“Holy moly, what has happened to you, my dear friend? You look exhausted” I turned my head from my locker and saw John and Jace approaching me with a grin on their faces.
I shrugged slowly, but let a small smile appear on my face - hoping that would assure them that I was fine. But honestly, I was not. I was exhausted.
“I heard you got in trouble during gym today young lady,” John said while leaning over next to my locker.
“Umm… t-that..was” I tried explaining but Jace cut me into it.
“And you got in trouble with the one and only Sabrina Carter” He grinned while leaning on the other side of the locker.
I looked at the both of them confused and asked,“Why is it a big deal?”
They started laughing while I looked at them dumbly. I mean I know it’s a big deal for me because I never got in trouble till now.
“Hmm… Let me explain to you, my dear friend. Sabrina Carter… ahh…let’s see. She’s known as the school’s queen.”
“Oh like the queen bee or something like that? The highest of the highest and most popular?” I asked. Well, I did read some teen books and most of them have this common queen bee in each high schools. I think it was pretty dumb like seriously we are no longer in Egypt’s old times where one gets called Pharaoh or something. Or do they still do?
Jace continued “Yeah, something like that. She got the looks, the fans, the money but… she’s known for her bad attitude. She literally gets on the nerve of every teacher in this school plus most of the students who got played by her.”
“Yep. She’s a really really good player. A heartbreaker.” John said. I looked at him while he smiled “I’m one of her victims,” he finished.
“Oh” was all I said.
Jace was about to open his mouth and speak again but Leylah came into view, approaching us while smiling and waving.
“Well… um… I gotta go guys” I said dismissing myself. They both nodded and Jace gestured the-call-me sign with his hands.
Yeah. I really can’t call you cause I still have no phone. Leylah took my hand and I blushed at the sudden unfamiliar warmness in my hand.
“Where you guys going?” yelled John.
“We’re going on a date!” Leylah yelled back and then winked towards the boys. I heard John and Jace laughed and said something about being lucky.
“Um… is.. y’know like.. a.. d-da-“ Jessica was sitting in front of me stuttering. I knew what she’s asking, and I couldn’t help but giggle at her cuteness. She looked up, meeting my own eyes, and tried smiling.
I wanted her to be comfortable on our first official hangout so I said “It’s a friendly date don’t worry… but.. unless you suggest this to be a real date then think of it that way”
Jessica’s red face went a darker shade and I laughed at it. The reason why I wanted to hang out with her and be friends. To be honest, she reminded me of someone.
‘Hmm… she really looks like her. I mean they have the same name, but could I be wrong?’
8 years ago…
“Hey Ley, I want you to meet my friend Jesse” my friend gestured towards the girl whose arms were around Tiffany. The girl, Jesse smiled, no more like smirked at me.
“Yo,” she said. “It’s nice to meet you. Oh, and by the way, she’s not my friend.” She pointed towards Tiffany. “Like seriously, I just met you a while ago.”
Tiffany nudged her and she pretended to fake cry while I laughed. When my laughing died, I spoke up
“Ah.. Haa.. Well y-yeah, you too I guess” It came out more as a question. She and Tiffany laughed at my shyness and I playfully glared at them both.
Jesse was a boyish girl back then. She would always wear baseball caps in her head and covered her face with her bangs. She wouldn’t wear dresses for little kids like us. Her type of clothing was mostly shorts and shirts. We would always meet up and played in the park. We played and hanged out very often after school. And soon, I realized after 2 weeks of our friendship, I realized that I had always been attracted to her. She was like my shield to anything. Every time there would be boys bullying Tiffany and me, she would shoo them away. But then what I didn’t expect was that soon we were moving away and I wouldn’t be able to meet her in the park anymore.
I cried and cried but she held me close during our last meet-up.
“Hey don’t worry Ley. I’m sure we’ll meet up soon” she said while stroking my back. I helplessly cried more into her chest while she continued to comfort me. Tiffany was also there crying in the corner. Eventually, she got mad at me for not telling her. I crawled back into Tiffany and hugged her from the back even though she was trying to push me away.
“Oh come on Tiff. Give this girl a break. She’s leaving can’t you see? You’ll regret it after if you don’t.” Jesse laughed when Tiffany sobbed harder. She turned and hugged me, tighter than I clung to Jesse.
“You’re so stupid” she whispered.
That day, July 28 was Jesse’s birthday and was also the day. It was the last time I’ve seen Jesse and Tiffany.
“Umm… Uh, Leylah?” Jessica snapped me out of past. She looked at me, her face filled with concern. Then she handed me a napkin.
She smiled and wiped something off my cheek. “Oh shit, was there something on my face?” I asked. I took the napkin from her hand and started wiping anything that was on my face
She smiled, but it was a sad one. I knew what it was. A tear escaped from my eye without realizing. She probably knew I was lost for the past minutes.
I laughed nervously and sipped my ice coffee,“Sorry about that. Just thinking about something”
She nodded and blew into her hot chocolate. Jessica had told me earlier that she doesn’t drink coffee. Just like Jesse
“I-I’m sorry” I heard. I look up at Jessica and she was looking down into the table.
“I mean… I-I must be boring you… I guess” she said.
“What?! No no no. Actually, I’m the one who’s supposed to entertain you. I’m really sorry. Anyways, I called you to hang out with me cause I wanted us to be friends” I said while smiling.
There was a pause of silence while she adjusted her glasses “I’m sorry what?” she asked.
“Uh… I said let’s be friends? You know”
Cause you’re gorgeous, your smart, and adorable. “I mean why not? You’re nice” I told her. She blushed and took a sip of her cup. And you remind me so much of Jesse.
“Oh well… I-I just .. never.. thought… anyone would be wanted.. to b-be fr-friends with me” she trailed off blushing even harder. I laughed and poked her nose, just like what I used to do with Jesse back then.
‘God, I gotta stop thinking about Jesse’
She looked startled at my movement so I told her a sorry. She shook her head and smiled instead. During our friendly date, we talked about basic things at school like her classes, how she was coping with the other students and the other teachers. As obvious as it may seem, she introduced herself to me. But she was like stuttering and mumbling over the whole time so it was kind of hard to hear her. I learned that she loved books, like to hang out in the library, and yeah basically that’s it. She was kind of hard to get to open up. This was going to take harder than I thought.
Time passed by so fast that we were now walking out of Starbucks.
“Thanks for hanging out Jessica,” I said and taking her hand with me. She tried to take it away but I gripped it tighter. She slowly nodded and mumbled thanks too.
As we stepped out of the building, someone bumped into me. Gladly, we didn’t fall but when I opened my eyes to see who it was so that I could apologize, my breath got caught.
“Oh Leylah, is that you?” the girl asked. She had short auburn hair that was below her shoulders and was wearing mostly everything black. But her face, it was really familiar. Too familiar that I knew who it was.
I was about to open my mouth to speak but then Jessica beside me came out of the view to look at Tiffany.
Tiffany’s eyes widen and she looked at me and Jessica back and forth.
“Oh my god. Is that you Jesse?” she asked while holding a hand in her mouth in shock.
I looked at Jessica beside me whose face looked shocked and confused as well.
But guess what? I was more shock than she was.
I stared at the clean white spotless ceiling above me. My head swirled around with different thoughts on what happened today and an hour ago. During my supposedly ‘date’ with Leylah, we bumped by a stranger whose name was Tiffany. Shockingly, that stranger knew my name and Leylah’s. And at this moment, I was now confused.
An hour ago...
“W-what?” I asked the unknown girl whose face looked surprised at my presence. Layla turned her head to look at me and her facial expression was the same as mine. We were both shock and confused. How could this girl knew my name when I haven’t met her?
“Jesse! Oh, my god, I think it’s really you” the girl bounced up and down in excitement and hurried to embraced me with her arms.
Still shock and confused, I stood there frozen.
When she finally let go, she said “I can’t believe it! How did you two see each other and since when did you come back, Jesse?”
I didn’t what to answer so I kept my mouth shut. However, all her smiling tripped me into guiltiness as I had no idea what she was talking about. So, maybe if I told her the truth she would understand. However, as I was about to open my mouth, a ringtone blasted from the girl’s pocket and she excused herself for a while to answer it.
During that moment, I noticed that Leylah was quiet. She was looking at something but her mind seemed away.
“Guys, sorry I have to go. I have a date. Here’s my phone number” the girl handed me a card with her name and number in it. “I hope us 3 can hang out again like last time! See ya”
She entered the building and disappeared.
What did that girl mean? How does she know my name?
“Ugh” I buried my face in a pillow and grunted. I was so confused. Maybe sleeping it off would work. Yeah, that’s what I plan to do right now.
Then soon, I drifted off.
When I dropped Jessica off at her house, I decided to not go home for a while since I needed to clear my mind. My mind was plagued by the thought of Jesse and Jessica being the same person. I parked my car and noticed that I stopped by a park.It was very familiar. Indeed it was, for it was the one where Tiffany, Jesse, and I used to hang out the whole time during our childhood.
I entered the place and was met by the scent of trees and dirt. The old sandbox stayed the same, except now the shovels and play forks in it was now gone. Some kids probably took it. I sighed and sat on the swings, slowly rocking it while I think about the past.
“Jesse, come here” I called over to her where she was sitting on the bench while reading some book.
“What?” she asked irritated while glancing up at the page to meet my eyes before returning her attention back.
“Come push me,” I said.
The park has been fixed and new things were put up just like these swings that I was sitting on. I was so excited and wanted to try them.
“Come on, pleaaaseee!” I tried again while showing her my pleading eyes.
“No. I’m reading, can’t you see?” she pointed towards the front page of her book. The title “Introduction to Computer Programming Level 1 for beginners” was bolded.
“Why do you keep reading those? Those are for adults! We’re kids, we’re supposed to play and have fun!” I crossed my arms when I heard her huff.
“Yeah, and I’m not a kid anymore. Now go back and do your thing, I’m busy”
I pushed myself into the swings. My feet made contact with the ground and I bent my knees a bit to push myself up. Eventually, I kept doing this even on the air so now I was up high.
“Woooooo!” I screamed. The feeling of the wind was refreshing and it was fun to experience yourself up high.
“Jesse look at me! I’m high” I yelled at top of my lungs. She only glanced at me once before reading back again.
“Jesse, look!” I said pointing towards the tree. I could almost reach the leaf. Just a little more
“Jes-” All of a sudden, I lost my grip on the side and my body fell, sending me off to the ground with a loud THUD.
I landed badly and my vision blurred and all I could see was blood dripping off my arm and legs. I couldn’t feel anything but pain so I kept crying. Jesse threw her book and ran up to me.
“Oh my god. Hold on Ley, I’ll call an adult”
“WAIT! NO DON’T LEAVE ME PLEASE” I said loudly while sobbing. She helped me out and softly carried me while walking towards the bench. She placed me down and took out something a plastic from her bag.
“Here take this” she handed me a napkin and I used it to wipe my tears. There were bruises everywhere in my legs and a large cut on my arm.
The bag contained several medical pieces of equipment that I’ve seen before. They were the ones that were used in the hospitals.
“Where did you get that?” I asked.
“My mom’s a doctor. She told me to carry these because one day it’ll come handy. And now, finally, I could understand why that is” she smiled. “Now stay still, it’ll hurt a bit”
“OUCH!” I slapped her arm away when the cotton ball made contact with the bruise. “That stings”
“Duh it’s alcohol!” she said while grabbing another.
“Be gentle please”
She rolled her eyes and continued to treat my wounds until it was finished. She carefully bandaged it up until I felt better. After that, she treated me ice cream!
I smiled at the memory. Now it finally made sense. I couldn’t forget how Jesse became my friend. I couldn’t forget the happy memories I had shared with her. I couldn’t forget the mature, grumpy Jesse who was actually a soft person inside. I couldn’t forget her face, her smile, her laugh. And especially, I couldn’t forget that day where I finally realized that I loved her. Not as a friend, but more
But now these memories come rushing back at me and I’m even more afraid because Tiffany is back and now she’s been saying earlier that Jessica is Jesse. And if that is really true, why doesn’t she remember me?