'Your persistence is what makes you all the more tragic, Dave. It had long been written on the wall – you're just in that state where you still couldn't believe that it had already happened. She doesn't need to tell you anything. You have to understand,' Lisa said.

'All I want is that one phrase, that one sentence, even that one word: stop. She could send it to me in a text message, or mix it up with imprecations, or perhaps, impossibly, tell me in person. But I want her to tell me, because that's the kind of person I am, Liz,' Dave replied.

'How could you hope for such tomfoolery? Most people aren't as frank or honest as you. You've known her – do you even expect her to tell you that? The moon could fall down Earth and she would still keep quiet. Her cruelty is in her niceness. But will you still go on?'

'I – I don't really know, frankly. Part of me is so tied down by that invincible hope that sometimes I fool myself to still have a chance. Being ignored intermittently over the course of a year hasn't slowed me down one bit. It doesn't help that she was the first time I actually bet on the game of love. That hasn't stopped me.'

'You're an idiot, and you know that, right?'

'Oh, yes. I certainly couldn't be called a moron or an imbecile. I'm worse off than those – I am an absolute dunce. Didn't they say in 9gag that the brain is the most admirable organ of the body?'

'How come?' Liz asked.

'Because it works tireless for twenty-four hours and 365 days from birth until one falls in love.'

The two laughed in chorus. 'It certainly does apply to you, doesn't it?'

'It certainly does. Still, I can't help to pine toward being formally busted, right?'

'Yes. But do you still love her?'

'I don't know whether I've even loved her, because I've never known romance until I threw my heart at her. I do know that I thought of her constantly, and despite everything still wish the best for her. I still think of her during lull times: whenever the wards are replete with stable patients, her image sometimes creeps up and appears to me.'

'Perhaps you did. Perhaps you did love her, Dave. No, you loved her, even though your idea of love was probably weird to her because it was an atavism to the earlier days of chivalry and directness. You loved her because you went out of your way to sing a song for her, to bring her tea and to even give her chocolates despite being rejected time and time again. Despite those, you tried once more when you talked to her in front of a crowd stupidly looking all smiles and probably driving home the impression you were going to kill her.'

'I don't regret any of those, though. I mean, of course, I feel sad that I've been rejected so innocuously, because it doesn't seem as if I was rejected at all, but I did do my best. It just wasn't enough for her, I guess.'

'Don't be so down on yourself. You're actually a decent-looking guy who's nice. You made mistakes with regard to her that probably drove her away from you as she probably thinks you're a psycho, but at the end of it all you'll probably find a better girl.'

'I've kept hoping that she would have given me a chance, really. At times I'm the most insensitive of people, and I know that, but I'd do my best for her. Ever since I met her that overly sunny June day last year I was attracted to her. And despite the fact that most of our conversations were only through text messaging she struck me as a kaleidoscope of complexity that I wanted to unwind and decipher. She is part-gamer, part-intellect, part-artist, and all beauty.'

'And you had been unlucky with her. So were most of her suitors – trust me, I know, because I was near her. It doesn't make you a bad person; it just means that you have to try again. There are about three billion girls in the world, and even if you remove 2.95 billion of them there are still about five million you could choose from. Your time will come.'

'Says you.'

'Yes, says I.'

'I'm not poking fun at you, but you're not much better than me, either. How are you and him?'

'In a sort of limbo, I guess.'

'Is that better off than my status?'

'Oh, yes. At least we talk. She ignores you altogether.'

'Stop making me so embittered!' Dave exclaimed. Both of them laughed in chorus once again. 'Still, I refuse to believe that what I did was overtly disturbing, despite what she may think or what my friends believe. I can't even see her if I didn't ask where she was. I certainly didn't pester her with text messages, and those small gifts came once every half-a-month or a month.'

'Why did you have to talk to her in front of that many people?'

'I wanted a reaction from her. I hate simply floating, because it's not flight. It's limbo disguised as flight, but the fall to the ground remains inevitable. Yet she was skillful enough to even prevent that from happening. She just – couldn't like me.'

'You publicly embarrassed her by doing that.'

'If by being honest and seeking that closure is embarrassing, then yes, I embarrassed her indeed. But I had hoped she could afford me that coup-de-grace. I had already done everything, after all. What else is there to do?'

'Move on. But I guess that's hard, isn't it?'

'Have you heard of the three-month rule?'

'No.'

'It says that after heartbreak or break-up or whatnot, one is allowed only three months to grieve, get mad, cry, or be depressed. After three months, it's time to move on. I haven't done that. We haven't done that. And you know what, it's all right. Because I think that time will come when we wake up not thinking about him or her and realize that no matter how much pain we've endured and how much pain we've caused others and ourselves because of our dogged, inscrutable persistence to love it is still, at its end, much better than eschewing that possibility of having that other person love one back – and that's life, I guess.'

'I guess.'

'Have you given up on him?'

'I don't know. But I have our internship to be busy with, and you know me.'

'Yeah, I know you all right. That's why you've gotten so far ahead than the rest of us. I was glad enough to be part of a top 10 at some point in my medical schooling, but you're consistently up there, and that's mainly because of your perspicacity and diligence. Even though I could never be as serious as you, I can admire what you've done from a distance – and you've done quite well.'

'Stop flattering me. It doesn't suit you.'

'I usually don't flatter people. I praise them, and I usually mean my praise, just as much as I mean my criticisms. I can't help but admire what you've achieved, but I'm also glad I'm not you – and you're just as probably happy that you're not me.'

'Sometimes I wish I could enjoy life like you guys. You play around and probably did a lot more with events outside medical school than I did, and sometimes I'd like to be that person only that I can't. I couldn't let myself.'

'I think that's fine, really. It depends on the person. I, for one, buy stupid things on the internet to release stress. You channel your stress into more productive efforts, such as excelling in academia. I can't judge you for that. I'm just not like you, and that's that.'

'Do you think there's still hope for us?'

'This may sound and seem clichéd to you, but we're still young enough. It would be a forthright lie to say that we're still young, because we're on the brink of becoming medical doctors and we're years past our university graduation, but we're still young enough. You'll find your Chinese prince, glasses and diligence and all, to sweep you off your feet someday. As for me, I still have about sixteen years before I finally give up on myself and live a hermetic writer's life. That's still far off in the future. Once you're going to be a doctor a cute lady like you would have no problem finding an equally diligent mate. I think it's time to think less about what could be or what had been, and time to think more of what is: I have a pen I bought that I resurrected from the dead by playing around with its ink, and I'm grateful for it. I'm supported by my family and friends like you, so there's little use about thinking why I was rejected, because I'll probably never know. And while I do whine time and again regarding her, I wish her all the best in the world.'

'I wish him all the best, too.'

'And at the end of it, isn't that the only thing that matters? Learning to become a better person, I mean?'

'Probably not, but it's one of the things that do matter. Hey, I have to go home now.'

'See you when I see you!'

As Liz walked into the distance and Dave finished the last few drops of his coffee the leaves had swirled and danced gently in the breeze, foreboding an evening of light drizzles. He walked to the waiting shed, and rode home where he wrote a story on how to get over his lingering feelings for Liz.