I loved her but she didn’t know that. I didn’t have the guts to tell her because I knew for certain that she wouldn’t feel the same. And I was scared of being rejected. I was scared that if I told her what I really felt about her, our friendship wouldn’t be the same again. She would probably change her point of view on me and never wanted to be near me again. And the one thing that assured me on the rejection was because she already had a boyfriend. Jake Weaselton was much better, richer and more popular than me and I know for certain, no one, not even Elena Evweet, would ever let go of a guy like him.
“Zack Adam Griffin!” my mom called up, probably for the third time since she had called me by my full name. She was shouting, fit to wake the dead, for me to get up as if I was miles away from her. “Get off your bed this instant or you’re going to be late for school!”
My eyes fluttered open and got wider the moment I saw the time flashed from the digital clock on my bedside table. It was already half past seven and school started at eight. I was sure that I was going to be late although it wasn’t the first time. The last time I was late, I was spending too much time fixing my brunette hair and applying lots of hair-gel on it to make it looked perfect.
I jumped off the bed, stripped off my pajamas and put on new clothes, spent fifteen minutes just to do my hair as usual and rushed off to school without taking my breakfast which my mom had prepared for me. I drove my mom’s old Cadillac as fast as the car could go and managed to arrive ten minutes past eight. I didn’t even bother to check if I parked correctly because that didn’t matter right now. I barged in the entrance door, ran all through the hallway to my first period class, English. I was such in a hurry that I almost tripped over my own shoelaces. After about five minutes of running around school like a maniac, I reached my English class and when I entered, Mr. Macon had already started the class. All eyes were on me as if I was a stranger from another planet.
“You’re late today, Mr. Griffin,” he looked at me as he lowered his glasses. He was leaning against the table in front of the class with a book in his hands.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Macon. I promise it won’t happen again.”
“You better keep your promises boy because next time you’re late, again,” he said, stressing on the word again. “You’ll be send straight to the Principal’s office.” I nodded, genuinely. He then gestured for me to take a seat next to Elena.
As I settled in my seat, Elena leaned closer and whispered, “You should stop wasting a lot of time fixing your hair in front of the mirror. Then only you’d make it on time.”
“First, that wasn’t why I was late,” I whispered back as I rummaged through my bag for my English book. “And second, it was never a waste to spend time in front of a mirror.” I winked at her and she rolled her dark brown eyes.
The bell rang indicating that English class was over. So, we all scurried out of the classroom and Elena was the first to disappear with her best-friend-forever, Emily Hughston. I was walking down the hallway when I saw her at her locker, switching books for her next class. I tiptoed toward her and covered her eyes with my hands from behind her.
“Jake, stop it,” she said, as she took my hands and removed it from her face before turning around and saw that it wasn’t Jake. My smile faded away. “Oh, I’m sorry, Z. I thought you were Jake.” She was the only one who called me by my first alphabet and it made me feel special.
“It’s okay,” I looked down to my feet as I shoved my hands in my pockets. “I totally get it.”
“I heard the homecoming is just around the corner,” I spoke, breaking the awkward silence and managed to put a smile on her face.
“Oh yeah! I’m looking forward to it. Have you got yourself a date?” she asked as we started down the hallway.
“Um, about that, I…I,” I hesitated. I never thought it would be this hard. It seemed much easier in my head. She looked at me, waiting for my answer that I just couldn’t let it out of my throat. Come on, Zack. You can do this, I told myself as I rubbed my sweaty palms on my jeans. I took a deep breath and let it out at once. “I wanted to ask you if you could be my date for homecoming night?” I looked at her with hopes in my eyes. I wanted to go to the homecoming night with her, to be her date so badly but I was scared of one thing.
“I would love to say yes, but I think Jake probably would ask me out later,” and that was the one thing that I feared. “But hey, I’ll tell you if anything okay?” She gave a wry smile. From the look on her face, I could almost see that she looked guilty for rejecting me, but why would she?
The bell rang indicating us to get to class. We had to go in separate ways since it was French class for her – and Jake – while it was Chemistry class for me.
“I’ll see you later I guess?” I asked.
“Yeah, see ya later.” She replied with a sweet smile that could melt any frozen heart. “Um El,” I called when she was about to turn and leave.
“Yes?” she asked but before I could say anything else, Jake came from behind and slipped his arms around her waist, kissing her hair.
“Let’s go baby,” he said.
“Jake, please.” Elena wriggled out of his embrace uncomfortably. She looked at me apologetically. I just stood there awkwardly as I rocked back and forth on my heels. “People are looking at us.”
“So what? You’re my girlfriend.” Jake started to kiss her neck but she jerked away as she rolled her eyes before she strode away. I watched her walked away without a second glance at me, her black hair swinging behind her like a beautiful wave. I wanted to say the three words that I’d been dying to tell her. But then I froze and never do it. My tongue got tied the words got trapped.
“I love you, El,” I muttered to myself as I stared ahead, but it was futile because she’d never know.
That night, I was sitting in bed in front of my laptop, lazily scrolling through my twitter when suddenly my phone went off. I answered without a glance at the caller ID.
I sat up straight the moment I heard that voice because I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that it was her. Elena. It’s strange how everytime I was near her or whenever she was concern, there’d always be butterflies in my stomach, adrenaline would rushed through me and my heart would beat twice its usual speed. But despite all that, I kind of liked those feelings.
“Hey, what’s up?” I replied, trying to play it cool.
“Am I bothering you?”
Never when it comes to you. “No, not really. Bored to be honest. Anyway, why do you call? Anything you wanted to tell me?”
“Yeah, it’s about the homecoming?” My stomach lurched the moment I heard it and my heart was beating even faster now as though it would jumped out of my body, as my eyes got wider. “So, Jake told me that he’s not going to make it for the homecoming.”
“Yes!” I muttered under my breath as I punched my fist in the air.
“Uh, um, nothing.” I retorted. Well, that was close.
“Anyway, am I too late to say yes?”
You’re never too late. “No. You’re lucky I’m too hot for any of the girls to ask me out to the homecoming ‘cause they fear they’ll burn under my unbearable hotness.”
She laughed such a sweet melody. “Yeah, right. So, what are you doing there ‘hot guy’? Playing with my fire?”
We talked on the phone that night till our eyes were too heavy to stay open. We said goodnight to each other although I never wanted to. I wanted to talk to her, to hear her sweet voice that had become my remedy ever since I met her and I never wanted to stop talking to her. Because I knew that if I stopped now, she’d probably be thinking about Jake again. And I was nothing anymore. No matter how much I wanted to be her something, I could never own her heart.
It was the night we’d all been waiting for, or most likely, I’d been waiting for. Elena and I were walking arm in arm on the red carpet as we entered the door to the huge hall where the ‘Homecoming Night’ was being held. It was decorated nice and perfectly for the homecoming event. Lights were dangling everywhere against the wall and it was set dim to match the mood for tonight. People had crowded the hall; girls were fetchingly dressed in gowns and the boys in their tuxedo. The music was blasting through the speakers and the DJ was busy mixing his song at the small DJ booth.
I sneaked a glance at Elena. She looked gorgeous without even trying in her red-hot long silk dress and her long black wavy hair that fell perfectly all the way down to her waist. I was eyeing her from top to bottom as I thought to myself, she was the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” she giggled. I guess she noticed I was staring at her.
I quickly tore my eyes away and shoved my hands in my pockets. “I’m sorry. But you look so beautiful tonight.” I could see out of the corner of my eye that she was blushing.
“Thanks,” she said as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “And you look so charming tonight.”
I just smiled and when I sneaked a look at her, our eyes met and I could have sworn I saw sparks flew. We moved closer to each other, inches by inches until I was close enough to feel her warm breath against my neck. I could hear the beat of my heart getting louder and louder. I slipped my arms around her waist and her hands found its way up to my neck. But the moment didn’t last long.
“Elena!” I heard a voice that interrupted the whole thing. Destroying it into pieces. We both turned and just like what I’d come to expect. It was Jake. His blue-green eyes full of rage and I knew exactly why.
“Jake, what are you doing here?” she asked in confusion as we tore apart. “I thought you couldn’t make it?”
“Yeah but I decided to check up on you 'cause I knew this would happen!” He grabbed Elena’s hand and pulled her away from me. “Stay away from her.” He scowled under my nose before I was left alone. Elena tried to break free from his grip but it was too strong. She looked back at me over her shoulder and mouthed ‘I’m sorry’.
It was time for a slow-dance. I was alone and broken when I saw her with him, slow dancing. It was tearing me apart but she didn’t see. How I wished it was me with my hands on her waist while we dance under the lights. I wished it was me who she would call later on 'cause she wanted to say goodnight. But it wasn’t me. And it’s never going to be me. I was just the underdog. So, with a broken heart and an empty world, I shuffled and dragged my way across the room to sit at a vacant table, drinking my way through the night drowning myself in despair.
“Stupid you,” I scoffed myself. “You are nothing compared to that spoilt rich little brat there. Who are you to be replacing his place as El’s boyfriend?” I shook my head and drained a glass of punch. I was supposed to get brain freeze but I felt nothing instead. Well, might just be that my nerves system had died.
“Hey,” I felt someone touched my shoulder. “I saw what happen there.” I turned and saw a guy I’ve never seen before. Hard to say if he’s from my school but right this moment, I cared nothing. I ignored him and walked toward the punch bowl to fill up my glass. “Are you just going to sit here and do nothing about it?” It’d starting to get annoying with this guy. And again I continued ignoring him and didn’t answer as I sipped my drink, leaning against the table. “I mean I know that you like her but unfortunately for you, she already has a very obnoxious muscular boyfriend there,” he gestured toward Elena and her sick boyfriend who was still in each other’s arms, dancing to the music. “But you can’t just be a coward which I’m pretty sure you are right now.” Okay, that’s it. I had totally lost it.
“You know what, I’m going to prove you wrong. I am not a coward,” I gritted my teeth as I poked his chest.
He raised his hands up in surrender. “Alright, fine.”
I turned on my heels and stomped toward Elena and Jake. This strange guy was right though. I’d had enough of keeping all this to myself, bottled up in my head. I should really just let it all out. Whatever happens happened. I walked with all the strength I had and determination building up inside of me. I clenched my hands into fists and my eyes were fixed on Jake.
“I said stay away, man!” Jake shouted when he saw me coming and was about to push me when I grabbed his arms and pushed it away. We were actually causing a scene because everyone was staring at us now and the music had abruptly stopped too.
“Listen, I don’t care if you would punch me later on but I just can’t keep this to myself anymore.” I told Jake who was now frowning, confused of what I was about to say. Then, I face Elena and took her hands in mine. I took a deep breath and swallowed the lump in my throat. “El, I want you to know that I love you. I’ve been dying to tell you this but I didn’t get the chance and I always seemed to freeze whenever I’m near you. I love you even before you’re with him. I’ve loved you since the first time we met. Since the very first time our eyes met. But I was too much of a coward back then and now even though I’ve told you what I feel, I know it’s already too late. But I’m glad that I’ve spill it out to you. And I’m glad now that you know. That’s more than enough for me.” I slipped my hands away and they fell loose beside her. I looked down to my feet, not wanting to look her in the eye and walked out of the hall into the street. From behind me, I heard the whispering and buzzing of the people and I was pretty sure it’s going to be the talk at our school.
Elena didn’t say a word and she didn’t take her eyes off of me when I told her. I wondered what was running through her mind when I told her because her face was really had to read but I’d probably never know. That might just be the last time I ever talk to her or ever see her again. I was walking along the vacant street, kicking some stones out of my way when I heard someone calling my name.
“Zack! Wait!” I knew that voice. I turned around and saw Elena was running with tears pooling in her eyes. She was holding up her dress in one hand and her high heels in the other. She threw away her heels before she jumped and hugged me.
“I’ve always loved you too, Zack,” she said, panting and sobbing at the same time. My heart stopped when I heard the words escaped her mouth. It was hard to believe at first. My hands hung loosely besides me and I couldn’t move a muscle. I was too shocked to even move. Suddenly, I managed to smile and returned her hug. “Why didn’t you tell me earlier, stupid.” She punched my arms when she pulled back from the hug.
“Because you were with Jake. And you two were in love and I was scared that you wouldn’t feel the same.” I told her as I stroke her wet cheek with my thumb, wiping the hot tears away.
“But I didn’t say I love Jake, did I? I was forced to be with him, Zack. Our parents wanted us to be together. I don’t love him and I've never loved him. I love you.” Er eyes were dancing on mine. “I’ve been waiting my whole life for you to say that.”
I pulled her face up by her chin and realized that she still looked pretty even when she was crying. Her eyes were shining like a diamond against the moonlight.
“Hey, we didn’t get to dance just now,” I spoke as my arms slipped around her waist pulling her closer. She stayed silence but a small smile appeared on her face. “Now we can dance all night. You don’t have to worry about Jake anymore. Let’s say he doesn’t even exist.” She threw her head back and laughed as I felt her hands slowly wrapped around my neck. We swayed to the rhythm of the wind, cherishing the moment. She rested her head against my chest and I put my chin on her head.
“I love you, El. Always have and always will.” I said as we looked far into each other’s eyes.
“And I will always love you back,” she replied. Soon after, our lips crashed and we were sharing a passionate yet soft sweet kisses under the moonlight, in the cold night breeze, witnessed by the twinkling stars above our heads.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier.” I told her between the kisses but she shushed me.
“Stop talking and kiss me,” she said as she ran her fingers through my hair. As we were kissing, I glanced over her shoulder and saw the annoying guy who talked to me earlier. He smiled and made a thumbs-up before disappearing into the mist of the night. Who was that guy? But whoever he was, I was glad he talked to me.
Or else I wouldn’t be where I was standing right now, in Elena’s arms.