I sighed as I walked through the carpark, Valentine’s Day was tomorrow and posters and pamphlets screaming ‘Show your Valentine how you truly feel by getting them something special this year. Buy them a rose, which will be hand delivered to their class’ and ‘Have you gotten the one you love something special this year? It’s not too late to order chocolates and candy. See Student Council for more details’ in my opinion Valentine’s Day was stupid. Everyone at school ran around acting like loonies for weeks trying to find a perfect gift for their special someone and when the day rolls around the majority of the cohort has gotten the generic chocolates, candy, roses, cheesy cards and stuffed animals from the local supermarket. Not to mention I’m stuck with a bunch of shmucks all day gushing over how many Valentine’s they’ve received. I never get any and I’m glad, not knowing who my Valentine is would bother me until I found out who it was. It would be a disappointment when I found out it was a pity card or a prank card, rude messages filling the page. I don’t have friends; I’m the girl that sits in the library hidden behind a book every spare moment I get. I’d rather escape to a fantasy world then live in reality.
I groaned pulling damp flyers off my windshield, scrunching them up and throwing them on the ground angrily as I got in my car speeding off to the one place I can relax… the local library, the one place where I feel at home. The drive to the library was slow, peak hour traffic slowing everything down, The 1975 playing quietly through my speakers as my car crawled along the road. I pulled into the library carpark as it began to pour parking in my usual spot beside the entrance. I slung my shabby, old bag over my shoulder and climbed out of the car, slamming the door behind me. I hastily climbed the steps two at a time, the rain soaking through my sweater, my hair dripping down my neck.
I pushed the big, glass door open and hurried inside, dripping on the checkered carpet. I strolled over to my usual table in the back corner of the fantasy section, saying hello to Miriam the librarian as I walked past. I stopped in my tracks as I neared my table; someone was already sitting there immersed in a Pokémon comic book a black Nintendo DS by their side. I sighed and kept walking sitting at the next table over, pulling the latest book I was reading, The Hobbit, out of my bag. I open to book to the dog-eared page I was reading, about to engulf myself in the world of J.R.R. Tolkien and Middle-Earth when the person sitting at the table beside me sneezed.
My eyes travelled from the page I was reading and over to the boy who was wiping his nose on a tissue he’d pulled from his pocket. I gasped and hid my face behind my wet hair, my gaze focused on the boy. His faded blue hair sticking up at odd angles, his weary green eyes scanning the pages of his comic looking distraught. His name was Michael Clifford; he was the school’s punk, delinquent the kid you wouldn’t find in a library but yet here he was. He was the kid that sat at the back of the classroom throwing things at people; he skipped class and was always in trouble for doing one thing or another. What surprised me other than him being in a library was what he was wearing. Michael Clifford and his punk attitude came with the punk look of a plain coloured shirt, leather jacket, ripped skinny jeans, and laced up leather boots and what he was wearing wasn’t that at all. A smile spread across my face, the Pikachu onesie and black flip-flops were a peculiar combination to be seen on him, almost as strange as seeing Michael was in a library; I stopped judging and started wondering.
A couple of hours passed and Michael had finished several comic books whereas I’ve barely finished a chapter, too caught up in my own thoughts to comprehend what I was reading, flipping the pages aimlessly. Too fixated on wondering why Michael was in the library. Was he more intelligent than he leads on? Was he a secret nerd? I was brought back to reality when a hand pushed my book down, flat against the table. I looked up in shock to see Michael standing there with a look on his face that was mixture of a smirk and a scowl.
"Hasn’t your mother ever told you it’s rude to stare?" he asked; his hand not moving from my book.
"I wasn’t staring," I replied with as much courage as I could, "I was thinking."
"Thinking about what Jemima?" Michael asked sitting down on the chair opposite me.
"Thinking about how the Orcs missed all of the dwarves when they were in the barrels," I stated pointing to the book under his hand.
"Really?" he asked, obviously not believing my lie.
"Then how come, this page here is talking about Bilbo and Smaug in the Lonely Mountain?" he asked pointing to a paragraph.
My eyes scanned the paragraph he was pointing to and my cheeks turned red.
"I read that part earlier, and I guess I just seemed to think back on it when Smaug calls Bilbo a barrel rider."
"You guess?" he smirked, clearly amused at my agitation.
"Jeez Michael, don’t you have somewhere else to be?" I asked annoyed, prising my book out from under his hand.
"Not really, I just float around, sort of like a tumbleweed."
"You obviously don’t. I’ve never seen you ‘float around’ school in your Pikachu onesie and flip-flops," I mimicked.
"Ouch," he chuckled, a lopsided grin on his face.
"Why are you in the library anyway? I’m surprised you even know what a library is," I muttered darkly.
"Please, I’m not stupid. I like reading. I’m sort of like Hannah Montana, punk, antisocial kid by day, Pokémon nerd, lead guitarist by night," he laughed.
"So let me get this straight, you come to the library to play Pokémon?" I asked emphasising the word library.
"Pretty much, and when I’m not at school this is where I am."
"How come I’ve never seen you?" I asked thinking about how much time I spend in the library.
"I like to stay hidden," he replied smiling warmly. "Sort of like you."
"But you’re not. I don’t have friends and you’ve implied that you’re in a band so you’ve obviously got friends."
"Jem, I’m a people watcher. It sounds creepy but it’s a habit. We’re more alike than you think."
"Prove it," I said not believing that I could have anything in common with Michael Clifford other than the library being our place to hide.
"We’ll talk about this later the library’s closing. Meet me here tomorrow after school?" he asked standing up collecting his things after looking at his watch.
"I’ll be here, I’m always here," I muttered, closing my book and putting it back in my bag standing up as well.
We walked silently out of the library, mumbling goodbyes to Miriam on the way out. We stood by the big glass door and watched the rain fall.
"You’re gonna have fun wearing that home," I laughed at the thought of Michael in a soaking wet Pikachu onesie.
"I know, I’ll be nice and warm," he smirked, pulling an umbrella from the coatrack along with his leather jacket.
"Damn, I wasn’t expecting you to have an umbrella."
"Want me to walk you to your car?" he offered.
"Thanks," I smiled, pushing the door open, holding it so Michael could pass opening the umbrella as he went.
"Where’s your car?" he asked as we huddled under the umbrella at the top of the stairs.
"There," I said pointing to by black Jeep Wrangler.
"Come on," Michael smiled, holding me by the waist; I blushed at his touch as we climbed down the slippery stairs. No guy had ever held me like that, they’d always watched me slip and fall, not giving a damn if I’d hurt myself or not. Michael wasn’t the boy he wanted everyone to believe he was, he was the complete opposite.
We reached my car and we stood in silence as I fished my keys from my bag. When I found my keys I turned to look at Michael who was staring.
"Hasn’t your mother ever told you it’s rude to stare?" I joked.
"I was thinking," he replied with a cheesy grin.
"Right…" I giggled. "Do you need a ride?"
"No thanks, my cars over there," he replied nodding to an old pickup truck, his hand resting on the roof of my car as I climbed in quickly closing the door so the rain wouldn’t come in.
I put the keys in ignition and rolled down the window.
"See you tomorrow," I said, half yelling over the sound of the rain.
"It’s a date," he replied with a cheesy grin, the thought of Valentine’s Day slipping my mind.
As I lay in bed that night I couldn’t get the conversation Michael and I had out of my head.
"Jem, I’m a people watcher. It sounds creepy but it’s a habit. We’re more alike than you think."
And I wanted to know how, how we’re alike when we’re so different. We’re like Polar opposites but opposites attract don’t they? I shook my head, trying to shake the thoughts from my mind. Michael couldn’t like me and I most certainly couldn’t like him.
Did I like Michael Clifford?
Today is Valentine’s Day, the day that I hate more than anything the day I have a so called ‘date’ with Michael Clifford. Walking through the school I was getting weird looks from people who usually ignore me when I walked up to my locker and stopped. I looked around at the other students in the corridor to see their expressions mirroring mine, shock.
My locker was covered in pink, heart-shaped sticky notes, a single red rose taped to the center with a tag tied around the stem.
I pulled the rose off the locker and read the note.
‘I’ve noticed how much you love Valentine’s Day Jem. – your silent admirer xo’
"Michael," I groaned under my breath turning around to catch him leaning against his locker, a smirk on his face, mine turning a deep shade of red.
I hastily pulled all the sticky notes off and shoved them in my locker with the rose, slamming the door rushing off to first period.
The last bell of the day rang and I quickly made my way to my car, hurrying to beat the traffic. Ed Sheeran blasted through my speakers, his music calming and meaningful as I drove through town, meeting the start of the peak hour traffic. I’d been driving for fifteen minutes when a familiar rusted, blue pickup truck pulled up beside me at the traffic lights.
"Someone’s got a Valentine," Michael snickered from his car.
"Yeah, the whole school wouldn’t shut up about it all day. ‘Why would someone send you a Valentine?’ and ‘Who’d like you enough to send you a Valentine anyway?’ are some of my personal favourites,’ I replied with a grimace.
"Well the whole school is wrong, I like you," he smiled before the light turned green.
I blushed and drove off, Michael’s truck close beside my Jeep.
We pulled into the library carpark, me in my usual spot, Michael on the other side of the entrance. I climbed out of my car and Michael and I met halfway in front of the steps.
"You’re probably the only person in the whole school that likes me, besides the teachers," I mumbled looking down at my feet.
"It’s because they don’t know you," he replied, lifting my chin up with his fingers.
"And you do?" I asked, my eyes beginning to water.
"You’re that girl who wants to do well in life; you’d rather work hard now so you can relax later in life. You don’t surround yourself with friends because they’d drag you into commitments you won’t be able to keep. You stay silent even though you want to be heard. We’re so alike. I’m that kid who wants to do well in life; I’m working hard with my band so I can relax later in life. I don’t go to school much because it drags me into commitments I can’t keep. I stay silent until I want to be heard, my music is my voice," he answered, his hand cradling my face, his thumb running lightly over my cheek, wiping away a tear that had managed to escape my eye.
"I guess you do know me," I laughed lightly, a hiccup escaping my lips.
"Come on," Michael smiled his arm wrapping tightly around my waist as we walked up the stairs into the library. "I need to teach you the ways of Pokémon."
"Please, I’m not stupid. I know my Pokémon," I giggled, pulling my red Nintendo DS out of my bag while Michael smiled like he'd just won the lottery.
"Favourite Pokémon?" he asked holding the door open for me.
"Eevee, I’ve got so many. I need at least one of each evolution. What about you?" I asked walking through the door, my hand occasionally brushing against Michael’s.
"I like Magikarp," Michael replied with a grin.
"Magikarp are useless until like level twenty if you can even get that far without getting frustrated."
"I know, but I like the look of them, they’re so… derpy."
"I see," I laughed as we sat down at my usual table.
"Did you like the rose?" he asked as we turned our DS’s on.
"It was beautiful, thank you," I blushed.
"You’re very welcome. A beautiful girl deserves a beautiful flower but that’s not all," he grinned cheekily.
"And what would that be Mr Clifford?" I asked my heartbeat increasing in pace, butterflies errupting in my stomach.
He took my hand and led me to the doors that lead to the library’s courtyard, before standing behind be and placing his hands over my eyes.
"Do you trust me?" he whispered in my ear, goosebumps forming on my skin.
"Yes," I breathed as he slowly led me forward and out the doors. I felt the warm sunlight hit my skin; the smell of flowers filled my nose.
"Ready?" he asked an obvious smile in his voice.
"I’m ready," I replied and I couldn’t help the smile that grew on my face as Michael removed his hands.
The courtyard was filled with flowers of all sorts, shapes and sizes. I gasped in pure delight; they were the most beautiful flowers I’d ever seen.
"You did all of this for me?" I asked turning to Michael who was watching me in awe.
"You see Jemima, when you really like someone, a little effort isn’t hard to find," he blushed.
"Thank you," I said kissing his cheek, wrapping my arms around his neck. "Thank you for making me feel special."
"You’re welcome," he replied, his arms snaking around my waist.
"Happy Valentine’s Day Michael," I grinned looking up at him, his faces inching slowly towards mine.
"Happy Valentine’s Day Jemima," he whispered, our foreheads touching, before his soft lips were pressed against mine.