Well, a chocolate rose. That's what I found wedged in the slot of my locker this morning.
"Hey," Seiko chirped, grinning with each step toward me, "Happy Valentines Day!"
"You want one?" Seiko had asked, generously holding a box of chocolates out to me.
It was that time of the year again, February 14th…Valentines Day.
I looked up at him silently.
Seiko grinned, though the look of confusion in his hazel eyes was unmistakable
No doubt this was the first time he had been rejected for anything by a girl. With his black hair framing his face and innocent brown eyes, it was difficult for the majority of girls to look at him without becoming breathless. Or when his bangs would fall over one eye as he was planning his next sketch, with a pencil thoughtfully held between his lips, an adoring squeal would often escape the lips of girls: underclassmen and upperclassmen alike.
"It's for a good cause," Seiko attempted to persuade, his bottom lip protruding slightly into a subtle pout, "For my hypothesis, to see if I was right or wrong. Help me, please?"
Not that I had anything against chocolates. Just that, who knows what's in those chocolates? Although Seiko did get a 4.0 GPA, he was no angel. It was a notorious fact at our school that every two weeks, he would go out with a new girl, breaking countless hearts. That's why I'm not one of his fan girls, like the other girls swooning at the sight of him.
"No thanks," I turned back to my homework politely.
"It's just for my research project for psychology. I really…" the corners of his lips turned downwards, the twinkle in his eyes gone, "don't understand why…"
Okay, so maybe, just maybe, I couldn't endure his dejected face.
"Well," I sighed, "I guess I'll help then."
God, I can't believe I fell under his charm, obliging to what he wanted like all the rest of the female population.
Seiko's face instantly brightened, "Thanks!"
I scanned the box of assorted chocolates slowly: there were ones veiled with swirls of rainbow frosting, white ones dotted with dark chocolate, chocolates wrapped in gold foil…the varieties were endless. I resolved to pick one that seemed the most promising and delicious: if I was going to consume so many calories, I may as well make the brief heaven worthwhile.
Finally, I decided on a simple, but elegant, milk chocolate heart: I didn't want to risk picking an overly exotic or abnormal flavor.
"That one?" Seiko asked, smiling, "You know, the chocolate you pick shows a lot about you.."
He may have a pretty face, but if he thinks the type of chocolate you choose reveals a lot about a person…maybe he got a low IQ just so that everything evened out.
A giggle escaped my mouth at the unkind contemplation, but I quickly masked it into a cough. Staring at the floor embarrassedly, I nodded, taking a small nibble out of the chocolate.
"Yo, Seiko," yelled one of his friends, "what's taking so long? I thought you just had to ask a few people!"
"Coming," Seiko called back, "Thanks for your help!"
From that day on, I realized how easy it was to fall under the spell of Seiko, how easy it was to be persuaded by him…so I promised myself from that day on, not to succumb to Seiko's charm again.
I should have known that promises are made only to be broken..
My heart pounded against my chest with each step he took towards me, my face flushing an unattractive shade of crimson.
When classes resumed after Winter Break, new schedules were distributed.
I yawned, not used to waking up so early after break, and stumbled tiredly into my semester two biology class. Collapsing into the seat nearest to me, I dropped my backpack on the table.
Since this was my first class, and I didn't have homework to do yet…I might as well make efficient use of this time.
I wrapped my arms around my backpack, and rest my head against it.
Well, I thought I'd be able to sleep, at least. Except that when I just closed my eyes, a gentle tap on my shoulder awoke me.
"Umm…you're kind of in my seat," a male voice pointed out.
I couldn't even bother to lift head up, "I didn't see anyone's name on it."
Maybe that was a little rude…but he interrupted my sleep first.
"But I always sit here…with my friends…"
"Maybe it's time for a change."
Maybe he would leave now…
I sighed in frustration; it was just a chair. Using all my energy, I sat up, and looked straight into the face of…Seiko.
"Oh!" he exclaimed, "Um, I didn't know it was you."
My face burned, at the memory of my improper etiquette. "I ..uhh...didn't know this was your seat." Not that it particularly mattered that this was Seiko's seat, of course.
Seiko ran a hand through his hair, "It's okay. I'll just," he smiled brightly as he plopped into the seat beside me, "sit next to you?"
"If you want," I agreed amiably, while attempting to stop the flutter of the butterflies in my stomach.
"So," His eyes sparkled merrily, "what's up?"
He disturbed your sleep, your precious sleep…don't open up to him. There's really nothing attractive about him. Not his affable nature. Not his perfect hair. Definitely not his beautiful eyes. Of course not.
"Nothing," I stared intently at my lap, endeavoring to hide my blush.
"Do you normally talk to the floor?" Seiko teased gently.
Why was I being like this?
I didn't reply, because I was unable to reply with something witty. Why was my brain so slow?
"Well," Seiko continued, "could I at least see your face?"
What? Why would he want to…look at my face? What an…aberrant person.
Before I could answer, one of his hands pulled back the curtain of hair I was attempting to hide behind, and tucked it behind my ear.
My face reddened even further. Not because I liked him, of course. Definitely not.
"That's better," Seiko grinned, "You have a pretty face. Shouldn't be afraid to show it."
Not as pretty as yours. I think I'm going crazy…
As an automatic response, my face colored even more out of embarrassment. Well, until I realized that this was probably the line he uses every two weeks to get a new date. Not to say that my blushing stopped, but I think it was mostly out of anger now.
"Are you okay?" Seiko randomly asked.
"Um, yeah." I blinked. Just when I thought he ran out of peculiar things to say…
Seiko leaned closer, the space between us slowly disappearing, and placed the backside of his hand against my forehead.
"No temperature," Seiko pondered softly to himself, "But…"
"What are you doing?" I slipped away from his hand, knowing that my blush would never fade away if his hand was there.
"Your face," he explained, "was kind of red…I thought you had a fever or something."
"Oh um, I'm just…"
I always thought I had a talent for excuses, but I guess I was wrong…
Seiko tilted his head, most likely amused by my stupidity.
"Uhh I was just umm…"
"It's ok," Seiko cut in, a wide smile on his face, "I was just over dramatizing anyways."
Maybe he's not so bad after all. Wait, no. I didn't just think that. He is bad. Really bad. Just in a nice way.
I felt like…the way I did when I did that first day in biology class with Seiko. Taking a deep breath, I plucked the chocolate rose from my locker carefully.
From that day on, I found myself in the biology classroom fifteen minutes early. Surprisingly, Seiko was there even earlier than I was. I guess he walked his new girlfriends to class early.
"Hey," Seiko greeted, with the usual bright smile on his face.
"Hi," I replied softly, taking out my Art homework.
"What's that?" Seiko asked, peering over my shoulder curiously.
"My art homework…it's due next period." I answered, pretending not to notice how close his face was to mine.
"From your imagination," Seiko read the instructions aloud, "sketch a…lake. Is that all of the instructions?"
I nodded, and began drawing as Seiko pulled out his Biology binder. First, I drew the basic outline, of the lake and the trees around it. Then, I slowly shaded the lake and the surrounding foliage.
"That's good," Seiko commented, "I could never draw water."
"Thanks," I felt myself flush slightly at his compliment.
Seiko's cell phone suddenly rang, breaking the silence, and causing me to drop my pen.
'Hello?" Seiko answered, while nodding apologetically to me, "Oh hey, Brittany."
An unsteady line, the trail on which the pen had fell, now trickled in the sky of my sketch. Sighing, I retrieved my pen from the lap, and transformed the line into a threatening lightening bolt in the sky.
"Yeah, yeah," Seiko continued into his cell phone, "Love you, too."
I felt a throbbing pang of jealousy, as I heard the last three words. I guess I kind of liked him, more than just someone I talked to before class everyday. Okay, Maybe I really like him…but liking a guy like Seiko…it could only lead to pain.
Seiko closed his phone briskly, and leaned over my shoulder again.
"Why is there…lightning in the sky? The picture was so calm…" Seiko frowned slightly, then the corners of his lips turned upwards again, "Can I see your sketch? I mean…is it ok if I change something?"
"I guess," I handed the sketchbook to Seiko, "It's just an art assignment."
Seiko set the sketchbook on the desk carefully, and then hovered over it secretively; sketching something I couldn't quite see.
"Done," Seiko beamed proudly, handing my sketchbook back to me.
There wasn't much of a difference…except Seiko had changed the lightning bolt to a fluttering cherry blossom.
"You should always try to think about things in a positive way," Seiko smiled, "That's what I think, at least."
I nodded, somewhat agreeing to his statement.
"So," Seiko continued, "what'd you get on that last biology test?"
I traced the stem of the rose with my finger, as I glanced back at Seiko's cheerful smile.
For the rest of the school year, Seiko and I would chat before biology class, sometimes even during class. Finally, it was the last day of biology class, but, today, Seiko wasn't here before me…
Disappointed, I sat in my seat, and opened my SAT Study Guide. More than ever, I couldn't focus on the text. Did something happen to Seiko? Why wasn't he here?
All of the sudden, a petite box whisked across my page.
"Hi, sorry I'm late today," chirped Seiko's familiar voice, "I got you a present."
"Why?" I smiled, fingering the pink ribbon knotted into a flawless bow on the small box.
"Open it," Seiko urged, ignoring my question.
I lifted the cover of the box off gingerly, and the smile on my face spread itself broadly. In the box, was a small chocolate heart, an exact replica of the one I had picked for his psychology assignment.
"Don't eat it though," Seiko advised, shuffling his feet on the floor.
"So," I clarified, arching an eyebrow jokingly, "you give me a chocolate, but you don't want me to eat it?"
"It's not a real chocolate," Seiko grinned.
"Do you think I'm dumb or…" I took the small heart in my hands, only to realize that it was made of wax. "Oh…it really isn't chocolate." Laughing nervously, I turned it over in my palm.
"And," Seiko smiled anxiously, "um, about that."
I looked down at the heart, to see what Seiko was referring to. After examining the heart closely, I noticed an intricate engraving on it. I squinted until I could read it…
I love you.
I finally could read it, but…I couldn't comprehend it.
Maybe it was a joke, like the kind popular guys always play on girls in movies. Or maybe he meant that he loved me as a friend. Yeah, that's it.
"Well, uh," I responded awkwardly, "I, um, love you too. You're like…my best guy friend."
"That's not what I meant," Seiko lowered his eyes to his sneakers.
"Sure it is," I retorted, grinning. It had to be.
"No, it's not," Seiko stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jacket.
Automatically, I argued, "Yeah, it is."
Seiko couldn't possibly…no, why would he?
"Hey," Seiko grabbed my hand, and said, "that's not how I meant it."
"Yeah, it is," I whispered, my voice having lost its energy, "it is."
"Look at me," Seiko softly urged, and I complied feebly, "I love you, as more than a friend, I always did."
My face flushed a deep red again, and my heartbeat felt unsteady. I guess this has always been one of my dreams in an indirect way…but I was feeling ambivalent about Seiko's confession…
"I, uh, love you more than a friend, too…Like a…really good friend," I offered weakly.
This was probably just some cruel joke. Yes, it definitely was.
"That's not what I mean either," Seiko stared into my eyes, a certain sadness flickering in his eyes, "I love you. As in…romantic love-as in, I want to go out with you."
"Why?" I asked, still doubtful of this being his true feelings.
"Because…you're the only girl who thinks twice before agreeing to what I say, the only girl so far who doesn't change herself just to fit my type, and...God, I'm going to sound so conceited, but…"
I stared at him, wide eyed.
"You're also the only girl who doesn't like me because of my looks. But I guess…you're the only girl who doesn't like me in a romantic way at all." Seiko slowly released my hand, as he jumped to his inaccurate conclusion.
I wanted to yell that I did, that I was in love with him for so long, that I really love him.
But Seiko…he was...well, he seemed to be afraid of commitments, only going out with a girl for two weeks, maximum. Two weeks of love…isn't real love, isn't worth the pain I would feel after. And our friendship…would be shattered.
"Seiko…I…it's just that…every two weeks, I see you go out with a new girl…"
"But I haven't gone out on a date since second semester started," he said confusedly.
Painfully, I pointed out, "What about…Brittany?"
"Brittany," Seiko smiled wryly, "is my sister."
Oh. But how do I know he won't revert to his old ways-to dating a new girl every two weeks? I…just can't afford to be hurt like that…
But…I really did like-maybe love-him…
"Seiko," I bowed my head down apologetically, "I'm…sorry. I really…just want to be friends for now. I'm sure you can forget me soon…"
Why did I say that?
Disappointment glazed over his eyes, "I understand."
"We can still be friends, right?" I said, avoiding eye contact with him.
"Friends," Seiko echoed, "I guess."
Tell him. Tell him you love him. Tell him you don't genuinely want to be just friends with him. Tell him…
But I couldn't. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't.
"I'm sure you'll find a girl better than me soon, a girl you'll like much better."
I wince at the reminiscence, at my cowardice, at the biggest mistake I ever made. Clutching the chocolate rose, I felt hope, felt confident that… I could fix my mistake today…
I guess I was too hopeful, too greedy, to think that Seiko and I could remain as close as we were before. For the remainder of school, Seiko avoided me in the hallways, and only greeted me occasionally in biology. But…I couldn't blame him-it was what I deserved.
Fortunately, Seiko was too good natured and forgiving to remain cold to me for a long period of time. By the next school year, our last year of high school, Seiko began to open up to me again, and slowly, we rebuilt our friendship.
Now it's been a year…
"Seiko," I greeted, as he reached my locker, "I…"
Seiko grinned, holding up a finger. "One sec," and continued heading down the hall.
The corner of a pink envelop peeked out from where the chocolate rose had been. Curiously, I pulled it out, and opened the envelope.
Happy Valentines Day! This is Seiko, by the way. Well…did you know it's already been a year? It didn't feel like just a year to me though. To tell you the truth, these past few months…each day…I've been waiting for you to come up to me, and tell me you loved me too…But, I now know that I can't force you to have the same feelings that I had for you. I think I already subconsciously knew you wouldn't go out with me after I asked you to pick a chocolate-at least one thing I calculated went right.
Well, two actually. A month ago, I finally learned to accept our friendship…and…I think I've finally found a girl that I really like, the first one I've liked after you…and I think I'm going to tell her today. I really wanted to tell you first, but I never really found the right time. Wish me luck?-Seiko
Through my blurred vision, I could see another sheet of paper slide out the envelope.
Hypothesis: Data Table, Part II
Period of Time Taken to Decide
Approximately 5 minutes
Plain heart shaped milk chocolate
Heart: Symbolizes want for love
Plain: Simple, frightened (of change, etc.), need for security, practical?
Long period of time to decide: Careful, thoughtful, insightful, comfortable at own pace
About 2 seconds
Gold foil wrapped chocolate with durian filling
Gold foil: Infers materialistic affections, attracted by appearance
Brief period of time to decide and durian filling: Takes chances (time period seems too short to be able to comprehend, or even read, the label), quick to decisions or conclusions?
You're the first one, in case you don't remember…Was I right? I got an A for this assignment..
When you said you only wanted to be friends I remembered this, and it kind of make me think you rejected me because-this is going to sound silly-but, because I wasn't the right chocolate. Wow that sounded retarded…I'm going to stop now. Happy Valentines day
I shut my eyes, in hopes of preventing tears from streaming down my face.
Seiko was right…I was afraid of hurt, afraid of pain, even afraid to take a chance. I was a coward and because of my fears…
I had long found the one that I loved most…
It would be too late now.
Too late to run up to Seiko, and tell him…
Tell him that…