Without wanting to sound like a certain Vampire heroine, I planned on asking K if he had anything to do with my card the next time I saw him. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait very long.
After the last bell of the day Lola led the way out of school, we got as far as the car park the teachers use so their beloved vehicles are somewhere safe while they teach us delinquents before I caught sight of Felix waiting for us by the gates. His ordinary brown hair would be almost indiscernible from the sea of similar heads if it wasn’t so out of control. It’s not that he didn’t brush it or make an effort to keep it looking smart, truth be told Felix probably spent more on hair products than most people but it made no difference; once the wind got hold of his light hair no amount of product could help.
I turned to Lola beside me to find her face lit up with joy, the affection she felt for Felix wrote clearly on her face. “Is your good friend Felix walking you home?” I asked her playfully.
Lola fiddled with the strap on her school bag before answering, “You don’t mind, Tabitha, do you?” she asked concerned.
“How can I mind?” I said in return. “You’re my best friend Lola; I hope you have a lovely time even if it is only the time it takes to walk you home.”
“Thank you, Tabitha, I’ll call you later.” Lola beamed, hugged me then made her way over to Felix.
As they left I turned towards my own path home, “You look happy today, Tabitha.” K observed walking up beside me. Instead of answering I simply raised my eyebrows at him. He chuckled slightly at that, “Felix and Lola looked happy too.”
“Yes, they did.” I said thinking of the matching looks of bliss on their faces.
“Maybe you got a card too?” K asked nonchalantly as he kicked a stray stone further along the path, we watched in silence as it bounced and skidded before coming to a stop.
“How do you know that?” I replied with a question. Lola’s passing comment that I should ask K about my card resurfaced in my mind. “Do you know who sent it?”
K chuckled gently, for some reason it reminded me of water flowing through a brook. “I wouldn’t have thought you’d be so bothered by a piece of card.”
“Are you sure?”
K shrugged, “Ok then, I won’t mention it again.” He said with a smile.
“Stop teasing K, what do you know?” I asked bumping him with my shoulder, we had passed most of the busiest roads now and the path we were walking along empty of people. Somewhere off to my right, perhaps in the hedge of a garden, several birds picked up their chorus.
K slowed down, his halting steps reflecting his reluctance to speak. “What was on your card?” he finally asked.
“Two butterflies, a Common White with black markings and a purple butterfly.”
“The purple one, did it have white marks near the edges of its wings?”
“I think so?”
“That’s probably a Purple Emperor then.” K said with a smile. “They are very pretty butterfly.”
“K?” I asked suddenly connecting the facts.
“My grandma taught me about butterflies and various other creatures a few years ago.” K explained pre-empting my question.
“No, that’s not my question.” We stopped walking and stood still, facing each other across the short distance from one side of the path and the other. K looked at me, a sceptical frown on his face as if prompting me to ask what I had intended to. “You helped make my card?”
K’s expression turned smug, “Yes, Tabitha, I did.”
“Did you send it?” I joked. K dropped his head and mumbled something at the ground. “What?”
“I sent it.” K admitted looking up at me again.
I laughed a little at that, I’m ashamed to admit it now but I thought it was a joke. “You mean as a joke?” I asked.
“No, not as a joke.” K replied, he sounded a little sad as he continued. “I’ve always thought you were pretty, more than pretty, that’s why I was so mean to you in middle school Tabitha...”
“What?” I said, unable to comprehend what I heard. It just didn’t make sense to me, if you like someone you treat them kindly don’t you? Maybe if we had been ten years old, then maybe I could by it, after all when your ten things are confusing and it’s easier to misinterpret your own feelings.
“You don’t believe me.” he said, stating it as a simple fact. “I knew you wouldn’t even as I made the card but it’s true. You’ve heard people say that boys mature later than girls, in my case that’s very true, I couldn’t work up the courage to tell you the truth so I did things I knew would wind you up just to make you think of me.”
I could feel my face growing red with each word he said until it felt like fire, I felt something in my heart respond to his confession. “K, we haven’t exactly been friends for very long...”
“Tabitha, I don’t expect you to say you love me.” He laughed gently, the shadow of sadness on his face lifted to be replaced by a small smile.
“I know I like you a great deal.” I admitted. “Of more than that, I’m not certain.”
“I understand.” K replied then tugged my arm till we were walking along again.
“We should spend more time getting to know each other; would you like to watch a film sometime?” I smiled, overjoyed at how well he handled the situation. He could have cried or shouted at me for not having an answer or the right answer but he didn’t. The fact he could accept I hadn’t made up my mind about how I felt really highlighted how much we had moved on from middle school. I knew then that even if we didn’t end up together, I’d be glad that we had become friends.
“I’d like that.” K answered flashing me one of his trademark grins.
As we walked side by side past ordinary houses I thought how funny it is the way things work out sometimes. I mean if you had told me at the beginning of the year that K would be my friend in the next two months I would have said you were mad, but I’ve come to discover there is nothing quiet as mad as love.