Friday, 13th February 2004
I felt like crap when I woke up this morning. I was still thinking about everything that Taj had told me last night. I told the girls about it when I got to school and their reactions were completely mixed. I couldn’t get a read on what they were thinking because I don’t think they’ve ever been in the position that I’m in. Even Mercy hasn’t had such a complicated love triangle; and she’s like, the queen of heartbreak.
It didn’t help that I had a surprise Physics test (I know! Ugh!) because I couldn’t concentrate at all. I just know that I’ve failed it. Stupid Mr Houghton. Doesn’t he know that I have more important things to deal with, rather than doing some meaningless test?! I left Physics on the verge of tears because I was so frustrated and upset.
Recess was a lot better though; Jenny finally re-joined our group. We all gave her a big hug and pretty much forgot about the whole fight. I filled her in on the Taj scenario, and then I made an effort to ask her about how she was doing, and what it was like sitting with a different group. I could tell that she appreciated it. We are definitely getting our friendship back on track. Jenny was talking about Rita’s group, when suddenly, she stopped in mid-sentence. We all looked at her and then followed her gaze over to the far side of the quadrangle. I couldn’t see that far away, so I asked what everyone was looking at.
Jenny told me that Taj was walking towards our group.
No. I didn’t want to see him. Like, I was still so confused about how he felt about me. So I freaked and asked Jenny if she could stop him before he got to us. She nodded, got up and walked up to him as all the girls shielded me from his view. I didn’t actually see how they were interacting, but Lauren was giving me a running commentary as it was happening. Then, Jenny came back to our group… alone.
What a relief.
“All sorted,” Jenny said she sat down on the limestone wall next to me.
“What did he want?” I asked quietly.
“He wanted to talk to you,” Jenny replied, “He wanted to know how you are. But I told him to bugger off.”
“What? You actually said that?” Lauren suddenly asked.
“Well, no. Not in those words,” Jenny said to Lauren, “I just said that you weren’t ready to talk to him. He understood that and he left.”
“Oh…” I said, not really sure what I was hoping for.
“He was a little cut A,” Jenny said as she put her arm around me, “I think he’s really sorry. And…”
I raised my head, “And what?”
“I got the feeling that he was really nervous. And he had something in his hand. I think it was a letter.”
Great. Another letter. Wait. Why didn’t he give it to me?
“Probably wasn’t for me then…”
“I’m pretty sure it was. I saw a capital A on the front of it,” Jenny informed me.
I looked at her, “But he didn’t give it to you, did he?”
“No. I think he chickened out.”
“I suppose so,” I said sadly, “Thanks for talking to Taj for me Jen.”
I gave her a hug and asked everyone else to start talking about something else. Recess went by pretty quickly, and soon enough, lunch rolled around.
This is where it gets surreal.
The girls and I were sitting down underneath the gum tree, when all of a sudden, half of them went quiet. Britt poked my arm and turned my attention to the end of the quadrangle…
I felt my hear skip a beat.
It was Taj.
Except, he was walking a little funny. It looked like he was hiding something behind his back. They looked like… flowers?! Jenny giggled and everyone else started freaking out. I panicked again.
“Jenny, can you-“
“Nope. I’m not going to stop him this time,” she said, smugly.
“Omg! Girls? Please?” I pleaded.
“Sorry A, you’re on your own,” Lauren said happily as she skipped over to Aaron’s group, no doubt to watch everything unfold from afar.
“I’m with Lauren,” Britt agreed happily, “If it’s what I think it is, I think you should hear him out.”
“He looks so corny right now and he’s doing this for you. C’mon Amber, you have to speak to him!” Mercy urged me.
“I think it’s sweet,” Amy said, almost in a dreamlike state.
That doesn’t help Amy!
And then, I was face to face with Taj once more.
I couldn’t look him in the eye, so I nodded and kept my gaze to the ground.
“Can I talk to you… please?”
The girls were looking back and forth from him to me, waiting to see how I would react. Now I know how it feels to be a fish in an aquarium. I nodded once again and we sat down on the limestone wall. The girls knew it was time to leave us alone to talk, so they wandered over to the picnic bench to give us some space. It didn’t stop them from watching us from a distance though.
“Amber… I…” he began shakily, “I really, really like you. And I want to prove it to you.”
He looked very nervous. I could see beads of sweat forming on his forehead. It made my heart soften a little bit, knowing that I had such an effect on him.
“Amber… will you go out with me?”
Taj pulled out a bunch of flowers from behind his back. More specifically, a dozen red ROSES! And he gave them to me. I was stunned. I looked over to my friends; they were squealing and giggling like mad! Then they started yelling out ‘say yes!’
They were right… how could I say no?
I mean, Taj Amherst, considered a loser in his year, walked all the way across the quadrangle, past groups of year 11 students, with a bunch of roses behind his back… all to ask me if I wanted to be his girlfriend! He’s risked social humiliation for me! Something that no guy in his right mind would do if he was using someone. I couldn’t help but smile.
“I-is that a yes?” Taj said as he tried to look into my eyes.
I nodded, “Ok.”
I heard him let out a sigh of relief, and then he hugged me! Without a doubt, it was the most softest, warmest hug that I had felt in a long time. I could hear the girls in the distance giggling and cheering us on, and then they came over to congratulate us.
“It’s about time you asked her out Taj,” Jenny quipped.
“Well you know me, I like the drama,” Taj replied jokingly.
“The roses are so beautiful! You’re so lucky Amber,” Amy said as she continued to sniff them.
“In all fairness Amber, I was going to ask you out on Valentine’s Day, regardless of everything that’s happened. But considering it’s on a Saturday, I had to rethink my plan of attack,” Taj whispered in my ear.
My smile grew even wider. My heart was right. He did like me. More than a friend. Let’s use a big word here; I was ELATED. As all of us were chatting away, Lauren returned to our group and joined in with the banter. As lunch began to finish, I decided to go to my class early, so that I could walk Taj back to his group. History was on the way anyway, so off we went, leaving my friends, and the quadrangle behind.
“I realised at recess that I had to try harder to talk to you,” Taj told me, “Especially since I had to potentially get through all your friends. I’m really glad that I went the distance.”
I grinned, “Omg. Stop it. You’re making my cheeks hurt from smiling so much!”
“Am I? Well, that’s a good sign,” he laughed as he put his arm around my shoulder, “So… are you free tomorrow?”
“Yeah. For Valentine’s Day?”
OMFG. I forgot momentarily that Valentine’s Day was tomorrow.
“Uh.. I-I don’t know,” I stuttered, “Can I let you know? It’s just uh… it’s a bit late notice, that’s all.”
“Of course. I completely understand. Damnit. I shouldn’t have left it at the last minute.”
“That’s ok. I mean, if I can’t make it tomorrow, we can always do something next weekend?”
Taj smiled at me, “I like the way you think. Well, I won’t be online tonight because I have a family thing, so I’ll give you my mobile number. Just text me and let me know, ok?”
Once we got to his group, he opened his backpack, scribbled his number on a piece of paper and gave it to me. I put it in my front pocket. He threw his bag over his shoulder and walked back to me.
“So, where’s your last class for the day?”
“D-Block,” I replied.
“Ok, well I’ll walk you there.”
“Oh, you don’t have to do that.”
“I know. But I want to. I thought maybe you’d like to hang out after school too?” he asked hopefully.
Crap. As much as I really wanted to… I couldn’t.
So not fair!
“I can’t,” I said sadly, “I have to catch the school bus special home, and then I have a netball game. So…”
“Hey, that’s ok. I thought I’d just ask,” he said, slightly deflated from my response, “I didn’t realise that you were such a busy girl.”
“Well, I’m not really,” I said quickly, “The first game of the netball season starts today, that’s all.”
“Oh ok. Hey! Maybe I could come and watch you play sometime?”
Omg. Taj? Watch me play netball? And see me all out of breath and sweaty? And meet my dad?! Nu-uh! I don’t think so!
“Uh… maybe. Well, I’d better get going, otherwise I’ll be late-“
“Quite right. Let’s go.”
Taj walked me to History and then gave me another hug. Britt and Amy were already sitting down as I walked inside. Crap. Mr Clarkson was giving me the evils as I sat down next to the girls, and then decided to embarrass me in front of the whole class by mentioning the bunch of roses that I was holding. Seriously, he’s got it in for me and I have no idea why. I wasn’t even late to class!
Today’s lesson was so boring; it was about conscription. Mr Clarkson tried to make us feel guilty for having the freedom that we were born with. It was so depressing. I was so glad when it was over; Amy and I bolted to the bus stop and took a seat at the back of the bus. Amy doesn’t usually catch my bus, but she wanted to know all the details of what Taj and I spoke about. We watched as everyone boarded the bus. I saw Adrian and he came and sat in the seat in front of us. Everything was going well… until we all got off the bus.
Amy got off at the same bus stop as Adrian and I, but she spotted her neighbour and decided to walk on without us. I completely forgot that I was holding a bunch of flowers, so when Adrian asked me about them, it caught me off guard.
“I didn’t realise you had them on the bus,” Adrian said, stating the obvious.
“Oh yeah, well you were sitting in front of us… you wouldn’t have been able to see them through the back of the seats,” I laughed.
“That’s true, so, what’s with the roses?”
“Well, I got them from my… BOYFRIEND!” I said, completely losing my cool.
God! That felt GOOD!
That was definitely not the response I was expecting. I frowned. What does he mean ‘already’? It’s been ages since I broke up with Joshua!
“You make it sound like I’m a slut Adrian,” I said, pretty offended that he could imply such a thing.
“What? OMG. No. That’s not what I meant at all”, he started to say, trying to find the right words, so not to insult me further, “I just thought you broke up with your last one like a week ago.”
I rolled my eyes, “That was like ages ago, like May last year. Seriously, don’t you remember telling me you about it?”
That was a stupid question to ask. Most guys have the attention span of a goldfish, so I wasn’t surprised that he didn’t remember. Plus, he’s a guy. The last thing he would want to hear about is my love life.
“I can’t say I remember. Sorry Amber.”
I sighed under my breath and replied quietly, “That’s ok, don’t worry about it.”
“So, who is this new guy?”
“Uh,” I hesitated momentarily, “He’s in your year actually.”
“Really? What’s his name?”
I slowed my pace for a split second as I initially hesitated to tell him. What if Adrian knew him? And if he did, what did he think of him? And what would he think of me for dating him? Not that I really cared about what he thought; I was going to date Taj regardless of his approval or not.
Adrian looked at me, in shock, “Taj? As in, Taj Amherst?”
“Well, yeah. Remember when I went to France with that group of people last year? He went too. I mean, we didn’t really talk afterwards but we kinda reconnected a couple of weeks ago, so… yeah.”
Adrian shook his head in disbelief, “Are you kidding me?”
He pursed his lips and looked away; something I had never seen from him before.
“Don’t go out with him Amber.”
Adrian was glaring at me, as if I had done something wrong.
“Why not?” I asked, more so defensively than out of curiosity.
“He’s a dickhead.”
I looked at him incredulously, “Excuse me?”
“You heard me,“ Adrian said, raising his voice slightly.
I stopped, “And how is he a dickhead, Adrian?”
“Look, he just is.”
“Well, that’s just not a good enough reason.”
“I’m asking you. YOU Amber Atkinson, to please, NOT go out with Taj Amherst!” Adrian said, in the most desperate plea attempt that I have ever heard.
He was dead set serious. OMG. Why is going out with Taj such a difficult thing to do? I can’t seem to please anyone! But this was Adrian. I’ve known him for a lot longer than Taj. And he’s like, my closest friend. I don’t understand why he was making such a big deal about my new boyfriend. I don’t want to break it off with him, but I don’t want to fight with Adrian either. Unless…
“Ok. I won’t.”
I guess, what Adrian doesn’t know… can’t hurt him, right? Maybe, I can just keep our relationship it a secret for now, and then try and talk Adrian around? Yes. I think that will work. And besides, I’m not even sure that Adrian has a good enough reason to make me stop seeing Taj anyway. He could just be throwing a tantrum for nothing.
Like, the first thought that went through my head was that Adrian was actually jealous. But that’s just stupid… right? I mean, if he liked me in that way – I’m not saying that he does – I think that I would already know, given the amount of time we spend together. So, that couldn’t be it. Maybe he’s worried that if I have a boyfriend, I won’t hang out with him anymore? I don’t know. But the whole tension thing really threw me.
I said goodbye to him once we got to the T-junction in the street and then went our separate ways. When I got home, I searched the kitchen for a vase and filled it up with some water. Then, I put the roses in the vase and put it in my room. There was no way I was going to let mum and dad know that a boy at school bought them for me.
Especially mum. She would freak.
When dad came home, I asked him what our plans were for tomorrow. He said that we were going to Rockingham for lunch because it was Auntie Nita’s birthday. I asked if I needed to be there and he said yes. I tried to argue with him, but he shut me down pretty quickly. So not happy. I texted Taj and told him that I wouldn’t be able to go out with him on Valentine’s Day. He seemed ok with it. If anything, he was a little bit relieved; he said that he’d get more time to plan something nice for us to do. I thought that was really sweet… he’s so understanding.
After I texted Taj, dad said it was time to go to netball, so we got in the car, picked up Britt along the way and headed to Courtside.
We versed ‘Devils Angels’ and we won… 29 to 10. They were 1 person short, so we had the advantage. But hey! A win is a win, so we’ll take it! Everyone played really well… except me. I think I was totally distracted with the fact that I have a new boyfriend, that I kept dropping the ball. Dad was not happy with me. We dropped Britt home, then dad bought some Hungry Jacks for dinner.
So yeah, I finished today on a high.
And you know what? Right now… I feel like I’m on cloud 9.
I feel like today has literally come out of a movie. Like a teen movie. With friends, fallouts, drama and overdramatic declarations of love. I couldn’t have predicted such an insanely surreal day if you paid me!
But the BEST part of it all is that… I OFFICIALLY have a BOYFRIEND!