Happily Amber After

First Date Fiasco

Sunday, 22nd February 2004

So yesterday, I had my first date with Taj… It didn’t go according to plan.

I was so nervous. My stomach had butterflies and I felt like I had goose bumps all over my body. Why does Taj make me feel like this? It’s like I’m running on adrenalin all the time. But, I think the thing that’s making me the most anxious is that… I’m going to have to kiss him!

Well, I think I’m going to have to kiss him. And like, I have no idea what to do. NO idea! And I’m too scared to tell him that I’m a kissing virgin because I don’t want him to laugh at me. I know that he’s had plenty of experience, considering his ex-girlfriend was with him for like, a year or something. So yeah, it didn’t help that I was freaking out about that too.

I waited out the front of the school at 12pm. I told mum and dad that I was going shopping for Amy’s birthday present, and caught my usual bus to school. Then, I walked from the bus stop to the school front gate, and waited. It was starting to get a little cold and grey, so I was slightly shivering by the time Taj showed up.

He looked really nice. And… he brought a picnic basket with him! OMG! Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I spent some time outdoors, just relaxing and eating food.

“Hey Amber!” he said excitedly, as he put down the picnic basket and gave me a hug.

“Hey, how are you?” I asked politely.

“I’m good. A little cold though. I thought the weather would hold off. Oh well.”

“So, I take it we’ll be spending some time outdoors then?” I asked observantly as I pointed at the picnic basket.

“Ah, well, you’ve got quite an eye,” he said playfully, “Yes. I thought that we could have a picnic in the park near the Basketball Centre.”

Damnit! If I had known that, I would have just met him at the bus stop. It is literally opposite the Centre.

“Well, that sounds nice.”

“Well, shall we?”

Taj offered me his arm and I took it happily. We walked and talked until we found a nice spot under a tree. We set up our picnic area and then sat down and relaxed.

Everything was going really well… until it started to rain!

I freaked. I was so worried about my hair and my makeup that I hid behind the trunk of the tree while Taj packed everything up! We didn’t even get a chance to have any food! I apologised for not helping but he didn’t mind; he said that he knows that girls don’t like to get wet. But sometimes they do. I didn’t really understand what he meant, so I just laughed as we headed to the bus stop shelter.

“Well, my date plans are all washed up.”

Did he just make a joke?

“It was nice while it lasted,” I said sweetly.

“I don’t think I’ve ever packed up a picnic so fast,” Taj sighed, “I should have brought an umbrella. Now we’re stuck under here until the rain stops.”

I thought about what he said, “Well, only if we want to be…”

Taj raised an eyebrow at me, “What? You want to run over to the shopping centre?”

“Well, why not?”

“You never cease to amaze me Amber,” he said as he grabbed my hand and squeezed it tightly, “You ready?”

“No! But ok!”

We both leapt up and charged for the Shopping Centre across the road. I was laughing and screaming and… well, it felt pretty cool to be running through the rain without a care in the world. Especially with someone I really like. I could tell that he wanted to run faster, but he stayed at my pace, just so I could keep up. See? Such a gentleman!

We made it to the entrance and we collapsed on the wooden bench outside. And we just laughed. Taj and I were completely drenched but we didn’t care. And you know what? In that moment, I didn’t care that my hair and makeup were ruined. And I think Taj didn’t care either.

“Omg, you’re so wet,” I giggled through gasps of breaths.

“So are you – I can see your bra,” Taj teased.

“What?!”

I desperately tried to cover up my boobs as Taj laughed at me, “Just kidding.”

I breathed a sigh of relief and laughed too, “Omg don’t do that!”

“Trust me, I would tell you if I could see your underwear,” Taj said, suddenly a little bit more serious, “I don’t strangers staring at my girlfriend’s assets.”

I blushed, “Uh… ok. Well, I think we should probably get some dry clothes to wear.”

“Well, good thing we’re at the shops,” Taj said happily as he took my hand once again, “Shall we?”

I nodded and we entered the shopping centre and went to Jay Jays. I love their stuff; they have such a good variety of clothes and it’s sooooo cheap. Plus, it’s unisex, so Taj and I got to go shopping in 1 hit. He asked for me advice on what he should buy. It kind of threw me a bit; I’ve never been clothes shopping with a guy!

Lol.

I thought that men’s clothes were basic and all the same. Turns out I was wrong.

Sooooo wrong.

Just like girls; there are a lot of different patterns, cuts, shapes etc to consider, and guys can be really picky about what they buy. So yeah, I learnt heaps today. It was a bit overwhelming because he kept asking me for my opinion, but I didn’t really have one because they all looked good to me. Actually, Taj took longer than me to find a new outfit, which was really surprising.

Once we finished clothes shopping (I ended up getting Amy’s present too – a pair of glasses and a small purse), we went to the toilets and got changed.

OMG. I take everything back about not caring about how I look – I looked like SHIT!

My mascara had run all the way down my cheeks, my eyeliner was blotchy and made me look like I had bags under my eyes, and my hair! OMG MY HAIR! It went back to its natural form of curly-freak- wavy devils hair… and I freaked! Luckily, I scrunched it up to give it some volume and put my head under the hand dryer.

Yeah. I was that desperate.

But. It worked. My hair actually looked half decent. I fixed up my makeup and left the girls toilets to find Taj waiting for me.

“Gussied up, I see?” he smiled as he felt my hair.

“Gussied? What does that mean?” I asked, confused by a word I’ve never heard of before.

“Oh, sorry, I can be a walking dictionary sometimes,” Taj blushed, “It basically means ‘making something more attractive’. Not that you needed to do that, I mean.”

I felt my cheeks go warm, “Well, that can be the word of the day. Gussied.”

“Haha, ok Amber, try and use it in a sentence today.”

I paused momentarily, “Did you – did you just quote Clueless?”

“No…”

“You so did!”

“Ok. fine! Guilty. But please, don’t tell anyone. I don’t want my dirty little secret to come out this way.”

We both looked at each other… and then started laughing. OMG! My ribs were hurting so bad from all the funny stuff that we talked about. Like, I knew that Taj had a good sense of humour when we were in France, but I didn’t actually realise how funny he really was until that moment.

“But seriously, if you tell anyone that Clueless is one of my favourite movies, I’d have to shoot you,” Taj joked as he hugged me.

Lightbulb moment!

“Hey Taj… how good are you at laser tag?”

We found ourselves out the front of Dark Zone, staring up at the information board. Surprisingly, Taj was up for a game of laser tag. He said that didn’t pick me a someone who would want to play with plastic guns and armour, but he thought it was awesome that I wanted to play with him.

Yeah. He thought I was playing with him. Guess again!

Taj paid for the both of us (yup! He paid for me!), handed the picnic basket to the cashier for safe keeping, and entered through the side door. We walked into the briefing room where the laser tag co-ordinator gave us the low down on the rules and how to use all the equipment. Unfortunately, there were also a group of 10-year old’s that we were sharing our game with.

“They are so small, I hope I don’t injure any of them with my humongous feet,” Taj whispered in my ear.

I giggled quietly, “Depends if they cheat or not.”

One of the 10-year old’s turned and shushed us, and then the warning siren went off, signalling that it was time to get our gear on. I grabbed a gun and some armour from the Red side, and Taj, obviously working out that we would be playing against each other, took the Blue gear. We all waited by the roller door for the final siren. Then… the countdown began.

5.

“Hey Amber, are you ready to be annihilated?”

4.

“You’re so going to lose.”

3.

“I haven’t lost yet.”

2.

“Cocky, huh.”

1.

“Cocky, but the best.”

Beeeeeep!

The roller door opened and we were met with a large, dark space with a faint red glow and electronica music. From what I could see, it was pretty much set out like a paintball set, so I ran for my life and ducked behind a wall made of wood to think about my next plan of attack.

OMG.

The competition was fierce. And it wasn’t even from Taj! The kids were so feral. I’m NOT joking! They climbed on everything, kicked and punched everyone, thrusted their guns into each other and one of them even decided it would be ‘fun’ to bite their friend. It was just… chaos.

Taj and I tried to avoid them and play our own game of laser tag, but because we were ‘bigger’ than them, they felt the need to gang up on us and teased us relentlessly. In the end, we couldn’t take it anymore and we gave up halfway through the game. We made a break for the door, but the kids saw us and tackled us to the ground. I managed to escape, but Taj was stuck under the kiddie-pile and couldn’t get up. I freaked.

“Get off him right now!” I screamed at the top of my lungs.

They all looked at me… and then one of them burst into tears.

Omg. I made a 10-year-old cry.

I felt so guilty, but like, they were basically attacking my boyfriend! What else could I do?

Then, the lights came on.

FUCK!

The manager of Dark Zone came out and told the kids to get off Taj.

“You ok mate?” he asked Taj as he helped him up.

“Yes, I- owww!”

Taj fell back on the ground and clutched his foot. The manager sat him up and took a look at his ankle.

“Hmm… looks a little bruised. C’mon, let’s get you onto a chair so we can have a better look,” he said as he lifted Taj’s arm and put it around his shoulder.

We walked out of the main play area and into a small room towards the Dark Zone entrance. Taj slid onto a chair, while I watched as the manager gently looked around his foot. Taj winced a couple of times; something that made me really worried. I mean seriously, what are the odds that a bunch of kids could injure my boyfriend?

“Well, I think you’ve just bruised it,” the manager said, finishing his inspection, “Are you able to put pressure on it?”

“I can try,” Taj said as he got up and hobbled around the room, “It’s ok. I think.”

“OK, well, I’ll go get an icepack. Be right back.”

“This date is going really well, don’t you think?” Taj said half-jokingly just as the manager closed the door.

“It wasn’t your fault,” I said, trying to make him feel better, “It was those stupid kids. Seriously, they were pretty full on.”

“Who would have thought that I’d be fell by some pre-adolescent children,” Taj said sadly, “I’m sorry Amber.”

“You don’t need to apologise! You’ve got nothing to say sorry for,” I said as I put my hand on his shoulder.

“Ok, here we go,” the manager said as he opened the door, holding an icepack.

“Thank you so much,” Taj said gratefully as the manager handing him the icepack.

“No worries mate,” he said, “And I’ll give you a full refund. Those kids were pretty rotten aye.”

10 minutes later, I was walking out of Dark Zone. Along with Taj stumbling through the shopping centre. Holding my hand. It was sooooo awkward. I could tell that he was in a bit of pain, so we went to the pharmacy and got some Panadol. He felt a little better after downing them with some bottled water from the picnic basket.

“Well, what should we do next?” He asked as he winced slightly.

As much as I really wanted to continue our date, I could tell that he was in a lot more pain than what he was letting on.

“I think it’s time that I went home,” I said quietly.

“Why? Because of my foot? Really, it’s not that bad,” Taj said, unconvincingly.

“I think you need to rest. Look at it,” I said as I pointed at his ankle, “It’s swelling up.”

“But-“

“No buts. I don’t want it to get any worse,” I said firmly.

Taj sighed, “You’re right. I know you’re right. I’m just being stubborn. Well, at least let me walk you to the bus stop?”

I raised an eyebrow at him, “Seriously?”

“Yeah! And don’t worry, I promise not to walk home. I’ll call my mum to pick me up,” he said thoughtfully.

“Hmm… ok.”

Taj smiled, whipped out his phone and called his mum, as promised. Then we stumbled over to the bus stop. Luckily, it wasn’t raining anymore, so we took our time. We did have to stop once so that Taj could rest his foot, but we got there eventually. Taj was sweating by the time we sat down, so I tried to make a fan with my hands.

It failed. Miserably.

“You’re so adorable,” Taj said as I rested my aching hands from vigorous fanning.

I blushed, “Just trying to help.”

“You are,” he said softly, “I’m surprised you haven’t run away from me, given nothing has gone right today.”

I laughed, “It’s a flesh wound. And besides, not everything was a complete disaster.”

Taj leaned in closer, “Really?”

I crept forward, “Yeah.”

“Well… I’m glad you think that…”

We looked at each other in silence. I smiled. I could feel the electricity between us. The world seemed to fade away and it was just me and him. All alone. I held my breath.

This was it. I was going to get my first kiss!

Taj put his arms around my waist and pulled me in closer.

I could smell the cologne lingering on his neck. It was intoxicating.

My heart was pounding so hard as he looked down at my lips.

I slowly closed my eyes.

I leaned forward…

And…

“Amber?”

My body froze and my eyes snapped wide open. I looked up and then I felt the blood drain away from my face. I knew that voice…

It was Adrian.

SHIT!

Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!

“W-what are y-you – Adrian?” I spluttered, trying to string a sentence together.

“Finished work. I change buses here,” he said shortly as he looked back at the bus, which I didn’t even realise had showed up.

“I-“

“You know what Amber, DON’T bother!” Adrian said angrily, as he walked away.

“Adrian! No – wait!” I yelled as I got up and ran after him.

“FUCK OFF you LIAR!” he shouted back.

“I’m sorry!” I said as caught up to him and tried to turn him around.

“No, you’re not! You gave me YOUR word that you wouldn’t date HIM,” Adrian spat as he aggressively shrugged my hand off his shoulder and continued walking.

“I know-“

“Well, it means SHIT doesn’t it? YOU WENT BEHIND MY BACK!”

I could feel my bottom lip trembling, along with tears welling in my eyes, “I’m sorry! I didn’t think you were being serious!”

“I don’t ask much from you. But I REALLY thought that you were in my corner on this,” Adrian said angrily as he turned his back on me again.

“I am! I am Adrian! Please, let me explain-“

“There’s NOTHING to explain!” Adrian shouted over me.

“At least tell me why you hate Taj so much. YOU owe me that!” I said without thinking.

Adrian stopped walking. He turned around slowly and faced me.

He was beyond mad. It was scary.

“Remember when I was having a hard time in Junior school? Well, it was because of that son of a bitch!”

I choked a little on my saliva, “W-what?”

“HE WAS THE ONE WHO BULLIED ME!”

I had no idea what to say. This was the first that he had spoken about it since like, year 10. I knew he was having a hard time at school back then, but I had no idea that Taj was behind it…

No. Adrian’s wrong. So wrong! Taj wouldn’t do anything like that! He’s so kind and sweet – I don’t think he could ever do that to another human being. He doesn’t have a bad bone in his body! I suddenly went from sympathy, to anger.

“Well, that was ages ago. Can’t you just get over it already?”

“Are you for real?” Adrian screeched hysterically, “NO! I can’t forget how much it scarred me. How much he scarred me. YOU should know out of ALL people what it feels like to be bullied! And YOU have the nerve to tell ME to get over it?! Are you FREAKING kidding me?”

I put my hands on my hips, “I do. But I’M over it… why can’t you be?”

“You are FUCKING unbelievable Amber!” he yelled at me.

“Stop YELLING at me!” I shouted back.

Adrian walked up to me and thrust his index finger to my face, “You, are NO friend of mine.”

I burst into tears, “Y-you don’t mean that!”

“I do,” Adrian said as he walked away, “Bye, bitch.”

“Adrian! Please, let’s talk about this – let’s catch the bus and-“

“I’m walking home. I’m done talking! And I’m DONE with you!”

“Adrian-“

My phone went off.

It was Taj.

OMG! I forgot about Taj! I just up and left him!

SHIT!

I had a choice. To go after Adrian, or go back to Taj. My head was telling me to repair my shattered friendship with Adrian, but my heart was telling me to go to Taj…

I ran to the bus shelter.

But when I got there… Taj was gone. I checked my phone.

Mum picked me up. You never cease to amaze me Amber. Didn’t think you’d be that kind of girl. Obviously, I was wrong.

I felt my heart drop.

I was out of breath, out of a friendship, and now… most likely out of a relationship too.

I msged him back, but I got no reply. I tried calling him, but he didn’t pick up. I was hysterical. How the fuck did everything go so wrong? We were having a moment, and then it got completely obliterated by the last person I expected.

My bus rocked up, so I got on and burst into tears again. It was all my fault. There was no way that Adrian was going to forgive me. I know what I said was really mean and insensitive. And he’s right. I know what it’s like to be bullied, so I shouldn’t have belittled it.

When I was in year 5, I was completely alienated by 4 girls. They told everyone that I was a lesbian. So… no one would talk to me. They used to make fun of me by putting me down all the time. Apparently, I just began to start hating school. I used to pretend I was sick, so that I didn’t have to see those girls. I stopped eating properly, enjoying my hobbies, and I became withdrawn.

But luckily, my dad noticed that something was up, and asked my teacher at the time if he could keep an eye on me. My teacher Mr Wilkes, worked out that I was being bullied and sorted it out pretty quickly. I remember Mr Wilkes asking me to come outside the classroom on a Tuesday afternoon. I thought that I was in trouble for something, so I followed him outside and saw the 4 girls sitting down in a semi-circle. I was confused, but Mr Wilkes explained that they had something to tell me.

And one by one… they apologised to me!

I couldn’t believe it!

3 of them said that they just jealous because they thought I was taking the 4th girl away from them. They didn’t like the fact that I had an instant connection with her, so they started saying things about me to other people behind my back. And considering I had grown up in Kalgoorlie, I didn’t really understand why they did it in the first place. I guess you could say that I was pretty naïve when my family and I moved to Perth. But… I forgave them. I felt a little sorry for them that they thought that their friendships could be broken so easily by a newcomer. Mr Wilkes gave them 2 weeks detention and called for parent-teacher meetings. They accepted their punishment and they didn’t bother me ever again. Things got a lot better for me from then on.

So yeah. I was definitely way out of line to say what I said to Adrian. And as for Taj? Well, once I got home, I went straight on MSN to see if he was on. He wasn’t. BUT, I did see that he had changed his MSN name:

‘Amazed.’

I know what ‘Amazed’ means. It means me.

Aaaaand he’s blocked me.

Great. Another reason to cry.

I decided to send him an offline message to try and get him to talk to me. But it didn’t work.

So, fast forward to today. I was so stressed out last night that I didn’t sleep properly. I went to work, completely sleep deprived and dehydrated from all the crying I did into my pillow from the night before. I tried msging him to explain what happened while I was at work, but he still won’t reply to me.

I can only imagine what’s going through his head. I think, by what he probably saw and heard at the bus stop between Adrian and myself on Saturday… it probably sounded like I was two-timing him. Further to that, I acted like I was caught out, and I chased after another guy, leaving him by himself, without an explanation. He probably thinks that I don’t care about him. But I do!

I just wish that he would talk to me.

I’m so upset; I want to die.

Amber A.

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