“I don’t know...all of them are pretty ugly except for the princess cut,” I comment.
“That’s exactly what I was thinking!” he exclaims. “But sorry, I can’t buy you one. I’m ta-”
“Yes, I know you’re taken haha. You’re always telling me the wonder that is-”
“Alyssa...she’s beautiful, isn’t she?” he continues. “Are you free this weekend?”
“Me? Shouldn’t you spend some time with your bae?” I ask.
“As much as I want to, I told her I’m going back home for a family emergency...but I’m really going to get her engagement ring…”
“Oh wow, congratulations.”
“Shh...she hasn’t said yes yet.”
“Come on, you guys have been dating for five years. You guys are already practically married.”
I can feel his smile through the phone. I can almost feel the love he has for his girlfriend radiate off of him when he talks about her.
“Haha...well all I can do it hope...so can you help me pick out the ring? I could use some sage words of feminine advice.”
“Wow, coming all the way down just to take me ring shopping...sure you aren’t asking me to marry you?” I tease.
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” he counters.
“Ew, gross no. I’ll let Alyssa have that honor.”
“Mmkay, so Saturday at three work for you?”
“Fine fine, if you really want to see me that badly,” I say sarcastically.
“ ‘kay I’ll pick you up. You better be ready by the time I get there.”
“Hey, that was one time...and I didn’t think you were being serious,” I said.
“I’m always serious when it comes to you,” he comments.
“Wow, so smooth...don’t you have a girl-”
“Shush, I’m so sorry, but no matter how much you want me, you can’t have me.”
“Haha, I feel like we’ve been through this before,” I say. “Anyways, I have a test in calc tomorrow...I should probably go to sleep.”
“Mmkay, night Reina.”
I hang up and hold my phone close to my heart. I really enjoy these late night phone calls despite the fact most people wouldn’t approve of this friendship I have with, Aaron, a guy six years older than me. He’s getting his masters while I’m still trying to finish high school and get into college. And maybe it’s the thrill of having someone older than me actually want to spend time with me or the connection I’ve never had with people my age that makes me want to be friends with him. But despite the opposition, I do what makes me happy, and that seems to be knowing that I have someone out there that might care, even if it’s only a little bit.
So the week goes by like any other week: tests, homework, drama because she said this and she did this etc. And eventually, you have to understand why I’m so done with high school. Nothing really changes or matters, and you never know who you can trust. So you can imagine my excitement when Saturday comes where I can be free from the excess of hormones and angsty teenagers and get to see Aaron for the last time before he becomes an engaged man.
I hear my dog bark like the insane animal she is and run downstairs before Aaron decides to spam me with messages, but it’s too late.
“Where are you?”
“Did you forget again?”
“I’m gonna break into your house.”
I run out to the car and throw myself into the front seat where I see Aaron is furiously typing on his phone.
“HEY!” I exclaim as I smack him upside the head.
“Owww, why’d you hit me?” he whines as he pretends to cry.
“Twenty freaking spam messages in two minutes, that’s why,” I accuse.
“But you didn’t have to hit me…” he pouts.
“What a kid…” I mutter. “So where are we going?”
“You’ll see,” he says with an unnecessarily mischievous look on his face.
He starts the car and begins to drive. I watch my neighborhood fall behind me in a blur of images moving past as the car picks up speed, and for a moment, I forget about time and where I am in relation to everyone around me.
We walk into the mall, and I follow behind him like a lost child which it probably seems like I am. Suddenly, he stops.
“Here,” he says.
I look up to see the white illuminated sign against a teal background in regal elegance that reads, “Tiffany & Co.” I gasp and stare at him in awe, and he gives me a small smile and walks into the store with the confidence that he could buy anything in the store if he wanted to even though in reality, he’s still in school and will eventually have to pay off student loans. But I try to follow suit and look more mature than the high school senior I am.
Immediately, the consultant comes up to us and asks the reason for our visit, and when Aaron says, “We’re looking for engagement rings” , she smiles and says while looking at me, “I’m sure we’ll find something that she’ll like.”
“Uhh...I’m not…” but the words are lost as Aaron leaves to follow the consultant.
“Do you know what cut you would like?” she asks.
“Princess,” we both say at the same time.
A smile appears on both of our faces as she nods her head and directs us towards the rings. I can feel the awe on my face as I look at the rings, the same ones I would want for my wedding in the future.
“Your eyes are sparkling brighter than the rings,” Aaron comments.
“They really are beautiful, aren’t they?”
“Yeah…” I say dreamily.
“I’m guessing you want something similar?” he asks.
“Haha, this is something I dream about, but I can’t imagine someone would spend that much on something so small for me.”
“If they love you, they’ll do anything to make you happy. Like maybe I’ll spend most of my paycheck in the future paying off student loans and this ring, but it’s for Alyssa. And I feel that seeing her smile is worth more than anything in this store.”
“Damn, lucky girl haha. I’ll probably never get married,” I say.
“Don’t sell yourself short. You are attractive, and you have plenty of time. When I was in high school, I couldn’t imagine being where I am now.”
“Haha, I was in seventh grade. Does that make you feel old?”
Aaron slumped a little. “Am I really that old…?”
“You’re okay haha.
“Hey, age is only a number.”
“And jail is only a cell...just kidding.”
“Hey, don’t joke about that in a place surrounded by security guards at every exit.” he says confidently. “Excuse me, I’ll take this one.”
I see her take the ring out of it’s place in the case, and it’s absolutely beautiful and simple yet it stands out. I look at my hand to imagine what it would look like on, and before I know it, I hear, “Wait, can she try it on?”
“Aaron, what are you doing?” I ask, confused.
“You wanted to, right? This whole time you’ve been staring at your hand and-”
“Okay okay...but that doesn’t make it okay...it’s your fiance’s engagement ring…”
“And I want to see what it would look like on a hand. So shut up, and put it on.”
He takes the ring, puts it on my hand, and for a moment, I feel like I can imagine my future: my husband, the wedding, our lives together. And the moment is almost magical until I remember the actual purpose behind this ring. I smile politely and hand the ring back to the consultant as she packages it in the signature teal Tiffany box and gives it to Aaron with the standard, “Thank you.”
We walk out of the store in a few moments of silence until he breaks it, and says, “I hope your future husband knows you well enough to notice all the small details that make you happy.”
“Why do you say that?” I ask.
“Because you deserve to be treated in such a way that generic gifts and gestures aren’t enough. He needs to pay attention to the unique individual that you are.”
“Haha, tell that to all the guys at my high school. All of them are denser than a rock.”
“No one is worth your time in high school. I definitely was not mature at all, but also, you need to be picky. You can’t settle; you deserve better than that.”
“Alyssa sure is a lucky girl...I bet you do all those things for her,” I say distantly.
“Aww Reina, are you jealous? You want me for yourself? I’m kidding. I try to notice the small things, but no one is perfect obviously. She accepts that though, and that’s what I love about her. I can be myself around her, and she allows me to love her to my full capacity.”
“So cheesy...you happy couples make me sick,” I say jokingly.
“You’re just salty af...kidding again...wanna get tea?”
We drive to a tea place close to my house, and after getting our drinks, we sit down at one of the tables.
“So what do you think about time travel?” he asks out of nowhere.
“What? What made you think about that?”
“I don’t know...time travel has always fascinated me, the idea of being able to change the past and visit the future…” he rambles in a dazed state.
“Hmm...I guess it’s an interesting concept, but don’t you think the decisions you’ve made have brought you to the exact point you are now? You would still want to change things despite the fact the smallest change would impact your entire future?”
“I definitely have regrets that I wouldn’t mind changing...not that I that I hate where I am today. I’m definitely satisfied...I just wonder if things could’ve turned out differently if I didn’t make various mistakes.”
“True, but you learn from mistakes. And without those experiences, you probably wouldn’t be as strong as you are now.”
“Haha, you sound like an old man rather than high school girl with all that experience you seem to be speaking of.”
“Noooo...I promise I’m young haha.”
And we talk for hours, just catching up and giving exchanging suggestions on how he should propose to Alyssa.
“My dad proposed on a rowboat,” I suggest.
“I don’t know how to row a boat.”
“How about you sing to her?”
“I can’t sing.”
“I can’t dance either.”
“Is there anything you can do?” I say sarcastically.
He sighs. “I just want it to go perfectly.”
“She’ll be happy no matter what you do. She loves you, doesn’t she? It doesn’t matter what you do during this small moment in time as opposed to the rest of your lives that you’ll spend together. As long as you show you put some effort into it, I’m sure she’ll love it.”
“Damn Reina, you sure you aren’t at least thirty?”
“Stahppp...I’m definitely still a kid, not even eighteen yet.”
“Mmkay, whatever you say…” he teases.
Eventually, the store announces they’re closing and proceeds to not-so-politely kick us out of their establishment.
“Were we really in there for four hours…?” I say in disbelief.
“Interesting how time seems to move so quickly in some instances while not at all in others...it’s all a matter of perception.”
“You’re really interested in time,” I state.
“Is it that obvious?”
“I don’t know...time is the one thing that will always move forward. There’s no way to turn back and erase what has been done, and if you want to stay one place in time, it won’t wait for you. Time, no matter what it feels like, is constant and will stop for no one.”
“Who’s sounding like the old man now?” I tease.
“Very funny,” he comments. “I should probably get you home. It’s getting pretty late.”
I savor the car ride back because I know this will be the last time we get to hang out for awhile. Soon, he’ll be busy with school, his fiance, the wedding, and other factors involving marriage that will follow. I’ll probably not even see him until the wedding. A part of me feels sad when he pulls up by my house, and I know I have to get out of the car.
“Good luck,” I say as I unbuckle the seat belt. “I know you have the confidence to pull this off.”
“We’ll see haha. Thanks for helping me today. It really means a lot. See you later.”“See you later.” The words feel like a promise, but when is later? When will the time come where I can finally feel like I can be myself and not restrain my thoughts to match the people my age? But this is my reality from this point forward, and I know there’s no turning back.