Short Story: First Love

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New short story! This one’s called First Love. It’s certainly not one of the better short stories that I’d written, and I pretty much messed up with the plot, and so in the end it was written with a “just wanna get it done” attitude. Anyway, I still think it’s decent, so enjoy!

This short story was originally published on Publish Your Mind.

SHORT STORY: FIRST LOVE

Listening to friends bitch about their lives is one thing. Listening to them bitch about their first love is quite another. It’s really easy to help people out when they’re complaining about something else, say, how they’re failing both Math and Science and English and History – at which you could simply say that 1) they might want to try something called studying or 2) they’re stupid idiots who have no use for the advancement of the human race in the future. But when people complain about their first love; oh my god. 

Because- look here- I have a feeling like the people who bitch about their first ever crush have all got one thing completely wrong. They expected love to be easy. They expected things to go their way. For some of the luckiest ones on the planet, it does; but from what I’ve seen, know and heard, 99% of boys will never find and win over their perfect girl, their ‘first choice’. That was an exaggeration, perhaps, but not by much. Hell, I shouldn’t be talking; I’ve never been in love. (It sounds absurd but it’s true). So I find it rather hard to be sympathetic to all the poor heartbroken souls around me, but I’m trying.

For all the great sympathy that I have, however, I don’t know what to say when Rayne starts talking about his first love. I never knew he had one. He’s the sort of person who’s really social- Rayne has a packed schedule- but never spends any of their time with people of the opposite sex. I wasn’t even sure if he was aware of the existence of females on the planet. Apparently he was, and he fell in love with one.

We were sitting in the subway train together, after school. Rayne seemed really uncomfortable. The subway train was rocking around gently and I began to wonder if Rayne was getting sick- not that he’s ever sick when he’s on the subway- but before I could ask he spoke.

“Hey, Adam.” he began. “I’m not sure how to start, but I think I’m…”

“Hmm?”

“I think…uh…”

“Just say it.”

“I think I have a crush on Laura?”

What?”

To be sure, he and I are really close friends, but Rayne barely ever even mentions the girls. So I really was caught by surprise when he started talking about Laura. It came very suddenly. Well, not that sudden, because I later reflected that indeed Rayne has been spending more time with Laura, who’s a quiet girl that is famously nice and equally famously shy. Rayne almost took his character from Laura when he started talking about her. Usually he’s a confident person, but he seemed really shy at first, the way everyone is when they start talking about their crushes and things. It’d started with the very typical lines: “I mean…I don’t know…” he’d said. “She’s really…I’m not sure…pretty?”

To be honest I hadn’t ever even talked to Laura that much, and I don’t spend the majority of my time looking at girls (although a lot of people do) but I chose to go along with my friend. “Yeah, she is.”

“Right.”

And thus began the daily first love conversations. I’ve had many of these, as a lot of people seem to look at me as the number one advisor on relationships and social issues, but I’ve never had someone as close to me as Rayne rant to me about his love life. Rayne’s like an adopted brother to me. The other people I only half-listened to and gave them short advice that wasn’t even very thoughtful. I couldn’t do the same for Rayne.

Every day Rayne dragged on. And on. And on. And on. And on. And on. Like a guy on the radio that doesn’t know when to stop his program. He could’ve written a book the size of Encyclopedia Britannica about how pretty Laura is and her various virtues.

“…and then when she was carrying the beaker, she accidentally tripped over her shoelaces and I had to help her clean up all the mess.” he told me breathlessly. “It really made my day.”

“Did you see her in PE today? She was so…”

“…and I mean really, today when she was wearing that pink dress? She was really, really pretty.”

The praise slowly began to turn into complaints, however. Oh boy. It was his first love and as those first-timers haven’t realized yet, it’s not going to be easy. I feel like this happens to everyone, once they get over the sheer infatuation over their girl. It’s like they start to realize again that she’s human, too. Rayne still spent an inordinate amount of time praising Laura’s various virtues, but another aspect creeped in.
How she cared nothing for him. How she never noticed him.

“I don’t think she knows I exist.” he said. (I wanted to say that I don’t think she knows he exists either). “I mean…does she even know anything about me? And I saw her talking to Jack. That asshole! Jack isn’t even…” Rayne’s tone of voice was bitter. His facial expression really was hurt, and I simply nodded. Listening to friends bitch about their first love really is a painful experience, especially when it’s a close friend like Rayne. I think Rayne’s too used to being all-popular and getting all the love he demands. He’s never had to watch a girl and seek her love. It does take a long time for anyone to realize that love doesn’t play easy with anyone.

 *    *    *    *

 We were sitting in the subway train together, after school. Rayne seemed really uncomfortable. The train was rocking around gently and I began to wonder if Rayne was getting sick- not that he’s ever sick when he’s on the subway- but before I could ask he spoke.

It was just another one of his love tirades.

“You know, Jack’s really flirting with her.” Rayne said. His expression seemed pretty mad. “I don’t know…I She’s not even mine or anything, but I feel…”

“Jealous?” I suggested.

He thought for a moment before answering. “Yeah, I guess.”

I groaned silently. My sympathy supply was running really low. I need time to recharge my at the sympathy gas station, but obviously I’d run out before we reached it. I turned to look at Rayne in the eye.  “Dude, listen.” I said. “You’re not trying.”

Boom. Big surprise.

“What?”

“You’re not trying hard enough.”

“What?”

“You’re not even trying, man.”

“What?”

He was being like a tape set on repeat. I was being like a tape set on repeat.

“I’m trying.” Rayne insisted.

“What do you mean by trying?”

“I don’t know actually. I talk to her, I help her with her homework.”

“Does she know that you like her?”

“No.”

“Do you spend any more time with her than other people?”

“Well, I guess I do spend slightly-“

I cut him off. “It isn’t noticeable, man. She can’t tell a thing I’m sure. She doesn’t know you care about her, so why would she care about you?”
Rayne meekly nodded, like a dejected child who just sat through a two period lecture on geometry. He didn’t reply, and I’d began to wonder if it was because he was so tremendously astounded by what I’d just said or if he’d known all along, but never wanted to admit it.

The train’s speakers said, “Reaching station. Doors will open on the right side of the train.” Rayne stood up and walked out with a word more.

 *    *    *    *

 Apparently it did not hurt Rayne very much to hear what I honestly thought. Honesty is important, to be honest, but I know that most of the time the truth hurts. I don’t say the truth very often. I hide around it. When people bitch to me I simply say what they want to hear. It’s healthier for both them and me. Rayne was an exception. The closer the friend is to me, the more honest I am. They deserve the truth.

Rayne was still his normal enthusiastic self, however, the personality that turned him into Mr Popular, if slightly hurt by the reality of love. I got a phone call at 9 PM.

“Adam.” It was Rayne’s voice, and it didn’t betray any sign of being hurt. It sounded enthusiastic like normal. “We have to talk.”

“About what? I’m reading peacefully here. If you’d excuse me-“

“No, listen. I gave what you said today a nice long think.” Rayne said. “I think you’re right. What should I do?”

“How am I supposed to know?” I asked. It’s a bit annoying, these people. It’s your love problem for heaven’s sake.

How am I going to know any better than you do?

“Well, you’re everyone’s love doctor, Adam.” Rayne said. “You should know. You could give some advice at the very least.”

“Half the advice I give is random crap.”

“No, I’m sure it’s not. At least it’s high-quality and accurate random crap. You managed to hook Jennifer and Alex together, didn’t you?”

“How do you know?”

“Research. I asked around. I know exactly the people who talk to you.”

“Oh god.” I sighed. “Alright. What exactly do you want?”

“So…how do you think I’d get closer to Laura?”

“I. Do. Not. Know. Period.”

Silence.

“Okay?”

Silence.

“Hey, Rayne?”

“Not okay, Adam.”

“What do you want? Man, you’re desperate.”

“No, I’m not desperate!”

“Yeah, yeah. Everyone’s always like this. No need to cover up. In any case I don’t know how I’m going to get you closer to Laura.”

“Well, can’t you find out?”

“I’d need to get to know Laura better. Right now it’s like asking to get you to go with a girl I don’t know. I’d need to talk to her more and find out-“

“Right.” he interjected. “So that ’s exactly what you need to do.

A bit of silence from my part. I slowly put down the book that I was reading.

“Big favor there, my friend.”

*    *    *    *

And that’s exactly how this came to be. I willingly admit that I’m not exactly the most selfless person in the world, and I’ve never helped anyone by finding information for them. I guess that this is an exception.

As I walked through the corridors, I thought about my plan. Or, more accurately, the lack of a plan. Laura isn’t even in my class, and I had no idea how I’d even begin to approach her. Again, she’s really quiet, so I wasn’t sure at all how I’d even start up a conversation. We never talk.

I skipped through the papers, bags, books and personal belongings all lying on the floor outside the lockers. Damnit, I thought. I had Science next and I needed to go int to prepare a lab early or I’d never get it done.

As I opened the door I was smacked in the head by an extremely hard forehead. The sheer force knocked my backwards slightly; whoever’d done it, I thought, certainly has a lot of skull-power.

I looked up. It was a girl with neatly-tied brown hair and brown eyes, with a slimness to rival any model. It was Laura.

Immediately I smiled. I don’t know what the smile looked like. It could’ve been a normal smile or a hehehe-you’re-stuck-in-my-trap-ahaha sort of smile. In any case, I was glad. I didn’t need a plan after all.

“I’m sorry.” Laura said quickly.

“It’s fine, I’m sorry too.” I quickly said.

“I was going to get something at my locker and I was really hurrying…”

“I was in a hurry to start my experiment too. What do you have first period?”

“Study hall.” she said. “But I need to spend it working on my lab. Now, if you excuse me, I need to go to my locker.”
I nodded to myself. Laura wasn’t as shy and quiet as I’d expected.

There was no time yet for me to keep thinking about Laura, however. I had to keep going and start preparing my lab.

Soon enough, I’d set up numerous beakers, graduated cylinders, test tubes and piles of paper to record my data. Laura, who’d already come back, was also really busy setting up her stuff up beside me. I noticed how she was super-proficient with all the lab equipment.

Oh well. It was time to focus on the experiment.

*  *  *  *  *

 Fifty-five minutes passed and I was cleaning up the experiment. Laura had lived up to her reputation; there had barely been any conversation between us.

Five minutes remaining. Will I let my chance go so easily? Laura was already packing up her equipment and I was desperate.

She was holding her Science folder.

Anything.

I held up mine. “Hey Laura! Have you seen the new lab report template?”

“Yeah, I have. Why?”

“I don’t really understand it.” What a crappy lie. It’s probably the easiest thing to understand in the world.

“Do you need help?”

“I think I do.”

“We can meet up after school and I can explain it to you if you’d like.”

“Yeah, that’d be nice. Thanks! Today after school in the library?”

“Sure.”

Mission accomplished.

 *  *  *  *  *

 We were sitting in the subway train together, after school. Rayne seemed really uncomfortable. The train was rocking around gently and I began to wonder if Rayne was getting sick- not that he’s ever sick when he’s on the subway- but before I could ask he spoke.

“I’m just wondering, but how did you and Laura go today?”

“Oh. I haven’t told you about it yet? Sorry about that. Well, I managed to stay after school with Laura today. Boy, that was probably the most boring thing in the world, having her explain that damned lab report template. It’s so understandable. But she’s really nice.”

“Hey,” Rayne smiled, “don’t get carried away.”

“No, no, no feeligs. Not yet, anyway. Just kidding. Here’s the interesting part. We did quite a bit of talking today and we both found out that we hate math with a passion. We’ll both be joining the after school math tutoring session on Thursdays.”

“Damnit, but I’m good at math.”

“Well, you could pretend to suck and join.”

“Dude, I get full marks on every test. No one would believe me.”

“Get lower marks on your next test.”

“No, I can’t, because that’d make me look like an idiot to everyone else.”

“Oh well. After school math tutoring isn’t the most romantic place on Earth, anyway.”

“Good point. Anything else I should know?”

“Nope, nothing yet. Apart from how I really do agree that she is nice. And yes, she is pretty.”

Rayne chuckled. “Maybe getting you to try to get closer to her was a bad idea.”

“I’m sorry. This really won’t amount to anything. Promise.”

“I’m just kidding. I trust you.”

*  *  *  *  *

 Over time, Laura and I really did become close(r) friends. It was almost accidental. We became friends very naturally.

The math club proved to be a great starting point. Laura, who is not the most sociable person on the planet, really seemed to have found a friend in me. We started to talk more and more outside Math, too. Soon our conversations weren’t about trigonometric ratios, but about how the music that we liked. Instead of bitching about factorizing quadratic binomials, we also talked about our own personal lives.

Laura’s not a quiet person at all once you really get to know her. Boy, the way she talks. There’s no end to it, and it almost reminds me of Rayne; they’d be a nice fit. She just keeps talking and talking and talking and talking. “Have you seen the new school PE uniform for next year? Oh my god, Adam. Who the heck did they even hire to design it? It looks so…I don’t even know how to describe it. There’s no adjective that can describe it, nothing that’s bad enough. Oh my god. I don’t want to wear that. Ew. No.” That was the way a lot of our conversations went; Laura doing the talking, and myself doing the listening. I gave everything I knew to Rayne, and this went on for around a month.

We ate lunch with each other every few days. One day while we were sitting together in the cafeteria, Laura said, “I actually got quite a few roses last year on Valentine’s Day. I’m disappointed in them.”

“Why? Don’t you like getting roses?”

“They’d have these cards attached to them, and they all sing verses about how pretty I am and how much they like the way I look. From boys I barely ever talk to. Is that enough? I mean, really?”

I looked at her, interested. “You actually are pretty. Don’t you like that?”

“You don’t get what I mean.” she said. “Do you judge a book by its cover?”

“No.”

“Exactly. So they like me just for what I look like, not who I am. That’s quite silly.”

“Well, I always thought you were a quiet girl who wasn’t aware she is capable of speech.” I commented. “No one would know who you are.”

“Right, and that proves my point.” she said. “Most people know nothing about me.”

*  *  *  *  *

We were sitting in the subway together, after school. I was really uncomfortable. The subway was rocking around gently and I began to wonder if I was getting sick- not that I’ve ever sick when he’s on the subway- but before I could say anything Rayne asked.

“What’s wrong?”

That should be my line, not his, but I guess our roles were a little reversed here.

“No, nothing.”

“Tell me.”

“Oh well, fine. Today Laura told me about her Valentine gifts last year.” I said. “She says the cards always talk about how pretty she is, and never who she really is.”

Rayne nodded. “I think I know where you’re headed.”

“Right. What’s the date today?”

“February 8th.”

“Great. You have six days. Good luck.”

Inside, however, I was not thinking ‘Good luck.’ I don’t even know how to describe what I was thinking- or rather, what I was feeling.

*  *  *  *  *

Rayne really fretted over the Valentine’s Day preparations that he’d made. I was somehow glad that Rayne actually managed to  come up with quite a fair bit to say about Laura, but it was mostly based on what I’d told him about her. He bought a bouquet of roses and wrote a nice long card.

February 14th reached us quickly.

We had made our preparations well. I observed Laura long enough to know that she always headed to her locker every day in the morning. That was where Rayne could wait, I told him.

We got to school early- Rayne, who usually was always late to school, did not complain at all, which was a nice change- and we stood waiting for Laura, who’s an earlybird. Rayne held a bouquet of flowers in his arms and a card was tucked between his fingers.

“When’s she coming?” he asked me. I shrugged.

“No idea, man. She’s usually here by now.” By that time people were starting to get into to school and the corridors began to fill up. We were left standing, fruitless, and I began to worry. A lot of people asked Rayne about what he was doing, and Rayne just waved them off. I guess that’s a bad part about popularity; everyone just pays attention to you and you don’t ever have a single bit of privacy.

“Rayne.” I said. “I can’t wait forever. I’ll come back here but I need to go to my locker to get a textbook for first period Economics.” Rayne nodded and I hurried myself to my locker.

And there she was.

“Laura! We’ve been waiting for you all morning…”

“Hey Adam, I’ve been waiting for you too! I’d like you to have this.” Laura stepped forward and handed me a pink card. “Thanks for being the person who listens to all my problems and complaints.” she said, smiling. “I’ll say you’re the only person here who looks at me beyond just my face. I really appreciate that. Thanks!”

Laura blushed slightly and walked away without a word more, leaving me feeling both incredibly exasperated and guilty, but also a feeling that might just be called love.

A first love.

The End.

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