Pfft. Valentine’s Day. What an overrated day! Where people scurry about, frantically buying things for the one they love, sprinting about with flowers aplenty. Ha, I could spend my time more wisely. “You’ll understand when you have a boyfriend, Laura!” “If only you weren’t as grouchy, and got a boyfriend, Laura, then you’d know!” “This day is better spent with your significant other, Laura!” Blah blah blah. Well maybe I’m just thinking like this because I don’t have a lover, or maybe I’m not, why is it their business? After all, even though I’ve liked someone before, that didn’t go so well. That sure taught me a lesson, there was no way I would fall for anyone ever again, and vice versa.
I had learnt, the hard way, that not having feelings was better. A tree that did not grow did not get chopped off, an actor that didn’t act wouldn’t be booed. Although there was a slim chance that the feelings could be returned, I didn’t want the risk. Nor did I have the patience to actually like someone, let alone love.
See I had trained myself in the secret arts of “not caring”, so I was pretty good at not falling in love with random cute boys crossing the street. Between my mean demeanor and my glaring brown eyes, no one dared venture close to me. I wouldn’t blame them, I was like a feral cat.
So it was a shock to me that one day, a boy, who had just been so conveniently switched to our school right after the first month, came close to me. See I usually had a five meter radius around me that magically repelled everyone. But this strange boy didn’t seem to sense the signals that I was giving out.
Leaaaaaaaave! I sent the signals. Leave me alone unless you want to DIE! I glared more. Strangely enough, the more I turned my shoulder, the more he wanted to get near me. Closer and closer he would edge in at class, until one day, he was close enough to talk to me.
“Hi, what’s your name? My name’s Atlas.” He spoke. His voice was deep. Now I’m not talking about baritone deep, or even bass deep. I’m talking about chocolate deep. Creamy caramel, dark swirl of chocolate, oh if only I could love a voice.
“I’m…” I shook my head, who was this kid? I hadn’t even gotten a closer look at him. It didn’t matter though, I wasn’t falling in love anytime soon. Or so I told myself, as I turned around. Holy smokes. I fought to keep the glare on my face. Then I narrowed my eyes, this must be a joke. I looked around at all the staring classmates, who started to whisper. I only heard bits and pieces, but I had a pretty good idea of what they were saying.
“Ew, what’s Atlas doing with that social outcast.”
“Oh, it’s her. Probably trying to act all cool in front of Atlas.”
“Who is she anyways?”
I grimaced. All I had done was turn around to talk, and all of the walls I had built around myself, all of the camouflage I had painted on myself, they all came crumbling down. Suddenly, I was very, very uncomfortable. Nevermind his chocolate voice, now I was in the center of attention. I hunched back over my desk. I couldn’t believe I had just done that. The rest of the class passed by without another word escaping my mouth. I could feel the stares of my classmates bore holes into my back. What was so amazing about this Atlas guy anyways? Despite my best efforts, though, he had piqued my interest, and so I knew about his existence. So what? It wasn’t like I was part of his world. That night I sat on my bed, contemplating his existence, and fell asleep with his name on my tongue. Atlas, eh?
A FEW WEEKS LATER
*Bzzt* What time is it? *Bzzt* Where am I? *BZZT* STOP IT! I smack the alarm clock, hard. Rubbing my eyes, I reach for my phone and open it. It’s… IT’S 8:15!!! I had about 5 minutes to get to school, and even if I ran to school like this, I would be late. I toss on some clothes and sprint out the front door. By the time I make it into school, first period had started. Just my luck, math. Mr.Jun is THE DEVIL HIMSELF. He is a math teacher that knows no bounds. When he’s mad, he’s mad. I burst into the room, panting and sweating, and see my usual spot free, next to Atlas. I gulp, and take the seat slowly, gripping my late slip tightly with my hands.
“Laura…” He begins, and even my heart thaws enough to start pumping hard. “Where’s your late slip?” I hand him the crumpled sheet in my hands. “Very well, sit down.” He finishes, and begins to explain math to the class. What kind of sorcery is this? He isn’t mad? I hesitantly sit down and begin jotting down the notes, just to feel something hit the back of my head. I turn around immediately with a snarl forming on my face, but only see a piece of paper on my chair.
You’re Welcome! I read, and a smile forms on my lips. Thank you! I silently send brainwaves to my secret helper. Scrunching up the piece of paper, I jam it into my side pockets. The god must be on my side, for this is the single most lucky thing to have happen to me. I stare into the space for the whole class, until it finally ends. I rise up, bringing my binders to my chest, when suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I spot Atlas’ sheets fall onto the ground. I bend down, but doing so knocks over my sheets too, so everything is now scattered across the ground.
“Ah, sorry sorry,” he says, and bends down. As luck would have it, I also bend down, and behold, our heads bonk. He falls back dramatically, and stares at me for a full second before he starts laughing. Unknowingly, a smile creeps onto my face. His laugh is causing me to do something I haven’t done in a long time. I hate it and love it so much at the same time. We sit there laughing for what seems like eternity, until we stop. I look at the papers scattered around us.
“Now for the actual work,” I surprise myself by even talking, but something about him seems different. We smile, and side by side, pick up the papers. Before long, the mess is finished, and we part ways. I walk out to the hallway, my face pink from the encounter and papers grasped near my chest. The rest of the day passes through with a blur and no thought whatsoever. The end of the day, however, is much more different. I run up the stairs to my house two at a time, almost tripping down the last step. Today was not what I had expected. I thought that my day would be terrible, judging from the morning, I was going to have a terrible day. I think back, and touch my head. No boy had made me feel like this since… Since… I close my eyes. No, I can’t like him. Suppress my feelings… Throwing my papers on the table, a crumpled sheet of paper falls onto the ground. The note saying you’re welcome. I smile and tack it onto my wall of memories. As I am sorting out my work from the day, I see a paper that isn’t mine.
“Atlas…” I read, the name comfortable on my tongue. His writing looked awfully familiar. Like of something I just read. I drag my hands over my eyes and sigh. Why am I thinking so much about this random guy? I fall down on my bed, tears coming to my eyes. What did I like about him anyways? He was just Atlas… I fall asleep like the first day I met him, with his name fresh on my mind.
*TWO YEARS LATER: AFTER WINTER BREAK
“Atlaaaaaaaaaas!” I yelled, laughing my head off, “Don’t do that!” Brushing his hands off my hair, I rolled my eyes. Just because he was the only boy that I let within 5 meters of me didn’t mean he could mess up my hair.
“You know you like it!” he replied, fussing with my hair. I shook my head, turning back to the desk.
“We have a test to prepare for!” All around us, the people in the library glared. Hunching down, we buried our nose into the books. The person beside me was Atlas, my best friend. Although we only knew each other by a mere two years, I knew him better than the back of my hand. Today was just like any day, except for two things. A large exam was coming up, and with it, the worst holiday of all time. I shook my head, not time to think about that yet.
“Hey Laura, what would you want your boyfriend to give you for Valentine’s Day?” he suddenly broke the silence. Surprised by the question, I quickly answered it.
“A book.” I said, stunned. He smiled to himself, and hummed a tune. I looked away, staring at the window. After a while, I turned over to Atlas, who was studiously shooting daggers at the math Textbook. “Atlas, if you stare any harder, the book will explode,” I joked, laughing. Suddenly a thought crossed my mind. “Was it you?” I snuck the question in nonchalantly. Expecting him to ask me what I meant, he surprised me completely by saying,
“Yes.” He responded. I was confused.
“What?” I asked, not understanding.
“Yes, it was me. I told Mr.Jun that day that you were helping me.”
“Oh…” I looked away. I always had a sneaking suspicion that it was him, but I never had the courage to ask him. Suddenly the feelings I had suppressed so long ago bubbled up to the surface. I had to keep this down, I didn’t want to ruin… Whatever we had. He looked up from his studying to see me looking at him. I quickly averted my gaze. Shrugging, he went back to the book. I was lucky that he was either naive, or ignorant. Either way, it was lucky for me. Soon the block ended, and we were out in the hall in a jiffy.
“Do you think he’ll ask me out?”
“Dress nicely for the dance mmkay?”
“Happy Valentine’s day!” I heard people shout as I walked down the hall. I rolled my eyes ever so slightly as I opened my locker. As the door swung open, a box fell out of the locker and landed at my feet! I picked it up, and the tag dangling from the package read “from your secret admirer xoxo”. I looked at it, wondering who would dare send me a gift. Suddenly, I recognized the scrawl of the words.
As I am sorting out my work from the day, I see a paper that isn’t mine.
“Atlas…” I read, the name comfortable on my tongue. His writing looked awfully familiar. Like of something I just read.
Could it be? Could I dare hope for it to be… I opened the package. A book. I smiled. If this was who I thought it was, perhaps Valentine’s Day wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. I felt eyes peer at me from the back of the locker room. Slowly turning around, I make eye contact with a boy. Not just any boy, the love of my life. Atlas.