Sunday, March 7, 2010

Palms and Pockets Chapter 6: You

Palms and Pockets

by Paul Diaz

Chapter 6: You

The thirteenth day of the month of love and Anne was worried since John was not there outside her classroom door. The bell already rang ten minutes ago and there were only a few students left inside the school. She was tired waiting so she proceeded to his classroom to check if he was still there.

Anne saw John seated inside his classroom blankly staring at the chalkboard. “John?” Anne called out but the young man remained still. She walked towards John at tapped on his shoulder and immediately the young man turned around and got back to his senses.

“Oh no, what time is it?” he asked. “Ten minutes past dismissal” Anne replied. “Oh my I am really sorry. I spaced out all of a sudden” the young man said. John packed his bag and Anne was looking at him. “Are you okay? You seem bothered” she said.

“I’m fine, come lets go. I am really sorry if I took away your time. I know you want to get home at once” John told her. “Me get home at once? Not really” Anne replied as they walked along the hallway. “Well I just thought you wanted to because lately you have been rushing home” he said.

“Is that what’s bothering you?” she asked. “Of course not” John replied but Anne noticed him being really off. The walk towards the gate was filled with silence and she knew there was something wrong. John started to unpack the scooter and Anne tried to stop him. “I think we should walk” she said.

“Nope, you have to get home at once. I don’t want you to waste anymore time, I already took away ten minutes of it” John said as he looked at her holding the assembled scooter. Anne got on the scooter and held tight as John started running.

“You know what its easier if you asked me why I wanted to go home immediately lately” Anne said and John started to slow down. “No, I wouldn’t want to be nosy” he replied. “If you ask me now I will tell you” Anne teased. “I wont ask, your time is your time” the young man replied and Anne saw the sadness in his face.

“Stop the scooter” the young woman said and John looked at her. The scooter stopped and Anne got off, “What’s wrong?” John asked. “Pack it up!” she instructed and the young man immediately did as he sensed fear. “Hey I am really sorry if I am acting off” John murmured as he placed the folded scooter in his bag.

The young man was about to stand up but Anne quickly got on his back and placed her arms around him. John smiled as he slowly stood up carrying his bag with one hand and securing Anne with the other. “Say it” she teased. “Say what?” he asked.

“Say that missed you me and that’s why you are acting that way” Anne said as the two started laughing. “You could have easily said you missed me so I would have made time for you. Its as simple as that, you didn’t have to act that way” the young woman said.

John took a deep breath and smiled, “I missed you Anne” he said. Anne rubbed her cheek against his and embraced him tighter. “I missed you too John. I am sorry if I have been busy lately” Anne said. “Its okay. By the way what day is it today?” John asked.

“That’s odd, you never forget dates. Well today is the thirteenth” Anne said but she knew what he was trying to get at but decided to play along. “So tomorrow is the fourteenth” John said and Anne started grinning. “Yup, what’s with the fourteenth?” she asked.

“Nothing, its just valentines day” John said with a sad voice. Anne wanted to laugh but resisted it and acted cool. “I really don’t get it, what is so special about Valentine’s day?” she asked. “I don’t know” was all John could say and Anne bit her lip because she was going to explode in laughter anytime now.

John remained silent as he walked slowly, “You know I hate balloons. I even hate stuff toys too” Anne said as she observed the young man’s reaction. “I guess you hate flowers too” John uttered. “Exactly, but I do love chocolates” she told him and she saw him smiling.

“What type of chocolates do you like? There are so many type of chocolates” John said and his mood suddenly changed. “Hmmm I don’t like the dark ones. I do love those with crisps inside especially the ones with almonds. Why do you ask? Are you going to give me chocolates tomorrow?” Anne said and noticed him walking faster.

“Yep that’s why we have to hurry home so I can ask my dad to drive me to the grocery. But…” John said and again a sense of loneliness. “But what?” Anne asked. “If you know I am going to give you chocolates then it wont be a surprise anymore” he told her. “John look at it this way, what if I didn’t tell you and you gave me flowers or a stuff toy? Would you even notice the fake smile I would give you upon receiving them? Of course you wont know I don’t like them, I would pretend I do, right?” she explained.

“I guess you are right but still there is no element of surprise anymore” John said. “You don’t get it. You now know what I like and if you are going to give me chocolates then I would be happy because you know I really like them. If you want I can pretend to be surprised” Anne told him and they both laughed.

They reached the driveway of Anne’s home so the young lady got off John’s back. “If people consider Valentine’s day to be a special day then I don’t understand why they have to stick to the traditional gifts like balloons, stuff toys, chocolates and roses? If it’s a special day then you should give something really special. Something that the other person will really treasure and remember” Anne said and then smiled at John.

“Something really special” the young man uttered and again he began to space out. “If you think giving me a balloon would be meaningful then I would be happy to receive one from you” Anne told him. “But you said you don’t like balloons” John replied. “I don’t, but if its from you then I will like it” Anne said and the two stared at each other and smiled.

It was Valentine’s day and almost everything in campus had little red hearts attached to them. John and Anne arrived in school early and so did a lot of students. Everywhere they looked red seemed to be the motif of the day which made the two stand out since they both wore different colors.

Kevin, Jeremy and Rick approached the two and they laughed since the three were in red. “Ah you two are boring. Cant you see love is in the air” Rick said. John and Anne pretended to look up and around, they looked at their friends and shrugged their shoulders. “Where? How come I cant see it?” John asked and Anne began to giggle.

“See I told you not to say it” Kevin told Rick. “These two have a nasty habit of shooting down whatever we say” Jeremy said. “We were just kidding. Sorry” Anne told them. “Its alright we are used to it. Anyway how come you two seem not to be in the spirit of Valentine’s day?” Rick asked.

“Hmmm Valentine’s day is supposed to be a celebration of love. Are you three in love?” Anne asked and the three shook their heads. “See, then why do you celebrate if you are not in love? That is why John and I don’t celebrate it” Anne said and a group of girls called her name so she excused herself.

The three guys looked at John who was frozen like a statue. “Ouch that hurts” Kevin whispered and Rick started to pat his friend’s back. “Well at least you got the answer before you even tried asking” he said.

John took a deep breath and swallowed the immense pain he was feeling. “Now I understand why she was distancing herself from me lately” he uttered and the three didn’t know how to console him. “But yesterday it was like…I don’t know. Wow” he added.

“Maybe she was just softening you up. Or she was expecting you to ask her out so she started distancing herself so you wont have to ask anymore” Jeremy said. “Yeah I guess so” John said as he bowed his head and walked away.

Lunch time Anne decided to join her girl friends for lunch and the more John sunk into a deep well of sadness. The final bell rang for the day and the young man slowly walked out of his classroom bowing his head to avoid seeing the couples all around.

As soon as he reached Anne’s classroom he noticed no one was inside. He leaned on the wall by the door and waited and after a few seconds his mobile phone vibrated. “Sorry had to rush. Forgot to tell you dad was picking me up. We are going to the grocery” Anne said in her text message.

Walking towards the gate was like hell for John as he saw couples holding hands walking around. He kept his head bowed but his three friends found him. “Hey John, do you want to come with us? We are going to the mall and celebrate” Kevin said. “Oh yes just for this day we decided to be in love with each other so that we would have a reason” Jeremy joked but their friend just smirked.

“I’ll pass. Got tons of homework I think” John said. “You think?” Rick asked but Kevin elbowed him. “Oh okay maybe next time then” he added and they watched their semi lifeless friend walk away.

At the gate John began opening his bag due to habit but then realized he was alone. He put his back at his back and began what seemed like a solemn funeral march. John used to walk all the way home alone before and it took him twenty minutes. With Anne it took them twice the time but this time it took him sixty.

“John? Where are you going?” his father asked as John turned around and saw his father standing along their porch. “Oh yeah I forgot” he uttered for he already passed their house and was going towards Anne’s.

“You seem off today. Hard day at school?” Bob asked. “Something like that dad” John said as he entered the door. “John, me and your father will be going out tonight so you just reheat the cooked food on the microwave okay?” his mother said.

“I am not hungry. Maybe when I do” the young man responded and dragged his feet up the stairs towards to his room.

Once in bed John saw the box of chocolates on top of his desk, he quickly turned around and in his head was the voice of Anne repeating the line she said this morning. “We are not in love so we don’t have to celebrate” he uttered and began to laugh. “But I am in love with you so I will just celebrate alone” he said and the more he laughed.

Minutes later he calmed down and again the voice of Anne lingered in his mind. The pain started to trickle back into his chest so he closed his eyes and tried to sleep.

John was awakened the vibration of his phone inside his pocket. Before he could take out his phone the vibration stopped so he fixed his position and tried to get back to sleep. This time the doorbell rang so he quickly stood up and ran downstairs.

John opened the door and saw Anne pouting. “Why don’t you answer your phone? What took you so long opening the door?” she immediately asked. The young man took a deep breath and shook his head. “I was asleep. What are you here?” he replied.

“Mom and dad went out so I was left alone. I heard some noises and it crept me out. Could come and accompany me until they arrive? I am sure they wont take long” she asked. John sighed and grabbed the house keys from the nearby cup holder and stepped out.

As soon as they reached Anne’s home, John took another deep breath and shook his head. “Will they take long?” he asked. “I think so. They had a double date with your parents” Anne told him. “Say what?” the young man asked. “Yup, a double date. If we went along with them it could have been a triple” she replied.

John pinched himself to check if he was really awake, he felt the pain so he was confused with what Anne just said. Once inside the house Anne led the way towards the dining area and John could not believe his eyes.

The dining table was covered with red cloth. There were two candles at the center and two plates full of steak and chicken. Anne turned off the lights and lighted the candles, John pinched himself again and was really bewildered.

“The guy is supposed to see to it that the girl is well seated but this time its different” Anne said as she escorted John to his seat. The young woman took her seat and looked at John who was still in shock.

“The reason why I wanted to go home early lately was because I was learning how to cook from my mother. Your mom told me that your favorite meals were steak, chicken and mashed potatoes. So I learned to cook them well” Anne explained.

“You cooked dinner for me?” John asked. “Yes but this isn’t dinner. Its our date” Anne said. The young man had his jaw dropped and his mouth was already shaking slowly into a smile. He wanted to say something but he simply could not get over what was happening.

Anne served mashed potatoes into his plate and then she giggled. “What you are feeling right now…lost for words…state of disbelief…you always do that to me” she told him as she sat down and smiled.

“A date? I thought you and I wont celebrate…” the young man uttered and Anne laughed. “Hmmm it was a set up. Yesterday I was so scared if you had said yes. I asked you if you wanted to know what I was doing. Its good you didn’t ask or else the surprise would be spoiled and I would not be able to make you feel what you always make me feel”

“This morning I said those words to make you feel bad in order to make the surprise better. The days we missed talking much with each other was planned so that we have so much to talk about today” Anne explained.

“I really don’t know what to say” John said as he scratched his head. “I would be insulted if you don’t taste my cooking. I hope you be honest too” she said. John sliced a piece of meat and chicken and ate them. He followed it up with a spoon full of mashed potatoes and chewed slowly.

“Hey Anne, do we really need to talk now?” John asked as he took another slice of steak meat. Anne laughed and pinched him, “You don’t have to act, its my first time cooking” she told him. With his mouth full John managed to smile, “Honestly its delicious, oh my thank goodness I didn’t eat dinner a while ago” he said.

“John, no talking with your mouth full. How many times will I tell you that?” Anne said as she wiped the excess gravy from the young man’s lips. John kept chewing and smiling and Anne was delighted to see that he was really enjoying.

John scooted over to cut Anne’s steak into pieces. “This…is too much. I am so ashamed for I cannot give you a Valentine’s gift in return” he mumbled. “Except for the chocolates I bought and I left them at home even” he added.

“You don’t have to give me any. I already received my valentines gift” Anne said and John looked at her. “When was that?” he asked. “First day of classes” she replied. The young man looked oddly at her and tried to think. “I don’t remember giving you anything that day” he said.

“Yes you did” Anne insisted. “And what did I give you?” John asked.

“You” the young woman said and John froze and looked at her. With hearts beating wildly all they could do was simply smile at each other. The two enjoyed each others company. They ate, they talked, they laughed and even if they could not truly express to each other how they felt, the mere fact that they were together was enough for them.