Chapter 1 | The Daring Confession
THAT WAS THE third victim this week. I watched from the bench, elbows on the table and chin perched in the palms of my hands as yet another boy walked away from Jules. His head hung a little lower than it did when he walked towards her and that was enough of a sign to deduce that Jules had once again rejected yet another eligible bachelor.
The shade which the tree provided made his retreating figure even more gloomy than ever. It was a frightening sight how the matters of the heart had such an enormous impact on a person’s conduct and composure.
My best friend, Jules Everett, was notorious for breaking hearts and her work never ended. In a school filled with desperate teenagers eager to find love, it was a minefield for her every day. Every small and insignificant action she did could cause boys and girls alike to fawn over her and seek her out.
This was especially true for boys that craved for kindness. Out of all the guys that I’ve ever witnessed confessing to Jules, the ones that mentioned her compassion when admitting their feelings came up the most often. There were some that liked that Jules was hard to get or others that took a liking to her just because she had a pretty face. More often than not, however, they always said the same thing.
“Your kindness made me fall for you.” Or something along those lines.
Their problem was that they fell too fast and too hard just because someone treated them kindly. Then again, that could be said about most people in the world. It just served to show how messed up our entire society really was. Being treated badly was such a norm that once slight indulgence was offered, it’d turn the world upside down.
“You never get a break, do you?” Teresa asked, a mocking smile hanging from her lips as she slowly ate the food on her plate.
Lunch break was when most of these confessions would roll around. Eager for a show, my friends and I would often gather at the benches outside the classrooms at the back of the school. Since we were outside the main building, we didn’t have to squeeze with the rest of the student body. The location also provided privacy for all of the people bracing themselves to confess to Jules.
That was the least bit of goodwill we could provide to these brave warriors.
“I appreciate the affection,” Jules admitted as she sat down, sighing heavily. “It’s just that they don’t really live up to the standards I had in mind.”
“And what was wrong with the last one?” This time, it was another member of our clique that spoke, Sarah. “He’s pretty cute.”
“Being pretty cute isn’t going to suffice. Looks aren’t everything, Sarah.” Jules frowned.
“You’re never going to find someone at this rate,” warned Teresa.
“Didn’t you want to get married by twenty-four?”
“If you’re going to be so picky, you’ll have to live out the rest of your lives with cats, dogs, and hamsters,” I chimed in.
“You’re one to talk, Aiko. I don’t see anyone lining up to profess their love for you.”
“Teresa, shut up.”
A loud blare echoed through the school halls, signaling the dreaded end to our lunch break. As much as it meant an end to our period of relaxation, it also marked the finale of our daily entertainment.
“Show’s over folks. Let’s get back to class before the teachers start yapping.” Sarah yawned loudly, stretching her arms over her head.
First to get out of my seat, I carried my tray in the direction of the main school building. Stepping out from our usual spot meant walking into range of the sun. It was merciless in the afternoon, painfully scorching my arms and heating up the metal food tray in my hands as my steps hastened.
In my hurry to get back into the shelter, I hadn’t even noticed a particularly tall figure walking towards me. We collided, one too eager to get inside while the other too anxious to get out. It was only when my tray went flying from my fingertips had I realized who it was that bumped into me.
Yet, the perpetrator didn’t seem to put me in his eye. He continued walking, brisk steps with an equally matched swing to his arms as he marched straight for Jules. In my excitement for the show to come, I forgot to even complain. Instead, I sat there on the grass, tray a short distance from me and lips parted as the most notorious figure of the school came to a stop right in front of Jules Everett.
“You okay?” A voice asked from behind me. Not bothering to turn back, I reached up to grab a fistful of the speaker’s jacket, pulling him down with me to the ground.
“Shh, Harr. I’m trying to watch a show,” I murmured.
“To be fair, there probably won’t be much of a show to watch,” he pointed out. “Your friend isn’t exactly known for taking confessions nicely.”
Instead of sitting down with me, Harr got back up to his feet. A hand around my upper arm, he lifted me off the ground with ease, helping me to regain my balance before finally letting go. He dusted the dirt off of his jeans before turning back to look at the latest brazen confession about to take place.
All the while, he had the ugliest frown on his face.
“Why does he even try?” I asked, unable to hide my distaste. “Your closest buddy isn’t exactly Jules’s dream man. I know it, you know it, he knows it, heck, the whole school knows it. He’s pitching himself for failure.”
The world around us quietened down at the sight of the school’s troublemaker, Xavier Park, with the school’s avid heartbreaker, Jules Everett. They were a pair designed for chaos. Just like me, the few students that chanced upon this area all stuck around even after the bell had long gone off, all eager to watch this unexpected confession play out.
“Failure is the mother of success,” Harr muttered under his breath. “You can’t have one without the other.”
Then, he turned, a bubbly smile on his face as though the scene before us wasn’t as serious as everyone played it out to be.
“By the way, you owe me five bucks. I told you that Xavier would crack and end up confessing by this week.”
Grumbling, I dug my hand through my pocket to fish out a five dollar note. I slapped the money into Harr’s open palm, groaning with annoyance that he had won money out of me yet again.
“Man, I really thought he’d know what’s good for him,” I admitted. “Jules isn’t going to let him off as easy as the rest of them.”
Just as those words left my mouth, Xavier’s own lips parted and he began to speak. In the hushed silence of the courtyard, everyone could hear him as clearly as the day was bright.
“Jules Everett, I’ve liked you for a long time. Go out with me?” Out of nowhere, Xavier pulled out a small bouquet of flowers, practically shoving them into Jules’s face.
As if we were at a sports meet, the crowd went wild with hoops and cheers. They were all astounded by the fact that Xavier Park of all people had just confessed to Jules. The stunning news was enough to cause waves, making everyone, knowingly or not, a supporter of Xavier at that very moment.
However, I recognized the look on Jules’s face. She was expressionless on the outside, lips relaxed, eyes staring dead ahead almost in a bored manner, and her arms were folded across her chest.
To the world, she was uninterested.
To me, she looked pissed.
Anger seethed behind her eyes and her body was steaming with fury. Even though folded, her hands were tightened into fists and by the second, her lips thinned out until she was practically chewing on them.
A single word then left her lips, an answer that I had long expected. Unable to watch on with how bad I felt for Xavier, I dug my face into Harr’s shoulder, sighing deeply at the fall of yet another eligible bachelor.
First, there was the confession, then, the rejection. Finally, came the uproar of the crowd around us.