I wish he picked me.
We first met that day in fourth grade, in a teeming jam-packed where only the best of the best in the school were. The crowd was radiating with life, and conversations were flying from one corner to another. I was surrounded by my friends, and he was surrounded with his. And when our eyes met, there was no spark, no flutters in my stomach. He was just a person whose name I knew.
When I saw his pale face and slight figure in the classroom when we finally got to be classmates, he was no one special to me. Just a handsome, empty face.
We were two different people minding our own completely different businesses, and despite having both our names down on a hundred parchment sheets of recognition, our trail of thought is pretty much the same. We didn't care.
Unexpectedly enough, we talked for the first time, we already argued. We chewed each other out on everything. Politics, academics, music, teachers. My looks and behavior was one of the main topics. He did everything that seemed to annoy me the littlest bit; blocking my sight of the morning television programs, tapping my shoulder constantly, making silly jokes entailed with my name and pranks involving my food. He can never be satisfied until I bang his desk and attempt to punch his pretty face.
There came a point when we had become used to running on the longest corridors chasing each other until we had to gasp for breath and wipe our brows. He was faster because of his thin frame. Down the stairs, he'd look up at me, smirk, and stick his tongue out. Up above, I'll smile angelically and pour water on his head. But even as our feet stopped running, our thoughts were still trying to catch each other, saying; "I'll beat you next time."
Somehow I felt like I understood a special chunk of who he was. His problems were never made public and never talked about, but they were I somehow felt they were drastic and that they affected him. I admired his strength. Unlike me, he didn't wallow in his misery. Unlike me, he stayed honest to himself and to others. I was glad that I had that much.
Until there came that day that he acted so strangely. He didn't do anything haughty, in fact, he did the opposite. He completely ignored me. I tried to ignore him myself, thinking it may be a prank, but I had the strongest intuition that everything might change for real. I had to break the ice, or I'll lose him. I have to try spark something up and go against my character, but I cannot find the right words to say. When he accidentally dropped his books I saw my chance.
I picked them up and was about to say something about someone being so careful when he shoved my hand and turned his head away from me.
As soon as I saw his friends looking at me and talking about me behind my back, the mystery in my head was solved like pieces of the puzzle fit in their places. This was the endless cycle of people hating how I look, how I speak, how I act. This was the endless cycle of people I care about spurning and churning into the whirlpool of another world, another dimension which will never even think of visiting me, because I was too worthless to be wanted.
Still, I refused to lose hope on him. I swore he wouldn't be one of those people I lost. I constantly talked to him, though I always avoid people who don't talk to me. Even when he rejected me, I kept on coming up to him.
But I had a limit. And for someone like me, that limit was not too long. Yet whenever that limit was tested, stretched as far as it can, he did something, just a small, little thing, to lengthen it a little bit more. He always did something to keep me going whenever I want to give up on him. He gave me something to hold on to; anything like a subtle, almost unnoticeable pat, a slight lean on my chair, a small, startled smile.
Finally, the day I've waited for arrived. It wasn't anything grand like a hug, or a big announcement, or a very cliché kiss.
It was just a big, lanky grin and a prank. It was all I wanted. He was back.
I soon caught myself staring at his very dark, almost black yet shining eyes more, listening to and enjoying his musical laughter more, being self-conscious around him. I wasn't a fool; I knew what had happened.
The moment I first saw him in a different light was one of the most horrible moments of my school life. Worse than feeling extremely embarrassed and frozen after being humiliated in front of the class or making a social mistake, I felt very warm and very angry. I was ashamed of myself. I thought that because of my pettiness, I'm going to lose someone again.
He wasn't the one I wanted. He wasn't the one I needed.
The casual taps turned into electrifying touches and the uncomplicated name-calling turned into daggers—sharp and clear.
My fears manifested themselves full force when she came.
She had sleek, black hair down to her chin, almond-shaped brown eyes, smooth, flawless skin and a slim figure. She was everything not me. But she was everything I wanted to be. The pretty girl and the pretty boy. They're the perfect match.
Before I came to his life, that was what I'll think. Before I knew him. Before I saw the lonely, lost man in his small body. But not then.
I knew he would have to be hurt after a very short time, but instead of being happy about that fact, I felt hurt. I didn't want him to feel what I constantly felt. Rejection, betrayal, confusion. I saw it coming, but I cannot do anything. There was nothing I can do, and in fact if I tried, I would make it all worse. But I didn't succumb to that truth.
All my efforts only put what we used to have in jeopardy. I immediately realized that when I looked into his eyes and his smile faded away. There was nothing left to salvage, and he would hate me for trying to reach out to someone too far like himself. I dreamed too much. When it all ended I felt it all crashing down to me.
When a form of salvation came, I instantaneously grasped it without thinking. He was like a tank of oxygen after being underwater for too long. His smiles reminded me of the smiles I used to show to ease some of someone else's pain, but his was clearer and untainted. His words were the words I needed so badly to hear. His gentle face brought me back to the world I felt detached to since the day my family fell to pieces.
Only when he said the words I was shouting in my head for a long time did I realize he was about to fall into something I fell in, only worse. Being with me was too destructive for him. I was like a leech trying to suck in all his happiness and pulling him into nothingness. I didn't deserve any of his sincerity and concern. The best thing I could do for him was to walk away. I probably hurt him, but I can't lie to him. I wanted someone else.
The little time I was gone from his life can represent a decade for everything it has done. Dejected and cold, he turned on everybody. They stood by, but they never understood. I did. But he doesn't want anything to do with me. Still, I stayed.
It was time to go our separate ways, and thought I might never see him again after that day. But I didn't feel like crying. I felt numb and nonchalant. I had lost him so many times. I cannot hope to have him back, even as a friend. I left without a word, without saying goodbye to anybody. And for the next months I hovered like a ghost.
I felt a surge of emotion wash over me when I learned I had to come back. When people who knew me saw me, I could see in their eyes that they didn't even care. No one of them cared. I could feel their ennui while they were talking to me. They had their own lives and they want me to stay away from them. And quite surprisingly, I thought so too. I wanted them out of my life. I ran away as I promised myself I would never go back.
Only one thing stopped me. One person.
He stood ten feet away from me, looking straight at me with his friends beside him. I didn't know how to react. All I did was to stand dumbstruck. I noticed that he was just the same as ever, but the way he looked at me changed. The mockery, derision and disgust were all gone. He stared at me like I was a friend, like I knew him, like he actually wanted me to talk. But he talked first.
I didn't answer.
"How was it?"
The smile I longed to see, the one he has never given me, appeared. It wasn't a nasty smirk. It wasn't smug and confident. It was crooked and broken.
But I have had too much to let myself fall apart.
"Why would you care?"
Instead of being annoyed by my rude reply, he smiled wider. He called my name.
But then she came, calling his. There was a mixture of delight and pain that saturated his eyes.
He watched as I ran away. His friends all looked at him. She looked at him.
I'm no one important, not too smart and never wanted. I'm not his type of pretty girl. But I know I would take care of him better than she ever would.
I wish he gave me a chance.
I wish he didn't follow his visual preference that much.
We were both completely broken people, but I wish we tried to be together and fix the holes in each other.
I wish we didn't hold on to our pride that much.
I wish he picked me.
This is the way everything between us ended because everything we had to say was left unspoken.