My First Love (Valentine’s Day Special Part 3)
Valentine’s Day is almost here! Are you excited? You’re not? Okay…
Seriously though, there’s nothing wrong in being alone during that fateful day. What’s wrong is if you value the idea of a WORKING holiday more than the actual essence of it. It’s not about being with someone just for the sake of it or how many dates you have on the 14th; it’s how you should be appreciative and welcoming of being given the opportunity of falling in love! Okay this is what happens when you marathon 3 films of Hugh Grant in one day… With that creepy detail out in the way, here is Part 3 of My First Love Story. Enjoy!
(Names were changed for practical reasons)
It wasn’t particularly warm that afternoon but I intensely feel heat throughout my body. My hands started sweating, my mouth felt dry and my heart started beating faster. [To be honest, I always feel like that. Hmm. I wonder what’s different. Is it something I ate? Do…we…have…any Pringles?]
All the jokes aside, what I’m feeling at that moment was very foreign to me. There’s nothing quite like it. You’re about to say something important but all the while you’re thinking overall failure. Why am I feeling this? It’s because the girl that I’m in love with for the past five years is with me right now asking comfort after her boyfriend, my 2nd best friend broke her heart.
Nothing’s wrong with you, you’re perfect, I said. You really meant that, did you? Why? She replied. Now, Cristine, the love of my life is looking at me intently. It seems she already knows the answer but somehow continues to doubt the whole thing.
Cristine moved her head closer to me; I held my breath for what it feels like forever. Nothing can ruin this moment. I thought to myself. The swings beside us occasionally squeak and the kids playing volleyball continued to maintain an impressive rally. I exhaled slowly. [Dear gods of cosmos I hope she didn’t smell the Ranch house Barbecue flavored Piatos I munched on earlier this day.]
Cristine spoke quietly making one syllable word feel like heaven, “Kim?”
“Uhh, thhfft kung… Hehe. Kasi. Ahay! Argh,” I articulated. In my mind I thought I said, “Cristine, I’ve been meaning to tell you this for quite some time now.”
She chuckled. “What was that?”
I wiped the sweat from my hands onto my pants then looked at Cristine. “Ever since—“ before I could finish my sentence the only thing I heard after that was, “Hey Mister! Ball!”
First of all since when saying, “Hey Mister, ball!” ever actually helped someone evade an incoming ball to their face? They should have said, “Hey Mister! Holy shit, there’s a ball coming right at your ugly face—approximately 1.9 seconds from now you need to duck!” If they have said that instead, the following events never should have happened.
The stray volleyball hit me right on the nose. I don’t know about you but if you started crying in front of the girl you like, that’s not going to set out well for you. Fortunately, it wasn’t some girl—it was my best friend Cristine. After the ball hit me, I started openly weeping after seeing a little bit of blood coming out from my nose.
“Oh my gosh! Are you okay?” I sensed genuine concert in her voice.
Getting a bit cross-eyed, my voice started to sound like I inhaled helium, “Number 1!”
“Huh?” She replied. “Number…waht?” Confused, she picked up the volleyball and directed an intimidating stare at the kids.
“I think you owe us an apology?” Cristine demanded.
“That ball auntie, that’s ours,” said the kid while scratching his flake filled head.
Cristine’s eyebrows raised, she turns around and pulled up her sleeves and throws the volleyball outside the park.
“Hala! You’re crazy old auntie!” said the dandruff king kid. Three kids began running towards their ball for what it seemed like at least two blocks away from the park.
The kids started whispering to one another when Cristine said, “What? I can’t hear your cowardly whispers?”
“You’re a witch!” replied one of them as they sprinted away from us.
“You sons of bitches!” Cristine said violently.
“Hey, let them go,” I managed to stop her. “They’re just kids, you know.”
She was making sure if the kids who went after their ball are coming back, they didn’t. She went back to sit beside me and started wiping the blood which is now dripping down to my lips.
“I was also a kid then but I have values,” Cristine declared. She asked my permission if she can wipe the blood with her handkerchief. “My tears are kind of on my handkerchief. Don’t worry, I’ll fold it the other way?” I told her it was okay.
Realizing we need more things to stop the bleeding, she decided to take me home. “Don’t cry Kim. I’m right here, you’re safe,” she said while smiling.
I don’t know if it’s because I just lost a fair amount of blood or the fact that I cried in front of the girl I like but I was really feeling good about being there with Cristine. If this was the cost to be with her, then I would gladly offer my face to those kids as their regular unpaid intern hitting buddy. It was totally worth it…
So, yes, I wasn’t able to seal the deal and the more I thought about it, the more time quickly passed and here we were on our junior year.
My moderator talked to me after homeroom and told me I should sign up for a club or else I wouldn’t graduate. She told me it was a requirement. How I managed not to have one for the past two years is beyond her but she was telling it to me now that I need to sign up for something…or else.
Coincidentally that day, the department was holding a club fair for the whole morning. They said classes will resume in the afternoon but they never actually did. So I started taking a stroll around the different booths. The only thing in my mind is to sign up for “Basketball Club”. Their agenda was so simple; they let you play freaking basketball for a whole entire hour once a week. I mean, how easier can it get? I walked around a bit more. I saw the glee club on stage serenading students with a cool rendition of Sean Kingston’s Beautiful Girl. Their smiles whilst performing are endearing but I sensed in their eyes the emptiness of being there to recruit desperate saps like me to have an extracurricular activity.
You’re way too beautiful girl, that’s why it will never work…
I nodded along rhythmically as I passed by student council station where they help freshmen to choose the clubs they want. Surprisingly there were a lot of people there, it’s just an information booth, I thought to myself. Then it hit me that of course, the young ones were there to see the most gorgeous student in the campus and this year’s student council secretary, Ms. Cristine Elmiro. It’s as if my chances are not already slim, she ran for office last year and “shockingly”, no one ran against her. Not to mention, Cristine is with this new guy, who for the purpose of this story I will call, “Juicy Fruit”. How can I say this, he’s really feminine? I will get a glimpse of them together and I see him pulling Cristine’s hair or always put on powder and lip gloss to himself. I don’t know? In addition, school ordered slacks aren’t suppose to be skinny but hell, his was like leather pants waiting to happen. [How can his thing breathe in there?] Maybe I’m just letting my genuine concern and undying love for Cristine cloud my judgment.
I can still hear the glee club from afar nevertheless, I continued on my path to bitterness by looking at other booths present. Most of the clubs had a line except this one. Audio Visual Club, I read. I went over there and see this girl signing up her name. The moderator at the desk who looks like a freaking miniature Gundam welcomed me with a smile and said, “Hijo! Have you registered into a club yet? Register here!” His tone reminded me of the voice actor of Hercule from Dragon Ball Z.
“Our air conditioning is open the whole day. You can even hang out with your friends,” he continued.
All he needed to say was the aircon part and I saw myself grabbing the pen by the desk while I quickly listed my name below the girl who came before me. To my surprise after checking the list, it was a good 20-30 people who registered. I guess it’s not that bad.
I attended my club’s first meeting. I arrived a little over 10 minutes than scheduled. The room where we stayed at was bigger than I thought it would be. It had 3 partitions. The first on the left are filled with shelves and bookcases, inside them were cassette tapes, movies, books and bundles of subscription educational magazines. At the middle were 30-40 armchairs and at the front is huge TV and behind it, a whiteboard. The far right contained cabinets with some electrical cables coming out of one of the doors.
Despite being late on my first day, Mr. Hercule—I mean, Sir Santos welcomed me with a nod while extending both his arms as if saying, Welcome To My World. I found myself a seat beside a girl whom I think is the one I saw signing up for AV Club earlier this morning. She looked distracted so I started listening to Mr. Santos.
“…okay, if ever problems arise during school meetings like: flag ceremonies presentations in the auditorium and other electrical related issue, that’s our cue help whoever is in charge,” he discussed. He paced slowly across the room when a student raised his hand:
“Sir, what if there aren’t any activities yet in our school that requires our assistance?” he ventured. Sensing he should’ve asked his question and started putting down his hand nervously.
“That’s easy,” Mr. Santos [Hercule] paused. I felt everyone in the room held their breath. Because of the full attention so focused on the next series of words Mr. Santos were about to say, I heard gulps, stomach churnings and I think one had a moist fart, other than that, it was total silence.
“Then we’ll just stay and hang out here!” The class cheered.
The girl beside me offered me a high five. She put her glasses on her armchair and started clapping cheerfully.
“Does he remind you of someone?” the ice was broken as she spoke to me for the first time.
I eased myself from the happy cheering and said, “Yeah. He totally looks like—“
“Hercule!” we said in unison. We were both shocked with our chorus response. Her eyes beamed at me, I never realized how pretty she was without her glasses. Her hair was medium length but really wavy and curly. The pin holding the strands by her fringe is barely holding the line.
“Jinx!” she pointed at me. “Although how can I fix you since I don’t even know your name?.”
I was looking at her, realizing the brilliance of her timing, I bowed and mouthed, “K-I-M”. She squinted as she tries her best to read my lips after she give up entirely she said, “I’m Kristel by the way.”
“I’m a senior,” she persisted talking. She directed her gaze at my lips again while I desperately mouth everything clearer this time.
“KIM!” she exclaimed. The class looked at us with a stern expression. She opened her notebook and pretended to take notes but everybody in the room knows Mr. Santos wasn’t saying anything worthy to be jotted down.
“This is your fault,” she whispered but audible enough for me to hear. “You should have just written down your name, you know?.”
“That’s also not allowed when you’re jinxed,” I replied. “Besides, who jinxes someone they don’t even know?”
The whole duration of the class, we exchanged notes to avoid any attention to us. The last note went something like this:
She passed the paper to me. “Number?” it read. I wrote, “ID Number? 07-2344D5856”
Kristel held her laugh then preceded writing on the paper. She handed it back to me. “Shut up! Cell phone number!” it says. I got my pen and started writing, “Cellphone: 09163113724. Pager: 555-Jumbo. Walkie Taklie: Channel 1. Codec: 141.18. Fax: Shit! I forgot my fax!” After that, I gave the paper back to her.
She brought out a small purple notepad from her back which I assumed she used to copy the numbers I wrote. Expecting our paper relay is done, she handed the paper back to me. “You should include the landline since you made the trouble of listing almost everything.” it says. I looked up front to see what the class is doing. The TV was on and the VCR was lit and they were watching The Lion King. The scene displayed was the iconic raising of Simba near the cliff. I wrote, “4379145”. I tapped her arm and gave the paper back. She smiled at me and kept the paper inside her pocket.
Later that night, I was watching a late night cartoon on TV [not the internet! I’m not visiting the famous Naruto site, honest!], when our phone rang. My mother was already asleep so, I picked up the receiver as soon as it rang for the second time.
“Hello?” I spoke.
“Hello?” said the person on the other line.
“Who is this?” I asked. Seeing it’s safe to assume it, I said, “Cristine?”
“Jinx! Wait, what? You were expecting someone else” said the caller which I now figured out was Kristel.
“Yes?” I wasn’t exactly sure to be honest.
“Who is Cristine?” Kristel questioned me?
After that it seems the interrogator in Kristel brought out everything within me. I told her almost everything about myself especially the ones that deal with Cristine. We kept talking into the night which feels so familiar yet so different in my mind and in my heart. It was already 4:23 am.
“So, you’re in love with this Cristine for 6 years and she doesn’t even know it?” Kristel said.
My eyes were getting heavy and I was starting to lose my voice but I still managed to say, “Pretty much, yeah.”
“Let me get this straight,” she continued. I hear the electric fan close to her but I was so sleepy to ask her to move away from it. “You’re in love with Cristine. The Cristine Elmiro who is, captain of the swimming varsity team, member of glee club, contributor to the school paper and secretary of the student council?”
Before I could say anything she cut me off and said, “Plus, she once dated your best friend for two years—“
“Second best friend,” I interrupted.
“Fine! ‘second best friend’ and now she has this new boyfriend who you accused of being gay?” she sighed. “It seems to me that you really need to move on, bro.”
There was just silence on my end realizing there were some truths in her words.
“She used to treat my wound when we were kids,” I whined.
“Is she treating the wound she’s giving you for the past 6 years?” Kristel shot back.
The sound of the wind getting into my end of the receiver is now more constant. I think she even moved closer to the electric fan. “What would you have me do?” I replied.
Kristel exhaled. “Cristine perhaps knows what you feel. But she also probably knows that when someone loves you; it doesn’t mean you have to love them back.”
Once more, I can only respond with silence. It was just dead air for awhile until she broke it and started speaking again.
“You probably don’t want to hear this but have you considered to give your love to someone else?” her concern really got to me.
However, I remained stubborn. “I never once even considered that idea.”
Our phone call ended around 5:30 in the morning. I said I still need to make breakfast for my mother. “See you later mama’s boy,” she said then the line went dead.
Even with the ending to our very first real conversation, the next phone calls were always meaningful, funny and insightful. Some even longer than usual, we would start around 8 in the evening until 8 in the morning. We did that a number of times and I only fell asleep on her 7 times! She would often make fun of me for being an extension of my mother. She will often say, “You don’t need to get a manicure! Just admit it that you also enjoy it”
If you want the truth, I’m really getting attached to Kristel. However, the thought of being with Cristine still has never eluded me…
A few months passed and the moment which juniors feared or loved finally came! It’s the Junior-Senior Promenade. I chose not to go but my mother forcefully insisted. I think her exact words were, “There are only a few moments in your life when I can make you extremely pretty, at least give me this one!”
It took the whole day for my mom to make me look half-decent. My hair was perfectly coiffed, I was bathed in men’s cologne and I had more makeup than I had originally requested. As I looked at myself in the mirror—I feel like a reject on a B-rated Twilight Movie. Should I be this white? I said to myself. But to be honest, I really do look good. Mom picked the right tux for me. The only missing was my date—okay, I didn’t have one! Obviously, Cristine will go with Juicy Fruit. And Kristel asked me, I think? I’m not entirely sure, you be the judge:
“Kim! Do you have a date for prom?”
“Do you have any plans to ask out someone?”
“I don’t, why?”
“Did you already ask if I already have a date?” Kristel asked.
“Not yet, why?” I paused for awhile. “Do you have a date?”
“I don’t, why?” she replied.
The night was going so well. Supper is treating everyone nicely. My friends were getting in line for their 3rd round to the buffets. I stood up to go the bathroom when someone called for me from behind.
“Kim,” a sweet familiar voice said. I turned around and saw Cristine in an elegant black and white gown. It was puffy and I can’t see her feet. She was wearing a white sleeved glove; seeing her with makeup, my breathing lost its rhythm. I never knew it was possible for her to even look more beautiful. We were almost the same height.
She fixed my bowtie and messed around my hair for a bit. “Will you be my first dance?” there was a hint of joking in her tone.
I was taken aback. “Shouldn’t Juicy Fruit be your first?”
“He’s acting up a couple of months ago. Actually he has always been like that.” She replied while greeting people coming up to her. “Besides, I miss my best friend. What have you been up to these days? It seems like we barely even get the chance to talk anymore.”
“I really don’t know,” I replied. I was enduring icy stares from guys who think I was putting on the moves on Cristine.
“Hmm,” she looked away for a bit and said, “Anyway, will you wait for me at the middle of the dance floor later?”
“Of course,” I replied with a smile. She pinched my cheek then she walked away.
The formalities were over and the DJ started playing some dance mixes. I entered the warzone of unending fist pumps, bouncing bodies and the not-so-frequent, frequent dance circles where one guy challenges another with a bunch of taunting, pointing and boasting they had bigger genitals than the other. When someone challenged me, I just walked away and told him, okay you’re penis is bigger you can stop with the unnecessary pricking now.
After what it feels like 3 whole hours of party songs, the strobe lights started to settle and the overall lighting got dimmer. There was a couple seconds of silence then a somewhat subtle song started playing. My table is somewhere far back so I had to make my way to the dance floor where I approximately measure where the middle is. Students started pairing up, I made my way through some of them walking faster every time I bumped into one. I begin to make something of the song it has this sweet melody that made everything elegant.
Good times for a change…See, the luck I’ve had can make a good man turn bad.
I was stopped in my tracks when I saw Cristine, although she was already with someone. Time seemed to stop and the only thing that connects me to my reality is the song which seems to be going on a loop.
So please, please, please…Let me, let me, let me…Let me, get what I want this time.
My body froze and the only image I see is Cristine dancing with Jojo. What’s happening? I thought to myself. Before I could do anything more, I felt someone held my hand. I directed my gaze and saw it was Kristel. I can’t see clearly but her eyes were solely focused on me. Her wavy hair was straightened and her black and red dress fitted her perfectly. She started swaying me along with the music.
So, for once in my life let me get what I want. Lord knows it would be the first time. The song continues.
Kristel slightly bowed as she rested her head on my chest. My gaze isn’t faltering. The feeling I have at that moment is like the dozens of time I tripped when I was kid, the scratched knees, the scathed elbows and that one time my nose bled after getting hit by a volleyball—take all that and multiply it by 10.
“Kim,” Kristel spoke. “I may not be your childhood sweetheart, captain of the varsity team nor won the secretary position of the student government—I’m just the girl from the AV Club,” she sighed. “But I know—I will and I can take care of you.”
#End of Part 3
Featured photo is from listofimages.com
Kimani S. Franco copyright 2014-02-12