Chapter 5 - The Childhood Promise
Imagine the shape of my mouth when I made the longest yawn in history. We were already inside the gym, listening to whatever it was the principal was saying. It was something about the festival tonight but I couldn't care less. It was boring and I lost interest immediately.
Across the vast gym, I saw Poopy paying close attention to the speaker. Wow. Out of all the people here, she's probably the only one seriously listening.
I didn't realize I was staring at her for that long until I noticed somebody almost smack my back. Before he could do the deed, I swiftly caught his arm and twisted it clockwise, looking at the culprit right after.
"Ow ow ow! Cool man! Where'd you learn that?!" I just narrowed my eyes at him before releasing my grip. I think he was in my class. The loud one from earlier. He grinned at me wildly before discreetly massaging his shoulder. "I'm Sean by the way. So, who'd the witch sign you up with?"
"Who knows," I replied. That was a lie. I knew exactly who my partner was.
Sean just grinned again. "I see. You weren't given any assignments by the demon right?"
I am confused as to why I was able to decipher his choice of names for those girls.
"Lucky you then!" he groaned. And then he used his hands for more emphasis. "Every year, I do terribly on every job I'm given because I thought if I do it badly enough, they won't ask me to do it again. But no, they give me even harder jobs as punishment! Like renting all of the costumes for tonight!"
His voice sounded frustrated and somehow, I understood his twisted logic. True enough, his job sounded pretty difficult, but at least he pulled it off. Maybe he's not as irresponsible as he looks? He puts off quite an approachable atmosphere. I think I'm going to get along with this guy.
"C'mon," he motioned his head towards a certain direction. "We gotta get changed now. The dressing room's this way."
I silently nodded my head as I followed him from behind.
At the dressing room, I stared at the ridiculous costume hung on the wall. It was about ten minutes since I started eyeing it with great distaste, constantly checking the tag if it was really mine. Sadly, it was.
I never thought a moment would come where I'd want to cry about something like this. "You've got to be kidding me."
For the last time, I checked the tag. Yup my name was unfortunately still there. And it won't go away no matter how much I glare at it.
It was an off-white dress shirt with small ruffles on the chest area. The shirt was accompanied by a thick black coat mind you, a pair of dark slacks, a large hat I can't describe but has a feather on top of it, and a fake sword at the side. The bright side was, there weren't any tights or pumpkin shorts if this costume is what I assume it'd be.
"So you got that one!" Sean appeared again. What the hell was he wearing? He's so... green. "You got a prince outfit while I'm stuck wearing this frog crap! What am I supposed to be anyway?! That Ella's really done it this time."
Oh so that explains everything. I looked at everybody around the room and more than half of them are dressed in ridiculous costumes as well. I looked at Sean's silly frog costume again before I asked. "What are these costumes for?"
"Costume-play I think," he replied as he took his large frog head off. I tried my best not to laugh. It suited him. "Some idiot suggested a game for couples. You're lucky if you get a hot chick as your partner. Tsk! I'm stuck with Ella the witch."
He keeps complaining about Ella. Does he like her?
"And how do you play this game?"
"You're supposed to act." He explained. "If your costume's a prince, then you should act like a prince. That goes the same for your partner. During the whole festival, they said you shouldn't let go of your partner's hand. How disgusting right?"
He scrunched his nose in disgust but I think I saw him hide a smile. I think he was actually looking forward to it despite what he's saying. This guy's like a kid.
I don't know if I should be excited or nervous. My costume was actually a prince? So that means Poopy's a princess? Heh. I got something to look forward to after all.
"What?" I took a step back, away from Ella's claws. "You're gonna make me wear that... That thing?!"
"What are you talking about?!" she kept coming closer. "Did you know how many girls wanted this costume? I literally fought them just to get this for you!"
"You can give it back to them because there is no way I'm wearing that! And play that stupid game? Count me out!"
I already knew the rules of the game. It was indeed fun... if I was a spectator. But for me to actually take part in it? Never. It'd be way too awkward!
"Kristina Karlins!" she yelled impatiently, immediately silencing the whole dressing room. All the girls stared at us. It was rare for Ella to make such an outburst. Why was she making such a big deal out of this? "You facilitate the events every year. You deserve to join the event and have some fun. Plus, do you really want to leave Daniel out there without a partner?""
I don't know. Do I? All he's done since he got here was bully me, but I'm not that cruel as to leave him out there especially since he's new to all these. But then again, there's probably a lot of girls who'd willingly leave their own partners and snag that dolt. Although it'd be a violation of the rules.
I wanna make up with him. Maybe he's realized how much of an idiot he is now. I've known him since we could walk, but I'd missed twelve years of his life too. I have no idea what's going on in his head.
Daaaarn this why am I having a hard time making such a stupid decision? I released a heavy sigh. "Alright fine."
Ella looked obviously pleased. "Yay! Now that that's settled, let's hurry up and get your make-up done! I'll fix your hair for you too!"
Make-up? Kill me now.
Half an hour passed already, and Ella finally finished doing whatever she was doing with my face and hair. I didn't even get to see myself in the mirror because as soon as she finished, she gave me a small push towards the door.
And because of these cursed heels that went with the costume, I ended up wobbling like a penguin towards the gym.
On my way there, a lot of my school mates didn't recognize me, but I noticed them staring and pointing, which just added to my discomfort. This is so embarrassing! Why did Ella leave me?!
The worst part is I don't even know what the hell I look like now! And I'm so stupid for not turning back when I had the chance.
When I arrived at the gym, I could only smile at the amazing make-over they did. The lights were dimmed as a large silver disco-ball rotated on the ceiling, illuminating the room with slow dancing lights.
White and pink balloons devoured the walls, and a thick black carpet spread throughout the whole floor. I don't know how the decoration committee managed to pull these off in just two days but it's amazing!
People started to fill the gym now, and everybody looked beautiful. There were fairies, angels, pirates, princesses, witches and some-kind-of-frog costumes.
It was an amazing view and it was fun just looking at them. I noticed that everybody had their respective pairs with them now, and I was probably the only solo person there.
I couldn't even walk away to save myself from embarrassment because the heels were too high and thin for my liking. Who the heck thought it was a great idea to make six-inched cigarette heels?! I couldn't even flex my ankles with these things! And it was completely pointless because my dress was floor-length so the heels couldn't be seen.
At least it'd make me look taller than usual.
The music suddenly started playing, and the couples all around me began dancing and laughing. A few people still pointed and stared at me. They're probably wondering why I'm standing still in the middle of the dance floor like a complete idiot.
I knew it. I'm not fit for this.
I came because I thought this would be a great way to make up with Daniel, but he didn't come. I guess I'm the bigger fool here.
Then I realized: who in their right mind would pair up with me? I should've known Daniel wouldn't want to pair up with someone like me. Well if that's the case, I don't want to pair up with him either.
What am I saying? I wouldn't want to pair up with me. This sucks.
It took a while trying to figure out how to wear that thing, and as soon as I finished putting all the props and stuff on, I made my way to the gym. Will she be there? She might not come. After all, she did say she didn't want to pair up with me.
Because you're an idiot, a voice mocked in my head.
I know I'm an idiot.
Well, I might as well go and see for myself. If she really didn't come, then I'll help myself with the food and eat away my misery.
I finally arrived and I got to admit; the decorations were well-made. Everybody was already dancing too. I saw Sean arguing with a girl in a witch costume, which I assume was Ella. It was hard to miss Sean since his frog costume stood out.
But not as much as the girl standing in the middle of the gym.
I took a guess, but I think I knew that person even though she was far across the gym, and her costume completely making her unrecognizable.
She wore a floor-length, deep blue dress that lacked a few layers of petticoat to make it look fluffier than it should've been. I couldn't make up the other details of that dress because I was trying to see her face.
She was turning her back from me so I saw that she abandoned the messy bun she always had and allowed her naturally wavy hair to fall down gracefully on her hips. When did it get that long?
A stupid grin spread on my face when I was sure that was my pair. After all, that ridiculous costume matched mine. I made my way towards her and somehow, the people around me parted like the red sea.
What's up with them? They were also staring and pointing. How rude. But I didn't mind them, because right now, I just want to surprise her. Why was she standing there all alone in the first place?
Duh, the voice in my head spat. Because you're late, dumbass.
I know that. Shut up, mind.
I tapped her back and she slowly turned around, her gloomy expression quickly changing into shock.
She looked different somehow. Was it the make-up? I don't know, but somehow she got prettier. The color of her eyes stood out, her skin looked polished and smooth, and her lips looked glossy and moist. Her lips.
"D-Daniel?" she stuttered. Her eyes quickly scanned my whole appearance, which I admit, got me quite nervous, and she blushed just a bit. She blushed?
I mean. I mean, you know. God I can't control my mind. What's happening to me?
"Wow... You look so... Wow."
Wrong. I looked stupid. But she, made the whole costume work.
I didn't comment since I had a stupid mouth that'll probably make things complicated again, so instead, I just took her hand and squeezed it. Hah. How brave of me.
Her hand was so small. I didn't mean it, but my stupid traitorous mouth just had to open again. Damn it. "You too. I didn't think you'd actually look like a girl."
She pouted cutely.
That caught me off guard. I had no idea she knew how to make a face like that. She really is a girl.
What. Of course she is. Shut up thoughts you are screwing me.
"I was giving you a compliment just now." She said as she narrowed her eyes. I can sense she was still uneasy around me. I can't blame her. It's my fault after all. But I don't know how to apologize.
"Really," I turned around and pulled her away from the crowd. "I was giving you a compliment too."
I sounded like I was teasing, but the truth was, I just needed an excuse to cover up my reaction to the face she just made. Too many people were staring now, probably because they couldn't believe how beautiful this girl with me was.
What the hell. What the hell am I thinking? Complimenting her inside my head... Why can't I just say it to her face?
Because you're a wimp. Ha-ha.
Shut up thoughts, stop destroying my ego.
"Sure," she sounded too sarcastic. I just snickered in reply. I was still holding her hand, pulling her further and further away from the crowd. Why was I pulling her away? And where was I even taking her?
"Who are we supposed to be again?" I asked, to distract myself from plotting something that'll surely get me killed by this girl this time.
"Romeo and Juliet!" Ella yelled on the microphone. Yelled. Microphone. Ella. Worst combination in history. We halted in our steps when we realized we were under the hot spotlight. Ow, my eyes. "Our first contestants please step right up!"
I could feel my blood boiling. Ella's really pissing me off now. All eyes were on us now and I could feel my discomfort rising more than ever.
But wait, the names she just mentioned struck me. I glanced at my costume and then at Daniel's. After that, I glared at Ella. "We're Romeo and Juliet?! ELLA!"
This is ridiculous! And unbelievable!
"What did you say Juliet?" She let out a cruel chuckle, perfectly fitting her costume which was a witch. Wait, her partner was Sean right? Why's he a frog? Ah man it totally suited him - it's hilarious! "If you're acting so against this, then why are you holding Romeo's hand so tight?"
My eyes quickly fell down to our tightly locked hands. He was the one holding on so tight, but at the same time, I didn't... well. I didn't dislike it.
His hand was big, warm and somehow reassuring? What the hell am I talking about? I tried to withdraw my hand with almost no effort at all but Daniel only held it tighter. He shot me a serious look that sent my eyes widening like saucers.
"You're not used to high heels right?" he said. Was I that obvious? "I might as well carry you since you're so clumsy. And if I let go of you now, then we'll be disqualified. You do not want to be called a loser now would you?"
Now that, hit a nerve. Who's the loser? There is no way I'm losing to anything. I never lose be it sports or studies. How dare he even say that?
Ah hell. My competitive side is forcing its way out to join this stupid game! Must. Resist.
"Fine..." I mumbled incoherently.
"Alright!" Ella clapped, sounding too excited for my liking. Her loud voice together with a microphone was not the best combination. "Now the game goes this way. Everyone should follow the rules. For example you two, since the both of you are playing Romeo and Juliet, your words and actions should also be from their story. If any of you let go of each other's hand, you'll be disqualified and the loser will play the punishment game!"
Punishment, a game? What are they, sadists?
I can't back out now and kill the fun; I might as well do my best while I'm at it. What harm can be done right? This is just a game after all. "Sounds simple enough." I replied. "We'll play."
"Good," she said, like everything was going according to her plan. I'm not gonna let you have your way with this Ella. "Because the winner will receive a special prize too. Now, let the game begin!"
Prize? Did she say prize? Did it involve money or food? Whatever it is, I'm definitely winning this. I love winning, especially when there're prizes.
"Let's go Daniel!" I quickly spun on my heels and headed towards the refreshment's table. My lips parted when I saw the different varieties of biscuits, marshmallows, candies and other sweet stuff on the table. There was also a beautiful chocolate fountain in the middle. It's Heaven on a table...
"Stop right there," Daniel's voice snapped me out of my thoughts. I didn't realize I was already about to take a small snack. That's right I have to focus on this thing! The food can wait.
"So..." I cleared my throat, pretending as if nothing happened. "Do you have any idea what we should do? The story is tragic right? So I think you should pretend dying or something."
Yes, yes. That will be interesting. Daniel dying, I mean.
"That's a bother," he mumbled, helping himself with the punch. Hey! So he was allowed to eat or drink and I wasn't?! "Juliet pretended to die in the story, and when Romeo thought she was dead, the idiot killed himself. I'm not an idiot."
Huh. Despite the moral of the story, I agree with his point of view. I grabbed a few biscuits and dipped them in the chocolate fountain.
"Well," I said as I bit on the crunchy sweetness of that delightful snack. "I don't like the story that much as well. The main characters are messed up in the head."
I mean, if what we're talking about here is true love, then wouldn't it mean both parties would want the best for each other? Would want each other to live? I don't fully understand what this concept called love is myself, but still.
Blah. It's my opinion anyway.
Daniel suddenly pulled me closer to his chest and face, making my cheeks flame red in the process. Too close. He was too close! What just happened? "Shall we recreate the story then?" he said with a meaningful smile. Meaningful in a completely mischievous manner.
I silently took a deep breath and forced my expression to look like I wasn't bothered by it. I pushed him away without breaking our grip on each other's hands. I won't be swayed by this butthead.
"Fine," I calmly agreed to his suggestion. "I'm up to the challenge. There is no way I'm losing this game."
Maybe I was just seeing things, but a relieved smile was on his face. We looked at each other and grinned, bumping fists at that. We both had the same thing in mind: winning.
"Romeo, my shitty Romeo!" I laughed like a maniac as Daniel twirled me around in incredible speed I could practically take flight. This was actually so fun! The other couples around us backed away. Some glared at us, some were amused and even tried to imitate the revised versions of our impersonations. "Wherefore art thou shitty Romeo?!"
I could feel my head spinning as he continued twirling me around like a top. He laughed in turn and replied to my drunken statement in a similar fashion.
"Shitty is you, Romeo's right here." He gently stopped twirling me and held my waist before I could lose my balance. I felt like barfing or fainting but when Daniel looked at me with his doe-like eyes, I stiffened. I swallowed hard, and then he smirked. "Always right here."
What did he mean?
The music suddenly stopped and slow, mellow music took over. The couples around us began slow-dancing and I am going to die.
I mean. You know.
It was kind of awkward since everybody suddenly got closer and stuff.
I tried my best to avert my eyes from my pair but he quickly pulled me close, imitating the pairs around us. We were so close. What if he hears my heartbeat? I can't breathe.
It was a short while, us dancing slowly to the music. I looked everywhere except his face. God knows what embarrassing expression I'd end up making. I observed the people around us.
They were like... waltzing. The guys' hands were on the girls' waists, and their free hands were connected.
Why were Daniel and I... hugging? No wait. Something like, my arm was wrapped around his neck, his hand was placed firmly on my waist and our free hands also connected because of the rule of the game.
I think we're doing this wrong. I don't know.
Daniel suddenly laughed; I felt the vibration from his chest from what little distance we had from each other and his warm breath tickle my ear. "Your heart's racing."
Annoyed, I mindlessly squeezed my arm around his neck and attempted to choke him. "Shut up and die."
Big mistake. Because when I did that, it only made his face closer to my neck. He brushed his lips against my skin which made me shiver all over. I jumped away but his grip on my waist held me still. I glared at him. "What was that for?"
Damn it, I keep stuttering.
"Nothing," he smirked again. I really hate that look. "Just something I picked up from London."
What an excuse. I clicked my tongue and knitted my brows, giving him my most annoyed look to conceal my embarrassment. "You're really different now you know?" the smug look in his face didn't disappear. "The Daniel I knew was adorable-- a gentleman. Now he's turned into an arrogant butthead."
"Arrogant?" he said, sounding amused. "How so?"
"Your face," I quickly replied. He looked puzzled so I continued. "That stupid smirk you make when you're playing around with me. That's the first symptom of your arrogance disease."
He tilted his head sideways as he held my waist tighter. I think I squeaked. "What makes you think I'm just playing around with you?"
Really? Did he have to ask that?
Did he forget he just told me that a few hours ago?
I narrowed my eyes at him. "We're seemingly engaged remember? And you're so proud at the fact that you saw me naked. You bastard. You even announced it to the whole class. Is that proof enough that you're just playing around?"
My face was hot, I'm sure it was at least pink, if not, a few more shades darker. This is such an awkward conversation. I noticed that he got quiet all of a sudden. Was he contemplating his thoughts? Did he finally realize how much of a douche he was?
"Say something," I mused.
"Sorry 'bout that."
"What?" I asked, surprised. Did he just apologize? "Can you say that again?"
I heard him groan before he brushed the loose hair from my face and tucked it behind my ear. He looked at me seriously, like he wanted to tell me something important. Or something like that.
Is it wrong to think that he looks quite charming tonight? His eyes were like blue crystals, and I felt like I could stare at them forever. They were so pretty. Weird. Thinking that a guy's eyes are pretty.
"Nothing," he said, smiling softly.
What? Oh, right. I asked him to repeat what he said. I can't believe I got hypnotized. Oh my God. I got hypnotized?
"Hey," he started, his voice low and husky. I took a deep breath to calm down the wild thing inside my ribcage. Why am I feeling like this towards a guy like him? "Do you still remember my promise before I left for London?"
Promise? He made a promise with me? I scanned my memories for a short while and when I came to the conclusion that I didn't remember, I shook my head. It was twelve years ago after all. My memories of him were pretty vague.
Daniel sighed like I was hopeless. I somehow got irritated by that. When he pulled my face closer and poked my nose with his own, my knees suddenly felt wobbly and I seriously felt like my heart was going to explode. Why does he keep doing that?!
"Back off," I said, but it somehow sounded like it was squeezed out of me.
He didn't look like he was fooling around though. No wait. I think his expression was always introvert-like. I think. Or maybe not.
Aaaah I can't even think straight anymore!
"That's mean," the warmth of his breath caressed my cheeks. Oh God Oh God Oh God Oh God. "You actually forgot something so important."
"S-Stop..." I stuttered again, slowly walking backwards. He prevented my escape.
Our foreheads were against each other, our noses as well. He looked at me straight in the eye before planting a small kiss on my lips.
"You said, 'Kiss me a hundred times when you come back. Pinky swear?'"
Oh shit. Oh shit oh shit oh shit. Flock of shit bullshit horse-shit chicken-shit all types of shit.
He kissed me.
The bastard kissed me!
"I said that..?" I managed to choke out, my eyes wide open and my face furiously hot. Damn it all!
He nodded his head. "I'm fulfilling my promise."
I quickly scanned my eyes at the people around us and then I sighed in great relief when nobody saw what just happened. Even though I felt like fainting from embarrassment right now, anger boiled inside of me and it completely overpowered the damn embarrassment I felt.
"You're an idiot," I spat, trying not to look at his face. Even though the situation was like that, we were still holding each other and slowly dancing to the music. "That didn't count as a kiss."
I just had to say that. There's no way my first kiss would be like that with him. Well, technically, my first kiss was with him when we were still kids, but this time it's different! Completely different! "Please break that promise. We were kids back then. Kids! And kids say stupid stuff that they'll regret later!"
"Oh?" Daniel took my arms off his neck and his hands fell down to my wrists.
Please stop looking at me.
"That's right!" I insisted. "Since I started that stupid promise, I give you permission to br--"
He didn't even give me time to recover from the last one because he rudely interrupted my sentence by kissing me again. My mouth was still open since I was still talking, so he probably took that as an opportunity.
I was too shocked to react. All I could think about was how warm his lips felt; a weird, foreign feeling to me. He tasted like mint.
Snapping back into my senses, I abruptly broke contact and glared at him. I was this close to hyperventilating. "What the hell?!"
"Because you said that it didn't count as a kiss," he said as-a-matter-of-factly. "So now I'm making sure."
I was also this close to pulling all my hair out! And pulling his hair out too! I'm about to go insane! What just happened?! Everything escalated so quickly I can't comprehend anymore! "I can't believe you would do something like that!"
"Me too," Daniel looked away. I saw his cheeks redden in color, and if I'm not mistaken, he was fidgeting? What the hell. I don't understand him at all! "But as you can see, I'm stupid. So bear with me."
"You're unreasonable!" I withdrew one hand from his grasp to cover my face. The feeling of his lips was still there and the warmth of his breath wouldn't go away.
And to make matters worse, it seemed like everybody around us saw everything. Who wouldn't, though? I was practically yelling at this jerk.
Daniel and I were silent now. It was so awkward. Why did he have to do that?
"Well, well, well!" Ella interrupted with a smile so wide it reached up to her ears. "It looks like we have a winner!"
Somebody shoot me right now!
"Great job portraying Romeo and Juliet so well! We were all touched by your hurtful words and heart-pounding actions!" She chuckled again, having so much fun with her with-accent before she continued. "No need for suspense, the results are already obvious! You guys were voted Stars of the Night. Applause please."
She paused a bit and made some kind of gesture for the students to make their applause. Then she continued.
"Now, you receive the special prize which is..."
"A hundred dollars to spend!" She cheered. "Ladies and gents, after this dance, we will all go see and enjoy the real festival outside and experience the amazing fireworks! Romeo and Juliet! Please accept this prize and step right up!" Ella was totally enjoying this.
That was... fast? But hey who cares, we actually won? And that's some cash. I mean wait. Was Ella observing us the whole time? Isn't this bias? Were there really votes?
I refused to go upstage and let everyone see how beet red my face was. But Daniel didn't look like he cared. He took the prize from the grinning Ella, still holding on to my wrist, and then pulled me towards the exit
"Where are you taking me?" I gritted my teeth, trying to resist him but my damn heels didn't allow it.
Daniel didn't reply and just kept pulling me, his hand slipping down to my fingers. He wasn't exactly forcing me I think, because as he continued to pull me away, I could feel how gentle he was.
What the feathers did I just say?
I gulped. Something tells me the festival is just about to begin.