"I'm frozen." (4)
My eyes focus back on where I am and see my best friend’s faces distorted in concern. Little by little, I can hear the noise of my schoolmates talking and gossiping again, and I snap my attention back to Ryan.
“Er, these flowers remind me of funerals,” I suddenly said, and then I realized what I just had said, “but uhm, thank you!!” I clear my throat and smile at him. “They are lovely.” I put down the flowers and clutch my head to keep myself from falling off the chair.
“Oh,” Ryan chuckles. But, I swear I could hear the disappointment in his voice. “Erm, I should take them back and replace the flowers with something you’d like then! What do you prefer?” he clasps his hands together and smiles at me, trying to uplift my spirits.
Embarrassed, I smile at him, blocking his hand from getting the gardenias back. “It’s alright, no need to bother. You have done so much, Ryan, thank you.”
He tries to hide, again, by flashing his signature blinding smile. “Alright, uh, I guess I will see you later.” He touches a handful of my hair while looking deeply into my eyes and, this time, I see his smile is genuine, not his all the time smile he flashes to everyone. The warmth of his hand lingering in the space between is driving me nuts, I want to lean onto him, and when he places my loose hair behind my ear, his skin touching mine sends a shiver down my spine.
I will be honest: He makes my heart skip a beat. I won’t deny that I can feel the heat creeping up to my cheeks. I try to lean away from him, for I’m not sure if I like how Ryan makes me feel right now. But I’m magnetized by his cool-grey eyes.
April clears her throat, but Ros interrupts her, letting the tension between me and Ryan flow. Too late, he and I are already distracted. I laugh when I see Ros nudging April on her sides and hissing at her, “See what you’ve ruined?”
“Okay! I, uh, I’ll see you guys later!” says Ryan and flashes his usual smile at us, but mostly at me. Before leaving, he bows at me and takes my hand without leaving his eyes on mine. And, once again, kisses my knuckles in front of the student body!
When he had gone back to whatever he is supposed to be doing, I realize the Great Hall is loaded, as in, everyone is here, teachers, students, staff, etc., and if looks can kill? Oh boy, I am dead just by the prying eyes of Ryan’s admirers. I can hear them whisper, bustling with murmur and hate.
I notice Ros and April take pride in that and brush more salt to their wounded hearts. April flicks her bob-cut hair while Ros smirks. But, once they finished boasting, April turns to me and asks, “Mari, are you alright?”
April suddenly giggles. “Your cheeks must be burning from what just happened!” her expression changed, and she becomes serious, “but you look pale.”
Blinking fast and nodding, I say as my eyebrows meet, “Yes, I am fine, it’s just I think I remember some horrible thing.”
Ros leans in and puts a hand on my shoulder. “Do you mind telling us? I mean, it’s okay if you don’t want to, but we’re only trying to help.”
I look at her, unsure if I want to share a detail of the future. But since I saw a bunch of time-travel based films, I better not. So, I say with a smile, “It’s too soon, I suppose.”
She nods and leans back slightly to her chair. “Well, it won’t hurt now…” she shrugs, looking sideways at April, “…if you tell us what happened last night. What does April mean it was not Ryan?”
April’s concern is suddenly replaced by curiosity as she leans closer to me at the realization of finally knowing the dish of what happened last night. “Oh my, god, Mari!?” she squeals in her seat. “Please tell us about it already! I’m dying here!!!”
I laugh at them and check the time while asking Ros. “Aren’t you going back to our room? Lunch is almost over, you know.”
She looks at her phone. “Nah!” she waves a hand dismissively. “I need to cut them and myself some slack, and besides, April is right. We’re dying to know, you know.”
April giggles and tilts her head, “yeah, since morning!”
I roll my eyes not out of annoyance but how embarrassed I am to actually say it. It’s like when Lois was still a kid, and she saw Clark running faster than the train, and then she told her parents about it. But, no one believed her. (Yeah, I love Christopher Reeve in Superman). Or, that time when Ross was trying to tell Rachel and everyone about Tommy. He was shouting at an old couple who was in their seats, and no one believed Ross, not until Tommy shouted furiously at the chick and the duck in Joey and Chandler’s flat (The One with the Screamer episode, hehe). If I tell my two best friends about everything, will they believe me? It bothers me, but, hey, what the heck, right?
“Well?!” Ros says impatiently (classic), leaning forward; her excited face is like a virus. I feel the tension has passed.
But with the glares taunting me and still trying to kill me, it made me uncomfortable. So I suggest, “Let’s not do it here.”
April rolls her eyes at Ryan’s admirers. “Hm, let’s bounce.”
“Yup, anywhere but here,” I say, grabbing the flowers and standing up.
As we leave the Great Hall, we bump into Nate in the hallway to the main building, and to my surprise, he reciprocates by flashing me his gorgeous beam! He’s about to say something when he sees the flowers I’m holding, but then the warning bell rings. Now walking backwards to face each other, he presses his lips and gestures his thumb indicating he needs to buy something. We wave byes before he turns back to leave. After our short encounter, I catch up with Ros and April. I will have to ignore the fact that my best friends saw the whole thing, and I lead them to my hiding place:
The lake by the garden.