1 Beginning

It’s really hard starting a new day, especially when you don’t know how to spend it. It’s Saturday and I’m about to meet up with my friend, Alyssa. Riding my bicycle, I went pass little streets in our small city. I have always liked this city because its old buildings never lost their grandeur. So I passed by each and one of them, admiring their well-kept façade. I turned a corner and saw the little coffee shop that Alyssa works for. Even from the outside I could smell the coffee brewing. Ah. It makes me feel so euphoric for an unknown reason. After parking my bike at the side, I got my things, which composes my book and purse, and entered the shop. Luckily, the shop wasn’t full, as I expected. Not in an insulting way! It was just predictable because it always isn’t full every Saturday. I quickly spotted a table by the glass windows, bad thing is it’s near the door, but I really don’t mind. I left my book on the table and proceeded to the counter.

“Good morning, welcome to Java Hut. How may I help you?” the guy on the counter greeted. “Uhmm, I’ll have a tall hazelnut frappe please.” The guy typed in my order as soon as I said it. I didn’t spend much time choosing what to order since that has always been my usual favorite. “That will be $2.65” he announced. I opened my purse and handed him my payment. While I waited for my frappe, I looked around the counter for Alyssa, hoping that she’s already done with her work. “Here’s your frappe, and your change.” The guy placed my order on the tray. I held out my palm for my change and quickly pocketed them. “Thank you and enjoy your day.” I smiled in response and as I was about to turn, I remembered to ask something. “Oh. By the way, is Alyssa still in?” “She’ll be out any minute now.” he informed. “Thanks.” I carefully got my order, since it was still hot, and went directly to my chair without looking anywhere else except my frappe. I was really afraid I’ll drop it. I sighed when I finally sat down: safe and sound. I popped open my book and began reading while waiting for Alyssa. By the way, it’s not some kind of school book, really, I’m not that studious. It’s some love story, actually, with a twist that got me totally hooked! Just as I was getting absorbed with it (this is the part where the boy is leaving his girlfriend), noises from behind disturbed my focused mind. To the point when I couldn’t concentrate reading and so I decided to close it and listen to the voices behind me. “It’s been weeks since I’ve heard from you Stella.” A guy’s voice was talking.

“Uhmm, my schedules’ quite messed up so I didn’t have much time to squeeze you in.” a woman’s voice replied, but it was more of a girl’s voice. Then she said something I wasn’t able to catch. “Really?” the guy replied, if I say a bit sarcastically. “Then tell me Stella… What is it that you came for?” the guy added demandingly. “I’m afraid that I won’t be able to come visit you again.” Then there was silence. I was about to give up waiting for someone to speak up again but then, “I’m leaving…and I think it will be for good.” The girl’s sad voice broke the deafening silence. “What?!” I could feel the guy’s utter shock with the news. Now this is getting interesting. I missed some words the guy said so I pressed my ear closer to the wall that separated me and the couple behind me. “You can’t do this to me, Stella.” The guy begged. Poor him! “But I have to. College-” “Is something you can handle, but what about me?” the guy finished her sentence. Sheesh. That’s too cliché, man, and not to mention selfish. “You’d do fine without me. Look at your grades. You’ve been doing more than fine for the last 3 years.” The girl’s voice was starting to crack. “But-“ “You don’t need a tutor like me. In fact, you don’t need a tutor anymore.” So this guy’s been dating his tutor eh? I see…

I listened intently to their conversation. I know, I know, I’m eavesdropping, and it’s bad, but I can’t help hearing them anyway, no matter what I do. It just seemed like they don’t mind being overheard at all. Their voices heightened by the minute. “…You’re more that a tutor to me, Stella, you know that.” Bull’s eye! I finally figured it out. Thump! “Aww” I hit the wood with my elbow, and it hurts like, ugh, badly. “What’s that? I heard the girl say. I immediately dunked my head and hid my face in my book. I pretended to be totally absorbed in it. Truth be told, I felt like a detective who’s almost been caught by the killer. “I think that’s all I’ve got to say. You’re going to be just fine.” The girl continued as if she wasn’t disturbed. “How can you be sure about that?” the guy’s voice held persistence in it. “I just know. Take care, Hayden.” I heard the girl get up from her seat and some noisy movements. I hate the part where I will have to guess what’s happening, that’s the challenge of it, I guess. “Why did you do that for?” The woman chuckled. “A little kiss wouldn’t hurt you more, right?” Oh. Before I could even completely react, I saw the girl pass by my table. By the moment she reached the door, I was surprised she looked at my direction and smiled before she left. What was that? I quickly stirred my drink in pretension. I wonder if she knew that I heard that… “Hey, nice to see you here Hayden!” I looked up from my thinking and saw Alyssa greet the guy behind me. Did she just? No! it cannot be.

“Hey.” The guy greeted her back. “Oh. Sophie! Did you wait that long? I’m so sorry, girl!” Alyssa focused her attention on me. Just then the guy walked closer. I froze in my seat. My fear was confirmed. Now, standing next to Alyssa is a tall guy with black hair. It was Hayden, our totally gorgeous but insensitive, and intelligent, 2-time Student Council President and future class valedictorian and not to mention my alltime secret crush title holder— I flinched. He’s the poor heart-broken guy! Hayden glanced at Alyssa then me. I wasn’t so sure what to do so I just forced a smile and acted as if nothing absolutely major happened. I swear I looked really stupid. “Hello.” I greeted him in my most normal voice. “Hi.” He replied. His voice was very cold and chill, it sent shiver down my spine. This is far the first word he said to me in my entire life. “What brought you here Hayden?” Alyssa asked Hayden casually. He was still gazing at me like I witnessed a terrible crime scene and I mustn’t tell it to anyone. Like I care. “I just met up with my friend” He replied, his face indifferent. “Oh… I see.” “I’ve got to go now” Hayden said to Alyssa. “Oh, okay. Bye!” Alyssa waved. “Bye!” I bid to him, hoping he’d leave immediately. This is all too embarrassing! But before he reached the door, he glared at me. “Keep it to yourself.” His mouth barely moved. My face was totally shocked. “Huh?” “The story…” He answered pointing to my book. Ah. Of course. I knew what he meant and I surely won’t tell anyone of his secret, with the look on his face he could almost kill. Who would dare?

“What was that all about, Sophie?” Alyssa asked me as she took her seat in front of mine. I glanced outside hoping to still see Hayden passing by but not even a soul can be seen. “Sophie?” “Huh?” “Hey, Sophie snap out of it!” “Oh… Sorry?” “I said what did Hayden mean about ‘keep it’ and stuff?” she gestured a quotation sign in the air. “Oh, that. He’s talking about the book I’m reading.” I showed to her the book I was holding. Luckily she bought the excuse. I suddenly remembered the look on his face: he looked terrifying. Especially his eyes, they were like talons of big and hunting birds that could dig thru your skin. Guh. “Do you think I could borrow this book later?” Alyssa asked after reading the summary at the back of the book. “Sure, I could lend it to you by this week.” “You really are the best, Sophie. Hey, I’ve something to tell you…” And here one of my best friends Alyssa went on giving me the latest gossip circulating inside the school. Don’t get her wrong, please. Although Alyssa’s loud in the mouth, she never spawns lies about people. She’s merely the one of the many who talks about them. “Really?!” I said, pretending to be totally engrossed with the gossip about Kirsten & her boyfriend. “Yeah! They said Kirsten quitted school this year because, well, she’s- you know, having a child.” “What?!” Now I’m really listening. Issues like this really freak me out, I mean, having a child is a blessing but having one when you’re still young is another question! After hearing all of it, I swore to myself I will never be in that situation. We were walking over to our bikes when Alyssa decided to set aside that scandalous gossip. She then proceeded to telling me about her love life.

See, my friends Alyssa and Naomi all have ‘their’ men. So it leaves me to be the only who’s never been kissed and never been touched. “And he gave me such beautiful flowers after our fight, Sophia. He’s just so sweet…” Alyssa blushed. I sighed. I’m almost eighteen and normally, a guy or two should have told me they like me by now. However, not even a single person did so. It’s pretty lonely being alone actually, and sometimes you just need somebody other than your mom to— “Sophie! Hey, you’re spacing out again for the second time.” Alyssa waved her hands in front of my face. “Sorry.” “Soph, I was just asking you about Hayden.” “Huh?” There, she said one word and everything replayed inside my mind. “Ugh…what about him?” I asked Alyssa stopped from unlocking the chains of her bike and eyed me to the core. The look on her face made me nervous. It looks like Alyssa’s formulating some insane theories again, or maybe she would’ve guessed by now he’s my crush?! “Soph, I saw how he looked at you. It was like—ogling.” I coughed. Ogling to me is equated with drooling and I’m far from something worth drooling for. “Looks more like he’s going to eat me right then and there.” Alyssa laughed at what I said. She thought it was a joke, but it really wasn’t, I was serious. I ignored her and continued with what I was doing. “I was serious, Lys.” I said as I held my bike side by side. “Okay, Soph. Okay.” She agreed but was still laughing. I just shook my head to hide any trace of anger. While we were silent and walking our bikes home, I can’t help but think about Hayden. He has always been admired since the day he transferred to our school, freshman in high school. He was my classmate then, in homeroom, but he got transferred the next year to the other class. Anyway, whether girls or boys, they all

know him. He might seem to be insensitive and cold, according to them but his cleverness, not to mention his looks and physical capabilities make up for those. Much of his personal life is still unknown to the world, until now. I feel really guilty. It feels like I have intentionally read someone else’s diary, it feels awful. Worst, I heard his girlfriend break up with him, a not-so-good thing. But, I never really intended to listen. Well, at first at least. Now, I don’t know what to do if I face him again, which is so likely. He might’ve known I overheard them and confront me or—okay! I’m over reacting. It’s not Hayden is going to hunt me down at school or what. Chill, Sophie. * * *

“Sophie, honey, wake up, or else you’ll be late for school!” I heard my mom’s voice for the umpteenth time. Pretty annoying, actually. It’s the first day of class, and I don’t want to go to school. I keep on rolling on my bed and try to drift back to sleep. I want to go back to my dream where I’m about to kiss Hayden… Just as I was about to doze off again, my alarm clock went on and on raging. “Oh man...” I grabbed the clock and turned it off! Great! I just missed Hayden kissing me. Hayden. That’s the one person I’m not ready to see. The incident kept bugging my sanity for the last weekend. Ugh. “Sophie, please get up.” Mom’s voice rang again. It sounded a little bit exasperated so I forced myself up and did my morning routine. “Well, you woke up earlier than usual today.” Mom greeted as soon as I stepped inside our tiny kitchen for breakfast. My fave breakfast- mango jelly sandwich and milk were already prepared for me on the counter. “Uhmm, I don’t know.” My mom flashed me a big smile. She really looks beautiful. A lot of people I know said how come I don’t look like her. Ginny, my mom, has a very beautiful brown hair, cut up to her shoulders. We have two things in common- brown wavy hair, and green eyes. Funny thing is, my family name matches my eyes’ color. “Why, Mom?” I asked her about her big unusual smile.

“Oh, it’s nothing. I just realized you’re a lady now, Soph. A beautiful lady to be exact!” I choked with my sandwich. I immediately grabbed my glass of milk. “Your dad really wants to see you as soon as possible.” Mom quickly changed the topic. Apparently, I’m not over it. “Beautiful?!? Mom, are you kidding me? Are you for real?” I bulged my eyes on her. “If I were pretty then I should have had a boyfriend already.” “Did I hear you right, Sophie? Are you really considering having a boyfriend now?” her green eyes widened with hopeful anticipation. I finished my milk first before answering her. “Mom, if he’ll come, he will come.” Case closed. “All right! Anything’s fine with me Honey. Just don’t wait for the grass to grow.” Mom said with a wink. Ugh! I really feel uneasy with her boy-talk and it makes me want to not talk anymore. “But seriously Sophie, you need to go now or you’ll be late.” I glanced at my watch and saw that it’s already 8:10. I only have 20 minutes to go! “Bye, Mom!” I grabbed my cream messenger bag & school ID by the sink and straightened my skirt before kissing my Mom. “Take care, Sophie! Be home by 6pm.” “Yes, Mom!” Just like the usual, I take my 15-minute walk to school. My home is only a few blocks from my school so I need not take a bus. When I got nearer and nearer the school gate I saw my friends Alyssa and Naomi waiting for me. “Hey, girl! You look sexy with the senior’s uniform.” Naomi said loudly. Naomi is the only one different among us three. She’s the only one with Asian lineage, and the only one with wheels!

Instead of starting an argument with her, I decided to go with her flow. “You look hot on it yourself!” I winked. The three of us laughed. “But really Sophie, you look taller with your skirt.” Alyssa said after awhile. “We only saw each other two days ago, Alyssa. How can you say I’m taller?” I replied rolling my eyes at them then the bell rung. “Okay, let’s go in guys before we’ll be late for our first class” Finally, Naomi said something that made sense. And so, I walked happily with my friends to our first class which is English. As we were walking to our room, I noticed that almost, if not all, the people I know have their own partners. I sighed; it’s still the first week of classes and it seems that Valentine’s Day is just within a corner. As we got into the room, the three of us settled ourselves on the seats at the middle third row. After what seemed like 30 minutes, “Good morning class.” I looked up and saw 49-year old Mrs. Harpers enter our class. So, she’s our English teacher- again. “Sorry, I’m late but it’s due to some changes in the class list.” She said taking out her purple clipboard. “Hope there’s a transferee!” Alyssa whispered to Naomi and me. Naomi smiled, “I sure pray it’ll be hot guy!” she breathed. I slapped her right arm and we giggled. “All right then, Mr. Van Cantrell you could come in now.” What was that again? I’m positive I heard Mrs. Harper say something, someone I dread to see.

“In, in you go” Mrs. Harpers instructed to Hayden, the same Hayden I saw at Java coffee hut last Saturday and the same Hayden who’s the current SC president. I heard Naomi gasp and felt her hand squeezed mine. “From now on Hayden will be your classmate, okay?” Mrs. Harpers said to us. While Naomi seems to be happy to see him, I on the contrary, got my math book and pretend to read while in truth, I was just hiding my face. “What are you doing Sophie?” Alyssa asked. I nervously smiled and shook my head. “Now, where to sit, where to sit…where—” Mrs. Harpers was tapping her rolled paper on her palms. I closed my eyes and silently wished he would not be seated on the empty seat beside me. “There! You could sit beside Ms. Greene.” I’m dead. My whole world seemed to have stopped. Naomi elbowed me so I bitterly put my book down. I saw Hayden searching the room for his seat until his gaze met mine. “Thanks Mrs. Harpers.” Hayden said coolly. His look upon me was quite intimidating. It didn’t look so angry like last Saturday. But still, I felt myself freeze on my own seat. “Hi Hayden” Alyssa and Naomi greeted him in chorus. He nodded to them in response. I, on the other hand was not yet getting myself back. “Hi.” I heard him say. “Hi.” I stuttered. My heart is beating uncontrollably. Am I really seating next to him? Oh man. Relax, Sophie. Chill. All throughout the class I couldn’t concentrate properly because of Hayden’s presence. At times, I felt his eyes on me like I’m some suspect under surveillance. At last after an hour, the bell rung. I quickly gathered up my things, not even waiting for my friends, and went for the door.

“Excuse me.” Suddenly, a warm hand pulled my arm from behind. I looked back and saw that it was Hayden holding my book. He looked seriously at me and in an instant I knew what he wants to do. “Can I talk to you for a while?” he asked as he handed me my book. I hesitated. “Uhmm, sure but my next class will start in five minutes.” “I’ll be quick.” He said ignoring my excuse. “I’m really going to be late.” I reasoned glancing at my watch. Five minutes was almost done. “Look, meet me at the gym by 10 am; it’s my PE class.” I told him without thinking. He seemed to consider this for a moment. “I have a different class from yours.” He said. I rolled my eyes at him and straightened myself up. He’s the one who needs to say something; does he expect me to adjust for him? “Aiden, if it’s not important then I’ll go now.” And so I did. I left him hanging there while he was about to say something. Whew! I felt my heart rate return to normal. I knew he’ll be cornering and maybe threatening me again…but why does he have to do that? Maybe it’s because he wants to keep his name from any gossip. Well, this topic about him makes my head really ache and my heart race! Before my gym class, Hayden came up to me. But before he can say anything, a teacher saw him and pulled him to the office for some talk. Now, I was left here standing alone. Like, really now, was I the one who needs to tell him something? I’m starting to think bad luck was with him and good fortune was with me because the next day, I saw Hayden stood by the school gate after school. As I was approaching him, Naomi saw me and quickly pulled me in to her car. And just this afternoon after some club activities, he tried to talk to me. He opened his mouth but words did not come out, so I just started it. “Uhmm. About what happened in the café, Hayden I-“ “Sophie! Come on! Let’s go now!” my friends appeared out of the blue. Poof! I turned to Hayden to apologize and he really looked pissed off.

“Drop it. We’ll talk some time when there’s privacy.”




“Wow! Thank God it’s Friday...” I said to Alyssa and Naomi as we were walking to our next class: Values. I saw Hayden ahead of us, alone and talking to no one. Naomi elbowed me. “Aww. That hurt, Naomi.” “I bet it’s pretty hard living Hayden’s life, right?” “Huh?! What are you talking about?” “Yeah, I bet it really is. First you got cool parents who seem to expect something great from you. Second, you are famous in school because of your looks and wits. And you have to maintain some kind of status quo. Lastly—“Naomi paused and looked a bit worried about Hayden now. “He’s got no friend and is left stuck with himself. How sad could that be?” That statement hit me directly and hard! Maybe Naomi’s right; the reason why Hayden wants to talk to me is to befriend me. Hmmm… Naomi took my hands in hers and looked at me, teary eyed. “But don’t worry about Hayden so much, Sophie. He’s rich anyway!” “Naomi!” I sighed. I’ll never understand my friends. We entered our room in Values and went to our respective seats.

As I was fixing my things, I saw Hayden reading a book in his seat two rows behind us. Naomi sure is telling the truth. My brain went back right from the time when I met Hayden, it was his first year of High School. Even then, Hayden was being a loner. I feel something in my chest softening for him. “Hey, Sophia!” Alyssa shook me in my shoulders. Guess I was spacing out again, a poor habit I recently developed. What I didn’t realize was that all the time I was looking at Hayden! Good thing he didn’t notice me ogling at him. When I faced my friend Alyssa, I could tell immediately that she’s worried for me.

“Sophie, I am-“ “Don’t worry, I’m fine.” I assured her with all my deepest sincerity. Then I felt a pair of eyes on me so I sat up quickly and idly looked back at the owner of a stormy grey, hunting-bird-like eye. Maybe it’s time I stop avoiding him. I thought. I got up from my seat and decided to talk to him. “Where are you going?” Alyssa asked “Oh, I’m just going to ask Hayden something.” I answered back, lifting my Math notebook to show her. “Oh. You don’t do that… Well, anyway, good luck! You may need it.” I rolled my eyes at her and slowly walked to where Hayden was seating. For one second I thought he was shocked, but maybe I was just mistaken. He brushed his fingers through his hair- Hayden sure looked dazzling as he did so. I cleared my throat. “Is someone seated here?” I asked him. Hayden merely shook his head and gave me his usual cold stare. “A-alright.” So I sat on the vacant seat next to him. “Uhmm… Aiden, what was that thing you wanted to tell me again?” Hayden was obviously surprised with my question. He straightened up in his seat and put his book down. “Greene--” “What? Oh. Please call me ‘Sophie’!” I inattentively corrected him, hiding my uncontrolled nervousness. “Uhm, well… I just—” he stopped. Oh joy. Guess what? The bell rung. Is it just me or it really seemed like everything was stopping us to talk about “the” topic. Hayden sighed. I mean, who wouldn’t at a time like this? “Wait for me this afternoon, 5pm. School gate.” He ordered in a shrill tone.

I quickly turned around. “And if I don’t?” I whispered to myself. “What was that?” I turned back to him wearing a smile. “Oh. Nothing.” I went back to my seat just in time Mrs. Boggles entered the room and started the class. Great day ahead, I hope. “Good day, Class! Today I have some big news for you.” Mrs. Boggles then gets the full attention of our small class. “Do you guys remember the proposal about the adopt-a-child activity? Well, the school board finally agreed to it!” she said, sounding very happy and excited while we, the students, didn’t react at all. “Come on guys, show some interest in it!” Mrs. Boggles encouraged. The class then roars. As the song says, ‘great pretenders’. Alyssa leaned in and whispered, “I don’t know what’s more stupid: Mrs. Boggles knowing we’re not interested but makes us appear so or the fact that the class obliged in giving a forced reaction!” I laughed at her comment. She has a point. “Now, settle down! Settle down. You see guys, we all know that you are born in a different generation and we cannot simply put all the blame on you for every mistake that you do.” “Yeah! Vote Mrs. Boggles for principal!” my classmate, John (a total dumb-o) yells out loud. “Mr. Johnson, thank you for your support but I have no intentions of being this school’s principal.” She cleared her throat and continued. “Times have changed and so do the values we prioritized. Although this is true, it is still very important for us, your elders, to instill the value of chastity.” Mrs. Boggles goes on a talk about ‘us’ having to wait and all. It’s not like everyone is doing it, though I have to admit cases of teenage pregnancies are going up nowadays. A freaky and scary reality! “And so in line with recent events—“ “She’s probably talking about Kirsten!” Alyssa said in a soft voice.

“—the school thinks it’s best if you are exposed to these matters,” “What?! You mean--?” “Of course through adopt-a-child project, spearheaded by yours truly” she seemed to be the only one happy about the idea, even I find the project tiring and unnecessary. “Making kids could have been a bit enjoyable but taking care of them, please!” “You’re disgusting, Todd!” Naomi gave Todd a warning look, her ex-“prospect”. I sighed and listened to my classmates’ complaints. Mrs. Boggles was still entertaining some of my classmates’ (those grade-conscious dorks) nonsense questions. This project will surely be quite a hard one. Tired of my classmates’ objections, I slouched on my seat and saw Hayden (by chance); he didn’t look a bit disturbed, at all. Maybe it’s due to the fact that he had his earphones on and was not able to hear what Mrs. Boggles had announced. Speaking of her, she begins to tell us how the project will work: Boring but important stuffs. “For one whole week starting by Monday next week, you will be assigned to a certain orphan from Morgan Institute. Your classes will be cut to half so you can play parents to these children.” Hushes issued out from all nooks and corners of the room. Mrs. Boggles managed to quiet them down and continued. “You will do exactly what normal parents would. The hard part here is that, you’re still going to have your home works and projects while taking good care of the children.” “That is too much, don’t you think, Mrs. Boggles?!” one of our classmates asked. “Exactly. Since PMS is very common, we want you to avoid them by exposing you to one of the many possible things you’d land on if ever something goes wrong.” The class is silenced by this. The idea finally sunk in our minds. “Now we won’t give you so much of a hard time, guys! Cheer up. You’ll all be working with a partner anyway!” Huh?! Partner? You mean a girl and a boy? All of a sudden the whole class was in chaos!

“Pair-off now, all of you! Come on.” “Alyssa? Naomi?” I looked to the both of them but they’re both taken already. Alyssa looked at me with apologetic eyes. Shoot! What about me? “Anyone who does not have a pair yet please raise your hand.” Mrs. Boggles announced. I raised my hand as soon as Mrs. Boggles finished talking. Oh, I do hope I get to have my partner, help me Lord! “Perfect! Ms. Greene if you may you can pair-up with Mr. Van Cantrell there.” That prayer was quick and I didn’t know I have a direct distance line with God! But… Hayden?! Oh man. Seriously? I could feel my heart beat faster. “All right.” Was all I could muster to say to Mrs. Boggles. I couldn’t even take a glance at the back. The next whole hour was devoted into the mechanics of our project. Of all the many things Mrs. Boggles told us, only three truths kept replaying in my mind: This involves a child we’ll be taking care of and that it’ll take a whole week which means I’ll be spending one whole week with a child as its ‘mother’ in a small apartment with Hayden, my secret crush, as the ‘father’- how eventful! Mrs. Boggles also added that we’ll be visiting the Morgan institute the next day to meet the kids in advance. I stared blankly on the paper where I should’ve been writing the things we’re tasked to bring for tomorrow. “Don’t overdo it, okay? It’s just a visit anyway!” “But ma’am, you certainly gave us a long list…” I said to her. She checked her notes and laughed a bit. “I’m sorry, guys! The list I just gave is for the implementation. You need to bring only a pen or two tomorrow and something you can write into.” How tiring is this. It’s only been a week of school and we already have project like this…Good thing I have Hayden as my partner. Being such a responsible student, working with Hayden will probably lessen my troubles. Not to mention, having to work closely with a young handsome man that he is sure is inspiring! I can’t wait to start the project. And so the idea of working with Hayden in our Values project became the fuel of my engine. It is also a chance of a brake. The issue in the Java Coffee hut still isn’t resolved so I have to clear my name first! Right, that’ll be my goal.

Actually, I really want to have a good working relationship with him so that it’ll be easy for me to do my thing and raise my grades a bit. Not that I’ll be using Hayden, it’s just that my performance relies much on how I like my coworkers. But I need not worry anymore. “You going home now, Sophie?” Naomi asked me after our Chemistry subject. I was already fixing my things. I totally forgot I’m supposed to hang-out with them and their boyfriends after school. Yet even if I do remember, I won’t be going with them anyway. I’ll be the odd number there! “Oh! Yes, Mom told me to come home immediately.” I said. Alyssa frowned at me. “Sophie, if you think you’re going to be out of place there, well you won’t be!” “Alyssa’s right, Soph. For all we know Mark’ll bring a friend---”I know where they’re heading the talk. Up to now, they are trying to convince me to date this guy from where Mark (Naomi’s BF) is studying. “The offer is tempting, girls, but I really have to go home” I lied. Although Mom does want me to be home by six, I really don’t need to rush home. Both Naomi and Alyssa sighed. “All right. Suite yourself, Sophie.” Alyssa said as she walks towards me. “See you tomorrow!” I said to her. “See you tomorrow too, Naomi. Take care, you two.” I told them just before they went out of the room. I looked at the window and saw Alyssa and Naomi by the school gate with some guy before hopping into Mark’s jeep. I was about to leave when I realized something I totally forgot about. I check out my watch and it’s already 5:23PM. Oh no! I’m 23 minutes late! I grabbed my bag and ran through the halls and down the stairs. I hope Hayden won’t get angry. I really did forget what he told me during our class in values! When I got to the entrance hall, I saw Hayden by the gate. Whew! I quickly ran toward him. “Aiden! Aiden!” I shouted. He turned and saw me running to him.

“Sorry! I almost forgot!...Whew!” I said while catching my breath. “25 minutes passed, if you were late one more minute I would’ve gone.” He said steely. Whoa. Rude much! Okay, chill Sophie. “But you didn’t.” Instead of frowning, I smiled at him but he looked away. Okay? “So, what is it you want to tell me again?” I asked after I regained my emotions. “I’ll go straight to the point.” He began. But I really can’t help looking at people passing by. “Don’t you think we could go somewhere else?” I butted in when I noticed people were still piling all around us. Hayden was utterly surprised but obliged to my idea. He scanned the area and nodded toward the waiting shed across the street. “There.” “That’s good.” I answered. So we crossed the street and went for the shed. I sat on the bench and put my bag beside me while Hayden just stood next to me. “I’ll go straight to the point, did you hear everything we were talking about?” his voice was firmer than usual. My heart begun to beat fast… Should I tell him I didn’t? But if I don’t I would have to be guilty for some time. I bit my lip, there’s no use lying now, I guess. I raised my head and saw that Hayden had his back on me. “Yes, I overheard you and your girlfriend talking… Stella’s her name, right?!” Hayden flinched when I mentioned Stella’s name. I was surprised at myself I still remembered her name. “Can you keep it to yourself?” he turned around and looked at me with teary eyes. I wasn’t used to see a guy have such an expression, especially from someone like Hayden. “Of course! What would I get if I tell anyone about it, right?” I assured him.

“Really, Aiden, I’ll keep it a secret…” I added. I could clearly see the pain in his eyes. Maybe he really loved this girl so much. Hayden sat at the other end of the bench, his head bent as he ran his fingers through his hair. Silence took over the shed. I sighed. This is the first time I’ve had a somewhat ‘intimate’ conversation with Hayden. I should have been so happy right now to be talking to my secret crush in a shed only the two of us share during sunset. Everything could have been perfect if only he wasn’t gloomy about his ex. The orange sky reminded me to check the time. It’s already 6PM. Even though I’d like to stay like this with Hayden for a while; I really need to get back home. I got my bag and hoisted it over my shoulder. Then I slowly stood up. “Well, if there’s nothing else then I’ll go home now.” I said to him but he didn’t seem to hear anything. “See you tomorrow by 9am,” I reminded, “Bye” Just as I took my first step, Hayden grabbed my hand. His simple touch sent my heart to beating fast again. “Please…stay” he pleaded. I didn’t know how to react. Should I shove his hand off mine? Should I comfort him? At that moment, I heard him take short breaths. Was he crying? Why is he crying? Why am I the one with him at this time of his life? Hello? I’m just a stranger to him. Seriously, I could feel his hands and they’re cold. It seems like the longer he held, the tighter they held on. This is getting sober and sober. My heart started to ache for him. I really want to comfort him, but I can’t… well, I must not. We’re not friends anyway. After what seemed like minutes, his hands let go. I tried to relax myself. “Thanks Sophia.” He murmured.

In that instant I raised my head. Sophia? Did he just call me by name?! My body froze to the spot, I felt like I couldn’t move. Unexpectedly, a tear fell from my eye. Finally, after so many years, Hayden finally noticed me! “N-no problem. See you!” “And oh, before I go, I have a tip for you. Have something new with you” I added and started to run for it! I didn’t know why I cried a tear and I don’t know why my heart beat faster than it did before. I just feel happy inside me. I’m absolutely sure that Hayden and I are far from being a couple…but this will surely be a start of a new friendship, I hope. * * *

I’ve been awake since four AM and its past 6 now. For two hours, all I did was lie on my back and stare at my ceiling- looking for answers to long-forgotten questions, it’s useless but I still did so. Up to now I cannot believe Hayden called me Sophia! I mean, people would normally call me Sophia for first timers or Sophie, but not Hayden. He addresses me with my last name, Greene, until yesterday afternoon. It must have been the sunset that altered him yesterday. Yet, I was glad it happened… For if not for that. He would never know I existed. The next thing I knew, I had dozed off again. By eight, I was all set! I brought with me my fave yellow Kipling backpack, stuffed with a notebook and pen and goodies I can share with my friends! When I got down the kitchen, I found out my mom left early. She left me a note to take good care of myself and have fun. Moms. After ensuring I already unplug all electrical equipments, I got my key and locked the house. 30 minutes later, I was already at the school grounds, where our class was supposed to meet. I glanced around the small groups but my friends haven’t arrived yet. It wasn’t until nine that all my other classmates arrived. Mrs. Boggles, which didn’t really surprise me, was the one of those who came late. Hayden was also a bit late; he got here at least five minutes before Mrs. Boggles did.

Alyssa and Naomi arrived the last, and unfortunately, Mrs. Boggles reprimanded them. “Hark! I mean like look who’s talking! As if she’s not late.” I heard Naomi whisper to Alyssa as we climbed up the school bus that’ll take us to the institute. Naomi got inside the bus first and saved us our seats. As usual, it was I who is seated by the window. Alyssa and Naomi both don’t like to sit by the window, they sat it’ll destroy their gorgeous hairs. Talking about vanity! But I on the other hand love how the air breezes through my wavy hair! But before I go on about how I love the air, Mrs. Boggles was giving us our last minute instructions. “Okay guys, listen up! When we get there, Mr. Clayton of the Morgan institute will tour us around the area after the orientation. The latter would take about an hour or so.” “This is one tiring day for sure!” Naomi commented. I shrugged and looked outside the window. The bus roared to life and headed to the road. “Hey Sophie, you and Hayden will be working together right?!” Alyssa asked me. “Really, Sophie! If I had known earlier that Hayden is your partner. I would have gladly given you mine!” Naomi said aloud. Alyssa and I elbowed her as some of our classmates turned to us. “Couldn’t you keep it low?” I asked her. I stood up and checked where Hayden was seated. He might have heard Naomi, you know! So I searched the seats around us. Luckily, Hayden wasn’t seated anywhere near us. Feeling relieved, I sat back. “Calm down, Sophie! We aren’t saying anything bad about him…and I only said one sentence about him anyway!” Naomi said, rolling her blue eyes at me. “But really, Sophie? How did you end up with Hayden?” she asked. I smiled at Naomi. She really can’t help to ignore her curiosity.

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