Don't Hate Me
Confession time: I regretted every word I said as soon as it left my mouth.
I mentally scold myself for being such an idiot. Now she’ll hate me even more.
But, to my defense, what she did was wrong. She can’t just go around telling me I play with people’s hearts. Because in reality, people play with mine.
That’s a common misconception about me. People think I’m a player. I don’t even know why. Is it because I’m good-looking without even trying? Or because I’m part of the basketball team? I mean, it’s not my fault that people are attracted to me.
I stop by the restroom on the way back to the classroom. It would be awkward if Gray and I both come in at the same time after what we just said to each other.
I wait until the second bell rings before making my way to the room. As I step inside, all eyes immediately turn to me, including the eyes of the teacher in front.
“Why are you late?” Mrs. Heath, our English teacher, asks me with scrutinizing eyes.
“I went to the restroom, sorry,” I answer truthfully and make my way to my seat where, of course, my seatmate was waiting. She didn’t show any sign of having noticed my arrival.
“Back to what I was saying,” Mrs. Heath continues. “Mr. Castor told me about the pairings he came up with and told me I could use the same when I give you activities. So, I decided to use the same pairings for the documentary you’re going to do.”
She paces the length of the room. “It will be about sports. You will choose 3 sports of your liking as long as you’re not part of the school’s varsity in that particular sport. Kristina and Kian, for example. They cannot choose basketball nor volleyball since they are both athletes in each of those.” I hear Kris groan in the back. “I will give you the whole period to think about it with your partners. When you have decided on the sports, write it on a piece of paper and give it to me. The deadline for this project will be in the first week of December. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.”
As soon as Mrs. Heath takes her seat, Gray stands up from her chair. She walks to where the teacher was sitting. Our classmates pay no attention to her as they were already discussing with their partners.
Does she already have a sport in mind?
The two were talking in low voices. Mrs. Heath was glancing occasionally at me with a look of concern on her face. She then motions for me to come forward.
“What is it?” I ask, looking only at her and not at the person beside me.
Mrs. Heath takes her glasses off, props her elbows on the table and rests her chin on her intertwined fingers. “Your partner said she wants to work on this alone. I told her if you would agree, you can pass it to me individually. But I’m warning you, this won’t be easy, you two should talk about it first.”
Boy, she really does hate me more now. But I won’t back down. One of the things I enjoy doing is proving people wrong.
“There’s no need to talk, I don’t want to work alone,” I insist to Mrs. Heath.
Gray turns to me, eyebrows furrowed. She doesn’t say anything but the look she was giving was enough for me to know she wasn’t pleased with my input.
“There you go, now you have your answer.” Mrs. Heath leans back in her chair. “I’m sorry about this Alexis, but I’m also against the idea of you individually making the documentary. I know you’re a genius but you also need to communicate with other people.”
Gray stands straight, her face a complete blank when she turns her attention back to Mrs. Heath. “Okay, I understand.” She mutters before going back to her seat, with me right behind her.
“I thought you said you weren’t going to bother me anymore? You can’t even keep your word.” Gray tattles as soon as I settle down on my seat. She really doesn’t hold back on her words.
I grin at her, knowing it would annoy her. “I won’t. I’m doing this for the project. And honestly, I’m not good at avoiding people. It’s a hassle. I don’t like being restricted.”
“Suit yourself.” She takes out a piece of paper and poises her pen on top of it. Her tone changes to a clipped one, business-like, the one she uses when she’s talking about academics. “What sport do you have in mind?”
I think about it. There are a lot of sports I would really love to explore, especially the ones I don’t do. “I want to go for something uncommon, like sepak takraw."
Gray’s forehead creases. ”Sepak takraw? What’s that?”
“It’s like volleyball but without using your arms or hands,” I explain.
She nods her head slowly. “Okay, let’s do that.” She writes the sport in neat handwriting.
“How about you? What do you want?”
I look at her questioningly, surprised by her choice. “Why chess?”
She shrugs. “One of my brothers play it. I think it’s interesting.”
“Okay, let’s go with that.” I agree. “Can I pick the last one?”
“Figure skating,” I suggest with a big smile on my face.
Gray bites her lower lip. Something I’ve never seen her do before, and fuck she looked so sexy. “Why?” She asks.
“It’s beautiful. I’ve always admired people who can do that.” Yes, like the girl I saw in the competition 4 years ago.
It happened before we left the Philippines. My mom won free tickets to a figure skating competition. We all went together and I was extremely excited about it. It was my first time watching something like that, after all.
Every person who performed was amazing but one particular girl caught my eye. She was a tall petite blonde who made everyone swoon the moment she began her routine. Every twist and turn and spin and jump was executed perfectly. It was no wonder she won the competition.
I may have forgotten her name but I will never forget the way she made me feel.
Gray falls silent. She writes down the sport without a word and submits it to Mrs. Heath. After going over our list, she gives us the okay. When Gray comes back, her expression has returned to its normal poker face.
“I’m sorry about the things I said in the office,” I tell her. Staying mad at people isn’t really one of my strong suits.
She brushes off my apology like it didn’t mean anything to her. That was expected. She was Gray after all.
“But what I said was true,” I continue. “I think you’re just misunderstood. You acting this way is just a defense mechanism you put up to protect yourself.”
She turns to face me, lips pursed. “You don’t know me.”
“You don’t know me either.” I counter. “But we can make assumptions right? Like the way you made yours about me.”
“It’s the truth.”
I click my tongue. “I’m not the person you think I am, Gray. Why won’t you believe me?” I could only be thankful for the chattering of our classmates drowning out the desperation in my voice.
She averts her gaze. “I don’t trust you.”
I let out a sigh. I can’t blame her, people always think I’m only messing around and I never take anything seriously.
Not knowing how to reply to her, I change the subject to keep the conversation from ending. “When will we start doing the documentary?”
Pulling out a notebook from her bag, she replies, “I’m free every day after class except for Wednesdays.”
Curious, I ask her, “What do you do on Wednesdays?”
“None of your business,” was her cold reply.
I got so used to her snide remarks that they hardly affect me now. “How about on weekends?”
She writes something on her notebook that looks like a checklist of some sort. “I’m available on Saturday afternoons and I don’t leave the house on Sundays.”
“Why?” I make the mistake of asking again.
“None of—” I cut her off before she can finish the sentence.
“My business. Okay, okay I get it.” I wave a dismissive hand. “I have training after school on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. So we can do it on Tuesdays and Thursdays, then?”
“Agreed. Let’s start with sepak takraw. Do you know anyone who plays that?” She inquires.
I smile sheepishly at her. “I don’t.”
She rolls her eyes at me. “Fine, let’s just start with chess, then. I’ll tell my brother to come home this weekend. In the meantime, let’s look for people who know how to play sepak takraw."
All I could do was follow her instructions. It’s one of the things I admire about her—she always takes the initiative to lead when we’re doing an activity. She doesn’t hesitate when she gives me orders. Not in a way that she’s just ordering me around, but in a way that we can both do our tasks efficiently. The vibe that she gives off is that of someone who’s in authority. It’s kinda intimidating, actually.
But it’s a good thing to be partnered up with her. Because if it was up to me, I’d only start doing this a week before the project is due.
Yup, I’m a procrastinator.
In contrast, Gray likes to get things done immediately. She even does our homework the moment it’s given. Her straight As speak for her efforts.
“Lexi!” I hear Kris yell out from the back. I turn to her and she makes a come here motion.
I stand up and walk to where she was seated. Her seatmate switched seats and was talking to some boys on the basketball team. “’Sup?” I sit in Kian’s now empty chair next to her.
“What happened between you two?” She asks straight to the point.
“She came into this room with a frown on her face wearing your shirt and you think I’m gonna believe nothing happened?” She crosses her arms.
There’s no use in denying it now. “She spilled coffee on her shirt,” I answer nonchalantly. “So I lent her mine.”
“And the scary expression?” she pries further.
I let out a groan. Nothing gets past Kris. I decide to tell her what happened from the very beginning. From the dinner at Tiolo’s—where I left out the part about her crying,—to the scene at Rad where she was soundly sleeping, completely unaware of what was happening, and to what just happened in the office an hour ago. She’ll learn about it sooner or later, better to tell her now.
I explain to her in a low voice, making sure no one else could hear us. By the time I was finished, Kris was staring at me with her mouth agape. “So she’s gay?”
She covers her mouth with a hand. “Holy shit Lex you two are going to be great together. A new ship has been born. Let’s call it Grayvarrez.”
“Shut up, that’s a shitty name.” I put my hands behind my head, lean back, and close my eyes. “And weren’t you listening to what I was saying? She hates me.”
“It might also be one of her defense mechanisms,” I hear her say. “She might just be making herself hate you because she doesn’t want to admit to herself that she likes you.”
“She doesn’t,” I tell her for sure. She doesn’t look at me that way.
It’s something I’ve always been good at, reading people’s eyes. There’s something about the way people look at something they like or hate. The way Gray looks at me falls in the latter, no doubt about it.
“But you like her, don’t you?” Kris asks expectantly.
My eyes open to the glaring of the fluorescent light in the ceiling, making me see afterimages. I look at the beautiful girl with raven black hair and stormy gray eyes in front who’s currently engrossed in reading a book. I smile at Kris. “Who doesn’t?”