A Little Taste of Heaven

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"The place that is laced." (2)

She continues to look at me. “Well, if you are wondering: the senior who threw the chair ‘by accident’ was called by the headmaster and got disciplinary actions.”

I nod once again. “Maybe, that’s the reason why I don’t remember things...” I say slowly and see her agreeing.

“Okay, let me explain. You got voted to represent our homeroom last month. Then, you told me that you are undecided with what to sing,” April says, shrugging.

“Uh, alright. Is there a theme? What are my options?” I ask.

She caresses her chin. “I don’t really know. Maybe look at your notes? You must have written things down,” she suggests.

So, I rummage in my bag and look at each notebook I have. I scan through the pages until I see the notes for the festival. “Here, it says: the artist of the chosen songs of the representatives should be originally from our state since it’s the ‘Founders’ Day’. So what were my options?”

“Well, I remember, we googled famous singers born in the state of New York, and you narrowed it down to two: Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey.”

Oh, my God, why am I living here? I smile but painfully in doubt. “Dammit. I would love to sing a song by The Pretty Reckless or Lana Del Rey, at least.”

“Who?” asks April, but she suddenly brushes it off. “Anyway, you can nail it. You were always singing ’Reflection’ during music class in middle school, and it was perfect!”

My eyes widened, “Uh, yeah, but it was Lea Salonga, A. I always sing the original version! I like singing the original songs more than the revived ones, is all.”

“Hold your horses, nerd,” she giggles. “So you pick Mariah Carey then?”

I shrug, “Well, in my room, I always sing My All. But that’s obviously queer if that’s the one I’d be singing tomorrow.”

She laughs and then slaps her hand on my shoulder lightly. “Oh, my god, that’d be hilarious. Everyone will think you’re singing it to Nate!”

I roll my eyes, but I feel giddy, so I chuckle. “Ugh, April, that song is about desperately pleading for a second chance, I think,” I say with my hand opening to her and then closing it. “Did Nate and I ever go out?”

She sighs. “Fine, you’re right. Then, you choose Christina Aguilera?”

I look at her, uncertain, “maybe. But what would I sing?”

We brood, but before we could think of something, the warning bell rings. We wave our ‘goodbyes’ and utter our ‘see ya laters’ to each other. I head out from the Great Hall, and Chandler walks to my side as if on cue.

When Chandler and I reach the courtyard, we continue decorating the board as some of the other representatives argue what they must do. We kind of look in the direction of the students who are arguing; he and I lock eyes. He shrugs as I smile.

“So, are you ready to blow us with your mad singing skills, Mari?” he asks, pasting some blue-painted cotton on the surface of the board.

I sigh. “Not really. I still have no idea what to sing. Er, do you have any suggestions?”

He puts down some oil paintings and rubs his hands. “Well, I don’t really know many singers here, so…” he shrugs.

I bite my lip. “Oh.”

“But I heard you last Friday when I passed by the music room. You were singing that Aguilera song?” he says.

I nod. “Thanks, really,” goddammit, I don’t even remember that! “Uhm, what was I singing?”

“Hmm… I don’t really know. I used to hear my sister singing that when we were younger. But I can’t remember the song. I’m sorry,” he says. “But hey, you know most of our classmates,” gesturing his hand at me and then at himself, “and I am a new student, so… I mean, well. They told me you are good at singing. They mentioned that when you guys were still in middle school, in every music class, you always sang Mulan’s version of Reflection.”

I smile, nodding. “But, it’s lame. I always sing that. I don’t want people to think I am a broken record, you know. Like in Pitch Perfect, when they sang their routine all through the regional’s or something.”

His eyebrows furrow and then raise, “Pitch Perfect? What’s that?”

My eyes widened, “uh, it’s, uhm… lol. I have no idea. Just a phrase I made up, yeah!”

He nods slowly and then smiles, “oh, I gotcha.”

“Anyway, this board will be perfect in a minute now,” I say, changing the topic as I caress the edge of the frame.

Good thing he bit, “yeah, I’m proud to work this out with you,” he smiles.

Then I dance and sing, “We’ve got to work, work, work this out, we’ll make things right. The sun will shine!

He laughs. “Good one!” His smile is so genuine, and I return it.

But then, my eyes shift to the northern red oak tree. Under its shade, doing the same thing as Chandler and I, there sits Nate. Perhaps he’s taking a break from decorating their board, even though it was just lunchtime. But still, oh, my god. I can’t help but smile and let out a shaky sigh.

Chandler looks at me. “Are you alright?” Then he places his hand on my shoulder.

I sniff. “Uhm, yeah,” and I breathe in deeply.

“You sure?” he worries, looking behind him then at me. “It looks like you saw your favourite actor.”

I laugh. “Oh, Chandler, if I see Ian Somerhalder in the flesh, you’d be more worried than ever!”

He looks confused, and then I see Nate watching us. I quickly hide from his sight and finish what Chandler and I started.

***

After an hour or two, the board looks great! Chandler and I wipe our hands and look at what we’ve accomplished.

“Wow,” breathes Chandler.

I smile widely, nodding. “Yeah, it looks good.”

He chuckles. “We did it like a mural! You did all the work, though.”

I raise an eyebrow at him, “then it would still be undone,” I joke. “I just have an obedient minion, no biggie.” He smiles.

Then my phone starts to ring. I rummage in my bag as Chandler puts our materials back in the buckets.

I look at him before I answer the call, and he smiles.

“Hello?”

“Hey, just checking in,” says Ros on the other line.

I mouth to Chandler, “it’s Ros.” Then in my normal voice, I say to her, “Wait, I’m gonna put you on loudspeaker.”

I press the button, and Ros’s voice roars from my phone. “Are you two done with the board?”

Chandler answers, “yes, and I’m sure you guys are gonna love it!” Then he adds excitedly, looking at me, “Mariana is a freaking pro!”

I cannot help but smirk. Anyway, we can feel Ros agrees because she hums. “Okay, you guys better head back. I will be announcing the tasks for tomorrow.”

“Alright,” I say, and she hangs up. Then we cover our board with a cloth.

The two of us go back to our homeroom for Ros’s updates. On our way, we bump into Nate and Ryan. They told us they were on Board duty as well. I don’t understand why they’re being nice and all since we are freshies. Besides, Ryan is way too popular to talk to us just like that. Plus, he’s a hottie. So, seeing him with us is, I guess, peculiar.

Anyway, I get to talk to Nate, so that’s a good thing. His eyes are deep stormy blue, like the sky that is ready to rain or like the ocean above the bottomless pit of blackness. His nose is just perfect for his face. Even though his lips are pretty thin, I still think they’re kissable. His jaws are strong, and his hair is fawn and messy. Nate is, exactly, how I remember him.

They wave goodbyes when they reach their homeroom. I know Chandler saw my blushing face.

“Looks like somebody just made your day,” he teases, elbowing me gently.

How can I deny his banter? But I guess he got the wrong ’somebody’. So, I just smiled, and then my phone vibrated, and I checked it. I read the message from Ros: “Where are you guys? I’ll be announcing the tasks.”

Chandler laughs, “You saw the text of our president. We better hurry.”

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