The Headstand

She had an obsession with kites when she was six.

It was the entire process that appealed to her: From building the kite (she always loved arts and crafts, albeit she was never really talented in it…), all the way to watching it soar in the sky. It was that sense of satisfaction that motivated her.

On her 6th birthday, her parents bought her a book on making kites and a bagful of colourful materials for her production. She grinned toothily and thanked them for getting her the "greatest greatest greatest greatest gift ever!", and then ran up to her playroom almost immediately, eager to get started.

That day, she wanted to try something harder than her usual diamond-shaped kites. She flipped through the pages until her eyes landed on a beautiful picture of a delta kite.

That's the one, she decided excitedly, and delta kite was what she made.

Two hours later found her happily running to the beach behind her house, totally ignorant of the glue that caused the skin on her knees to stick together every now and then, creating small ripping sounds with every step she made. The sun was beginning to set, and the wind was flaunting its presence, playfully flapping her hair against her face.

But oh, she could care less.

She let out the line and started towing her bright red kite at a jogging pace, slowly increasing her speed and watching as the kite went higher, higher, higher…

And it soared giddily in the clouds!

She shrieked with delight and slowed her pace, but never kept her eyes of her kite. Her neck felt slightly sore from all the craning, yet she continued beaming like a proud mother as she led her baby over and pass the clouds, up and down, up and down, up and down...



She blinked, her brain momentarily registering that strange one-syllable word before she realized that her face was pressed to a pair of sweaty legs.

Very sweaty legs.

She scrunched her nose in disgust and helped herself up.

"Don't you know how to watch where you're going?" That little boy asked as he, too, got up from the ground. She frowned, suddenly remembering why she hated boys who thought they were the kings of the world. But instead of answering his question, she found herself wondering, how did her face land on his legs? Shouldn't it be landing on his face?

… Not that she wanted to be anywhere near his face, of course. But still. She had stayed with her older sister Kimmy through all those dreaded kissy-kissy movies to know that when you knock into someone, you always end up kissing each other on the lips.

So why did she end up kissing the beads of sweat on his legs?

It could only mean one thing.

"Were you doing a headstand?"

"No," Was his immediate response, but one glare from her and somehow he felt compelled to tell the truth. "Yeah."

Her glare softened into a look of awe. It was one of the things that she has always wanted to do: To see the world upside down.

"How did you do it?" She asked, but received no response. Normally she would repeat her questions again and again and again until she hears a reply, but that day she chose to remain silent and quietly observe this stranger, a boy who was dressed in fine, expensive clothes in the middle of a beach. His eyes were a stunning shade of grey, she noted, but she liked blue eyes better. His hair, even after the headstand, was still gelled (she would've said glued, but that would be rude) to both sides of his head, and it reminded her of those good kids in movies that often got bullied.

Except this kid must be a rich one.

The boy stared at her for a second before he asked, "Do you still want your kite?"

That's when she realized that he was holding her kite in his hands. She nodded, "Thanks."

"It's okay. Sorry I was rude." He muttered, his hands tucked into his pocket and he looked fidgety, like he didn't do this very often.

She shrugged.

"What does 'fuck' mean?"

His eyes looked up to meet hers briefly, "It's a vile word."

"What's does 'vile' mean?" She was getting more confused by the second. She always figured she was smart for her age, but this boy clearly won her by a thousand miles. She wasn't used to being defeated, and she didn't like it.

"Check the dictionary." Was all he said, and then he turned around and walked towards the other direction. He was leaving.

"Hey," She called out. He didn't stop. "Hey! Do you think you can teach me how to do that? That headstand?"

That's when he halted his steps and turned around, allowing his gaze to pierce into hers properly for the first time.

"You don't have a reason to," He said, his voice quiet, but it contained some form of emotion that she didn't understand. Was it anger? Sadness? At her age she didn't quite understand the meaning of 'frustration', but he did. And that's what he felt. "You should be happy."

And he left, leaving a very confused six-year old behind.

A day later she looked up on the dictionary and finally understood what 'fuck' really meant.

Well, she still didn't really understand what it meant ("to have sexual intercourse with" sounded equally foreign to her), but she knew it probably wasn't the kind of word they would teach in school. So she ran to the beach again, intending to give the boy a piece of her mind.

He was nowhere to be found.

Two days later news got out that one of their neighbours lost her battle with brain cancer; she died at the age of 32.

They attended her memorial service at their neighbourhood church, and that's when she met the boy for the second time.

His mother was the reason why they were in that church that day.

She gasped in shock when she found out, and she clung on to her own mother as tightly as she could and cried, feeling bad and sorry for the boy, whose eyes were red and swollen, but there was not a single tear on his cheeks.

He stood next to his dad and thanked her parents for coming. He looked at her and gave her a tight-lipped smile, the kind that she always showed her family when she gets a bruise or a cut on her legs.

It hurts, but I need to be strong.

"He's a good kid," She heard her parents say as they left the church. "Not every kid can handle it as matured as he can."

She turned around to catch a glimpse of him.

That rich-looking boy, his head faced up towards the sky, his body slumped, defeated - like he has lost everything that has ever mattered to him.

At the tender age of six, her heart ached for the very first time.

It took him two weeks, but he finally did it.

He took a long look at his wall, now pinned with every picture he had of his mum. They were all filled with smiles and laughter, and it reminded him of what used to be.


"I'll always love you, my baby," She told him, her voice weak and soft. He leaned closer to her and rested his head on her chest, just to feel her labored breathing, to know that she's still here. "I will never leave you. You must remember that."

He nodded. It was the only thing he knew how to do.

"I love you, mum." He whispered, knowing that he wouldn't have much time left to tell her. "I always will."

And she smiled. The prettiest smile in the world.

"If you won't take it off, I will." He looked around and saw his dad's tall figure leaning against the door frame, his face red and swollen. His breath reeked of beer. Again.

When he remained silent, his dad stormed across the room to the wall and started tearing the pictures off the wall, yelling and screaming incomprehensible words, words that he often heard but never fully understood. Big words.

So he stayed where he was, his fists clenched tight as he watch his dad ruin his project and eventually, breaking down on the floor.

"She will never return," His dad muttered, his voice barely audible. He rocked his body back and forth as he cried, and for the first time since mum's death, his dad looked human. His voice quivered with emotion, "She will never be with us again, Luke. She's gone."

She's not, Luke wanted to argue, but decided against it. He reached out and hugged his dad, feeling his dad's frigid body against his comparatively tiny frame, taking in his alcoholic stench. His dad was never like this when mum was around. His dad was strict; after all, he served the army for over ten years. But at least back then, he was happy. In love with his family.

Now all that's left are ashes.

Luke took a deep breath and let his dad stay in his arms, suddenly feeling a lot older than seven.

That night, after his dad went to bed, he stayed up and cleaned up all the torn photographs on the ground, patiently gluing everything back together before pinning it to the wall again.

When he was done, he knelt on the ground and said his prayers, hoping that his mum could hear him. Then, he placed the crown of his head on the floor and cupped it with his hands. He placed his hips upwards and walked his feet in towards his head until his hips were over his shoulders. In a swift motion, he lifted his legs off the floor and straightened it in the air. He squeezed his eyes shut and breathed, feeling blood rushing to his head.

"Anything that is intangible is non-existent," his dad used to tell him when he was five and afraid of the monsters in the closet. His dad liked using adult words, but it didn't bother Luke too much. That's what dictionaries are for. "Fear… is intangible."

He feared of being alone, without a mother. He feared for his dad, who seemed to have lost it all. He feared of losing even more than what he had lost so far.

But fear doesn't exist.

He stayed upside-down for a while more and kept his eyes shut, allowing his memories to fill him.

Among the many things that flashed across his mind, one of them included a chubby girl with sticky knees and a bright red kite.

They met again on the beach, a year later.

This time he was just sitting alone beside the rocks, and she was having one of those Barbie doll picnics with her sister when she spotted him from the distance. She told her sister where she was heading and when her sister nodded her consent, Isabelle ran towards him.

"Hi," She breathed out when she reached him, flashing a friendly smile.

"Hi." Was all he said, and he continued staring at her as she struggled to regain her composure. Lousy runner, he thought with an amused smile.

"What're you doing here?" She asked, and when he told her that he liked the wind, she just nodded in agreement, "I like the wind, too."

When he didn't continue the conversation, she awkwardly took out a bar of chocolate from her pocket and gave it to him, "Here, have some Mars bars. They're really good."

He took it, but when he didn't thank her or say anything, she suddenly felt aware of how messy her hair was after the run, and how dirty her skirt probably looked, what with all the sand and candy stains.

So she faked a cough and said, "Okay, have fun! Bye."

And she started running back to her sister again.

"Hey!" He yelled, and when she turned to look at him, he smiled at her. He had pretty teeth, she thought. She raised her eyebrows in curiousity. "Uh, thanks. For the chocolate."

She grinned sheepishly and continued running.

He held the Mars bar in his hands, feeling a little bit warmer and lighter inside.

She doesn't have to know what he was allergic to.

It's the thought that counts.

Ever since that day, he made an effort to go to the beach every other day, in hopes of seeing her again.

And she was always there, always with something interesting to offer.

If she didn't have new kites to fly, she would be building sand castles with her sister. One time after school, he saw her chasing the waves, her long pants folded up to her knees but it got wet anyway. She was too short.

"Wanna play?" She asked when he approached. At that point, they have already exchanged many conversations, and were already well… acquainted.

"I'm wearing jeans." He replied, and she took one look at his dressing and rolled her eyes.

"Party pooper," She grumbled good-naturedly, and pulled him along. "It's fun, I promise."

So he rolled his jeans up and waited for the next wave to come. When it did, she tugged on his arm urgently and screamed, "Jump, Luke! Jump!"

They did, and she giggled and doubled over with laughter when he got himself wet because he got his timing all wrong. They repeated the process again and again until he got better, and fifteen minutes later he too, laughed along with her as they skipped the waves like they skipped ropes. There was something about her laughter that was so contagious… It made him feel excited, too.

Like they were having fun.

Oh, how he missed that word.

When it was time to go home, he asked if she wanted to attend his eighth birthday party.

She agreed in a heartbeat.

It was a disaster.

Long story short, halfway through the party his dad stormed in the house smelling awful, and his face was the shade of a tomato. He yelled for everyone to leave the house, and everyone did as they were told, knowing that it probably wasn't a good idea to go against him.

She was about to leave, too, but then he pulled her and asked her to follow him upstairs. She agreed, and let him lead her to his room.

"I'm so sorry." He muttered, his voice thick. He sounded sad and angry, and she felt sorry for him, too. She patted his hand and gave a reassuring smile, letting him know that it was okay. She didn't mind. Maybe his dad just had a bad day, that's all. "My dad… He's been like this since my mum… You know."

"It's okay." She said. She looked at his wall of pictures, all of which had a very pretty woman in it. He must miss her a lot, she thought. She felt that familiar pang of heartache.

"Please…" He suddenly said, and he looked into her eyes. She was suddenly struck by how beautiful gray could be. She heard his voice again, "Please be my friend."

"We have always been friends, Luke." She told him. It felt weird to see a boy who was almost her age act like this. Like a broken vase. She had the urge to hug him, and she did. She felt him shaking in her arms, and that's when she made a silent vow to be there for him forever. "I'll always be here for you. You're my best friend."

Later on, they found out that Luke's dad officially declared bankruptcy on Luke's birthday. They no longer owned anything.

They moved out of their house beside the beach and moved in with one of Luke's aunt. Luke transferred from a private school to a public school a week later, to be in the same school as Isabelle.

Home became Luke's version of hell.

Isabelle became Luke's version of a secret haven.

He would never be able to understand how a girl so chubby at the age of six could blossom into such a beautiful flower six years later.

He would make full use of every little moment to stare at her. To appreciate her beauty.

He already made plenty of friends in school, and they always, always, always talked about the girls in their school. Pretty ones, troll-looking ones, cute ones.

But they never once mentioned Isabelle.

It came as a relief for him. He didn't know how he would react if he heard the boys in school talking about his best friend. Normally he could control his temper relatively well but when it comes to things about Isabelle… He couldn't be sure.

He let his eyes follow her subtly as she greeted her girl friends in girly hugs, and when she sent him a wink when she finally caught him staring, Luke found himself inwardly thanking his mum up there for sending Isabelle to watch over him.

She could totally understand why Luke was such a hot-seller in school.

They were only thirteen and fourteen respectively at that point, but Luke had already grown about ten inches taller than when they first met, and even though he was still slightly shorter than her (she seemed to have 'bloomed' a lot earlier than he did, and at this age she was easily the tallest girl in class), it didn't seem to bother the other girls.

He was smart (and exceptionally good in language), crazily talented in sports, and he could sing. And he had looks that belonged in one of those good-looking boy bands.

Go figure.

So she watched quietly from the sidelines as the girls swarmed up to him like bees to a flower everyday in between classes, cooing over him like little fan girls. She just scoffed and continued minding her own business.

It didn't bother her. After all, she convinced herself. Luke knows better.

It was when Luke got into his first relationship with a pretty girl named Natalia when she realized she cared more than she thought.

"I'm just dating her to get the other girls off my back." He explained apologetically, although she never really understood why he thought it was necessary to do so. She was just a friend to him. That's what she promised. "One girl is annoying enough. I don't need another ten."

"That's what jackasses do." She teased, distracting him from what she really felt.

Only a jackass could break her heart without her realizing it.

One day he asked her to go over to his place.

"Won't Natalia mind?" She asked. She had been on the receiving end of Natalia's death glares for one too many times, and she was starting to fear for her life. "I don't think she likes us hanging out that much."

"She'll be fine, Bella."

It did nothing to convince her, but she followed him home anyway. Despite her recent attempts to avoid hanging out with Luke too often, she missed him. So badly.

They did their usual routine; Watched horror movies, played some video games, challenged each other to yet another round of arm wrestling. Sometimes it felt as though he treated her more like a dude instead of a girl, and it pained her just thinking about it, but she never raised that topic.

He shared a room with his dad now, and this room was a lot smaller than the one he used to stay in when he was a kid. His pictures with his mother were still all over the wall. He insisted on putting them up, and there was nothing his aunt could do to stop him.

She was randomly browsing through the items on his dad's side of the room when she saw a broken syringe beside the bin. She picked it up, horrified.

Luke's response was terrifyingly calm, "It's not me."

"Your dad?"

His silence was the answer.

"I'm sorry." That's all she could say.

"He doesn't know that I know about it." He told her, "But I know he's been doing it for quite some time. His eyes. They gave him away."

"I'm sorry." She repeated.

He gave one of his tight-lipped smiles and went to a corner of the room. "Give me a moment."

And so she waited and watched her best friend do his headstand again. She still didn't understand why he liked doing it so much, but she knew better to ask him at this moment.

After all, he was already close to tears.

So she stayed and waited patiently until he was ready to talk again. She busied herself with her homework, but her mind was elsewhere. Surrounding him. She realized that she could never leave him.

All these heart aches. They only happened to her when she sees him in pain.

And she longed to do something, anything, so long as it could make him smile again.

"Okay," He said a few minutes later, snapping her out of her reverie. He smiled, and she could feel that same flutter in her stomach. He spread his arms open and she went into his embrace automatically, willingly. He rested his head on the top of hers and sighed, "Thanks for waiting, Bella."

She shrugged and gave him a little squeeze, all the while debating inwardly if she should just man up and ask him about it.

"Every time I feel like I'm losing control of my emotions, I'll do that." He answered the question on her mind. She stayed where she was, right below his chin. He probably needed that support now. "When I was young, my dad used to be real tough on me. He thought that I needed to be strong, that there was nothing that I could be afraid of, that I should cry over nothing."

He took a deep breath before he continued, "When I was five, I fell into a drain outside our house and got a really deep cut on my calves. It was the worst feeling I've ever felt in my life at that point, and I cried, because I thought I deserved to cry. And then my dad came and told me sternly that I wasn't allowed to do that. He told me that boys don't cry, and when I couldn't stop, he said he would teach me his little secret to stop the tears. I spent the entire evening learning how to do the first headstand of my life."

And that's when she finally understood; he would do a headstand whenever he felt like he was about to cry, just so that it wouldn't happen.

They remained quiet for a while, both lost within their own trail of thoughts, before she suddenly spoke up, "Can you teach me how to do it?"

Luke smiled but shook his head, "You don't have a reason to learn."

"I do," Isabelle insisted, "I wanna learn it. That way, you won't ever have to do it alone."

If he was momentarily taken aback by her statement, he didn't show it. Instead, he just agreed and started teaching her step-by-step, to no avail; and when she finally collapsed on him an hour later, they both erupted into fits of laughter.

"Well," She decided when they stopped laughing, "If we can't do it your way, then maybe you should learn how to do it my way."

And before he knew what she wanted to do, she reached out and pulled him into a warm embrace.

"Sometimes, it's really okay to cry. Even if you're a guy." She spoke into his ear, her voice soft and soothing. He allowed his body to lean against hers completely, to trust her for support. He took in her scent, a subtle flavor of peach, and found himself wishing that they could stay like this forever. "You're only human, after all."

Luke broke up with Natalia a week before his fifteenth birthday.

Isabelle never told him this, but she had never been happier.

He wondered when exactly did he started falling for her.

Maybe it started when she asked her sister to drop her off at his place two weeks ago with a bag of first aid items, that night when he tried to get rid of all his dad's drugs, but his dad found out and beat him up. He was in the middle of a very painful headstand when she rushed into the room like she was late for a plane and ended up tripping over a book on the floor, and despite what he had just been through, he got back on the ground and laughed as he helped her up. Seeing her pout like a child that night made him feel alive almost instantly.

Or maybe it was the way she never pushed for answers whenever he did his headstands. She would just wait patiently until he was in control of himself again. She waited until he was ready to tell her. And when he did, she tried her best to make everything alright. And everything did feel alright.

Maybe it was the way his heart melted, every time she smiled.

It might have started when he realized that she cared who he was with, and that her eyes would turn a dark shade of brown whenever she got into another tongue-lashing fight with Natalia over things about him.

Or maybe it started when he realized he cared who she was with.

Perhaps it started when she promised she would always be there for him, even though at that age she barely knew him.

And that chocolate, too, back when they were still kids. The way she showed that she cared. So genuine. It could be that.

Or maybe he always had it for her, since all those years ago when she fell on him with her bright red kite.

It didn't matter.

She filled his mind, and even though he doesn't know for sure if she liked him too, he had never felt happier.

On the night before her fourteenth birthday, they were texting each other avidly, exchanging at least ten messages per minute.

Half an hour before midnight, he told her that he had something to do, and that he would be the first one to greet her when the clock strikes twelve.

She giggled (virtually) and replied, "We'll see about that."

When it turned twelve, there was a knock on the door.

Her heartbeat increased twofold, despite her futile attempts to calm herself down. She walked briskly (some call it running) to the door and stopped to control her breathing before she opened the door.

That night was the night of her first kiss.

But it was by Wyatt, her nerdy lab partner who has had a crush on her since their first class.

She smiled, thanked him politely and shut the door behind her.

She barely slept that night, and she waited till it was time to get ready for school again.

Nothing from Luke.

Luke stayed behind the bush opposite her house for a very long time, wanting more than anything to erase what he just saw from his mind.

Tonight was supposed to be special.

He kicked his bicycle and started walking towards the beach, trying to remember the last time a girl could make him feel this bad.

It took them two weeks to talk again.

When he finally mustered the courage to initiate a conversation once more, he found out that she got together with Wyatt after all.

He smiled and congratulated her, forcing himself not to ruin this for her.

She deserved it. She deserved happiness.

Her friends told her it would work.

"I'm so happy for you," Luke told her with a genuine smile, and she was so close to breaking down. He wasn't even in the least bit affected by it, and it killed her.

Her friends clearly didn't know Luke.

She sighed after he left and turned round, only to face her very happy boyfriend. He looked so in love with her, it made her feel like a horrible person.

She suddenly remembered what she told Luke when he dated Natalia.

That's what jackasses do.

When he saw his dad sprawled on the floor the moment he entered his room, he knew something was very wrong.

The empty syringes confirmed it.

Luke dropped his bag and knelt down beside his dad, slapping his cheeks lightly to wake him up, then harder when it didn't work. "Dad? Can you hear me? Dad? Dad!"

He was about to reach for his phone when his dad opened his eyes and smiled weakly, "Luke."

And that was all it took.

He took his dad into his arms, feeling his dad's body against his own. All those years ago his dad used to have a strong frame. Now he felt like a fragile item in Luke's arms. Thin and pale.

"I'm sorry." Luke's dad murmured, "You don't deserve a family like this. I'm so sorry I didn't try harder."

Luke shook his head, willing for his dad to stop.

"You're a great son. I'm a horrible father. I could've manned up and worked things out like what you did for yourself, but I just couldn't do it. Your mum…" His voice was choked up with tears, and Luke blinked back his own. "I loved her, Luke. So much. So much it hurts. I couldn't live without her. I lived for her. And the moment she left… I died, too. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, son."

"I love you, dad." He whispered, and his dad smiled, looking almost relieved. "It's not too late. I'll call the medic, okay?"

He reached for his phone again but his dad held his hand out to stop him. Luke looked at his dad, confused.

"I think we both know where I should go, son." His eyes were sad, but determined. Luke looked away. "I need help. And I'll only be able to get it from there."

He couldn't argue. It wouldn't work. His dad wouldn't listen.

"Will you be back?" Luke asked.

"I'll be back for you when I'm ready."

He was too determined.


They sent him off the next day, and he kissed Luke on the forehead, telling Luke to wait for him.

But Luke felt like he was going to be alone for a long, long time, and this fresh feeling of fear overwhelmed him.

Suddenly the monsters in his closet felt too real.

He walked a good ten miles from home, his feet sore, his heart numbed with pain.

But the hug that he walked into at the end of his journey made everything feel better again.

"I'll always be here, Luke. Remember?"

He smiled into her hair, relieved. He thought she'd forgotten about that.

And as she patted his back soothingly, he knew it was okay to cry.

So he cried.

"I broke up with Wyatt." She told him over lunch a month later.

"Oh." Was all he offered, and suddenly he appeared to be a bit too engrossed in his food that he should be.

"You look like you're about to burst out in laughter." She commented, her lips curling up in amusement.

"I don't know what you're talking about." He picked on the green peas.

"Go on. Say it."

"I have nothing to say."

"Say it. You know you want to."


She poked him by the sides, catching him off guard. He burst out laughing and launched his tickling attacks full-force until she begged him to stop.

"Say you're sorry!" He demanded, and when she shook her head he started tickling her again.

"Okay I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Her breathing was heavy, and an image of a little girl panting for breath after running for a short 10 meters towards him came to mind. Lousy runner, he mused with a fond smile.

"I'm so glad I have you." He blurted out, and he mentally slapped himself for his verbal diarrhea.

But then she smiled.

And when she smiles, the whole world lights up for her.

That's how amazing she is to him.

They ended up in the same university together.

He got in first, being a year older and all, and he took medic as his major.

A year later she chose medic and got accepted into his university.

"I never knew you fancied science." He eyed her skeptically when she told him, and she shrugged.

"That's why they call it a hidden talent." She retorted jokingly.

He didn't have to know that she hated anything to do with science to the core, and the only reason why she was doing it was because she couldn't bear the thought of taking a law course, two thousand miles away from the man he loved.

He knew the reason why she chose that course.

If only she was honest with him.

He would've been elated.

He would've hugged her and murmured his infinite thanks into her ears.

He would've finally gotten a chance to confess what he really felt.

He watched her as she excitedly updated her status on Facebook, and his eyes drifted over to that pretty red kite that now hung above her bed.

Maybe he should.

She spent the night before her nineteenth birthday rushing through her first semester's assignments in her university dorm, inwardly cursing Luke for not warning her what she was getting herself into.

"I hate you." She texted him, before throwing her phone to her bed to make way for her notes on the table.

"No plans tonight?" Her roommate, Ruby asked. Isabelle shook her head and waved her handful of papers in the air with a slight pout. Ruby laughed, "Shit happens, I know."

Her phone vibrated, "But why? And here I was, hoping that you harboured some sort of secret love and admiration for me… ;)"

She replied quickly, "You wish!"

His reply was just as prompt, "Haha, I do. Hey, I've gotta run. Catch you tomorrow or something, okay? Happy Birthday in advance, Bella!"

"Thanks." But I wish you were here, she wanted to add, but refrained herself from doing so. It was Monday night, after all, and considering the amount of workload she had to finish as a junior, she could only imagine the condition on his side.

"I'll celebrate your birthday with you once you're done okay love? I need to meet my classmates for some… discussion." Ruby got up from her seat and gave Isabelle a big hug. Isabelle smiled and squeezed her back. "Happy birthday, Belle."

But right before she walked out the door she fished something out of her bag and passed it to Isabelle, "Some cute guy wanted me to give this to you."

"Oh?" Isabelle took that flat parcel and eyed it curiously. "Thanks, Ruby!"

Ruby winked and left, leaving Isabelle with her birthday present. She unwrapped it and laughed the moment she saw a hint of red.

It didn't take a genius to figure out who sent it.

"Oh, Luke." She said fondly to herself as she took the kite out of its wrapping. But there was more.

There was a note.


I had the worst time of my life when I was a kid.

I found out that my mum had cancer when I was six, and they only gave her a year to live. I spent most of my days sitting beside her in bed, or hiding away on the beach. I was so afraid that she'd leave me, but I could never show or share it with anyone. I had to be strong. There was nothing else I could do.

On the day she passed away, I ran to the beach all alone and did the longest headstand I've ever managed, just so that I wouldn't cry.

And then this chubby little girl who didn't know where to look fell onto me, and since that day, my life has been turned the right way up again.

Thank you.

It's been more than ten years, and you're still here for me.

You've taught me how to live, how to laugh, how to love, and how to listen to my heart again.

And this product is the end-result of what my heart has been telling me for many, many years.

I love you.

My heart tells me that every day I spend not telling you what I truly feel, is a day of happiness wasted away. I know that you've promised to be my best friend when I was eight, Bella. But I can't be content with that anymore. I love you so much it consumes me, and I don't think I can bear the sight of ever watching you leave with another man.

I'm sorry I've wasted so many days of happiness with you, but I promise I'll make it up to you in the many days and years to come. I only pray that you feel the same.

(My heart tells me that you do.)

My dad will be coming home next week, and when he does, I really hope that he can meet you.

That way, I can finally introduce him to my girlfriend.

That is, if you'd let me.

With all of my heart,


And then there was a knock on the door, and she felt that familiar flutter erupting in her stomach.

This is it.

She took a deep breath, steadied herself, and flung herself into his arms the moment she opened the door.

And then there was a moment of silence.

"That's a pretty big bet, isn't it." He finally commented, his voice tinged with amusement; she giggled, feeling like a child again. "For all you know you could be hugging the security guard right now."

"But I'll know I've hit home the moment I feel your warmth." She countered, and reached up to kiss him, shutting him up for good. "I love you."

And he smiled against her lips, knowing that he no longer had a reason to do his headstands.

The world was the right side up again.

A/N: It feels so good to write again.

I've stopped writing for what, a year? More than that? But throughout the year I've never stopped receiving reviews, alerts, and PMs from readers who have read and enjoyed/had something to say about my stories. I'm sorry I never replied, but I've been too caught up with everything else, it's not even funny. :(

But if you've been reading my stories since the very beginning, thank you for bearing with me through my countless grammatical errors/plot flaws, and thank you for staying. I really appreciate it.

If you're new, hello there. Thank you for reading this, and I'm really sorry if your eyes are hurting now. I don't have anyone to proof read my work atm, but I seriously hope it's not too bad... Uhm. Heh.

Much love,