Crush

She was the most beautiful girl I'd ever laid eyes on. I wonder what she thought of me as I walked closely behind her, my eyes fixed on her silverchair glow-in-the-dark key ring that hung from her bag. It was navy blue, by the way. Her bag, that is. Navy blue Elle sports bag that looked used. I wonder where she bought it from; I wanted one just like that.

I heard thunder rumbling in the distance, and felt my blood run cold. I wasn't a big fan of storms; they reminded me of when I was little, around four or five years of age, when I got lost in a park my mother took me to. All of a sudden it rained, very heavily too, torrential sheets of rain hitting on my body, and there was thunder and lightning, and no shelter in sight. My wails were drowned out by the sudden claps of thunder, and the bright flashes of lightning across darkened skies made me think of "Nosferatu", the famous silent German vampire film my parents watched one night in their room, with me lying on the bed, pretending to be asleep. Needless to say, I did not sleep all that well that night.

She carried a Physics textbook in her hand, and did not even flinch when the first drop of rain landed in front of her. I shivered, for a cold blast of wind had struck me across the face. I preferred heat to coldness; she obviously did not.

She lifted her head, as if welcoming the brewing storm. Her brisk pace had slowed; she took small steps and stopped every once in a while, for what purpose, I couldn't guess. A man across the road opened his umbrella to keep away the hail of water that was pouring from the sky. I hurriedly took out my own umbrella that I had in my bag. Without thinking, I went up to her, wordlessly holding the umbrella above her head. I hated the rain, but at the point, I didn't care if I got wet; she was the only thing that mattered to me.

She turned to look at me, and stretched her full lips into a smile that made my pulse race.

"Thanks, but I don't need the umbrella," she told me. She hugged her textbook to her chest, which I noticed was wet on the top, and shifted herself out of the temporary shelter I provided and into the pouring rain.

Her dark blue uniform had turned almost black. Her fringe was stuck to her forehead, and rainwater dripped from her face. Instead of being annoyed by it, like I was, she seemed ecstatic to be standing under the heavy rain. She smiled to herself, and stuck out her tongue to catch a few raindrops.

If she were someone else, I would've thought she was insane. But I didn't think that. I stood behind her, dumb-folded and amazed, holding my lame umbrella above me, gawking at her opened display of happiness and joy. She didn't seem to care that some of the construction workers nearby (who had taken refuge in their yet-to-be-completed condominiums) were watching her, a few obviously leering, and that a middle-aged woman who passed us regarded her with unmasked suspicion, nevermind that she wore the uniform of one of the finest schools in the country.

"Don't you want to get out of the rain?" I blurted out stupidly. It was clear what the answer was, but she humoured me anyway.

"Nah, I like being in the rain. It calms me." She looked at me again, her large porcelain eyes gazing earnestly into mine. I wonder how I managed not to faint at that point; all the blood seemed to have rushed out of my head, and my heart might as well have stopped. I could scarcely breathe.

"Could you hold this for me please?" she asked, holding out her textbook. I took it even though I already held two heavyweights of my own. She held out her arms, a la Rose in "Titanic", letting rainwater splash all over her face.

I saw "Titanic" some three years ago. I remembered how Jack wrapped his arms around Rose when they stepped up to the front of the ship*. I had to muster all my self-control not to hold her to me, like Jack did in the movie. She was so beautiful, motionless under the pouring rain, her arms held out like Christ resurrected, her eyes closed, feeling the force of Mother Nature with her entire being. I wanted to be like her. I wanted to let myself go, throw down my textbooks, forget about self-consciousness, and follow her leadership.

But I didn't. I shrunk ten centimetres, standing beside her. All the insecurities that I thought I had got rid of came rushing back to me. I was very aware of the thick lens of my glasses, the incredible amount of weight I carried on my body, and of course, the uniform I wore. She was a member of an elite school, one of the tops in the country, while I went to a school which she probably had never heard of. I realised I shouldn't care, but for reasons that I didn't understand, I did.

She heaved a contented sigh, and started walking again. The sleeves of her white shirt stuck to her arms like a wet suit, and her bag was completely drenched.

"Thanks," she said, when I gave her back her book. I nodded, and swallowed. I didn't trust myself to speak.

"You live on the 8th floor, don't you?" she asked. "I've seen you around."

"Yeah," I muttered. She lived on the 7th. I'd seen her around too.

That very same day in class I drafted a list of questions I wanted to ask her if I ever got a chance to talk to her. I desperately tried to think of something witty to say, but my mind decided to draw a blank.

She waved to the security guard on duty at our condominium, who in turn smiled at her. He turned back to whatever it was he was doing. I might as well be invisible.

When we reached our void deck she pressed for the lift. We waited in silence for it to reach level one. I had waited before, but never with her. The lift seemed to take some sadistic pleasure in taking its time to arrive, torturing me with the agony of being so close to the girl I secretly wanted to kiss and make love to, and yet, she was almost unreachable.

The lift announced its arrival with a 'ding'. The doors opened; she stepped in and pushed the "open" button. I followed after her, keeping my head down.

I reached to press 8, and noticed that she already did it. Unconsciously my eyes flitted to her face, and when she saw me looking at her, she threw me a grin. I looked away, feeling my face turn beet red.

I resolved to staring at the red digits.

Level 2...her presence was overwhelming. She stood so nonchalantly at the other side of the tiny stall, checking her fingernails, so blissfully unaware of the amazing feats my stomach was doing. I sucked in a deep breath.

Level 3...I wanted to look at her, to commit her face into memory, but I didn't dare. I was too afraid to.

Level 4...she was fumbling around in her bag. I peeked at her from the corner of my eye, and saw that she was looking for her keys. She found it, and held it in her fist.

Level 5...a small piece of paper fluttered out of her bag. She didn't notice it. I didn't say a word.

Level 6...the rate of my breathing had increased drastically. I suddenly became desperate to say something to her, to make her as interested in me as I was in her. I allowed myself to stare at her, to drink in her immaculate beauty, to fill, if only temporarily, the growing lust inside of me for her. The more I looked at her, the more my heart ached, the closer I was to the verge of tears.

Level 7. The doors opened. She started to step out, when I heard myself croak, "Lani?"

She turned to me with a questioning look in her eyes. "What is it?"

I love you.

I stopped short, and could only gape at her stupidly. She glanced at the lift doors, which were starting to close. Her eyebrows furrowed in a frown. She pushed the "open" button, and quickly stepped out, her eyes still on me.

"What is it?" she asked again, with a slight tinge of impatience in her voice.

The words were on the tip of my tongue; I could almost feel them burning into my skin. The lift doors started to close again.

"I...," I started. I love you. "It was nice talking to you," I finished lamely.

The last thing I saw before the doors closed was the puzzled look on her face. The doors closed with a soft bang that echoed in my ears. It struck me strange how I never noticed that when the lift doors close, they made a sound. I slumped against the lift wall, and closed my eyes. Red dots replaced the calm light brown I was used to seeing. My head spun; I almost forgot about the piece of paper she dropped.

I dragged myself towards it, my feet feeling like they were chained to blocks of steel. I picked it up, fingering the smoothness of the paper. It was a poem written on her school's foolscap paper.

"Tonight the stars ignite my passion/they take away my pain/and soothe my inner turmoil./I feel the coolness of the sharpened blade/against my skin/and the chill of the air on my face/as I balance on the edge of the window./I am one with Death."

Level 8. The lift doors opened with a soft 'ding'. I heard a sickening thud outside of the lift, somewhere at the bottom of where I was.

It was the closest I had ever came to an out-of-body experience. I seemed to be watching myself from above; I saw my body lean over the veranda. I saw the horrified expression on my face, and did not understand what caused it, until I followed my gaze to the foot of the building...and saw the most beautiful girl in the world lying on the ground, surrounded by her own blood, suckered in by death.

People say you got over your crushes, that love at first sight isn't real, that you can't love a person until you get to know him or her. I never knew Lani on a personal basis, but ever since that day, she became more to me than just another crush. I never got over her either. To this day, I still have her poem with me. It's the only thing that has kept the brief memory I have of her alive in my heart.

And even in death, she is still beautiful.

AN: Do let me know if the ending's a bit weird. I didn't know how else to end it; suggestions are welcomed. I am so sorry, I can't describe lifts. Tips are welcomed too. (Yes, I like "Titanic". So sue me.)