what i thought i knew


no is no

I cackle maniacally. I laugh like the evil sorceress from Disney movies. I bellow so loudly that I can feel my ribs shaking because of it.

"What's gotten in your pants now, Nixon?" I note that he uses my second name. "I didn't say anything remotely funny for you to laugh at," Kaiden says.

I stare at his sopping wet figure and laugh some more. The mixture of the thunder crackling above us and my unlady-like chortling makes everything more dramatic and comical. Goodness, I can't stress how hard I'm laughing at the moment.

"You?" I point at him in disbelief. "Me?" I point at myself. "Bullshit!" I shout at him. I'm surprised that I haven't fallen off the tree house yet.

Kaiden pinches the bridge of his nose, a habit he does a lot when he's frustrated (mostly at me). "Damn it. You're dumber than I thought you were."

He leans against the wooden railing of the tree house and raises his arms to the heavens as if cursing it for making me.

"Don't you get it? If we get into a relationship, Ethan will surely get jealous and will want to fuck you as soon as-" I raise my hand to shut him up before he spits out his obscene thoughts. He freezes in mid-sentence and the look on his face is just priceless. I'm tempted to chuckle again, but I will myself not to.

The rain has completely died now but the wind is as cold as ever. I notice that there are already strips of orange starting to peek out from the horizon. How long have we been here, really?

"I know exactly what you're trying to do, Blake." He glares at me because he hates his second name. "I'm not that naive," I say with a bitter laugh. "I've read too much rom-com cliches to not know this."

Kaiden raises a challenging eyebrow. Oh, really?

"Look, I'm 99% percent sure that this will only lead to two things: us hating each other even more or us falling in love." Kaiden's forehead scrunches up in repugnance like the thought of us liking each other kills him and he gives me a reproaching look. He's looking at me like I fucked his mother.

"But the latter is highly unlikely and rather disgusting so don't get your hopes up," I quickly add while rolling my eyes.

"What's the 1%?" he asks.

"Oh, that 1%? That's for the universe's tricks. Maybe it will all amazingly work out in the end. We'll get what we both want and part ways and laugh about it when we get old or some shit."

"I hate you, Nixon. Do you really think I would ever reciprocate any feelings other than hate and anger for you?" Kaiden harshly says. I like how his words don't have an effect on me right now.

"All I'm saying is that this will not lead to any good," I firmly say. "I'm not doing it. I'm not that desperate."

Kaiden suddenly laughs and it's now my turn to be confused. "What's gotten in your pants now, Blake?" I mimic him. "I didn't say anything remotely funny for you to laugh at."

He shakes his head

"You're scared."

I had many reasons to be scared, thank you very much. I was scared that the world is inevitably going to end and I couldn't do anything to stop it. That maybe one day, it's going to spin out of its orbit and crash into other planets. Or how about clowns? Clowns were scary. Their big squeaky shoes and noses making kids laugh. But behind those are humans. And that's the terrifying thing about them. You couldn't see who a clown was really was. Or the dark? You never know what's in there. It's empty. And emptiness for a human is fatal. Heights is another one. The higher you get, the greater you fall.

There were many scary things in this planet. Of course, I was scared. Is any human not?

"Elaborate," I say.

He stares up at me and I suddenly feel my heart racing in my chest.

"You're scared of the possibility of us, Nixon."

I feel as if I was splashed with a bucketful of cold water.

The possibility of us?

Fuck no!

"I am not SCARED! I just don't see this working out!" I shout at him a little too loudly than I anticipated. "Just like you've said, do you think I would ever reciprocate any feelings other than hate or anger for you?" I spit at him.

I hate it when he doubts me. I hate feeling weak. I hate feeling inferior.

"So why don't you want to do this, Nixon? Since you're all set up into not falling in love with me, what's holding you back?" Kaiden tauntingly asks. It's only then that I notice how disturbingly close he has gotten in front of me.

"I'm just saving us both the trouble, asshat."

"Hmmm. I don think so," he whispers.

He's really getting frustrating.

A thought enters my mind like a child entering an ice cream shop. "What would you even get from this?"

Kaiden's eyes suddenly make an attempt to avoid mine. He seems to be uncomfortable at the moment.

"You just have to trust me," he vaguely responds.

I think for a few seconds.


"What is love?"

I halt my constant pen tapping as the question of Mr. Gilbur, our literature teacher, floats in my head. I was only partially listening to Mr. Gilbur since I was so fucking sleepy from what happened last night.

The class simultaneously falls into a thoughtful silence. Everyone in the senior batch of Chesmire High suddenly pays attention to Mr. Gilbur. Even the annoying raven-haired asshat sitting two chairs in front of me. I notice that he also looks like a zombie.

Ugh, Mondays suck.

Mr. Gilbur is probably the wisest person I know. He's absolutely my favorite teacher ever. There's just something about the way he speaks that makes me think every time. He inspires me to do everything better. He makes me want to impress him. I want to grow up with that kind of impact on people. I want to have the kind of knowledge that makes other people want to be more.

"Lack of curiosity is deadly. A person who does not want to know more will forever be the person he is. He will not blossom. He will not grow roots. He will rot and he will regret every day that he didn't asked to be watered with knowledge," I remember Mr. Gilbur saying once.

He has a different way of teaching that just makes me admire him more. I'd probably marry him if he wasn't 69 years old already. Each year, he gives us a sentence. Yes, a sentence. This single sentence will be the basis for all of our lessons, discussions, projects, etc. At first it sounds crazy, but it was pure genius.

I remember the first sentence he gave us during my freshman year.

Humans are makers.

Can you imagine how he makes his lessons out from that three-word sentence? And the more fascinating thing about it is that we still know literary legends such as Edgar Allan Poe and Shakespeare.

Our sentence this year is: Humans are beautiful.

Mr. Gilbur clears his throat, and raises his eyebrows. "Well?"

He calls on some of my classmates, but all of them fail to give a response. I avoid his eyes because I don't like not being able to answer his questions

"It seems that you, children, are a little in the dark about love. Am I right?" Mr. Gilbur asks.

We all nod. He smiles to this.

"So to help you know more about it, I'm giving this to you as your last project in my class."

My jaw drops and I'm not the only one shocked.

"But don't you worry your little butts. I'm giving you the whole year to work on it. My instructions are simple. You can present it to me in any way possible. Essay, report, video, artwork. Anything that you can muster up, I will accept. But you have to answer my question."

I start growing excited as different ideas start whirring in my head, but Mr. Gilbur says something that makes my mind go shit. "Oh, and you'll be doing this in pairs."

My heart starts beating in my chest as I silently pray to be paired up with anyone but Kaiden. We haven't spoken to each other since yesterday. Anyone but Kaiden is fine with me.

I can hear everybody's minds saying "WHAT. THE. FUCK.", but since we can't curse in school, we all just settle for a very shocked breath.

"Man and woman."


We all react violently now.

Mr. Gilbur just laughs at our hysterics and dismisses us with a wave of his wrinkly hand. "How can we have both sexes' point of views if you're going to fly solo? You need a partner."

Everybody groans in agony.

"Wow, I'm getting exhilarated by this, aren't you? I'm such a genius!" he exclaims.

"But, sir, I'm gay!" Falcon Homer teasingly shouts. The class lets out a laugh. Falcon came out to us during third grade over ice cream. We just threw sprinkles at him in response. Falcon is a good person and as long as he brings his amazing cookies, all is well.

"Even better!" Mr. Gilbur replies back in glee. My gosh, he's so amazing.

He clasps his hands together and his eyes gleam with mischief. "Now, for the pairs." It's amazing how he suddenly looks so youthful like he's just our classmate.

Uh, oh. Why am I getting this queasy feeling that I'm going to end up with Kaiden? Shit.

"Everybody, stand up. Boys line up at the front and girls at the back of the room. I need one representative from each gender."

We put Elicia Martin in since she has the most balls even though she's a 4-footer only. We cheer since we have a pretty good chance in winning this, but then the guys put Ethan and then we're suddenly doomed. Elicia has the biggest crush on Ethan! She's definitely going to lose whatever we're going to do.

"Arm wrestle. Winner gets to pick their partners." Mr. Gilbur instructs.

It was a futile attempt, but Elicia did exert some effort even though she was blushing the whole time. But come one, he's like 3x bigger than her!

The boys cheer at their win as Elicia pouts and says sorry to us. She looks like a puppy.

"Sir! This game's a little one-sided, I must say!" I shout. The girls back me up.

"Boys, is it one-sided?" Mr. Gilbur sarcastically asks. "Noooooo!" the boys all reply while manly guffawing. Mr. Gilbur looks at us with a look saying what can I do? We huff and just settle for trash talk to at least lower the ego-bashing we're getting.

"Elicia just went easy on you so you won't cry, Ethan!" Ivory says. The whole class teases them and I'm immediately red in the face because I can feel Kaiden's eyes on me. "Right, Scarlette?" She wraps an arm around my shoulder. "Yeah." I reply glumly.

"Oh, sweetheart. Boys are just better," Ethan replies. His eyes turn into this warmer color and I fall deeper in love with him.

"But you are the reason I'm better, Ivory." Oops. Scratch that. I'm about to vomit. Ivory flutters her eyes back. Fuck it, they're so in love. I look at Kaiden and he just scoffs at me.

Told you.

I roll my eyes at him in return. That was the first time we acknowledged each other's presence since last time. I get a bit pissed off, but I don't know why so I just shut up.

"Okay, love birds, settle down. You might start pecking each other here." Mr. Gilbur says. "Are you ready, boys? Let's start the picking!" he excitedly shouts.

I didn't register anything going around me. I was numb. And I became more numb when Ethan proudly picked Ivory.

Ugh. Why does he want her? What am I lacking? What does she have that I don't have? Ugh. I'm hopeless. He'll never like me more as a friend. Kaiden's idea was garbage. I was right to decline it. I grow sad and pissed at everything around me.

My mind isn't working. It kept on replaying on Ethan and the night of the bonfire. So when it was Kaiden's turn to pick, I didn't have any time to be nervous.

"Scarlette. Scarlette Nixon Fegurson," he declares.

"Interesting. Very interesting choice, Mr. Rodriguez," Mr. Gilbur says as the class looks at me and Kaiden like we just murdered someone.

First of all, thank you so much to all the people who reviewed and put this story in their alerts! I LOVE YOU, GUYS SO MUCH! I'm so freaking sorry that I took longer than expected to update. I got very sick this past week, but here I am again. I hope you enjoyed reading! Thanks!