A Little Taste of Heaven

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"See this heart?"

The following events are back to decorating and preparing for Friday. But, as a reward, Ros let all of us off the hook for the day! I give thanks to April for the dress she made for me, and to repay her, I promised to buy her lunch tomorrow and, the next day and, the day after that, for the whole month! I am indebted to her kindness. She told me the reason why she made the dresses for me, for Nicole, and for Kayla. She knew we were struggling because I couldn’t make up my mind about what to sing, and those dresses helped me decide. I should be sort of angry at April for not telling me about it sooner. Then I would not have memorized both of the lyrics. But I love her too much to stay mad at her. I am fortunate to have April as my best friend.

After the Talent Showcase and after everyone congratulated me, some of my classmates stayed and hung in our classroom, while some scattered everywhere on the campus, LOL. We also agreed for Mrs Liao to mentor us! Nicole and Kayla are so excited. They are too thrilled for the week to be over.

There are thirty of us in 1-D, so everyone--well, most of us--are excited to watch the play. Some of the boys and girls are blah for giving their tickets away to those who want them. Like Jason and Jared because they gave theirs to Nicole, knowing she loves musicals. Paul and Kayla decided to go together, like on a date. Andrew asked Ros to go together, but she didn’t want to leave me and April hanging. But, of course, we let her go with him. April and I will go together because we like the budding romance between Andrew and Ros to blossom. And even if they do not end up well, I mean future wise, since they went to different universities and fell out of love and touch, I don’t want to interfere. I bet the soul (I decided to call it soul because it might be a part of mine like Voldemort with his Horcruxes) writing in my journal might give me brownie points for that.

Some of my classmates, who now have their tickets, are busy thinking about what play they want to see. I, of course, would love to see The Sound of Music live again. It is my favourite musical after all. And I never get tired of watching the 1965 film repeatedly. Thankfully, April didn’t object. But, I think she wants to see Mamma Mia! Live. So as a surprise, I bought two online.

Anyway, after we had lunch, I indulged in my free time with Ros and April. We are sitting, chatting, gossiping and making up plans for later in the shed by the garden, near the basketball field. April runs her narrative imagination wild about her crush, Gabriel. She tells us stories about them, and we laugh at how absurd her inventive mind works. When April snaps out of her ambitious bubble, she brings up Ros’s soon-date with Andrew. Her face and ears flush in beetroot red; I can’t stop myself from laughing. April keeps teasing her about it, and Ros commands her to stop, but who is she to stop Inventive April from her banters? Ros was always uptight before we became college students, and it’s refreshing to see this side of her again.

As I draw on my sketch pad, the two suddenly starts singing and shimmying:

Sugar, dudududundundun, ah honey, honey, dududududundun, it’s Mari’s candy booooy, and she got her wanting youuuuu!

Still singing and dancing, the two giggle and laugh out loud. I am confused, but then April nudges me. “Look there,” she points, “candy man coming through the premises! Get it? Candyman?”

April and Ros giggle at me, “Oh shit, there are two of them!” Ros teases.

I can’t help but glance towards Nate on the field, playing football with his friends, including Ryan. That’s why ’two’ candies. I exhale loudly through my nose. Great, this is my second chance to just look at Nate from afar again. Classic!

I sigh. My heart is pounding like it’s trying to get out of my ribcage. My breathing is heavy, and as if I swallowed a massive pill, there’s a lump trapped in my throat. My best friends continue chatting, and I try to join in the conversation, but I couldn’t focus on what they were talking about because I’m preoccupied with thinking for myself. I know there’s a reason why I am in the past, but I don’t really know what it is, and it’s bugging me since then.

I fake my laugh or my smile and just sketch and sketch. I didn’t realise what I’m drawing is Nate (with the enhanced skills I gained from college), smiling, as if he is smiling because of what I had said.

April peeks at my drawing behind my shoulder and squeals, “Mari!?”

I close my sketchpad immediately. “What?”

April tries to snatch my sketchpad but misses. “Lemme see, lemme see!”

As I get up, hiding it behind my back and stepping away from April, Ros becomes intrigued. “What is it?” she asks as she tilts her head in curiosity.

Cliché, coming through, because before I answer, April snatches it from me, tosses it to Ros and runs to her. Great, what a childish play I’m getting at. I place my hands on my waist, waiting for squeals of “Oh my, gosh! Oh my, gosh!”

April scans through my doodles and drawings. Ros is looking right next to her, too. Right on cue, when April reaches the portrait, my sketch of Nate, “Oh my, gosh, oh my, gosh!”

I arch my eyebrows and sigh. “I’m not a stalker or anything.”

Ros takes a peek at my drawing and says, “It’s creepy, yet, amazing.” Then she grabs it from April, who was awestruck when she looked at the picture.

Ros then shows the sketch to me. “Look at it, the details, the way the stroke of the lines form on his face,” and then she flips it towards her to admire it. “It’s… cool!”

I glanced at the field and then saw Ryan and his friends stopped playing to see what the fuss was all about in the shed. Damn, April must have been very loud.

I close my eyes, inhaling hard. “Come on, give it back,” reaching for my sketchpad, but Ros and April are still scanning the pages.

“Hey, guys!” Ryan pops into our conversation bubble, all sweaty and conceited (or it’s just because I don’t like him anymore). “What do you have there?”

Just as Ryan asks that question, April and Ros must have seen another portrait I (the real 15-year-old-me) drew of Ryan. They both giggled and gave it to him.

I’m not embarrassed. I’m used to it (23-year-old-me is used to it). So, I’m standing there like an idiot, not showing the slightest cringe in my face or body. I just let him see it. I don’t know what to do! These moments are entirely new!

April breaks the silence. “So, Ryan, what do you think?” she smiles. “Isn’t Mari great at drawing?”

Ryan shifts his gaze from flipping the pages of my sketchpad to staring at me. He smiles. “Yeah, these are incredible!”

I smile. Of course, I worked my arse off in the city. “Thanks.”

Ryan clears his throat. “Can I have a moment —?”

“Absolutely!” says April and drags Ros away from us. They walk away, giggling.

I press my lips to a tight smile. “Can I have my sketchpad now?”

Ryan laughs, taking one last look at his portrait. “Alright, here you go.”

Taking it from his hand, “I should probably get going,” I say, and when I turn my back on him, I roll my eyes.

“Mariana?” he lingers.

So, I turn to face him. My eyebrows lifted, “Yeah?”

He shrugs, hands in his pockets. “All I want to say is you were great earlier. It was obvious no one could beat you.”

I smirk and nod. “That’s ridiculous. But, thanks!”

He continues. “Well, if you don’t mind, we can go to that new café later. I heard the scones there are delicious. My treat!” and then he raises his right hand and places his left on his chest. “I promise. There will be no raisins this time!”

“Are you asking me on a date?” I say, straightforward. If this is the real 15-year-old me, I probably would never ask that, and I would just agree or blush then nod.

He blushes, but I assumed it is not because he is uncomfortable. Instead, he looks confused, “yeah,” and scratches the back of his head.

I look around and see Nate, but I can’t read his expression. I sigh and nod once at Ryan. “Sure. Please, no raisins!”

He looked victorious when I agreed to his offer. When his smile reached up to his eyes, they sparkled. He starts to walk back to his friends and then looks back at me. “OH! I’ll chat or text you the info later!”

Waving, I say, “Okay.”

As I watch him go back to his friends, I wonder if he has my phone number. I fish my phone out of my pocket and select contacts. There, I can clearly see under the R’s, Ryan Kaufman’s name and number.

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