Bret had laughed a lot today. It had been so long since he’d laughed like that. It had been so long since he’d enjoyed the company of someone so much. What really surprised him was how he’d become so comfortable around someone he’d just met. It felt like they had known each other for ages.
After class, they went for lunch together. He ordered a sandwich and she ordered noodles. For her physique, he was very sure she’d not be able to eat the whole thing by herself. She offered him to eat her noodles and he tried it. He’d never liked noodles so much before.
He had so much to say. For once in his life, he felt like a really good conversationalist. He’d tell her things and Alana would look at him with the utmost interest. “Her eyes are so pretty! I could look into it all day. I just want her to listen to me, talk to me and be with me and if there’s anything else that will allow me to look at her eyes and not be considered a creep, I want that, too”. He thought. He realized that he’d stopped talking midway and also, his heart was pounding. This made him a little awkward. He was glad she didn’t notice.
“I can’t decide which piece to eat first. I think I should go with the one on the left, what do you think?”, he asked her, breaking his eye contact with her and looking down at his sandwich. “What a stupid question to ask. I wish I hadn’t asked that”, he thought.
“You should meet my friends!”, she said abruptly. Before he could say anything, “They’re really nice people, you’ll love them”, she added.
“Did she think I’d make up a reason not to? Hahah! I so wanted this!!”, he was glad things were going his way. This was the first step towards becoming better friends with her. But then something worried him. He felt like a loner here in college. He didn’t really have anyone he could introduce her to. His “friends” were just people he knew from the small talk he’d make with them, not the kind he could introduce. Besides, he had a feeling she would not like them.
“I’d say the same to you but I can’t promise that you’ll like them. They’re really nice people but..”
“Yeah, I don’t think I’ll get along. Plus, you’re not even comfortable with them so, I’ll pass! But tomorrow, I’m introducing you to my friends!”, she looked super excited. He loved how she understood what he wanted to say without having to say it.
“Alright then!”, he said enthusiastically.
The next day, he was a little late. When he entered the class, Alana called out to him. She was already with her friends sitting on the last bench. He was nervous. He walked towards them, half wanting to run back home. He wasn’t usually so nervous around people and he had never in his entire life wanted people to like him as much as he did now. Whether her friends liked him or not would play a huge role in whether he would get to talk to her often or not.
He went and let out a nervous “Hi”. He hoped they didn’t notice the nervousness in his voice. They greeted him very warmly and soon they were talking. They really were very nice people. They made him sit next to them. He was still not sure if they liked him, though. Every once in a while, he would look at Alana just to make sure he hadn’t said something wrong.
In just a few days, he felt like an inseparable part of the group. He’d started to understand everyone so well. He loved them. They were all so lovable for their own reasons. April for her sense of humor, Aliya for her deep conversations and Alana.. she didn’t need a reason to be loved. Every time April cracked a joke, he would laugh so hard, it made the others laugh, too. The best part about it though was that it made Alana laugh. He couldn’t help but smile when she laughed.
Even as a part of the group, Bret would get his time with Alana. He didn’t know how but it just happened. Every time he had some work that he was supposed to do by himself, Alana would be there. It felt nice to have her around. He wished it would always be like this.
He started getting closer to the three of them. Especially Aliya. She would talk to him all day long. In college, she would check out girls with him and they would point out why they don’t like someone, just for the fun of it. Then, as soon as he would get back home, he would receive a message from Aliya. It felt nice. He felt important. He wished Alana was this interested in him. Just then, he had this very scary realization. “Oh, no, no, no! This is not happening. I can’t let that happen. Alana is a really good friend and I do not want to mess it up. I can’t fall for her”. But deep inside, he knew. The damage was done.
Alana and Bret’s interaction had become lesser in the past few days and Bret couldn’t understand why. Maybe it was for the best. He didn’t want her to find out he had feelings for her. Hopefully, he’d get over it soon. He was so certain that she didn’t have feelings for him. It was best if he killed these feelings at its embryonic stage.
A few days later, as he was getting out of class, he got a message from Aliya. She hadn’t come to class that day.
“Meet me after class in the park near the college. It’s important!”, it read. He replied with an “okay”.
He went there right away. He was confused he had no idea what this was about. He looked around there was no one. He pulled out his phone, poked at his phone and went through his contacts to call Aliya. Just then, someone wrapped their hands around him from the back. Whoever it was, rested their face on his back.
“I love you”, a girls voice said. It was Aliya. A very weird feeling came over him. It was not a good one. It was terrorizing. He could see things falling apart already.
“What? Aliya, stop! Is this some kind of a joke?”, his voice had some amount of anger in it. He pulled her to the front and looked at her. Her face was red and she wasn’t making any eye contact.
“So what…”, she looked at him for a second and looked away. Her face was red, “.. uhh. Will you go out with me, Bret?”
“Aliya.. I..”, he didn’t know what to say. “Please just be a dare or something! Please”. Aliya looked embarrassed now. This was not a joke. “Aliya? I don’t think you know me enough! We should get to know each other better. I know I’ll make you hate me soon!”, that made her laugh a little. She lurched towards him and hugged him very tightly.
“No, Bret. I love you. No matter what you do, I’m going to love you. Give me a chance. Please?”, her voice sounded sad. Bret’s mind was racing. He didn’t know what to do. Aliya was a good friend but he had no feelings for her. He had feelings for Alana. What kind of a joke was life playing on him?
Maybe it wasn’t a joke. Maybe life was trying to help him. Maybe, if he went out with her, he’d start liking her and maybe his feelings for Alana would fade. Maybe this was a solution. A very twisted solution, though.
“Okay”, he said. He didn’t mean what he said one bit. He didn’t know if what he was doing was right but he knew he was terrible at saying no. He couldn’t. It would hurt her and then ruin their friendship and he’d never be able to make himself reject someone.
“What?”, she said softly. She pushed away from him and looked at him. He didn’t say anything, “What?!”, now she sounded happy. Then she squealed a little and hugged him again. This was the worst hug ever. He put his hand on her back for a second then pushed her away softly. The spent the rest of the evening regretting what he’d done. He kept telling himself that it was okay but he knew it wasn’t. His first ever girlfriend was someone he didn’t like.
The next day in college, Aliya told April. April was excited and so happy. Bret wished she wouldn’t do that. For some reason, he didn’t want Alana to know. Then, Alana entered the class. He wanted to hide. He felt hurt and guilty. He couldn’t make eye contact with Alana. When Aliya told Alana about it, he looked at Alana. She looked sick and tired. Maybe she wasn’t well. She congratulated him by hugging him and that hurt even more. His entire body stung. He felt like a traitor. Just then, the teacher entered the class. Everyone got back to their benches.
A few minutes after the teacher came, Alana asked if she could be excused. She looked very unwell now. Bret was worried but he couldn’t do anything. If this was a movie, he would have run behind her. Asked her if she was okay. Maybe then, he’d tell her everything. He’d tell her he loved her. She would tell him she liked him too. Maybe, there would be a kissing scene and they would live happily ever after. But no matter how much he wished it was a movie, this wasn’t one. It was life.
It’s not over yet.
To be continued.
NEXT PART : What a life – Part 3
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