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***The boy is hunched over his desk scribbling the most important letter he has ever written. This letter will have two sentences. ‘I love your eyes. I think I like you.’ The harder part will be to deliver it to Maggie, the chocolate skin toned girl with a beautiful smile. She sits at the back of the class and occasionally, she wears her leg warmers. Some girls were just born beautiful. Maggie is one of them.

The boy finally manages to slip the folded piece of paper into Maggie’s desk during lunch break. Now the hardest part comes, to wait for her response. What the boy doesn’t know is this, two days earlier, Benjamin, the infamous class seven bully cornered Maggie coming from the library session and told her he loved her and he wants her as her girlfriend.

Maggie said she would think about it and respond back. Now she has to choose between Benjamin and the boy. But the odds are against the boy, you see, Benjamin is not only a bully, he is among the top ten best performing pupils in the class seven block. He is athletic, plays both football and makes for a great swimmer. Rumour has it that he is been groomed for the head boy position next year. He gets away with a lot. Benjamin, not the boy.

After lunch, the boy keeps peeking at the back, trying to see if Maggie read the note and whether she will say yes to him. He’s anxious. He doesn’t know that he got himself into a losing battle. Maggie tears a piece of paper from her exercise book and jots down a message. The boy is keeping track of all this reservedly.

Maggie walks up to the boy’s sitting row and proceeds in the aisle. The boy can hear the wedding bells ring in his head. This is the moment, only that it’s not. Maggie walks past the boy and hands the note to Benjamin who sits two seats ahead of the boy. This must be a mistake! The boy thinks.

Benjamin has a larger than life smile after reading the note. He doesn’t deserve my smile, the boy thinks. As Maggie walks back to her desk, she abruptly stops at the boy’s desk. (His heart is racing now.) She drops pieces of shredded paper on the desk. He can recall that piece of paper, the one he wrote on. With a smirk on her face, Maggie then walks way.

The boy’s heart breaks into million pieces.

***

 ‘So, did you read my text?’ Charles asks.

Ashley seems more interested with what’s happening over Charles’ shoulder. She looks restless and pays little attention to their chat over coffee. ‘Uhm, sorry?’

‘I’m asking whether you read my text.’ Charles repeats himself.

‘Yeah I did.’ Ashley says, and goes on to look around the restaurant some more. She only came because she was bored. She thought this would be different. That maybe Charles would turn out to be more fun than she had imagined him to be, but she was wrong. And now she is stuck in this dinner date she can’t wait to end.

The last meet was at the club. They were both in the company of friends. They all danced the night away, getting wasted. All along, Charles kept a keen eye on Ashley. He admired her body, how slender it was, how it fit so perfectly in her booty shorts and tank top like peas in a pod. How the whiff of her perfume left trails of beautiful imaginations – what if she was his girl? The things he’d do to her. Damn he was lustful.

Ashley took no note of this. If it wasn’t for her circle of friends – the one she shared with Charles now – she wouldn’t be at the club. She has always been all about the high life. Her distaste for lack of plush always made her out to be a snob to many random plots she considered ‘peasant plots’. And now there was Charles.

Charles the rookie entrepreneur selling home cleaning services to tycoons. His business hadn’t picked up so well in the two years he had run it but he remained hopeful. He was that kind of guy, always aiming for the stars and never so much as losing hope. Charles rarely made bad choices, he was particular about ventures he chose, decisions he made but on this date night he knew it that he had made the wrong choice to love Ashley.

Now they were held up on the date, him trying to impress and her trying to get past the date. It stung him real good. To know that she didn’t even give him a shot at love. All because he was from the wrong side of the aisle. The less affluent type. The type that never won her attention.

The waitress put down the meals on the table and they both dug in. As far as Charles could recall, this was the most expensive set of meal he would have to pay for in his life. Unlike Charles, Ashley was nitpicky with the food, after a few bites, she literally pushed the plate away and reached out for her iPhone clasping it in her long nailed manicured fingers and started typing. Their conversation had made its way to a dead end. Now their table was filled with awkward silence. Charles could feel her urge him to hurry up and get her an Uber home.

Outside the restaurant, Ashley jumped into the back seat of the Uber. She rolled down her window and said goodnight. A half-hearted goodnight with her eyes glued to her phone screen. The Uber drove away. He stood staring at it, his hands nicely tucked in his pockets, the breeze blowing his direction and a heart beating out many failed emotions. He let loose a deep sigh.

That was the last of Ashley, he knew. And if he had to kiss more frogs to get to his princess, Ashley was one less toad in the list.

It was time to go home.

***

What happens when the one you love doesn’t seem to love you back the same way?

Get to read my first novella, No Valentine’s. Get it here.

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