other.

“I’m so c..cold.” she said, while constantly shivering. I did what a man should do, I took my jacket off, gently putting it on her shoulders, slowly picking up her hand and held on to it with a little bit of a squeeze, trying to tell her I’m here, everything’s alright now. She must’ve felt the warmness I was passing through  her hand, as her facial expressions relaxed and her cheeks reddening again. She looked extremely cute right this moment. Kiss her now Ryan, my mind encouraged me, kiss her now! It’s now or never again! But I fought back these thoughts and continued leading her back to my house.

“Ma, I’m back.”

“Oh hi Ryan, how was the game?”

“Yea it went great, oh and um… I brought a friend of mine over… hope that you wouldn’t mind.”

“Yea sure, who is it?”

“That, I’m not sure, why don’t you come and tell me who she is? I can’t believe that I didn’t she lived on the same street as us.”

“Really?” Ma slowly came out of the kitchen to the doorway.

“See? Have you seen her around?”

“Yea… sure. How are you darling?”

Normally I’d be pretty pleased to see Ma being so polite to my friends. But this time, it wasn’t the same, her look to the girl. It reminded me of Frank’s empty look, both of them looking at the girl, but somehow not focusing on her. Weird huh? Oh well, I thought, and took her upstairs into my room.

“Wow, I would’ve never imagined a 13 year old basketball genius to have his room painted in pink…” she said. “It’s cool ain’t it? Look at all my collections over here.” I opened my drawer for her to admire my collections of both baseball and basketball cards. Of course, I took her to see all the signatures I have. Well, to my surprise, she was actually pretty interested in these things. We talked and talked, time literally flew by, for me at least. It was 9 pm already.

“You wanna stay for dinner?”

“Sure, that’d be lovely, thanks for inviting me.”

We went back downstairs, with me shouting

“Ma, can she stay for dinner?”

“Um. Yea sure.”

On the table I turned around to ask her

“For all these times you and I have spent together, I still don’t know your name yet.”

“Does it matter?” she said

“Fair enough,” until now I still don’t get what she meant, that why she didn’t even wanted to tell me her name. Us three ate dinner in silence, except maybe Ma asking questions to her, like where she lives and so on.

Finally when she left, I turned around to see that Ma was standing right behind me.

“What?” She didn’t say anything, but she does look worried.

“Nothing.” She replied, “Nothing.”

I slept deeply and soundly that night, now knowing that I finally have something to look forward to, that I have a reason to live on.

Buzz, buzz, my alarm went off at exactly 6:30 a.m. It would usually be the time for me to wake up and prepare myself for school. But everything changed since she "came", my friendship with Frank got worsened, I couldn’t concentrate in any classes, and most importantly, she reduced the ego in me. I wasn’t me anymore, I still have Ryan’s body and shape, but the insides are different now. Right now all I care about is the girl, nothing else. I don’t bother to wink my eye at any girls anymore, I don’t even bother to style my hair anymore.

I headed for the bus stop extra early today, hoping to meet her and have a nice chat with her. There she is, standing there. I walked up swiftly to her and greeted her. Maybe it was because her music was too loud, maybe it was because she forgot who I was, or maybe because she ignored me once again! Oh well, I said to myself, letting out a big sigh as I sat on the wooden bench beside the bus stop. The bus ride to the school was very calm. Nobody talked to each other, except for the fact that Frankie kept on staring at the girl. Pst ain’t you the same huh? I thought. Chemistry and Biology went past smoothly in the morning, well, I got hit with the chalk that the teacher chucked at me several times when I looked around.

But overall, a pleasing start.

I finally got the chance to talk to her at the lockers.

“You remember about the lunch?” I said.

“Yea, sure.” She replied coldly.

“Um, do you think you have time today?”

“Yea, sure.”

“Where do we go?”

“The mall down the road.”

“Cool.” Well don’t be surprised of how our conversation went. I told you already that I changed after I met her, I became less aggressive and not even close of being in charge and making decisions. I guess that’s a lesson for me then. English literature and Math went by steadily, if not, slowly. I can’t wait till we have our first lunch together! It was a bigger thing then a ball game definitely. FINALLY, I told myself when the bell rang for lunch. We had a 2-hour break during lunch, so we were aloud to leave the school compound for lunch. I wondered down the corridor, hoping to find her. But she was nowhere to be seen. Damn, I thought, I think I’ll just go by myself then. So down the road I went, to find the biggest mall in the neighborhood, Circle Center mall. Well, I guess I found her at the front door. She looked even better than before, how does that work? I thought. Anyways, we went to Subways for lunch, you know, having the old ham and cheese sandwich for me, and a vegetarian sandwich for her.

There wasn’t really much to talk about between us though, we just simply enjoyed the quiet environment. Although she remained a poker face, but somehow, I think we both felt it, we knew that our hearts belonged to one another, and I wished that I could’ve shared the joy with the whole world. Once again, the warmness of love between us filled the empty air. We still said nothing afterwards, but gently rested our hands on the table, eventually reaching for each other’s hand. We held hands and walked out of the door and sat down on a bench in the middle of the mall. Still, nothing was said between us, but we were looking at each other, deeply into each other’s eyes. It was a two-man world for us, we didn’t care what the others were thinking. Our faces got closer to each others as time passed by, I could feel my muscles tensing up because of nervousness, I could hear her breathing beginning to become heavier than usual, so was mine. There, right that moment, I saw it in her eyes. She was giving me permission to do what I had longed to do since my first sight on her. I was gonna kiss her. Strangely enough, despite how charming and lovable I described myself as, I haven’t actually kissed a girl yet. I slowly brought my face even closer to hers now, and she closed her eyes. I closed mine too, partly because that’s how they do it in the movies, but funnily enough, I didn’t dare to look at her, I was afraid that this might not be true, I was afraid that when I opened my eyes, she’d be gone and nowhere to be found. Just as our lips were about to gently rest on each other’s, my nightmare came true.

“RYAN!!!!”

WAT THE HELL, I thought, and as I looked up I almost cried for the first time in my life. Frankie was running towards me waving and panting.

“WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? WHY ARE YOU STALKING ME?” As my EQ bubble popped, letting out all the anger and stress I had these few days.

“What are you doing Ryan?”

“Oh JESUS CHRIST, HOW DUMB ARE YOU?”

“Seriously Ryan, I’m starting to get worried about you now, you’re freaking me out dude.”

“You know what? Just piss off, yea that’s right. PISS OFF BEFORE I DO OR SAY SOMETHING THAT I’LL REGRET FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. GO!”

“Ok… whatever you say, boss.”

And there he went, just strolling back the same way he came from, as if NOTHING had happened.

“I’m so sorry, I…”

Time froze. Just like it did during the basketball game, except, this time, it was bad. My REAL nightmare had came true.

She was nowhere to be found.

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME? WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME GOD? WHY?” I yelled at the roof of Circle Center as again, everybody turned around to look at me. I simply did not care, and went around asking everyone, and I mean, everyone, if they had seen a girl leaving from the seat next to me on the bench. To my surprise, all I got as a satisfactory answer, was a no. The reason for me saying a satisfactory answer, was because half the people ran away or just stared at me when I talked to them about the girl, some took off before I even had a chance to say excuse me. Tired and anxious, I ran around the whole mall, even checked out the girl’s bathroom, but she had disappeared from me.

I went home early, because, I wasn’t only feeling disappointed like last time, I was heart-broken. Something that I had never experienced before until today, when I finally knew how ugly even a simple relationship could get to. I skipped dinner. I didn’t listen to Skillet, I didn’t even bother to take a shower, before I just threw my filthy body on to my well-made bed. Staring up at my Kobe Bryant poster, I was trying to replay step-by-step, of what could possibly have happened when Frankie spoke to me. It was only a 30 second talk, she couldn’t have made it outside the mall could she? I also tried to ask him what I shall do now, surprisingly, I got a feedback. I could almost hear it telling me to keep trying, that love would always succeed and overwhelm all the difficulties one would encounter during the process. I’ve made my decision. I was gonna fight for her, I was gonna look for her, no matter how long it takes me, how much pain I was gonna suffer, I was gonna find her. So I started with waking up at an incredibly early 5:30am the next morning, rushing to the bus stop, hoping that she’ll be there again. Sadly, she wasn’t. I wondered around aimlessly, but also thought that waiting another 2 hours until the bus arrives just isn’t going to do me any good, so I decided to walk all the way to school, and back again, just in time for the school bus, hoping at the slightest chance, that she may be walking down the curb to the school. After 10 minutes of taking off for the search, I started to realize how stupid of an idea it was, since it just wasn’t realistic enough, but still, I was a lost person, I didn’t know what to do, I was thinking at all, just going along with my instinct. The morning search ended with me sweating my head off, finding nothing except for a couple of empty water bottles left beside the curbs. As the school bus came, my hope came back, but was demolished until seconds after, when I found out there was no one in her seat. In classes, I still turned around to look at the empty desk, hoping that she’d suddenly appear, but obviously it didn’t happen. The whole day went miserably for me, and yet another event was about strike me in the stomach even harder.

When I was heading to my bus, my coach stopped me.

“How’s it going lately Ryan? Everything been good so far?”

“Yea, sure.” I mean I couldn’t possibly tell him I was having a horrible day when he asked that question can I?

“I stopped you because I had news to tell you, good or bad, you decide it yourself. One of the scouts from Maryland Tech. was there, watching you play. I just got a phone call saying that how amazing you were in the game, and that they might have interests of you joining their school, of course with a full scholarship.”

My eyes brightened, did the old Chinese saying work again? I thought to myself.

“NO WAY! HOW COOL IS THAT?”

“I know, but right now they need an answer from you, would you like to join their team?”

“HELL YEA!”

“The only problem is…”

I could see coach D’s face dropping as he was announcing the second news, I had a hunch that it was going to be something bad.

“ You see, they wanted you to take a mental/psychological test first.”

“What?” I was stunned by the news, that was shocking, something that I’d have never even expected in my whole life.

“So, looks like you haven’t read Daily Indianapolis yet huh?”

“Yea, so?”

“Read this,” he said, as he handed me a cover page of the newspaper. What made my heart sunk, was when I saw what was on it. In big, bold, black letters, it says “Basketball genius going to mental institution?”  Then below that title, I saw the picture I took with the girl together after the game. In this photo, it only shows me having one arm up in mid-air, cuddling on nothing. Where was the girl?

“I don’t get it coach.” I said, with my head all mixed up.

“Read the article Ryan,” Coach D said as he let out a big sigh.

In the short but sickening article, it wrote: “Ryan, a junior high student currently studying in Indianapolis state junior high school, has been spotted as one of the most talented young players of the US by scouts from all the universities all over our country, but has been reported with a slight, if not, a serious case of mental issue. Ryan claims that a girl was beside him when we took this photo, but as all of us can clearly see, there was nothing even close to being a girl or even a living thing beside Ryan except the empty air, which is one of the major concerns for MIT, whether if they would provide him with a full basketball scholarship.”

My eyebrows raised as I finished reading.

“I don’t believe this, I have no idea of what’s going on. I think I’ll go now sir.” As I backed up from coach D, ready to run away from this painful lie.

“Hold on, Ryan. Listen, Frank told me that he saw you acting really weird yesterday in front of Subways, he told me that you were about to kiss someone? Am I correct?”

“Sure.” I replied, still not knowing what the hell’s going on.

“The truth is, Ryan, according to Frank and a couple of witnesses we found that saw your actions, and asked them a few questions. Turns out that, you weren’t kissing anyone, strictly speaking, it was impossible. Why? Because there was no one beside you Ryan, if you don’t believe me, I have a video showing what happened. He slowly took out a camcorder from his right pocket and opened a file called “Mental kid”. “This isn’t my camcorder, this was from one of the witnesses, I just borrowed it. As the film played on, I felt more and more disgusted, it showed my actions of me hugging her at first, then gently stroking her hair, and holding her face, pulling it towards mine gently. All of these actions that I remembered so clearly, was the exact same, except these actions were done in mid air. When I look back to it now, I’d just laugh and wonder why I didn’t become an actor, I had great miming skills, if you looked at it from the positive way. But at the moment, it was just sick, I could almost feel the sandwich I ate yesterday lunch at Subways going back up my throat, ready for me to puke it all out anytime.

“Why…” I whispered out loud, just loud enough for Coach D and I to hear it.

“Why… what?” coach asked.

“WHY ARE YOU PLAYING SUCH STUPID GAMES ON ME GOD? WHY? WHAT HAVE I DONE WRONG? TELL ME, PLEASE! I WANT TO KNOW!” I screamed my lungs out on that one, getting all the attention again, I didn’t give a crap. I took off and ran away from coach D, from everything that I’d ever known of as school and home and friends. I kept running, just ran, didn’t care if people looked at me, didn’t care if my bag had just dropped, didn’t care if I lost a shoe, I just kept on running until I reached a big oak tree, when I ran out of breath and was dying. On the outside of me, the rage was burning furiously. I didn’t understand, why did God have to play such a stupid and cruel joke on me? What have I done to deserve this? I started to hate everybody and everything else. Yet on the inside, in the deepest ends of my heart, I was sobbing, I was sobbing, wailing even, non-stop, just crying. I couldn’t stop, there was no way of me stopping, for real this time, I climbed up on the top of a bridge’s handrail, stood there as wind blew past me once again. The chilliness filled my heart, I stopped crying. It was almost like I the calmness before a storm arrives, in this case, I could call it the final calmness before I would jump off the bridge into the river, 20 meters below. I held my head up high, listening to every single little thing I could hear, trying not miss anything before I would end my life. I wanted to keep as much memories of what the world had looked like before I would either head to heaven or hell. Everything stopped, the time stopped clicking, by then, I knew my time had arrived, tipped my toe up, let go of the handrail, and jumped, I closed my eyes and could feel one tiny strip of tear drop slipping down from my eyes, over my cheekbone, dripping off the edge of my chin into the river, joining it on its great journey of a water cycle.

Then something happened, I still don’t know how and what went on, a huge force grabbed me on my right arm, back up on to the bridge. Puzzled, I looked back, it was Frankie.

“Everything’s alright now Ryan, I gotcha pal.”

I stared at him for a few seconds, and dived my head into his chest, weeping non-stop like a girl as he continued to comfort me.

Right until today, I sometimes still wonder why the girl would appear, and why she’d let me go after her. The biggest question for her other than what her name is, was where she is now. Also, just to double check, I went visiting Bob a few days ago, and asked him whether if a girl had said hi to him that he thought looked unfamiliar, he replied with an expected answer of: "No, I was waving at Mr. M that was walking by behind you before you screamed your head off."

I guess that’s the end to my story about her, an experience that I never have forgotten throughout my whole life.

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