"I can't set my hopes too high." (1)
By the time I got into my homeroom, most of my classmates had left already and gone home, except for my crew, I noticed. Some students are waiting for club activities and maybe for the bell to ring. When April and Ros saw me walking through the doorway, they rushed and greeted me excitedly.
April gasps as her eyebrows shoot up in curiosity and then asks, “What happened?!”
Ros gives me an approving nod. “We were right. Ryan likes you, doesn’t he?”
“He asked me out,” I said bluntly. “But —”
April cuts me. “No buts!”
Ros playfully cuts in. “Don’t tell me you also forgot how much you’ve been dying to hang out with him, like, ever since the school year began?”
I forced a laugh and, thankfully, she didn’t notice. So, I tell her, “Did you also forget I like Nate more than anyone?”
She scoffs. “Forget about Nate!” the phrase coldly leaves her mouth. “After all these years, nothing has happened!”
I won’t lie; I was shocked by her comment. I looked down at my feet, trying to find the right words to defend myself, but I know better than to argue with Ros. So I sighed instead. I forgot me and Ros don’t really get along that well, even before, because she bluntly speaks her mind. Though, I do too. I don’t bother engaging in petty arguments with her. I’m an absorber, after all (I figured it out after having a Human Behaviour subject while I was still in college).
April sees through my façade, as always. When Ros shifted her attention to the decorations of our classroom, she walked towards the pillars, and April pulled me aside. She lowers her voice and says, “Look, Mari, I know how much you like Nate, but maybe Ros is right? We’ve known him since we were in middle school. And yeah, he smiles whenever you’re around, but we don’t even see him trying.”
Before I could tell April what I thought of what she just told me, I noticed Ros nodding at the banner arrangements as she came back to us with her hand on her hip. “Come on, Mari, lose control and have fun!”
“Says from an uptight person,” I say, half-joking, but thankfully Ros laughs.
April beams. “So, what are you gonna wear?”
“Huh?” I chime and open my arms, “this uniform, of course! Besides, the best things in life are free. I’m not passing that up.” I said with a laugh.
They both look at me weirdly, as if I am acting strange. Right, it’s because the 15-year-old Mariana they know was wearing a mask, loud and always pretending she was alright, even if she was not. They have no idea about the real me, yet (the always-brooding, in-front-of-a-book and, loves-her-alone-time Mariana, in the stereotypical world, it’s nerdy and boring). I have a feeling that pretty much every one of us was pretending to be someone they’re not and just trying to fit in, dreading each passing day because we were anxious about people not accepting who we truly are. This is high school anyway. Everyone wants to fit in or to belong in some clique.
I smile and shrug. “I realised I don’t like Ryan that much.”
Shocked, the two gasp loudly and hurry to me to fix my hair on my shoulders. April says when she pushes my hair away to reveal my ear, “is Mariana in there?!”
I hid my laugh, obviously amused.
Once they stop messing my hair and arms, Ros shrugs and says, “It’s your call, anyway.”
“Gee. Thanks for the support,” I say, running my fingers through my hair gently. Otherwise, my hair won’t fall nicely. I look at my wristwatch, “so, what are you guys up to?”
They say they have been putting things back in order and will go home once the school bell rings. April neatly puts the dresses she made for us back inside her paper bags, humming. I observe the other students as they make their way to the bus or their vehicles from the window. Andrew approaches Ros, and they talk privately outside the room. April clutches the bags and gets her purse as Jared and Jason chat with her.
When the bell rang, I grabbed my bag and said my goodbyes to them. “I’ll head out now before Célina rips my throat out.”
They nod and laugh. On my way to where Viktor is parked, I feel my phone vibrating in my bag. I opened it and fished my phone out. I received a text from an unknown number. So, I opened the message and read:
From: UNKNOWN 11/17/2010 2:26 PM
Mariana? It’s Nathaniel Turner, uh… Ryan wants to tell you that he left his phone at home.
My hands were shaking as I typed. OMG! Now I have Nate’s number! I replied, but I’m not sure what to say next! I feel my heart is sinking but in a good way.
From: Me 11/17/2010 2:27 PM
Oh, hey, Nate! That’s so careless of him.
As I waited for his reply, I hopped in our car, and Viktor drove to pick up the twins. He lets the engine of the car idling near the entrance of the middle school.
From: NATHAN 11/17/2010 2:31 PM
Yeah, I admit, he is
From: Me 11/17/2010 2:32 PM
Are you still with him?
From: NATHAN 11/17/2010 2:32 PM
No, he immediately ran off when he found out he forgot his phone. He looked like an idiot.
From: Me 11/17/2010 2:33 PM
LOL! That must be hilarious. I hope you videoed him for me to see.
When I’m about to see the message, the door opens, and Dion gets in. I look out the window. “Where’s Célina?”
“She said she has a debate club meeting,” says Dion. He notices my phone as it lights up. He grabs it, “oh, look-y what we have here!”
Before he could read the message, I snatched it from his grip and tucked it in my right-side pocket. “Did Célina tell mum or dad?”
“Whatcha hiding?” he teases, and when I didn’t entertain his question, he shrugs and says, “She showed me her text to dad.”
“Are you sure she’s not going on a rendezvous or something?” I asked. “Knowing her, she’s very secretive.”
He chuckles. “Now you’re concerned about her? You guys are sworn enemies.”
I hiss, “of course, I am!”
My phone vibrates, and I read the message, hoping from Nate, but it’s from Célina: “Hey Mari, dad is gonna pick me up later. I have to be in the debate club meeting, I’m the president, after all. Oh,” she adds, “I heard you and Dion talking. Thanks for the concern, sis,” I smiled, but then I read, “I don’t need it.” I roll my eyes. She must have heard us above the second floor of the building near where the car was idling.
When we got home, I took my phone out immediately. Hoping to see Nate’s reply, and I read his message. I guess he’s waiting for my text?
From: NATHAN 11/17/2010 2:33 PM
Shame I didn’t. Anyway, I see you’re busy…
From: Me 11/17/2010 3:26 PM
Oh, so sorry for the late reply! I got distracted by my brother. How did you get my number, though?
From: NATHAN 11/17/2010 3:27 PM
Oh! It’s okay. I had to ask one of your friends, Lara? Kera? I can’t remember her name.
From: Me 11/17/2010 3:27 PM
Ah, I see haha. She has long wavy red hair, right? Her name is Kayla.
From: NATHAN 11/17/2010 3:28 PM
Yeah, that’s her! So, have you heard from Ryan yet?
From: Me 11/17/2010 3:30 PM
No… is his home far from campus? It’s been like an hour.
From: NATHAN 11/17/2010 3:30 PM
Haha! Honestly, I don’t know. Why did Ryan want me to tell you he forgot his phone, anyway?
From: Me 11/17/2010 3:32 PM
Er, well… we’re gonna meet at the new café in town. He said he’s treating me for winning. So, I kinda agreed. I wanted to try their caramel macchiato if they have one. LOL.
From: NATHAN 11/17/2010 3:33 PM
Oh, alright. So, you two are going on like, a date?
From: Me 11/17/2010 3:33 PM
Er, yeah?? But it’s just a friendly date, for sure!
From: NATHAN 11/17/2010 3:34 PM
I hope you two have fun!