There were roses in my locker. Gorgeous, red roses whose petals were velvet in between my fingers. They weren't plastic. They were real. And there were four.
But they obviously weren't for me. You see, I was not the "desirable" type. I was constantly acting foolish in front of people I didn't know. I was a nosy, privacy-invading journalist. I had less than desirable short hair that I faded into a boy cut because my afro was annoying and people always wanted to touch it, making it lopsided. I even wore my pants high above my waist, and they were constantly attached to suspenders. The tape holding my glasses didn't help, either, but around this school, I was described as Nerd Couture.
So there was no way, no possibility that those gorgeous tears of earth were mine—disappointing, but unmistakable. I tapped the person who owned the locker beside me. "Um, excuse me?" I yelled. It was ridiculously loud in the Adam Henderson hallway, and you had to practically shout Hallelujah! to be heard. The boy I'd tapped was currently stuffing a science textbook into his schoolbag, but he raised his eyes from the book to look at me. I was surprised he could see me from way up there.
"Yeah?" he asked me unsurely. Truthfully I'd never talked to him before, but I knew he was in one of my classes. I think.
I held up the roses daintily, "Are these yours?" I asked. The boy laughed as if my idea was ridiculous. Clearly it was.
"No," he answered.
I wanted to press him—I knew there was more to the story—but geez! Talk about talking to a brick wall! I'd dealt with characters like him plenty of times before—I was a journalist after all. "Um…" The journalist in me would die if she didn't get to the bottom of the story. "Do you know who put them in here?" I asked the guy.
"No," he said.
No one word answers, please, I thought to myself, but instead of speaking on my thoughts, I pressed on. "Are you sure?" I asked for clarity. Sure enough—as every great journalist knows—asking a question twice can pay off. I watched in anticipation as the guy furrowed his brow in concentration. I knew once he'd widened his eyes he'd remembered something. "What is it?" I asked.
He hesitated. "There was this short guy who was there for a while, but I just though he was lost. A. H. is big to new kids, you know," he said. I decided that it was worth mentioning, so I pulled out my trusty spiral: a tattered, miniature journal that I'd only had for a few weeks. It was wearing down fast.
I wrote a description of the situation, and how I found four roses in my locker. I decided to note the fact that the guy who I talked to was freakishly tall, so his description of "short" may not have been valid.
I tucked the notebook into my back pocket. "Thanks," I said with as much gratitude as I could muster—I didn't want to tell him that his answers were about as generic as Spam. "You were really helpful—" the school's electronic ding sounded, signaling that everyone in the hallway was late for class. At least I didn't have to lie to him anymore.
I had asked just about short guy in the school whether or not they thought I was cute. It was not an easy task, and I'm sure at least a hundred of them slipped through the cracks, but I did try. That was me: a Trier. Okay, well I was more of a quitter, but if you want to be a journalist, you have got to be a Trier.
My search for Rose Guy went well enough—besides the fact that I found no leads and I had to go through pointless flirting sessions with overly testosteroned football players—and I rewarded myself with a shortstop to my locker between first and second period.
I put the code in distractedly—because I could do that code in my sleep—and opened my locker with little struggle. And then I saw more roses. The new roses were white—six of them—and they were rammed in right next to the four red ones. Wow, purty, I thought to myself, and took the white roses out to examine them further.
Locker Guy decided at this time to appear at his locker. When he opened his locker, he looked over to me only to see the surprising white bouquet. He whistled. "He's making the rest of us look bad," he said.
My eyes snapped up to his and I furrowed my brow. "What do you mean?" I asked. Locker Guy laughed as if it were obvious.
"Around here," he began, and he slammed his science book into his locker, exchanging it for a large math book, "Most guys don't do romantic gestures."
I shook my head stubbornly. That couldn't be true—I had proof right in my hands. "I don't believe that," I argued. They totally did. A lot of romantic things could happen at our school—it was just that no one knew about it. Locker Guy was just making a stupid assumption—like the one about the tree falling in an empty forest. That tree so made a sound.
I rolled my eyes as Locker Guy shrugged—as if he didn't really care to pursue the subject—and he slammed his locker shut. "Whatever," he said, but not in a mean way, and he walked away coolly.
I took the opportunity to bring out my spiral and write everything down, trying my hardest to stay on task and not to include the fact that Locker Guy was had a cynical view on romance.
I shouldn't have been surprised when I opened my locker—it was about to be routine to find something there. Once again, I found four more red roses, and I was at a confident high. It was just after second period, and students were milling around the halls, searching for friends to talk to. I searched around the hallway for Locker Guy—but only to see if he had any dirt on the intruder.
And just when I needed him he was nowhere to be found.
"Who's doing this?" I asked myself aloud, but instead of thinking about the matter further, I put the other roses in my book bag. I was a little worried if there were more to come—my backpack was getting full.
At least I could over satisfy myself with the fact that I was lucky—I knew his game. He was clearly going in a pattern: four red roses, six white roses, four red roses, six white roses and so on. It was almost obvious, and I wondered if it'd give me a clue to who it was. I wrote as such in my spiral. With my newfound information, I was sure I could find the culprit—I just had to find someone with a fetish for white roses, red roses, the number four, or the number six. It's that easy, I thought to myself, slamming the door. I looked up to see Locker Guy making his way toward his locker, so I waved. He waved back, but he didn't rush his pace. So I left.
Okay, so I think I was pretty wrong about Rose Dude. He didn't care about the number four or the number six.
I can rest nicely with that fact, because lying in my locker was not four—not even six—but ten roses. The assortment of flowers leaned against the side of my locker shelf, and I was completely baffled. He didn't even separate the colors this time: eight of them were red, and two of them were white. It was so confusing—it was so unexpected, I nearly had a mental seizure. Right there in the hallway. I mean—why was my locker stuffed with so many flowers? I recorded the newcomer roses in my little spiral for future reference. If I found out this guys pattern, then I could find out the guy, right?
I decided that there were no holes in my logic and took the roses out with my frustration showing on my face. I closed my locker just as Locker Guy lazed his way to his own locker.
"Nice," he said when he saw the roses, and then he yanked his locker open. I glared at him. "What?" he asked defensively. "You don't like them?" I laughed.
"Of course I do!" I laughed again. "I've got a heart, I'm a girl, and I wear skirts—getting anonymous roses is my dream!" I yelled like a lovesick teenager, "…but all of them are going to die. I don't have anywhere to put them."
There was a pensive silence between us—well, probably pensive on his behalf, but on my half it was kind of awkward.
"You could put them in mine," he offered. I smiled, but that's what I'd been trying to get him to do in the first place.
"Thanks," I sighed, and I stuffed the breathtaking roses into his steel cage—all of them, the sixteen red, the eight white. "That's so sweet! I'll take them back after lunch, I promise. But, right now—I really needed—I—thanks." I stopped rambling as Locker Guy laughed.
"No big," he said, and he continued to shove his books into his locker. I hope Rose Dude is something like Locker Guy.
In a strange twist of fate, Locker Guy was already at his locker when I arrived. Although this had happened before, it was not a usual occurance. When he heard me clicking through my combination, he greeted me. "Hey." He smiled while he busied himself by putting all of his books back into his locker. I assumed it was his lunch period as well, and I wondered if he'd sit with me. Maybe then I could learn his name.
"Hi," I replied, trying to prolong the opening of my locker—I was afraid to. Wouldn't you be? Last time it went from four roses to ten—what if now it'd gone from ten to forty?
Seeing as Locker Guy wouldn't say anything else, I re-entered my combination, and with theatrics and bravado, I pried my locker open after the padlock's soft click. I couldn't believe what I saw.
Eleven. There were eleven roses crammed in that bad boy: four red (again) and seven white. I routinely pulled them out, admiring the near dozen. Well, whoever Rose Guy was, he sure didn't care about spendage. As I lifted the bouquet higher, I noticed a small strip of paper on that ground. I must have fallen out of the bundle of flowers, seeing as it was directly beneath. Picking it up, I realized it was a note. I gasped. This is what I'd been waiting for! The mystery was nearly solved—and luckily just before I'd gotten my good ol' Adam Henderson High mashed potatoes.
I'm no good at all after I've had my Adam Henderson High mashed potatoes.
I held the flimsy sheet close to my glasses, trying to get a better look at the tiny scribbles. Golly, I'd probably go completely blind trying to read the guy's handwriting. Even though I wasn't sure if Locker Guy cared, I read the note aloud.
"Let's see your problem solving skills," he wrote, "Because those roses are my phone number." Wow. How…intricate. It was pretty well thought out, too. I actually wanted to break out in applause in the middle of the hallway—the puzzle could be solved before lunch. And I've never wanted to call someone so much in my life.
I read the note again, trying to clarify how much roses I'd gotten. I dialed the bundles eagerly—pressing the buttons in the order I'd gotten them. Four…six…four…two…eight…seven…four…I hit send.
To my complete, and utter disappointment, the phone didn't ring—the computed voice came on the line, telling me the number was invalid. And I was crushed.
I slammed my back onto my closed locker door, and slid until my butt hit the tile. I hadn't realized that Locker Guy was paying attention to me, but when I glanced at him, he was looking at me expectantly. In hindsight, I think I dragged him a little too far into my love life.
"Well?" he pressed.
I didn't want to break his heart, but I had to break the news. It was a reporter's job to break the news. "The lady said the number was invalid," I informed him. At least he had the decency not to laugh in my face.
"Well…" he trailed off. I could tell he really wanted to help, but I had already given up. There was no way to fix this crushing situation. "Maybe you did it wrong?" he said, but it came out as a question. I considered this.
It could be right, you know. Maybe it wasn't some cruel, horrible prank—maybe it was just a mistake on my behalf. I'd never wanted to be wrong so much in my life.
I glanced at him through my lashes, not even bothering to hide the hope in them. "How do I do it right?" I asked him. Although I'd already given up, the least I could do was try again.
Under pressure, Locker Guy was freezing up. "Um…" he mumbled, seemingly to be searching for the right thing to say, "Maybe it goes red-white-red-white," he said. Once again, Locker Guy made sense. I did do the final four numbers white-red-white-red. Maybe it was out of order.
I tried again. Four…six…four…eight…two…four…seven. I listened for the ring as Locker Guy packed up his bag and prepared to depart.
And then his phone rang.
There was a brief pause in his step, and he turned back to face me. A smile was in his eyes as he pulled a phone from his pocket. "Its Gabriel," he answered, throwing his head back, trying not to laugh. My eyes widened as I heard his voice through my receiver. "Hello?" He smirked.
My throat was dry. "Um…its m-me…L-Lu-Lucy," I stuttered. Locker Guy…or rather Gabriel turned to me and grinned.
"Lucy…Lucy…" He tapped his chin as if trying to place the name. "Oh…Lucy," he said in theatrical recognition. I stared at him in awe. Oh. My. God. Rose Guy was Locker Guy. Rose Guy was Locker Guy. "I've been meaning to ask you…" he trailed of, seeming to gather his courage to ask a big question. Rose Guy was Locker Guy!? I continued to gawk, wondering how he possibly came to like me. "Would you like to go out with me for lunch?" he asked me.
A.N. *I think I have a locker fetish--I mean, seriously, this is the second time.