Typical… I wish
Chapter 16 – Valentine Surprise?
Weeks dragged by painstakingly slowly (with homework becoming more and more a subject to be avoided at all costs), the dramatic episode of that lunchtime not-so-long-but-feels-like-forever ago was never mentioned again and Logan seemed perfectly happy to act like it never happened. Matt and I followed suit. It was a mutual agreement: we were fine as long as he was fine.
Checking my watch, I cursed loudly and sped up my pace. An old woman gasped nearby and tutted at me in indignation. I thought I heard the word "scandalous" before I dashed out of earshot.
As always, the dreary winter mood took a drastic U-turn as Ms. January was torn unceremoniously from my wall and a bustier Ms February took its place (a "joke" Christmas present from an idiot – three guesses on who). The school became a very hectic and frankly dangerous place to be, as did pretty much every spot that could harbour two people and looked remotely romantic. I, for one, had the misfortune of witnessing a particularly vulgar scene (inside a closet no less!) which has permanently marred my virgin eyes.
Of course, there were also the rumours to endure.
"Where do you think Logan's going to take her?"
"Is she really Logan's girlfriend? Wasn't she a friend of Meena's?"
"I hear she's only in this school because of a scholarship, I bet you she's just dating Logan for the money."
Please keep in mind, by the way, those were the nice ones.
Thinking back, I suppose it would be foolish of me to assume people wouldn't talk. After all, I was Logan's ex-girlfriend's best friend and I was (however intentional) the one to split them up, or at least seemed to be it after the Winter Dance incident. It didn't make matters easier when I now hang out with him and Matt in school as well.
Gosh, I've forgotten how many death-glares I've been entreated to this term already. My body must be immunized against them now.
Or maybe I've just become paranoid. Staring with confusion and glaring with jealousy were, after all, very similar in appearance… and I generally try to avoid noticing them if I could.
But there's no doubt that any glaring/staring there had been has intensified since last week. And I think I knew why.
"Happy Valentine's Day!"
I squealed as two arms snaked across my waist and clasped together tightly in front of me, a warm body engulfed me from behind. My bag dropped to the ground with a plop. The idiot…
My face boiled hotly. "O-Oh for heaven's sakes Matt, let me go!"
I struggled futilely, and my cheeks burned brighter still. A deep rumbling vibrated down my back and I knew he was laughing. Suddenly, a familiar whiff of autumn wafted into my nose and I froze. Wait a minute…
"What are you talking about Aelyn, I'm over here!"
I looked up, and my jaw fell open. Indeed, the said idiot was in front of me, not behind me, although the voice that had yelled 'Happy Valentine's Day' was definitely his.
My throat swallowed. Then… behind me must be…
"Happy Valentine's Day, Aelyn." A deep, husky voice breathed into my ear.
I stumbled out of Logan's embrace; blood rushing to my head so fast that I almost fell over. Both nitwits laughed loudly behind me and I distinctively heard a high-five being exchanged. Cooling my face quickly with my hands, I seethed. Stupid evil schemers.
Turning around (once my face was remotely human-coloured again), I asked them hotly the question I had being puzzled over since they'd asked it on Friday. "Why in the world did you two invite me out today of all days?!"
They both blinked, staring at me like I was a fool. I was not!
"Well…" Matt began slowly, glancing sneakily towards Logan. "We thought you might like some male company on Valentine's Day."
I quirked an eyebrow. Why exactly? I had spent 17 years of my life alone on Valentine's Day before and they were all fine.
Matt pursed his lips together and pouted. "Hey, don't give us that look! You should be thankful that you have two hot guys like us" (I scoffed loudly) "on this special day. Not everyone is so lucky you know!"
This time, it was me who blinked. He was right; many girls would be so envious of my position right now. Even at this moment, I could see the flickering glances girls were sending our way as they strolled down the sidewalk with their boyfriends. Clearly, they were confused about the disparity in appearance between the genders and also…
"Wait a minute!" I exclaimed, "Two guys and one girl?!" I stared at them. "Doesn't this arrangement look a bit weird?"
I looked at Logan, who shrugged, clearly not caring, and then at Matt, whose face concealed the most non-concealed glee.
"Well noticed, Aelyn!" He laughed, clapping me on the back. "Which is why I'll be going in ten seconds, and then the two of you won't look too weird. Key word being too."
I gaped. What?!
Logan looked taken aback too. Clearly, Matt has also failed to mention this to him.
"Why are two so surprised?" The blonde twat asked innocently, "I have other things to do too, you know." He checked his phone. "Yup and I'm already running late. If I don't get there soon, she'll kill me."
Another surprise joined the first. She?
"Lilly?" Logan's voice piped up. "I thought today was her examination day?"
My brain was becoming mushier by the second. Today was Sunday… Examination?
"It's been pushed back. She insisted on being free today. You know how impossible it is to change her decision once she's set on it."
Logan smirked. "She changed about you."
Matt laughed, waving it off, and I was astonished to see a blush forming on his face. "Only because I've agreed to become her personal slave and to do as she likes."
My face must have seemed almighty confused. Matt smiled. "Lilly's my girlfriend. Hah, don't look so surprised!" I quickly closed my mouth. "Do I not look like boyfriend material?"
Another beep sounded from his phone.
"Argh, I'd better go. Last time I was late, she made me piggy-back her all the way around the centre. I don't think my back has ever recovered since." Matt sighed dramatically, rubbing his shoulders in mock pain. "Anyway, you kids have fun (I know it'll be difficult without me)! Aelyn, any questions ask me later. I'd really get butchered if I don't get my ass up there soon."
He waved goodbye in the distance (not without giving me a very unsubtle wink) and was quickly lost in the crowd.
A deafening silence fell around my ears. I flushed hotly; suddenly very aware of the new predicament I was in. My eyes dared not look at Logan, and my heart was racing. It has been a while since we've been alone together, and on top of that, on Valentine's Day…
Date, date, date, date, date.
Oh shut up! I gave myself a mental kick, becoming more and more worked up by the second. This was not a date! My fingers toyed with my sleeves and my teeth sank into my lips. Well, if this wasn't a date, it bloody well felt like one.
"Heh, don't be so tense Aelyn."
I gasped as a cool hand grazed my own. And before I could stop myself, my eyes had locked onto his. Logan smiled, his hair falling into his eyes handsomely.
"It's only me."
My heart wrenched.
'Only me…'? I repeated. How could he say that? Only the boy I'd give anything to be with? Only the boy who's breaking my heart?
My emotions must've shown on my face, for his smile fell slightly, and green eyes became deep.
I shook my head firmly. Now was not the time to get depressed. Logan was here by my side and that was enough. I couldn't let myself think about that now. Slipping my hand from his, I bent down and retrieved my handbag. Inhaling deeply, I turned around and smiled.
"Nothing, I couldn't be better." Logan still looked concerned. "Really!" I smiled broader, almost splitting my face in two. It worked, as his face relaxed. "Anyway, where should we go then?"
I spun around, trying to see where the other couples seem to be heading, and therefore, know where to avoid, but sadly, the destinations seem to be at random.
"How about a carnival?"
I made a sceptical face at him
"Where are we supposed to find a carnival so suddenly?"
Logan grinned, and gestured towards a large poster behind me. 'St. Valentine Spring Carnival, 14th February.' I scowled, realising it must be an annual event.
"Well, excuse me if I've never gone out on Valentine's Day and so wouldn't know the hotspots." It had meant to be a mutter, but the words came out more forcefully than I'd intended.
He laughed (what was so funny?), "Actually I've never been out on Valentine's Day either so I wouldn't know if it was a hotspot or not."
I stared at him in disbelief. He's never gone out on Valentine's Day. My eyes narrowed. As if…
"Anyway, my mother always sponsors the carnival so each year she has to make an appearance. But today she's got a meeting so I need to do it instead. 'Good practice for the future', supposedly."
I didn't say anything. It was the first time his mother was mentioned since that time too.
"What? Why are you looking at me all weird again?" I blinked and quickly relaxed my face. He grabbed my hand again. "C'mon, it'll be fun! I remember Matt telling me the exact locations of all the make-out spots."
Logan grinned at me strikingly. I blushed. It may be a joke but did he realise what he just implied? Apparently not, I noticed, as his cheeks burned redder than mine a second later.
"I, uh, I didn't mean it like that. I just meant…"
He trailed off, looking away in embarrassment. I refrained the urge to pinch his cheeks, and quietly giggled.
"So…?" He scratched his head, mumbling to the floor.
I looked down. He hadn't let go. Five fingers fitted around mine, more snug than a glove. A smile spread across my lips, as an inexplicable feeling of happiness coursed through my veins. I nodded.
The hell with tomorrow, I thought, as my body fell towards his, completely complying with my heart for once. The familiar scent of autumn engulfed me once again, and I shut my eyes in bliss.
It was a mistake. I should have left him then. Hell wouldn't come tomorrow. Not when it was already here, right now, speeding towards the carnival my heart was pumping so madly about.
I rushed forward, crouching down once again to peer at the strange artefacts an old vendor was selling
A crunch on the gravel told me Logan had caught up. I picked up a box and flashed it to him. "Isn't it pretty? I think I recognise this figure." I moved it around; the crystal glinted in the sun. "The Little Match Girl, isn't it?"
The seller nodded, his wrinkled eyes surprised. "Indeed. One of Anderson's lesser works, not many people knows about that story, or even Anderson himself. The Grimm brothers seem to be more popular."
I nodded eagerly, being a huge Anderson fan myself. "But Anderson's stories have so much emotion in them that I find them incomparable. The Little Match Girl had been my favourite story as a child; in fact," I blushed, admitting, "I remember crying the first time I heard it."
The old man smiled, "If only more youngsters could appreciate fairy tales like they used to, my sales figure would be better."
I smiled sympathetically, checking my purse. "I'm sorry. I only have $10 left. That's barely a fifth of the price. Will you be here next year? I promise to buy one next time."
He chuckled. "No problem, I'll give you half off next time too."
Smiling, I stood up. Logan was looking at the statues with an unreadable expression on his face and seemed out of touch with the world. I poked him gently on the shoulder and signalled to leave. The old man waved goodbye from his chair.
"You're a really weird girl."
I turned to Logan, mouth full of candy floss. It was an hour later, we had just walked past a children's play-zone and their screams were still resonating in my ears. I wasn't sure if I heard right.
He glanced at me, and held back a laugh as my face was a mess with sticky candy.
"I said you're weird."
I glared. "How?"
"Most girls get excited over flowers and chocolates, but you had to pick a crystal statue as your ideal gift."
My feet stopped, and I sent him a scowl.
"Hey, I like flowers and chocolates too (though not dark ones, thank you very much). It's just you don't see Anderson fairy tales statues everyday on the street, and so I got excited. Besides, flowers die after a week and chocolates don't exactly last forever either (lest of all in my house)."
I crossed my arms childishly. Logan smirked.
I blinked as a small box was thrusted towards me.
"It's good you like something then."
I looked at the box. It was the statue, I knew before I opened it. Sunlight reflected splendidly off the miniature crystal figure, and a lump bigger than the size of an apple lodged into my throat.
"Wh-When did you…"
"When else? When you were squealing over the heart-shaped lanterns in the next stall of course."
I choked out a laugh, as my heart thumped like a drum in my chest. Thanking him quietly, I restoring the lid and carefully pocketed the box into my bag. Logan watched me silently. I avoided his eyes.
"Here, hold this for a second." I passed the candy floss to him and stepped back. Still not looking at him directly, I turned around. "I need the toilet, be back in a sec." Calming my heart, I swallowed hard and ran.
Stalls after stall passed my eyes, none of them captivating enough for me to stop. I clutched the $10 note tighter in my hand and rushed forward. My breath fogged before me, as wind clung to my skin. It was impossible to outdo the crystal figurine, I knew, but something in my chest refused to allow me give up.
Suddenly, something hauntingly familiar caught my eyes, and I stopped.
'Make your own scarf! Kit'…
In an instant, my breath was sucked out of me. I stood, unblinking, as my eyes were consumed in a reverie. Memories of a distant past clawed at my brain, memories I had forced myself to forget. I shook my head fiercely. No, I had forgotten.
Tearing myself away, I locked my eyes onto the next stall beside it. It was selling home-made chocolates. My heart ached. I couldn't stand to be around here any longer. Pulling out the cash, I purchased a bag quickly. Logan would be suspicious by now, I thought, I had taken so long…
Placing the change into my purse, I ran back to the place I had left him. The pink candy floss registered my eyes before anything else did and soon his laughing face emerged. I smiled in relief, banishing all thoughts aside.
My mouth parted to call his name, but was frozen before any sound was emitted. Another body had entered my vision.
It was a She. And She was beautiful.
Sun-kissed auburn hair shimmered as if sunlight existed especially for her. Two brilliant azure eyes twinkled brightly even at a distance. She was slender and graceful, clad in an elegant white coat. The heavens could be singing, for all I knew, for she looked nothing less than an angel.
I hid myself behind a stall booth, my breathing laboured in my ears. I waited for a moment as I prepared myself, and furtively peered over again.
They were walking towards me. I quickly pulled back, looking desperately for a place to hide. Please don't see me… Please don't see me…
They didn't. The footsteps stopped right next to the stall. My body relaxed slightly, and my head turned to listen.
"It's been a while, hasn't it?" Her voice was soft, and spoken so quietly that I barely caught it. My heart pounded. Why did she sound so sad?
"Yeah… Yeah, it has."
My heart pounded harder. Logan's voice was soft too. This girl must be special, if he could be so gentle.
"No, I don't mean just parties and stuff." Azure gazed deeply into green, tender and fragile. "I meant us… Alone. Like this."
A metallic taste stained my tongue; I had bitten my lips too hard. Logan didn't say anything.
"I still remember," She said, looking around broadly. "The first autumn we met. There was a carnival just like this. You insisted on going, even when your mother forbade you. We sneaked out, climbing down the tree that linked our houses. I think I still have that scar where my arm grazed that branch." She traced a spot on her arm absent-mindedly, Logan remained silent.
"And yeah, thinking back, you were like this that time too! Quiet and not moving, just staring at crowd like a statue. Heh, we didn't do anything the entire night."
Logan looked away, eyes cast down. "We were nine. You still remember that?"
I choked. Nine…?
"Of course!" She leant against him, eyes aglow in reminiscence.
"After all…" She continued, lips lifting into a smile. "That was the day I realised I was starting to like you." Her eyes fluttered shut. "An entire night of silence… Not many girls would have stayed, you know…"
It was enough. I had heard enough. The bag of chocolates fell off my hand but I was gone before they had even met the floor.
I ran, fast and blindly, into the ocean of strangers.
Couples protested loudly as I tore through them, stumbling and tripping every few steps. My eyes were blurry with tears and sobs shook my chest in painful convulsions as if something was trying to break out. I clasped a hand to my mouth. It was difficult to breathe.
From the beginning, already too late.
I had forgotten, happily lost in misguided hope, that in this story, I was only ever a secondary character. It was ignorant. For once the heroine arrives; my existence will be nothing but a murky memory: a faceless figure of the past.
Wow. Did not expect to finish this chapter in a mere few days… I suppose the family blues at home made it easier to escape from the world.
As promised, a new character introduced. Please read and review to let me know what you think. I seem to be losing readers faster than ever (sad face).
This chapter wasn't meant to coincide with Valentine's Day but it did. I sincerely hope you all have a better Valentine's Day than me – ie. pigging in front of the TV, blocking my mum's voice. It isn't difficult, I suppose.
Anywayy, I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Have a great holiday!