"I can't set my hopes too high." (2)
Oh, man. Why do I feel bad?! I don’t think Nate likes me anyway. I don’t think I should reply after that. I don’t know what to do! So, I made up my mind and changed into regular clothes (what the 23-year-old Mari would wear: a regular graphic T-shirt, jeans, coat, usually a leather jacket). The 15-year-old Mari would never, ever, ever, wear anything basic! Even though I have tons of choices in my wardrobe, I didn’t even bother to make myself look good. I mean all-natural, no make-up, just usual casual clothes. I don’t know why I’m not into fashion anymore like before. But I like to dress up, sometimes. I tied my hair in a messy ponytail and sighed. I will go to the café whether Ryan shows up or not, so I messaged Nate.
From: Me 11/17/2010 3:42 PM
Thanks. Do you want bread or something? I’ll give it to you tomorrow! Haha!
From: NATHAN 11/17/2010 3:42 PM
Oh my! Don’t bother! Haha! Thanks, though.
Ouch. He turned me down. Nothing new here, as if no one had turned me down before! Although this hurt me, I shake it off and press the keypads. “Alright, talk to you later, then!” But honestly, I didn’t want to see the end of it. I checked the time, and it is quarter to four. Still, there’s no news from Ryan. So, I head downstairs and inform Dion I’m going to a friend, which is somewhat true. I pull my coat from the closet and let Viktor drive me to the new café, texting Ryan that I’m on my way.
When I arrive at the café, I order a hot caramel macchiato (YES!). As I wait for my drink, I sit on one of the plush chairs at the corner of the cosy establishment. I look around and see many students hanging out with their friends or lovers. I even spotted Lacey, one of Ryan and Nate’s classmates. Thankfully, the bag I have with me has a book. So, after I got my drink, I removed my coat, hung it on the chair beside me and took the book out in my bag. I observed at the spine because there was no cover jacket, and it’s my hardcover copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling; that’s why my bag was heavy. The smell wafts on my nose, and it made me feel at home when I opened the book where a bookmark, between pages four hundred seventy-six and four hundred seventy-seven, was placed (the one where Dobby… Uhm, you know). I remember it. I purposefully stopped reading it and was surprised because it was the same cut from the film.
Since I’m getting bored, I read it from the beginning, even though I already knew what would happen. I loved the film series, of course. But books are always better than adaptations; just saying! I relax and swim in the words of the Wizarding world. I still can’t believe how much this franchise influenced my life. Then suddenly, a warm hand pats my shoulder.
“Took you long enough to get here. You didn’t even text me,” I said to Ryan with a giggle.
“Sorry…” he trails, and when he’s about to continue his words, I realised he doesn’t sound like Ryan. “…I didn’t mean to keep you waiting.”
I can’t believe my eyes.
It’s Nate Turner.
With that sheepish smile of his, he greeted me while looking at me. He seems flushed. I mean, it is cold outside, so maybe that’s the reason why.
A tiny gasp escaped my lips as I looked away from him. Pages in between my fingers, I look up at him again, and my mind swirls with thoughts of ’what is he doing here?’
“So, uhm, I was on my way home when I bumped into Ryan,” he says as he strokes his arm, looking uneasy. He is looking around for someone he knows other than me.
Okay, no need to freak out, Mari. My heartbeat quickens, and instead of panicking, I try to calm myself down by breathing deeply in and out. When I came to my senses and could speak normally again, I checked my wristwatch (four thirty-nine) as I put down the book. I tried to play it cool when I asked with a shrug, “Oh? So, is he coming or not?”
“He sent me to tell you how much he’s sorry since he can’t make it.”
I raise my eyebrow. “Oh, you know you could’ve just texted me.” I smile.
He chuckles nervously, scratching the back of his neck. “Yeah, I could’ve just done that.”
I laugh at how awkward we are. I shake my hands underneath the table and sip my drink. “Well, er, thanks for telling me.”
Nate half-smiles, “you’re welcome.”
Even though the café’s atmosphere is filled with chatter and the jazz music playing on the speakers are cheerful, the silence between us hanging in the air is too much to bear. I remember this sensation so well when he and I got handcuffed together during sports week, which will happen next year. Yikes.
I noticed his body shifting as if he is readying himself to leave or towards Lacey, his classmate. He says, “Well, I better get going.”
The 15-year-old Mari would let him go and watch his back leave. But this is my chance to be with him. I gathered the courage to say: “Hey Nate? If you don’t mind, the bread offer still stands.” I smile warmly and invitingly at him.
Something in him somewhat changes, “uh, are you sure I’m not intruding?”
I giggle. Bitch, it’s time to be brave! I stand up. “Yes, I am sure,” and pointed him to the chair opposite of me. “What do you prefer?”
His smile is awkward, but he still looks cute. That same smile I haven’t seen in such a long time. He places his bag on the chair, removes his grey, beautifully designed coat and hangs it on the chair opposite of mine.
I have forgotten how tall he is.
“Anything would be nice. Thanks, Mariana.”
So, I head towards the counter and place an order for Nate.
When I walk back to the table, I see him sitting on the chair on my left, “I hope you like a cinnamon roll and caramel frappe?” I asked as I put the tray down in front of him. “They taste good together.”
He smiles sheepishly again, but I notice a change in it. “Yes, I actually love both. Thanks, Mariana.”
“Cool!” and I sat down. I fidget, for I can utterly feel Nate’s presence beside me. He is sitting just on my left! I sip my macchiato to dismiss my awkwardness.
He drums his fingers on the table as he sips on the straw, and I notice he is looking at the spine of my book. “Oh! Harry Potter.”
My smile has gotten brighter. “Yeah, I love the books and films,” caressing the edge of the cover.
He suddenly beams, but he seems guarded still. “Yeah!” he clears his throat, “uh, me too.”
“Yeah, it’s such a massive part of my life now. I can’t believe it’s about to end.” I was upset about this. “Are you a fan?”
He nods and shakes his head. “Yeah, I like the franchise.”
“Oh! Well, then I will assume you have read it until the end,” I say, smiling excitedly.
I noticed he has relaxed a bit more than he was a while ago. He sips again and says, “I haven’t. I’m still in the middle of the story.” He takes a bite of the cinnamon roll.
“You want me to spoil you the ending?” I teased.
His stormy blue eyes widened. “Oh, don’t tell me what happens. I’m waiting for the movie before I continue reading it.”
I cringed. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean —”
He interrupts, “am I making you uncomfortable?”
“I think you’re the one who’s uncomfortable talking with me,” I reveal. I feel my heart hammering. Is this really going to be the first moment I’ll have with Nate, this super awkward, cringe-y and uncomfortable conversation? He’s really giving off vibes as if he wants to get out of here. I can’t blame him, he might be busy, but I just have to interrupt whatever the hell he’s supposed to be doing.
He snickers. “I’m sorry. I tend to be really awkward during first encounters.”
“It’s okay. I’m sorry if I asked you to stay. I understand if you want to leave.” I half-smile at my opened book, defeated.